DES MOINES VALLEY FRIENDS
STATE OF THE MEETING 2021
Des Moines Valley Friends has continued to meet for worship primarily via video conferencing, with a small group meeting outside the meeting house last summer and fall. Recently a small group of Friends has been meeting in-person both inside and outside of the meeting house; we continue to use video conferencing to keep us all connected.
The pandemic highlighted both strengths and concerns of the meeting. Members of the Ministry and Counsel Committee focused on care of our members and attenders and checked on Friends who were not attending via video conferencing meetings on a regular basis. Attempts were made to adjust meeting traditions to foster community while keeping everyone safe: at Thanksgiving several Friends made extra helpings of food which were delivered to solitary members; we had our traditional Christmas caroling on video conferencing complete with piano accompaniment and harp solos.
Our concept of membership expanded as we welcomed members, attenders and visitors from other parts of Iowa, other states, Spain, and Germany. We are currently exploring how best to continue our combination of in-person and virtual worship to continue to include Friends not currently living in the Des Moines area.
Members commented about a perhaps paradoxical increased intimacy while meeting virtually. There were more messages during meeting for worship and during the sharing of joys and concerns which followed meeting, people shared at greater length about what was going on in their lives.
We missed the presence of Friends who are not comfortable with attending meeting for worship virtually. We missed the presence of children in the meeting house and were grateful for the one family whose children were with them for worship via video conferencing.
Fewer people have attended business meetings, which have also occurred via video conferencing. Nonetheless, we have addressed weighty issues both in business meeting and during second hours including AFSC moving out of our attached neighbor, Friends House, our relationship to Friends House, meeting finances and our financial relationship with IYM.
Very few people have attended this year’s Advices & Queries which were moved to a midweek evening and held via video conferencing. Nonetheless the discussions have been lively and there has been a comfort level in meeting from our own homes.
Like many meetings DMVF feels challenged by the aging of our membership. Most of our children and grandchildren do not identify as Friends. An Ad Hoc Outreach Committee is planning to meet to consider ways to reach out to the community so that we can be more inclusive . Yearly Meeting could help by sharing how other meetings are addressing this issue and resources to address this issue. Several Friends have invited others to our meeting; each of us could be more mindful of individual opportunities for outreach.