In 1982, a group of peace activists working in the Nuclear Freeze Movement who were seeking a spiritual base began meeting in homes. This gathering grew into the Brainerd Friends Meeting.
Our Meeting has diversity in age, backgrounds, and life journeys of members. As with many Friends Meetings in rural areas, we are the only one in our area, and some members drive long distances to attend. Brainerd Friends Meeting strives to be a welcoming sanctuary for seekers young and old, a place of discovery and support for all who attend.
We contribute regularly to social concerns throughout the year, including support to disadvantaged students in our schools, local food shelves, pressing national and international relief efforts, and Quaker-based aid organizations and lobbying groups. Each December, we participate with the The Women’s Center and Bridges of Hope in their local Adopt-a-Family programs. At that time, our youth also choose their own social concern to support. This year, as well as last year, they selected animals to send to developing countries through the Church World Service catalog.
The Brainerd Friends Meeting First Day School takes time during meeting for worship to focus on lessons geared towards the young people in our meeting, who currently range in age from 7 through teens. The younger group has recently focused on curricula including the Underground Railroad, a Dr. Suess literature-based lesson series, materials from the Southern Poverty Law Center, and other discussion topics.
An Adult Book Group meets twice a month on Tuesday evenings. This past year they have been gathering at the Woodland Apartments to make it easy for our senior members who live there to attend. They recently finished the book Life, God, and other Small Topics, by Eric Metaxas, and have now begun This We Can Say: Australian Quaker Life, Faith & Thought.
We feel fortunate to be welcomed to share worship space with the UCC congregation. It has allowed us to partner with them on many activities and to develop deep friendships. Volunteers from our Meeting and the UCC work together preparing the 4th Friday meals at the Sharing Bread Soup Kitchen. In the past we have collaborated with them on presenting workshops and programs of Conversations on the MN Marriage Amendment. These dialog workshops were well received and had large attendance. The UCC church also has a Speakers Program following their worship that we are invited to attend. By engaging in these timely topics we feel we are more connected to our community.