Put God in
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 Downingtown Friends Meeting

According to our Meeting Recorder, the membership of Downingtown Friends Meeting declined slightly for a fourth year in a row. As of June 30, 2018, membership was 199 with 191 adults and eight youth, down by one member from last year’s 200.

Physical Property:
Besides routine seasonal maintenance, the Trustees proceeded with other projects: modest improvements for stall accessibility in the men’s and women’s restrooms including new grab bars in the Women’s Room, repairs to the sheds and sidewalk, replacement of exterior lamps with LED lamps, and evaluation of the care of our specimen trees. The building use guidelines for renters were updated.

Meeting approved a three-quarter scale mock-up of our main sign for along Lancaster Avenue. The Trustees Committee submitted a variance request to the borough for an “Identification Sign,” and a “Temporary Sign.” The latter formalizes our use of short-term messaging such as “Peace is the Way” and signage for the Fall Festival. All was approved by the Downingtown Borough. Installation of a new sidewalk at the east end of our property by the borough is slated for 2019.

The addition of more ergonomic seating in the Meeting House was approved on a trial basis.
A pollinator garden was planted in raised beds on the grounds which features plants that are popular with pollinators and resistant to browsing by deer.

The Library Committee reports that thirty-five new books were added to our library. Since the Meeting joined the Interfaith Action Community the Library Committee has expanded our Religions of the World category. An upcoming goal is to expand the Social Concerns category. The Library Committee offered members and attenders our duplicate titles, books in poor condition, and those that did not fit well into our collection. Newly acquired books are displayed on the mantle. A suggestion box has been added to the library.

Cyber Presence:
In May it was reported that our website has had over 130,000 visits since its inception in August 2008. In 2017 we had 36,400 visits, an increase of 8500 from the previous year. Our most popular pages are the Home page, the Friends Writing page, the page outlining duties of committee clerks, and the calendar. We have 156 pages organized into sixteen sections.

Members are encouraged to use the digital calendar when checking for or listing Meeting activities.

The Outreach Committee maintains a Facebook page which has 300 followers. A separate Social Media Committee was approved with the goal of sharing messages on other social media that are consistent with our philosophy, connect with Friends far away, promote our events including PYM events and Quaker Speak videos, attract newcomers and be easily accessible to those who use social media.

The School Fund report indicates that we provided financial assistance to five students for the 2018-2019 school year so they may attend the Quaker schools, Westtown School and Delaware Valley Friends School.

Our First Day School served eighteen children, down from 35 last year. Our program is staffed by thirteen volunteer Friends who continue to comply with the evolving clearance requirements in order to teach. Four students graduated.

The Religious Education Committee has nearly completed the task of scanning the curriculum to insure that all supplemental teaching materials are retained.
Service projects this year included adopting a family at Christmas, a Puerto Rico disaster relief bake sale, and participation in Meeting’s outdoor Work Bees. Other projects included a personal hygiene drive by one Young Friend, the making and sending of Valentine’s Day cards, and the annual food and cash donation drive for The Lord’s Pantry. Middle School Friends made a Salvation Army dinner.

The Young Friends Service Trip for the summer of 2019 is planned for Big Creek People in Action in Coretta, West Virginia. The Religious Education Committee scheduled a “dine and donate” event at Pour House restaurant in Exton, Pennsylvania, to support this trip. Other projects included a poinsettia sale, tie-dye sale at Fall Festival, two BBQ dinners, and a pasta dinner, all of which totaled $1300.

Activities Within Meeting:
Weekly Sewing Group and Friendly Walkers, as well as monthly Eating Meeting, Bible Study, Light Group and two Book Groups including occasional poetry nights, continue to nurture and stimulate our congregation. Annual traditions took place including the Fall Festival, Christmas Program, Co-Op Dinners, Easter Egg Hunt, and the Ice Cream Social, bringing friends from afar in reunion.

The Worship & Ministry Committee hosted several Brown Bag lunches that covered such topics as gun legislation, support for environmental issues and social justice. The Pastoral Care Committee continued in its role of providing assistance to our members and attenders as needed. They continued this year the “In the Light of Christmas” Meeting for Worship to support those who find the holidays difficult. The Religious Education Committee scheduled a day at Westtown Lake in May for worship by the lake, a hike, canoeing and lunch, all of which was rained out.

Meeting and the World:
We value the foundational role of Philadelphia Yearly Meeting (PYM) as they tie us to the other 10,000 local Quakers. We have members on each of PYM’s councils. PYM has the pressing need presently to locate a new Presiding Clerk. A committee to manage the planned multicultural institutional audit to review the complex issue of white privilege in PYM held their kick-off meeting in December. The Quaker Life Council asks that every Meeting conduct a spiritual self-assessment as an opportunity to draw our greater community together.
Caln Quarter, comprised of nine Monthly Meetings, wishes to facilitate communication among them and with that aim has requested all, including us, to complete a survey to share our insights and experiences. We connected to other Quakers in our Quarter through Camp Swatara in May where this year we provided the keynote speaker in one of our members. Downingtown Friends Meeting will be responsible for facilitating Camp Swatara in 2020 and 2021.

Members gave aid to those in our community through monthly Salvation Army dinners for the needy and homeless, quarterly days of service through Good Works, and gifts to a family in the Lord’s Pantry Christmas Adoption program sponsored by the Religious Education Committee.

The Peace & Social Concerns (P&SC) Committee sponsored peace vigils along Route 30 again this year, and initiated Postcard Sundays to lobby our legislators. They delivered children’s books for the Laundromat Library League, and inspired participation in The March for Our Lives (gun violence) on March 24 and our membership in POWER Metro. They also collected food donations for the Chester County Food Bank at Easter. In addition we have been represented at monthly vigils at the Berks County Correctional Facility standing in opposition to the detention of undocumented immigrant parents and their children. We have a representative from P&SC on the Friends Committee on National Legislation (FCNL).

The Downingtown Ministerium convened weekly lunches during Lent and on Wednesday, March 7, 2018 due to heavy snowfall, we were unable to host the Community Lenten Service and luncheon as planned. We participated in the Good Friday service held at St James church.

In March, one member hosted a Galanthus (snow drop) horticultural event with lecture and plant sale in the schoolhouse.

The Worship & Ministry Committee inspired us to become members of the Interfaith Action Community. We hosted an open house for this group on April 12 which included silent worship and an informational session on Quakerism, for about 40 guests.

The Outreach Committee hosted a Red Cross blood drive in the schoolhouse in August 2018, continued the Family Game Nights in the schoolhouse to encourage members to invite nonmember friends and family to our Meeting, held a Newcomer’s Coffee Social and manned booths at Good Neighbor Day in Downingtown, at the Downingtown Fall Festival and at the Friends Fall Festival. Friends approved the Outreach Committee’s suggestion that we purchase and wear name badges.

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