On Second Day, First Month, 2005, Patapsco Friends Meeting approved a Minute of Recognition of a Patapsco Friends Meeting Prison Ministry to support and hold in the Light inmates at the Maryland Correctional Institute-Hagerstown (MCI-H) as they followed their leading to start a Friends worship group. Since that time the meeting at Hagerstown has grown from three to seven attenders supported by nine prison ministers from Patapsco Friends Meeting. As the group has grown in number they have grown in awareness of their meeting as a safe and caring community, a cherished community they have built in the midst of difficult and dangerous circumstances.
For those of us who have had the opportunity to support them, it has been a time of testing. Friends have no creed, no catechism. What do we teach and how do we teach it? Again and again we have been brought back to the foundations of our faith: that Jesus taught us to love God, to love our neighbors as ourselves, to love our enemies. We teach by our faithful attendance, by our care and concern for the attenders of this meeting and for their community, and by modeling Friends exploration of their spiritual experience through queries, in worship sharing and in silent worship. They think our presence is a miracle. It opens us to the power of the advice of George Fox: “Friends, meet together and know one another in that which is eternal, which was before the world was.” We’re not sure any of us know exactly what that means, but we all know what it feels like.
Ten years ago, a small number of us determined to found a meeting in Howard County. We had the same concerns that the early attenders at MCI-H had. Would it work? Who would come? How could we make ourselves known to the community? Each week at Mt. Hebron House a miracle happens. Each week at Hagerstown a miracle happens. It is the gift we give to each other and offer to the world.
Now the men at Hagerstown desire their community to be known as the South Mountain Friends Fellowship. In recognition of their continuing commitment to meet together in the manner of Friends, we hereby minute our approval of the establishment of this Fellowship under the care of our meeting. We will forward this minute to Baltimore Yearly Meeting; and place this Fellowship on the list of Friends Meetings in Friends Journal.
Approved, Fifth Day, Third Month, 2006
Clerk, Patapsco Friends Meeting