A sense of community seems to be the unifying theme expressed during the past year at Goose Creek Meeting. We continue to experience a variety of vocal ministry from our youngest members to our more seasoned Friends, while the richness of the silence allows for deeper contemplation and spiritual nourishment. We have begun a practice of encouraging “Afterthoughts” after Meeting for Worship. This practice has perhaps allowed members and attenders to feel freer to share and has enriched the spiritual life of the Meeting and our connections to each other. We trust that the Spirit guides our Meetings for Worship through vocal ministry and the richness of the silence.
Through our monthly discussion groups, we continue to enhance our connections to each other as well as to the larger community. We are mindful that often the same people attend these discussions and look for ways to include more members/attenders in these endeavors. Our Friendly 8’s groups and the practice of sharing Joys and Concerns continue to provide opportunities for more connections, both spiritually and personally.
We seek to explore other ways to deepen our spiritual connections to God and to each other through new activities and through providing more opportunities for personal sharing and support in addition to Meeting for Worship. Last fall we enjoyed a special Meeting for Worship in the woods of Friends Wilderness Center, followed by a potluck picnic.
Our First Day School continues to thrive and this year, more than ever, more Friends have taken on teaching responsibilities and share in the work of nurturing our youngest Friends. This has been enabled by the hard work and organization of the Religious Education Committee. A young adult Friend has taken on the task of working with our middle/high school youth – a wonderful way to reach out to our older children at a time when developmentally they wish to pull away.
We are encouraged by the breadth and depth of our committee work. It is here that one feels the strength of our sense of community as many members and attenders have labored with each other and with Quaker process and values to promote the work and ideals of our Meeting. It is in the committees that we explore leadings together, support each other and bring issues back to Meeting for Business for seasoning and discernment. Meeting has supported clerks by sending two members to the Pendle Hill Clerking workshop and will continue this practice on a regular basis. Our Finance committee has worked hard in these difficult economic times to better organize our financial life and to raise awareness of Meeting finances in Meeting for Business so that all can share ownership of the problems as well as the solutions.
We seek to reach out and connect with the larger Quaker community through our support of members/attenders attending Friends General Conference. Our Camping and Finance Committees’ continued support of camperships for all youth wishing to attend summer camp provides an invaluable opportunity for the spiritual growth of our youngest Friends. We also responded to the need of BYM for support for a new Development Director.
We continue outreach to our wider community through our ongoing participation in the local interfaith group, Loudoun Bridges. Our Oakdale living history program is a rich source of community outreach and provided the opportunity for a visit and potluck with a youth group from Reston’s St. Luke AME Church. Our Goose Creek website provides another connection to the wider community, and there are plans for an Oakdale School website, with a link from Goose Creek. The Library Committee has worked to make our library more accessible and has made our book catalog available online. At the same time we are mindful of the diminishing numbers of unprogrammed Friends Meetings and will seek to look for other ways to enhance our outreach efforts.
We are further mindful of the need to move beyond our local community to those suffering in other parts of the world as we look for ways to make a difference.
In these difficult times, like many others, we are struggling with our budget and contributions. Now, more than ever, we see the need to examine our relationship to money and our commitment to our values. We want to maintain our financial commitment to our community outreach and are mindful of work that needs to be done spiritually and with each other in order to accomplish this commitment. We need to ask ourselves some very difficult questions. But with our reliance on the Spirit to guide us, we are hopeful of finding new and creative ways to reach out to those who need help in these trying times.