Our meetinghouse is welcoming and peaceful with usually between 7 to 12 people gathering for worship and visiting afterwards. We have a hybrid meeting with the use of technology some members/attenders meet with us from home. A sense of gratefulness for being able to worship together at Norristown Friends Meeting house is shared. We have had several new people attending meeting for worship on Sundays, and several return. We have started up GEM,(Greeting & Eating at Meeting) again and as always it brings us together for interesting news and conversations shared over delicious assortments of comforting soups, baked goods, and beverages. We plan to begin discussions of the monthly queries again.
The Norristown recorder, Carol Ashby, reports that Membership at the beginning of 2022 consisted of 59 adults. In 2022 we welcomed our longtime attender Marguerite Hayes into membership, but lost to death two dear members, Clifford Gillam and Louise Crossen. Our total membership at the close of 2022 was 58 adults.
Our meeting house has gone through many updates and improvements during the year of 2022. The Property committee is without any down time in caring for the meeting house facilities.
Little Treasures Day Care has renewed the lease for use of the meeting house for the fourth year. The relationship with Little Treasures has evolved and grown. We have met many caring childcare staff through L.T. Last January of 2022 the upstairs community room where the day care meets was repainted. The room was a bright yellow and now it is painted a misty meadow green with white trim. Painted by Kelly and Mary Green with assistance. Other work was done as well such as, changing of light fixtures and cleaning and organizing the stage area. A utility cabinet was also installed upstairs in the community room coat closet to provide storage for mops, brooms, and cleaning supplies. The floors and stairwells were also thoroughly washed, stripped, and waxed by our accomplished and dependable cleaning staff who has been working with us for 20 years now. We are fortunate to have a trustworthy and responsible cleaning staff that communicates regularly with our property committee to keep us informed of any problems, concerns or changes at the meeting house and grounds.
The meetinghouse has also undergone updates for the Verizon phone lines and Wi-Fi service. We started off using the Little Treasures Day care Wi-Fi but switched to having our own Wi-Fi account because it was an improvement to have our own access to the account and for servicing. Members and attenders of Norristown Friends continue to benefit from the ability to meet virtually using the zoom account for hybrid meetings. We can see those attending meeting and vice versa because we use the OWL technology that provides a view of the meetinghouse room. We continue to have new attendees join us for worship, and they share that they found our meeting on our website through the internet. Many thanks go to the development of our website by Marguerite Hayes and the Communications Committee. More appreciation and thanks also goes to Jayden Sampson who commits on a weekly and monthly basis to set-up the computer, with OWL and host the zoom aspect of meetings for worship.
In March of 2022 our dear member Clifford Riggs Gilliam, Jr. passed away. Clifford held a very active role in the life of Norristown meeting and had moved with Mildred Gillam to Foulkeways community for retirement in early 2000. A memorial service was held for Clifford at Norristown Friends meeting house on April 30, 2022. Friends and family filled the meetinghouse bright with love and flowers and a reception was held afterwards in Blue Bell at Normandy Farm’s country club reception room. Many of Norristown Friends attended the service as well as the reception. Carol Ashby’s minute for Clifford Gillam was read and approved at the May monthly meeting for business.
It was in April 2022 that our dear Friend Louise Crossen passed away. Members of Norristown Friends, Olivia Brady, Mary and Kelly Green and William Procyson were welcomed by Louise’s Crossen’s family for a Celebration of Life at the Boyd-Horrox-Givnish home.
Easter, April 17, 2022 we worshiped at the Upper Providence Meetinghouse at 8 AM which is our customary practice for Easter Worship. Our members then proceeded to Norristown Friends Meetinghouse to prepare and share in Easter breakfast. The worship service and breakfast were well attended by around 15 people with a delicious breakfast after worship. To prepare the U.P. Meetinghouse the Upper Providence committee met on April 16, to dust, and sweep clean the meetinghouse and grounds.
During the month of June the meeting house had to have an upgrade of the phone lines to resolve ongoing problems with the alarm system. The On-Line Security company informed the meeting via Jayden Sampson that there were connection problems which caused the alarm system to repeatedly alarm. It took numerous visits by contractors from the security company, Verizon, and meeting members (Jayden and Kelly) to meet at the meetinghouse and work the issue through. Thank you Jayden Sampson and Kelly Green for being responsible to seeing this work process through until completion. A new Secure mailbox (with lock) was installed outside the back door of the meetinghouse and the P.O. Box was closed at the Norristown Post Office. This will save money annually.
In June, 2021, a large oak tree that was dying in the front yard of the meeting house was taken down by a tree service. The plan was to have a sawyer cut up the wood from the tree on the meetinghouse grounds rather than take the wood away to be burned. It was in the end of the summer, August 2022 when the sawyer was able to bring his saw and equipment in to our yard to do the work.
Several of our members met for summer worship at the Upper Providence Meeting house in June 2022. We were joined by another local family from Collegeville that has located a family member buried in the U.P. Cemetery years ago. They have joined us for summer worship at least two times now and it was very interesting to talk with them about the Upper Providence community.
The Upper Providence Meetinghouse property has had continual care through the spring, summer and into the winter this past year with many improvements made. In July, the property committee installed a humidifier to dry out the inside of the meetinghouse. Starting in August a meticulous paint job inside and out began. The painting continued through the summer, fall and into December 2022. The windows, shutters, and all trim inside and outside were painted. The project was completed the day before the Christmas Carol sing event. The inside of the meeting house was thoroughly dusted and swept once the painter was finished.
December 18,2022 the Carol sing was well attended and enjoyed. Malcolm Brashear led us in the singing. Hot chocolate and cold cider were served with lots of donuts to all those attending. A good time was had by all and we were thankful to have cold weather permitting us to park on the grounds and meet in Upper Providence meetinghouse.
The Finance Committee and Co- Treasurer’s reports have been delivered at the monthly meetings for business on a monthly basis keeping members/attenders well informed on the meeting’s financial status. We thank the Finance committee for being committed to this complex task which involves much consideration and appreciation and for the past members of the finance committee that have very diligently kept the financial records. Through monthly meeting for business we have had the opportunity to learn about the many different aspects of the finances and bequests. It has been a journey through the past records of the Friends Fiduciary savings plan and bequest funds that we use to maintain the budget. We are currently using the Aplos software, set up by Eric Malm, for keeping the meetings finances in order. Eric has explained the software processes to those that are interested in understanding the process. Jayden Sampson has maintained payment of the bills and receiving of donations and making donations that are required to care of the meetinghouse and grounds. Many thanks and appreciation to both of them for their knowledge, experience, and commitment to caring for the meeting house finances.
Care and Counsel committee met with Marguerite Hayes February 2022 welcoming her as a new member to Norristown Meeting. Marguerite has been active on the Communications committee along with the Upper Providence Property committee, and serves as the representative to Abington Quarter Meeting and Norristown Soup kitchen for many years now.
Social Concerns committee members, Olivia Brady and Mary Green have met to discuss social justice issues and pondered organizing a social justice series of meetings. Mary Green attended Restorative Justice Practice trainings with a justice group at the Montgomery County-Norristown Public library in February 2022. Mary reports that the meetings were valuable and interesting to be a part of but due to restrictive weather conditions was not able to attend the full series of program that would take place in Philadelphia.
Many members of the Norristown Friends meeting volunteer at the Cecil and Grace Bean’s Thursday Soup Kitchen at the St. John’s Episcopal Church. There are usually at least 5 from Norristown Friends on a regular basis. It was relayed that Carol Ashby runs a “heck” of a soup kitchen and there are many people that respect her and commit to the soup kitchen because of her commitment and hard work.
Since the Covid pandemic many social service agencies and church programs are reorganizing and just beginning to meet again on a regular basis. There are many anti-hunger efforts in Montgomery County. For 2022 the social concerns committee recommendations were approved and contributions made to many of the same agencies that we have contributed to in past years such as the G&C Bean’s Soup Kitchen, Norristown Hospitality Center, the Patrician Society’s HUMAN fund (assistance for utilities) and the Salvation Army homeless shelter. A new food distributer, “God Feeds” is getting started in Norristown and has developed an admirable program, so we contributed to this new agency in 2022.
A concern that we address the issue that our meetinghouse is on Lenape lands, and how our presence on this land acknowledges the interloper nature of colonization has been brought up this past year. Let’s include a statement about this on our website this year. As we move ahead in the new year there are many different and important social issues that are important for us to act upon as Friends individually and as a Friends Meeting. With organizing and commitment to meet for discussion groups we can schedule programs to be held in the evenings or afternoons that are open to the community. The spiritual growth of our meeting as well as our membership may result from providing speaker forums in the community. Through following the leadings of the spirit about the issues facing our world and the Quaker community it is important to find unity and strength to support the purpose and essence of worship at Norristown Friend’s meeting. I ask members and attenders:
What is most needed to strengthen the communal witness of the meeting to the local community and beyond?
Mary Green, Clerk of Norristown Friends Meeting