These last months have been busy! Hosting Interim Meeting in March tested our stamina and organizational skills. Under the expert guidance of our “detail-oriented” event coordinator, Douglas Perkins, rooms for committees were arranged, Business Meeting went off without a hitch, and we served lunch to 100 Friends! A baked potato bar, chili and apples were the main event for our healthy lunch, and abundant cakes and brownies made for decadent desserts.
We hosted Chesapeake Quarterly Meeting on September 12, again putting our organizational skills to the test. Our events planner Doug Perkins again came in handy. The afternoon interest session, designed by our Mental Health Ministry, focused on Quakerism and mental health. Historically, Friends have been in the forefront of reforming prisons and mental health hospitals. The need is still great. Where do we stand now?
Following surprise appearances of Dorothea Dix, Moses Sheppard, Margaret Hope Bacon and other reformers, a panel discussion of Patapsco members examined advocacy and care for mentally ill people, national legislation, the controversies of forced treatment, and volunteer opportunities.
Reaching out to the community these past months found us collecting food for the Maryland Food Bank and men’s shoes for Springfield State Mental Hospital.
Two Friends–Rosemary Davis and Sharon Knox–requested travel minutes for their July trips to the Triennial of the United Society of Friends Women International in Mombasa, Kenya. This deeply moving experience was discussed in several presentations at the Annual Sessions and in a Third Sunday Spiritual Enrichment Session at Patapsco Friends Meeting in September.
In April we held our annual Spring Retreat, examining the query “How do Quakers practice or live their faith in the greater world? Gary Gillespie of American Friends Service Committee and Marion Ballard of FCNL generously spent the day facilitating the discussion on their organizations, then examining our meeting’s future path. The fall retreat, a day of silent reflection for peace, will take place in October.
This summer, many individuals shared their personal leadings and interests with our First Day School students, relating them to Quaker testimonies. Interests shared ranged from the vegan lifestyle to mediation to Kenya. However, uneven student attendance continues to challenge our dedicated volunteer teachers. As a young, growing meeting, our hopes for our meeting sometimes outrun the number of willing volunteers and active members. While we know that this is often the case with Friends Meetings we are particularly concerned about our First Day School.
We continue Adult Religious Education with our Third Sunday Spiritual Enrichment sessions. Topics have included various Pendle Hill pamphlets including “Members one of Another”. Another session highlighted solar energy where one PFM Friend showed pictures and discussed the procedure for installing solar panels. A second PFM Friend spoke about solar powered hot water heating systems. The session was extremely informative and helped us all understand how “doable” and cost effective these changes can be. Our plan for fall adult religious education includes sessions on the new “Faith and Practice” as well as on-going groups including the Mental Health Ministry and the Monthly Meditation Circle.