Bridge City Friends Meeting
State of Society Report – April 2010
To Friends everywhere:
Bridge City is now in its 6th year as a monthly meeting. We continue to attract new members and attenders and currently have 31 members. First Day worship often sees 20-25 gathered in our circle at the Portland French School. Sometimes we have vocal ministry, sometimes not, and we continue to feel a strong sense of community as we worship and play together.
Here are some things we've noticed that we feel are signs of health and vibrancy in our Meeting:
* Bridge City Friends are reaping the benefits of having a Hospitality Committee. This committee supports members of the Meeting gathering for social occasions outside of Meeting for Worship; for example the Newcomers' Gathering and the "Friendly-7's" dinner gatherings, when people gather in homes on a near-monthly basis for a shared meal and some form of worship-sharing on topics suggested by M&O. The initial focus has been on vocal ministry.
* The Meeting held a day-long Meeting Retreat that focused on vocal ministry. The Pendle Hill pamphlet, "Four Doors to Meeting for Worship" was used for preparatory reading. The pamphlet was also used in follow-up adult first day sessions. The retreat was well attended (by over 30 of us) and all feedback has been positive. The Meeting community feels enriched by the experience of considering how vocal ministry fits in our spiritual lives and we thank Joe and Jane Snyder for leading the sessions.
* The Meeting gathered together, before Meeting for Worship, on several First Days to discuss potential revisions to our Faith and Practice. All who attended found the discussion stimulating. The NPYM Faith and Practice Committee expressed gratitude for the input.
* Bridge City Friends continue to find value in hymn singing before Meeting for Worship. Many members find the singing leads to the transition to worship.
* The Meeting celebrates our two new members. We feel strengthened by the variety of experiences all Friends bring to our community.
* We are pleased to hear from our Treasurer that our finances are in order. We also face the challenge to be fiscally responsible in meeting the needs of our world. For example, in addition to our contributions to local and Friends organizations, the Meeting donated funds to the AFSC efforts for Haitian relief.
We are aware of issues that continue to challenge us:
* Attendance of children has been light and unpredictable. Fewer families with young children have been joining our spiritual community. Our Children's Program committee has scheduled Intergenerational Worship every other month. The Meeting will revisit this idea to determine if these worship sessions have served our community as we hoped it would.
* As individuals we are busy and find it difficult to support all members of the community who are having difficult times in their lives. We sometimes need reminders to provide pastoral care for members of our community. Friends continue to struggle with caring for the spiritual life of those whose ministry, beliefs, and behaviors challenge us.
* We are thankful for our space at the Portland French School, but have on occasion been reminded that there are drawbacks to renting space. Recent discussion with the French School by members of our Finance and Property Committee suggest that our relationship with the school may be changing. Thus we are beginning to consider options.
Bridge City Friends Meeting is like many meetings with ebbs and flows in the life of the Meeting. The children come and go; sometimes there is vocal ministry in worship and sometimes not. We love one another, but like any family there are disagreements and conflicts. We continue to seek ways to overcome our challenges so that we may truly live in that Peaceable Kingdom here on earth.
Gerhardt Quast, Clerk