Spiritual State of the Meeting – 2008

At Little Falls Meeting, we continue to experience the advantages and disadvantages of being few in number. One principal advantage is the opportunity to know and understand each other. One principal disadvantage is that there are more jobs and responsibilities than people who are able to assume them.

Being able to know each other reasonably well, we enjoy conversations in which all present can contribute and find enrichment. We feel confident enough in our caring for each other that we are able to discuss difficult issues in a spirit of patience and mutual concern, and a number of members and attenders have expressed a desire to share even more about our religious beliefs and experiences. Friends have expressed their sense of being strengthened by the community and of feeling at ease when speaking.

The meeting community as a whole is very grateful for the contributions of the longer-term members, without whom the meeting would falter. Our community continues to be strengthened by new attenders as well, and to benefit from their insights and other contributions. We acknowledge that we need to help newcomers feel more at home and more welcome to be involved in the activities and responsibilities of the meeting community. This is particularly important not only because long-time members sometimes feel “burned out” by the work they are doing for the meeting, but also because newcomers express a desire to contribute but an uncertainty about how best to do that. It has been noted that the lack of an active Hospitality Committee is a liability for the meeting, and that serving on that committee might be a good opportunity for newcomers. We plan to continue to explore and address those issues in the coming year.

In our conversations about our spiritual state, some Friends expressed a need for more active oversight of the quality of worship and ministry. While generally our worship and ministry meet the needs of the community, and in fact have contributed to Friends’ reported experience of spiritual growth during the year, there have been periods when worship and vocal ministry have not offered the spiritual depth and challenge for which some of us feel a strong need. It was suggested that we may need to find more confidence in overseeing worship and ministry, in helping each other reach and speak from deeper states of worship, and in speaking our concerns to each other.

We benefit from the strengths of each person in the meeting, including the young people and children as well, whom one Friend described as our “bright spot.” We continue to seek to strengthen intergenerational ties, and to move forward with our young people into the uncertainties of the future. We have invited our young people to join us for discussion of issues that affect them, and we are grateful for our connection with Harford Friends School, which has enriched our community in a number of ways.

We also note that the spiritual life we share finds expression in various forms of service to the wider community, including working for peace and justice and advancing Quaker values on boards of organizations and institutions such as the Sheppard Pratt Health System, Friends School of Baltimore, Harford Friends School, Broadmead, and the Quaker Universalist Fellowship.

We cherish the preciousness of each person in our community, and we seek to help each person continue to mature in the spiritual life and find opportunities to contribute to our small meeting community as well as to the larger community beyond our walls.

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