As Way Opens
This past Thursday - Saturday I went on a spiritual retreat with a dear friend of mine to the Sisters of St Benedict in Ferdinand, IN. The campus is beautiful (check this out at www.thedome.org) with an amazing sanctuary for worship, a dormitory for visitors to come and sleep and eat together and many other buildings within the site. I met with a sister for spiritual direction and her background was pretty impressive. She has been a school principal within the public school system for 25 years and then traveled to Rome to manage the library in downtown Rome for the priests. She came back home to run their health care center and now provides spiritual direction for friends that travel to the facility. She was kind, insightful, prayerful and encouraging to me and I felt deep respect for her commitment to God and to service. I felt this way about all of the sisters I met during my time there. Most of them joined the monastery in their 20’s and have given their life for their beliefs. They continue to meet 3 times a day for prayer and there was a sense of reverence within the buildings. But almost of all of the sisters look to be over 75 years old and their numbers have dwindled from over 500 to about 120 and only about 70 sisters are living in this large monastery.
The monastery was founded in 1867 and the sisters arrived from Germany to fill a need for teachers who could speak German in Southern Indiana. They grew their numbers significantly over the years, raised the money and oversaw the building of this monastery, and they planted new Sisters of Benedictine monasteries in a number of cities in the United States (including Beech Grove). They have had a significant impact on the world through their combination of devotion to God and desire to serve others. But as I sat in the dome sanctuary for mass Saturday morning, I felt a deep sense of sadness to see all of these older women with no apparent plan for the future. I sat there thinking that if I came back to visit in 25 years, there would not be a monastery there but a group of empty buildings. I know it was a holiday weekend but there were only 2 of us visiting the monastery and there were about 60 rooms available. It seems like the sisters are frozen in time and have not been able to adapt and change with the world. I know that the goal of the monastic community is to remain planted in a life that is counter to the world, but even these organizations must change and adapt or they will disappear.
I thought about our own Quaker religion during my time there. Are we headed for this same fate? Are we holding on too tightly to the old ways, our history, our institutions without changing and adapting? Certainly our numbers have dwindled over the years - does that not mean our influence on the world has also dwindled? We must look at ourselves in an honest and objective way and be willing to change even when that feels uncomfortable.
We must attract younger people to our faith community. We must honor and respect and learn from all the different branches of Quakerism and come together to support the work of organizations like Right Sharing of World Resources, Quaker Voluntary Service, Friends United Meeting and other Quaker organizations that have impact on our world. We must look at our worship, our organizational structures, our spiritual vitality and our ways of communicating our message of Quakerism. I don’t want to see into the future 25 years and see empty buildings and empty structures. I believe our message of hope, inclusion and a life transformed by God is what many are looking for but we will have to change for this message to be relevant.
Considering the Quote: Wherefore give all diligence to the Spirit’s motion and leadings, what it moves against, and what it leads to; for now will God make all things new: A new creation, new heavens, and new earth, and new heart and mind, and a new law, a new man to walk therein with his Maker with cheerfulness, and the old bonds are broken by the Spirit’s leading, and to serve in newness of spirit. James Nayler, 1616-1660
Joys & Concerns
Have you seen the latest issue of Quaker Life? First Friends is featured in Dan Lee’s article, “Opening Young Lives to Faith” on pps. 14-16. It’s a wonderful piece, sharing about our Quaker Youth Affirmation Study Course; the reason it was begun, the work put into writing and funding it, the support of our Meeting, and the active participation of the teachers and students. Don’t miss it!
Donations for ‘Dress for Success’ this Saturday! Clothing has been collecting here at the Meetinghouse, and Dan Mitchell will be dropping them off this coming Saturday, June 4th at Dress for Success. Many women need good clothing as they step out to interview for jobs, etc. If you have professional women’s clothing you’d like to donate – slacks, skirts, dresses, blouses, jackets – please bring them to the Meetinghouse this week. Leave them on the stage, and Dan will be sure to find them.
Announcements, Reports & Opportunities
Do you want to Ish? - Ish Group: A small group gathering for adult fellowship started by former members of the young adult group who weren’t sure if they were still youngish or adultish. Ish social events are often centered on food, spirits, and connection with Spirit through one another. Most that attend are 30ish to 50ish, but all adult attenders, members or their guests are welcome. Meetings are held monthlyish at a member/attender’s home. Visit the first Friends Ish Facebook Group for details and ongoing Ish conversation. www.facebook.com/groups/firstfriendsyoungadults/
Join us for the Church Picnic & Worship in the Woods this Sunday, June 5th. Worship will be at the normal time, 10:15am, in the Meditational Woods. Immediately following will be the church picnic. Fried chicken, hot dogs & veggie dogs, rolls, ice cream, and drinks are all provided! We ask that you bring something based on your last name:
N-Z: sides & salads
We will have kickball afterward, weather permitting. We hope to see you there!
The Quaker Religious Education Collaboration (QREC) invites you to Instilling Quaker Identity through Religious Education, a weekend gathering that includes a series of workshops, plenaries, interest circles, displays, fellowship, worship, and celebration. It is being held June 10-12 at the Quaker Hill Conference Center in Richmond. You can register online at http://www.quakers4re.org/2016registration. Questions? Contact firstname.lastname@example.org.
Indiana Friends Committee on Legislation (IFCL) will be showing a film in the parlor on Friday, June 10th from 7:00-8:30 PM. Making a Killing: Guns, Greed, and The NRA tells the stories of how guns, and the billions made off of them, affect the lives of everyday Americans. It features personal stories from people across the country who have been affected by gun violence, including survivors and victims' families. Anyone is invited to attend this screening!
Babysitting Co-Op happens Saturday, June 11th!
June 11th will be our babysitting co-op evening from 6:00 - 10:00 p.m. This is a free night of babysitting that is hosted by parents.
Michael and Katie Hostetler will be hosting. Dinner is provided for the kids! Please let Beth Henricks (email@example.com) know if you would like to attend.
Friends Education Fund Scholars will be honored Sunday, June 12th: A Quaker college scholarship program for African American students was created in the mid-1940’s by several members of Indianapolis First Friends Meeting who were the surviving governing board of the only orphanage for African American children in the state of Indiana. Since that time, a great number of scholarships have been awarded, and many students have gone on to academic life. Come and hear the story of how it all began, and celebrate with these fine young people – both in worship and Fellowship Hour.
School on Wheels looking for Volunteers! The School on Wheels is the charity for the RUN(317) Race on Broad Ripple on Thursday, June 16 at 7PM. They are in need of volunteers for a variety of jobs/stations during the run. Please see the attached flyer for info on what jobs are available and where to register to volunteer. Anyone interested in participating in the run can also register at https://raceroster.com/events/2016/7489/run317-broad-ripple.
The Overman Family Scholarship, in memory of Jess and Mark Overman, is available again this year. High school seniors through graduate students are welcome to apply. Undergraduate students will be given first consideration. The scholarship fund is designated to support the members and attenders of Indianapolis First Friends Meeting. Scholarship funds may be applied to any school related expense, i.e. books, supplies, tuition, housing, computer, etc. The deadline for application is June 19, 2016. For an application please contact the office at 255-2485 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Follow the Drinkin’ Gourd - Westfield Parks and Recreation and Main Street Productions have partnered on this original musical production that follows one family on their journey from slavery to freedom in the pre-Civil War era. The premiere of "Follow the Drinkin' Gourd," on the lawn of historical Asa Bales Park, will take attendees along the Underground Railroad with only the "drinkin' gourd" (Big Dipper) to guide them. The special performance highlights the struggles, fears, and hopes that slaves experienced in their attempts to achieve freedom. Performances are June 17-19, with each performance will be approximately 2 hours in duration, including a short intermission. Adult tickets are $12. For event and ticket information, please visit http://www.enjoywestfieldevents.com/gourd or call 317-804-3184
German Children's Relief Art Exhibition Marian University - Looking for information on the post WWI and II German Children's Relief Program (Quäkerspeisung) by the American Friend Service Committee. We have found a book called Quiet Helpers - Quaker Service in Postwar Germany. We are looking for more history or personal stories about the artwork or the program itself. The art work and poems sent back as Thank Yous to Friends will be featured in an Art Exhibit at Marian University. Exhibit Runs: August 29-October 7, 2016 ; Reception: September 1, 4-6 pm, 2016. Thank you in advance for anything you think would be helpful for the exhibit. Please contact Nichole: email@example.com.
Jeff Rasley has a new book: Hero's Journey - John Ritter, the Chip Hilton of Goshen, Indiana; a Memoir. It's part memoir about childhood heroes and part biography of John Ritter. John was a star for the Indiana University Hoosiers and captain of Bob Knight's first Final Four team. His life later took a very unexpected turn. Jeff set out to discover what happened to John and why. The book is also a meditation on what makes a hero, why individuals and nations need heroes, and how they are used and abused. The eBook and paperback can be purchased through Amazon.
“Friends of Nature Kids” ~ Found Sounds ~ With your eyes closed for a few minutes, sit or stand as quietly as you can and listen to the many sounds around you. Can you hear the wind? The birds? What about bugs? How many sounds do you hear? See if you can imitate the different sounds you hear. With a partner, take turns guessing what the sounds the other person is making might be.
From 52 Nature Activities by Lynn Gordon, Chronicle Books, San Francisco.