Thursday, August 21, 2008

First All-Meeting Retreat

OCTOBER 25, 9:00 TO 4:00

This Year of Discernment is a time for us to discern how we become a community:
  • that people love and want to serve,
  • that allows all members to feel that their work fits into the big picture of the meeting,
  • that offers members a universal sense of both caring for and being cared for,
  • and that efficiently identifies and recognizes the talents of each member so that we are all left with ample time to deepen our spirituality and community-building.

We hope to be joyful, intentional and corporate in our discernment, to listen to each other and to the Divine, and to listen and share our leadings with one another as we seek a deeper spirituality. From this centered place, we hope that the UFM Community will discern what we are led to be and do.

As we have listened to the committees and individuals over the last few months, it has become obvious that we are not a well-connected, cohesive community. In some cases a committee has little idea of what other committees do or why. We have found that when members of our community have differences or questions of one another, there is often no engagement or the opposite, testy conversations. This may be due to the disconnections in the Meeting, to "Quaker Nice" or to our lack of skills and willingness to test leadings, individually or corporately. It may even be due to a lack of trust in the guidance of the Spirit for ourselves, for others and for our community. We want people to feel good about exploring differences without put downs and, thus, need to balance the tension between tenderness and listening versus speaking one's mind. Individuals will feel irritated from time to time. How should we deal with that?

It is not uncommon to hear someone say they come to Meeting to feel safe. Is it possible to focus so much on safety that we become afraid of feeling uncomfortable? Can we open ourselves to deeper spiritual experiences without being uncomfortable? Can we listen deeply to one another, can we risk having our minds and hearts changed-without being uncomfortable? We think most people want deeply personal and spiritual experiences. In order to do this we need to feel safe enough to be able to tolerate being uncomfortable enough to stretch and grow individually and together.

Our first retreat will focus on getting to know each other better, listening deeply to ourselves and others, and becoming more comfortable with differences. We'll explore how to engage with each other respectfully and we will do it with humor, love and worship. There will be intergenerational activities, discussions in small groups, a little hands-on care of our facilities and worship at the end of the day.

Hospitality Committee will coordinate lunch. Some activities will involve all ages (toddler, school-aged and Jr. Friends, Young Adult Friends and older adults). There will be childcare and a children's program when appropriate. We will gather at 9:00 AM and end at 4:00 PM.

Watch for more information in the next month.