Weekly Bulletin

January 22, 2023 Reflection for Sunday Morning Worship Sharing below-
 
 
THIS WEEK
 
MONDAY January 23
 

–Ministry & Oversight, 7:00 PM by Zoom

WEDNESDAY January 25    
 
–Bread for the World/Fast Once A Month
Prayer Soup supper, 5:30 PM @ parsonage
–Vocal choir practice, 6:30 PM @ choir room
–Welcome Class Bible study, 7:00 PM by Zoom
–Chiming choir practice, 7:15 PM @ meetinghouse
–Fab Friends/Parsonage classes Zoom, 8:15 PM
SUNDAY January 29       
 
–Meeting for Worship-Sharing, 10:00 AM, both in person and at the meetinghouse and online via Zoom
 
BULLETIN BOARD for JANUARY 22, 2023
 
THE TRUSTEES will hold their January meeting this afternoon at 3:30 PM by Zoom, followed by THE MISSIONS & SOCIAL CONCERNS COMMITTEE‘s January meeting today at 4:30 PM by Zoom.
 
THE WELCOME CLASS BIBLE STUDY will meet on Wednesday January 25 at 7:00 PM by Zoom to study Lesson 11 (“Prophetic Loyalty,” drawn from Jeremiah 38, 39, and 40) in the fall Illuminate quarterly.  All are welcome — request a quarterly or the Zoom link from the church office.
 
READ THROUGH THE BIBLE IN 2023:  This week’s chapters are Job 25-42 and Exodus 1-7.  The year’s daily reading schedule is on the parlor table.
 
THANK YOU to Cleo McFarland and Dave Longnecker for repairing a leaking sink drain in the church kitchen and doing other repairs around the meetinghouse last week!
 
THE BOOK DISCUSSION GROUP is now reading the novel Wish You Were Here by Jodi Picoult, for discussion in February.  Copies are available for loan at the southwest parlor table.
 
PENNIES FROM HEAVEN $10 bills are available to Friends willing to carry them until led by the Spirit to share it with someone needing a bit of help and a reminder of God’s love.  See Ron Ferguson to obtain one.
 
 
 
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Winchester Friends Church           765-584-8276
124 E. Washington St.      Winchester, IN  47394
www.winchesterfriendschurch.org
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January 22, 2023 Reflection for Sunday Morning Worship Sharing on Zoom and in the Meetinghouse
 
Therefore if you have any encouragement from being united with Christ, if any comfort from his love, if any common sharing in the Spirit, if any tenderness and compassion, then make my joy complete by being like-minded, having the same love, being one in spirit and of one mind. Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. Rather, in humility value others above yourselves, not looking to your own interests but each of you to the interests of the others.            Philippians 2:1-4 NIV
 
The Next 150 Years
 
On Sunday May 7, 2023, Winchester Friends will celebrate 150 years of gathering in worship as a faith community. That first Sunday of May 1873 found a group of about thirty Quakers meeting in the city hall.  Elkanah and Irena Beard were asked by James Moorman and his nephew Thomas Moorman to come to Winchester to help begin a Quaker meeting in the city. At that time there were about nineteen small Quaker meetings in Randolph County.  Of those nineteen meetings all begun before 1873, only five meetings are still active today.  Another seven meetings were started in Randolph County after Winchester Friends Meeting was established.  Of those seven, only four are still active. Randolph County now has ten active Quaker meetings. 
Friends World Committee on Consultation recently published the statistic that Quakers lost 12% of their membership and 24% of their meetings from 2010 to 2020.  The state of Indiana lost sixteen meetings/churches while North Carolina lost forty-four meetings/churches. It is not hard to approach the 150th anniversary of the founding of Winchester Friends with thankfulness and gratitude for the faithfulness of the many men and women who sustained and nurtured this faith community for the past 150 years and brought us to this place.
In January of 1873, Elkanah and Irena had been home just a year after three years in India with the London Missionary Society for Friends and had set up housekeeping in a small home next to Lynn Friends Meeting in Lynn, Indiana. The Beards returned from India in very poor health.  Irena had nursed Elkanah through Asiatic Cholera, and then Elkanah nursed Irena when she developed a kidney abscess that left her paralyzed on one side. The doctors insisted she would not survive in India and encouraged Elkanah to bring her back to the United States in April of 1872. She almost didn’t survive the long trip home. From their home in Lynn, Elkanah was in high demand to deliver lectures and addresses about his time in India to Friends throughout this region.  In November of 1872 Elkanah was put on an Indiana Yearly Meeting committee to hold spiritual meetings in this area and beyond.  He left bedridden Irena at home and traveled throughout Ohio and other states for months.  He spent a couple weeks in Brooklyn, New York preaching to large gatherings of people and in January of 1873 he participated in meetings in Wilmington, Ohio where hundreds of Friends were “converted”. Ron spent today in Wilmington speaking to their Yearly Meeting, and I was thankful we were able to visit this place almost exactly 150 years after Elkanah’s ministry there.
Elkanah also held meetings in Winchester Quarterly Meeting and he wrote in his journal these meetings resulted in “awakening many souls” and a large number of Friends “professed conversion” and joined the Society of Friends. Elkanah was already thinking and praying for these converts and knew there was a need for continued pastoral care when asked by Quaker bankers James Moorman and Thomas Moorman to move to Winchester to start this Quaker meeting. James Moorman made the decision easier by providing a house for the Beards to live in, the exact same house where Ron and I have lived for the past 25 years.
Elkanah wrote in his journal in May of 1873, two weeks after those first meetings for worship in Winchester in the city hall:
        “I believe we are in our right place and the Lord will bless our coming here.  It could be a long time before we will see much fruit of our preaching and pastoral care, but I claim what we do for the Lord will be blessed.  Faith in God’s promises will pull the blessing down.  It will require study and prayer and care to interest an intellectual, disbelieving people, but if my Master will fill me with the Spirit, I know their souls will become Christ’s….. Attendance in these first meetings is about thirty to fifty, in a room large enough to seat 500. It looks like a small audience and if I was to only look at the vacant seats I would be discouraged.  But my thoughts must run higher than chair backs or my ministry will lack God’s presence and those who join us will go elsewhere”….  [Edited by Pam]
Elkanah and Irena were some of the first released pastors among Quakers at the end of the 19th century. Their presence at Winchester Friends on and off for the first 25 years (1873-1898) formed the faith and practice of this monthly meeting. The foundation they laid is evident as we observe our 150th year.  Much has changed since those early days, but Friends here have remained faithful to study, prayer and care — the foundation of Beards’ ministry at Winchester Friends.
 
Faithful in Studying God’s Word      Do your best to present yourself to God as one approved, a worker who does not need to be ashamed and who correctly handles the word of truth.     II Timothy 2:15
For 150 years, Friends at Winchester have invested in Religious Education.  The current meetinghouse was built to accommodate First Day Schools throughout the building, and a Christian Education wing was built in 1970 to provide additional Sunday School space. Much has changed with a world-wide pandemic in 2020.  Finding ways to continue to invest in Bible study and Religious Education is an ongoing need if our faith community is to remain faithful for another 150 years. I’ve heard it said the Church is the only organization that exists primarily for the benefit of those who are not yet members. We are called to correctly handle the word of truth today for the world tomorrow.
 
Faithful in Prayer     Be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, faithful in prayer.       Romans 12:12
The lives and ministries of Elkanah and Irena Beard bear witness to lives built on the foundation of prayer and trust in God’s presence and purpose in their lives. In February of 1862 in Lynn, Indiana, Elkanah Beard started his journal with these words:
        “My mind having been unusually impressed for several months, and I hope not entirely selfish, I have felt induced to take in this form a few notes of what I conceive to be the working of the Holy Spirit upon me.  Not with any desire or expectation that they will be published but rather for my future reference….Being now in my 24th year I find the mercantile business in which I am engaged does not admit of my giving as much time to reading, meditation and secret prayer as would be best, and often feeling deep remorse of conscience for having so much neglected that for which I was created, I have resolved to quit the business for a while as soon as practicable.….”
Within a year, Elkanah and Irena prayed their way through moving to Mississippi to help freed slaves in Vicksburg.  They prayed their way through having their lives threatened, and through starting an orphanage and Teachers College in Arkansas.  They prayed their way through three years in India, through life threatening sicknesses and shipwrecks, and through starting a meeting in Winchester. Prayer restored Irena’s health after being bedridden for two years. Prayer undergirded their lives and their ministry and was a model for the first 150 years at Winchester Friends. It should be the foundation and the witness of this faith community for the next 150 years.
 
Faithful in Care for the Community     Each of you should use whatever gift you have received to serve others, as faithful stewards of God’s grace in its various forms.     1 Peter 4:10
 
Elkanah Beard used to stand up in Monthly Meetings for Business to read the names of people in the meeting and remind those present they were to watch over one another for good.  He was a preacher, but he was passionate about encouraging the ministry of every believer to those within the meeting and to carry that ministry into the community around the meeting. Elkanah and Irena lived Christian charity through their work with freed slaves and Native Americans, but they also invited everyone they spent time with into a living relationship with Christ and into the fellowship of a faith community, which is often much more challenging.
As I think about celebrating 150 years as a faith community, I am haunted with the fact that one in four American Quaker meetings closed their doors since 2010. These are difficult days for the Church in America, but I believe Quakers are still needed in our world for their courage, their passion for justice, and their faithfulness. I believe our faith community is still needed here in Winchester for the testimony and witness of lives committed to Bible study, prayer and care for one another and care for this community.  Lord, keep us faithful for the next 150 years.      
 
–Pam Ferguson, January 22, 2023
 
 
 
 
Queries for Reflection and Worship-Sharing
 

1)  How are we living faithfully as the church in Winchester, Indiana today?

2)  How is God calling us to welcome others into His love and into this fellowship?
3)  Why is it important for faith communities to “watch over one another for good”?
4)  Beyond welcoming others into the church, how can we carry Christ into the community to serve our neighbors?
5)  What do you think faithful discipleship and ministry will look like in the next 10 years?  The next 150 years?