Third Haven Friends Meeting
2022 Spiritual State of the Meeting Report
In this past year, how has your meeting worked to create and strengthen the reality of a Beloved Community? How has your meeting fostered an environment in which members and attenders of all ages know they are loved, cared for, trusted, and respected?
The meeting for worship continues to be rich and meaningful at Third Haven. During the pandemic attendance at the hybrid worship, in-person and on Zoom, dropped. There was often less vocal ministry. In the past year, attendance is trending back up, often 40-50 on days that First Day School (FDS) is offered, 2 time per month. There are more messages in the meeting for worship.
The continued good and steady work of our Pastoral Care Committee, along with efforts from Hospitality and FDS Committees, have provided opportunities for members, attenders and visitors to join with us in thoughtful and meaningful activities, both within the Meeting and in wider outreach. For several years now, we have provided dinner to our local homeless shelter on the 17 th evening of each month. Now we are preparing the dinner together in our common room and making enough, not only to deliver to the shelter, but for Friends to stay, eat and play games together as volunteers and families. We are gradually and purposefully returning to our in-person activities in small, meaningful, and multi-generational ways that promote our Testimonies and strengthen our Friendships.
We are working to engage our entire Meeting community in planning improvements to meet the Meeting's buildings and grounds needs in the future. The Planning Committee has made progress and keeps the Meeting informed through monthly reports at the meeting for business, reports, announcements, and Meeting Workshops, with architects and landscape architects. Although we are only part way through the master planning process, the process has given us multiple opportunities to dig deeply into what our community means to us and what we aspire to be. In discerning how to improve the buildings and grounds entrusted to us, we gain insight into how our Quaker community might grow in the future. There are diverse views in the Meeting on the master planning process and how to proceed in the future. We seek to reconcile these views, discerning our way forward, as the way opens. The Meeting has formed a Campaign Committee to plan for the necessary fund raising. We do all these activities in the Light and Spirit, trusting the important Quaker faith and practices that bind us together.
How have you sought to be neighbors and in relationship with other communities?
Our Testimonies and Concerns Committee, and Outreach Committee continue to engage the wider community in a variety of ways. The Meeting supports the activities and programs of the Talbot County Multi-Cultural Center. Our relationship with Asbury United Methodist Church continues to develop. Friends continued to collect for local food pantries throughout 2022. Friends continue support the local homeless shelter, Talbot Interfaith Shelter, in partnership with the Talbot Association of Clergy and Laity, and its member churches.
The Talbot County Detention Center allowed Third Haven Friends to resume its library service to detainees.
Since the pandemic began, fewer outside organizations have made use of our buildings and grounds, though some that involve Meeting members have continued. Tours and visits to our historic meetinghouses and grounds continue. Our onsite caretaker opens the 1684 meetinghouse daily and maintains a welcoming friendly presence on the grounds.
How has your meeting been called to address issues of racism this past year? What additional concerns and initiatives have your meeting or meeting members been led to address?
Third Haven's Testimonies and Concerns Committee serves to engage the Meeting in an awareness of the inequities and injustices in our community, and to identify how we might embrace change for the better. We recognize the benefits of an inclusive community for Spiritual growth, and we are encouraged by the diversity of our very youngest attenders, through the efforts of FDS, which is introducing diversity to our Meeting. We continually feel called to examine our racial and gender biases and partcipate in sharing sessions to become more knowledgeable about the impact these biases may have on our manners as we appear to others.
We have invited participants from outside our Meeting to visit with us on matters of race and gender bias. Through this process, we found clearness in recognizing that our actions, as Quakers, speak louder than words, and that when we are engaged with others in work, it benefits us all. These activities affect our own awareness and consciousness.
Testimonies and Concerns is grateful for the support and interest of our Meeting in recognizing, Asbury United Methodist Church, a black community working to maintain a significant historic building, much like Third Haven, as our sister church. This year, some of us have attended services and participated in shared community events with Asbury United Methodist. We value our differences as we accept our common goals and visions to forge a base of acceptance and appreciation. This year, we are especially concerned about the availability of affordable housing in our immediate community, and we are seeking a greater understanding of how we might partner with Asbury United Methodist, through Habitat for Humanity, to address this crisis.
How has the Spirit guided your work on climate change? How has your meeting addressed the five action areas identified in the climate change sprint report? (.pdf) Has your Meeting appointed a Climate Witness Liaison?
Third Haven is aware of the fragility of our environment and the care it requires, as we administer to our seven-acre grounds in the town of Easton, to ensure we have a healthy and accessible site in the future. We live in a place that is surrounded by water, wetlands, woods and large tracts of land in agricultural use. We are ever mindful of the balance that is required to support our health and welfare. Testimonies and Concerns has assisted the Meeting with a focused effort to reduce our carbon footprint, as one of the five actions areas. As a Meeting, we have established a recycling and composting program, planted native species on our grounds, and reinforced conscientious choices to reduce waste as individuals and a community. We are currently coordinating Meeting participation in a food coop, to reduce food packaging and save money by purchasing in bulk. Testimonies and Concerns members are politically active and advocate for many climate-related initiatives. FDS holds its children's programs outdoors much of the year. The FDS Committee and parents feel the Spirit resonate in young minds and bodies, when learning from our natural classroom.
Several Testimonies and Concerns Committee members are members of Quaker Voice of Maryland, which advocates for statewide policy decisions. They host letter writing campaigns for Meeting members to endorse legislation, with respect and consideration for those members who may not share our views or platform. We are reminded that our Testimonies—Simplicity, Peace, Integrity, Community, Equality and Stewardship—provide a framework for our responses and our actions, to our environment, and how we will influence climate change in the future.
The Planning Committee and the master planning process, now underway, seek to plan for a building program and land use improvements that will minimize negative environmental effects and contribute positively to long-term sustainability. There are considerable opportunities to improve the natural and sustainable uses of our seven-acre grounds, with native plants and a long-term tree stewardship program, that responds to the effects of climate change already evident here. The Meeting joined the Interfaith Partnership for the Chesapeake, a regional consortium of churches, seeking to promote environmentally sound policies and practices, in constituent congregations and throughout the region.
What learnings and yearnings particular to your meeting would you like to share?
Our annual summer camp, sponsored by our FDS Committee continues to attract new and regularly attending families to the Meeting. We would welcome opportunities to network and communicate with other meetings that have worked through the kinds of concerns and challenges that we are addressing at present. We would welcome consultation on master planning, building programs, land use improvements and related capital campaigns. We would like to learn from meetings that have been able to grow FDS and membership in recent years. We would like to learn from the experience, discernment, and decision-making in the manner of Friends in meetings with like undertakings.
What are things the Yearly Meeting might do to support your meeting?
We recommend that the State of the Meeting Report and the Spiritual State of the Meeting Report be combined in 2023. There is a good deal of overlap in the content. It would be better if Meetings were expected to do a single annual report.
It is not clear to our Meeting's members how these reports produce more or better, support, services, or benefits to our Meeting or other Philadelphia Yearly Meeting monthly meetings.