New Garden Monthly Meeting was a large, vibrant Meeting for over 200 years. The Meeting has a history of being involved in many concerns on local, national, and international levels. During the past fifty years our membership has dwindled and aged. Though we still have many concerns, due to our small number and ages, we are unable to physically take an active role as previously.
We continue to have contact with all Meeting members and hold two social events annually (Peach and Christmas), which many do attend. Some members when visiting the area make a special trip to attend Meeting for Worship. We all appreciate these get-togethers and share our memories of attending New Garden as children, with our families, members of our First Day School classes and our teachers; as well as all the events in which we were involved.
We have opened the Meeting House to numerous groups over the years including Scout troops, both Boy and Girl, and a sewing group. Currently we have an AA group who meets here twice a week. We have developed a very good relationship with them, to the point that they have contributed time, expertise, assistance, and money for repairs and upkeep of the building. When speaking to members of their group about using our Meeting House the most frequent comment is that this is a welcoming place, “it feels like home”.
We live in a very diverse community. We remember when most local immigrants were from Europe, then Puerto Rico, later Mexico, now Central and South America and Asia. Not only has racism not been a concern, many of the younger generation that attended our Meeting and the local school district as children have mentioned how fortunate they were to be exposed to the diverse population in our school district, especially when they attended further education and started working. Some have shared that in their later endeavors they became cognizant of people who had little to no exposure to other cultures, nationalities, religions, or races, and as result were uncomfortable when around them. Our members believe they were blessed living in an area and attending a school where they were exposed to so many other diverse people. Their experience made their transition into the work force much easier.
Our Meeting has been fortunate to have a healthy fiscal balance. We use our funds to donate to many organizations including scholarships to the three local school districts, the Friends Home, community groups, AFSC, and FCNL, to name a few. Our members have a history of volunteering in many capacities over the years including in the local schools, Scout troops, senior center, and school board. We continue to have a membership on the Friends Boarding Home. The Meeting’s contributions are monetary now. Regarding climate change, we transferred our funds to Friends Fiduciary years ago. Individual members have indicated that they conserve energy, recycle, and stay informed about climate change.
Our main concerns are the upkeep of the Meeting House and grounds, making it more ADA compliant, and the future of the Meeting as a whole. Our Meeting is still active, but the light is dimming and we are at a loss as to how to reverse it.