HOUSATONIC MONTHLY MEETING
2007 State Of The Meeting Report
Considering the query, â€œHow do we sense the Spirit among us?â€ proved to be a opportunity for deep worship sharing among Friends, with the wish that those active Friends who were unable to attend could have shared in this fruitful experience of community. Our discussion combined sharings about personal faith as well as insights about the well-being and vitality of our Meeting.
The thread that wove its way through our time together was the conviction/affirmation that worship is the essential core of Quakerism and of our life as a Meeting. For many reasons (membersâ€™ work and family demands, Friends moving away, etc.) we have had fewer in worship this past year. We feel diminished joy and occasional discouragement when few people come to worship. The Meetingâ€™s strength and spirit seem lessened when we share First Day worship with only three or four others. One Friend commented that we are on the edge of being a vital meeting or a waning meeting, but that most of the time we seem vital.
Ours is a small meeting and every individual matters. So we especially feel the loss of those who are no longer here due to illness or other circumstances. One person observed that Meeting right now is in an ebb rather than a flow, although the Spirit is â€œflowingâ€ in parts of our Meeting; for example, First Day School sessions, Advancement Committee initiatives, and the depth of worship.
Yes, Meeting ebbs and flows, but not Spirit. Spirit is always here â€“ we are either aware or not aware of the Spiritâ€™s presence. It is easy to get caught up in the worldâ€™s craziness and become inactive. One Friend commented on her â€œjoyful renewalâ€ in reconnecting with Meeting after absence from worship for nearly a year. Worship is the way to return to awareness of Spirit.
A Friend, who transferred her membership to our meeting, spoke of her heartâ€™s journey from her previous meeting to Housatonic Meeting. She now is â€œat homeâ€ here and expressed gratitude for HMMâ€™s firm â€œmoorings.â€ We need to recognize and affirm this grounding in the Spirit and come â€œback to the harbor.â€
Our tender sharings about worship, which included some sense of loss and yearning for more, evolved into expressions of gratitude, remembrances about the yearâ€™s high points, and understandings about what Meeting means to us. We were pleased to be able to finish the porch railing, completing the renovations to our meetinghouse begun over five years ago. Our participation in New Milfordâ€™s 300th anniversary parade – carrying our new HMM banner – was spirited fun and affirmed our identity in this town, in which only three of our members reside. Indeed our meetinghouse is not only ours, but belongs to the community; we are stewards of this 203-year-old historic building.
We had much joy in hosting Quarterly Meeting in November and know that the program on New York Prison Families touched many and is continuing to have an impact beyond our Meeting. Our meeting does have a prophetic witness â€“ the film discussion of â€œA Force More Powerful,â€ one of several in our outreach series, and our hosting of the walkers on the Underground Railroad Tour attest to the potential of Spirit-led connections with others.
More recently, we sat in worshipful silence before beginning a discussion about our responses to FUMâ€™s personnel policy with regard to Friendsâ€™ gender and sexual orientation and NYYMâ€™s continuing relationship with FUM. We listened and shared deeply with one another. While no formal sense of the meeting was spoken or approved, and while doubts about our membership in FUM remain, all Friends expressed a desire to remain in relationship with FUM and to engage in ongoing discussion of these matters. Our conversations about these issues will continue.
Our worship sharing on this yearâ€™s query came full circle when one Friend, referring again to all the activities that can keep us from Meeting, called us to account: â€œI could be doing other important things today, but I choose to be here because Meeting is the most important thing.â€ For this Friend, “Meeting is the most important thing” means that her relationship to God is the most important thing in her life, and that meeting for worship with Friends is essential for keeping God at the center in her mind and heart.