July 3, 2020 Update: Considerations Regarding In-Person Meeting for Worship.
Since many workplaces, restaurants, stores and churches are taking steps toward opening up, the co-clerks felt it was appropriate to examine the question of if, when, and how Bethesda Friends Meeting might want to offer in-person worship. On June 28 we met with the BFM Ad Hoc COVID-19 Advisory Committee to consider this issue. During the meeting, we explored how we might plan to reopen the Meeting House given restraints we face from both Sidwell Friends School and the Montgomery County regulations, as well as health risks that in-person worship would pose for our community. Committee members were in unity that Bethesda Friends Meeting should continue to rely on Zoom for our Meeting for Worship at this time rather than moving to in-person MfW. Members were also interested in having BFM continue to look for ways to connect with each other and keep energized as a community.
During the discussion, the Advisory Committee considered offering an option for small-group (10 people) in-person Meeting for Worship in addition to holding MfW via Zoom. A small group might wish to meet outdoors either on the SFS Lower School grounds or in people’s backyards. Because of continuing uncertain health risks and logistical issues, there was no strong enthusiasm for this approach from the committee. However, the committee acknowledged that we do not yet have a sense from the whole community of how much actual interest there is in such a small-group in-person option. We ask that anyone who thinks they would likely participate in this kind of group please let us know.
The co-clerks and Advisory Committee will continue to monitor the evolving situation and reconvene at the end of summer to consider again the questions and issues about offering in-person worship gathering. Please contact the co-clerks if you have any questions, concerns, suggestions or opinions about these issues: Lee I. or Jabez M. (see Directory) or use our Contact Us form.
March 12: SPECIAL ALERT: Bethesda Friends Meeting House and Related Activities to Close for at least a Month
After much discernment by the co-clerks of Bethesda Friends Meeting, working with BFM's Ad Hoc covid-19 Advisory group, and following the lead of Sidwell Friends School, we are closing down our Meeting for Worship and all activities that usually take place in the Meeting House beginning today and lasting at least through April 13 – painful though this change will be for us all.
The Ad Hoc Advisory group and the BFM co-clerks are in unity that the over-riding concern for our Meeting is the safety of the individuals who comprise our BFM community, especially our older Friends. But another theme also emerged during our discernment process: our not gathering together in the Meeting House means we are looking out, not only for our own BFM community, but also for the larger community, by mitigating the risk of transmission of the virus. We ask that we hold each other in the Light as we make a transition to other ways of carrying out our worship, fellowship, and Meeting business.
Below are several basic points that we wish to communicate now
Finally, with the unfolding pandemic around the world, we are facing unprecedented challenges, both practical and spiritual. It is very important that we remember that we are facing these challenges together – even in the face of “social distancing.” Together we will keep our Meeting community strong, meaningful and caring. Together we will support each other, finding creative ways through electronic communication, meeting in small groups, or simply just calling on the phone. Let us all also hold the whole world in the Light as humanity finds its way through the coming weeks. The Spirit is with us, and the way will open.