Threshing Session on Becoming a Monthly Meeting

First Day-April 21, 2002

Patapsco Preparative Meeting’s Threshing Session on Becoming a Monthly Meeting

(ad hoc Monthly Meeting Committee clerk Ken Stockbridge, Sherri Morgan, Johanna D., Bob Rhudy recording.)

Eleven persons participated in the threshing session, which began at 12:15 pm following the rise of meeting and simple meal.

The queries concerning the spiritual aspects of whether Patapsco Preparative Meeting should become a Monthly Meeting are attached. Ken Stockbridge described the purposes of the threshing session as to gain clarity and to listen to each other. He stated that this is not a decision session. The committee will prepare a minute to present to the business meeting next Sunday pursuant to the responses and leadings presented in this threshing session. He encouraged attenders to be brief, and urged persons to try to speak from their personal experience. He urged presenters to leave space between responses, and wait to be recognized. The recorder will take notes, and will be allowed sufficient time to do so. Attenders were encouraged to speak once, or wait for a second opportunity after everyone has had a chance to speak; to speak to such or all of the queries as they wish; and to read the queries, settle into silence, and speak as led when recognized. Ken indicated that the sub-queries under query number 1 were meant to be mind joggers. He then read the queries, and following a brief silence, responses were raised.

Responses to the queries were expressed as follows:

1. I feel clear about becoming a Monthly Meeting . I feel that we are already, that the pieces are in place, the base is in place, identity is in place; and feel this meeting as a center for our spiritual journey. The change from preparative to Monthly Meeting would be subtle, and would extend our roots a little deeper, and help make the tree a little stronger. I accept responsibility to help maintain the meeting. I feel a sense of accomplishment in what we have done in trying again to establish a meeting in Howard County following two previous efforts, and a sense of celebration that we are at this point.

2. The Friend before me speaks my mind. I also feel clear about our readiness to become a Monthly Meeting . I feel a sense of fulfillment. I would like to be among the first to have my name enrolled as transferring membership from Sandy Spring to the Patapsco Monthly Meeting . I expect and will accept some increase in responsibilities, but do not expect the increase to be too onerous. There may be a couple of changes we may need to anticipate and address: (1) There may not be as much access to financial assistance for our youth to attend Quaker Summer Camp, and our meeting will need to look to ourselves to assist in meeting the cost for our children to have this camp experience, which can be pivotal to some children in their Quaker development. (2) The Sandy Spring newsletter encourages attendance at preparative meetings; and we hope that it will continue to encourage its readership to consider attendance at our Monthly Meeting . We have members who have an affiliation with Sandy Spring, but I believe that we have managed our transition in such a manner that has helped them emotionally transfer over their spiritual affiliation. I would want to be organized under the care of the Baltimore Yearly Meeting. It is important to maintain our participation and affiliation with our other similar meetings with shared identification, experience, and support.

3. I agree and am clear that our becoming a Monthly Meeting is a reflection of what we are. It reflects and acknowledges that this is our spiritual home; and that while I may visit other meetings, this is where my spiritual home resides and where I expect to return. I wish to accept that reality and to be named for what we are. I am willing to accept the increased responsibility for the maintenance of our Monthly Meeting , but suggest that we need to be accepting of the different levels of participation and responsibility our members and attenders are able to offer depending upon their needs, leadings, and circumstances. I wish for our Monthly Meeting to be under the care of the Baltimore Yearly Meeting.

4. I agree that we are ready to become a Monthly Meeting . I am not convinced that this will engender only a little more work for our meeting. We could be over-whelmed if we become very involved in the wider community, but this is a risk worth taking. The decision to open ourselves to this wider community is an important one. I don’t know where this decision will lead, but it could be an opening experience.

5. I am not aware of what large differences there will be in going from a preparative to a Monthly Meeting . There may be some from a symbolic perspective, and it could represent a milestone, or a symbol of progress. In terms of practical differences, however, I don’t know one way or another.

6. I am clear that we are ready to become a Monthly Meeting . I am the newest person here, but it seems like we are ready to become a monthly. I identify this as the group that I would like to become a member of, and I do not have such feelings about Sandy Spring. It feels big, and I identify with this meeting and I want to become a member here. I would like to become a Quaker, but I don’t know if I am worthy yet, but it would be at Patapsco. I would like us to be under the care of the Baltimore Yearly Meeting. I believe that an essential part of being a Quaker is being part of a community, and this is our community.

7. I am perfectly clear that we are a Monthly Meeting . This is an outward recognition of a spiritual truth, just as my joining Sandy Spring was previously. From the very beginning, I was welcomed and accepted by attenders in the meetings I attended as a Quaker—I was recognized as a Quaker before I recognized it myself. I feel the same way about our recognizing and accepting the reality that we are a Monthly Meeting . I want us to come under the care of the Baltimore Yearly Meeting, Friends General Conference, FUM, Friends Committee on Consultation—i.e., our being involved with all these meetings grounded in Quakers around the world is very important. I am grounded in this meeting. This gives me greatest confidence in venturing out into other Quaker bodies and meetings and places. I am very happy that we are at this point. We are no longer a “new meeting,” but it is appropriate that we be a new Monthly Meeting . As my other Friend has stated at a previous time, I hope that we will always be a “New Meeting.”

8. Other Friends have spoken my mind, and I have little to add. I will affirm that our becoming a Monthly Meeting recognizes a reality that already exists. I believe that very little would change, that it would be barely noticeable. I have previously said that it would hardly matter. In some places such as England, meetings are preparative for hundreds of years. There was a preparative meeting previously in Howard County for 120 years. I would want to be under the care of the Baltimore Yearly Meeting, which underscores the essential inter-connectedness of the Society of Friends. I feel that I am a member of the Society of Friends, even though I am not a member. I have not joined previously because I do not feel like a member of the Sandy Spring Meeting. One reason that I have not joined is that I have not felt that being a member mattered, but I feel that others may feel it does matter. I believe that becoming a Monthly Meeting can help people with their spiritual journey. Being a preparative meeting under Sandy Spring has provided us with a safety net. We haven’t used or needed the safety net, but there is a psychological value in saying we don’t need the safety net, deepening our commitment to Patapsco. I will encourage our minute asking for Monthly Meeting status to express our deep gratitude to Sandy Spring for their support to our preparative meeting, and that we release them from their responsibilities to us by becoming a Monthly Meeting . I feel that we ought to release them from that responsibility.

9. In the last year we have been recognized as a Monthly Meeting by other Monthly Meeting s such as Sandy Spring and other Monthly Meeting s who attended quarterly meeting here. They have affirmed us as acting as and being ready to be a Monthly Meeting .

10. Elaborating on the work that might accrue to becoming a Monthly Meeting , I am somewhat excited about the work. It is a part of the spiritual journey of our meeting. Many meetings have something called a “Manual of Procedure,” a document of the spiritual journey of the community regarding how it needs to be expressed as a community. Developing a “Manual of Procedure” is not easy, but being a Quaker is not easy.

The threshing session concluded at approximately 1:30 p.m.

Queries for Threshing Session on Becoming a Monthly Meeting

4th Month, 21st day, 2002

  1. Do I have clearness about Patapsco becoming a Monthly Meeting ? Why or why not?
  • How would my experience of Quaker meeting be affected if Patapsco becomes a Monthly Meeting ?
  • How would my perspective on membership in Quaker meeting be affected if Patapsco became a Monthly Meeting ?
  • What would I look forward to if Patapsco were to become a Monthly Meeting ?
  • What is required for me to have clearness in reaching a decision about becoming a Monthly Meeting ?
  1. How can Patapsco becoming a Monthly Meeting aid or hinder seekers on their spiritual journey?
  2. Am I willing to accept the increased responsibilities that may be required of me if we become a Monthly Meeting ?
  3. Would I like our meeting to be organized as a Monthly Meeting under the care of Baltimore Yearly Meeting?
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