Another Northampton Meeting
Anne and I, being inveterate travellers, spend most summers in the USA and try to visit as many Friends’ Meetings as we can. Amongst others this year we happened to find ourselves in Northampton Meeting, Massachusetts, which was of particular interest to me since I began my Quaker journey in Northampton Meeting, England. Ruth Whitehouse tells me it was in late 1968 that I was accepted into Membership of Northampton and Wellingborough Monthly Meeting.
The Meeting at this other Northampton is located on the second floor of a large and ornate building that was once a Methodist Church. It later became a social services agency and then an Elks club before more recently being turned to its present use as a Quaker Meeting house, accommodation for the homeless, and private housing. Rather like its English namesake the Northampton MA Meeting is right in the middle of town, at 43 Center Street, just off Main Street.
Needless to say, we were warmly welcomed and spent some time before and after Meeting chatting to local Friends. The Meeting’s website welcomes all members of the community and says that the Meeting "celebrates the richness of human diversity". This inclusiveness embraces those with an allergy to perfumes and we noticed seats "Reserved for Scent-free Friends"!
We experienced a deep Meeting for worship, with several ministries and it is always interesting to hear ministry and concerns from other Quakers across the Pond, noting how similar we really are in our activities.
Northampton is a particularly attractive American town with a population of about 30,000 and is a vibrant community with crowded streets on a Sunday, something not always seen in America. As long ago as 1851 opera singer Jenny Lind, the 'Swedish Nightingale', declared Northampton to be the 'Paradise of America', a title the town still relishes.
Harpenden LM, Hertfordshire
You can find more images here.