Minutes, Meeting for Business, 4.8.18

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Spiritual State of the Meeting Report

Healing & Reconciliation Annual Report


Friends Meeting of Washington

Monthly Meeting for Worship with a Concern for Business

April 8, 2018


Poems for Spiritual Deepening




juxtaposing the black boy & the bullet

by Danez Smith



one is hard & the other tried to be

            one is fast & the other was faster

                        one is loud & one is a song

                        with one note & endless rest

one’s whole life is a flash

            both spend their life

            trying to find a warmth to call home

both spark quite the debate,

some folks want to protect them/some

think we should just get rid   

                                    of the damn

things all together.




There Will Come Soft Rains

by Sara Teasdale

(War Time)


There will come soft rains and the smell of the ground,

And swallows circling with their shimmering sound;

And frogs in the pools singing at night,

And wild plum trees in tremulous white,

Robins will wear their feathery fire

Whistling their whims on a low fence-wire;

And not one will know of the war, not one

Will care at last when it is done.

Not one would mind, neither bird nor tree

If mankind perished utterly;

And Spring herself, when she woke at dawn,

Would scarcely know that we were gone.



Approval of Temporary Clerk

Friends approved Grant Thompson’s service as acting clerk for this session in the absence of Gene Throwe, Presiding Clerk

Welcome of Visitors

The Meeting for Worship with a Concern for Business opened at 12:25 pm with 25 Friends present.  There were no visitors today.


Clerk’s Report, 4.2018


In Memoriam

  • 4/14 Joe Johnson Memorial: The memorial service for beloved member Joe Johnson will be held on Saturday, April 14, at 11 a.m. Contact Malachy Kilbride  malachykilbride@gmail.com for more information.


Kudos & FMW Community Highlights

  • The all-out effort for March for our Lives worked out beautifully, with many many Friends stepping up to shop, cook, bake, clean, tidy, herd, shelter, nourish, and nurture almost 50 marchers all weekend! Special thanks to Jean Capps and Debby Churchman for their organizing prowess.


Upcoming Events

  • 4/20:  Bystander Intervention Training: FMW Member J.E. McNeil will be holding this in the evening. Learn on-the-ground techniques for dealing with and diffusing harassment when you are the bystander. Contact J.E. at jmcnrick@gmail.com
  • 4/20: Poetry Workshop: FMW Member Susan Meehan will be continuing her workshop on poetry. For more information and to sign up, contact Bob Meehan at babmeehany62@gmail.com.
  • 4/21 (10am-3pm) - Clerking Workshop hosted by Baltimore Yearly Meeting. Are you a Prospective Clerk? a Reluctant Clerk? an Experienced Clerk with wisdom to share?  a Committee or Meeting Clerk? All are welcome as we explore the blessings and responsibilities of Clerking.  The workshop is located at Sandy Spring Meeting House in MD. Lunch provided. Child Care available if requested in advance. Register with Deborah Haines (deborah.haines@gmail.com) or Bette Hoover (bette@justpeacecircles.org).
  • 4/29 Discussion: Climate Change Risk and Opportunity, A Call to Action. Peace & Social Concerns Task Force will host a talk where you can learn more about the science of climate change, the risks and opportunities we are facing, and what DC Quakers and people of faith can do right now! We will be joined by a highly respected climate scientist and a leader in a DC-based campaign to put a price on carbon pollution.


Tenant Updates- Activities at our Meeting House

  • April at FMW is our candidate for “widest range of beliefs in one Meetinghouse” month. We will be hosting the Church of the Virgin Mother (a Brazilian church which worships through dance), an Orthodox Easter celebration by Palestinians, a Shabbat service by J Street, a group called Womb Matrix about female spiritual empowerment, a girls’ empowerment group called Black Girls Fight Back, and, of course, the Democratic Socialists. We love serving a diverse and inclusive community!


Renovation Update

  • Friends were reminded that regular updates concerning the progress of the renovation project are distributed on the Meeting’s Google list.


Sanctuary Task Force Seeking Researchers and Writers- Rebecca Harris

  • The Task Force is seeking assistance for the preparation of draft position statements from FMW. These statements will represent the Meeting’s collective stance on key issues before the issues arrive, so that statements can be released in a timely manner.  The Task Force seeks assistance in both research and writing of statements.  They hope to present the first round of drafts at the next meeting for business.  Contact Rebecca Harris or the FMW Office at reb.c.harris@gmail.com




Major Business


Spiritual State of the Meeting Report (second presentation)-  Grant Thompson

  • Friends approved the Report, including the addition of a new paragraph that provides context on the methodology, together with the observation that any statement of our spiritual state will have limitations due to our diversity and size as a large meeting.


Nominating Committee- Todd Harvey, Clerk of Nominating Committee

The following nominations were presented and approved:

  • Chad Dobson (M), to Peace & Social Concerns, 3 year term ending 12/20
  • Susan Nelson (A), to Hospitality, 3 year term ending 12/20


Nomination (Second Presentation) - Grant Thompson

  • The nomination of Sigrid Elliot (A), to Ministry and Worship, 3 year term ending 12/20, second presentation was approved (exception requested due to attender status was presented at the at March Meeting for Business).


Search Committee- Grant Thompson

  • Nomination of Rebecca Nelson (A) to Nominating Ctte. (first presentation), recommendation for a one year term ending December 2018 was approved.
  • She is a co-coveneer of the Young Adult Friends, and the Meeting desires to be more inclusive of YAFS in our broader governance and leadership.
  • A friend who serves with her on the Sanctuary Task Force spoke in support of Rebecca, mentioning that she is a thoughtful, organized and deeply committed individual.


Membership Committee- Janet Dinsmore

  • First presentation of request for membership from Mary Lou Schram, a novelist who has led a life of activism and devotion to social justice and civil rights and has been a part of various Quaker groups for a long time. The committee endorsed her application, and as is our custom, her application for membership was held over for one month.


Healing and Reconciliation- Ken Orvis

  • Friends accepted the committee’s annual report, with  recognition of Ken’s leadership and service to the committee over many years.


Friends APPROVED the minutes as improved, with any necessary edits.


The Meeting closed at 12:50 PM with approximately 21 persons in attendance to reconvene as Way opens on , May 13, 2018 (Yes, this is Mother’s Day)






This year the Spiritual State of the Meeting was conducted through gatherings of worship sharing.  Over the years, from time to time, the committee has used surveys to analyze the spiritual state of the meeting. This year it was obvious we had a very low turnout of those who participated in the worship sharing. The Ministry and Worship Committee is tasked with preparing and presenting the Spiritual State of the Meeting Report however, it is the responsibility of all Friends to participate in this process. Inherent in any process, particularly one with a small, self-selected group of respondents, is the possibility of missing important themes or over-emphasizing views that are not widely held. The Ministry and Worship Committee continues to discuss ways to engage Friends at our meeting in the SSOM process.


We focused on our worship together and our experience of community within Friends Meeting of Washington. Several common themes emerged which are reported here. Friends’ experience and concern with the various Meetings for Worship, recent conflict and disturbances, our building project, and social action were shared.


A Friend observed that there are a significant number of young people who attend Friends Meeting of Washington. The Friend thinks this is important. “Young people change the character of the meeting,” said the Friend. Another Friend remarked that there was a sense of joy when the children join us for worship and this Friend said the presence of the children is a blessing. Another Friend was impressed by the support we give the children at FMW.


Several Friends concurred that committees are a huge part of the spiritual life of FMW. Committee work is important and contributes to the spiritual life of the meeting, Friends said. “It is important to be on a committee. It is how the meeting functions. It is how one gets involved.” one Friend said. Another Friend shared that there is a great strength to the FMW community now. There is activism and people are involved with various social causes these days.


Friends discussed our worship together at FMW over the last year. There has been some conflict and change within the last several months. One Friend noted that we now have 6 separate Meetings for Worship at FMW. The most recently added Meeting for Worship came into existence to address and resolve a recent conflict. The new Meeting for Worship has now taken on a life of its own. “All our Meetings for Worship shouldn’t be the same, each Meeting for Worship has its own characteristics” a Friend said. However, more than one Friend wondered if the newest Meeting for Worship will survive? A friend stated that the latest Meeting for Worship will survive but only if there is energy behind it.  “The uncomfortable things that happen are a sign of some good which will come” another Friend said regarding conflict in the meeting.  Other Friends also remarked on the various Meetings for Worship at FMW.


A Friend noted that there has been a “spiritual deepening” in the last several months since disturbances at Meeting for Worship, in the Meeting Room at 10:30, have been addressed. The goal of our worship is to be “gathered and deep”, a Friend shared.  Other Friends agreed that it is a good thing to have Meetings for Worship which have different characteristics and numbers of those who worship together. “Different People have different needs” a Friend remarked speaking to the different Meetings for Worship at FMW. Although, another Friend observed that “…we are not meant to be a home for everyone, we are a lay-by for some who come to worship with us.” 


Although the FMW construction project and our social action was not a specific topic of the worship sharing for the Spiritual State of the Meeting, Friends were led to share their concerns and thoughts.


The building project has gotten people “disturbed” and it is a part of the upheaval we have been experiencing one Friend said. “We cannot be a part of a community which is only about a building project” one Friend said. “We should be both about social action and a building project” another Friend said. One Friend raised a concern about whether our involvement with social issues will “flourish”? “Having to pay a mortgage is a huge part of what we have to do for the next 20 years. What will this do to our meeting” a Friend said and asked, “What is our dream for the next 20 years?” It was pointed out that the construction project leads to the vibrancy of the meeting because Friends see a future here at FMW. In addition, the growing meetings in Baltimore Yearly Meeting are those under construction, a Friend noted. “What keeps us together at FMW? Is it the construction project or our social action? Or is it the reason for why we are undergoing a building project and for our social action?” a Friend said. One Friend concluded by stating that within the Religious Society of Friends, we value listening. The Friend said “I look forward to holding that value in The Light because we will be tested by the commercial aspect of what we are doing and our social action. Listening will be important to us as we move through the next 20 years.”



Healing and Reconciliation (H&R) Committee Annual Report, 2018


Members:  Ken Orvis, clerk, Zoe Plaugher, Betsy Bramon, Ylene Larsen, Janet Dinsmore


The role of the H&R Committee is to limit any hurtful behavior in Meeting-related settings and initiate processes for healing and reconciliation between members and attenders. Activities can include interrupting hurtful exchanges, active listening to discover ways toward harmony, and proactive taking steps to foster healing.  Its interactions with individuals complement efforts of the Ministry and Worship Committee to resolve conflicts within the Meeting community. H&R may recommend long-term actions to Ministry and Worship, the Meeting for Worship with a Concern for Business, or the Committee of Clerks.  H&R does not itself undertake any action other than those directed toward healing and reconciliation. 


While our committee has undertaken direct or supportive action in several Meeting conflicts in 2017, we have also noticed that much of this work has been led by other committees.  In particular actions by, Ministry and Worship, Personal Aid, and Clerks have  reduced the need for our committee. We welcome these efforts as a sign of our Meeting’s health and vitality. 


We anticipate a continuing need for H&R to quickly and sensitively respond to interpersonal conflicts when they arise. However, the overlap of our mission with the work of Ministry and Worship and Personal Aid has led us to consider a new structure for our committee.


As the Meeting evaluates the committee structure overall, we hope that H&R’s status can be reconsidered. In particular, we would advocate for a change, such as changing H&R to a task force or subcommittee under the Ministry and Worship Committee.   Such a change in status should in no way limit prompt responses to conflicts. We are aware of and value the role of our committee.  We are aware of the value of proactive steps and are committed to making the Meeting community more joyful, safe, and welcoming, even to renewed reminders to the community to reach out to newcomers every Sunday.


Should the Meeting decide to restructure H&R as a Task Force rather than a Committee, we recommend remaining as a “standby” during the process of restructuring.


The Committee wishes to recognize the wise leadership of Ken Orvis whose work on behalf of Healing and Reconciliation has continued despite his significant burdens of responsibility as Property Manager at this time.