Boulder Meeting History, 2000-2019Building Community and Overcoming Challenges
2000-2009 – Building Community Through Peace Work and Service
Boulder Friends Meeting started the century with 161 members (about 70 non-residents offset by as many attenders) and a $52,000 budget. First Day School attendance averaged between 30 and 50 children (including child-care).
In search of responses to the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, the Meeting initiated worship sharing gatherings, sought contacts with Muslims, participated in interfaith events, and restarted our weekly silent peace vigils each Sunday. In potluck discussions, we explored the many forms of Quaker ministry and the peace testimony in our lives.
Starting in 2003, the war in Iraq occupied Friends, who participated in marches, rallies, meetings with legislators and acts of non-violent disobedience. The role of the U.S. government in practicing and promoting torture weighed heavily on our minds. Friend Joanne Cowan felt led to cross the line at the School of the Americas and go to prison. Recognizing the truth of her leading, the Meeting endeavored to support her.
We engaged in service. Friends cooked and served at Boulder’s Homeless Shelter. We supported a unit for homeless families at Echo House, repairing and painting the unit and providing household supplies. With Meeting volunteers in attendance, homeless persons slept at the meetinghouse once a week when other shelters had overflowed. We began assisting at Carriage House, a day shelter for the homeless.
With the IMYM-AFSC Joint Service Project, Boulder Friends joined summer work projects at Pine Ridge Reservation, helping to build homes and running an art program at Loneman School. Peace & Social Justice Committee continued their Peaceful Careers Project. Workshops on non-adversarial communication and on Quaker work in prisons were held.
Later in the decade, we focused on learning more about racism, immigration issues and current legal issues of concern to Native Americans. The Meeting sponsored two Sudanese “lost girls” in their move to Boulder from a refugee camp in Kenya, providing material and social support. The International Service Committee organized informative fundraisers on their behalf.
In cooperation with other Friends’ meetings, we participated in writing a Faith & Practice for Intermountain Yearly Meeting, which was adopted by IMYM and published in 2009. The Roaring Fork worship group was formed in Carbondale, CO, under Boulder Meeting’s care. A few Friends visited the worship group once a month, weather permitting.
First Day School classes began a new enlarged curriculum including themes such as the Light Within, Quaker history, other religions, equality, service, and personal responsibility. The activities included music and art, and the children were encouraged to share their own beliefs and experiences. The Religious Education Committee offered a series of children’s meetings for worship with classes on the mystery of silence. The children were involved in outreach to the larger community, participating in the Boulder Crop Walk, collecting toiletries for EFAA, and preparing sack lunches for the homeless.
Some activities invited participation of the Meeting as a whole, such as a meeting-wide picnic and worship sharing opportunities on Quaker topics. Candlelight worship and caroling on Christmas Eves were a welcome addition to the Meeting’s life.
Our original by-laws were revised, with the assistance of an attorney, to comply with current government requirements and still accurately reflect the peculiar structure and ways of Friends’ meetings. In 2007, the Finance Committee developed and implemented a new, more rigorous bookkeeping system using QuickBooks. In 2010, we installed a solar photovoltaic system in the meeting house to provide a portion of our energy.
Throughout the decade, Friends continued to share their spiritual journeys on first Sundays, enriching our knowledge of each other. Eight-week programs exploring many aspects of Quaker faith and practice were held at about 18-month intervals. Semiannual Colorado Regional meetings and Colorado women’s retreats were held, “extended families” were formed or continued to meet, and potluck discussions on Quaker and spiritual issues were held. These activities helped bind together our diverse people into a community. The Building & Grounds Committee worked diligently to maintain the meeting house and its grounds, with some Friends of all ages joining in on spring and fall clean-up days. The Fellowship Committee provided coffee and tea for the after-meeting fellowship and organized three yearly potlucks (Christmas, Valentine’s Day and Easter).
Meeting mourned the deaths of Mary Sheidler McDermott and Pat Smith (2000), Myra Jo Dryer and Wolfgang Thron (2001), Kay Dugan, Harold Walton, and Binnie Avery (2002), Barbara Reinhardt (2003), Ruth Correll (2005), Gilbert White (2006), Tom Mayer (2008), Richard Counihan and Jack Powelson (2009).
As of December 31, 2009, we had 147 members. Since 2000, 44 new Friends had joined the Meeting; however, many inactive members, when contacted, had withdrawn their membership. We had around 40 attenders at every meeting for worship. The Meeting’s budget for fiscal year 2010 was $77,517. A year-end summary stated, “The Meeting is strong and vital, and we are grateful for the spiritual growth and hard work of so many Friends and attenders.”
The 2010s – Challenging Decisions and Projects
The 2010s in Boulder Friends Meeting was a decade of much soul searching for Divine guidance, listening to one another, and committee activity. We started 2010 with 147 members and an annual budget of $77,517. The member count declined to 120 in January 2019, then to just 107 in January 2020. However, the budget grew during the decade, with general fund expenditures of $83,400 in the fiscal year ending September 30, 2019.
Our Meeting participated in larger Quaker organizations. Many Boulder Friends attended the Friends General Conference (FGC) held in Greeley, CO (2013). During the decade, we hosted the Intermountain Yearly Meeting Executive Committee, the FGC Gathering Committee (40 people), and the Western Friend Board meeting twice. We participated in annual Quaker Women’s retreats
Annual Quaker study groups continued to be held. Spring potluck groups discussed queries given by Ministry and Worship. Summer BBQs were followed by a discussion on an issue. For a time, we also held half-hour Wednesday evening worship followed by a simple meal and fellowship.
In late 2009 and early 2010, Friend Judi Dressler applied her professional expertise and many hours of work to build a modern website for the Meeting. A Webmaster was appointed, and the Web Committee was formed to support this work in 2010. In the following decade, a fully realized Boulder Meeting website was developed. Gradually, the website became the home for all important Meeting documents, history, policies, and information. In 2013, individual logins were initiated and almost all current Meeting documents were posted as part of the internal website. The website became an important means of publicizing the Meeting and its activities.
This was a challenging decade when discernment often eluded us. We were sustained and gently guided by Ministry & Worship and Oversight & Membership committees. With guidance from M&W and O&M we held a workshop to look at the tensions in our lives and in Meeting that can compromise our spiritual health. We also held three threshing sessions in three years, and had workshops led by Boulder Friends on non-adversarial communication. We held Compassionate Listening workshops and Grief Circles.
We created or revised policies and guidelines, including Miscellany guidelines, associate member policy, and child protection guidelines. In developing a new building use policy, we held two workshops trying to come to an agreement before reaching approval.
Building and Grounds led the renovation of the New Horizons playground and the installation of a new building roof. After many months of trying out different carpet samples, with concern and testing by our chemically-sensitive members and attenders, a new carpet was installed throughout the building. Unfortunately, the carpet selected and/or the installation process resulted in intolerable conditions for several chemically-sensitive Friends.
First Day School started as a fairly large group of children, but as the years went by and many grew out of it, we had fewer children in each age group who continued to be faithful and active. Intergenerational game nights were popular for young and old.
The Library Committee kept us in old and new books and organized our Miscellanies and photo collections, with assistance on the latter from several Friends. The Fellowship Committee made sure we had coffee, tea, and a few goodies every Sunday, as well as managing Echo House fundraisers, Summer BBQs, hosting Quaker groups and memorial services. The Program committee (originally called Adult Religious Education) organized Spiritual Journeys and other thoughtful and challenging program hours.
The Grief and Bereavement Committee supported the bereaved and organized the memorial services. We lost many beloved Friends to death. Cindy Troxell, Katherine Welch, June Cobin, and Bill Davis in 2010; Jim Dugan, Nick Helburn, Eleanor Hull, Bobbie Counihan in 2012; Ann Deschanel in 2013, Martin Cobin and Allan Hubbard in 2015, Janet Kilby in 2016, Ralph Lugbill in 2017, Andy March, Bob Atchley, and Elsa Sabath in 2018, Jane Volkhausen, Sami Pauze, and Richard Segel in 2019.
The Service Committee continued outreach programs, such as cooking at the Homeless Shelter one Saturday a month, volunteers at Carriage House, St. Thomas Food Bank (later Harvest of Hope); holding annual potlucks to raise money for Echo House supplies; Stand Up for Kids; cooked dinners for the Ally program (Youth 18-24); food drives for the Emergency Family Assistance Association, as well as volunteering there. The committee started supporting Boulder Outreach for Homeless Overflow (BOHO) by taking an evening every week to go to one of the churches which provided night shelter, and distributing over the counter medications, socks, dental products, soap, etc. (BOHO program stopped in 2016). The committee also continued serving members and attenders as needs became known.
Peace and Social Justice Committee (PSJ) continued the El Salvador Project supporting qualified high school students from the poor and rural areas; supported the Quaker Bolivia Link working with indigenous Andean people to secure better health and secure food sources. We helped raise money for AFSC by buying grocery cards and shopping at grocery stores that would donate 5% of our cost to the AFSC. The committee sponsored monthly letter writing to Congress and held several program hours on White Privilege and racism. The Meeting installed a “Black Lives Matter” sign.
The decade started with an active International Service Committee, which worked with local Sudanese women to raise money for mosquito nets in Sudan for children, pregnant women, and nursing mothers. Through Friend Uintah Shabazz’s Togo Project, Friends also supported the town of Naume’s educational opportunities, clean water, and nutrition. As those projects tapered off, the International Service Committee was laid down.
The Indigenous Peoples Concerns Committee (IPC, previously the Native American Concerns Committee) led our support for the annual Sand Creek Massacre Spiritual Healing Run and guided a study of the Doctrine of Discovery. We turned out to volunteer for Boulder’s first Indigenous Peoples Day celebration in 2018 during which the Arapaho were welcomed back to Boulder.
After many years as a member of IPC, beloved Friend Paula Palmer, a lifelong activist for Indigenous peoples’ rights globally, brought her deep leading to Boulder Meeting to explore how she could be supported in her work to further address building right relationship with Indigenous peoples. We struggled through understanding the concepts of a leading, ministry in the wider world, and the term Released Friend.
Several long Meetings for Business were spent trying to identify the support we were truly able to commit to; ultimately the Towards Right Relationship Project was approved and a one-year contract with Paula as the director was signed on October 1, 2013. The contract was extended annually for a total of five years. Paula received some crucial financial support from the Meeting, but she accepted the challenge and responsibility of doing most of the fundraising for the project to cover her own compensation and the myriad of program costs. An oversight committee for the contract was established, and a spiritual care committee met regularly with Paula. Paula was able to obtain several grants supporting the project and she raised donations wherever the workshop was presented. However, divisions surrounding the original approval resurfaced nearly every year at renewal time. While support was broad, there were also significant numbers of Friends with the concern that the project was Paula’s but not fully embraced by the Meeting, and that being fiscal sponsor was a legal and logistical burden beyond the capacities of the Meeting.
Meanwhile, Paula worked tirelessly, giving “Roots of Injustice, Seeds of Change” workshops to Quaker Monthly Meetings and organizations (IMYM, Pendle Hill, FGC, etc.), to Native American groups, to numerous non-Quaker religious congregations, to various government entities and civic groups. She also trained others to help spread the workshop further. Her quarterly reports to Business Meeting were impressive and her dedication clear. Paula was led to investigate the damage that Indian Boarding Schools, several operated by Quakers in the 1800s and 1900s, inflicted. Out of her research Paula published articles and led “Truth and Healing” workshops.
After five years and following a year-long soul-searching with multiple Business Meeting discussions and a threshing session, Friends approved a minute that acknowledged the ending of our fiscal sponsorship of TRR at the April 14, 2018, Meeting for Worship with Attention to Business. A clear and detailed minute of support of TRR and Paula’s work was approved in May. The TRR project was transferred to Friends Peace Teams as fiscal sponsor.