Worship continues to be the anchor for most members and attenders of Adelphi, and during this year many say they have experienced a deep spirit of worship. Both the vocal ministry and the silence have been described as rich and spiritually rewarding. We still need to work on providing space between messages for absorbing and deepening the experience, although this was less of a problem than in previous years.
The young people, through Junior Meeting and Young Friends Worship Sharing, are guided in their participation in Meeting for Worship and other Quaker practices. Peace and Social Concerns Committee instituted a Preparation for Meeting for Worship, a half-hour period prior to Meeting for Worship on the Third First Day of the month, during which individual members of the Meeting reflect on their own spiritual journeys. A small outdoor worship in the Memorial Garden on the second First Day of the month was instituted. A Christmas evening meeting was held, and it was well appreciated by those who attended. Individuals still express some concern that our time to express joys and concerns sometimes goes too far afield or lasts too long. The Ministry and Worship Committee has struggled with this issue, but no consensus has emerged.
Many changes have occurred during 2007. Building on the impetus provided by the 50th anniversary celebration, during which we began the process of envisioning how the Meeting should continue to grow, the ad hoc Long Range Planning Committee worked throughout the year. Their report, entitled “Tending our Roots, Nurturing Our Future,” challenged the Meeting to look at the various themes developed and to respond to provocative proposals on each theme. There has been enthusiastic participation, and a plan has been developed to have threshing sessions on each theme during 2008.
Ministry and Worship Committee completed two major documents that have been in the works for years. Living Life in the Spirit is the Meeting’s guide for supporting individual callings and leadings, and a manual entitled Practices and Procedures Supporting the Spiritual Life of the Meeting spells out the charges of each Meeting committee and is a guidebook for worship, business and other spiritual practices. Both documents were approved by the Meeting, with the understanding that the manual will continue to be a work in progress, as Meeting needs and committee structures change.
Responding to the concern that visitors and newcomers sometimes find it difficult to integrate in the Meeting, Outreach and Fellowship has become more active in welcoming them and being available to interpret Adelphi and Quakerism. In addition, this committee along with the Hospitality Committee initiated a process by which expanded snacks are available following Meeting for Worship—with volunteers signing up to bring in food. This has enhanced the fellowship and might have encouraged more people to remain for the Second Hours, which have been better attended than in the past. The topics have included: Ramallah Friends School; an imam discussing Islam and peace; a threshing session on Peace and Social Concerns’ new proposals for distributing the money given to community organizations; Prince Edward County, Va. civil rights history; a listening session on the BYM young Friends program; worship sharing on the Spiritual State of the Meeting; and a session on Quaker Discernment.
The first interment of ashes in the Memorial Garden took place this year. The Memorial Garden provides a quiet sanctuary for individual meditation.
Our Meetings for Worship for the Conduct of Business this year presented no big controversies, and there was a general feeling that the business was conducted in a spirit of worship. This was the first full year since the Meeting changed its fiscal year from the calendar year to a December through November year. Finance Committee kept the Meeting well informed of how we were doing in terms of contributions and expenses, and appreciation has been expressed for the clarity of their reports. We were pleased that the budget was met.
All the committees of Meeting have been very active during the year, although it has been difficult to find enough members for our various committees. As a result, some people are stretched too thin. The Long Range Planning Committee is examining the role of the committees in the life of the Meeting, including the spiritual life of the Meeting. Pastoral Care has responded to the needs of members who were ill or who needed other assistance.
The First Day School program continues to be vibrant for both children and adults. Adult Religious Education has not been as active this year, and several people have expressed regret that Quakerism 101 or some variation on it did not occur. A desire for Bible study expressed by many will be addressed in second hours beginning in 2008.
Individual and corporate leadings and activities in the Meeting have continued to inspire and challenge us. Among the many, the renamed and revitalized Quaker Earthcare Witness Committee presented a sustainability minute, which was approved by the Meeting, and led us in potluck dinners using local foods and less trash. The tutoring project at Mother Jones Elementary School continues to receive financial support from Meeting, some volunteer support from Meeting members and support from other volunteers from the larger community. The same could be said on a national and international level for Ufufuo, which focuses on rebuilding and reconciliation. The Restore and Renew Wellness Clinic at Walter Reed Army Medical Center, and Housing Initiative Partnership (HIP) have called us to ponder our relationship, respectively, with the military in wartime, and with the poor in our area.
Friends Community School, which is under the spiritual care of the Meeting, moved into its new green building in the fall. On November 4, Adelphi’s Meeting for Worship was held at the school in celebration of the anniversary of its founding. Tours of the new building were a highlight of this event. Concern, however, still exists about the degree of involvement of the Meeting in the spiritual life of the school.
The children in Meeting responded to the queries (adapted from the BYM queries) by saying that they do not feel encouraged to speak in Meeting for Worship, and there was a mixed response to whether they feel listened to by adults. Most find the silence (when they are in Meeting for Worship for the first twenty minutes) too long or too boring, but at least one appreciated the silence. Potluck and Strawberry Festival are popular with them and provide opportunities for intergenerational fellowship. The children have a concern for the environment, and they want to be more active. It has been suggested that there should be more cooperative games and social activities for the children on a regular basis.
Young Friends and Junior Young Friends provided feedback that Meeting is the focus of their spiritual life and expressed appreciation for hearing other people’s spiritual thoughts and understanding of Quakerism. They also appreciate the fellowship of other young people, and some feel that the Meeting provides a larger family.