In the past year there is an increasing sense among us that the richness and fullness we experience in Meeting for Worship and in our lives together are signs of a growing maturity in the life of our Meeting. We have found a deeper connection with Spirit in our worship. In the last 18 months we have mourned together the loss of four members of our Meeting and two members of our wider Meeting community, both of whom were spouses of Meeting Members. Despite these losses we have striven to maintain a balance between our Quaker witness and the care we have offered one another in our grieving.
The Meeting has come forward for mutual support at difficult times - in particular maintaining a large number of Care Committees and planning and carrying out of Memorial Meetings. The manner in which Meeting rose to meet these challenges has been inspirational for members, attenders, and the larger circle of families affected by these milestones. Meeting was nurtured as a whole by the sensitivity and delicacy with which Memorial Meetings for Worship were conducted in 2011 for our beloved Friends, Bill Woolf and David Walker, and by the care taken with Memorial Minutes. Members feel grateful for the support offered to families needing care through life's difficult passages.
Meeting joyfully welcomed four new members- Peter Guerrero, Carla Main, Michael Buettner and Toni Grove. Midweek Meetings for Worship continued this year at the home of a beloved member no longer able to attend Sunday's worship time and offered Friends a rich opportunity for spiritual deepening.
Our educational program was re-organized and formalized with invigorating twice-a -month educational forums that have enriched members' understanding of Quaker testimonies and Quaker life in the spirit. A number of these programs have been recorded for posterity and many have been publicized and open to the wider community.
The Meeting continues to bear witness to our Quaker Testimonies. Our members and attenders took leadership roles in diverse projects. A large effort was given to the Winter Homeless Shelter (working alongside other faith groups and volunteers), and the welcome for the Tribal Canoe Journey. Our work for peace included resistance to Trident Nuclear Weapons, member participation in weekly Women In Black silent vigil, a Minute regarding Bangor Trident Base expansion, and events marking the Iraq Invasion anniversary and Hiroshima Day. Another Friend continues to take the leadership role in establishing a Restorative Justice program in our county. Other Friends have raised funds for Right Sharing of World Resources for micro-lending programs in Third World countries by collecting stamps. Many Friends participated in active lobbying with our state and national legislators.
Members of the Meeting visited regularly with Whidbey Island Worship Group (which has been under our care) as they sought clearness and applied to become a Monthly Meeting. We have also provided support and nurturance to a Whidbey Island Friend as she works to develop Way of the Spirit on the west coast. Many of our members attended and assisted with Quarterly and North Pacific Yearly Meetings where we continue to strengthen close ties. The Meeting has supported Friends in their leadings to serve as representatives to Friends Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender and Queer Concerns, Friends Committee on National Legislation and Friends Committee on Washington Public Policy and we continue to develop strong reciprocal relationships with these organizations. We also maintain a close connection with pastoral Friends through Quaker Women's Theological Conference.
Because we believe strongly that Quakers have much to offer the world, our hopes center around the further strengthening of our Meeting and the resolution of two principal concerns: our decreased numbers and in particular the absence of young families among us, and the lack of a permanent Meetinghouse. Nonetheless, we journey forward with hope and trust in the mutuality of our care and concern for one another in the coming year, and an abiding faith in the Light which guides us on.