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  ANNUAL REPORT
 Downingtown Friends Meeting 2010
Membership
Committees
Outreach
Religious Education
Peace and Social Concerns
Oversight
Meeting Infrastructure
Communications
Activities
Quaker Community Involvement

Membership:
The 12 months from November 2009 to October 2010 represented by this Annual Report was one of both stability and growth for Downingtown Friends Meeting. Membership as of February 2010 stood at 227—174 adults and 52 minors—a decrease of 6 over the previous year. Two members died during this time. Four individuals requested membership, and Meeting released ten inactive members. The meeting conducted one wedding under its care and three other couples were married in the manner of Friends.

Committees:
Throughout the year, the Meeting's committees supported all the important facets of our faith community. The Nominating Committee worked throughout the year to ensure that committees carry out their work so that they spread the burden and opportunities for service broadly. We held a workshop on clerking and the Quaker business process to support effective committee work. The Worship and Ministry Committee, concerned with the spirituality of our community and the quality of Meeting for Worship, hosted several "Brown Bag" discussions on topics including preparing for and sustaining the quality of Meeting for Worship, blessings, and stewardship of the environment. Worship and Ministry also organized our Opening Exercises, invited Young Friends to read the Advices once a month in Meeting for Worship, and continued our practice of reading the Queries once a month. As a result of our communal discussions, we reaffirmed our commitments to conclude Opening Exercises at 10:20, arrive on time, enter the Meeting House quietly, and settle into a sustained and rich Meeting for Worship. First Day School children and their teachers will continue to join the Meeting for Worship around 11:15 A.M.

Outreach:
Our active Outreach Committee placed a great emphasis on welcoming newcomers to our Meeting. They presented an Opening Exercise program reminding us all of our role in welcoming visitors and helping them acclimate to our community. The Committee has also prepared a new Meeting brochure, revised the Quaker Way Booth at the Festival, participated in Downingtown, Pennsylvania’s Good Neighbor Day, and organized several Welcome Socials after Meeting for Worship. The Committee follows up with those who have attended Meeting several times and seeks to help them find their way into the spirit and activities of our Meeting.

Religious Education:
Once again, the Religious Education Committee created a meaningful experience for the children and young people in our Meeting. The Committee reports that 65 students participated in First Day School classes taught by 25 adults this year. Thirty-two children regularly attended classes. The Committee has nearly completed the review and rewriting of the First Day School curriculum. Service projects are an important part of the First Day School program. Through these projects, the children helped others by making Valentines for older members of Meeting, supporting the Lord's Pantry, and making personal hygiene kits for victims of the earthquakes in Chili and Haiti. The Committee reaffirmed its plan to organize and support a large service project trip every four years with perhaps more frequent local efforts depending on the interests of the Young Friends group. Meeting sponsored fundraising, as well as the dedicated work of Young Friends and their families, supports these large-scale service project trips.

Peace and Social Concerns:
The Peace and Concerns Committee sponsored a class on "Understanding Islam Through History and Jurisprudence" during early 2010. With careful planning and the support of the Meeting, the Committee
 publicized the course and opened it to the public. The Committee continues to develop opportunities for our community to witness to our testimonies by holding Peace Vigils on Lancaster Avenue, organizing monthly dinners for the Salvation Army, and growing vegetables for the Lords Pantry among other activities. The Right Sharing of World Resources Stone Soup Eating Meeting brought in a record number of financial donations. The Peace & Social Concerns Committee also grants to local organizations in which our members were active.

Oversight:
The Committee on Oversight continued its pastoral care of the Meeting community, "assuming leadership in maintaining a caring community." As such, overseers help members and attenders deal with illnesses, loneliness, personal disagreements, marital discord, ailing parents, funeral arrangements and weddings. All active members and attenders have an overseer who is responsible for them, and from time to time, overseers host informal gatherings of their charges into Care Circles. The Committee also communicated in a variety of ways with those who live at a distance or are less active in the Meeting.

Meeting Infrastructure:
Three very important committees—the Trustees, Finance, and Stewardship Committees—attended to the infrastructure of our Meeting. After careful and expert deliberations, the Trustees recommended and Meeting approved the demolition and rebuilding of the south wall of the graveyard at. To fund this as well as other property needs and building improvements, Meeting organized a capital fundraising program. In addition to this once-in-200-years project, the Trustees attended to our buildings and grounds and kept everything in working order. We appreciate their expertise and the attractive and well-maintained grounds that resulted from their efforts and the help of many hands at the workbees that they hold several times a year.

Communications:
Reflecting the interest and talents of members and attenders, our Meeting has benefited from a myriad of ways in which we communicate with one another and the wider community. Our Google Group and our Web site facilitate communication within and beyond our community. Minutes of the monthly meeting and committee reports are faithfully recorded and circulated with the monthly newsletter, The Still, Small Voice. During the year, we created a new committee, the Management Committee, to coordinate communication and follow through and to oversee the scheduling and use of the School House and Meeting House. The attractive bulletin boards and calendar inform those who don’t receive electronic messages about Meeting activities.

Our Webmaster encouraged us to embrace new habits of visiting this Web site and to keep it thriving with contributions of information and photos that reflect our vibrant community. Several new people have visited meeting on the strength of its appeal.

Activities:
Our Meeting continued to mark the rhythm of the year by regular and greatly anticipated events. After the low key summer months with their weekly Friday Night Cookouts, Opening Exercises and First Day School resumed in the fall, accompanied by the Friends Fall Festival, the Christmas Program, Fellowship Day at the Brandywine YMCA, the First Day School Breakfast, and the June Ice Cream Social, featuring the most delicious homemade ice cream around.

Our Friends Fall Festival was again a huge success, showcasing the talents of our members and attenders. Music filled the air both inside and out. Guests and workers happily consumed the ever delectable soup and chili and delicious baked goods. Shoppers enjoyed the Friends Mercantile and the wonderful plants for sale at the Grapevine.

Throughout the year, we welcomed monthly Eating Meetings, weekly Sewing Group, Cooperative Dinners, Hands on Healing, Light Group, Book Group meetings, and occasional men's group activities. The men of Meeting also amazed us with their wonderful Mother's Day Brunch. This year, thanks to the efforts of two of our active members, we produced a new cookbook, Cooking with Friends, proceeds of which will support the renovations of our Library. Some of our Meeting members also actively support Old Caln Meeting, holding Meeting for Worship there regularly and raising funds for its Meeting House. While not everyone participates in all events and activities, there seems to be something for everyone, and yet not too much for any one person. The Hospitality Committee oversees many of these activities.

Quaker Community Involvement:
Our members and attenders are active in a tremendous variety of ways in the greater community. As it does every year, Downingtown Friends Meeting participated in Caln Quarterly Meeting, of which one of our members is now Clerk, and especially Quarterly Meeting’s Camp Swatara. We remain actively represented at Philadelphia Yearly Meeting and participate in its committees and programs, especially programs for youth and young adults. Our Meeting community continued to be deeply engaged in both public education and Friends education. Our Meeting's School Fund currently supports 11 students in Friends schools through its scholarship fund. As a Meeting, we also provided modest financial support to five local social service agencies.

Our Annual Report is a welcome opportunity for us to reflect with gratitude on the many ways in which we each contribute our time and talents to Downingtown Friends Meeting and the joy that we experience by being a part of a vibrant spiritual community centered in Meeting for Worship. We carry on a 200-year tradition in which the activities reflect the needs and interests of those involved. Our Meeting is blessed to have witnessed another year distinguished by stability and growth.

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