Sorry that I was unable to continue the blog during Ohio Yearly Meeting sessions. As soon as things started to get busy, I just did not have the time. I might try to post more in the next few days.

As most of you know, the ministry during the worship was outstanding. Another aspect of the worship I felt was particularly anointed this year was the praying.

As is sometimes the case, one person complained about a specific problem, and a series of messages on people's response to him followed. Some of these responses showed more signs of divine unction than others.

The First Day worship was one of the best in recent years. This particular meeting (Stillwater at 10:30 following yearly meeting) has had a reputation for nearly 20 years for being a popcorn meeting with less evidence of the Lord's leading for the messages given than at other times of the yearly meeting. The meeting before that at Ridge was rather quiet, which was refreshing in itself.


Fourth Day Morning

The morning began with a small prayer session on the porch of the Meeting House. I hoped to attend, but I stayed up too late last evening and did not get ready in time.

The morning session began at 10:00. Friends today sit in the left side of the meeting house, the historic women's side. In the yearly meetings west of the Appalachian mountains, I do not know of any Friends meeting house in which the women were expected to use the right side (usually east) of the meeting house. In the New York-Philadelphia-Baltimore corridor, the women used the east room in roughly 65% of the meeting houses I am familiar with. I might also state that Stillwater is oriented differently from most meeting houses. About 90% of Friends meeting houses constructed in the Quaker Plan have separate entrances on the main (south) elevation for the men and women. At Stillwater, the main elevation faces east rather than south. This allows a fresh breeze to flow through a window behind the clerks throughout the business meeting, which can be quite refreshing.

Three different Friends spoke in ministry. The first gave a message about the welcome we will receive on that final day when we meet the Lord face to face. The second message centered around the idea that while we are called to individual faithfulness, we are also called to be a people. The third speaker urged us to gather in Christ Jesus's name only, as no earthly place can be our real home.

The worship here has been outstanding. It is truly amazing to experience the healing, encouraging, and uplifting messages from so many concerned Friends.

The scriptures 2 Timothy 1:6-11, 14 were read.

Reports from the two Quarterly Meetings were read. Salem QM developed four brief queries they considered and forwarded for the Yearly Meeting to consider. All Representatives from the Quarterly Meetings save two were present.

The bulk of the meeting revolved around the Queries. The meeting read the first three, with the Quarterly Meeting answers, and Yearly Meeting summaries were approved. The handouts contained several typographical errors, which annoyed several Friends. Several changes were made to the text. One of the ministers urged Friends to keep their hearts and minds towards God in their God.

After the Treasurer's report and the report of the Yearly Meeting Property Trustees, the meeting adjourned for the morning.


Third Day Evening

The yearly meeting for ministry & oversight met this afternoon. The clerk read the scripture Acts 13:47-49 and 52. The major item of business was the discussion of the provisional queries adopted last year. One of the quarterly meetings answered the official queries, and the other quarterly meeting answered the provisional queries. The query answers included references to the simplicity of the gospel, that those who speak point us to Christ Jesus, and that "reference to scripture in ministry is common among us."

A second item of business was the CORE report. This committee, officially the Committee on Renewal and Encouragement, was formed about ten years ago to replace the earlier Spiritual Action Committee. It organized a FWCC regional gathering at Stillwater and was then inactive through the remainder of the year. The committee recommended that it be laid down - which the yearly meeting reluctantly agreed to do.

Salem QM's meeting for ministry and oversight had asked for guidance on whether they should cease to meet as a QM. However, their members felt that the use of the provisional queries might be an impetus for their continuance.

In the evening, a meeting for worship was held at Stillwater. Eight Friends sat on the facing benches - five ministers and three elders. Two of the ministers on the facing benches spoke in ministry, along with four others. One of the ministers on the facing benches speaks with an interesting variation of the traditional "sing-song" ministry which was universal among Friends in the nineteenth century. In her ministry, God speaks with first person pronouns in song. At the end of the meeting, one of the ministers on the facing bench appeared in supplication; among her words were the excellent request for guidance: "Give us the wisdom to keep quiet when we are thinking our own thoughts." How excellent!

As has been stated elsewhere, the ministry here includes some variations of the old "sing-song" ministry which was experienced by all Friends a century ago. Today, one of our elder ministers speaks that way. Several other ministers speak in a moderate sing-song, in which sentences are broken down into phrases. Ministry with a conversational flow is common among the new members, especially those who are refugees from liberal meetings.
Third Day Morning

Several Friends ministers are here in Barnesville. This morning, many of them are visiting with various Friends - some who are ill and some who are going through hard times financially or otherwise. I visited with the woman who keeps the Heritage Room, a small Quaker museum in the former men's committee room at Stillwater. Her husband served in World War II. He has had health problems recently, and the VA has been cutting back on its funding of the local VA hospital - which has had to cut back on its services. He took a van from the county seat (Clairsville) to Pittsburgh, leaving home at 5:00 a.m., and he is scheduled to return home around 3:00 this afternoon.

Friends ministers in Ohio Yearly Meeting continue in the ancient Quaker tradition which operated before the divisions and in the Hicksite and Gurneyite world until the beginning of the twentieth century. They are not paid financially for their labors. During the worship, they speak as they are immediately led by the Lord, without the use of notes or outlines. I am staying with a woman who is a minister; here in Ohio the Lord's anointing appears to have been accepted by a few more men than women. The ministers, elders, and overseers meet together as the meeting for ministry and oversight; this body was historically called the meeting of ministers and elders (unofficially as the select meeting).

My devoirs right now are to print out the quarterly meeting answers to the queries with the proposed yearly meeting summaries and get copies made for handing out.

The price of gas here in Barnesville is a little less than where I live. The highest price here is $3.05, and the lowest is $2.95. Where I live, the price is in the $3.15 range.


This is my first attempt at posting an official blog, so please pardon any technical problems that I may have.

I am headed to Barnesville, Ohio, this week for Ohio Yearly Meeting of Friends. I hope to post here near the end of each day to tell a little of what has happened for those interested Friends who are unable to attend.

I might first post a little background for those unfamiliar with Ohio Yearly Meeting.

As you know, Ohio YM is the most traditional of the Wilburite yearly meetings. The divisions of the nineteenth and twentieth centuries resulted in several types of Friends. The Wilburites were historically centered in Philadelphia and Ohio Yearly Meetings, though the former did not affiliate officially with other Wilburite bodies.

Today, the Wilburite Quaker world is comprised of four types of Friends. Our yearly meeting includes most of those called the "plain Friends" due to their use of traditional Quaker clothing and folkways which have been mostly dropped by other Quaker groups. The second group is the "charasmatic" group, which includes both those Friends who speak in unknown tongues and those who associate with organizations where that is practiced. The third group is what might be called the core group of Ohio Yearly Meeting; this group includes many birthright Friends. The fourth group is the "liberal" Wilburite group, which includes those people who are liberal by Ohio standards. The latter group is the dominant faction in the two other Conservative Friends groups: North Carolina and Iowa Yearly Meetings.

Ohio Yearly Meeting has met at the Stillwater Meeting House near Barnesville, Ohio, since 1878. Our old yearly meeting house at Mount Pleasant, Ohio, constructed in 1814, was converted into a museum in the twentieth century. After the Wilburites, Hicksites, and Gurneyites vied for ownership of the building and its adjacent boarding school for years, the Wilburites signed over their interest in the property; the two other groups soon decided that they did not want it, either, so it came into the possession of the Ohio Historical Society. Both Mount Pleasant and Stillwater are examples of the Quaker Plan of religious architecture, the predominant type of Friends meeting house constructed during the years 1770-1870. This type of meeting house construction fell out of favor among the Hicksites and Gurneyites around the time of the Civil War (though some later examples are known), but it remained popular among the Wilburites into the early twentieth century.

The nearby town of Barnesville is a small community dating to 1808. The commercial center is mostly located along the two state roads in town (State Routes 800 and 147). Mosts houses are two-story brick buildings facing onto the roads. The town has a weekly newspaper named the Barnesville Enterprise, which is printed each Fifth Day. The old Barnesville Friends Meeting House, constructed around 1880, was considered the "liberal" meeting in the area; it was laid down around 1920. The parents of a distant relative of mine were the last couple married there. That meeting house was sold to the Nazarenes, who used it for some time, then demolished it in 1949 when they constructed their current meeting house.

Tonight I am headed to the meeting for ministry & oversight of Stillwater Monthly Meeting.