State of Society Report -- Bridge City Friends Meeting 2006 (4/9/06)

Bridge City Friends Meeting is now well into its second year as an independent monthly meeting. In this new phase in the life of the meeting, we are engaging in a focused effort to seek discernment regarding our mission in peace and social concerns. We have moved from having a single person as a peace and social concerns coordinator to now having a full committee, and we have held an ongoing series of threshing sessions to determine the sense of the meeting in this regard. While many issues confront us, two which have concerned us particularly are 1) responding to the war in Iraq, and 2) fostering peace between the great social and economic divisions in our country.

We are a small meeting but one exhibiting a good energy of the spirit and a commitment to caring for one another. BCFMs members and attenders are involved in a wide array of Quaker activities locally, regionally, nationally and internationally. Our engagement with the wider Quaker community, especially in Quarterly and Yearly meetings, is significant.

We partner with Multnomah Monthly Meeting in a number of tasks, activities and committee functioning. We have shared picnics, adult mid-week programs and a Christmas Eve meeting for worship. We look to help develop a strong Portland and Vancouver Friends focus.

Worship is at the heart of the life of the meeting. We typically have 25-30 people at Meeting for Worship. Participants have appreciated the vocal ministry as an aid to spiritual growth and found the quality of the silence is powerful. The original fifteen members have been joined by five additional members and several new attenders.

BCFM is establishing its own traditional activities including an annual camp-out in August and a series of Advent events. Adult education has taken off in 2005 and shows promising future growth. We have had our second newcomers gathering and shared spiritual journeys.

We value our children. We are struggling with how to provide a quality First Day program for varied ages but sporadic attendance. We are grateful to Multnomah Monthly Meeting for providing opportunities for Central and Junior Friends.

This was the anniversary year of our relationship with Portland French School (PFS). PFS continues to be a good landlord both for our weekly meeting needs and for seeking to improve access for members and attenders. Wayne Yarnell spoke with PFS students on the problems associated accessibility, and they subsequently adopted this concern as one of their class projects. While permanent solutions await the resolution of PFSs lease negotiations with its landlord, Portland Public Schools, PFS has committed to at least temporary measures.

While many things are settled now, we are also searching for answers to questions such as serving the needs of our children, having adequate meeting facilities and finding good ways to contribute to the life of our society both among Friends and in the community at large.