State of the Church Report 2010
The State of the Church Report
Freedom Friends Church
For the Year 2010
To Friends Everywhere:
Freedom Friends Church is heading towards a seventh year of ministry in Salem, Oregon. In some faith traditions, seven is called the age of accountability. The Apostle Peter wrote that we should always be ready to give an account of our hope. This is the hope and testimony of Freedom Friends. God is with us, God loves every one of us without measure and without judgment. God calls us to life and to growth. The present Christ teaches us and this same Spirit guides and nurtures us. We see and hear God in each other and in the world around us. We are grateful.
If we were all to gather on the same Sunday, a thing that has never happened yet, there would be 37 of us, five more than last year. We range in age from 6-83. We gained a member and lost a member this year and have 21 Friends who have taken official membership.
Our worship continues to be lively. Most Friends speak in meeting, whether worshiping through gratitude or petition, or by trying to catch a sense of what God is saying to the gathered people. Ministry often centers on a Biblical passage. First time visitors often feel comfortable enough to speak in meeting.
We are all ministers. Our people teach and work in schools, in the mental health field, and in the justice system. We facilitate good order in hospitals and care giving situations. We are students, parents, grandparents. We are artists, machinists, writers and volunteers. We understand and affirm that ministry is done in all these places.
We have remained in our rented meetinghouse on 13th street. It suits us in many ways, though at times we long for more space or more control over our space. Our monthly giving by our regular attenders does not always meet our monthly expenses. But some who were unemployed have gone back to work, and for this we are grateful. By the grace of God and the generosity of Friends from beyond our meeting we have ended the year in the black. We took in just over $34,000 dollars last year and our expenses were just about $24,000, $16,800 of that was rent. Just when it seems like we are in financial peril, gifts arrive. Friends in the UK, Canada, Washington and California as well as Oregon have encouraged us with giving. One anonymous Friend gave the church a gift of stock that was sold for the benefit of the meeting; this brought in about $7600 and put us into the black for the year. Words cannot express our amazement at such consistent blessings.
Some of our members do sustained and public ministry. Ashley Wilcox completed service as co-clerk to the Pacific North West Quaker Women’s Theology conference that was held in June. Sarah Hoggatt completed service on the Editorial Board of the Quaker Youth Book Project, which published its work with great joy in the Spring. Ashley and Sarah each did a good deal of intervisitation this year. T. Vail Palmer continues to work on his book entitled “Friends, God, and the Bible” making good progress on what we believe will be a significant contribution to the Quaker world. Pastor Peggy Parsons published a third book, a collection of Gospel messages and then spent the summer in Africa teaching and working as a trauma healer. We do not hold these ministries to be more important than any others, but we are pleased to be able to contribute to the wider Quaker world. We have big feet, and like Quakers in general, we have a greater footprint in the world than our numbers would indicate.
We contributed to efforts beyond our own. After the earthquake in Haiti we contributed to the medical work of Partners in Health, and we contributed with money, body and voice to our local Habitat for Humanity Chapter.
We continue to have an active Web presence. Our web page (freedomfriends.org) is our virtual street sign, and has had 2,660 web page views this year. Our “members” on Facebook outnumber our actual members by several orders of magnitude. Facebook has continued to be our best way to keep tabs on each other. We experimented with a Facebook Ad in December and wonder if other Quaker meetings have tried this. Our Faith and Practice book continues to be a good seller.
The greatest sorrow of the year was the loss of Jaye Kizmet. Jaye took her own life in late February. It was unexpected, unnecessary and blow to the meeting. As we grieved we tried to affirm Jaye’s life, without affirming her choice to end her life. We believe she had much to offer the world and that the world is less colorful without her.
The greatest joy of the year was the April wedding of Alivia Biko and Peggy Parsons. The meetinghouse was packed with Friends and friends of Friends. Peggy and Alivia exchanged simple traditional Quaker vows out of the gathered silence. This joyous union necessitated a look at the leadership responsibilities in the church and with the guidance of Ministry and Oversight and the blessing of the meeting Alivia started to make plans for releasing her ministry as presiding clerk.
In the spring we received Stacey Foose of Corvallis Oregon into membership by convincement. Stacey is an enthusiastic and committed member of the meeting.
We sent five women to the PNW Quaker Women’s Theology Conference in June and it was a time of stretching and support. Such convergent events are exceedingly harmonious with our faith and practice.
While the Pastor was ministering in Central and East Africa for the summer, the meeting took up the slack in several ways. Many Friends took turns facilitating worship, opening and closing the meetinghouse and keeping the meetinghouse clean. Alivia attempted, with help, to be both pastor and clerk for two months and we can say that we do not recommend this to others, but she persevered. Friends watched out for each other.
The Quaker Youth Pilgrimage rolled through during the summer, and they spent some time with a few of our members, a good time was had by all.
In August, Ashley Wilcox moved back from Seattle to Salem. She did this as a spiritual leading with the intent to contribute to the life of the meeting. University Friends Meeting released her sojourning membership to us. We received her with joy.
Two members are finishing significant terms of Service. Sarah Hoggatt is releasing her role as recording clerk and Alivia Biko is stepping back into a semi-sabbatical after six and a half years of being presiding clerk.
We look into the future with hope. We have found our voice and stood our ground and we are ready to do what the Spirit asks us to do. Please hold us in the Light as we so hold you.
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