The Meeting continued to hold worship weekly. The COVID-19 pandemic guidelines allowed in-person worship however, continued use of Zoom technology video conferencing allowed members and attenders to worship remotely if they chose to do so. It also allowed members, former members, and attenders to worship with us from a distance. First Day school resumed, at first on a limited basis outdoors. We again hosted social coffees after meeting; however, this was again suspended at the end of the year as the virus variants spread.
Issues with the video conferencing continue to plague us, and indeed other Meetings. However, we continue to monitor and make changes and upgrades as we try to make worship and spoken messages available to all to hear.
The Meeting is struggling to appoint sufficient members to committees. Many committees are functioning with as few as half of the desired members. We have a small core of active members in Wilmington who have taken on the activities and needs of the entire community. Administratively, we have asked committees to provide reports in writing in advance of the monthly meeting for worship with attention to business. This has kept the meeting community informed and has eased the work of the recording clerks.
We continue to rely on the support of members and attenders to keep our Meeting functioning. Contributions have lessened during the pandemic. The trustees proposed, and Meeting approved, the use of some of the gains in endowment funds in 2021 to improve and upgrade the Meeting House. It is hoped that this will make the building more open and accessible to all, including groups in the immediate neighborhood.
Leadings of the Spirit, which had been a part of our meetings for worship with attention to business for several years was examined in light of the general impression that it had strayed from its original purpose. The clerks of Advisory, Committee on the Care of Meeting, and Worship and Ministry met and discussed this part of the meeting. Suggestions were passed on to the clerks who deemed the need for a threshing session to allow all to speak on the subject. Two threshing sessions were held, and the Meeting is currently in a trial period of another way for Friends to communicate leadings, joys, and concerns.
The Meeting continues to be involved in several community projects. Family Promise, an initiative that works with homeless families in transition, is supported by providing meals on a regular basis. Our commercial kitchen continues to be used to provide Emmanuel Dining Room with meals. During the summer, we partnered with the Community Center in two programs: 1) we participated in the community center’s summer camp program with the younger children (5-8 year olds) through Read-a-louds; and, 2) we conducted a young writers workshop (Pizza, Prose, and Poetry) to encourage children to write and express themselves in poetry. A presentation and reading of poems in the Meeting House were the culmination of this project.
The annual pancake breakfast, not held in 2020, was again held on the third first day in December. It was a scaled back effort, not as well attended as in previous years, but a welcome return to a kind of normalcy. The First Day School spent long hours in the fall making items to be sold in support of their charitable giving. Their craft items were offered for sale at the pancake breakfast and after worship. Over $200 was raised and at their next meeting for worship with attention for business they will decide how to donate the money.
Pacem in Terris, our long-time tenant, relocated their offices in October, and continue to work removing their files and other documents stored in the basement. We have had a long association with Pacem and wish them well in their new location and with their redesigned focus.