Generally, our budget is in good shape. Contributions are down a bit from prior years with slightly fewer donors. But some expenses have been limited with the Meetinghouse closed. More people are participating in online donations through our web page. Thank you. The solar project is progressing, with a re-roofing contract about to be signed.…
We will stay the course, for now.
At this writing it has been nearly two months since Friends gathered for Meeting for Worship at New Garden Friends Meeting. Precautionary measures to limit the spread of coronavirus also closed our meetinghouse to its other regular functions, including meetings of committees, civic and support groups, and other social and recreational groups.
These actions were determined by the Meeting’s Covid-19 Prevention Group, an ad hoc committee including the meeting’s clerk, the clerk of the Meeting on Ministry and Counsel, physicians, the pastoral minister, and other New Gardeners. The foremost concern is to protect the health of the congregation, the staff, and the many members of the public who frequent the meetinghouse.
(Note: Updated details on the meeting’s closure policy are here.)
New Gardeners, like so many other Americans, have adapted to protect ourselves, our loved ones, and our community. These changes have been hard on everyone.
Many of us gather online as Pastoral Minister Margaret Webb offers a prepared message via Facebook Live at 11 a.m. each First Day. She also delivers a midweek message on Facebook at 1 p.m. each Wednesday, also on the New Garden Facebook page. The pastoral care work of the Meeting continues in every way except in-person visits. Caring Friends, Religious Education, and other Meeting functions continue.
Gov. Cooper on May 8 announced the easing of some restrictions on public gatherings as the state’s coronavirus infection rate begins to plateau and decline. New rules allow faith communities to gather outdoors for worship, if socially distanced.
We realize that New Gardeners are anxious to return to Meeting for Worship, to sit with one another, and be in community as is our tradition dating back to 1754.
The Prevention Group discussed this option via a Zoom meeting. It was determined that it is not practical or prudent for New Garden Friends to alter its position at this time.
Many in our congregation are at heightened risk of infection because of age or other health issues. Attempting worship while separating children and young families from older persons seems contrary to the spirit of New Garden. Providing access to restrooms for outdoor worshipers raises additional issues of maintaining social distancing, traffic control, and sanitizing all surfaces between uses.
The Prevention Group believes the risks remain too great. The consensus it that New Garden should continue its conservative precautionary measures. The meetinghouse will remain closed for worship and other gatherings for a while longer.
The Covid-19 Prevention Group will regularly revisit these issues going forward. Everyone yearns to gather again, to see Friends and worship in community. And we will, when we are more certain that we can do so without undue risk.
Clerk, Meeting on Ministry and Counsel
Clerk, New Garden Friends Meeting
May 11, 2020
Online Worship / July 5, 2020
New Garden Friends Meeting is an inclusive, welcoming faith community in the tradition of the Religious Society of Friends. Our members and attenders represent a wide range of religious backgrounds and traditions. Grounded in more than 250 years of Quaker heritage, New Garden remains a vital Meeting for those who seek that of God in every person.