Annual Report 07-08

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Friends Meeting of Washington
Religious Education Committee
Annual Report 2007-8
The RE Committee continues to oversee the Adult Education, First Day School, Junior Meeting for Business, the childcare/nursery, and dispersing camp scholarships to Meeting families. This year, RE also began implementing the Meeting’s new Child Safety Policy, and hosted a celebration of the life of Martin Luther King Jr. In addition, our committee felt moved to make a statement about the upcoming renovation and our relationship with School for Friends, and individual committee members have felt it important to participate further in planning activities.
Adult Education
The Adult Education study group (consisting usually of 10 participants) met biweekly before Meeting for Worship throughout the year, focusing on the basic histories and tenets of other religious practices and their similarities and differences with our and other practices. Buddism, Hinduism, Judiasm, and Islam were all given attention. The study group benefited also from various events led by the Interfaith Group in understanding other religious practices.
Child Safety Policy
The new child safety policy has affected how we implement many activities with children in the Meeting. This year, we worked closely with the Child Safety Committee to:
  • Ensured reference checks for all adults who volunteer with children (parents and other adults). About 25 members and attenders have been vetted to work with children.
  • Held a safety training for the paid childcare workers and an orientation for parents (held on March 16). This session will be repeated annually.
  • Ensured that at least 2 childcare workers or other adults are with the youngest children, and that the recommended ratio of 4:1 children to worker is met.
  • Implemented other safety precautions, such as having doors and window shades open so that children can be seen at all times.
First Day School
Our First Day School now serves about 45 children. This year’s themes for the Quakes (ages 407) included lessons from Dr Seuss, stewardship of the earth, and the light within each of us. Junior Young Friends explored the concept of the spiritual journey and spent time with visiting speakers for “Let your Lives Speak”, whereby Meeting members and attenders shared their spiritual journey and what brought them to Quakerism. As in past years, the children and teens joined the Meeting in caroling in December, made food for various holidays, and studied Martin Luther King to coincide with the celebration (described below). In addition, the Young Friends hosted speakers about other religions, coordinated with the Adult Education sessions.
Our Meeting’s two FDS coordinators have worked hard to establish a system for recruiting volunteer teachers by providing extensive support. This is the second year that the school year has been divided into smaller trimesters (of 6 weeks or so) with themes and prepared curricula to help parents and other volunteers more easily step in to help.
Our challenge ahead is to find a new FDS coordinator for next year, as our current coordinators are stepping down. In addition, we also see a challenge to make the 12-13 year olds feel comfortable moving into the teen group and to keep the involvement of the older teens, which, in turn, keeps the young teens coming.
Martin Luther King Celebration
A celebration of King’s life was held the Sunday of the holiday weekend. Chris Benz and Charmaine Gilbreath led Friends and families in song, and King’s recorded voice brought his message to life. Joe Izzo provided introductions and historical context. The Committee hopes to host such an event every year.
Child Care/Nursery
The child care in the Quaker House classroom is staffed by up to 4 paid childcare workers. This year (September 2007-April 2008), the number of children ranged from 1-8 per week, with an overall average of 4 children. We have served a total of 27 families over the last 2 years (including several families who have moved away and about 9 families who visited just once).
This year, we have 3 infants, which has meant we have needed an additional childcare worker most weeks so infants can be held and watched carefully. We are also currently at capacity to meet the ratio provided by the Child Safety Policy. The challenge for this summer and next year is to anticipate increasing numbers of children to ensure adequate care.
Summer Camp Scholarships
The Committee received applications for 4 children for Quaker camp (overnight and day camp) this summer. All 4 children received contributions toward their camp fees, paid directly to the camps.
School for Friends/Renovations Process
This year, our committee extensively discussed our concern that shared space options have not been sufficiently explored by those responsible for leading the FMW renovation process. This leading came from each member’s individual experiences, as well as an overall leading from the Committee to participate more fully in the renovation discussions.
Thank You to Molly Tully
The Committee warmly thanks Molly Tully for many years of stewardship of the RE Committee as an honorary member and liaison between other committees. Her wisdom and advice has been invaluable, and her insights and companionship will be missed at our meetings.