Port Townsend Friends Meeting is still relatively young and we are learning as we go. One major 2009 theme has been looking inward. We have six active care committees and were asked to hold a number of clearness committees for various members and attenders. We held two creative conflict resolution sessions. We found these shared games and activities helpful in addressing our hope to view conflict as a rainstorm that comes and goes, that fulfills a vital purpose and then moves on. We talked about who we missed (people who are no longer coming to Meeting) and identified following up on them as one of our key priorities. Another priority is unmet needs for eldering. Our third priority is addressing business meeting issues, including getting lost in details and differences of opinion. Eldering and nurturing our gifts, gently bringing us back to the spiritual basis of meeting for business and checking in with people we miss are ongoing concerns for Ministry and Counsel Committee and the Clerk.
During 2009, we added three new members and our beloved Belle Zimmerman died. We began a photography project in order to get pictures of all of our members and attenders for our archives.
Whidbey Island Worship Group is under our care and actively participated with us in planning the Fall 2009 Quarterly Meeting with the theme of Wild Earth Wild Mind Wild Heart, culminating in calling a Council of All Beings.
Another major theme is to look outward as well. We carry concerns on our hearts, particularly about Palestine, prison issues, and Naval Magazine Indian Island (a facility based very near Port Townsend). We are grateful for our vital Peace and Social Concerns Committee. They take the lead in addressing these concerns.
We have had educational sessions on the situation for prisoners in Washington state and lobbied our legislators on this issue. One of our members testified for re-establishing voting rights for ex-felons. This was one of the few positive bills which passed the Washington state legislature in 2009, thanks in part to the continuing lobbying from Friends around the state.
On Nagasaki Day (August 9th), we held a vigil across from the Naval Magazine Indian Island gate. This is the major armament facility for the west coast of the United States. We expect to invite other churches in our area to help us make this an annual event that recognizes this depot is a deliverer of suffering and death. We minuted our concern about the navy's plans to increase military training in our Hood Canal area.
On Quaker lobby day in Olympia, a member who had lost his job because of the economic downturn spoke with his legislator, Lynn Kessler, saying, “I’m one of the people that you need to come up with an answer for.” The group also talked with her about green issues and she accepted the FCWPP (Friends Committee on Washington Public Policy) issue sheet. Her positive response showed us yet again that it pays to do person-to-person lobbying.
From January through May, we released Friend Bob Schultz to be a circuit rider for FCNL, providing a travelling minute that read, in part:
The weight of this concern is close to [Bob’s] heart, and has become a calling for him. He has . . . received our Meeting’s consent that he be released from his current committee responsibilities so he can follow this spiritual calling in support of FCNL.”
Bob visited 13 meetings across Washington state, from Lopez Island and Friday Harbor to the Yakima Valley and Walla Walla, telling FCNL’s story. Events also included a how-to-lobby workshop, three talks to non-Quaker community groups and a radio interview. He met with 283 attendees and collected 80 new names of potential FCNL donor-activists. Our Meeting grew with this shared leading.
We continue to support the region’s Tribal Canoe Journey and Jefferson County’s ecumenical winter homeless shelter. For a week in January, we provided two night monitors per night and dinner, breakfast and a sack lunch for about 25 shelter residents.
We are moving forward slowly in the direction of an owned Meetinghouse. We made a decision to pursue formal incorporation as a Washington state nonprofit and as a 501c3. Our Meetinghouse Committee is following up on responses we received to an article about our interest in a Meetinghouse which appeared in the newspaper.
Port Townsend Friends Meeting is excited that we are maturing and evolving as a Meeting. Like a good team of oxen, we are learning to pull together and throughout this process we celebrate our spiritual deepening.