The Mattaponi Friends Preparative Meeting meets every first and third Sunday of each month with Meeting for Worship first hour and Meeting for Business second hour on first Sundays and Meeting for Discussion second hour on third Sundays. Meeting for Worship begins with 10-15 minutes of group singing followed by silent meeting for the rest of the hour. Meeting for Discussion on third Sundays is followed by a potluck social lunch. Fifth Sundays are sometimes used as a time for social gatherings or committee meetings.
In 2009, the Mattaponi Friends Preparative Meeting enjoyed the regular support of five families, couples, individuals with the occasional attendance of additional friends from the wider community. Many of our Young Friends have grown into teenagehood and beyond. An organized second hour continued for Young Friends through the first five months but then was discontinued as Young Friends aged out. Some Young Friends continue to join us occasionally in Meeting for Worship and Meeting for Business.
Queries: How does the Spirit prosper among us? What supports the growth of the Spirit in our lives? How is the presence of Spirit manifested in our lives individually and as a meeting community?
Friends feel a real, palpable sense of Spirit and community in our biweekly gatherings. We feel a sense of freedom to be who we are and a sense of peace in the Meeting. We look forward to Meeting, and a number of us are interested in attending more often, potentially weekly We attribute this sense of Spirit to the positive environment that is created by our sharing of thoughts, feelings, experiences; the trust, compassion, and feeling of security among us; the lack of anger and violence; and the listening. When called for, we allow for disagreement among ourselves (and others) without it affecting our respect for each other. We strive for consensus without exclusions.
Friends are ever focused on promoting peace and finding ways, both small and big, to do so. Friends also find themselves challenged to re-evaluate priorities, to accept responsibility and challenges and follow through with them, and to share our own and nurture each others’ concerns. We believe that the Spirit will give us the strength and direction we need to meet these challenges.
Friends feel that, in addition to Meeting, certain personal practices nurture our sense of Spirit. For many, a connection to the natural world–working with the land and animals or simply interacting with or observing them–supports the growth of Spirit in our lives. As a way of expressing our beliefs, we are inspired to reach out to the natural world. In addition to individual efforts, we have as a group committed to an environmental project for this spring. We continue to look for other opportunities to witness to both the natural world and our human world.
Some concrete manifestations that we offer of Spirit in Meeting and/or with the support of Meeting: the local food pantry, Dayspring Farm produce donations, self-identification of Christianity/Quakerism, sense of humor and enthusiasm.