Swarthmore Friends Meeting, Philadelphia Yearly Meeting
Spiritual State of the Meeting report for 2022
In preparation for this report, Swarthmore Meeting’s Worship and Ministry Committee offered two worship sharing sessions for members and attenders to share their thoughts about two queries. The following report is based mostly on those sharings. The queries were:
- How is the Spirit working in our Meeting and how are we responding?
- How are we helping support our individual and corporate service and witness?
In response to the first query, many Friends find themselves connected, supported and nurtured by Spirit and by each other when we come together for worship and for fellowship. We had a very successful outdoor camping retreat in September 2021 which nourished our spirits and our community with close to 6o people of all ages attending all or part. We are grateful for the reinstatement in fall 2021 of fellowship time at the rise of meeting. We have had newcomers come and return. Overall, our meeting feels spiritually stronger than it was, and during fall 2021 hybrid worship was drawing more than we had before COVID. In early January, we had as many or more people attending the in person part of hybrid worship than we had for in person meetings before COVID.
We are enriched by the involvement of young families and children in worship more regularly and missed them when there was no First Day School until the fall of 2021 and then again when it was suspended in January and February 2022. It is truly a joy when children share their own “joys and concerns” at the rise of worship. We appreciate that the children’s programs and children’s presence in worship take many hands to organize and nurture. We know that it is hard for parents of young children to participate when there is no children’s programming, and many found Zoom hard to manage when they were on zoom for work and schooling.
We are weary of Zoom, however, and look forward to a time when Covid precautions are not needed. Some long for more gathered meetings for worship and wish for more inspirational ministry. We long to be together and are noticing how much we need each other. For a number of us, Zoom is second best to in person worship, although it appears to be needed for a while into the future. Committees have too few members and sometimes feel tired, even while attending to Spirit led work.
In response to the second query, the meeting is supporting a number of service and witness efforts. Some people are supporting other individuals in the meeting in spiritual and concrete ways. Several shared that the meeting is a constant support for what they do in the world (for example, voting rights, climate justice, sustainability) and as they go about their daily lives.
The Racial Justice Working group which came into being in the summer of 2020 has worked to bring issues and queries before the meeting, provide education, including a forum on the Lenni-Lenape People. And they have been nurturing a project to help us become more welcoming. This work of welcome and inclusion is an opportunity for the meeting committees to work together. We also support the individual recorded ministry of Marcelle Martin which enriches us as well as the broader Quaker community. Outreach to the world has included writing letters to the editor about January 6 and about trash to steam plants, and reaching out to the local AME church for mutual collaboration efforts. With great meeting support a meeting member was led to organize a vigil to remember the events of January 6, 2021 and express hope for the future.
As we move forward, we plan to continue our efforts to build community, deepen our worship and support efforts to bring our Quaker testimonies into the world, along with outreach to those we would like to know better. We are on a continued spiritual journey collectively as well as individually.