Friends General Conference

Together we nurture the spiritual vitality of Friends
Religious Society of Friends (Quakers)

Madison Monthly Meeting State of Society report: 2017-2018

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The life of our meeting in the last year has held all the complexity of human experience and
movement of spirit, but on reflection, several themes have emerged, among them: Speaking,
Listening, and our Children. We have had to sit quite still in the face of disagreements and listen
carefully for the creative, spontaneous sense of a path forward… and we have done so, in
moments that felt as satisfying as slotting the last piece of a jigsaw puzzle into place.

● We continue our efforts to speak clearly with one another. In tangible terms, Meeting has
begun trial use of a wireless microphone and PA system during Meetings for Worship
and announcements afterward. Previously we had used a microphone during Meetings for
Worship With Attention to Business and Memorial Meetings. Using a microphone during
Meeting for Worship was prompted by our desire to practice our testimony of equality
more fully and inclusively. The process of approving this use of technology during
Worship brought out deeply-felt tensions. Although we agreed on the value of allowing
all to hear and be heard, some warned that using electronic technology in worship might
detract from the calm, naturalness, and spontaneity of delivering and receiving messages.
Others believed that waiting briefly for the microphone to be delivered could become a
natural part of waiting expectantly in the light. As we experiment with this practice, we
seek to be aware not only of needed technical refinements but also how worship is

● We struggled with a decision whether and how to draft a traveling Minute to send with a
Friend in our Meeting who has been called to the traveling ministry. These conversations
required deep patience and consideration of the history of our Meeting and Quakers in
general. Through careful listening and reflection, we came to clearness and finalized a
Minute with which our Friend has already gratefully travelled. Several Friends have
noted that had we approved the original draft without thought or consideration, we would
not now have the deeper understandings that came with such a process. One Friend noted
that rushing to unity too quickly would have left less room for Spirit to guide us.
● Last July our Meeting formed a Friends Committee on National Legislation Advocacy
Team, which involves both speaking and listening to our federal representatives to
Congress. We are one of 4 in NYM; this year’s focus is diplomacy and prevention of war
with North Korea.

● We are reconsidering how we include our children in Meeting for Worship. Is bringing
them into Meeting for only the last fifteen minutes conveying to them the richness of
what we experience in silent worship why and how we approach it, and how they, too,
might find it fertile ground for contemplation? We are exploring whether we and they
might meet somewhere in the space between our habits on First Day: the adults being
used to a deep stillness and the children used to more guided activities. Our First Day
School committee is working on a plan for a semi-programmed Intergenerational
Meeting for Worship, to take place as a trial run later in the year. The goal will be to
include everyone in our Meeting together in an hour-long worship.

● While that meeting is yet to take place, our kids in FDS are expanding their notion of
connections around the world: with a large world map on the wall, we asked people to
put dots on places where they have friends (and Friends). The blossoming of stickers
illustrated human connections very vividly. As well, our Middle School group have
become Skype friends with kids of similar age in a Friends’ school in Bolivia, which has
also made those connections more real. Finally, our elementary aged children baked
cookies and packaged supplies for people experiencing homelessness in Madison, thus
exploring connection through service.

● Requests to the Building and Grounds Committee to provide more restrooms and
accessibility to our lower level prompted a larger process to identify building-related
needs and values. Many Friends labored to develop a Program Statement as a foundation
for the architect's creation of a Master Plan. Renovation, tear-down/rebuild, or moving to
a new site all remain potential options, and the Master Plan will be an invaluable tool
informing Meeting decisions about our way forward.

In our gathering to discuss people’s sense of the meeting in the last year, one Friend noted the
awareness of the passage of time: “We feel both older and younger. Older as some of our
members on whom we have relied for generations are aging and unable to carry the same loads
as in years past… and younger as new people and families come in to take on new roles. In the
middle, a core that manages to feel steady even while the community in this college town
breathes and changes, annually.”

We look ahead to the next year: feeling engaged with each other, challenged by daily news of the
previously unimaginable, riding the waves of our changes, and inspired and energized to deepen
our spiritual lives and advocate for the progress we wish to see in the world.

Statistical Report
There are five worship groups under the care of Madison Meeting: Dubuque Friends Worship
Group, North Central Friends Worship Group, Sand Ridge Friends Worship Group, Winnebago
Friends Worship Group, and Clyde Friends Worship Group. All memberships are held by
Madison Meeting, but Dubuque, North Central, and Winnebago groups make their own
financial arrangements with Northern Yearly Meeting.

Total number of members including all worship groups: 307
● Members living locally and active in Madison Meeting: 104
● Members living locally, but inactive: 46

● Non-resident members: 157
These totals include –
● Dubuque Friends Worship Group: 2
● North Central Friends Worship Group: 5
● Winnebago Friends Worship Group: 4

For Northern Yearly Meeting, we report approximately 200 active adult participants in our
meeting, including all committee members and known financial supporters .This includes Sand
Ridge and Clyde worship groups; the other worship groups are expected to make their own

Song: One Step At A Time