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State of the Meeting Report, 2019

     In 2018, Manasquan Friends responded to declining membership by seeking to nurture our spiritual growth.  We also sought to magnify our presence as a faith community whose calling encompasses the promotion of social justice and environmental stewardship.
     Worship together is the heart of meeting life.  Vocal ministry is nourishing and often plants the seeds of our witness. 
     At Manasquan Meeting, weekly adult class, First Day School, and Bible study all contribute to fostering spiritual enrichment.  In addition, in 2018, Friends offered a four-part program entitled “Finding a Path in Troubled Times.”  The sessions were each based on one of four Quaker testimonies:  integrity, community, equality, and peace.  Participants were encouraged to share personal experiences which elucidated those values.
    This past year, Friends also initiated a project to help formulate individual “Quaker Kernels” which are short responses to inquiries about Quakerism.  These brief statements  are designed to engage the inquirer in a mutual exchange of beliefs.
     In 2018, Manasquan Friends undertook several efforts to advance Friends’ principles.  An editorial advocating gun control was submitted to a local newspaper.  After the piece was published, a minute reflecting the same position was approved by meeting for business.  This minute was then forwarded to meetings within Half Yearly Meeting so that it could be considered at the following Half Yearly Meeting session. 
     Manasquan Meeting remains devoted to immigrant rights issues on various levels.  A special collection was taken to support the recently-opened AFSC Immigrants’ Rights Office in Red Bank.  Several Manasquan members also attended the open house for that
office.  Two Manasquan Friends continue to volunteer time working with immigrants’ rights programs, one locally and one at the AFSC Office in Newark.
     Another two Manasquan Friends continue to lead the effort to promote the New Jersey Alternative to Violence Project among prison inmates around the state.  In 2018, there were 11 basic workshops involving a total of 181 participants, 6 advanced workshops with participation totaling 101 people, and 2 training sessions for facilitators attended by  25 participants. 
     Though our children are few, Manasquan Friends are mindful of the needs and interests of young families, and we offer intergenerational activities. In June, Friends of all ages attend a local minor-league baseball game.  In July, the Friendly Fair, which is the meeting’s biggest source of income, involves everyone, and even our youngest members play a vital role.  In December, one meeting family hosts a Saturday cookie-decorating event at the meetinghouse.  One Sunday afternoon in December, following meeting for worship, Friends share a covered-dish luncheon, trim a Christmas tree, and then hold Christmas Entertainment.  The entertainment generally includes a play written by one member and presented by children and adults.  The theme of the 2018 production was the role played by Quakers assisting runaway enslaved people before the Civil War. This past November, Friends of all ages were invited to join an excursion to Walnford Park, a historic Quaker community.  Friends who attended ate bagged lunches on the grounds of the park, toured some of the old buildings, and witnessed the operation of New Jersey’s last functioning grist mill. 
     Much of Friends’ community involvement results from the meeting’s association with the Manasquan Ministerium which is an organization for houses of worship in the Manasquan area.  When Manasquan Meeting displayed the message, “Love thy neighbor: no exceptions,” on our outside sign, the Ministerium urged member churches to adopt the same message.   The local newspaper published photos of the meeting’s sign and signs of surrounding churches displaying the same, or nearly the same, wording. 
     Friends continue to collect food for the Manasquan Food Pantry, which is managed by the Presbyterian Church in Manasquan.  During Lent, Manasquan Friends help provide soup for one of the Ministerium’s weekly “Soup and Scripture” programs. 
      Other community outreach in 2018 included the addition of a brochure box on the meetinghouse porch to offer information pertaining to the meeting and our faith.  This past Christmas, Friends also decorated our live tree with mittens, hats, scarves and socks to be donated to children in foster care.
     In September, 2018, it was Manasquan Meeting’s turn to host Half Yearly Meeting.  This represented the year’s most noteworthy opportunity for Friends to participate in  Quaker activities beyond the monthly meeting.  Manasquan Friends arranged for Peggy Dellinger from the Monmouth and Ocean Counties Chapter of the League of Women Voters to speak to Half Yearly Meeting Friends.  She shared apolitical, thought-provoking information relating to voter registration and voting rights. 
     Among the meeting’s specific concerns is the preservation of our historic facility.  This past year, we had part of the meetinghouse roof replaced and had a damaged tree removed from the property.
     After viewing A Plastic Ocean at the meetinghouse, Friends were inspired to confront our relationship with single-use plastic individually and to endorse this issue as a meeting.  We have discovered ways to reduce usage of non-recyclable plastic, and we have shared these findings with each other.  In the year ahead, Friends intend to continue addressing this concern.
     In 2018, Manasquan Friends tended to our spiritual growth, advocated for social justice, and considered our environmental impact.  However, in all of these endeavors, Friends’ efforts were limited by our smallness and by the strain that results from  decreasing numbers.  Thus, we continually seek to discern where the Spirit moves us.  We are called to seize every opportunity to speak the truth out loud.  In the year ahead, we resolve that our size not deter us from embracing God’s leading.

Approved by Meeting for Business held 2nd Month 17, 2019
Norma Heller, Assistant Clerk

 

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