When I arrived on Tuesday afternoon, a friend and member of Orange Grove Meeting, Michelle White picked me up at the
airport. She was also my host. The first thing we did was have lunch. Then Michelle took me shopping at Wild Oats where I was able to pick up the gluten free and soy products I needed for the week.
Meeting with the Committee
Later that evening I met with the Friends responsible for bringing me to Orange Grove (David Morse, clerk of Worship & Ministry; Michelle White, Clerk of Peace & Social Concerns; Cliff and Jean Lester, two members of Oversight Committee) to review the schedule for my visit. We
met after a nice dinner hosted by Cliff and Jean.
American Friends Service Committee Regional Office
The next morning, Wednesday, Jean drove me to downtown, Los Angeles for my meeting with the AFSC regional office. We met for two hours. They shared many concerns with me.
Orange Grove Meeting
Later that evening, I facilitated a discussion on race at the meetinghouse. Around 20 Friends attended. Several Friends came from Orange County Meeting. Elaine Emily, a member of Strawberry Creek Meeting, served as my elder for the evening.
California African American Museum.
Friends Western School
Friday morning I visited with Friends Western School. Again Elaine served as my elder. I met with all of the children at one time. They ranged in age from Kindergarten to sixth grade. I found it very challenging to engage and keep the children engaged, but Elaine felt I did a wonderful job holding their attention. Elaine and I remained for lunch. During lunch we got an opportunity to talk with some of the teachers and parents. The school has a community lunch on Friday, where they invite parents, members of the meeting and board members to join them for lunch. Elaine left after lunch to drive to Orange County to attend a Pacific Yearly Meeting Nominating Committee Meeting.
Workshop for Orange Grove Meeting
Saturday afternoon I facilitated a 3 hour workshop at Orange Grove Meeting. 20 Friends came from several different meetings to participate. The workshop went well.
Meeting with Friends of Color
Sunday morning I had breakfast with three Friends of Color, two African American women and one Korean woman. We had a good time together. I encouraged them to come to the Fellowship Gathering. Both of the African American Friends had attended at least one previous gathering. It was a very good meeting, one that was very supportive of the Korean Friend who shared her feeling of isolation with us for the first time. The women decided they wanted to continue meeting as Friends of Color and will invite some of the other local Friends of Color who were not able to join us for breakfast.
Final Day at Orange Grove
We drove to the meetinghouse after breakfast where I gave a presentation on the experience of some African Americans in the Religious Society of Friends. The presentation was well attended. I didn’t get a chance to count, but I think there were 35-40 people who came, again from several different local meetings. The meetinghouse was full. The presentation ended in time for worship. A questions and answer period was scheduled for after worship. My presentation was audio taped. The question and answer session was not well attended, the group who planned and orchestrated my visit participated plus a few other Friends. Since there were not a lot of questions I used the opportunity to talk with the group and help them think about what they wanted to do next. They decided that they wanted to form a committee to address racism in the meeting. I hope they are able to establish the committee.