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State of the Meeting Report, 2016

                Manasquan Friends seek a direct relationship with God, a relationship in which divine  presence and will are experienced individually.  However, we recognize that confirmation by the community is essential to the discernment process.  Thus, we are led  to nurture the meeting as a spiritual family in all of our various pursuits.
     In 2015, we labored to deepen the sense of the divine at work in every aspect of our lives.  Pursuant to the new “Tending the Garden” programs offered by New York Yearly Meeting, we have scheduled a retreat in February, 2016, to focus on the quality of worship and vocal ministry.  Planning this event has been, in itself, an opportunity for spiritual enrichment. 
     This past year, Manasquan Friends gathered to view a selection of “Quaker Speak” productions.  Each piece dealt with a topic central to Quaker faith.  Adult First Day School class continues to offer fresh and challenging perspectives to the growing group of faithful.  Bible study meets once weekly, most often at the assisted-living home of one of our members.  Participants currently inch their way through the Old Testament, seeking the spirit in which the words were written.
     Commitment to social concerns remains an essential element of our faith community. 
Eleanor Novek took part in a panel discussion of faith and nonviolence at Monmouth University, sponsored by the Monmouth Center for World Religions and Ethical Thought. Panelists from multiple faith traditions addressed questions, such as “How does the tradition endeavor to prevent violence?”  “What is the support for nonviolence in sacred or other important texts?”  “What is actually taught or preached to members?” And, “Is the panelist personally engaged in any related initiatives?”
     The Alternatives to Violence Project-NJ continues to operate under the care of Manasquan Meeting.  In 2015, AVP-NJ worked in two state prisons and in several community settings, conducting a total of eighteen workshops and serving 248 participants.  The project also held brief, mini-workshops at Monmouth University, Scotch Plains Baptist Church and West Orange Presbyterian Church.  AVP piloted an innovative two-week summer camp for immigrant youth, followed by programming for their parents at Chatham Summit Monthly Meeting.  The group also began to hold workshops in the maximum-security wing of Edna Mahan Correctional Facility for Woman after having served the minimum security wing of this prison since 2012.
     Friends are exploring witness activities to increase the meeting’s inclusivity and to address racial issues in neighboring towns such as Asbury Park.
     Manasquan Meeting hosted Half-Yearly Meeting on September 26, 2015.  The speaker was Bonnie Kerness, Director of the American Friends Service Committee’s Prison Watch Program.  Ojore Lutalo, a prison artist who had served in solitary confinement for twenty-two years, accompanied Bonnie with a showing of his powerful artwork.  After the presentation, Manasquan Friends began to draft a minute opposing the use of extended solitary confinement.  We hope to finalize this undertaking in 2016.
     Friends continue to contribute to local food pantries.  In 2015, Manasquan Friends again made meals for the clients of Family Promise, an organization which provides assistance to homeless families in Monmouth County.
     The vitality of a faith community is stimulated by outreach efforts.  In October, 2015, Chad Dell was a panelist in a day-long program on advancement held by New York Yearly Meeting at Shrewsbury Meetinghouse. 
     Manasquan Meeting’s Friendly Fair functions as an outreach project in many respects.  We are mindful of Quaker business practices during the hours we spend pricing donated items and also in our manner of dealing with the public on the day of the fair.  In 2015, several Friendly Fair customers joined us in worship on the Sunday following the fair.
     When Monmouth University displayed the artwork of James Deane, a Quaker who attended Manasquan Meeting late in life, Richard Brewer accepted an invitation to speak at the exhibit, sharing personal reflections on James’ life.
     In 2015, the Manasquan Meeting ARCH fellowship group wrote letters to local members and attenders whose presence has been missed at meeting.  Since then, several recipients of those letters have attended meeting for worship.  We also have begun planning a phone tree to notify Friends of cancelations and other emergencies. 
     The upkeep of our historic building and grounds provides many opportunities for Friends to unite with a sense of purpose and accomplishment.  In 2015, we installed new shutters and window shades and spread gravel in the driveway.  Research produced a reasonable estimate to update some of the electrical wiring.  Necessary arrangements were made to have the meetinghouse scheduled for regular pick-up of recyclables. 
     Manasquan Friends continue to encourage inter-generational fellowship.  In 2015, we sponsored a yoga event, an autumn walk at the local reservoir, and a movie night to view “The Book of Life.”  Our Christmas tree trimming and Christmas Entertainment were well attended.  Friends read Norma Heller’s play about a homeless man who wanders into the meetinghouse during the Christmas program.  
     In 2015, Manasquan Friends renewed our commitment to the belief that ministry is a shared responsibility for which the individual plays a dual role.  Each Friend can impart wisdom and then, in another instance, can help the body to discern the truth of the spoken word.  Thus, we seek opportunities to strengthen our relationship with God both individually and corporately.  In essence, we labor to promote gathered worship in which the Spirit finds voice and is heard by all present.

 

Approved by monthly meeting for business held 2nd Month 21, 2016.

 

                                                                        Jim Jones

                                                                        Clerk