Port Townsend Friends Meeting: State of the Meeting Report for 2006

The transformation of the Port Townsend Community Center into a sacred
space for our Meeting for Worship begins when the sandwich board
announcing the Meeting is set up outside the entrance on each First
Day. Friends and attenders come into the building from their homes
nearby, or further away from retirement centers and cottages in the
surrounding forests, farms in the county and beyond, and even the
Whidbey Island Worship Group Friends on occasion. From our weekly
corporate worship in silence and our monthly worship service for
business, we are drawn by the expectation of experiencing the love
and fellowship of Friends and strangers who are drawn to this
wellspring of our spiritual life.


The weekly construction of this sacred space is the intentional
arrangement of the large, multi-purpose room into a familiar place. A
table accommodates the usual Friendly publications, newsletters and
announcements, a box of name-tags and a guest book. These have come
from a very large, beautifully crafted wooden box on wheels which is
rolled into the reception area. When it is unlocked and opened, this
box reveals shelves of Quaker books, pamphlets and panels for
announcements and art work. There is even a Quaker hat!


In the far corner of this large, bright room, there is a piano where
early arrivals gather to sing for a few minutes while others settle
into the circles of chairs in the middle. At the rise of Meeting,
following sharing of words which did not rise to the level of spoken
ministry, followed by announcements, there is a time for socializing
with tea, coffee and simple snacks. Between the Meeting for Worship
and the monthly business or education meeting, people drift across
the street for hot soup, sandwiches or pizza in the local general
store or bakery. Even these commercial amenities contribute to this
familiar and comfortable feeling of having our own space. The sense
of sacredness of place is completed by the sound of bells from the
surrounding old churches calling others to Christian worship. We are
an integral part of this community in many ways; members participate
in such things as the Bay St. Louis Sister City Project (a response
to Hurricane Katrina), regular vigils (e.g. Women in Black), the Port
Townsend Peace Movement, Veterans for Peace, the annual native
peoples Canoe Journey, and the ACLU, to name a few.


As we leave this place we will be thinking about our responsibilities to
the Meeting during the coming week; committees will be attending to
concerns both local and Quaker affiliated, such as Peace and Social
Concerns, Ministry & Counsel, Religious Education Committee,
Meetinghouse Committee, Library Committee, Finance Committee,
Nominating Committee, Hospitality Committee, care committees, and
numerous ad hoc groups such as retreat planners and annual community
event organizers for the Quaker part in Earth Day and our countys
volunteer Winter Shelter for the Homeless.


Many of us dream of creating this sacred space in a Meetinghouse of our
own, a visible place where we could serve the community, hold our
potlucks, and have the library readily available. Clearly one of the
major tensions among us is whether or not this is the time to seek a
place of our own. We are torn between the convictions of some, who
find the affordability and flexibility of this very centrally-located
public building the answer to their long search for such a place, and
the enthusiasm and energy of others for the creation of a
Meetinghouse.

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