State of the Meeting Report 2004

Cleveland Monthly Meeting of the Religious Society of Friends

Cleveland Meeting began the year by paying major, and long needed, attention to the physical structure that serves us as our gathering place. It’s nearly 100 year old water pipes have been very vocal in asking for our attention by repeatedly damaging our ceilings and walls. The chimney’s requests for attention were less obvious. They had deteriorated to the point that they were ready to collapse, but the deterioration was not obvious from our normal vantage point. Our aging furnace continued to quietly chug along, but consumed far more gas than was needed tying to keep us warm. We repaired the water pipes and the chimneys, and replaced the furnace.

Our custom of sharing both spiritual and physical nurture each First Day continues, and creates a strong sense of community among us. Most of us remain after worship for soup and conversation, inviting both long time members and attenders and newcomers to become better acquainted. We have been blessed by the presence and continued participation this year of several new attenders, and by the requests of several formerly new attenders to become members.

As our children grow, they are becoming more active participants in our meeting. They now join us for worship at the end of meeting most First Days. In addition they have invited us to participate in several of their activities. At Christmas, the First Day School raised enough money to buy a water buffalo for the Heifer project. This spring, they invited us to add to their Lucretia Mott poster, which contained expressions of what each of us does every day to work for social justice.

Two of our teenage members volunteered to use their web designing skills to create a web page for the meeting.

In the past, we have regularly supported one of our members as she travels with her ministry of helping individuals and families with meaningful living and mindful dying. We invited her this year to share that ministry with us, in a weekend workshop, which was rich and well attended.

We have also responded to several individual leadings. In the Fall, Friend Jean Zaru, clerk of Ramallah Friends Meeting in Palestine, visited our Meeting, having dinner with several Friends and then giving a public talk at the meetinghouse. Jean spoke of the hardships and indignities of life under occupation and of her interfaith work to build peace. In response to the ill named Defense of Marriage Act, we wrote a letter to government officials and local newspapers, sharing our positive corporate experience of same gender marriage.

We assisted one friend who was led to attend a Pendle Hill Conference on Environment and Economy, and have supported her ongoing participation in events arising from this conference. In response to a member who particularly enjoys hymn singing, we also purchased hymnals. We used these for caroling at Christmas time, and for a smaller group of wandering hymn singers after meeting one First Day. We hope to use them more frequently.

We have done well this year acting on or responding to individuals or small groups who express a particular need or leading. Are we listening, as well, for the chimneys and furnaces among us whose needs and leadings are not so obviously expressed?