Outreach Committee Annual Report
February 12, 2017
The revised version of Faith and Practice currently under review describes outreach as follows:
"Outreach for a meeting involves being visible in the community—through effective signage, website and social media presence, and other publicity—and inviting all to worship. It includes sharing the unique message of Friends through informational and educational events the meeting hosts for the community, through printed and online material, through public witness and service projects in the community, and through collaboration with other faith groups on projects of common interest. Effective outreach involves the willingness of individuals to identify themselves as Friends and use accessible language in spoken and written communication. Friends can become more comfortable and confident in speaking about the Quaker way by periodically taking time in their meetings to share stories of their faith journeys, to study and discuss materials that invite deep reflection, and to seek common language that describes these experiences and the core beliefs and practices of Friends." p. 39
We are using this vision of outreach to guide our committee's efforts at building relationships with the wider community, so we may be better known as who we are and how we live the Quaker way. In 2016 we focused on increasing our visibility in the online community and offering an informative series of presentations in the form of our George Fox Forum.
Our efforts in 2016 were focused primarily on producing the George Fox Forum series. We'd like to acknowledge and thank our then clerk, Dawn Atwater, for her vision and energy in championing this momentous series. This effort ended up directly involving at least 70 people in the staging and presentation of our four forums, including individuals from beyond our Meeting's circle of members and attenders. As Dawn loves to say, it truly took a village.
This effort began in 2015 and culminated in our hosting four separate forums, each one highlighting one of our core Quaker values: Community, Integrity, Equality and Peace. Each forum began with a simple supper followed by a short video (when technology cooperated), then a panel of presenters, and concluded with small group discussions. Our presentations consisted of Third Haven members sharing stories of their personal spiritual journeys in discovering Quakerism, living within its tenets, and how their experiences related to the topic of the evening. These deeply felt and authentic presentations were received in a wonderful spirit of community which helped engage and inform the following small group discussions. The forums were well attended by Quakers and the wider community with anywhere from 60 to 75 people in attendance at the individual forums. People who came felt nourished in body and soul, and valued the opportunity to gather together and have deep, meaningful conversation. They were troubled, however, by the size and acoustics of the Common Room, which made it hard to hear and be heard and caused overcrowding.
The preparation for the series gave us the opportunity to add to our online presence with the creation of a Facebook page for Third Haven Friends Meeting. We thank Tatiana Hamboyan Harrison for her assistance with setting up the page, and we encourage our committees to use it to announce their activities, thus helping to tell the wider community who we are, what we value, and to welcome them to join us in our activities.
As part of our promotion of the forum, we created print and radio advertising, and we were able to get articles about the forum printed in the Star Democrat, online at Talbot Spy, and in PYM's quarterly newsletter "faithinpractice".
We also took the opportunity to create magnetic nametags for our forum presenters, to help those new to Third Haven recognize and approach a Friend. We look forward to expanding on this initiative and making it an integral part of our welcoming of visitors and new attenders.
Our final effort for 2016 was co-hosting with the Overseers a picnic in September for our members and attenders and their guests, with special emphasis on inviting those with children to join us for an outing of food and games. While many Quakers joined us for the picnic, we had less success in attracting families with children. This year we will focus on encouraging Friends to participate in local service projects where we can make ourselves known to the wider community and then invite those other volunteers to join us at our picnic to acknowledge and celebrate their community service. Our goal is to make ourselves known as the social activists we are and to encourage others in this meaningful work.
We will continue to review and reprint our visitor and attender literature to ensure we have something available for people to take home with them and to help them understand something of our ways. We will be working with other committees at Third Haven to promote outreach efforts in conjunction with our internal events to broaden the reach of our offerings and to help Friends feel comfortable in reaching out to newcomers to acknowledge and support their presence amongst us.
We recognize that outreach is a community-wide effort, and we will endeavor to offer opportunities for Friends to serve in our larger community and encourage each of us to feel comfortable witnessing to our values and our desire for social justice. We are looking forward to initiating projects in support of healthy family activities, such as family game nights, and working with other faith groups on projects of common interest to help grow our presence in the larger community and demonstrate the relevance of faith in the world today. We seek to strengthen faith and our relationships with the Divine, ourselves, our community of Friends, and our world so that our light may shine brightly and be a beacon of peace for all.
Respectfully submitted by Jeanne Halpin/Mary Yancey, co-clerks; and members Lorraine Claggett and Pete Howell