Bridge City Preparative Meeting of the Religious Society of Friends

Portland, Oregon

State of Society Report - March 2001

We have continued to "grow in the light" this year. Our children's program is using this a curriculum about Friends' faith and practice as well as several other sources to be able to speak of the foundations of Friends' testimonies in Jesus' ministry. There are usually 4 or 5 children and sometimes as many as 10 in our first day program on Sunday mornings. The children are an important part of our community and worship. We can learn from and are blessed by their ability to be accepting of new children to their group.

Our meetings for worship are rich, sometimes with vocal ministry and sometimes with silent worship. On occasion the inspiration for ministry comes from our pre meeting hymn singing. We have several new and active attenders in our midst. There are often 15-20 adults at worship and sometimes as many as 10 to 12 children ranging in age from infants to teenagers. As a group we feel blessed to have the children in Meeting with us for a period of time, and those Friends who leave to conduct First Day School feel blessed to learn with the children.

We have been challenged by a change in landlords that happened quickly last fall. Cederwood School (a private Waldorf school) became the new owners of the building 5 days before the school year. As they struggle with trying to put the building in order while also trying to run a school, we struggle with having Meeting for Worship in a Kindergarten Classroom, and their need for access to the building during our worship time. This building challenge has led us to evaluate ourselves through 4 threshing sessions looking at issues of Meeting Space, Meeting Timing, and Meeting Structure. As a result, we are exploring other spaces for worship (which might be more handicapped accessible).

The Meeting Community is not yet clear on our readiness to seek Monthly Meeting status. We have made two significant changes in structure: meeting Monthly for Business and creating the position of Clerk. This winter, we shifted from holding Business Meetings in private homes to conducting business at the Multnomah Meeting House. We continue to plan and have intergenerational activities that bind our community together. These have included a Christmas Eve Meeting for Worship, and a summer camping trip. The next one is already planned, as is an intergenerational discussion about the importance of Jesus in our individual lives.

We are pulled together as a community by the events in the lives of our individual members. Several members have had lost family members. Two celebrations of relationships were taken under the joint care of Bridge City Preparative Meeting and Multnomah Monthly Meeting. We feel joy at the infants in our midst and are seeking a nursery caregiver for Sunday mornings so that families with infants can comfortably worship with us.

Our individual spiritual journeys have led us in several directions. Bridgecity attenders continue to attend many wider Quaker functions including attended the Quarterly Meeting Menís retreat, Family retreat, Quarterly Meetings and Annual Session. Two clearness committees have been requested to help individuals grow in the light and find clarity in their lives. Three Friends are planning a pilgrimage to Ireland this spring. These rich (and sometimes painful) experiences have added depth to our worship and our community and remind us that this year for Bridge City Preparative Meeting has been an adventure of "Growing in the Light", in many ways and on many levels.