the past year, the Outreach Committee has tackled a number of issues
concerning the welcoming and integrating of newcomers. Our work,
which took its foundation from the Philadelphia Yearly Meeting’s
recommendations on outreach efforts, focuses not only on how to
expand the view of Downingtown Friends Meeting, making it seem
larger and more vibrant in both the general Quaker community and the
greater Downingtown community, but also on how to increase the sense
of welcoming, encouragement, and explanation for those “friends” who
walk through our Meeting House doors for the first time.
The role of the Outreach
Committee is to welcome people to Downingtown Friends Meeting. This
includes brand new newcomers, of course, but also “frequent
newcomers” who have attended for a few weeks or months and perhaps
still need a guiding hand. We also seek to reach people in the
general community who hardly know that Downingtown Friends Meeting
exists, to raise awareness of what we have to offer and encourage
them to come and see for themselves. Reaching these different
constituencies requires different methods and approaches, and the
Committee has worked throughout the 2017-18 financial year to reach
out to ensure that each group feels welcomed.
Outreach to the General
We hosted a booth at Downingtown’s Good Neighbor Day on the Fourth
of July. A handful of DFM members and attenders staffed the booth
from 10am to 5pm, handing out flyers and lemonade and answering any
questions about the Meeting and about Quakerism in general. We used
our usual display, complete with our “You Might be a Quaker if”
poster, and later used it again at Downingtown FallFest in
September, where we greeted interested parties from 11 until 5.30.
This was our second FallFest. At these events, we continue to use
the banner we had made two years ago. It reads “Downingtown Quaker
Meeting” to dispel any confusion that our previous sign
(“Downingtown Friends Meeting”) apparently invited among passers-by.
Outreach also participated in the open house for the Downingtown
area Interfaith Action group. Outreach joined other committees in
giving a short presentation/explanation to assembled guests from
other faith ministries in the area what exactly we do. This was a
Our website and Facebook page continue to be effective outreach
tools for the general community. Our webmaster continues to update
both our website and our Facebook Page.
We continue to ensure that the Meetinghouse and the box next to the
Schoolhouse door are always well supplied with our brochure and our
We took out an advertisement in Friends Journal in Spring 2017 that
continued into the 17-18 financial year. The ad gave our Meeting's
contact information,, worship schedule, and our First Day School
times and appears in the back of each monthly issue where similar
information from other meetings around the country can be found. We
did not renew the ad after July, but should possibly consider doing
We made steps to host a Red Cross blood drive in the Schoolhouse in
late August. The idea behind this is to promote interest in our
Meeting from blood donors coming for that event.
The Quaker Way Booth
The Outreach Committee oversees The Quaker Way booth at our
annual Friends Fall Festival. This insures that this vehicle for
bringing our community to the attention of others does not fall
short. We focused our efforts during last year’s Friends Fall
Festival on catching the eye of quickly moving visitors, and then
engaging them when they approached us. We did this by displaying a
slideshow of photos of people and activities from Meeting on our TV
using a DVD. We also positioned the tables and displays on the
Meeting House porch, so they could best be viewed by visitors as
they entered or left the building, providing shelter from the
Members of the Outreach Committee greeted visitors and offered them
our informational brochures and handouts, as well as offered
peace-sign hand stamps to kids. Our exhibit, completely redesigned
for a more bold graphic look with new photographs and information,
carried over the theme of our Web site and showed a family
worshiping together at Meeting, as well as photographs of Meeting
We directed those inquirers wanting information about the Meeting
House, itself, and its history to two long-time members of our
Meeting, who were graciously on hand throughout the Festival.
On September 20, 2009, the Outreach Committee held its first Welcome
Social at the rise of Meeting. We invited anyone who had started
coming to Meeting within the last two years. Not only did a good
number of newcomers attend, but many people from Meeting joined us
as well. After helping themselves to refreshments, everyone sat in a
circle and introduced themselves. All in all, it was a very
successful event, one that we plan to hold again sometime this year.
Outreach to Brand-New
Outreach to brand-new newcomers, our second “constituency,” involves
regularly checking the visitor’s log in the Meetinghouse and keeping
records that we compile at our monthly committee meetings.
Altogether, we noted about 37 first-time visitors (only 3 children)
this year. The Committee has been pursuing an aggressive but gentle!
approach in getting newcomers to sign the guestbook. We continue to
have a “point person” in the back of the Meetinghouse every First
Day at the rise of Meeting to answer any questions newcomers or
“seasoned comers” may have about our Meeting and Quakerism
Outreach to “Frequent
Keeping track of frequent newcomers—noting their presence or absence
on a given Sunday and seeing to it that their questions are answered
and their needs are met—constitutes one of the trickiest parts of
our work. This helps us decide whether and when to forward names to
the Google Group and Directory coordinators, as well as to the
Pastoral Care Committee. During the 2017-18 FY, we forwarded the
names of seven “frequent newcomers,” unfortunately no children, to
Pastoral Care. Separately, we forwarded the email addresses of six
newcomers to the Google Group administrator.
We had been publishing brief biographies of recent newcomers for the
DFM newsletter. This year, fewer newcomers have resulted in a
slowing down of this feature. Only one “bio” was published during
the year. (A second was complete but the subject of the bio ceased
coming to meeting.) We hope to increase this number next year.
We held our seventh annual Newcomers Coffee Social on a Sunday in
March. Five new attenders participated despite the fact that we sent
out 70+ email invitations. Long-term members/attenders also came to
show support, making for about 20 people total. Outreach Committee
members made/brought the food.
Outreach to DFM
Of course, outreach to these newcomers overlaps with outreach to our
regular Meeting members and attenders. We periodically update
Meeting generally about Outreach matters and occasionally make an
announcement every few months at Opening Exercises reminding
everyone that all of us at Meeting are, in effect, members of the
Outreach Committee. Indeed, we held a skit at the March 15 Opening
Exercises intended to remind Meeting generally of our collective
responsibility in this area.
We hosted three “family game nights” in September, January and April
as part of our initiative, begun in October 2015, to attract more
families with kids to meeting. We netted about 15-16 people each
time, with 4-6 children. We continue to think about the “families
problem” in other ways. It's a difficult situation, and our efforts
so far seem to have been in vain, as family attendance continues to
We have revisited the nametag issue again—how to get people to get
hold of them every First Day and so use them—and think we have come
up with a solution: to have people keep them in their cars and put
them on every week, returning them to their cars for the next week.
We will be working on this.
Back to Committees