Spiritual State of the Meeting – 2009

Greetings from Homewood Friends.

We continue to worship each First Day at 10:30 a.m. Worship is deep, centered and refreshing. The quantity and depth of vocal ministry seems to sit well with Friends. At the close of each meeting we share joys and concerns, providing an opportunity to for us to support one another, the burdens we bear and the concerns we carry into the world. Simple lunch follows each Meeting for Worship and is a time of warm fellowship. Adult Religious Education is held prior to Meeting for Worship (except for business meeting First Day). Once a month we engage in “Experiment with Light,” a guided meditation, which is thought to replicate the worship experience of Early Friends. Our Adult Education Program seems to have seasoned and deepened our worship.

Each month (save for August) we hold Meeting For Business Held In a Spirit of Worship. We are grateful for the strong spiritual leadership, skill, and patience of our outgoing clerk, Mina Brunyate. First Day School continues to be offered weekly and is a source of spiritual nourishment for those children and adults who participate. We initiated a new class (held once per month) for pre-school age children, which has been warmly received. Highlights of our First Day School program are semi-annual plays that involve all of the children. We have a strong nursery program which draws families with young children. Last year, we started a new tradition—an annual meeting trip to Camp Catoctin for fellowship and spiritual refreshment. Stony Run has a very active Young Friends program for high school age Friends enjoyed by several Homewood teens; about monthly these lively teenagers visit Homewood.

We have inherited a large, beautiful meeting house that our House and Grounds Committee lovingly maintains and improves over years. We regularly appreciate the vision of Friends over a decade ago who assured that our 3-story building is handicapped accessible. This year we are excited about plans to add solar panels to our south-facing roof, which are anticipated to provide a significant proportion of our electricity needs.

We discern that some of us have concerns about the vitality of Homewood Meeting; however, we are aware that these concerns are not universally shared. We are experiencing declining attendance at Homewoods’s Meeting for Worship, which now usually ranges from 30 to 40 persons. We have not thoroughly assessed the reasons for the decline in attendance. We seem to attract many visitors; however, few continue to journey with us. Perhaps it is because we lack consistent mechanisms to educate newcomers about Quakerism. Parallel to our attendance at meeting for worship, our First Day School Program continues with only a handful of school-age children attending. There is not a large enough core group of children involved in First Day School to draw in new children. It seems particularly important that we carefully consider what we provide to the preschool age children in the meeting in order to retain the young families who have enjoyed our nursery. Some of us grieve our lack of a strong corporate witness to our Quaker testimonies—particularly in these times when Baltimore is beseiged with violence and nationally we are in midst of two wars. We have, however, maintained a small
peace vigil every Friday afternoon in front of our Meeting House. It is often noted that there are many Homewood members who witness to our Quaker testimonies as individuals.

There seems to be a common theme…..we find ourselves very busy, too consumed by the demands of work and other commitments to leave much energy and time for our work at Homewood. It seems that few of us experience Homewood meeting as the “center” of our lives. Our building and committee structures were created for a significantly larger meeting. With fewer Friends participating at Homewood, there seems to be more work to do to maintain the meeting than there are committee members available to serve. It has been suggested that we need to rethink our organizational structures and practices to reflect the smaller meeting we have become. The spiritual life of any Quaker meeting is inextricably linked to its life as a community, the degree that we know, love and enjoy one another. Perhaps this is a place to start.

We remain yours in the Light,

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