Boulder Meeting History, 1980-1999

Rapid Growth, New Spiritual Programs and Working for Peace

The 1980s – Rapid Growth and Working for Peace

In 1980 and 81 there were discussions on the quality of ministry, the new queries, and membership of children.  Draft counseling continued; a letter was written to the Ayatollah Khomeny appealing for “love and respect of life”; the marches to Rocky Flats continued, and there was growing concern about American military aid to El Salvador and the returning of refugees.  We held progressive dinners (with each course at a different home) and dinner discussion groups.  In 1981 there were four weddings under the care of the Meeting!

In 1982, trying to respond to the many peace concerns, the Meeting made a commitment to support a Friend in peace work.  Friends pledged extra contributions to this end, increasing our budget to $37,000. Mary Hey became our Peace Secretary and served in that capacity until December 1987.  These were years of intense involvement with issues of peace and justice.  In November 1983 we started the peace vigil on the mall, every Friday at noon.  It continued until June 1988.  Several Friends were deeply involved with the Soviet Sister City Project as well as the Jalapa Sister City project and the building of the school there.  We also held peace potlucks, discussion groups and program hours about peace themes. 

A Central American Concerns Group was formed: it raised money to bond out from the INS a Salvadoran refugee, contributed to the support of a refugee family in Denver, had numerous letter writing campaigns about the situation in Nicaragua, El Salvador and Guatemala. We procured a video camera to send to Nicaragua with Witness for Peace. (The camera was used to good effect for three years and Brian Underhill made a video that was widely circulated).  As the deportation of refugees escalated, after serious soul-searching the Meeting agreed to offer the Meeting house as sanctuary and support financially (in case of arrest) and spiritually Friends who were led to participate in the underground railroad.  Eventually, the Meeting helped get papers and supported a family from El Salvador.  The family lived with the Medruds for an extended period of time.  This committee also started the support of Annunciation House, a border refuge in El Paso, TX, and tried to organize nation-wide Quaker support for those working at the U.S.-Mexico border.

In 1984 the Meeting borrowed $20,000 to replace the roof.  In 1986, with 168 members, the lack of adequate space for First Day school and overcrowding in the meeting room prompted Friends to establish a Long Range Planning Committee to consider our alternatives (thus, the present Meeting house is the fruition of a 13-year process).  In 1987 we lost our presiding clerk, Sadie Walton, to cancer. That year, too, the first Quaker Studies group started, using a 26-week curriculum from Philadelphia Yearly Meeting.  This was followed by several other study groups, some of which continued to meet for many years.

In 1988, after the Peace Secretary position was laid down, a Youth and Peace facilitator position was funded and filled by Raji Thron, working especially with the Senior Young Friends who were hoping for a trip to the Soviet Union and a visit to Boulder’s sister city, Dushanbe.  Although the trip did not materialize, the Senior Young Friends group became especially active and strongly bonded.  Two years later, the Youth & Peace coordinator position was transformed into a Religious Education coordinator for all of First Day school.  

The meeting room and classroom spaces were often overcrowded on Sunday mornings.  In 1989 several threshing sessions were held regarding our building options, and temporary classrooms were built in the fellowship room.  We became especially spiritually united that year by the grief of the loss of Susan Boulding, Anne White and Maia Frantz within weeks of each other.

The 1990s – New Spiritual Programs and Major Building Renovation

The Persian Gulf situation deteriorated and silent vigils (held on Sunday afternoons) were resumed in November, 1990 .  In January 1991, once again after deep soul-searching, the Meeting approved a minute offering sanctuary to military personnel who refused to serve in the Gulf War.  Jim H. was accepted in sanctuary and a sanctuary committee assisted him until his situation resolved.

In 1990 we started offering “Quakerism 101” classes (2-3 sessions of the basics).  In February 1991 the regular 8:30 a.m. Meeting for Worship started.  The marriage minute, adopting “a single standard for all committed relationships that are under our care” was approved.  

In 1993, we started a bible study group that met twice a month for two years, and we began sharing “joys and sorrows” at the close of weekly Meetings for Worship.  Ministry & Counsel began sponsoring twice-yearly potluck discussions which led, over the years, to discussions about Jesus, on “leading your worshipful life outside of Meeting”, on “conflict and the Quaker process,” and other topics.  In 1994 the mid-week Meeting for Worship at United Ministries started, as well as Tuesday night silent meditation.  A threshing session on vocal ministry was held, and a new Quaker Studies curriculum was started.  In the early 1990s, we mourned the deaths of Ann Thron, Betsy Moen, Kenneth Boulding, and Adam Ristad.

Growth pressure and a difficult decision

In the early 1990s, participation in Meeting for Worship ranged between 65 and 100, creating concerns about overcrowding of the meeting room.  In December 1992, the Long Range Planning committee was authorized to seek architectural help in exploring major building renovation and, in June 1993, we started to interview architects.  In 1994, there were intense explorations of how to use/improve the meeting house and a one-day workshop on “constructive conflict for building community.” 

In 1995, after architects had been selected, threshing sessions were held to discern values, needs and money regarding the building.  The Meeting joined a neighborhood lawsuit brought because of water contamination.  In December, after many lengthy business meetings, the Meeting approved going ahead with a design phase for the building renovation with a cost cap of $500,000.  In November 1996, the design phase for the building renovation was completed and the cost estimate was $638,000.  After considerable shock and discussion, Business Meeting approved going ahead.

Carrying on during disruption

In January 1996 we began the series of First-Sunday Program Hours on spiritual journeys of individual members and attenders.  Third-Sunday Program Hours continued to feature outreach-type topics.  A set of three all-day workshops on racism and diversity were sponsored by the Peace and Social Justice Committee.  A monthly support group was held for people who suffered loss.  A potluck discussion explored starting our own Right Sharing project (which later led to projects at the Pine Ridge Reservation).  The First Day school was strong and active with about 38 children (plus 12 in the nursery).  In 1997 Peace & Social Justice Committee organized a potluck to discuss the Peace Testimony and sponsored a weekend workshop on Alternatives to Violence training.  Ministry & Counsel updated the Meeting’s marriage procedures.  Our regular budget was $46,000. 

In January 1998, after a fond farewell to the “old” building, we moved our activities to Crestview School. After approving another cost increase (to $750,000), going through annexation, and many other hurdles, the building renovation proceeded on track, thanks to the able help of contractor Hy Brown.  While in Crestview, we maintained our spiritual life with many deeply gathered Meetings for Worship, program hours, and study groups. 

During the construction period we continued, with many dedicated helpers, to have a strong First Day School and kept up our varied outreach activities.  These included mittens & milk for North Korea, infant kits for Iraq, letter writing campaigns, a work project at Pine Ridge, cooking at the homeless shelter, maintaining the Echo House apartment, and collecting for victims of the hurricane in Central America.

In May 1999, we thankfully celebrated the return to our “home” and the incredible generosity of so many F(f)riends who gave large contributions of money and time so that we could move into the Meeting house debt-free! 

In 1999, we held worship sharing groups as we grieved for those involved in the Columbine School massacre and the war in Kosovo. A Peaceful Careers Project was started, offering alternative (non-military) careers during military recruitment in the high schools and University of Colorado. A worship-sharing group on the Bible and Quaker writings was started and Ministry & Counsel organized a potluck discussion on prayer.  Friends cooked and served at the homeless shelter.

Next: Boulder Meeting History, 2000-2019

Friends Committee on National Legislation(FCNL)