Spiritual State of the Meeting -2009

The Spirit is clearly at work at Goose Creek Meeting. At times it performs in a predictable, logical manner when, as we become rooted in worship either individually or corporately in Meeting for Worship or Worship Sharing, Friends sense a burgeoning seed of social concern or a desire to help with First Day School, serve on a committee, or follow another leading. As they act upon that initial nudging, one step leads to another in service to our Meeting community, a local social organization, or the global community. At other times, however, the Spirit functions more mysteriously, as an apparent block surprisingly disappears in a few weeks, myriads of children appear on a snowy morning after weeks of sparse attendance in First Day School, or new plants emerge amidst dead leaves.

While describing how the Spirit flourishes frequently seems elusive, we have much less difficulty noting areas where the Spirit is evident since we feel it in our fellowship together during potlucks, worship and a picnic up at the Friends Wilderness Center, small group gatherings, and our acceptance of widely divergent spiritual and theological views. We sense the Spirit in the depth of thoughtfulness expressed in covered dishes and flowers for persons in various forms of distress, as well as the holding of persons in the Light weekly after Meeting for Worship. Recently, participation in Meeting for Worship with a Concern for Business has increased; we also note more thoughtfulness and willingness to listen to each other as we attempt to discern the leadings of the Spirit. Whereas in earlier eras the onus of leadership in the Meeting was assumed by a few people, now many different persons hold areas of primary responsibility, clerking committees or reaching out into the community and distant areas in service. Supported by generous financial assistance from Meeting, our young people continue to have life-enriching experiences at the yearly meeting camps. We are pleased by our enthusiastic First Day School children taught by dedicated and gifted adults. Friends exercise a plethora of gifts in innumerable ways both within and beyond our Meeting walls.

Meeting for Worship is the foundation of growth of the Spirit in our lives. Nourishing us weekly, it infuses a divine perspective into the hectic activity of our lives, offering solace amidst anxiety. We treasure the quiet depth of the silence. Often leading us more deeply into the cherished silence, much vocal ministry seems to stem from the Divine. In addition, other smaller gatherings support the growth of the Spirit as well. Friendly Eights, Spiritual Formation gatherings, Journal Writing Workshops, Worship Sharing on weekday evenings, and sessions on various aspects of Quakerism prompt us to apply more authentically our faith to various aspects of our personal daily lives. On a more personal level, Meeting Cares Committee ministers to the ailing, elderly, and individuals experiencing the loss of a loved one, in addition to recognizing life transitions.

We see the presence of the Spirit manifested in the work of our committees and sundry individuals who serve our Meeting, community and world. Our living history program at the Oakdale School teaches children in local schools about Quaker education in 1818. Thanks to a generous bequest to the Meeting, we award several scholarships a year to students from the county. The application process differs from others in that it is not competitive but engages candidates in a discussion on a topic about which they subsequently write an essay. For many applicants, this scholarship constitutes their primary exposure to Friends. In a different context talks on our history as a Quaker community inform others of our rich heritage. For our own people, the Meeting library contains not only spiritual classics but books on new breakthroughs in science.

While in the past the Meeting has been concerned with social issues in our local community, a few Friends have recently led us to relate more closely to persons of other religions in the area and to financially support ministries in the developing world, ranging from a Quaker-supported school in Zimbabwe to training midwives in Haiti. Reports on these ventures help us identify more personally with people less fortunate than we. Yet we are not neglecting local needs as evidenced by contributions to local food pantries and our hospitality to Hispanic guest workers in the area. While we have only a few projects within the Meeting which serve the community, we have many Friends individually active in such organizations.

Sometimes the Spirit manifests itself in the form of a gentle nudge as it challenges us to do more outreach. When we contact persons no longer attending Meeting, out of fear of exerting pressure, we are often reluctant to express the degree to which we miss them. However, we note that some have appreciated our overtures. In addition to weddings and memorials which expose outsiders to Friends, our Archive has become a source of local history to persons outside our walls. In the future we hope we can be bolder in sharing who we are with people unfamiliar with Quakerism. Although we have participated with African American churches in the community in the past, we have not for some time. We would be richer if we resumed those relationships. While some Friends participate in activities of the wider Quaker community, including the FGC Gathering and BYM, we want to encourage more such involvement, particularly within families.

Finally, the Spirit leads us to a deep sense of gratitude for the bountiful resources of spiritual gifts exercised within and without the Meeting. Our cup indeed runneth over.

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