In the past few years, I have had the deep blessing of many visits among Friends in Vassalboro Quarterly Meeting, Maine. This Quarterly Meeting spans an impressive distance across northern Maine. The time of gathering has traditionally been a treasured way to gather in greater Friendly numbers, to come together in shared work and fellowship, and remind ourselves of the larger body of Friends.
The day began with semi-programmed worship, a needed message for our times from Pastor Maggie Edmondson. A very full business meeting followed, with administrative and pastoral work of the Quarter, as well as discernment around a clear statement to the outside world (in the form of an editorial letter) considering our faithful witness to Love of our Neighbor in these politically divisive times.
A lively lunch, with discussion tables for rising issues, and a bounty of food for all was a wonderful chance for fellowship. The afternoon program – “Creating Communities to Welcome Refugees” – was a welcoming and instructive time for both Friends and the wider invited community.
The witness and faithfulness of this Quaker Community, in so many small circles in Rural Maine, is an encouraging example to me of Rufus Jones’ words to us from years ago. “I pin my hopes to quiet processes and small circles, in which vital and transforming events take place.” It is easy for me to imagine Jones speaking directly about this Quarterly Meeting (his own for many years), then and now.
We are in a world of much turmoil. The church, in its current structures, can be seen as growing smaller or dying away. However, there is always still the Holy Invitation to more – to engagement with our neighbors, to fresh ways of gathering in responsive action, and always grounding in Love and prayer. To see this demonstrated so clearly by Friends of Vassalboro Quarterly Meeting is a deep encouragement for me.
Pictures below from Vassalboro Quarterly Meeting Gatherings at Winthrop Center Friends Church in February 2107, and Whiting Maine in 2016.