early Saturday evening on the last day of January as six members and
attenders make their way through the snow-covered landscape of Chester
County, Pennsylvania to attend one of our Meeting’s cooperative
dinners. Outside, the air may be frigid, but once inside the home of the
hosting couple, the atmosphere is warm and inviting.
The cooperative dinners, generally held the last weekend of the first
four months of the year, have become a vital part of the social life of
Downingtown Meeting. Through them, members and attenders meet and learn
about each other in a home setting, away from the Meeting House. Groups
of eight persons–each individual or couple bringing a portion of the
meal, thus the term "cooperative" dinner–gather at a host’s
house for several hours of conversation and socializing.
For the eight persons at this January dinner, conversation ranged
from what colleges sons and daughters were planning to attend to music,
a favorite subject of one of the hosts, to the latest movies everyone
had seen to books they had read and why they liked them. And that was
before dinner as they sat and conversed over hors d’oeuvres and wine.
Once at the dinner table, conversation got a bit more lively, with
continued discussion of books and movies. As active members of Meeting,
the discussion also got around to the future of Meeting and the part
everyone will play in it.
Generally speaking, an individual can expect to meet as many as 28
other people in one season of cooperative dinners. For long-time members
and attenders, our cooperative dinners are a way to reconnect and learn
new things about each other. For newer attenders, they’re a great way
to get to know others in our Meeting community while sampling some
excellent cooking. And participants don't have to be great cooks--some
bring bread or salad.
To participate in all four dinners in a cooperative dinner season,
you must volunteer to host one dinner. Individuals often team up to
co-host a dinner at one or the other’s home, especially those who live
in apartments or condominiums. But you can still attend the dinners by
signing up for the substitute list. Sign up for the cooperative dinner
season takes place in mid-December. Watch for announcements.
Click on each photo below to see a larger