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?
Coming out of the shadow of COVID, Richland is enjoying an increasing number of new attenders at our Meetings for Worship and other community events. Our Care and Worship committee has been following an intentional program of reaching out to all who are a part of our community. We are beginning to share meals together again, an opportunity to reinforce our bonds.
We are concerned with the “Silence” of our Meetings for Worship. In personal discussions and our Contemporary Quaker Concerns (Adult First Day School), it is clear that we hold and share our depth of spirituality. However, that is not being expressed during open Worship. The Care and Worship committee is looking at ways that may encourage friends to be more sharing during Worship.
How have you sought to be neighbors and in relationship with other communities?
We continue to be active in the Quakertown Ministerium; meeting with and interacting with other faith communities of our area. We continue to participate in and allow the Meeting’s property to be used for the “Food for Friends”, a program to provide meals for those of our community in need. These meals are available in alternate weeks and have been providing 120 to 150 take-out meals at each event. Members and even some of our newest attenders have provided meals in this series.
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?
Our Anti-Racism Sprint Group is into its second year of a relationship with the James Logan Elementary School in Philadelphia. The school has been identifying projects and needs for us to consider funding. Projects have included providing a color printer and ink and painting of a room which houses needs for the children.
We continue to be aware of the challenges of “white privilege” and seek ways in which to address this. We have had a public witness along our property lines demonstrating for “Black Lives Matter”.
How has the Spirit guided your work on climate change? How has your meeting addressed the five action areas identified in the climate change sprint report? (.pdf) Has your Meeting appointed a Climate Witness Liaison?
There are several members of our meeting who, in their professional lives, work on matters of environmental awareness. The Meeting has over a 2 year period, planted more trees on our property and worked on a sustainable landscape. We are sensitive to the fact that many of our community live at a distance and attempt to organize our activities to minimize travel. We have recently had a member express interest in becoming our Climate Witness Liaison
What learnings and yearnings particular to your meeting would you like to share?
While enjoying a surge in new attenders, we are sensitive that many of these new friends may not be as aware of many of Friends practices and we are looking at ways to increase understanding. We are also becoming more intentional in planning for times we can share meals and have conversations so that all may better relate to each other.
What are things the Yearly Meeting might do to support your meeting?
As for many meetings, we have a concern for the apparent reduction in membership at meetings in our area. While we have recently enjoyed a surge in new attenders, we would like to see the Yearly Meeting be more intentional in “Lifting the Bushel that may be hiding our Light”. Are there ways that Yearly Meeting could provide information for the general public on the principles and beliefs of Friends in this region that may allow people to be more aware that we are here and welcome all?