A Brief History of Morningside Monthly Meeting
From our origins as an informal worship group meeting on the campus of Columbia University in the winter of 1957-58, Morningside grew into a preparatory meeting under the care of New York Quarterly Meeting (1960), then blossomed into a monthly meeting in 1973, and finally became fully self-supporting in 1990. In July of 2002, we moved from the Columbia campus to the tower of Riverside Church, and have been “permanently” at home on the twelfth floor since 2007. For most of our history, we have maintained a fairly constant number of members (55-60).
Unencumbered by the need to attend to the upkeep of a physical home, we are free to devote our resources to outreach, and to concerns for peace and social justice. A significant portion of our annual budget is distributed, via our Peace and Social Concerns Committee, to a variety of organizations who work to improve the quality of life of those whom they serve. We tend to focus on small organizations, for whom our modest contributions will make a noticeable difference, and on organizations that serve the local community, regardless of their religious affiliation.
Our lack of a Meetinghouse has presented particular challenges as we have labored together to create a loving community. We have met those challenges by establishing spiritual nurture groups, conducting mid-week meetings in each others’ homes, holding periodic retreats, and forming discussion groups on a wide variety of topics.
It is believed that Morningside was the first Meeting anywhere to take a same-sex marriage under its care with the marriage of John Bohne and William McCann on May 30, 1987. Other meetings had held “Ceremonies of Commitment” for same-sex couples, but Morningside was the first to affirm the right of all couples to name their relationships as they choose.
Support committees for those among us who are facing personal difficulties – or are embarking on new personal, professional, or spiritual journeys – are regularly established by our Committee on Ministry and Counsel.
While attendance at our First Day School has fluctuated over the years, we are always prepared to welcome children, and work together to find ways to introduce them to a life lived in the Light, in accordance with the Quaker testimonies of equality, simplicity, integrity, and peace.