Spiritual State of the Meeting 2022

Spiritual State of the Meeting
Jacksonville Friends Worship Group at the Beaches

February 2023

Jim Prettyman, Heidi Lowey-Ball, Daniel McLoughlin, Scott Matthews, Mimi Carlson, Howard Brodt, Nan Boyer, Stormeee Scott, Carol Bishop

Greetings to all!  This year marks the 71th year of existence for Jacksonville Friends. The following is from our first Spiritual State of the Meeting:

“We began as an unaffiliated Friends Worship Group in 1951 with Friends gathering at houses.  Over the first year a permanent spot was located in “the attractive parlor” of a local church.  Friends met for worship on the first Sunday afternoon each month, conducted business matters and looked for ways to be “found” by others.  Friends at this time remained in steady correspondence with Friends in St. Augustine and visited the Gainesville Meeting.  Numbers ranged from ten to twenty-nine.  Friends sought a project and settled on beautifying the grounds and helping repair a “Negro girl’s high school with a bi-racial faculty”.  A weekly discussion group was held and various Quaker booklets were explored.”

So much has changed in our world.  So much remains similar.

Today we are again a Worship Group, having laid down our monthly meeting in 2019.  Over the past three years we had been meeting in Friend’s houses and on Zoom but have finally settled on a permanent spot – it could be described as an “attractive parlor” in Neptune Beach.  We have been meeting for Worship once a month and strive to be “found” by others through our website and listing with SEYM.  We remain in contact with the St. Augustine Worship Group and several of our members are members of the Gainesville Meeting and have worshipped with them. Our numbers have ranged from a low of 3-5 when we were on Zoom only to our current regular attendance of 10-12 with 2-4 on Zoom.  We count 17 active Friends with many more on our email list.  We continue to seek ideas for ways to help our community and were involved in supplying purses and personal supplies through the Helpful Handbags program.  We did have representation at the SEYM half yearly business meeting.

In addition to our Worship Meeting, meetings for coffee are held each month.  During this time Business meetings occur and fellowship is strengthened.  At each of these meetings a time is set aside for brief silent worship and reflection.  One of these monthly meetings is used in offering a course “Quaker 101” with assigned readings.  This is led by two individuals with experience in teaching and leading discussion.  These sessions give rise to lively conversations lasting about two hours.

We find ourselves as a new group of seekers who have found a welcoming spirit grounded in community, providing worship opportunities via Zoom and by answering questions through the Quakerism 101 course.  We find hope in our meeting through regular worship in silence, awaiting the Spirit to join us, and in spending time as a community in occasions other than worship.

We celebrated the passing of Stuart Smith, our longtime Friend and treasurer, and welcomed new members Jim Prettyman and Dan McLoughlin.

Respectfully submitted by those listed above.