Port Townsend Friends Meeting approaches the end of our third year as a monthly
meeting in a spirit of gratitude, joy, and expectation. We have grown during this last year,
in our inward spiritual life as a loving community of Friends,
in our membership, and in the organizing structures and activities that
support and constitute our life as a community.
Our meetings for worship, held at the Port Townsend Community Center, regularly include an average of
25 to 30 Friends and attenders. Two new members joined our meeting this year:
Suzanne DeWeese, an attender since infancy, was accepted into membership
on the eve of her departure for Oberlin College; Belle Zimmerman, a spiritual
seeker in her ninth decade came to us after long associations with Methodist and
Mennonite faith communities. Also joining us this year were Hazel and Jeff
Johnson, as transferring Friends from Salmon Bay Meeting.
Fellowship and adult religious education have flourished during this year. Our monthly
potlucks and adult education sessions have provided opportunities for the sharing of
individual spiritual journeys, of visits to Pendle Hill, and of overseas travel by members
of our community to Cuba and Japan; we shared “gifts from the heart at Christmas” in
poetry, song and stories at our December potluck. The fellowship enjoyed early in the
year in Friendly Eights potlucks is now nurtured in two thriving book groups, where we
study Friends’ teachings by John Woolman, Patricia Loring and others, as well as the
works of Biblical scholars like Elaine Pagels and novelists Jan deHartog and Wendell
Berry. We provide education as needed for visiting children, but have no regular
children’s program because departures for college and overseas exchange living have left
us temporarily without younger participants in the meeting community.
Our Ministry and Counsel Committee has been active in overseeing a number of care and
clearness committees and the Whidbey Island Worship Group, and in clarifying roles for
officers and committees. Some responsibilities carried by Ministry and Counsel during
most of 2004 were passed along to new committees, one for Religious Education, another
for Hospitality. Finance and Nominating Committees work at a quickened pace to
support the life of the meeting. Several members of the meeting participated in Arthur
Larrabee’s October clerking workshop at University Friends Meeting.
The Peace and Social Concerns Committee has been active. Under its oversight, a new
Conscientious Objection Working Group of a dozen participants is at work to aid those in
our region who seek conscientious objector status because of their religious convictions.
This group has already hosted several training sessions and will soon begin regional
publicity about their services. In April, the meeting organized a booth at our
community’s Earth Day fair, complete with a new banner, posters, literature, and a game
wheel, and plans are underway for a similar contribution to the 2005 fair. Individual
meeting members were active during the year in voter registration and anti-war activities,
as well as with Women in Black.
Our activities in the larger Quaker world continue with individual and group
commitments to, or learning sessions about, the Friends Committee on National
Legislation, the Friends World Committee on Consultation, Young Friends, Pendle Hill,
and our Yearly and Quarterly meetings. We also support both new and seasoned
f/Friends to participate in these organizations with scholarships and travel assistance. A
scholarship fund has been established to assist one Friend in her leading to sojourn at
Pendle Hill next fall for a year-long residency of study and writing.
Our first-ever meeting retreat was held in the Rosewind Commonhouse in mid-January,
2005. Following a report from an ad-hoc Meetinghouse Feasibility Committee, the
purpose of our retreat was to enter into a worshipful discernment process about having an
owned meetinghouse. A central theme in the worship-sharing at this retreat was our firm
commitment to the continued spiritual health of our community, and to taking care that
this process and potential move into a physical space of our own not harm the beloved
community we have come to be for one another. The meeting subsequently approved a
minute affirming our desire to work toward an owned meetinghouse and to propose a
plan for moving forward.
We continue our journey into this new year in a spirit of thanksgiving and hope.
(Note: This report covers the calendar year 2004, but in the interest of being informative
on recent developments, it also reflects activities of the early months of 2005.)