Adelphi Friends Meeting continues to be a vibrant Meeting with 2010 being a year of looking both inward in the present and outward toward the future. Meeting for Worship has quieted and deepened, relationships of young people and adults are strengthening, and our desire to plan for the future of our property has brought forth new energy and insights.
Meeting for Worship remains the touchstone for most of us. By the efforts of all to balance the deep quiet with discerned messages that lead us, we feel more centered and have more time to absorb messages. A monthly “Meeting for Preparation for Worship,” in which an individual shares his or her spiritual journey, has deepened worship for some. For others our ongoing Spiritual Exploration program has ripened their connections to God. Monthly Meeting for Business has continued to be productive and generally free of tension. Works gets done. One BYM observer commented that respect and caring are apparent in our process. A member of the Ministry and Worship Committee is present each month with the sole purpose of holding the Meeting in the Light. There is still, however, room for improvement. Some are distracted by people coming and going during worship. Furthermore, our hearing-assistive sound system needs replacement.
Our community has strengthened as we have expanded opportunities to gather together. Ministry and Worship Committee instituted a new meeting time called “zero hour” (8:30 or 9:00 a.m. Sunday morning) to augment our busy Second Hour schedule. Snacks, or a small meal, now offered after every Meeting for Worship, has allowed more people to stay for fellowship, greet newcomers, and attend Second Hours or Meeting for Worship for the Conduct of Business. We have been challenged to provide this, however, as every household must volunteer to bring food once or twice a year. Also contributing to a stronger community is an individual whose leading it has been to revitalize our newsletter and directory, posting photos of every member and attender on-line. We have an active Communications Subcommittee expanding and enriching the Adelphi website. Outreach and Fellowship Committee, though small, greets newcomers every week and sent “care” packages to 22 of our college students. Adult Religious Education scheduled well-attended monthly Second Hours on topics of interest to both newcomers and old-timers. We had a study group on the book Fit for Freedom but Not for Friendship, and weekly Bible study, though this latter group eventually ended. There was also a Quakerism 101 series especially for newcomers.
House and Grounds Committee energetically tackled many delayed maintenance projects and our facilities are more welcoming as a result. Pastoral Care has been there for us all, assisting individuals and families in distress, arranging food when needed. They have shepherded prospective members through the process of becoming Quakers, and engaged couples through the clearness process for marriage. We know we can count on them.
Religious Education continues to be a real strength of Adelphi Friends Meeting, with dedicated teachers and a large participation. Elementary-age children still wish that their time sitting in the silence would be shortened. In First Day School they prefer active time; drawing, making up plays and building things related to their lessons are favorites. Young Friends particularly relish their open conversations about spiritual matters. They find the silence in the first 20 minutes of Meeting for Worship peaceful and important. BYM Conferences for Junior Young Friends and Young Friends, respectively, are especially appreciated, in part because Young Friends organize their own conferences. Many of the young people expressed a wish for more Meeting-wide events, such as our 50th Anniversary weekend, and other inter-generational gatherings so that they could know adults more and have the adults know them. The Meeting’s children and Young Friends are enthusiastic about their classes and the friends that they make, being accepted and appreciated for who they are, and the presence of the Spirit or God that they experience.
As we look to the future, a dedicated Facilities and Resources Working Group is leading us through the difficult process of making needed decisions about whether to upgrade our current buildings, tear them down and rebuild, or move in order to start afresh with much-needed additional space. This working group has involved the community in a Spirit-centered process using different types of activities and modalities. The process has been clear and gentle, but is also directly targeting difficult or long-standing issues.
We still have challenges and unmet needs. Some longstanding conflicts in the community have not been addressed properly. Realizing that we do not have a good method for resolving these conflicts, we are looking for a structure and process. We wish to do a better job of supporting Friends Community School but time for this is hard to find. Takoma Park Preparative Meeting is under our care but finds itself needing more from us and we endeavor to see how to do this. Most of our committees are very busy and need more members, resulting in one or two committees languishing. Burn-out is a very real threat and we struggle with how to support our committees.
This has been a very active year for our Meeting as we move through the process to envision our future, as we continue to build and support a caring community, and as we turn towards an ever-loving and nurturing Spirit.