Query 1: In this past year, how has your meeting worked to create and strengthen the reality of a Beloved Community? How has your meeting fostered an environment in which members and attenders of all ages know they are loved, cared for, trusted, and respected?
In the past year, Kennett Monthly Meeting (KMM) has strengthened its beloved community in several purposeful ways. We have increased our fellowship after Meeting for Worship. With a reduction in COVID cases, more people are attending worship in person and staying afterwards for fellowship. KMM has fostered an environment in which members and attenders of all ages know they are cared for with our Intergenerational First Sundays, which include activities for all age groups. On many Sundays, KMM held Adult Discussion prior to Meeting for Worship on topics such as immigration, climate change, systemic racism, and Quaker practices and history. Activities such as a chili brunch was held to welcome new members and a shared breakfast with families from Fairville Friends School were held. Our Care & Counsel committee has reached out to individuals, families and visitors to extend support. A new attender reports that he feels the spiritual nature in KMM even in Meeting for Business which differs from his experience of other faith communities. KMM also has people who serve as “greeters” at each meeting for worship which contributes to feelings of love and respect.
Query 2: How have you sought to be neighbors and in relationship with other communities?
In the past year, KMM has reached out to our neighbors and community in several ways. KMM holds a Meeting for Peace on Thursday evenings that is open to the community. It was initiated following Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. A sign on our front yard communicates the Meeting for Peace to all. KMM continues to reach out to our community with support for immigrants through our program, Friends for Immigration Support (FFIS), which provides financial support to local families who may not qualify for usual sources of aid due lack of documentation. KMM also provides financial support to community groups through funds in Sara Bowers Endowment and to local students attending Friends Schools through the Samuel Martin Fund. KMM supports neighbors through use of our Meeting House to groups such as Boy Scouts, AA, Community Grocer, and others as requested. The community includes Fairville Friends School with which KMM has a caring relationship. Other community outreach efforts have included collaboration with the Kennett Underground Railroad Center on a tour of the Harriet Tubman Center in Southern Maryland. KMM has been a coordinator and contributor to a local Monthly spirituality group. In 2022, KMM initiated a Communications Committee in which there has been a focus on how “we communicate to our community,” and how KMM is “seen in the Community.” Finally, some of our Adult Discussions have focused on spirituality and tolerance to diversity of opinions in our community.
Query 3: How has your meeting been called to address issues of racism this past year? What additional concerns and initiatives have your meeting or meeting members been led to address?
KMM continues to address issues of racism in several ways. It is common subject in our Adult Discussions, helping educate our members on the local issues that were contributing to racism. They also provided information on other community groups that are addressing racism in housing. For example, one member spoke at Adult Discussion on immigration issues as they relate to the mushroom industry that impact housing and education (HB 25 Moving PA Forward.) The discussions have also led several members to volunteer for community non- profits that address systemic racism. One initiative from the past year included a tour of the Harriet Tubman Center in which 10 members and attenders spent the day with local guides learning about the historic roots of racism and building understanding of current issues. There have also been discussions on how Quaker schools are dealing with racism. Finally, our yearly planned retreat will focus on the topic of Diversity.
Query 4. How has the Spirit guided your work on climate change? How has your meeting addressed the five action areas (Activism, Education, Finance, Carbon Footprint reduction, Mourning Loss and Instilling Hope) identified in the climate change sprint report? Has your Meeting appointed a Climate Witness Liaison?
KMM is in the beginning stage of its work on climate change. Our House and Property committee decisions are based on energy efficiency. For example, the purchase of a new dishwasher this year was partially guided by energy usage. Members during fellowship are having discussions on purchase and use of electric vehicles (EV). There are several individual efforts at carbon footprint reduction. Our Adult discussions on systemic racism have included implications for use of clean energy because it remains expensive to transition from fossil fuels to solar or electric. KMM has not appointed a Climate Witness Liaison.
5. What learnings and yearnings particular to your meeting would you like to share?
Because KMM is located in a geographic area where 40% or more of residents are Hispanic, our meeting has a strong yearning to address systemic racism in local issues. Adult discussions have included education on conditions for undocumented farm workers who have limited resources and autonomy. Our largest fundraiser (parking fees during the Kennett Square’s annual Mushroom Festival) was allotted to support FFIS with more than $4,000. Adult discussions often focus on local examples of systemic racism. One discussion was on the Mushroom Industry and its practices which was led by Friend Edie Burkey. We learned about state laws that impact undocumented people such as the inability to obtain a Driver’s license (HB 25) which is related to limited housing, employment, and shopping. Members have attended Kennett Borough council meetings on housing. There have been discussions on unfair educational opportunities based on PA policies on public school funding. Finally, our Spirituality group read the book Caste written by Isabel Wilkerson which describes racism in the US as an aspect of a caste system – a system of social stratification characterized by hierarchy, exclusion, and purity.
Query 6. What are things the Yearly Meeting might do to support your meeting?
PYM could add more spiritual queries to address faith based values.
This report was written by Barbara MacPherson, Recording Clerk, based on an Adult Discussion on March 19, 2023 attended by Dave Tennent, Deb Brumbaugh, Linda Traver, Rich Richardson, David Park, Elaine Amos, Barbara McPherson, and Jim Nelson.
This report was presented and approved at Meeting for Business on April 16, 2023.
This report is respectfully submitted to Philadelphia Yearly Meeting on April 16, 2023.
James Nelson, Clerk
Jessie Cocks, Clerk Worship & Ministry
Kennett Friends Monthly Meeting