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!