2002 State of the Meeting Reports

A deeper sense of fellowship in meetings for worship was experienced by Friends in monthly meetings from Maine to Hawaii during 2002. According to annual State of the Society reports, meetings also focused on concerns about racism, diversity among their members, and community outreach. Meanwhile, the threat of war with Iraq led many meetings to self-examine their allegiance to the Peace Testimony and their calling as Friends to answer to that of God in everyone.

Rochester (N.Y.) Meeting reports, "After 9/11/01, and throughout 2002, our meeting has explored, in many ways, the issue of peace and our response to national and international events. . . . Friends are drawn, individually and corporately, to exemplify the Peace Testimony in our lives, in our interactions with others, and in our choice of activities. . . . Friends have expressed the desire to be the peacemakers, to reiterate our belief in that of God in everyone including those we have strong differences with, and to encourage the use of silence and discernment as we create peace."

Cambridge (Mass.) Meeting writes, "In voicing our opposition to violence and war, how frankly have we spoken with each other about the ways in which we ourselves may have been responsible for planting the seeds of war?" the meeting asks itself. "What do our decisions about money tell us about how well we have been living the testimonies of Simplicity, Integrity, and Community? . . . How honest are we with each other in acknowledging the discomfort antiracist conversation causes us?"

Summit (N.J.) Meeting reports, "Friends are very heartened by the social activity undertaken by meeting and by individual Friends, much of it in direct response to 9/11 and the threat of war in Iraq. . . . Many Friends expressed joy in the support they have found in meeting for the deepening of their spiritual lives and the provision of a ‘deep spiritual home’. . . . We struggle to discern what the Spirit would have us do and where the Spirit would have us be at any given time without dictating to each other the answer."

At Lancaster (Pa.) Meeting, "All members of our meeting faced the challenge of responding to possible war in Iraq in 2003. . . . The Ad Hoc Committee on Healing Racism has been actively working to help meeting members name and face the issues of racism and the reality of white privilege within our country and our own community."

For Burlington (Vt.) Meeting, "Some of us long for the shared creation of a covenant community with our relationship with God at the heart of a Christian religious community. Others see the imperative to seek peace and justice at the center of their understanding of Quakerism. . . .When we are able to ‘translate’ our differing beliefs and relax our insistence on the primacy of our own understandings, we have experienced deep and powerful worship together."

For Rockland (N.Y.) Meeting, "We have worshiped together; lobbied, demonstrated, and protested the war together; worked together; and continued to eat together at our post-meeting and other potlucks. . . . There is strong identification with Rockland Meeting as a family. . . . It nurtures people and provides strength for what they have to do. Central to this strength is the meeting for worship."

From the report for Friends Meeting of Washington (D.C.): "We recognize that all worshipers bear equal responsibility for the quality of worship; that vocal ministry is only one dimension of worship; and that the quality of worship depends also upon the quality of listening—not only to the Spirit but to that place where words come from."

Palo Alto (Calif.) Meeting places "a strong emphasis on community in our meeting. This year we have been particularly drawn together by concerns about war and politics and by an increased incidence of economic and health problems among our members. In times of stress we are thankful that the meeting is a strong spiritual home, where members can both give and receive care and support."

At Santa Monica (Calif.) Meeting, "Meeting for worship anchors our spiritual life. In vocal ministry, participants speak openly of God and about the presence of the Spirit in our midst. Furthermore, the worship has encouraged multiple and new voices in vocal ministry and this has strengthened our spiritual seeking."

And at Honolulu Meeting in Hawaii, "As we sit still and center down, as we become free of any sense of self, may those lost egos gently melt into a beautiful union of all life; may each of us become like a drop of water flowing into the stream of life; may we gain a sense of great peace and a warm glow from truly knowing God."

Robert Marks

Robert Marks, a member of High Point (N.C.) Meeting and a retired newspaper editor and journalist, is a volunteer news editor for Friends Journal.