As a new decade dawns and our 275th year draws to a close, Hopewell Centre thanks everyone in BYM who supported and joined us in our yearlong celebration of 275 years as a Quaker presence in the Shenandoah Valley. It was a busy year of challenging, nonstop projects and our small Meeting turned it into a joyful process. Now we’re enjoying the fruits of our labor: a revitalization of spiritual energy within the Meeting and a surge of new members as a result of our outreach efforts.
The celebration began in May when we opened our landmark Clear Brook Meeting House to the public. We had advertised our Open House on local TV, radio, and in newspapers and it paid off. Nearly 100 visitors came; some who had passed by for years, wondering who we were. We shared our Quaker history in the Valley and our spiritual ways of today with them…. and some have stayed on with us in Meeting ever since. Our Building Fund benefited as well from sales of members’ crafts and our recently reprinted Hopewell Friends History, 1734-1934, Frederick County, Virginia.
For our annual end-of-summer Homecoming, this special year we sent out press releases and once again invited the community to join us. We greeted BYM Friends from Adelphi, Washington, DC and Shepherdstown Meetings and members of the Bahá’í community in Winchester and Woodstock. Old and new F(f)riends came from near and far to commemorate Hopewell in stories and songs; lunch on our historic grounds; and enjoy a wonderful concert gifted to us by the Bahá’ís.
Perhaps the most challenging project was our series of four Open Dialogues – The Quaker Way: A Spiritual Path for Today — held in October at Centre Meeting House in Winchester. We asked ourselves: Would anyone come? And what would we say about ourselves? Despite uncertainties, we hung a banner saying “The Quakers Are Here,” lit the candles and waited. And come they did. We had four rewarding evenings, each filled with 12 or 13 eager seekers who wanted to know, Who are you modern Quakers? What happens in Silent Worship? What do Quakers Believe? Our panels of Hopewell members and attenders shared personal experiences as well as Quaker history and beliefs from Faith & Practice and other Quaker writings. Many who came the first night came every night in September, eager to learn more about us.
And it didn’t stop there. Seven or eight attendees at the Open Dialogues expressed a desire to form a Seekers’ Group, and we have already held four meetings in January. (If you would like to look at an outline of these sessions and resources used, please contact Martha Hanley at firstname.lastname@example.org)
In a final recognition of our 275th, we threw a Happy Birthday Hopewell Party! Amidst song, laughter and a BIG birthday cake, members made promises of “Gifts to Hopewell” for the coming years, including: “I can give presence and present$. Smiles too” .… “I would like to offer my handyman skills….”…“I give to Hopewell my wish that it may be a Light in the darkness.”…”I will be mindful to support pastoral care”… and “I can help eat cake!”
A final mention: During 2009, we reprinted our Memories of Hopewell’s 250th which is available at Hopewell for $10 (plus $1 for shipping & handling)…and we are now preparing the 275th Edition of Memories of Hopewell. We still have soft-cover copies of the Hopewell Friends History, reprinted by an attender, along with old genealogies of many Quaker families, available through us. (To order or for more information, contact Jim Riley at jmriley4@ verizon.net)