Sunday, June 18, 2006

Movin'!


BOING. . . boing . . . BOING!
. . . boing . . . !

Today, our Meeting agreed that we would move to a new meeting space starting in two weeks.

I can't believe that a year of searching is over! And I can't believe that we are finally FINALLY getting out of that tiny little hole in the wall where we were meeting!

The meeting turned down our last two choices, which were expensive and less than ideal. One church only grudgingly offered their space, adding a hefty rental fee on top of it (nearly four times what they charged every other group that used the space!). The meeting decided it was very bad karma to rent from a group that didn't want us.

I had to agree, but we were running out of options, and I was about the give up on Quaker process. After all, we had minuted the need to move a year ago -- and here we were still not moved! But then our assistant clerk suggested moving the meeting time to late afternoon. I expected an instant thumbs-down, but the members were cautiously accepting of this idea.

I have to learn to trust the process of Quaker discernment, because by turning down our last choices, they helped open the way for a new notion of who we are.

Within two weeks, our committee found an ideal and very affordable spot: the local Unitarian Fellowship Hall. It's a compact Shaker-like meeting space on two floors, formerly a meeting hall for a union group. Simple amber walls with airy windows, clean hardwood floors, chairs stacked in a row along the walls, and everything else folding away into neat cupboards. The meeting room has space for us to grow; and the children's area downstairs offers five comfortable rooms (two classrooms, two playrooms, and a lounge, all attached to the kitchen).

I was a bit unsure whether the meeting would go for the 4 p.m. meeting time. A few people did express their dislike of the time change. But then others started talking about outreach. They expressed their hesitations about doing outreach to people in other churches when coming to Meeting means not attending their current services. With an afternoon time-slot, we can feel free to do as much outreach as we want, without feeling that we are proselysing or pushing people into an either/or situation.

Moreover, we can encourage people to come out while they maintain their first commitment to their Sunday-morning spiritual community.

We also felt that clergy from other churches might find our meeting a good space for prayer and spiritual rest, in contrast to their Sunday-morning activities.

Our meeting can now position ourselves not just as a religion that people join, but as a spiritual service to the community, regardless of one's religious commitments. We can bring our Quaker light into their churches, their sermons, their committee work. After all, what does it matter whether someone calls or doesn't call themself a Quaker, as long as they are following the Light? We must bring the Light to them wherever they are.

Hence, the meeting also minuted a need to start doing active outreach into the community to offer the spiritual opportunity of coming to Meeting.

Not only do we have a new space: we have a new mission.

. . . boing . . . BOING . . . !

3 Comments:

At 2:32 PM, Anonymous Aj said...

You remind me of some of the characters in 'Animaniacs' who used to go "Boingy! Boingy! Boingy!" Made me smile. :)

 
At 2:05 PM, Blogger Robin M. said...

I'm glad you found a place that works for you all and that you're excited about outreach.

But I'm wondering why people are so excited about doing outreach to folks who already go to church instead of people who don't have a religious community?

Is it easier to talk about Quaker spirituality with people who already have a sense of their own spirituality?

It seems to me that this is also an opportunity to reach out to people for whom Sunday morning is not a good time for their spiritual endeavors.

 
At 5:43 PM, Blogger Liz Opp said...

Hi, Nancy--

I am slow to catch up on my blog reading, but hey, here I am.

It sounds like there is a genuine, capital-U Unity around having worship in the afternoon. I'll be curious how that plays out.

For what it's worth, the worship group I'm a part of has run into some trouble with meeting in the afternoon. Friends are likely to nap--either at their home (intentionally) or during worship (unintentionally).

But also, when we've begun exploring shifting to a morning time for worship, a couple Friends have been reluctant to do so because then they couldn't church-hop. ...which puts the worship group in a bind because we're not quite ready to challenge these Friends about where their primary faith community is.

*sigh*

Anyway, it sounds like the move is gonna be a good thing for your meeting. Keep us posted!

Blessings,
Liz, The Good Raised Up

 

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