2016 State of the Society Report

Pacific Yearly Meeting

State of the Society Report

June 20/21, 2016

¢   “As we reflect on the state of our meeting in 2016, we ask ourselves, Where’s the enthusiasm?  Where’s the juice?” Strawberry Creek MM

¢   Twenty-one Meetings and three worship groups sent in State of the Meeting reports, trying to distill the “juice” and the challenges of their communities. From these, we find general themes and specific examples which make up this State of the Society Report.

¢   Meeting Community – Chico Friends Meeting speaks of what it is to be a community:

“Tender, generous, and often very human, we are a small but steadfast people wrestling with what it means to be Quaker.  With faith that the power and the mystery of Spirit is in it, we continue to, each in our own way, show up, and when we do, we experience life of the Spirit abundantly.”

“This year we celebrated our 50th Anniversary as a monthly meeting.” Grass Valley MM

“Our Meeting has enjoyed a time of spiritual stability in which the attendance at Meeting for Worship has grown… We want to strengthen our spiritual relationships with both long-time attenders and those who have arrived more recently.”  Mexico City MM

“After three quarters of an hour or so, we are joined in silence by the children of the meeting and their teachers.  The shine in their eyes promises a lively sharing at the rise of meeting.” Inland Valley MM

“In January we hosted PYM’s Ministry and Oversight Committee, and our discussions with the committee emphasized the importance of our Quaker ties. We benefit from members of our meeting who are active in PYM and SCQM, experiencing the richness of the larger Quaker community.” Orange County MM

¢   Meeting Space – the space we use or own creates both opportunity and challenge.

“We continue to be struck by the new openness of our Meetinghouse, symbolizing to both us and the broader community the welcome we seek to provide.”  Berkeley Friends Meeting

“We approved a Minute and updated our outdoor sign which now reads: Davis Friends Meeting (Quaker), an open, welcoming, and affirming Meeting.”  Davis MM

“For now, we have suspended the search [for a meetinghouse to purchase]. This has been very painful, especially for those who have worked so hard and for so long…Without a meetinghouse we are not very visible to our local community. Yet we have a welcome stream of visitors who know to look for us.”  Strawberry Creek MM

“Some Friends have voiced concern over the Meeting owning properties as the many issues it brings may be getting in the way of Spirit rather than leading us toward it.”  San Francisco MM

¢   Outreach/Work in the CommunityAs in many years past, the quality, substance and sheer diversity of community outreach and social action is remarkable, including response to the California drought with drought-resistant meeting grounds.

“We are especially happy to continue sponsorship of the student Peace Essay Contest in the Stanislaus County Schools. We are ever heartened by the growth in participation and the depth of commitment and passion of young people. Delta MM

“We continue to express our social concerns through ongoing activities such as providing a meal and music to homeless women once a month, and supporting those who are taking Alternatives to Violence into the community and local prisons.  Live Oak MM

“We help with the monthly Rice Plus Project that packs and distributes rice, beans and other necessities to farm families in the Salinas Valley and North Monterey County.”  Monterrey Peninsula MM

“Our presence is noted in public events, including demonstrations in support of climate action, the Black Lives Matter movement, and immigration concerns. Two of our members attended the UN Conference on Climate Change (COP) 21 in Paris, one as General Secretary for Quaker Earthcare Witness.”  Strawberry Creek MM

“We support the Dougla-Prieta project in Arizona and Mexico, the undocumented student scholarship fund, African student scholarship funds, the East Bay Sanctuary movement, Prisoners packages work, Citizens Climate Lobby and the Interfaith Jewish Voices for Peace.”  Sacramento MM

“In response to immigration and refugee crises, members of our meeting have taken in 3 immigrant families and a new committee was formed to offer financial advocacy and support.”  La Jolla MM

“When one of our long standing members passed away, his estate was bequeathed to us. We set aside part as an Endowment, a portion was used to complete our new meeting home the rest funded Grants totaling $174,000.” San Diego MM

“Acknowledging the many efforts of individual Friends in the world, nominations to our Peace and Social Order Committee were suspended pending clarification of this committee’s relationship to the concerns of Friends. Consideration of this action is ongoing.” La Jolla MM

¢ Good Order requires us to examine not just what we do, but how and why.

“…the Clerk discerned three desirable efforts for the community:   To continue the sharing and examination process that has invigorated Meeting for Business; to structure our community so that we are better able to welcome newcomers; and to be more transparent and efficient.  We feel both the pressure of uncertain plans for the next year, yet also joy in our new direction.”  Palo Alto MM

“Our meeting has grappled with differences of opinions and with individual life challenges, through the vehicle of clearness committees. This is a profound process that helps to center us in love when facing challenges. Santa Barbara MM

“Getting enough money to meet our budget continues to be a challenge, and we are also challenged by the search for members and attenders to take on a position or serve on a committee, or to help carry out a program.  Yet we are committed and care and know there is a way through this if we are willing to be open, patient to wait for this response, and ready to act on it when it comes.”  Grass Valley MM

“Quaker history shows us that it is often through struggle that we receive our spiritual gifts. We struggle with how people react to what others say and with achieving a common understanding of committee work versus meeting work and how to make decisions.”  Chico Friends Meeting

¢ Rhythms Of LifeWhile the familiar problem of aging seems to be consistent throughout, there is a sense of renewal and vibrancy, with a number of meetings and worship groups growing and delighting in newcomers, new members and new families. And it’s clear the work of Bob and Kathy Runyon and Quaker Center has positively impacted and helped nourish many meetings through our Yearly Meeting.

“Many of us are using our Meeting’s Ben Lomond Quaker Center [annual] pass which helps our Meeting grow spiritually.” Sacramento MM

“Marloma Long Beach Meeting consists of six senior citizens of increasing age and diminishing energy. Once a very active meeting, we no longer do social service projects as a Meeting, although individuals take part in a variety of activities. What of our spiritual development? One member described our Meeting as “a place where we go to regenerate our spiritual batteries once a week.” Marloma Long Beach MM

[We held] a meeting-wide retreat, “From Strength to Strength: Visions for the Future of the Claremont Monthly Meeting.” Out of the retreat emerged a sense that we might do well to embrace, rather than lament, our smallness: genuinely prophetic communities are perhaps likely to be small.”  Claremont MM

“…because there are fewer of us, many standing Meeting committees are small and we rely on individuals to do work that was once done by committee. The answer may lie in simplifying our process and letting go of traditions which no longer serve us.” Orange Grove MM

“Though our spirit remains strong, we are less able to summon physical ability to accomplish all we wish to do.  At the same time, Friends are learning to accept the limits of aging, and are searching for new and creative ways to be of service.”  Delta MM

“The Query “How is truth served in our Meeting?” also applies to recognizing our own limitations. Some in our Meeting have learned this through disabilities or illnesses. For others it is a matter of following new leadings and finding new ways to be of service. Davis MM

” …older, more seasoned Friends, and Friends ways, [are] giving over to inspired, service-oriented outreach. Meeting community inreach is giving way to larger engagement in service to others in the greater community outside our doors.” San Francisco MM

“We have felt a flowing energy from the Divine to welcome new visitors, attenders and members of our community, floating in and out, a life of constant change. We happily welcome four new members this year. We are thankful for the vitality and energy felt by many in our community.” Santa Monica MM

“The Worship Group at Soledad State Prison (CTF) remains under our care.  Currently there are 7 to 8 Live Oak Friends who’ve worshipped and participated in worship sharing discussions, with 7 to 10 inmates, twice monthly.  Live Oak MM

“We are continuing to grow as a spiritual community in faith and in numbers.” Conejo Valley WG

“The small size of our worship group continues to be a challenge and a blessing. We don’t have the problems, nor do we have the possibilities.” Ojai WG

“We are a small group, but we have shown concern on peace and social justice issues at a time when the world if full of violence and grave injustices. We are thankful for our time together.” Whitleaf WG

¢ Summary – Many meetings speak of their challenges, but also their sense of joy and renewal together.

“Of the little miracles in life, one of those is how we have come together to form a larger community. We have made a family together, a safe place to grow our relationships. An adult who grew up within our Meeting said he remembered Meeting fondly as “a place where he was loved.” Orange County MM

“Chico Friends Meeting life is not smooth, but it is full of joy and of meaningful relationships with each other, the wider world, and the Spirit of God.  Chico Friends Meeting

“When Spirit moves in Meeting, it is amazing and glorious, a gift from God. It is in those moments we feel how easy it is to become as God wishes us to be. We trust that Spirit will guide us forward.” Orange Grove MM

“Reflecting on this year, we find strength in the richness of our memories, strength in the power of our hopes. Above all, we seek strength in our togetherness.” Claremont MM

“We…seek to remain open to the will of the spirit and affirm that all creation has worth and dignity.” La Jolla MM

“We recognize the need to remember that we are a living tradition. The world and the Meeting are always changing. We seek the guidance of Spirit in knowing our truth and moving ahead in response to change. We strive to treat each other tenderly and, as we seek the truth and act upon it, we work to touch that of God in each of us.”  Strawberry Creek MM

¢ We close our State of the Society Report with a quote from Grass Valley MM:

“ …our practice is gathering together in silence, to be available, to be open, to be willing to share when the spirit prods or encourages us, to be patient, to be open and inclusive of others’ viewpoints, and to experience this process as our act of worship, our way of being in the world.”


Submitted by the Ministry and Oversight Committee of PYM