Order of Worship, Meeting for Business, July 2017

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Friends Meeting of Washington

Order of Worship

Monthly Meeting for Worship with a Concern for Business

July 16, 2017

 

Query for Worship Sharing: Do we welcome diversity of languages, expressions of culture and expressions of faith in our Meeting and in our wider communities?

 

Welcome of Visitors

 

Clerk’s Report

Many thanks to all Friends who supported and/or participated in the interfaith 23-hour vigil concerning the Senate’s healthcare bill. Thanks to you, we were able to supply 60 meals for the vigilers, as well as overnight accommodations and breakfast. The Friends Committee on National Legislation urges us to keep up the pressure against this bill, which slashes Medicaid dollars and gives a large tax cut to the wealthiest taxpayers.

 

Thanks to the folks from Energy Arts who rented our Meeting campus to hold a two-week-long qi gong training, we were able to worship outdoors twice under a lovely tent. The daily cost for such a tent is $3000 from Sperry Tents, so this was quite a treat.

 

FMW hosted a lovely meeting for worship with a concern for Jim Clay, who is retiring from his position as Director of School for Friends. Many current and former SfF families were in attendance, and able to express their gratitude to Jim for his vision and hard work on behalf of hundreds of children. The school was started by members of FMW and originally housed on our campus. Jim will be much missed.

 

Our Black Lives Matter banner has been slashed. We have ordered a new one.

 

Updates:

 

Sanctuary Task Force – Jim Bell

  1. The Sanctuary Task Force has arranged for an immigration lawyer, Matt Handley, Director of Litigation, Washington Lawyers' Committee for Civil Rights and Urban Affairs, to speak with us on August 20 concerning the risks and responsibilities of hosting an immigrant at risk of deportation. All are welcome and urged to attend, as we move forward in our discernment concerning this issue.
  2. Fundraising to support asylum seeker

 

Renovation Construction – Virginia Avanesyan

 

Capital Campaign Committee – Susan Griffin

 

 

 

 

Major Items:

 

Membership - second presentation of Leonard Eoussa's application

 

Harassment Policy – Greg Robb. Second presentation.

 

Scholarship Funds – Gene Throwe 

Last year, when the Nominating Committee was unable to find someone to take over the Mary Wolcott/Lucy Foster Scholarship Fund management, a decision was made to fold that fund into the Mary Jane Simpson Scholarship Fund. We neglected to bring this decision to Meeting for Business.

 

Alcohol Policy Renewal – Merry Pearlstein

 

In July 2016, Meeting for Business passed the following minute:

Friends APPROVED the proposed policy for a trial period of up to one year with the conditions added in Meeting discussion today: 

  • That we inform those who serve alcohol at events that there is an offset fee to be given to an organization such that supports alcoholics or provides free or inexpensive space to such an organization; and
  • To put in place a system of evaluation of how implementation of this policy is proceeding.  

 

Other Business:

 

Presiding Clerk’s Report on Various Related Organizations – Gene Throwe

 

Ministry & Worship Annual Report – Greg Robb

 

Religious Education Annual Report – Anita Drever

 

Healing & Reconciliation Annual Report – Ken Orvis

 

BYM Interim Meeting – report back

 

 

Harassment Policy

 

The purpose of this policy is to ensure that Friends Meeting of Washington is a safe space for all members and attenders. We strive as a community, to support the targets of harassment; to shed a light on and prevent or stop harassing behavior; and to protect the spiritual safety and integrity of our Meeting.

 

Friends Meeting of Washington recognizes that while one of our tasks as Friends is to care for and radically honor the Light of God in all people, this does not exempt us from being a community where harassment can and does occur. Harassment based on gender, gender identity, sexual orientation, age, skin color, cognitive or physical disability, mental illness, physical appearance, body size, or religion is contrary to the faith and practice of the Religious Society of Friends.

 

Harassment is hurtful, unwanted behavior imposed on a person that is destructive to one’s spirit. It often involves the exercise of formal or informal power by the perpetrator over the target. The key words are unwanted behavior by the perpetrator toward the target.

 

Harassment may take the form of, but is not limited to: verbal comments, intimidation, stalking, email, text, physical contact or sexual attention. It may occur in public and private contexts, including online communications. At FMW this may include Meeting for Worship, coffee hour and other social events, committee meetings, religious education/spiritual formation groups, Young Adult Friend events, and private and group communication between members and attenders of the Meeting. 

 

We recognize the specific physical or psychological impact harassment may have on the target. It also damages the safety and spiritual integrity of our community as a whole. As such, every member and attender of the FMW community has an equal responsibility for preventing, calling out, and stopping harassing behavior.

 

What to do if you experience or witness harassment

If you witness or experience harassment at FMW, please tell someone, anyone. All members and attenders are responsible for caring for each other.

Clerks of Meeting, Ministry and Worship Committee, Healing and Reconciliation Committee, in consultation with each other, are responsible for handling complaints of harassment. If someone tells you about harassment, please contact the clerk of one of these committees.

 

Annual Report to the Meeting

July, 2017

Friend’s Non-Profit Housing Corporation, Inc. (FNPH)

 

FNPH is the owner of Friendly Gardens, an 84 unit affordable housing complex located in Lyttonsville, Maryland near the path of the hopefully soon-to-be-built Purple Line. Constructed in about 1971 by Quakers from FMW and the Bethesda Meeting, Friendly Gardens (FG) offers very modestly priced apartment units for families and individuals. Rents range from about $600/month for the most heavily subsidized one bedroom apartments to about $940/month for 4 bedroom units. That Friendly Gardens offers 4 bedroom apartments speaks to the intent to create apartments for families and others who need 4 bedrooms.

 

FNPH has been undertaking substantial changes over the past several years. We engaged a new facilities manager who, working with the Board, has surveyed the incomes of our residents to better help the Board focus rent subsidies to those who most need it.  After paying off the HUD-subsidized mortgage in 2011 and thus no longer being subject to HUD regulations, the Board has restated its policy that FG intended to provide affordable housing for residents with what can be termed extremely low, very low, and low incomes. Drawing from HUD guidelines, these were defined as households earning 30, 40, and 50 percent of the “area median income (AMI).” In 2016, in Montgomery County, the AMI was $106,800. With considerable help from our property manager, the Board established new, higher, rents, phased in over a three-year period. Even with rent increases, all FG rents for 2-, and 3-, and 4-bedroom units are below 30 percent of household incomes at each of these income levels.

 

Further, we have completely refreshed and renovated all 84 units by upgrading appliances, the floors, windows and painting where necessary. While the effort was substantial and costly, we believe we improved our facility without reducing the availability of subsidized apartments at very low rents.  

 

Future plans include consideration of the impact of the Purple Line, which will provide efficient public transportation inside the beltway to our residents, and the effect of the recent re-zoning of the Lyttonsville area by the Montgomery County Planning Board and County Council. The Board intends to increase the availability of affordable housing inside the beltway to the extent we have the opportunity and can afford to do so.

 

In July 2016, the Board chose new officers. These are: 

  • President, Richard Mounts
  • Vice President, Dan Dozier
  • Secretary, Kate Steger
  • Treasurer, Laurie Wilner

 

Ralph Hofmeister, a very long serving member of the Board, has resigned. All of the Board members are enormously grateful for the very tangible contributions he made as a Board member. Currently, the FNPH Board has nine members with a valuable mix of backgrounds, including architecture, finance, housing development, property management, social services, and law. If anyone might be interested in working with us, they could contact FMW members Kate Steger, Willy Wilson or me for more information.

 

Respectfully submitted,

 

Dan Dozier

 

Garden Committee

July 2017 

We don't have committee meetings, we have work days and invite anyone & everyone to come out. During the warm months, Terra Landscaping does the grass cutting & general removal activities - where most of our budget is spent. 

We have basically had a static or unchanged budget for at least 10 years (pretty amazing with no increase) and we need to maintain that level. As we await the destruction & new construction, we will have some changes and may need to assess as changes come.

Ministry and Worship Committee

Annual report 2017

July 10, 2017

 

Our committee has been focused mainly on making the 10:30 “large” meeting a more “gathered” or “centered” meeting. We want to deepen both the silence and the vocal ministry. We expect this to continue to be our primary focus over the next year.

 

One way to make our meeting more spiritual is to improve its social life. In that vein, we surveyed friends in January to discuss barriers to greater participation in the life of the meeting. The committee continues to follow through on our findings presented in our recent report on the spiritual state of the meeting.

 

Our committee has embraced several initiatives, most notably the Pastoral Care workshops. Pastoral care can be helpful for individuals and families in need but also the community as a whole. We are discussing ways to revive eldering, which, among other benefits, we see as a tool to nurture the vocal ministry in the 10:30 “large” meeting.

 

To further our goal to educate the meeting on Quaker practice, we have held well-attended monthly discussions for seekers wanting to explore “what is means to be a Quaker.”

 

To help to deepen our Meetings for Worship and help Friends to grow their spiritual practices, we have been conducting a monthly Spiritual Deepening training, based on materials from Friends General Conference.

 

During last year’s holiday season, we held a “meeting with a special concern for loss” and we will do so again this year.

 

We worked on a proposed harassment policy now being considered by the meeting. This area will continue to receive our special attention. One question before us is how to provide a space for victims of past harassment to come forward and share their stories.

 

We’ve had a busy year. Some of our plans have been put aside until we can find friends to help run them. For instance, we want to hold a series of discussions with individual FMW friends to discuss how they bring their Quaker values to their work life. This project needs a coordinator.

 

If you have an interest, please approach one of the committee members. Join our committee. See the world.

 

Report of the Religious Education Committee for June 2016-June 2017

 

Committee members: Kim Acquaviva, Michael Beer (Youth Program Coordinator and ex officio committee member), Betsy Bramon, Anita Drever (Clerk), Nicole Else-Quest, Carrie Mitchell[1]

 

The Religious Education committee tends to the spiritual lives of the children in our Meeting. We oversee programming and care for children ages six months through seventeen years. The following describes our work during the period from June 2016 through June 2017:

Makai Kellogg, School for Friends teacher and lifetime FMW member, heads our nursery, which provides for care for children ages 0-4 during Meeting for Worship, Meeting for Business, RE meetings and special events. Makai ensures there are two staff from a rotating team of caregivers present each week in the nursery. Makai also tends to the needs of FMW’s collection of toys—wiping them down, making sure their quarters are kept tidy and replacing them when they make the transition from well-worn to shabby. Makai and many of her team have been with FMW for years—older children love to stop by the nursery and give the staff hugs on their way into and out of Meeting. There are around a half-dozen children each week in the nursery during Meeting for Worship.

Michael Beer, FMW’s youth coordinator, completed a second successful year overseeing our First Day school and youth programs. Family volunteers are awed by Michael’s ability to generate new, fun, spirit-led activities for the kids. In addition, Michael has started or continued several First Day School traditions—Quoins for Coins, a milestone celebration at the end of the year, birthday treat making once a month, Quaker camp alumni presentations—that are giving our programming more and more of a regular rhythm.  Michael coordinates the family volunteers ensuring two adults are present each week.  We had about 30 adults lead or facilitate sessions this year.

 

Younger elementary attendance is vigorous—there are often over a dozen 4-6 years olds in First Day School.  We also have a solid cadre of 7-11 year old First Day school attenders, a half dozen of whom are typically present on any given Sunday.

 

The Junior Young Friends group (AKA “Tweens and Teens”) were given the opportunity at the end of last year to design their own curriculum for this ’16-‘17. Some things worked out splendidly—they’ve had great discussions among themselves and with Meeting members and attenders and others who've volunteered to lead discussions on weighty topics. They’ve also gone on urban hikes, played ukulele, and done a variety of service activities. Because our Junior Young Friends group spans a broad range of ages and life stages we've tried to have two groups when possible, however limited volunteers and capricious attendance has made this difficult to do on a regular basis. 

The Religious Education committee also supports monthly family potlucks during the hour before Meeting, sponsors speakers such as Mary Fillmore who talked to us about the anti-Nazi resistance in Amsterdam, provides scholarships to over a half dozen FMW kids to attend Quaker camps, and members of RE organize retreats at Camp Catoctin and the Friends Wilderness Center for the entire Meeting. Thanks to the generosity of Friends Faith Williams and Debby Churchman, RE was able to hold a Worship Sharing for families shortly after the election.  RE is deeply grateful to the Meeting for their continued support of our work.

 

 

 

 

Healing and Reconciliation Committee

Annual Report—16th 7th, 2017

Historically, within Friends Meeting of Washington the Healing and Reconciliation Committee was conceived and maintained with the goal of providing a means of resolving interpersonal difficulties in Meeting.  In larger context, this period of time in Friends’ history and the history of FMW coincided with a very minimalist sense of a need for governance within Friends and within this Meeting.

The design of the Committee reflected that sense in that its approach takes as an article of faith that individuals who find themselves in conflict are inherently well intentioned, possessed of powerful tools of self-reflection and empathy, and capable of self-directed adjustment.  The task of the Committee is to act as a catalyst—to provide useful opportunity and loving guidance to facilitate individuals’ coming together through their own volition in pursuit of honoring That of God in themselves and each other.

This past year has been a time of deep reflection on the part of Committee and its members on how, first, that approach as conceived has brought some successes but also some failures.  The community of FMW is large and draws from a population of diverse backgrounds and a wide range of mental and emotional circumstances and abilities and interpersonal outlooks.  In the recent past the Healing and Reconciliation Committee has more than once found itself ill prepared to handle some concerns that, for want of a better place, have come to Committee.  This poses an issue because as a direct result individuals have been hurt, and so has the FMW community.

So, second, we have been reflecting on how governance among Friends, especially within Friends Meeting of Washington, should be framed.  The wish for minimalist governance in FMW still runs deep.  Friends are reluctant to grant or to assume authority over others—to take on or to assign the traditional Quaker task of eldering—yet under certain difficult circumstances Friends in the Meeting wish something to be done.  When that happens, people have turned to Healing and Reconciliation Committee as an available avenue, yet Committee was never conceived with the intent of its being a body of authority, nor is it prepared to be; and Meeting has maintained clarity on that intent over time.  Partly in response, Clerks and others have chosen to begin addressing certain concerns.

Thus, coming into 2017 Healing and Reconciliation Committee finds itself in the process of working with Meeting and with Clerks and others to seek discernment on, not merely the working and intent of Committee, but on governance among Friends writ large.  We as a committee neither seek authority nor wish to acquire a role of authority, yet we find that Friends have an expectation that Committee’s role is to ensure our society runs without conflict and that difficulties are avoided or resolved, in the absence of tools for making that happen.  We are not positive that the Healing and Reconciliation Committee should even continue at all or as originally conceived.  With each other and with Meeting we seek to discern what our Friends Meeting of Washington community needs and wants.

________________________________________________________________

2017 Membership Committee Report

 

Members: Janet Dinsmore, clerk, Marcia Reecer, Gray Handley, Joe Izzo, Rob Farr, Judy Hubbard

 

The duties of the Membership Committee remain largely the same year-to-year, with the consistent privileges of reviewing often deeply moving letters from individuals seeking membership, and meeting with them to discuss spiritual journeys leading them to apply.  The variety of paths applicants have taken to bring them to us is a regular source of inspiration and wonder.

 

This past year, the Committee again attempted to contact Friends who have been absent from Meeting activities as well as 14 Associate Members who are over 25 years of age but have not expressed interest in becoming full members.  Neither attempt bore fruit, unfortunately.  Former “Associate Members” are now listed in the Directory as Family Members and we hope (as do most of their parents) they will seek membership in a Quaker meeting at some time in the future. The Committee will continue to reach out to members who have been absent for some time or are non-residents to determine their current interest in retaining membership.

 

During 2016, FMW welcomed the following new members and transfers, and in March 2017, the Committee held a reception to honor each:

  • Gene Throwe
  • Greg Robb
  • Tara Tappert (transfer)
  • Chris Wickham
  • Mary Melchior
  • Elaine Wilson (transfer)
  • Zoe Plaugher

 

Transfers to other Meetings in 2016 include Pamela Lebeaux and Virginia Stevens. To date in 2017, Nicole Else-Quest, her children, and Leonard Eoussa have joined FMW.  We are delighted with their addition and now preparing for a clearance interview with an applicant now stationed in Beijing, China. 

 

Timely welcomes of new members have sometimes proved a problem.  The Committee would be pleased to have the names of any member/attender interested in serving as a welcomer by arranging a get-together at a restaurant or home, or by planning another activity that introduces the new member to more FMW folks.  We plan to re-introduce a practice of providing a letter to welcomers detailing expectations and ensuring new members are offered Quaker literature as part of their new membership.

 

We are again grateful for Debby Churchman’s help and suggestions on a variety of membership matters, and to the Task Force on Racial Inclusion and Justice whose provocative queries we have included in meeting discussions.

 

Submitted by Janet Dinsmore, clerk.

 

 

 

 

[1] There are additional committee members on the books who haven’t attended a meeting yet. We will continue to warmly and wishfully encourage them to join us.