State of Society of Oak Park Friends Meeting, April 2010
The earth has cycled again around the sun. The great circle of life has also cycled again. We seek comfort in this reality, but don't always find it.
Some people have entered our lives; some have departed. The death of one of our beloved members (son, cousin, and friend) is a difficult reality. There have been other difficult losses among us, beloved relatives and friends. We remember the gifts they left us and we miss them. The kindnesses, love, and stories shared by others support and comfort us.
A member led a new teen program this year. With guidance from the ILYM Youth Coordinator, she helped the teens develop their own program. Adults have become more aware of the teens' social and spiritual needs, and better appreciate the gifts they bring to our community.
On a sunny day in February we hosted MCGM at the Oak Park Conservatory. We felt the warmth not only of the sun but of our fellowship with Friends from throughout our region. We learned about some of their concerns and activities. We shared information about our commitment as a Chicago Fair Trade Congregation, and about our Trailside Museum Herbaceous Garden project (cofunded by a grant from Quaker Earthcare Witness). A member continued her leading on loving and restoring our diminished ecosystems by holding a workshop on reconciliation ecology in the Chicago area. We encourage all to consider that the earth needs its strongest creatures to be good and faithful stewards in order to keep the great circle of life alive.
We perceive a decline in attendance over the past couple of years. A smaller number of faithful members and attenders have been doing the work. As a result we have been unable to fill some key leadership positions, including that of children's religious education coordinator. Although we don't often acknowledge it, young people are a vital part of the circle of life. With the openings of Spring to inspire us, we sense the Spirit calling us to do more to open our spiritual home to families with children. Gently guided by our Clerk and Ministry & Oversight Committee, we have seasoned a plan to hire a children's educator to provide sustainable religious programming for children. We hope that this will also enable and encourage their parents to fully participate in the blessings of worship, and in the life of our Meeting community.
We bask in worship, loving the living Spirit that passes among us like a gentle breeze. The Spirit also comes to us like birdsong. Sometimes it seems very far away, its presence sweetening the cacophany. Sometimes we listen intently, and its beauty, clarity, and strength fill our hearts. We look forward to continuing to learn and love and grow together in the Holy Spirit.