A circle is loosely defined as a small gathering of women, often in a spiritual environment, who seek to connect with one another in a deeper way. The name derives from groups that literally sat in a circle, where everyone is of equal importance. Circles facilitate listening and learning. New Garden Friends Meeting has three circles.
Louetta Knight Gilbert Circle
Louetta Knight Gilbert Circle was named for a missionary and public school teacher whose life was one “of good will and cheerful service.” This circle meets monthly from September through May at 2 p.m. on the second Tuesday of the month. Members usually gather in Meeting House parlor, but in May they have a picnic at a member’s house, and in December they have a Christmas party at Friends Homes.
For many years the Gilbert Circle was the driving force behind New Garden’s Fall Bazaar. Now some of the members help out at the annual Flea Market, and the membership as a whole makes donations to local non-profits.
The circle has done projects at the Meeting, such as helping finance a brick, handicap-friendly walkway on the east side of the building, and refurbishing the parlor.
Cora Worth Parsons Circle
Cora Worth Parsons Circle was named for a woman who was never a member of a circle. Members have nicknamed their circle as a “semi-circle.” It was formed by women who grew up in the 1960s and ’70s, when traditions were being called into question.
This large circle has a diverse membership. Programs have included women’s health issues, intercultural experiences, and local social concerns. Every December the circle hosts a Cookie Bake in the meeting kitchen, open to all New Gardeners. The circle meets at the meetinghouse or at members’ homes.
Service projects have included making kits for the American Friends Service Committee and helping out at the annual Flea Market.
Margarets’ Circle is the most recently formed circle. It was named for Margaret Coltrane, Margaret Gerringer, and Margaret Beal, three women whom the circle admires for their “ability to balance the responsibilities of family, work life, traditional and non-traditional roles at meeting, and engagement in social work.”
The Margarets’ Circle typically meets at the meeting house or in members’ homes. Programs have included women’s issues, Quakerism, spirituality, and opportunities for social action.
The Margarets’ Circle is not currently meeting but hopes to in the future. Look for announcements of future meetings in the New Garden newsletter and bulletins.