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