Third Haven Friends Meeting Worship and Ministry Committee 2020 Annual
The participating members of the WMC for 2020 were: Mark Beck, Gwen Beegle, Susan Claggett, Tom Corl, Catherine Cripps, Deborah Danser, Jeanne Halpin, Katherine Johnson, Nancy Robbins, and Jonathan Slocum. Gwen Beegle and Susan Claggett co-clerked the WMC this year. We met monthly, except in the 7th and 8th months.
During the latter months of the year, we were joined by John Turner, Dee Rein and Molly Burgoyne Brian, who were primarily responsible for the technical innovations required for concurrent Zoom and on ground meeting formats. Significant contributions were made by Whitley Gray and Stephanie French (clerking midweek meetings) and Clay Owens for technical advice and equipment. Without the steady work of these individuals, 2020 meetings for worship could not have continued so well.
Meeting for Worship
All the members of the WMC attend the meeting for worship as regularly as possible, listen, experience and appreciate the meeting for worship, silence and vocal ministry. We regularly and thoughtfully consider the quality of meeting for worship, vocal ministry, silence, afterthoughts and the rise of meeting for worship as major topics of our committee meetings.
When meeting on grounds, the WMC provides greeters for each week's meeting for worship, who read the 12 topical queries from Faith and Practice monthly. Greeters also replenish brochures and are careful to reach out to newcomers and visitors.
Historically, the attendance at meeting for worship on First Day varies from week to week and month to month. To place 2020 in perspective, a census of meeting attendance in November 2019 indicated that attendance at First Day meeting for worship was an average of 65 adults (ages range 50-71) and 7 children (ages range 4-10). In 2019, the mid-week meeting attendance was generally between 4-12. All these participants met face to face in the meeting houses, with seasonal changes between the Old and Brick Meeting Houses. Early 2020 (1st, 2nd, and half of 3rd months) had similar participation.
Subsequently, the Covid-19 pandemic changed meeting attendance, in nature and number. Beginning in March, the Meeting began meeting via distance technology (Zoom). When deemed safe in the Summer months, the Meeting held simultaneous Zoom and on-ground, outdoor meetings for worship, in an effort to ensure that the Meeting community remained in good contact with each other. In fall, after consultation with public health officials, the outdoor meeting participants moved to the Old Meeting House, with open doors and windows. In late fall as the weather grew colder, a few participants met in the Brick Meeting House for midweek meeting, again with concurrent Zoom participation.
In all situations, health and safety of participants required physical distancing and wearing face masks to reduce risks. Members chose Zoom, outdoor, open door and window indoor, or indoor socially distanced formats based on their health concerns and needs. We are grateful that THFM was able to provide these options for members and attenders during this unusual period of time, and special thanks are given to Molly, Dee, John, and Clay for their efforts.
It is difficult to fully determine attendance under these circumstances. Estimates of attendance are 25-35 (First Day Zoom), 12-16 (First Day outdoor), 12-16 (First Day Old Meeting House, open doors and windows) and 4-10 (Midweek, combined indoor and Zoom).
Worship and Ministry Programs
The WMC offered adult religious education programs and activities during 2020, which were limited due to the pandemic and altered participation. All the following activities meet via Zoom at this time.
The Dream Group has meet consistently in 2020. Catherine Cripps organizes and facilitates the group, which meets twice monthly to discuss readings and dreams with a focus on the spiritual import of dream work.
The Light Meditation Group meets twice monthly in the evening, based on the work of Rex Ambler and his book, Light to Live By. Jonathan Slocum facilitates.
The Evening Reading Group met early in the year but has now ended.
Spiritual Journeys were held early in the year but are now suspended.
Holding in the Light is a healing meeting the third Sundays of December, January and February at 4p.m. led by Dona Sorce and Katherine Johnson and sponsored by Worship and Ministry and Pastoral Care. An attachment to announcements contains Zoom and other information. Attendance at any of these meetings for worship is open to all.
During 2020, as THFM sought to continue to meet for worship with an emphasis on maintaining community, the WMC's emphasis has been on good communication with persons filling emerging roles, restarting interrupted religious education activities, and maintaining a focus on the quality of meeting for worship as the formats and methods of meeting have changed. Understanding how meeting for worship can maintain valued qualities of deep silence, vocal ministry, and sacred community while participating via distance technology is a challenge for the meeting community and the committee. Many members greatly appreciate some elements of distance technology for meeting participation. At the same time, a sizable minority of members feel somewhat disaffected without face-to-face meetings for worship and community building activities. This challenge to understand and support the THFM community during this period of time will likely continue into 2021.