Looking back on this year, we view the Spiritual State of our Meeting as steady, vibrant, healthy, alive, and active. We have not had one or two major activities. Instead, we have experienced energy and vitality bubbling up in a number of important and exciting areas of our community’s life.
We are pleased to note the increase in participation in our committees by younger members of our community—some in positions of leadership. The Nominating Committee found responsiveness on the part of new attenders when offered the opportunities to serve.
We continue to feel the energy of our children and Young Friends during the first twenty minutes of Meeting. Our Religious Education Classes are thriving. Our Assistant Clerk will serve as a Liaison to the Religious Education Committee this year.
Meeting supported the ministries of individual Friends who were called to serve in specific areas. Support committees gave these individuals the personal support and guidance needed to carry out their ministries, and all of Meeting benefited from reports and presentations around their activities. Moreover, we have embraced the idea that people are called to ministry, and we are learning how this can be realized within a non-programmed tradition.
Many members of our Meeting have recognized their own gifts and have been actively involved with groups and organizations in the Richmond community and in the world.
The spiritual state of our Meeting during this past year was profoundly affected by the illness and death of our friend, Jean Jones Andersen. Over the years, Jean organized and led small groups in Bible study, dream work, Islamic studies, and the quest for meaning in life. She led by example. She invited others into her home, her life, and into the process of her dying. Many of us were deeply touched by her and by her encouraging us to “trust the process.” In her will, she left us with a challenge regarding the future of adult spiritual education in our Meeting.
Over the past year, as Jean lost her strength, the Spirit of our Meeting was revealed in the continuation of Bible Workbench and the Islamic Studies group without her physical presence and direct leadership. As one member observed, “We saw that we have the Spirit within us that was within Jean.”
We see that Spirit is active in our Friendly Eights groups, in our various committees, in our Religious Education program, and in increased connections and interactions between adults and young people. In our Meetings for Worship we continue to experience the depth and significance of the silence as we wait. Vocal ministry during Meeting has been rich and meaningful.
Our Meetinghouse and education building have become well-used resources for like-minded groups. This accomplishes one of the goals articulated when we renovated and expanded our facilities. Similarly, use of the Clearing has increased over the past year; some see the Clearing as poised to “take off,” realizing the dream of many.
During this past year, our Meeting has responded to the economic crisis in our world by establishing listening circles, and by renewing a Fund for Suffering at the initiative of the Care and Counsel Committee. Peace and Social Concerns has continued its steadfast service to the community.
During a year in which we experienced great loss, we have come together in Spirit and in action. We enter the new year joyfully trusting the process.