In our 200 years of history at Dunnings Creek Friends Meeting there have been lows and highs, and they probably will be repeated. Our hope is that the individuality of our Quaker message will spread through the wider community and find acceptance among individuals and families there.
Our Meeting is in constant transition. This year we were blessed with silence bursting with the sound of little feet running, occasionally punctuated by shrill small voices. This was music to the ears of all except, perhaps, the young mothers. Those who used to be underfoot have grown into young adults who have moved away in search of employment or education. Some of our members spend the cold months in a warmer climate—this winter that was an especially wise decision. And several Friends are elderly or infirm and are not able to make the trip to Meeting. We continually remind ourselves to visit with and connect with those Friends unable to attend Meeting. We send thoughts, prayers, love, cards, emails and a quarterly newsletter.
Friends who do attend commute from a wide area. We are limited by weather and concerned about the expense of travel.
We’ve been challenged this year by the attendance of a visitor whose spiritual journey was vastly different than ours. This challenge helped us define ourselves and affirm the Quaker Way. We’ve also been challenged by some personal differences among the membership. As a Meeting we were able to rise above these differences to a higher plane, for the good of the Meeting.
We treasure our Treasurer, who is doing an exceptionally fine job of keeping our finances in order and keeping Friends informed. We value the spirit brought to us by our new members and attendees, each with their own special gifts.
Highlights of our year included a concert at the Meetinghouse, which raised our spirits with high quality, original music as well as funds for the local food banks. Our Christmas Eve service drew a crowd that packed the meeting room. We worked together to prepare the long neglected upstairs of our building for Yearly Meeting Day, which enriched us by the attendance of Friends from the wider Baltimore Yearly Meeting.
We think our Meetinghouse is special—when the people come, it is really special. What happens here gives the place positive energy. We feel warmly surrounded by the presence and memories of people who have gone before us. We commissioned a painting of the Meetinghouse to raise money for a local artist who lost his studio and hundreds of paintings in a devastating fire. The Impressionist style prints of the Meetinghouse in a Spring snow touched faraway Friends by bringing “home” to them. The original painting was framed by a generous Friend.
We continue to pray and work for peace, and for social and environmental concerns. The volunteer and varied discussions in First Day School are surprisingly thought provoking and interesting, and often set the tone for the worship period that follows.
Dunnings Creek Friends gather on Sunday mornings because they truly enjoy being with one another and seeking together. The wide variety of faiths seems unimportant to the total gathering. The sincere value found in the quiet half hour or hour is the eternal mystery. How unusual, how delightful that a scattered group such as ours, each with his/her own background, thoughts and beliefs, can settle into worship and each find satisfaction and contentment.