On World Quaker Day – October 2nd, twenty of us gathered for Meeting for Worship and fellowship. Ten Friends attended via Zoom, including guests from Kenya, Belgium and Venezuela. Another ten attended in-person at the Browne Center on the campus of Aquinas College.
Our query for Worship was: “In what ways do our Quaker testimonies and processes inform each of us personally and as a Spiritual community? What is their power in our lives?”
Following Worship we offered greetings and heard messages from our international guests, and received updates from or regular attenders. A First Day School report was given with our youngest attender, soon to be two years old, handing out cards made by the children reading “God is Good“.
Friends attending in person stayed for fellowship over a potluck meal, a tradition we have just now resumed after more than two years. All of us were blessed to share this special day together. We wish all Quakers around the World peace and blessings of the Spirit over the coming year.
Aquinas College has announced that they are no longer requiring that masks be worn indoors at their campus facilities, although groups that meet in their buildings can still set their own policies. Since September, 2021 we have been having in-person worship in a “hybrid format” at the Aquinas Browne Center. At our Meeting for Worship with attention to Business in April, the decision was made to continue encouraging Friends to wear masks indoors at the Browne Center, and we are still requesting that those attending in-person be vaccinated for Covid19.
Friends who wish to join us in-person on Sunday will worship in the Living Room space at Browne Center as we were doing before the pandemic. Friends who wish to continue attending virtually will connect with a Zoom invitation as we have been doing since March of 2020. There will be a projected image at Browne Center of those attending virtually for those attending in-person, and those attending by Zoom will be able to see everyone gathered at the Browne Center.
Meeting for Worship will be conducted as we have been doing, with Friends entering into Silent Worship at 10:30. At 11:00 the Clerk will read a Query for all to consider during the second half of Worship. At 11:25, the Greeter will ask for “prayers, concerns, joys to share or further ministry left unspoken“. At 11:30 the Greeter will ask; “are Friends clear?” which indicates the rise of Meeting. The Clerk will then conduct a Friendly Check-in allowing each person in attendance, whether virtually or in-person, to give a brief update on how they are doing and anything happening in their lives that they wish to share. This has become a tradition during our Zoom worship that we wish to continue.
Please plan to join us on Sunday, either in-person or by Zoom.
We are currently conducting our Meetings for Worship on Zoom in this manner:
We keep our microphones on “Mute” and the “Chat” option off during Worship. Halfway through the Clerk will read a query. Friends may respond out of the silence by unmuting and then muting again when finished.
Near the end of Meeting, the person closing Meeting will inquire if there is any ministry left unspoken, prayers needed, or joys to share. We respond to this, if moved to do so, in the manner of worship-sharing, with a moment of silence between responses.
Meeting closes after the question, “are Friends clear?”
After Meeting is closed, we enjoy visiting with one another.
If this is your first time attending a Quaker Meeting for worship, here is a link to what to expect. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hxjH4sa2RFI
Grand Rapids Friends Meeting celebrated World Quaker Day this year by Zoom, with fellowship and a group photo following our Meeting for Worship on Sunday morning. There were 12 of us in attendance, and 10 stayed for the picture taking. Most of our fellowship centered around sharing about different experiences each of us has had with various Quaker communities around the World and also some stories about growing up in Friends Meeting or how we originally came to Quakerism. Our tradition during “normal times” is to host a homecoming potluck on World Quaker Day, and invite Friends who may not have attended for a while to join us. This year we have been able to expand our community to those who are too far away to attend in person, but can now join us by Zoom. Instead of potluck, each of us enjoyed our own snack or beverage at home while we visited. In doing so, we were all nurtured by sharing a simple meal, and precious time together.
On May 11th, our Friend Laura Arcila Villa graduated from Earlham School of Religion in Richmond, Indiana.
ESR is a Christian theological school in the Quaker tradition which prepares students for leadership that empowers, and for ministry that serves. Laura was Clerk of our Meeting from 2014 until 2017, when she and her husband Frank moved to Fort Collins, Colorado. She now attends the Fort Collins Friends Meeting. Laura is one of eight degree candidates to graduate in her class. She was accompanied during the full weekend of commencement exercises by Jana Norlin, who was there representing all of us at Grand Rapids Friends Meeting in support of Laura’s accomplishment. Congratulations, Laura! We miss you.
Kirsten Fedorowicz has a joy to share! She has just graduated from Aquinas College, with honors as the top student from the English Department. We celebrated her achievement after Meeting for Worship on Sunday, May 19th with cake and a group photo.
Kirsten announced that she has been selected for a position with the Quaker Voluntary Service, beginning in August in Minneapolis. She will be coordinating a program called Bridging, which supports people in transition from homelessness to permanent housing. Thank you for being a part of our Meeting community, Kirsten. We wish you all the best, and welcome you back anytime!
We are also happy to recognize our high school graduates for their hard work and accomplishments:
On May 23rd, Ivan Reynolds, son of Amy and Mark Reynolds graduated from Lowell High School,
and Isaiah Starks-Kalis, son of Jay Kalis graduated from Sparta High School.
Congratulations and best of luck to both of you, in all that you do!