Long Island Quarter Copes with Social Distance
by Carolyn Emerson
Conscience Bay Meeting
After metropolitan New York, Long Island has the largest number of Covid-19 cases in New York state, at about 40,000 as of Easter. Our meetings reside mostly in suburban areas and many usually drive a bit of a distance to reach the meeting house. In this time of social distancing, we long to be with our “blessed community” and if we can’t be—in person—then we have tried to find a way to stay close. For all Long Island meetings (except two tiny ones) this has meant trying to meet in new and different ways.
In Nassau County, Manhasset Meeting is meeting remotely on Zoom. The members settle into silent worship. After a period of centering, a query is read, then they return to worship. The older children join in for the last 10 minutes of the 40 minutes. Following worship, afterthoughts and concerns are shared in a period of about 20 minutes of fellowship. First Day School has also been held via Zoom, with good participation.
Westbury Meeting has had 15-20 people in attendance for meeting for worship via Zoom. Following afterthoughts, the period of joys and concerns has become a regular “check-in.” In addition, Bible study, Dialogue Across Differences and Tuesday Potlucks have been held on Zoom. Ministry and Outreach has been going down the call list to reach out by phone to folks who are less tech-savvy.
Matinecock Meeting has referred its members to the Zoom meeting of NYYM. They keep in touch through several weekly emails a week, sent out by their clerk.
Jericho Meeting has just begun meeting online via Skype and found it a positive experience, with seven in attendance.
In Suffolk County, Conscience Bay meeting felt that in this time of social distancing, the opportunity to check in with each other was quite important, so they structured their time on Zoom to begin with each person telling how they are and perhaps sharing a reflection. This is followed by about 20 minutes of worship, ending with afterthoughts and announcements. This format has increased the usual attendance to about 12, encouraging some far- flung members to join in meeting, when they otherwise could not. Additionally, members are calling and emailing those who haven’t recently been in attendance to check in with them, and they report back to the meeting.
For most of us, it has been a time of growth and learning as we adapt to using technology to join together as a community. Each meeting has approached it a little differently, but to be able to share our joys and sorrows through online meetings, face to face, has helped us grow closer as communities of faith.