Monday, December 14, 2009

Final Report



In December 2007, the Nominating Committee offered a proposal for a Year of Discernment for University Friends Meeting (UFM). The proposal arose from some months of discussion and redefinition, and was prompted by Nominating Committee concerns that it had become increasingly difficult to find community members willing to serve on our many committees. There was also a general sense within the Meeting community that we were overextended and had inadequate human and financial resources to do all that is needed to maintain our structure and campus, and to serve and care for our own and wider communities.

Now, two years later, the Steering Committee gratefully reports on experiences we have been blessed to share with and facilitate within the UFM community. Throughout our time together, the Steering Committee for the Year of Discernment has frequently come back to two questions to guide our process:
1.    Who are we as a community?
2.    What are we called to do?
This report reflects some of our answers to these questions as well as a summary of activities and accomplishments we see within UFM.  We have also compiled a full record of written materials generated during the period, including reports from meetings with committees, Gleamings articles, related bibliography on discernment, committee initiatives such as reading and discussions of Three Cups of Tea, and Nominating Committee recommendations for combining or laying down committees. We particularly recommend the appended “how to do it” records from the four retreats in which many community members participated between October 2008 and October 2009.


Presently, UFM has about 180 members, of whom about half are currently active within the community.  We also have a substantial number of attenders.  A number of members are now connected with South Seattle Preparative Meeting, which may soon become a monthly meeting.  We estimate that 150 adults are actively involved in the Meeting, by attending worship at 9:30 or 11:00 on First Day, participating in Adult Religious Education, serving on committees, and attending monthly business meeting.

Currently, only 11 or 12 children, from infants through school-age years, come to First-Day School or Preschool group on Sunday mornings. Very few Junior Friends are in evidence in UFM, although a number enjoy Quarterly and Yearly Meeting activities. The Meeting benefits from the presence of a number of Young Adult Friends.  Valued members of the community also include many gray-haired folks, several families with young children, and many actively working for a living.

We employ five part-time staff in the Meeting office, as residents of the meetinghouse and Quaker House, to coordinate the QUEST program, to help nurture, clean and care for our campus and community. We host a nightly SHARE/WHEEL shelter for up to 20 homeless people, and offer meeting space for a variety of Friends and community groups. The regional offices of AFSC and a preschool are housed in our building, and six QUEST interns live in Quaker House, which also has rooms for travelers.

Year of Discernment

Nominating Committee originally discussed a wide range of ideas for some sort of special year for UFM.  Suggestions included laying down “non-essential” committee work (variously defined!) for the year, or restructuring committees or committee work in various ways.  Nominating Committee talked with Lorraine Watson of North Seattle Friends Church about their radical simplification of their committee structure and their decision to lay down a major ministry.  Prior to the approval of the Year of Discernment proposal, Nominating Committee presented two draft proposals to monthly meeting for a “Sabbath Year,” with specific proposals for the reduction of committee work for the year and a somewhat simplified structure for remaining work.  Nominating Committee soon realized that work which may seem less essential is often work which people love, and that has led into some close community for the people doing it.  After receiving feedback from monthly meeting and talking with some individuals with concerns, a new proposal for the “Year of Discernment” emerged.  The Meeting approved the Year of Discernment proposal  and appointed a Steering Committee for the Year of Discernment.

The Year of Discernment was not a time to stop our work. We hoped it would be a time of excitement and refreshment because work felt different from the usual. We did not “lay down” committees or ask committees to stop doing certain things.  The goal was a year to discern how to become a community that people love and want to serve, that allows all members to feel that their work fits into 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 hoped 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.


    Steering Committee members met with every UFM committee and with officers and non-committee members, interested individuals, Young Adult Friends, and other groups, to discuss queries  expanded directly from those in the Year of Discernment proposal.  We discovered that for many committees the primary experience of UFM and commitment to the Meeting centered in the work of that particular committee.  We also learned that for most committee members, service in their chosen areas was a pleasure and satisfying, rather than a burden.   Thus, we came to see UFM as composed of many smaller communities and learned that all of UFM current activities were deeply value by those involved.

At the same time, the stress of trying to do many things with limited resources was widely acknowledged. This learning lead the Steering Committee to seek ways to build a more cohesive community and to involve committees in activities such as planning and assisting with the retreats. We also moved away from considering adjustments to the UFM structure and tried to help prepare the community to unite in choices and ministries. 

From the interviews with committees and individuals, the Steering Committee distilled four core values of University Friends Meeting, themes that, over the course of our conversations, UFM community members identified repeatedly or universally as essential to the life and identity of our community.  These four core values were: worship; care and nurturing of community and each other; stewardship of our physical, financial, and human resources; and service both to Meeting and in the world.

III. What Are We Called To Do?

We are called to be a worshiping community, to be good stewards of our resources, and to help each other discern how we are led to serve. We are also called to care for and support each other.

Based on this understanding of who we are as a community and what we are called to do, the Steering Committee has several recommendations for the Meeting and lifts up some areas we see in need of ongoing nurture.


1.     We recommend that UFM institute having two Meeting retreats at the meetinghouse each calendar year, organized by an ad hoc committee, appointed by the Clerk in consultation with Nominating Committee.  Each retreat should include:
  • worship
  • intergenerational activities
  • community building exercises (i.e. discussions, skill building or other activities that speak to the spiritual needs of UFM)
  • a program for children related to the retreat theme
  • work parties focused on the buildings and grounds
  • a shared meal, and
  •  fun
Other activities might include: a talent show, skits, or bringing in an outside speaker to focus on a particular issue. We recommend that a planning committee be named for each retreat and that all committees be asked contribute ideas for the themes. Some possible themes might be the relationship between individual discernment and corporate discernment, or an advance reading.

 2.   We recommend that the business meeting approve the creation of a Communications Task Force, named by the Clerk, and charged with reviewing current communications methods and recommending changes that better fit the needs of UFM community and the technology available. Attention must be given to maintaining connection with individuals and households who do not regularly use the internet and email. This task force would be asked to bring a recommendation to business meeting within three months.

3.  We recommend that the Projects' responsibilities be transferred at least temporarily to a Remodeling Task Force, appointed by the Clerk.   It would be the Task Force's job to determine what needs to be done to restart the remodeling process of the Meeting House.  This would include, but is not limited to: reviewing the current remodeling plans, recommending changes if they are indicated, identifying funding and financing sources, and presenting their recommendations to business meeting for approval.  The Task Force would prioritize what and in what order specific remodeling jobs should be done, the timing of the remodeling work, and the impact on our renters.  It would also determine what would be the best oversight for the projects.  The Task Force would consult with Buildings and Grounds and Finance Committees as necessary.  This task force would be asked to bring a recommendation to business meeting within three months.

 4.     We recommend that Worship and Ministry Committee create a formal process for the meeting to follow when individuals express a leading or calling to ministry.  In this process, the Meeting should help discern whether the ministry is individual (and, if so, what support the individual needs) or corporate (and, if so, how the Meeting should take up that ministry).  This process of discernment should also continue for the Meeting’s current ministries.  Tools the Meeting has to support these ministries include clearness and support committees and business meeting.

Ongoing Nurture

Throughout the year, we have noticed a few areas that could use special support, attention, and nurture from the Meeting.  We do not have specific recommendations in these areas, but we ask the Meeting to prayerfully consider how to nurture them.

1.  Younger Friends.  We see a need for ongoing nurture of younger Friends, including young families and children, Junior Friends, and Young Adult Friends.  We encourage Friends to discern how to incorporate Friends of all ages into the life of the Meeting, and to discern what support and support the Meeting can give to those in transitional stages of life.  An example we discussed of lending structure would be to have Worship and Ministry Committee offer to house the YAF mid-week worship at Quaker House.  We encourage adults in the Meeting to work with our youth of all ages.  We want to acknowledge the work that has been and is being done by the Education Committee, in particular the creation of the curriculum for the school-aged children. People seem excited and welcoming when families attend UFM.  However, not enough of us have volunteered for the Education Committee, second adults on Sundays, or to work with Junior Friends. 

2.  New clerks.  In meeting with the committees, we saw many differences in how committees functioned.  We ask the Meeting to think about ways to support individuals who feel led to clerk committees by providing help in their transition into clerking and being clear about the expectations of a committee and the committee clerk.  One possibility for this support could include a gathering of all committee clerks (experienced and new) to talk about what it means to clerk.  Alternatively, new clerks could have a mentor who has served as a clerk in the past.

3.  Communication between committees and the Meeting.  We encourage the Meeting community to continue the Clerk’s current practice of having committees report on their work at business meeting. In addition, we want committees to move beyond business meeting and to use other venues, such as Gleamings, the website, and Coordinating Committee, to educate and excite the rest of the community.

4.     Outreach.  As people talked about what was memorable and important to them in their time with UFM, the theme of outreach emerged. We propose that the Meeting consider formalizing a variety of kinds of outreach both to people who find UFM on their own and to people who have not met us.  An example of outreach to people who have not met us is Quaker Quest; we could also offer more education about UFM and Quakerism to attenders.  There seems to be an increase in connection with the student community of the University of Washington; we wonder about once again reaching out to them.  Another suggestion is to organize quarterly gatherings for individuals who have been attending the Meeting for less than a year.

5.  Sharing our experiences of the Spirit.  In our final retreat, some Friends shared their desire to have space to talk about our experiences of the Divine, which we call by many names.  This is a growing edge for the Meeting, as faith language makes some members uncomfortable.  It also requires Friends to get to know each other better, which can be difficult in such a large meeting.  One way the Meeting can encourage Friends to share is through smaller groups that focus on deepening worship and giving space to share personal experiences.  Examples that currently exist include the Adult Religious Education hour, spiritual sharing groups, and Meeting retreats.  We hope that Friends will encourage each other to share their experiences and listen though an individual’s language for the meaning behind it.


     Below is a list of some of the things that have happened in University Friends Meeting since the approval of the Year of Discernment proposal.  The Year of Discernment Steering Committee in no way claims credit for all of the items listed.  The Steering Committee assisted in facilitating some items, but many others happened through the initiative of committees, or as gifts from individuals to Meeting.  However, one of our major themes and goals for the year has been identifying and recognizing UFM’s many ministries and getting to know better what others in Meeting are doing.  We feel we have helped to increase general awareness of these activities and contributed to a greater understanding of how they enrich the life of the Meeting.
  • We held four retreats with the purpose of strengthening the four essentials, to get to know each other and our work better, and to create broader and deeper understanding of the practice of discernment.  Our retreats focused on worship, individual discernment, corporate discernment, and the nature and meaning of community.  In order to continue connecting committee work to the wider UFM community, committees were involved in various aspects of the retreat programming.
  • The shift from Nominating Committee’s original vision (the “Sabbath Year”) to what Meeting united on (the Year of Discernment) could perhaps be summed up as a shift from “doing different work” to “thinking differently about our work.” Thinking about our existing work with greater intention has without a doubt generated a great deal of new energy and a stronger sense of community in UFM.
  • Hospitality Committee was folded into Friends Center Committee, and the former Projects and Upkeep committees were merged to form the Building & Grounds Committee.
  • A well-attended information and discussion session was held about the maintenance, repair, and remodel needs of our current buildings and their financial impact.
  • We spent many person-hours of labor on the meetinghouse building and grounds and completed many much-needed tasks, including: installation of the auditory enhancement system in the worship room; cleaning out the office (including removal of the old office safe), storage closet, and lunchroom; and removing standing water from the roof.
  • We have continued to build relationships with the people in the SHARE/WHEEL shelter group that sleeps in the Worship Room.  Members of the group have participated in Meeting activities and one attends worship regularly. The group renamed itself to reflect their growing connection to UFM.
  • We have a monthly Arts Salon where community members share visual art, music, poetry, and fellowship.
  • We have seen an increase in the number of Young Adult Friends attending and becoming involved in the Meeting.  One household of YAFs started mid-week worship.  An older couple in Meeting has held four potlucks at their home for YAFs.
  • Many people read and participated in conversations or discussion groups about the book Three Cups of Tea, by Greg Mortenson and David Oliver Relin.
  • We held our first Memorial Meeting for Grieving and Healing.
  • The Sunday morning Adult Religious Education program has been coordinated with the Year of Discernment, giving participants the opportunity to explore some of its themes in greater depth.
  • We enjoyed a lively Meeting-wide talent show.
  • The First-Day School class has moved into the Lunch Room.  This gives them a room of their own and frees up the Social Hall during the 11:00 hour.
  • We have recognized that we are not led to sell Quaker House.
  • We have decided not to participate in the Ecumenical Campus.
  • We have spent time talking about the nature of community at UFM. Our efforts to build community and help people get to know each other have made it easier to have conversations together about the life of the community.
  • We are communicating more through Gleamings.   The newsletter has focused our attention on themes of the Year of Discernment and related themes as well as Meeting concerns in general.
Overall, Friends in the Meeting know each other better and know more about the community as a whole, including what committees exist and what they do. We know more about the ministries that UFM currently carries and we are learning what they cost us in human, monetary and facility resources.  There has also been a shift from seeing committee work as an impediment to full participation in Meeting, something that mediates experience in Meeting, to an actual site of community building, spiritual practice, and the life of the Meeting.

A sense of abundance seems to have replaced the worry about scarcity that triggered the need for the Year of Discernment. Committee volunteerism, the number of donors, and participation in meeting for worship have all increased. We are moving towards practicing our discernment from a place of abundance instead of one of scarcity.  We feel that we are better prepared as a community to make hard choices and we hope that the Meeting will continue to consider what still has life and what we should lay down in light of our leadings and resources.

By working together toward simple objectives, we were reminded of the power of a community where each makes a contribution from individual strengths to release others to apply their strengths. We experienced, again and again, times when we felt equal concern for one another, and equal appreciation for what others were sharing with us. In those times, we were in the presence of the spiritual life of our community and its power.


Is thinking differently about our existing work seen as a means to an end, or as an end in itself?

Does Meeting still see the ultimate goal of the process as a shift back to thinking in terms of “doing different work” (and if so, what)?

For ongoing discernment related to our current ministries: What has life?  What should we lay down?  How are we supporting our individual and corporate ministries?

How does prophetic witness fit with the four essentials we identified in the meeting (worship, community, stewardship, and service)?

What is our understanding of discernment now and how should we continue the work after the Year of Discernment?


Suggested Readings for the Year of Discernment
Year of Discernment Charge from Monthly Meeting
Queries given to Committees and Individuals
Reports from talking to the committees and individuals
Samples of Gleamings articles
Samples of Reports to Business Meeting
Samples of Sunday Announcements
UFM Ministries and their histories
Example of Gleamings article on UFM Ministries: Subcommittee on Homeless
Retreat schedules and evaluation forms
Sample work-party sign up sheet
Summaries of evaluation for first and last retreats

Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Accountable Radicals and Radical Accountants*


At a recent Year of Discernment Steering Committee meeting we found ourselves once again revisiting, what one of us called, the core functions of the UFM community. Worship is the center. Add to this the work that keeps the Meeting going, such as the Building and Grounds or Oversight committee work. Then fold in the outward expression of our faith, both individual and corporate, such as standing vigil, maintaining our library or sponsoring the SHARE/ WHEEL GROUP.

The unification of these activities is the core. For these to be done well, we need radicals who are led to action and invite us into a discernment process. For there to be a Meeting to respond to the radical's call, we need folks tending the structure, relying on the Quakers' radical method of discernment. It works because all of this is grounded in worship and faith.

Please, come join the conversation, the fun and the worship on October 24 at the Meeting House.

The day begins at 9:00 with tea, coffee, juice, tasty treats and conversation. At 9:30 there will be an opening circle for all attenders followed by small group exercises. We will share in small groups what community means to each of us and what we want in a community. We will be invited to talk about passions, leadings and gifts and what they might have to do with community.

In the afternoon we will share a potluck lunch and work together in intergenerational work parties. The second half of the afternoon we will reconvene in small groups to focus on how best to use the gifts and resources the Meeting has at this time. We will end with brief reports from the groups and final worship for all.

Throughout the day when there are not intergenerational activities, there will be childcare for children under 6 and a children's program for children aged 6 through 12. Please let us know in advance if you will be bringing children and their ages so we will have enough teachers.

You can sign up at the Meeting House on the table by the office starting the second week of October.

--Dorsey G for the Year of Discernment Steering Committee

*For the purpose of this title we are stretching the meaning of accountants to include people who dothe work that keeps a Meeting running, such as Nominating, Personnel, or Finance Committees.

Friday, August 28, 2009

Save October 24, 2009 for the Fall UFM Community Retreat!

Summer is waning, school is beginning and we are getting ready for the next All-Meeting Retreat. University Meeting needs to make several decisions this year and we need as many voices in the conversation as we can gather. The coming Retreat will be, in part, another step in the decision making process.

We have to decide how to manage our financial and physical plant resources so that UFM can continue to provide a spiritual and community home. Good stewardship demands that we care for the resources we own and share. Our community has to revisit and recommit to the choices that were made by previous generations in UFM. There is no one charged with reminding us that it is time to decide to combine Oversight and Worship and Ministry Committees or keep Quaker House or rent the Meeting House to outside groups. [Note: these are only examples of decisions that have been made in the past, they are not necessarily what we will be discussing]

When events jolt us into awareness that something is wrong, we have to take that opportunity to look, consider deeply and discern what we are led to do-again. I hope this happens for the rest of University Meeting's existence. It keeps us from becoming complacent and it means that UFM is alive to what the Spirit has in store for us.A more complete schedule will be published in the October Gleamings and on the UFM Website at the same time. Of course, there will be worship, treats, time to chat with others, lunch, house and garden work parties, small and large group gatherings and perhaps a skit.

Please contact the Year of Discernment Steering Committee to sign up for the retreat or look for the sign-up sheets outside the office door beginning in early October.

--Dorsey G for the Year of Discernment Steering Committee
Asia B, Rick E, Ashley W and David W

Sunday, July 12, 2009

Summer Update


Almost a year after the start of the Year of Discernment, people report feeling more connected to the Meeting community. One member said that she had started to come to Worship more often. An attender was excited that he had learned what discernment was. We are almost ready as a community to turn our energy to the discernment of what we are called to do.

As we head into summer, we are gathering the information we need for our discernment. How much money do we need to complete our remodel of the Meetinghouse? How much for maintenance of the Meetinghouse, grounds and Quaker House?

As such factual information is accumulated, ask yourself what you are called to do as an individual or as part of a larger group. Consider how much money, time and energy you have to donate for these leadings. Are we already doing what calls you? Or are you feeling led to something new? Talk to the rest of us about your thoughts and ask others what they are finding within themselves. And throughout the next few months, join us in worship and play.

--Dorsey G for the Year of Discernment Steering Committee

Saturday, May 23, 2009

Third All-Meeting Retreat Report

64 adults and three children joined together for our third retreat on May 16. We laughed, reflected on what we want for our Meeting, and cleaned up the Meeting House and grounds. We moved from talking about discernment to doing it.

The children were given $200 of UFM's donation budget. They chose to give a goat to a family through Heifer International and, thus, give an ongoing gift of milk and more goats. Through WaterAid America they are giving clean water to communities who then have more time and better health, allowing them to improve their lives. Thanks to Bre M and Daniel B for their running of the children's program for the retreat.

After a humorous skit that highlighted what not to do at a business meeting, the adults met in small groups to think together about what it feels like to be part of satisfying corporate discernment. People mentioned the times at UFM when the Meeting struggled to discern what we were called to do about buying Quaker House in 1973, how to help Central American Refugees in the early 1980s, and what to do about same sex marriage for the 10 years leading up to a deciding Minute in 1992. We are continuing UFM's history, and Quakerism's in general, of laboring with each other to find our right paths.

Once again many hands made fun work as people climbed up on the roof, weeded down below and cleaned places in the Meeting House that most of us didn't even know were there. The place sparkles! Special kudos go to the folks who once again tackled the office and upstairs storage closet!

Small groups met again in the afternoon to decide as a group which of UFM's current ministries they thought needed more of our time, energy and money. It was exciting to push ourselves to make some choices and hear how others did it differently. The groups reaffirmed that Worship and Care of our Community lie at the heart of UFM. Judging from the evaluations and comments from the folks at the retreat, we are strengthening both of these as we dig a little deeper into discerning who we are and what we are called to do as a community.

There will be a fourth all-UFM retreat in the Fall of 2009. Between now and then, there will be other activities, such as the June and Summer Business Meetings, that continue our corporate discernment. Please join us when you can, and reflect on what you think we are called to do as a community.

--Dorsey G
For the Year of Discernment Steering Committee

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Third All-Meeting Retreat

May 16, 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.

In our third all-meeting retreat we will build on what we learned about individual discernment to focus on tools for corporate discernment. We will spend time listening together as we think about our hopes and dreams for UFM and how we can best use the resources that we have as a community. We hope this will bring us closer to answering the questions we have been considering since the beginning of the Year of Discernment: Who are we as a community? What are we called to do?

The retreat will start at 9 a.m. and the day will include worship, intergenerational activities, small groups, a children’s program, lunch, work parties, and tea time. Please sign up on the attendance sheet outside the office and start thinking about what you would like to bring for a potluck lunch. Spread the word about the retreat and bring a Friend! Even if you don’t sign up but find that you can come at the last minute, please come. We look forward to seeing you there.

Monday, April 13, 2009

Leadings, Concerns, and Readings

The theme for our third Year of Discernment retreat moves from individual to corporate discernment. If you must choose among the rich offerings on the reading list in the December Gleamings, you may begin with the section “Concerns and Liberating Concerned Friends” p.78 in NPYM Faith and Practice (1993). Or you could read Paul Lacey’s Pendle Hill pamphlet “On Leading and Being Led” – my favorite. Both are available in the Library. Check out the top shelf on the hall rack near the office for an array of free photocopied selections and Pendle Hill pamphlets for sale as well.

-- Asia B

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

Report on March 15 Information and Discussion Session

As part of UFM’s Year of Discernment, an information meeting regarding the needs of our building and grounds was held on March 15th. Three Committees (UFM Year of Discernment, Building & Grounds, and Finance) prepared the presentation consisting of three parts. Discussed were “UFM Ministries”, the “Planning for both the Remodel Design and the Maintenance Program” of UFM’s buildings and grounds, and the “Financial Options” generated by those programs.

The information clearly demonstrated the need for decisions in regard to the use, maintenance and utility of the Meeting House. Over fifty people attended the information session. Written details of the presentation and the discussion that followed will be available on Sundays at the Meeting. Future information sessions will be scheduled following the next Discernment Retreat, May 16, 2009.

-- Ron T

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

University Friends Meeting Ministries

Following is a list of UFM ministries, compiled by Coordinating Committee and the Year of Discernment Steering Committee. The first grouping of ministries is housed in our current buildings. The rest are not dependent on owning our worship space.

Ministries dependent on our physical space

Quaker Experiential, Service and Training (QUEST)—Quest established in 1992, seeks to build a peaceful, just, and sustainable world by empowering interns to act as agents of social change and social service during their year with QUEST and throughout their lives. The program provides Quaker and non-Quaker interns with: quality, year-long positions at local social change and social service organizations that can benefit from an intern's service; supplemental training to empower interns in their work for social change and social service; and an intentional, residential community where interns can receive support, practice community-building skills, and live simply. They live together in Quaker House. The Quest program pays rent to Quaker House and its finances are separate from the Meeting.

Travelers Rooms—In 1972 UFM acquired Quaker House. In the 1980s it was remodeled to include the Quaker House resident’s apartment and two rooms and a bathroom for the use of traveling Friends. Rental income from these rooms and the Quest program is used by Quaker House for its ongoing expenses.

Homeless—Our member Larry Gaffin was released and supported in his call to work with homeless people and issues in the early 2000s. Part of his work was with the University District Hygiene center, which was housed at UFM for several years. At about the same time, a few homeless men began to sleep nightly under the eaves of our building. UFM rented and had installed a portable toilet in the Peace Park and the city of Seattle insured it. We maintained it for years. In 2006 it became clear that we could not continue to support this arrangement and we told the men they needed to find other places to sleep. In 2007 the Committee on Homeless People at UFM recommended that we accept a SHARE group to sleep in the Worship Room. As of 2008 we now have a SHARE/WHEEL, co-ed group sleeping in our building.

Use of Building for AFSC—Friends Center and University Friends Meeting (now University Friends Meeting) was built in 1963-64 with space for the regional AFSC office on the lower level. Since the beginning UFM has charged AFSC below-market rate rent as an expression of our commitment to and support of the organization.

Rentals—Since the beginning, UFM has rented our spaces to people and organizations. We have often given a reduced fee for groups who are fellow travelers in peace, justice and religious journeys. UFM has also rented space to various Preschools for many years.

Library—The library has many books for children and adults, periodicals, Pendle Hill Pamphlets, and some DVDs in its collection. The library is a gateway for many into Quakerism and the UFM community.

Art in the Building—University Meeting used to be a registered gallery. For decades the Arts Committee has solicited, chosen and displayed art to showcase the artists, decorate our walls, and augment the spiritual hospitality of the Meeting. Often they show UFM community artists’ work.

(The Education Committee’s programs are included here, although they could be housed in different spaces from our current ones.)

Children and Teens—UFM sponsors childcare in the lower level Preschool room for the 11:00 Worship on Sundays, Business and other called Meetings, weddings and Memorials under the care of the Meeting, and other Meeting events. Also during the 11:00 Worship hour, there is a Children’s Program in the Social Hall run by our Education Committee, led by a teacher and a second adult. There are also Children’s Programs at UFM retreats. Middle School and High School students meet as Junior Friends in a room off of the Social Hall. Education Committee oversees this program while it is more directly led by volunteer Advisors and the teens.

Ministries not dependent on our physical space

Care of the community—A number of committees—Oversight, Worship and Ministry, and Friends Center—are particularly charged with care of our worshiping community. Care Committees are the most obvious manifestation of this care and are composed of members of the UFM community and sometimes members from the wider community. The Sub-Committee on Care which supports and usually creates the care committees was also temporarily suspended and absorbed by Oversight.

Support for community members who have individual ministries—Members who have a leading and have tested it within the UFM community may be released from responsibilities for UFM focused work and supported in a number of ways. This can include an ongoing support or clearness committee or collecting funds for a project that UFM unites with. Ministries that have been supported in the past are: work on homelessness, outreach to the University of Washington community and outreach regarding Gay and Lesbian issues in the State.

Peace and Social Concerns—The Peace and Social Concerns committee is responsible for organizing corporate peace and social concerns activities, such as lobbying in Olympia, vigils, reading and discussing relevant books, encouraging Green activities, donations to appropriate causes/organizations, among others. Individuals and other groups in Meeting also engage in activities and invite the rest of us to join with them.

Worship and spiritual outreach to those who want itWorship is the center of the UFM community. Worship and Ministry Committee is officially responsible for the quality of worship in both Sunday Worship and Business Meetings at UFM. They often reach out to individuals and groups within the Meeting who would like support for or guidance on spiritual issues. They help the Year of Discernment Steering Committee develop reading lists and queries for the all-Meeting retreats.

Adult Religious Education—The Adult Religious Education committee plans, runs and finds speakers for the Study Hour at 9:30 on Sunday mornings. They have coordinated with the YoD Steering Committee to present timely issues that are part of the Year of Discernment.

Sexual Abuse Triad—Safety and education of children and their parents, support of survivors of sexual abuse, and support of a known, convicted offender—In 2002 the UFM was informed by a sexual offender that he wished to worship and participate in our community. He was awaiting trial but had already started treatment. Business meeting accepted the proposal that we have a multi-faceted program to address the challenges this person brought with his presence. Since that time there have been a one-day workshop on survivor issues and general information about sexual abuse, small group discussions, parent education sessions, adding a requirement that there always be two people in children’s programs, contact people for survivors, a support group for adult survivors, and resources on the topics placed in the library—to name some of the work that has been done. In 2004 Meeting created the Sub-committee for Interpersonal Violence (SIV) under the care of Oversight and Worship and Ministry. This past year it was temporarily absorbed by Oversight because of a lack of people led to serve on it; members of Oversight serve as the contact people for survivors and other people affected by the issues.

Saturday, March 14, 2009

Library Ministry

Your library welcomes both new inquirers and long standing members/attenders to University Friends Meeting. We are stewards of our literary treasures and educational resources and seek to share what we have with you. We are a working committee always on the search for appropriate acquisitions (books, periodicals and some dvds), which we then integrate into the library holdings.

We hold an annual book sale with your help to expand and improve our collection. We meet monthly to celebrate each other, read the shelves to keep them in order, seek ways to improve the library, and evaluate and consider community suggestions. We welcome the occasional book gift throughout the year from members/attenders. We keep the card catalogues updated Pendle Hill pamphlets integrated, and information of both other west coast meetings and about the wider Quaker groups ready and available for your perusal.

Want to explore? Poke your head in to say hello…

-- Sandy S and Jo C, Library Committee co-clerks

Saturday, March 7, 2009

Ministry on Homeless

University Meeting has had several generations of interest in homelessness. In the early 2000s our member Larry Gaffin, asked to be released and supported in his call to work with homeless people and issues. Part of his work was with the University District Hygiene center which was housed at UFM for several years.

At about the same time, a few homeless men began to sleep nightly under the eaves of our building. UFM rented and had installed a portable toilet in the Peace Park; the city of Seattle insured it. We maintained it for years. In the spring of 2006, it became clear to UFM that the now large group of homeless people sleeping outside our building each night did not have the necessary oversight from UFM.

In an effort to address that lack, an ad hoc committee on homelessness at UFM was formed. In July, after careful consideration, the ad hoc committee suggested that a Subcommittee on Homeless People at UFM be formed for oversight of the current homeless people on our property, to look for future uses for our building and resources to meet the needs of the homeless and to consider appropriate responses to problems that might arise. The subcommittee is under the care of the Peace and Social concerns Committee.

After unsuccessfully trying to organize the existing group of homeless people who were sleeping under the eaves, we were faced with what we considered emergency conditions and closed down the encampment. Then came a search by the subcommittee for what would be an appropriate service to the homeless community in our city.

After much study, reflection, prayer, fact finding, and planning it was the subcommittee's recommendation that UFM invite SHARE (a Seattle based umbrella group that supports homeless men in a variety of ways) to facilitate a 20-man shelter every night in the worship room of UFM. That was accepted by UFM and Bethel Shelter started at UFM on January 8, 2007. It is the tradition of these Shelters to name themselves after their first home; this particular group was named the Bethel Shelter after the Bethel Church.

The Bethel Shelter/UFM was a successful venture, with normal, usually small, ups and downs. The subcommittee was attentive to the needs of the shelter and tried to keep the general UFM community aware of the shelter's progress. Over the summer of 2008, the Shelter fell into disrepair due to a lack of internal leadership and Bethel Shelter closed itself down and went into a serious reorganization. After much work internally with the support of SHARE, they reopened a nightly shelter at UFM at the end of November 2008, with strong internal leadership, a few organizational tweakings and one significant change--it became a coed shelter. We now have a SHARE/ WHEEL shelter at UFM. (WHEEL is the umbrella group in Seattle that supports homeless women.)

At our February Business Meeting, the Subcommittee on Homelessness announced that the Bethel Shelter had renamed itself the University Meeting Shelter in acknowledgement of our two communities' on-going relationship. The University Meeting Shelter is a self-governing body but our two communities interact cordially at Worship on Sundays, Thanksgiving, Christmas, and an annual potluck supper. Recently, three members of the shelter community worked with UFM community members at our work party and shared lunch before a UFM retreat. The subcommittee also tries to keep the issues of homelessness in general before the UFM community.

-- Barbara P

Saturday, February 28, 2009

Third Retreat: May 16

Our second retreat on January 25 was a wonderful sequel to last year's! More than 70 adults and 6 children participated in the afternoon session with Cathy Whitmore on individual discernment or in the children's program on individual gifts. 26 UFM community members--young and older--and 3 men from the University Shelter group had much fun and accomplished wonderful work on the buildings and grounds. The talent show was foot stomping,laugh out loud fun. Dozens of us marveled at the talent in our community. There was everything from mouth spoons and conch shell blasts to families singing and playing a variety of instruments. We have some mighty fine singing voices among us as well.

Save the new date for the next retreat! We have changed the May retreat to Saturday, May 16
not the 17th as previously announced. As we move through the Year of Discernment, we are heading toward the end goal of figuring out who we are as a community and what we are called to do with our resources. Thus, the third retreat will begin to focus us on corporate discernment. We do not have the day planned out yet, but we think wewill begin in the morning and have a work party/break in the afternoon. We will be working on the content and the rest of the structure in the next couple of months.

Another piece of our discernment work this year will be in the information gathering and threshing about what to do about our buildings. Please join others in the UFM Community for an upcoming information session as we begin to look at what we want to do and can afford to do with our buildings and grounds.

Please let us know if you have any ideas you have for the retreat or the Year of Discernment.

Thursday, February 12, 2009

Adult Education Committee Report

The Adult Religious Education (ARE) committee has a complicated ministry to our community. Through regular sessions each Sunday morning, the ARE program works to build community by nurturing increased understanding of Quaker history, process, and activities, and by providing a place and time for people to share their beliefs and feelings.

Traditionally, Quakers have relied on three sources in their search for Truth: (1) Various religious traditions and scriptures, (2) the experiences and work of Quakers over the centuries, and (3) our own experiences in our spiritual seeking and life. If Quakers only cared about the first two, ARE's job would be easy. We could just assign readings and make up study questions.

The experiential side of Quaker spiritual life means ARE must look for ways to approach topics of interest such as homelessness, prison reform, or war where people share their different perspectives in a worshipful way. It is in such sharing that participants synthesize a much deeper human insight into the topic than could be reached by just doing readings.

In search of topics, ARE committee members keep their ears to the community, trying to pick up on our individual and communal needs and interests. Many people within our community are following deep personal leadings in their life and work and often have much to share about how the Light works within and among us to do good works. We try to give them a place to come talk with us about it.

-- Rick E, Adult Education Committee

Sunday, February 8, 2009

Threshing Session, March 15

Our meetinghouse is getting old and needs repairs and updates that add up to a large sum. Building and Grounds is doing further evaluation of the needs, while Finance is considering options for how to come up with the money. Because of the importance and complexity of the issues involved, we will have a special Threshing Session on Sunday March 15, after a potluck lunch.

A Threshing Session is a time when we gather to listen to each other without the goal of making an immediate decision. This Threshing Session is likely to begin with a presentation of information, but some information will also be made available earlier so that we have a chance to ask questions and give thought to our personal reactions.

Meanwhile, please think about how much you can increase your contributions in this troubled economy - or what type and amount of volunteer activity you can commit to. B&G will be putting out information about the kinds of work needed and will be looking for feedback about how much we may count on volunteers. Alternatives could involve selling Quaker House or even the meetinghouse. This is an extremely important issue, so mark your calendar.

--Beth B

Thursday, January 29, 2009


From early days the Society of Friends has greatly valued those leadings of the Spirit which result in individual and corporate concerns. It has learned, however, that concerns vary in merit, depending on the validity of the inspiration and the care with which it is carried out.

(Faith & Practice, NPYM, 1993, p.78.)

To weigh concerns and discover how a concern may be carried forward, Friends have come to value discernment: individually, by the individual within the community, and by the community. Some leadings may be meant for an individual; while at other times the Meeting community finds itself ready to unite with a concern after a process of testing. The testing process may include consulting with trusted and wise Friends, a clearness committee, referral to a committee of the Meeting, and consideration in Meeting for Business. The Monthly Meeting may agree to recognize the particular ministry of a member.

In earlier times, a Meeting may have offered practical support, such as caring for a farm or for children, releasing a Friend led to travel in the ministry. Now, a Meeting may agree to receive financial contributions to support the work. The discernment process begins with attention to what we as individuals or as a Meeting are spiritually led to be and do now. Then, we may identify resources and gifts available for carrying forward a concern.

Accepting new concerns and activities often requires choices and may result in laying down other work; this is hard. But experience teaches that a healthy worshiping community is best engaged in ways that strengthen both the meeting and good works in the wider community.

As Thomas Kelly wrote in his essay "The Eternal Now and Social Concern" (A Testament of Devotion, 1941),

I wish I might emphasize how a life becomes simplified when dominated by faithfulness to a few concerns. Too many of us have too many irons in the fire … the concern-oriented life is ordered and organized from within and we learn to say No as well as Yes by attending to the guidance of inner responsibility.

UFM is engaged in a corporate process of "attending to the guidance of inner responsibility." Our Year of Discernment offers rich opportunities for participation in this work. Retreats, committee discussions, clearness committees, a threshing session on finances, a blog site, and a wonderful collection of Friendly writing contribute to the depth of our shared experience. I warmly recommend that everyone in our beloved community explore these offerings.

-- Asia B, member of The Year of Discernment Steering Committee

Friday, January 16, 2009

Education Committee Report

The Education Committee is responsible for the First Day School Program of the preschool and school-age children. This year, our work has included:
  • Recruiting and supporting preschool teachers and second adult volunteers during the 9:30 and 11:00 Meetings for Worship
  • Recruiting and supporting school-age teachers during the 11:00 Meetings for Worship
  • Filling in as substitutes for the above roles as needed
Special projects this year include: 1) Updating background checks on all teachers and volunteers, 2) Updating first-aid equipment in the preschool, 3) A small thank-you party for our second adult volunteers, 4) Preliminary considerations for creating a preschool curriculum, and 5) The First Day School students had a bake sale in November, 2008 and raised $22.50. They will donate half of the money to Tent City and half to Paws.

The committee currently has 3 active members, and 1 member who participates as time and scheduling permits. We invite preschool and school-age teachers to be ex-officio members. The Committee has met 12 times since the last committee report (Aug 2007). The Committee has seen many changes this year, affecting our children, teachers, and adult volunteers.


Children in the meeting experienced two major changes this year. First, the Committee implemented a change in how children participate in Meeting in November 2007. Both preschool and school-age children now return to their parents in the Meeting room at the end of Meeting. We believe that this change has given First Day School a more visible role in the Meeting. When children enter the Meeting room at the end of Meeting, it both encourages attenders to connect with the children and participate in their Quaker upbringing, and enables attenders to easily connect children with their parents, making Meeting a safer environment for children.

Second, the Committee decided after much deliberation to change from preschool at both 9:30 and 11:00, to only offer preschool during 11:00 in June 2008. For many months prior to this change, Education Committee was having difficulty finding second adult volunteers to participate in the 9:30 preschool. Also, the 9:30 preschool has sporadic attendance. The change has taken a large burden off of the Committee, and as far as we are aware, has not negatively influence the Meeting.


In recent years, pre-school teachers have been Quest interns and we lose their services at the end of each year. Since the last report, Rebecca F taught our preschool program until September 2008, and Megan J and Riana H are currently teaching. They all have been wonderful with our preschoolers. The teaching staff of the school-age children has seen many changes over the last year. We are very grateful for the time and effort Carole I, Katherine S and Delilah L put into the children's program and were very sad to see them go. Bob E and Polly K have thankfully just volunteered to replace our departing teachers, and will join Kathy K and Helen K in teaching First Day School once a month.

Adult Volunteers

Since Jan ‘07, second adults in the preschool now volunteer for the same day of the month, on a recurring basis. This change has taken a lot of burden off of the Committee and has reduced the number of times we need to fill in as substitute second adults. Our second-adult volunteers are a vital part of our children's program and we are ever grateful for their participation.


UFM budget for stipends for school-age teachers and preschool teachers for our First Day School and for modest program costs for equipment and materials. Teachers in the school-age group have not accepted any payment in recent years. We have been paying stipends to preschool teachers.

Saturday, January 10, 2009

Second All-Meeting Retreat

January 24, 12 p.m. to 8 p.m.

We will begin the retreat officially at 12:00 for lunch. There is an optional work party in the morning (see sign-up sheets on the table near the office). After lunch we will begin with worship and an introductory circle. Cathy Whitmire will lead afternoon sessions on discernment. We will end the afternoon with worship and dinner. Peace and Social Concerns Committee is coordinating a talent show as the last event of our day and we will end by 8:00 pm.

If you are able, we are asking for a $3 -10 donation to help cover food and childcare. We want everyone to come whether you can contribute money or not. There will be childcare for young children and a children's program for school aged children throughout the afternoon.

To do:
  • Sign up for retreat at the table near the office
  • Bring something to write with as we will be taking notes in one exercise
  • Come and bring a F(f)riend
  • If you find out at the last minute you can attend, please do so even if you haven't signed up

Tuesday, January 6, 2009

Our Current Ministries

The purpose of the UFM Year of Discernment is to discern who we are as a spirit-led community, what we are called to do (what are our ministries), and what we have the capacity to do. How do we witness to our faith? In order to do this, we need to identify the many things we are already doing now.

Therefore, the steering committee has solicited short articles about our activities. We will run a series of short articles about some of UFM's current ministries―expenditures of our collective time, effort, and material resources. We hope they will contribute to a wider understanding of the “big picture” of what UFM is and does.

Here is the whole list of UFM ministries, as compiled by coordinating committee and the YoD steering committee: QUEST, homeless, children's education, sexual abuse; education of children and their parents, support of survivors, and support of a known, convicted offender, care of the community including care committees, use of the building for AFSC and preschool, worship and spiritual outreach to those who want it, peace and social concerns activities, library, art in the building, adult religious education, travelers rooms, and support for community members who have individual ministries.

Have we missed any? Let us know!