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1997 State of the Meeting Report

Rahway & Plainfield Monthly Meeting of the Religious Society of Friends

Each year we are asked to send a report to NY Yearly Meeting
regarding the State of our Meeting. Here is our report for 1997:

Trying to describe the life of our Meeting is like trying to describe
the wonder of the universe. In its several parts, it lives thus:

1. Quality of Worship and Spiritual Ministry

About 21 members, 11 attenders, and 10 children regularly meet and serve in the life of this Meeting. Our meetings for worship are often gathered in the Light as we wait on God, our refuge. All are encouraged in vocal ministry, to stand and speak in the life of God when anything is upon them to speak, whereas we are sometimes challenged in Business Meetings to keep in worship. Fourth Day meetings continue. Friendly Bible Study and potluck dinner have been added, making this night a mid-week retreat. The study group has shared the books of James, 1 John, and Ruth. This ministry bears lasting fruit as more have been gathered and welcomed into our community this year.

Individuals in the Meeting participate in many other forms of ministry, such as delivering needed food, facilitating Alternatives to Violence workshops, offering grief counseling, promoting racial understanding, participating in spiritual friendships, and visiting at The McCutchen (the Yearly Meeting Friends Home).

Two members concluded a two-year School of the Spirit program on becoming a spiritual nurturer. As a result, one participant created a spiritual sanctuary for government employees and others facing situations that challenge their moral and spiritual integrity. The other participant is called to deepen the spiritual life and witness among Friends and others.

In the year ahead, God would have us share these individual leadings with the Meeting community, so we may be examples to one another, and so that the Meeting can better discern, support, and guide the many forms of ministry.

2. Efforts to Foster Spiritual Growth

Three times we met in worship to discern "How Is God Calling Our Meeting?" Our sense of these meetings is that God is calling us to grow as a spiritual community: to minister to, care for, and elder one another trusting even wounds from a Friend who moves us closer to God. (Proverbs 27)

With encouragement and support from the Meeting, Friends attended workshops offered by Pendle Hill, Powell House, NYYM, the New Foundation Fellowship, Youthquake and FGC Gathering. Also, the Meeting gave a Letter of Introduction for one member to visit among conservative Friends in Virginia and Ohio, who then reported her experiences and encouraged others to visit among Friends.

New Brunswick Meeting held a religious education series called "Quakerism 101" and several from our Meeting participated as attenders or instructors. In the year ahead, we hope to develop more opportunities for religious education, so that we may try to excel in gifts that build up the church. (1Cor 14)

3. Stands Taken on Friends' Principles

As part of the FISH Hospitality program, the Meeting hosted homeless parents and children six times this year one week each providing dinner, overnight stays, and companionship. This program is an easy yoke for some and a weighty cross to others, but the Meeting is still united in that this is God's leading for our community.

During Second Month, we hosted the executive board meeting of the Alternatives to Violence Project, providing food, housing, and meeting space. The Meeting also hosted an open workshop on race, which was offered by the Center for the Study of White American Culture. Throughout the year, the Meeting worked to declare how truth stands against the death penalty. Letters were sent to the Governor of New Jersey and to all members of our state's legislature. Members of our Peace and Social Concerns Committee, along with members of New Brunswick Meeting, met with a state legislator. Although we could not change his opinion on the issue, we were able to witness on this subject.

Also this year, the Meeting worked on petitions to shut down the School of the Americas. Our petitions, along with many others', were presented to the US Army in a protest march during Eleventh Month at the Georgia facility.

Finally, the Meeting took steps toward the right stewardship of our meetinghouse, the exterior of which is in poor condition. The Meeting united in hiring a preservationist and many helped to provide ideas, prayers, and other support to complete a grant application. This grant was awarded to the Meeting, and it is our witness to ensure that this gift is rightly used in the years ahead.

4. Personal and Family Relations

This summer we showed a series of spiritual films that gave us an opportunity to visit with one another and share an evening once each month.

Also, requests for prayer after each meeting for worship allow us to share what is happening in Friends' lives, to hold one another in the Light, and to give thanks to God.

5. Relations with Community and Other Religious Organizations

Several from the Meeting have attended a local association, Concerned Urban Clergy. Our Meeting needs to learn more about the surrounding cities and better share the faith we know and have experienced, so that none will be foreigners.

6. Participation in Friends' Activities

Members serve on Yearly Meeting Nominating and Coordinating Committee for Ministry and Counsel, Half Yearly Meeting Ministry and Counsel, Representative Meeting, FGC Central Committee, and as trustees of The McCutchen and Arbor Glen.

7. Significant Activities and Concerns

The Meeting has several ongoing concerns:

Presented by Ministry and Counsel on 1st Month, 25, 1998
Approved by the Meeting on 2 nd Month, 15, 1998
Karen Walsh, Ministry and Counsel Clerk
Robert Pritchett, Meeting Clerk

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