Monday, September 12, 2016

New Association of Friends gathering at Friends of the Light, Traverse City, Michigan

The garden at Friends of the Light

Some of us arrived on our 400 mile journey from different parts of Indiana a day early, in time to do sightseeing, so I led a small group to Empire (National Park Office and Sleeping Bear Dunes the easy way, by car up Pierce Stocking Drive. We ended the journey in Glen Arbor (Cherry Republic.)

On the Saturday morning I repeated the expedition, starting this time in Leland and Fishtown, and then south to Glen Haven. Members of Friends of the Light took others to a wonderful restored Victorian mansion and garden on 6th Street, via a coffee shop.

Glen Lake, from Pierce Stocking Drive, Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore

Clinch Marina, Traverse City

On Saturday afternoon we - Friends from Bluff Point, New Castle, Friends of the Light, Muncie, Raysville, Richmond First Friends and West Richmond, gathered at Friends of the Light for a Bible study by Janet Scott on Mark's Gospel. 

Those who were not part of the Steering Committee meeting that followed went for a walk or joined me on a tour of the early history of Friends in the area: Round Top Cemetery in Maple City, the former Pleasant Grove/Maple City meetinghouse (now St. Rita's Catholic church), Long Lake Church (sadly they have dropped 'Friends' from their name) and the site of Lone Tree schoolhouse (the first Friends meeting in Traverse City) and the site of the home of evangelists Phebe and Amos Kenworthy.

Friends of the Light served a pizza and salad dinner and we went into the second session of bible study with Janet Scott.  

On Sunday we attended worship at Friends of the Light, where there were hymns accompanied on the psalter, concertina and a wooden base instrument from the Afro-Cuban tradition. Many of us went out to Minerva's for brunch at the historic Park Place Hotel, and then said goodbye, with hopes to repeat the experience within the next eighteen months.

The original Long Lake meetinghouse on Cedar Run Road

Quakers moved from Indiana into northern Michigan after the Homestead Act. From dates on gravestones there is evidence of Friends being in the Maple City area from 1868. The first recorded meeting for worship was a decade later.

Long Lake Monthly Meeting was set up under the care of Winchester (Indiana) Quarterly Meeting in 1880. Evangelists set out from this farming settlement to  railroad and logging communities, and meetings were established at Lone Tree (later Traverse City, 1894) and Pleasant Grove (Maple City, 1895.)  Five other meetings did not survive, partly because logging communities were transient.  Maple City Friends Church lasted until 1918, and Traverse City Friends Church until 1987.

Friends of the Light's history is of two worship groups that came together:

In 1986 Joe Kelly heard a call to be a minister. He and others from Long Lake Friends Church began meeting on Sunday afternoons in St. Rita's Catholic Church, the former Maple City Friends meetinghouse. They took the name Pleasant Grove Worship Group, which was the historic name of Maple City Friends Meeting. The worship group was under the care of Long Lake Friends.

Joe also started a worship group at Munson Medical Center in Traverse City for people in recovery and/or with mental health challenges. After learning about the history of early Friends, the group named itself Friends of the Light.

In 1990, at the invitation of Indiana Yearly Meeting, Friends of the Light relocated into the empty Traverse City Friends meetinghouse and began caring for it. Recovery groups started using the property and other community groups and churches followed.

In 1994 the Pleasant Grove Worship Group relocated from Maple City to the Traverse City Friends meetinghouse. Later that year, Friends of the Light and Pleasant Grove Worship Group merged as one monthly meeting under the name Friends of the Light. 

Friends of the Light is now part of The New Association of Friends.

The presiding clerk climbs the dune