Book Publication Celebration

Printer-friendly versionPrinter-friendly version

Seeking the Sense of the Meeting: A History of Friends Meeting of Washington 1972-1992 
Prepared by the Records and Handbook Committee
Friends Meeting of Washington.
Available through FMW, 2111 Florida Avenue, NW, Washington DC 20008 ( History) and
(ISBN 978-1-451-53839-7)  $10

Photographs by Jennifer Moss Morris and illustrations by Meagan Healey.
Every two decades, Friends Meeting of Washington has given an account of those aspects of its life that bear remembering and most fully convey a sense of its spiritual growth and challenges.  This history of the Meeting from 1972 to 1992 provides context for understanding the major peace and social justice issues which emerged during this period, which, it is hoped will be useful to contemporary Friends.
Richard Nixon, a birthright Quaker, inspired intense opposition among Friends and new challenges emerged as the Meeting was dramatically burglarized in the Watergate era. Intense debates occurred as FMW struggled with how to oppose the Nixon administration, to oppose the Vietnam war and re-imagine the peace testimony to meet the issues of the day.   
From a social justice perspective the most important challenge of the `70s and `80s was how the Meeting responded to the sorrow and tragedy of the AIDS epidemic, to the needs of a growing LGB Friends community to have a place to meet in the city, and to the lengthy process of reaching a decision to sanction same-sex ceremonies of commitments.  During the final decisive year, 1992, two new Meeting process agreements were reached which made it possible to reach agreement in early 1993.    These ended an agonizing years-long search for agreement.  They provide the title for this book: Seeking the Sense of the Meeting.
Based primarily on Monthly Meetings for Business minutes, the annual reports of committees, and the monthly Newsletter, the book was largely written and edited by members of the History Subcommittee of the FMW Records and Handbook (R&H) Committee.  It is comprised of nine chapters, as well as a Preface, Foreword and Conclusion.   Chapter topics are: Growing up in FMW and Coming Home Again, Faith, Lesbian, Gay and Bisexual Worship and Same-Sex Union, Peace, Neighbors, Meeting for Business, Finances, Staff and Membership.  The Membership chapter deals with the important issue of the relationship between FMW and meetings in the Maryland and Virginia suburbs.
Personal essays offer additional perspectives.  In addition to focusing on peace and social justice issues, they deal with First Day School, Young Adult Friends, the Senior Center and Friends Club.  They offer a window into the Community Release Program of Quaker House to help criminal offenders and the Quaker Bazaar.   They are faith in practice – a spiritual resource for contemporary Friends.

Anniversary Essays:  Celebrating 75 Years at Friends Meeting of Washington 
Prepared by the Records and Handbook Committee
Friends Meeting of Washington.  
Available through FMW, 2111 Florida Avenue NW, Washington DC 20008  ( Us/Our History) and at
ISBN 978-1-451-56232-3  $5.00

Photographs by Jennifer Moss Morris and illustrations by Meagan Healey.
Anniversaries are a time for reflection and renewal.  And so it was in 2005 and early 2006 as Friends Meeting of Washington (FMW) celebrated its 75th anniversary with a series of talks by notable Friends that looked backward. Founded in 1930, with Quaker President Herbert Hoover in the White House, FMW is a “national” meeting shaped by its location in a city that has always existed on two levels—as the nation’s capital and a city where people live.
Four of these talks are included in this booklet.   Thomas (“Tom”) Hamm and Deborah Haines spoke at FMW on June 26, 2005.   Tom Hamm is a lifelong Friend, archivist and professor of history at Earlham College in Richmond Indiana.  His essay, “American Friends: Divisions and Coexistence,” characterizes the forces which unite and divide Friends historically and today.  
Deborah Haines similarly challenges Friends to consider their history in the essay “Cooperation, Quaker Diversity, and the Hicksite Re-Awakening.”   She considers whether FMW was, and still is,  a “bridge-building”  organization.  Clerk of the Alexandria Monthly Meeting, she holds a doctorate in history from the University of Chicago, and has published several other studies of Friends organizations, including Friends General Confrence (FGC).  She has served numerous Friends organizations in leadership capacities, including FGC, Baltimore Yearly Meeting and William Penn House.
After World War II Barbara Nnoka helped Raymond Wilson and national Friends found the Friends Committee of National Legislation in what is now the Children’s Library at FMW.   She later worked for the Red Cross in D.C.    A Meeting Co-Historian, with Marjorie (“Marney”) Akins, she spoke at an Anniversary panel at the BYM Annual Sessions at James Madison University in Virginia on August 5, 2005.   Her essay, “Social Concerns and Peace Action at Friends Meeting of Washington,” draws on the FMW archives as well as personal experience. 
Joe Volk, Executive Secretary of the Friends Committee on National Legislation,
spoke at FMW on January 15, 2006—a commemoration of the first worship service at the Meeting in January 1931.  He asked Friends to continue, and re-imagine, their efforts for peace and justice. His essay is entitled “The Next 75 Years: A To-Do List for the 21st Century.”
                                                            Montague Kern, Clerk
                                                            Records and Handbook Committee
                                                            Friends Meeting of Washington