Where do you see the love of Jesus in your meeting?
How does your meeting express the love of Christ to your community and the world?
When challenged by difficulties, how do you show your love to one another?
Wilmington Friends Meeting
We see the love of Jesus in our meeting, first, in our shared worship. On our own, we are incapable of loving God and loving our neighbor. As we gather together for singing, praying, preaching, and waiting worship, though, we recognize the Holy Spirit among us, shaping us into a community of love. Worship roots and grounds us in the presence of the Holy.
We see the love of Jesus in our meeting, second, in our affection for one another. We enjoy celebrating holidays together; our Easter breakfast, Thanksgiving potluck, and Christmas Eve service are always well attended. We also celebrate important events together: hosting wedding and baby showers, honoring graduates (five in 2014!), and giving Bibles to children as they learn how to read. We serve one another through acts of compassion: helping Friends move when necessary, bringing food to Friends who are struggling, and holding one another in the Light. Our Flockwatchers send cards to the elderly, the sick, and the grieving, and those cards are appreciated. We particularly rejoice in the spontaneity, talent, and faithfulness of the children of the meeting; it is exciting to watch them grow in love. A spirit of fondness is pervasive in our meeting.
We see the love of Jesus in our meeting, third, in our desire to be blessings in a hurting world. We accomplish some of this in how we use our building. We share our meetinghouse with the Adult Day Center, helping them to provide care for adults who might otherwise be moved into nursing homes. We also regularly host a local AA meeting, and we are starting to provide studio space to local artists. We make our building available for Homeless Shelter fundraisers and the Compeer Christmas party. We invite people in for educational events; in 2014, we hosted a lecture by Philip Gulley on The Awakened Soul, and invited Shakila Ahmad from the Islamic Center of Greater Cincinnati to teach us about the Muslim experience in America. We were also pleased in 2014 to host the pre-yearly meeting retreat.
We show love to our community by participating in local charitable projects. We operate a food pantry at which everyone is welcome. With help from the Salvation Army of Greater Cincinnati, we offer vouchers for groceries at Kroger and make payments on behalf of people who have received shut-off notices on their utility bills. Members and attenders of our meeting regularly prepare and serve food at Your Father’s Kitchen, and buy Christmas gifts for underprivileged children through the Ho-Ho Shop. We helped support the founding of Hope House, a new drop-in shelter in Wilmington for women and children.
We show love to the world through our engagement with wider Quaker bodies. Our meeting remains committed to the work of Friends Committee on National Legislation; we help send college students to their Spring Lobby Weekend and Annual Sessions each year. We participated in the FUM Summer Missions Project, Education for Esther, raising enough money to send one girl to school- and we used the opportunity to teach the children of the meeting about Quaker missions. Individually, our members and attenders love the world through participation in local politics and volunteer work at service organizations, scouting programs, or Quaker groups.
When challenged, we strive to center ourselves in the loving presence of the Spirit among us. We continue to find that music provides a way of expressing truths for which we may not have words, which recalls to memory the ultimately inexpressible gift of God’s love. Our time of waiting worship also serves to remind us that we can be fully present with God and one another without agreeing on everything. We seek out joys to celebrate – a dynamic children’s program, an upcoming wedding, a new baby to be born – in order to focus our attention on the blessings that surround us.
This year, the Spirit has challenged us to rethink our approach to hospitality. We spent time in Sunday School considering how we love our neighbors, whether they are agnostic, or conservative, or members of the LGBT community. We have embarked upon the QuakerQuest journey, and are excited by the amount of energy and passion that we have arising from that. We are thinking about new evangelizing efforts, in order to share the love that we experience in our meeting with others. These difficult conversations are stretching us, but through them we are practicing deep listening with one another and responding with mercy and grace.
All of this is available to us only because God has first loved us. We praise God for this gift!
Wilmington Friends Meeting
Every year, Wilmington Yearly Meeting‘s Committee on Ministry and Counsel asks us to reflect on a few queries connected with the theme of the year. This year, our theme is taken from the words of Jesus in John 13:34-35: A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another. This report contains our response to the queries listed at the top of the page.