Annual Report 2008-09

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Friends Meeting of Washington (FMW)
Religious Education (RE) Committee
Annual Report 2008-09
First Day June 14th 2009
RE Committee continues to support Quaker religious education from toddlers to adults. This includes our nursery, First Day School (FDS), Junior Meeting for Business, Teen Group, and Adult Education. This year, we broadened our Adult Education programming from that of our 9:15 a.m. First Day study group. We also strengthened our partnership with the Peace and Social Concerns (P&SC) committee by co-sponsoring several events of shared purpose.  We are settled in our role within the Meeting as one of welcoming and cultivating Quaker hearts and minds of children, families, and learners of all ages. 
Young Children: Our youngest children have a stable nursery setting with our child care staff of Anita, Angel, Katorra, Makai, and Sweta, all of whom have professional qualifications, but, most importantly, are well-known and loved by our children. We have 10-12 children between 1&1/2 to 4 who are joyful in our care. We now have a monthly email list of childcare staffing news to which parents can subscribe.
FDS: Quakes, Junior Friends, Young Friends and Teen Group:  Our FDS now serves about 50 children.  Our Quakes (ages 4-7) and Junior Friends (ages 8-11) learned fundamentals of Quakerism and the environment testimony, as well as learning biblical parables using the “Godly Play” curriculum.  Junior Friends and Young Friends (ages 12-14) continued traditions of community service to the homeless at an area food pantry and holding Junior Meeting for Business. They often congregated in the kitchen, baking and cooking for themselves and others.  Teens (ages 14-17) held a monthly dinner offsite to discuss current events. In the autumn, Teens hosted Baltimore Yearly Meeting’s Young Friends group for a friendly retreat weekend in the Meeting House; all went smoothly, and the presence of the visiting teens enhanced worship on First Day. The Children’s Library, home to Quakes and the Bookkeeper, was repainted mid-year due to the presence of lead paint.  Many volunteers made the moving seamless.   
FDS Administrative Support: We are heartened that the new Assistant Secretary may take on some FDS administrative duties, providing our hard-working FDS Coordinator with some relief.
Summer Camp Scholarships: We provided two summer camps scholarships to active FMW teens attending Friends-affiliated camps. 
School for Friends (SfF): Our physical relationship as a Meeting with SfF will change as SfF consolidates its campus off-site in the near future, a decision made by the Board of Directors of SfF. We continue to encourage worship of SfF families at FMW, host potlucks to reinforce our bonds, and work with the Planning Committee on plans to replace the School for Friends materials on which we so much rely for childcare materials and furniture on First Days. 

Child Safety: We continue to work to maintain compliance with Guide One insurance provided to FMW.    This includes reference checks for all adults who volunteer with children (parents and other adults) and full background checks for paid childcare workers. We are working to increase child safety in our building and grounds long-term through our renovation planning.
Adult Education – First Day 9:15 Study Group: This group, consisting of about 8-10 attendees regularly, met every other week during the year. While the previous years’ sessions concentrated on learning about other religions, this year focused early English and American Quaker history and Leaders. In an historical context framed to some extent by excerpts from "The Quakers" by Hugh Barbour, the group read Pendle Hill and other source pamphlets of or on the actual writings of George Fox, Issac Penington, Margaret Fell, Robert Barclay, William Penn, and John Woolman, among others.
Annual Martin Luther King Junior Celebration, January 18th, 2009:    Meeting volunteers prepared a meal of red beans, rice and collard greens for the dozens of participants who attended. Guests included a number of School for Friends families as well as Friends from around the county visiting for the inauguration. Our children led us as we sang "I Want Jesus to Walk with Me" as an homage to the children's crusade of the civil rights effort in Birmingham, Alabama in 1963. Chris and Kit Benz led us in singing "We Shall Overcome" and other songs of that era. We shared a great sense of joy and celebration, bolstered by the knowledge that our nation was a few days away from inaugurating its first African-American President, an important milestone in living out Dr. King's dream.
Contribution to Inauguration Weekend Comfort Café, January 18-20thThe Inauguration weekend in late January was an extremely busy time in D.C. and at FMW. An overwhelming number of visitors came to D.C. to participate in the historic presidential inauguration, and many volunteers from throughout our Meeting came together to create a "Comfort Cafe" to help serve the needs of these visitors. There were significant contributions to this ad hoc effort from members of the RE Committee, as well as other volunteers from throughout the Meeting who created such a valuable project.

“Show Me the Franklins”, January 19th, 2009:   Dr. Amanda Kemp and the Theatre for Transformation gave two performances of their play "Show Me the Franklins: Remembering the Ancestors, Slavery, and Benjamin Franklin". The play, based on Benjamin and Deborah Franklin's relationship with their slaves, inspires remembering, forgiving, and creating new possibilities for race in America today. We were blessed with a 6:30 p.m. performance to almost 70 FMW members, attenders, friends, and members of the Kemp family, as well as an encore presentation at 9 p.m. for the 35 or so teens and adults visiting from New York Yearly Meeting. The play was co-sponsored with the P&SC Committee; the Comfort Cafe provided hot chocolate and homemade cookies prior to and after the play. 
Friendly Folk Dancers, April 7th, 2009: The Friendly Folk Dancers came to FMW for round-the-world Meeting for Dancing. We had a fantastic time learning about and engaging in dances from peoples and regions that are, or have been, at war. This group of visiting dancers, travelling from their Quaker Meetings (including Rwanda!), led us in a spiritual and physical worship to understand these conflicts and the efforts to knit peace from and across each of them. We were truly touched by the Prayer of Peace dance. Again, we co-hosted this event with the P&SC Committee.
“Fit for Freedom, Not for Friendship”, May 24th, 2009: Donna McDaniel and Vanessa Julye, authors of the book "Fit for Freedom, Not for Friendship", published by Friends General Conference, led us in an exploration of racial injustices and discrimination in the Society of Friends in history and today. This 500-page history shows that while many individual Friends have shown leadership on race issues, the Society of Friends overall has generally approached these issues with reluctance. The welcoming of African-Americans into the Society of Friends seems to have usually been conducted at arm's length, both in the past and now. Vanessa Julye stated that Friends meetings that aspire to become more racially diverse should as a first step work to prepare themselves for that diversity. This event was co-sponsored with the P&SC Committee, and Langley Hill Monthly Meeting.
Adult Education -- Friendly Eights: As of June 2009, there is a 3 month pilot program of two groups of Friendly Eights, a monthly gathering to allow Quakers to explore their community and/or to discuss spiritual issues. At the end of the three months, there will be an evaluator gathering to provide suggestions to see how to expand the program in Fall 2009.
Planning/Renovations Committee: The committee has been active in contributing to the first-stage architectural designs of the renovations of the Meeting House and property. We are led to ‘grow the Meeting’ through RE offerings, so that anticipated renovations will be enjoyed for generations to come.
FMW RE Outreach: Marsha Holliday and Virginia Avanesyan serve as FMW representatives to the Religious Education committee of Baltimore Yearly Meeting. Lib Segal serves as FMW Representative to the Board of Sandy Springs Friends School.