How does your monthly meeting live into those things that have life in them?
How do we make ourselves available to the Lord?
How do we distinguish between that which is living and that which is dead?
Wilmington Monthly Meeting
In 2015, we started replacing the windows in our Education Wing. It has been a long and frustrating process, and the wear and tear of construction work has been evident at times, but our new windows are serving to bring new light and fresh breezes into our space. Our year together in 2015 felt much like the windows project: always challenging, but also always filled with new possibilities.
We spent much of the year focusing on our budget. Our history is that of a meeting with a large and flexible budget, but our current reality no longer allows for lavish spending. Our discussions about restructuring our budget have been painful, at times, but they have also featured moments of recognizing the deep wisdom that Friends bring to bear in times of discernment. We have been reminded by Friends that budgets are about moral principles, not just money. We have also been reminded of the importance of prioritizing loving relationships over getting our own way, and that God is not calling us into the past but rather into the future. We have been asked to lay aside haggling over dollars and cents in favor of prayerfully asking what work the Lord is laying before us. We are learning to live into a new vision of what our meeting can be.
Grief was another theme of our year together. Three families in our meeting lost grandsons in 2015: Danny Moon and Colin Boling to heroin, and Matthew Grotevant to a severe asthma attack. Our meetinghouse was packed for Matthew’s memorial service, which given his youth brought in a large crowd of grieving teenagers. We also hosted a full house for Mary Lib Stanfield’s memorial service, at which we celebrated her long life of service, dedication, and general feistiness. In the midst of death, we found life within our supportive community of Friends, in the witness of those who died, and in our hope in God’s resurrecting power.
We found, in 2015, many reasons for renewed hope. We welcomed Arcadia Learning Commons, an educational non-profit directed by Nicole Friend, into our facility. They joined our beloved Adult Day Center, our AA meeting and Girl Scout troop, our Food Pantry and Salvation Army Utility Assistance program, and a small cadre of artists with studios in the building. It’s a challenge to keep up with so many activities and organizations, but also a blessing to drop by the office and hear the happy shouts of children or see people leaving with food for themselves and their families. We find life in being able to provide hospitality to so many worthwhile groups.
We also found life in our discussion of marriage equality. We decided, as a meeting, that our marriage process will be open to people regardless of gender or orientation. We recognize that this continues be a difficult discussion with the yearly meeting, and we pray that Friends can continue to be both honest and tender with one another. We are committed to breaking down barriers and letting perfect love cast out all fear, believing that this is an important way of distinguishing between what is living and what is dead.
Another area in which new life came to fruition was in our youth programming. Wannetta Hartman wrote and began to implement a Quaker curriculum for our teenagers, introducing them to Friends’ history and theological thought, the stories of our monthly meeting and yearly meeting, Quaker business practices, and more. Two of our teenagers asked to spend the year working through the Bible instead, so we created a reading program for them based on the Narrative Lectionary. The passion and curiosity of our youth continues to inspire us.
Lastly, and most centrally, we believe that the answer to all three queries posed this year lies in Meeting for Worship. Making ourselves available to the Lord is something we are able to do because of the Spirit’s presence with us and the community of like-hearted people who surround us. It’s in our times of music and silence and sharing and prayer that we most clearly see the Author of Life at work in our midst.
Speaking of prayer, one new thing we started in 2015 was praying for a specific meeting of the yearly meeting each Sunday along with our other prayer requests. We cycle through the meetings in alphabetical order, holding each one in the Light of Christ. If you find yourselves thinking of us, perhaps it’s because we are praying for you!
We continually ask God to fill you with the knowledge of his will through all the wisdom and understanding that the Spirit gives, so that you may live a life worthy of the Lord and please him in every way: bearing fruit in every good work, growing in the knowledge of God, being strengthened with all power according to his glorious might so that you may have great endurance and patience, and giving joyful thanks to the Father, who has qualified you to share in the inheritance of his holy people in the kingdom of light. (Colossians 1:9b-12)
Light and life to each of you,
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, we are focusing on two stories from the Bible: the story of the resurrection in Luke, and the story of the call of Isaiah to ministry. This report contains our response to the queries listed at the top of the page.