State of Society, 2017 for Concord (NH) Monthly Meeting of Friends

Draft 2018-04-17T1715 (with hyperlinks added)

While Concord Friends Meeting continues to be a healthy, happy, functioning Meeting, we remain aware that the health of our Meeting is a fragile miracle that depends on the unique and seemingly indispensable contributions of many individuals.  We can look around the room and be grateful for the gifts that each Friend brings to our circle.  We know that ultimately our strength comes from the Holy Spirit that guides us forward, and we are grateful for each soul whose path has led them to be part of this Meeting where we find our spiritual community.  The Light has been present with us in fellowship, service and worship in many ways this past year.

We have been blessed with four new members and with several other new attenders who bring new vitality to our community.  Regular classes during the week such as Quakerism 101 & 201 and the 2017 Bible Half Hours have inspired us and welcomed newcomers.  Our First Day School program is thriving with children who attend week after week.  The heart of the Meeting remains our worship time together on Sunday mornings.  The many other activities nourish our worship and our worship nourishes our other activities.

We conscientiously reached out to the community with activities like our monthly Song Circle, a booth at the Canterbury Fair, and hosting a Compassionate Listening Project evening.  We celebrated and strengthened our community with social activities like Friendly Eights, Spring and New Year’s parties at the Meeting House, and a canoe trip on the Merrimack River.

We managed a week-long vigil at the State House, witnessing against starting a war with Korea.  We joined the Immigration Solidarity Network which among other things, committed us to frequent vigils and support for Sanctuary churches in NH.  We issued a public statement in response to the tragedy in Charlottesville, VA and hosted the Quaker-led Climate Pilgrimage with worship and hospitality.  We are grateful for the faithful commitment of individuals who regularly witness with New Hampshire Voices of Faith at the legislature on issues of social justice.

Last year we wrestled with whether to post a Black Lives Matter sign outside the Meeting House.  To come to greater clarity and unity we started a study group focusing on the book Waking Up White.  This year, we found ourselves led to place highway signs with Black Lives Matter and other inclusive and anti-racist messages to enhance the Meeting’s visibility and welcome attenders.  We continue to struggle with our own complicity in injustice and racism.

Our faithfully maintained website, ConcordFriendsMeeting.org, serves both as a welcome to new seekers and as a place where our community can learn about upcoming events, read our Monthly Meeting documents, and find links to blogs, articles, and news from New England Yearly Meeting and beyond.

We are grateful for our beautiful grounds and building.  We worked together to build a new garden shed.  The Property Committee organized bi-monthly deep-cleaning sessions after meeting, which help to keep our space restful and inviting.  Our finances remain solid and are more predictable thanks to many households now using automatic payments.  We received a gift from another non-profit organization of a four-acre woodlot behind the Meeting House; we look forward to maintaining and using this lovely land.

As we move forward into 2018, we hope the Spirit will guide us to attract more members and attenders to join us in worship and other activities and bring more children into our First Day School community.  We will revitalize our Peace, Social, and Earthcare Concerns Committee (PSECC).  That revitalization may include sharing our Quaker perspective in letters to the newspaper and on Facebook, along with more collective actions to make our Quaker values heard.  We look forward to organizing Family Fun nights and other gatherings to strengthen our community.  And most importantly, we look to the Light in continuing to support and nourish the work we are already doing.

A sapling sends its roots deep into the earth for stability and nourishment.  Branches begin to grow from the slender trunk, leaves reaching up to catch the rays of the sun.  While delicate, the sapling can thrive despite obstacles and impediments.  Our Meeting’s growth is rooted in the Spirit, reaching up into the Light.  Like the sapling, it is fragile but resilient.  When we act in harmony with the Spirit, we have the strength to share our Quaker values in these challenging times.