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COVID-19 and Southern California Quarter

Published: March 28, 2020

Lennea Hanson and Zae Illo surveyed the monthly meetings and worship groups of Southern California Quarterly Meeting (Pacific Yearly Meeting) during the week of March 23, 2020. Here are the reports they received:

 Claremont Friends Meeting

We have not yet used zoom to set up committee meetings and worship but we are working on it. We have used conference calls for committee meetings. Most of our elders are in retirement centers that are well cared for. There are a few who are not ,and they are not requiring any assistance right now. Ministry and Counsel has divided the membership among ourselves, and we each have a number of people that we contact regularly and assist if necessary.

Charlene Kreuger

Inland Valley Friends Meeting

We take very seriously the call for people, particularly those over 65, to self-isolate. We also take seriously the call to maintain social distance for all, until this situation passes. We are also concerned that we stay connected with one another - in spite of these limitations.

On March 23, 2020, we held our first digital Meeting for Worship via Zoom. This Friday, we will hold a study session, “Finding that of God in Other Religions,” via Zoom. We are also using three-way phone calls for discussions.

We have Friends who are offering to make food deliveries, but no one as of yet has requested that service. There were more worshippers at the first digital meeting than would usually be attending when the meetinghouse is open. Numbers have been larger because two families that moved away have been able to rejoin.

Sue Scott

Mexico City Friends Meeting

Hello! Greetings from Mexico City Friends Meeting. My name is Nicholas Wright (Nico); Enrique Esqueda Blas and I are the current co-clerks of our Meeting. Yesterday, on Sunday the 22nd, our Meeting participated in its first 'online' Meeting for Worship. Here's a little rundown of the pro's and con's:

Pro's: The Meeting for Worship was a rich and fulfilling experience. We hopped into an already up-and-running online meeting organized by Salmon Bay Friends in Washington State. It was good to see a bunch of new, far away but friendly faces, and we also saw people in our Meeting who live too far away to come to a Meeting for Worship, so that was also special for us (Mexico City members also logged on from Boston and Geneva). Other members of the host meeting community were on from other states too – Arizona and Oregon – so it did feel like a gathering. I definitely feel like we made new f/Friends and I will be glad to repeat the experience.

Con's: Difficulty connecting. Five of us connected without problems (the five who had used Zoom before). One member who connected had technical problems and signed off early. (He couldn't mute his microphone and didn't want the noise from his house to disrupt the Meeting.) Another member of our community and very regular attender doesn't have internet at home. And three other (older) people all thought it sounded too complicated. In our invitation, we had also invited people to "Worship in Place" at the same time, whether they connected via Zoom or not. At least three people were doing that. 

Cost. I had thought Zoom was free, but see that there's a 40-minute max for meetings of more than 3 people. The monthly cost would be very high for us here in Mexico City. Fortunately, we invited ourselves to an ongoing meeting, where we were very warmly received and invited to return. But if we at some point wish to have our own online meeting (perhaps oriented toward Spanish-speakers), we'll have to think about that.

Maybe not newcomer-friendly. I couldn't help but notice that the folks in the Meeting all seemed like long-time Quakers. While this Zoom Worship may definitely scratch our itch, and even be gathered and delightful, I wondered if it would provide the magic of Quaker Worship for a newcoming seeker.

In sum, in my eyes the pro's far outweighed the con's, and I personally had a heartfelt experience and think that others did too. We will join Salmon Bay again next Sunday; then, we'll have daylight savings time here in Mexico and won't be worshipping at the same time as them, at which point, we will probably seek to hitch a ride on somebody else's wagon.

We have not started any services such as groceries for older folks in our Meeting, but also our city is largely up and running thus far. En la Luz, 

Nicholas Wright

Orange County Friends Meeting

We are having meetings online with Zoom. There was a practice meeting a week ago last Wednesday, and now we have had two Sunday worship meetings. Yesterday there were 29 people (in several cases, those were actually couples) on the call, including some who live much too far away to attend meeting unless they are visiting in the area. It was a joy to share worship with them. This was at least as large a group as we typically have at the Meetinghouse on Sunday morning.

Next Sunday we will begin having our regular pre-worship "Quaker Explorations" by zoom. The first topic will be a worship sharing on how we are all finding faith, hope, and community during this time. We are talking about doing a midweek meeting for those who want that extra contact. 

We are also checking in regularly with members and attenders who are particularly vulnerable, either due to age/health or due to isolation. We have encouraged Friends to reach out to Ministry and Oversight if they are feeling lonely or anxious or fearful.

Betty Guthrie

Orange Grove Friends Meeting

Mid-Week Worship on March 25, Wednesday evening from 7-8:30pm via Zoom. Sunday Adult Education cancelled and Meeting for Worship via Zoom.

Orange Grove Friends Meeting Website

San Diego Friends Meeting

Yes, our San Diego Monthly Meeting is still having Meeting for Worship, Sunday mornings at 10:30, via Zoom. Our first such meeting was last Sunday, and we will be using Zoom until we get a Health Department announcement that all is clear for a face to face meeting. We are also having our monthly Meeting on the Occasion of Business, on April 12. That will be more difficult, but I am confident we can meet the challenge.

Janet Gastil

Santa Barbara Friends Meeting

Due to the many unknowns about the status of the COVID-19 virus and its consequences for our community, the committee for ministry and care of Santa Barbara Friends Meeting is recommending that Friends DO NOT attend Meeting for Worship for the foreseeable future. Most of the congregations in the Santa Barbara area are doing the same.
We invite you each to hold a private hour for silent worship instead, or to visit the Ben Lomond Quaker Center’s on-line worship.

Santa Barbara Friends Meeting Facebook post

Santa Monica Friends Meeting

We are currently suspending our in-person worship and other meetings. We will be using the online platform We have scheduled Zoom meetings for Friends worship on Sundays, 9:30 am to Noon. We have also scheduled Thursday night meetings for worship on Zoom. This meeting will open at 5:30 pm on Thursdays.

Santa Monica Friends Meeting website

from Linnea Hanson of Chico Meeting and Zae Illo of San Francisco Meeting (3/27/2020)