Clerk's Annual Report for 2011:
If there was a theme for Third Haven Friends for the year 2011, it was introspection and deepening our community. This was, in no small measure, the outcome from a series of gatherings including the offering of a course in miracles with its weekly sessions, a pair of day-long silent retreats, spiritual journey sharing by members, and an 11 month long Spiritual Formation program.
The Spiritual Formation Program was organized by seasoned Friends from our Worship and Ministry Committee. Some 22 members and attenders participated. The program was introduced by a team from PYM who conducted beginning, ending, and mid-point retreats. It involved extensive readings on Quaker and other religious thought and practice. This was followed by regular meetings of small sub-groups for discussion. In addition, five smaller friendship/accountability groups formed and met monthly. In testament to the impact of this Spiritual Formation group, a number of these cohesive smaller groups have chosen to continue to meet monthly well into 2012.
2011 was a busy year for our Property and Grounds Committee, not only in keeping our grounds looking good (including orchestrating spring and fall spruce-up days) but in particular, overseeing substantial improvements to our brick meeting house, including dealing with dampness and mold in the crawl space, a major upgrading of the entry-way and refinishing of the wooden floors and new cushions for the benches. In addition, owing to the retirement of Sam & Vicky Webster as our caretakers (over 30 years), selection of a new on-site caretaker took a widespread search and careful winnowing resulting in the selection of a member, Clay Owens, as our new caretaker.
Every 18 months or so, we as a meeting undertake a Carriage Shed Sale. It's fair to say it's a big deal; one involving our full Meeting. At the outset, our Testimonies & Concerns Committee selects three charitable organizations worthy of splitting the proceeds; one local, one national, one international. The sale involves gathering, organizing/display and pricing all kinds of items, some suitable for auction. Quaker Dogs are sold along with sweets, and plants. Lots of fun. Lots of work. We raised $5,000.
We as a meeting took the time and brought deserved attention to honor our own Ken Carroll as departing head of the Friends Historical Association by inviting those attending an annual session to meet in our Old Meeting House. It was a fitting occasion to pay tribute to Ken's contribution over the years to that body. Several members stepped up to make possible the addition of a new cherry table for the remodeled Talbot County Library's "Maryland Room" where Ken's works on local Quaker history reside. It was a full day for all followed by a luncheon, one of many, orchestrated and served up during the year by our inconspicuous, yet effective Hospitality Committee.
Our official membership tally remained virtually unchanged at 149 owing to deaths, resignations, relocation... as well as folks moving in and new members signing up. The clerk's unofficial tally of attendance at first day Meetings for Worship indicated an uptick from previous years. It ranged from a minimum of about 45 to well over 60 on several occasions.
Overseers Committee successfully sponsored Friendly 8's offering small, in-home dinners among participants. In addition it offered Friendly guidance for a wedding and memorial services during the year. Two unheralded, yet important functions Overseers orchestrates are clearness committees for members in need and welcoming sessions for new members.
Our Scholarship Committee raises funds and evaluates potential recipients to benefit members in furthering their education. It manages some $45k endowment and $5k in operating funds. In 2011 it award 10 scholarships (2 adults & 10 children) based upon need and academic credentials. Area Quaker schools were invited to present themselves one first day following worship.
First Day School (with some 8-12 regular attenders—amongst a broader range of 4-30) focused on books of the bible (a PYM curriculum) and a survey of world religions. Godly Play was offered monthly for the younger ones. For the first half of the year our theme was "Building Bridges" which included active help with service projects for the local migrant community, tornado victims in Alabama, pennies for polio, and collecting food for the local food pantry. We salute the dedicated volunteers who prepared and presented these subjects/activities.
We are blessed with a dedicated and skilled Communications Committee which issues frequent email announcements and a monthly Newsletter. It also publishes a Directory each year. We are proud of the colorful, well organized and up-to-date web page accessible to visitors and the curious at www.thirdhaven.org .
The Outreach/Quaker Quest committee focused this year on how seekers find and perceive us; and how we interact with them. The committee supervised redesign of the lobby area of the brick meeting house to make it more welcoming and inviting. A larger, newly designed sign will be an attractive informative addition on Washington St. In 2012 we see us offering notice in the community to our activities. It will also see us continue fully participating in local cross-denominational events within the area.
Finally, our small and hard working Nominating Committee is to be applauded for compiling a fresh list of willing committee heads and members for the coming year. It also included an imaginative and useful list of Skills Bank/Friendly Offerings. This is a compilation of members/attenders with their special talents for access and use by committees needing help in a variety of areas.
In summary, the year 2011 offered some challenges, but mainly opportunities for us to enrich their spiritual lives and become a more connected part of our religious community.
Submitted in Friendship—John Schreiner, Clerk