Spiritual State of the Meeting – South Mountain 2008

Stardust to Stardust is such a short span of time in the realm of the Great Mystery. Could it be that humankind’s greatest struggle comes from the fact that maybe we lost sight that we are spiritual beings temporarily flesh and earth bound?

The earliest Christians have written testimonies of miracles of biblical proportions. New Year’s Day, 2005, three inmates met in a side hallway for discussion, prayer and worship in the manner of Quakers. This act of faith and practice was the birth of South Mount Friends Fellowship (SMFF) which is under the care and guidance of Patapsco Friends Meeting (PFM), Ellicott City, Maryland. There are a total of nine volunteers from Patapsco Meeting and they travel two at a time weekly to Maryland Correctional Institution in Hagerstown, Maryland (MCI-H.) It is a prison regulation that at least one member of PFM be present so that SMFF can hold regular weekly Meeting.

We were delighted when two new attenders joined our circle. Now we are eight.

Each week as this dedicated group forms a circle and enters into the silence of expectation and worship, the clamor of prison existence fades. There is that of God in all people and all things. We have become convinced the ultimate answer is the Light of God within.

There more than 2000 inmates housed at MCI-H on any given day. It is a dangerous environment and daily situations can become explosively violent instantly. In the midst of this draconian backdrop you may hear a voice filled with hope, faith and love giving some small amount of consolation and comfort with a blessing. There are other voices of broken children in adult bodies raging and cursing. You may hear anguished cries of, “… where is God now?” Our convinced members strive to answer that cry for divine help as we meet as George Fox advised. We are seekers of awareness, understanding, redemption and forgiveness as we try to follow the teachings of Jesus. We are learning to love ourselves and God so that we may truly love our neighbors as ourselves. We strive to do no harm and to forgive our enemies. It is no small task to live the “peace testimony” in prison.

Through leadings, faith and practice, SMFF has become a safe haven of worship and is a thriving Quaker Service. Remarkable? Not really. We are just another recorded miracle and SMFF is a gift from God. Our members are living testimonials to the foundations of beliefs of the Society of Friends. We are a new community in the Garden and we ask to be held in the Light as we continue to hold all God’s communities in the Light. We thank Patapsco Friends for helping to establish SMFF and for their continued support. We thank the Quaker Community at large. We thank God for sending us these ambassadors of hope and love.


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