Can You Gather With God Over Zoom?

The New York Times asks the question, and shows that Quakers can and do. Photographs and Text by Bianca Giaever. (May be subject to paywall.)

The subtitle: “Quakerism goes virtual, offering an intimate window into silent worship.” Durham Friends Meeting isn’t mentioned; the focus is on Meetings in Brooklyn, Middlebury (Vt.) and Portland (Maine).

Ways That the Climate Crisis and Militarism Are Intertwined

From Peace and Social Concerns Committee:

War and militarism are destroying the planet. But if we de-fund the Pentagon, we can save it.
Excerpts taken from a piece written by Medea Benjamin for Foreign Policy in Focus. For the full text go here.

  1. The U.S. military protects Big Oil and other extractive industries. For example, the 1991 Gulf War against Iraq was a blatant example of war for oil. Today, U.S. military support for Saudi Arabia is connected to the fossil fuel industry’s determination to control access to the world’s oil.
  2. The Pentagon is the single largest institutional consumer of fossil fuels in the world. If the Pentagon were a country, its fuel use alone would make it the 47th largest greenhouse gas emitter in the world, greater than entire nations such as Sweden, Norway, or Finland. U.S.
    military emissions come mainly from fueling weapons and equipment, as well as lighting, heating, and cooling more than 560,000 buildings around the world.
  3. The Pentagon monopolizes the funding we need to seriously address the climate crisis. We are now spending over half of the federal government’s annual discretionary budget on the military when the biggest threat to U.S. national security is not Iran or China, but the climate crisis. We could cut the Pentagon’s current budget in half and still be left with a bigger military budget than China, Russia, Iran, and North Korea combined.
  4. Military operations leave a toxic legacy in their wake. U.S. military bases despoil the landscape, pollute the soil, and contaminate the drinking water. According to a 2017 government report, the Pentagon has already spent $11.5 billion on environmental cleanup of
    closed bases and estimates $3.4 billion more will be needed.
  5. Wars ravage fragile ecosystems that are crucial to sustaining human health and climate resiliency. Direct warfare inherently involves the destruction of the environment, through bombings and boots-on-the-ground invasions that destroy the land and infrastructure.
  6. Climate change is a “threat multiplier” that makes already dangerous social and political situations even worse. In Syria, the worst drought in 500 years led to crop failures that pushed farmers into cities, exacerbating the unemployment and political unrest that contributed to the uprising in 2011. Similar climate crises have triggered conflicts in other countries across the Middle East, from Yemen to Libya.

Doug Gwyn Tells His Story

Former Pastor Doug Gwyn tells the story of his faith journey and work as a Friends pastor and writer in a new book edited by Chuck Fager called Passing the Torch: When Quaker Lives Speak.

Gwyn felt the call to ministry when he was in college:

The subtle but clear call, “be a minister,” came as I sat alone in my dormitory room one evening.  It came as a seismic non sequitur that felt strangely hopeful. I understood my calling to be a Christian ministry among Friends.  But I was sure it needed to be something more prophetically Christian and more seriously Quaker than what I had received in my youth.  

The whole chapter is well worth reading. The link above is to an excerpt from Fager’s blog.

Sophia’s House, by Leslie Manning, Chaplain for Sophia’s House

Sophia’s House is a new residence in Lewiston scheduled to open in December 2019 for women coming out of addiction, prison or jail, and/or sex trafficking. It is a project of The Center for Wisdom’s Women, an established peer support and resource center in the “Tree Streets” area of Lewiston and will be modeled on “Thistle Farms,” a program founded by an Episcopal woman priest who is herself a survivor of sexual abuse.

Sophia’s House, at 97 Blake Street in Lewiston, will begin operations as soon as the renovations on the former convent are completed. Asbestos and lead remediation and exterior work are done, and we are now in the final phase of remodeling. The top floor will be individual apartments for the women in the program; they will be welcome to stay for up to two years.

Our underlying philosophy is to address the traumas that lead to the behaviors; until that healing happens the behaviors will persist. Love heals. Most incarcerated people have experienced Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACES) that lead to lifelong trauma that has not been addressed. And, it is cyclical. One of the most adverse experiences is to be the child of an incarcerated parent.

The second floor will house women from the community in market rate and subsidized units who wish to support the women in the program and they will live in a co-housing model.

The first floor will be common space and community rooms and feature a guest room, a dining room and kitchen, and the old chapel, which will be kept for programming. In addition, local Friends are invited to use it as a worship space weekly for Meeting for Worship.

We will have a “soft” opening in December, and on April 26, 2020, noted Quaker singer/songwriter Carrie Newcomer (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oYAtWQB25JY) will perform at a Gala Opening at the Franco Center in Lewiston. We are current raising enough money to cover the costs of this production, so that all proceeds will go directly to Sophia’s House.

If you are interested in supporting us or volunteering as a mentor, please connect with Leslie at leslieam55@gmail.com. And, please hold us in the Light.

Climate Crisis; Youth Speak Out!

By Linda Muller, for PSC

This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is View-of-meeting-room-1024x596.jpg

At this September 29 afternoon gathering, our Meeting provided a platform for three local youth activists to share their concerns and ideas about how to move forward. After a finger food potluck, we started at 12:30pm with a moment to acknowledge our presence on Wabanaki land and to prepare ourselves to listen deeply to our youth, for the betterment of all beings. 
Presenters followed. First, Ellie Douglas started us out with her poem:

Ellie Douglas is a fourth grade student at Harpswell Community School. She loves animals and nature. She also loves to write and thought this would be a good chance to express her self.
About 26 attenders at the SPEAK OUT were asked to let these beautiful words sink into our hearts, as well as our logic and discernment. Several commented that this poem was powerful precisely because it found it’s way to our hearts so well. 

Next, Lucia Daranyi explained the teamwork needed to accomplish the resolution for the PortlandSchool District to solarize. Lucia is 17yr. and a senior at Casco Bay High School. “I am on the board of directors for SolaRISE, a nonprofit with the goal of offsetting Portland Public schools carbon foot print through the installation of solar panels as our main source of energy. We have just recently got a resolution passed that will install a solar farm that will produce 80-90% of the district’s energy! Many in her friend group are as concerned as she.WE were so encouraged about this. Congratulations to her group!

And finally, Riley Stevenson brought forward the deep need for all voices to be included in this ecological work. She is aware that some marginalized people are not being included in finding solutions, yet are often disproportionately effected by adverse harsh weather, food distribution problems, etc. She expressed concern that white people in our culture need to develop capacity to relate more warmly and personally with “ people who don’t look like us”.Riley is a junior at Lincoln Academy and lives in Waldoboro, Maine. She moved to Maine almost seven years ago and ever since has been in awe of the natural beauty of our state. She noted how precariously we are holding onto it. Since the start of this past year, Riley has joined the Maine Climate Strikes team as one of their Communications team members, the Maine Youth Environmental Association as their Event Coordinator, and has been a part of the MEEA Changemakers Gathering Planning Team. 

Two young members of the Indigenous Youth Group, convened by Heather Augustine at our Meetinghouse,were invited to share but were unable to attend. We are hoping to share The Changemakers Team information with them, as Riley related that this group has been helpful in keeping her energized and supported in this work, as she balances all this with her high school courses!

A lively discussion rounded out the event. We were so moved by the courage and determination of these youth, that our clerk and many of the members present have determined we need to bring the further solarization of our Meetinghouse forward for the whole of our Meeting community to consider and work on.

The members of Peace and Social Concerns Committee want to thank all of who helped this happen; doing clean up, bringing finger foods, making coffee, taking photos of the event, etc. It takes this kind of group effort to help our Meeting become more visible in our community, and be up to date with Climate Change efforts.

Durham Meeting Members Participate in Vigils at Bath Iron Works

  By Renee Cote and Brown Lethem

   Durham Monthly Meeting of Friends, along with over a dozen Maine organizations including Maine Veterans for Peace, has co-sponsored vigils at the “christenings” of two warships to be launched from Bath Iron Works. The USS Lyndon B. Johnson, the third and final Zumwalt-class guided missile destroyer to be built at BIW, was “christened” on April 27, 2019. During that vigil, 25 people were arrested for engaging in nonviolent civil disobedience. Eight weeks later, on June 22, 22 people were arrested during the “christening” of the USS Daniel Inouye, a naval destroyer. Dozens of people came out in solidarity during both events.

     Brown Lethem, along with several members of Durham Monthly Meeting, participated in both vigils, creating two pieces of banner art and being arrested during the June 22 vigil. During both vigils, witnesses for peacetime conversion of the BIW facility gathered at the entrances with banners and signs proposing the many benefits to society of a conversion to renewable green energy and the de-escalation of the military budget.   

     The Sagadahoc County District Attorney’s Office announced on May 9 that it would decline prosecution of the peace activists arrested on April 27. Those arrested on June 22 were offered bail; nine of the 22 declined bail and asked to be released on their own recognizance. The nine were later sent to Two Bridges Regional Jail in Wiscasset and held over the weekend in lockup, where they witnessed in solidarity with those being held long term to the insufficient food and poor conditions in the jail.  They also reported that the majority of the prisoners supported their efforts to convert the nation to a peacetime budget that benefits human needs as well as their efforts to save the planet from the climate crisis. Eventually all nine were released without paying bail. Hearings will be held in August.

     Long-time peace activists Bruce Gagnon and Mary Beth Sullivan of Bath were among those arrested at the June 22 “christening.” Bruce described their experience at Two Bridges to Brown Lethem: “After we were released from the Two Bridges jail yesterday one of the guards came out and thanked me for my service in the military.  (I had on my VFP sweatshirt.)  I told him that we vets are not so proud of our time in the military but are actually more proud of our current work for peace and environmental sustainability.  We had a long talk and as he was going back into the jail he shook my hand and thanked me again.”
     Russell Wray, an artist and long-time environmental activist from Hancock, stated in an email to Renee Cote: “My time in Two Bridges jail made it even more clear to me how little the current system we are living under cares for those with little money or political clout, including all those other species we are supposed to be sharing this planet with. Those in power don’t even seem to be concerned with their own, or their children’s future, as has been made clear by their military and environmental policies. This insanity has to change … and hopefully it will, as more and more people are waking up to the crisis we are confronted with, and doing something about it.”

Wendy Schlotterbeck Hosts a Family of Eight from East Africa

In early August, with the many recent asylum seekers staying at the Portland Expo needing homes, a call went out for people to host families in their homes.  Wendy Schlotterbeck, Durham’s Youth Minister who has devoted a great deal of time working with the asylum seekers, offered to take a family of eight from East Africa into her home in Auburn.  Wendy says the family is settling in well and seems happy to be here.  The children are learning English and are excited that school will soon be starting.  Wendy brought the mother to a prenatal check-up where they discovered she will be having twins in November, so soon there will be ten!

     Wendy says they have many needs, listed below. Please contact Wendy right away if you can help provide something: wendy.schlotterbeck@gmail.com.

1. Cash or gift cards for household and personal needs

2. Soccer shin guards and mouth guards for the 13-year-old and the 14-year-old

3. Laptop insurance fees for two middle school students ($50 each) so they can bring their laptops home

4. Ear buds or earphones for computers (four sets)

5. Extra-large soup pot with lid — extremely needed!!

6. HELP assembling a play structure with slide (needs some sanding and painting)

7. HELP sorting and transporting donations

8. A towel rack (nine people and one bathroom make for a lot of wet towels!).  There is a great ladder towel rack at Bed, Bath and Beyond for $69.99.  Here is the site:

https://www.bedbathandbeyond.com/store/product/casual-home-decorative-twin-ladders-in white.

Durham Meeting Makes Donation to the Make Shift Coffee House

At the June Monthly Meeting for Business, Durham Friends approved a $2,000 donation to the Make Shift Coffee House, founded and run by Durham Friends member Craig Freshley.  Craig began the Make Shift Coffee House gatherings about six years ago, during a time of great disagreement and friction in regard to Muslim immigrants.  The coffee house format was developed to encourage civil discourse and discussion about issues that were highly emotional, bringing together people of different perspectives and persuasions. 

The purpose of Make Shift Coffee House is to promote understanding of different political views while relaxing with light music in a coffee house atmosphere.  It’s a face-to-face place for respectful conversation.  It’s not a debate, and there’s no persuasion. It’s about listening to people with different beliefs to understand why someone believes what they believe. Make Shift Coffee House conversations help reduce conflict and gridlock so people can work together to build our communities, in spite of our political differences.  It is exactly what Quakers have tried to do on the local, national, and international levels for years.  Durham Meeting is proud of the work Craig has done to develop Make Shift Coffee House, and we decided to make a donation to the organization at this time to take advantage of a matching grant that will help the organization and Craig’s work with it grow around the state.

James Nayler, Excerpt from a Letter to Charles II, 1660

Nayler sent this letter to Charles II, who had recently been restored to the throne of England in 1660. (His father, Charles I, had been beheaded during the English Civil War, 1641-1652.)

0 King! God hath in these Nations a People gathered by himself into his Light, who are known to himself better than to Men, and therefore have we suffered by Men under all the Powers that have risen in this Nation ever since God called us toward himself, by his Eternal Light and Spirit.

And though we receive not our Laws from Man, yet we are not without Law as to our God, but have one Law-giver, even Christ Jesus our Lord … from his Laws we may not depart. And by his Law in our Conscience, and the Power of his Spirit in our Hearts, we are ordered and guided to walk holily toward our God, and harmlessly towards Men … however they be minded towards us: and by the Virtue of the Lamb … we are made to give our Goods to the Spoil, and our bodies to the Tortures of cruel Men, rather than defile our Consciences …

[T]his hath God sealed in our Hearts, to seek the Good of all Men, Plot against none; but study peace and live quietly, and Exercise our Conscience faithfully toward whatever Government our God shall set up …

For more on Nayler, see Doug Gwyn (former DFM Pastor), “James Nayler and the Lamb’s War,” Quaker Studies: Vol. 12: Iss. 2, Article 2.
Available at: http://digitalcommons.georgefox.edu/quakerstudies/vol12/iss2/2

Peace Vigil at Bath Iron Works

On the morning of April 27th at 8:30 a coalition of peace groups including the Durham Meeting of Friends gathered at the Bath Iron Works to witness their opposition to the military buildup represented by the “Christening of another Zumwalt destroyer. Approximately 75 vigilers proposed the conversion of this powerful facility to peacetime production, especially on renewable energy sources and away from the wasteful and redundant defense budget. This budget represents a clear threat to the serious environmental and human resource needs of this country and the world. To address this urgency, 25 protestors were arrested for civil disobedience.

–Brown Lethem

Here is an article by one person who was involved:

For the whole article, click here.

Meeting Music and Pianists, by Nancy Marstaller

            Currently there are 3 of us who take turns playing the piano during meeting for worship: Dot Hinshaw, Sue Wood, and Nancy Marstaller.

            Dot started taking lessons when she was 6 years old. She could play by ear and found it harder to learn to read music. When she was taking lessons, her teachers would remind her to play the notes on the page! She practices all the hymns in our books, concentrating on those that might be called for in the current season. She didn’t play for worship services until coming to Durham. We’re lucky to have her with her lively playing style, especially as she can transpose a piece to make it easier to sing, and add chords and flourishes to pieces with only the melody written down.

            Sue also started taking lessons as a young girl. She fell in love with the organ and started playing for churches when she was in her teens. She doesn’t practice particular hymns for meeting, and likes to work on classical pieces at home. We are fortunate to have her accompany the choir too; she plays with such feeling.

            Both Dot and Sue choose pieces to play during the offering based on what’s said or arisen in worship.

            I also started taking piano lessons at an early age. I’m glad sight-reading was one of the skills the teacher stressed. When I first started playing at Durham Meeting, mostly filling in for Mary Curtis or another pianist, the pastor picked the hymns, and I chose a piece with the same theme for the offering. Now, of course, we don’t know what will be called for. It may be a piece we really don’t know, and I’m grateful no one points out all my mistakes! I practice a few pieces with the offering in mind, and may play one of them or another that seems called for by worship. I miss playing organ/piano duets with my mom.

            We’d love to have others play, for the hymns or for the offering. Speak to any of us if you are interested.

Stamp Collecting for Friends’ Work, by Nancy Marstaller

         My mom (Clarabel) and I are still collecting stamps. In January we sent off a large envelope full of your donations, and plan to send more in May.

         A group at Indianapolis First Friends collects the stamps and prepares them for sale to collectors. Money raised goes to the Right Sharing of World Resources program. This program works with groups of women in Kenya, India, and Sierra Leone, giving loans to start and run micro-businesses. The women pay back the loans and more groups can benefit. Check out their website to learn more.

Here are the latest guidelines:

         The stamp program accepts stamps of all issue dates and countries, both used and unused stamps, sheets of stamps, albums or boxed collections of stamps. Foreign stamps (excluding Canada) may be left on the postcard or envelope, especially if the envelope has some special drawing or indication of the country. There are collectors who like to receive a whole envelope or postcard with a foreign stamp. 

         USA and Canada stamps: Cut the stamp(s) off the envelope or postcard. Leave the perforations on the stamps. Leave 1/4 inch to 1/8 inch around the stamp so the whole stamp is preserved, including the perforations. When there is more than one stamp, treat the group as a unit.

         Peelable stamps: Please leave these on the envelope paper. If you try to peel them off of the paper, they stick to other stamps, and damage both.

         Nonprofit and presorted mail stamps: All stamps are acceptable, but we want to be financially effective. If you already have a group of stamps that includes a lot of nonprofit and/or presorted stamps, just leave them and send them to us. However, as you are assembling new shipments, we recommend you leave out the nonprofit ones and the presorted ones, so you are not paying postage for something of little value.

There is a box on the library table for your stamps. Keep saving them and we’ll keep sending off what we have a few times during the year.

Thanks for your help!

1782 Map Shows Durham Friends Meeting

Screen Shot 2019-01-09 at 1.00.52 PM.png

Portion of a 1782 map showing Quaker Meetings in New England.  Among the Meetin gs shown is Royaltown or Durham.  It is on a road 25 miles north north east of Presumpscot or Falmouth Meeting, and 17 miles west north west of Georgetown Meeting.  Just to the north of Durham Friends Meeting is Lewiston Meeting.

from Henry J. Cadbury, “A Map Of 1782 Showing Friends Meetings In New England, Recently Acquired By The John Carter Brown Library, Brown University,” Quaker History, Vol. 52, No. 1 (Spring 1963), pp. 3-5.

My Experience at Yearly Meeting Summer Sessions, 2018

By Sarah Sprogell

For those who are not familiar with Summer Sessions, it is a time of year that Friends from across New England gather to attend to business, learn from each other in workshops, share meals, art, music and community; to meet new people, see old friends, have meaningful conversations, and much more. Opportunities abound for conversation, prayer and friendships to flourish. Quoted sections in the article below are taken from the Epistle written, as is our custom, at the close of Sessions. (See the October Newsletter for the complete Epistle.)

~~~~~~~~~

The theme for this year’s NEYM Sessions was “In Fear and Trembling Be Bold in God’s Service”. We gathered “on lands once cared for by Abenaki ancestors and appropriated by European settlers centuries ago….dedicated to our use for five days” from August 4 – 9, 2018 by Castleton University in Vermont. Over 600 Friends were gathered, including over 100 children, youth and their families. We gathered as “queer and straight, physically challenged and able-bodied, trans- and cis-gender, descended from the peoples of most continents of our globe, and of various income levels.” We were grateful for the opportunity to be present together in such a beautiful and gracious place.

This was my seventh year attending New England Yearly Meeting Annual Sessions. I arrived on Sunday in time to hear the plenary presentation by three Quaker women who have been courageously and faithfully working on social justice issues for a number of years. Each spoke movingly of their personal experiences and deep commitment to work that resonated clearly with our theme of being bold in God’s service. The Bible Half Hour sessions, presented by Diane Randall, Executive Secretary of Friends Committee on National Legislation (FCNL), also echoed our theme, as she spoke of how her faith plays a role in her work in the political sphere.

In the spring before Sessions, NEYM Ministry and Council had asked if I would be among a few Friends to hold the gathered body in prayer during our business meetings throughout the week, sitting as an elder in front of the clerk’s table. I was honored to be of service in this way and found it to be a unique way to experience Sessions. I have always found Meeting for Worship with Attention to Business at annual Sessions to be a profound experience in a number of ways, presenting opportunities for deep listening, careful discernment, and unexpected openings that reveal our unified truth. While fulfilling my role as a prayerful elder this year, I was able to let go of my usual practice of taking notes and following the agenda items closely. My practice this year allowed me to ride the waves of the spirit, which could range from challenging to frustrating, heart-breaking to heart-warming, energizing and uplifting to occasionally exhausting and sometimes entertaining.

This year the work of challenging white supremacy became a central feature, as patterns and language were called out and named throughout many items of business. During business sessions we witnessed our work with social justice issues, approving the formation of an Immigration Justice Working Group; endorsing the Poor People’s Campaign; affirming a minute on Criminal Justice Reform; and approving a minute supporting the 2017 UN Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons. Earthcare Ministries brought forward a Carbon Calculator to determine carbon footprints, which we gratefully received. We honored our spiritual practices by receiving the work of the Faith and Practice Revision Committee’s draft chapters on Death, Dying and Bereavement, and Pastoral Care. We witnessed the movement of the spirit throughout New England, made possible by projects generously supported by our own Legacy Fund.

As always, the week was full and rich with the Life of the Spirit. Once again, I left Sessions feeling moved by the power of Quaker testimonies and actions in both the temporal and spiritual worlds.

 

 

Talking Points from New England Yearly Meeting Sessions 2018

Please share the news and joy from NEYM Sessions 2018 with Friends at home. Consider posting these talking points and making a report to your local meeting for business.

The theme for this year’s Annual Sessions was In Fear and Trembling Be Bold in God’s Service. During the plenary session we heard ministry from Adria Gulizia (Chatham Summit, NJ-New York Yearly Meeting), Sarah Walton (Vassalboro, ME) and Meg Klepack (West Falmouth, MA) sharing experiences from their journeys of faith.

Diane Randall (Hartford, CT), Executive Secretary of Friends Committee on National Legislation (FCNL) spoke in the Bible Half Hours each day about the role that her faith has played in her work in the political sphere, and the ways in which the practices of Friends have influenced public policy. Recordings of the Bible Half Hours and the plenary session will be available soon online at neym.org and on the NEYM YouTube channel.

Of the more than 620 people gathered, close to 15% were attending for the first time. For the third year in a row youth attendance was at a record high. We continued to celebrate strong representation from each of the New England states; from visitors including Friends from Kenya, Bolivia and El Salvador; and from several other North American yearly meetings; as well as ecumenical representatives. Though we mourned the U.S. government’s continuing denial of visas which prevents representatives of our Cuban Quaker family from being with us in body, we felt their presence with us through a series of video clips, which captured their greetings and prayers for us. They were with us in Spirit.

Throughout the week Friends gathered at Castleton University engaged in a continuing conversation about the need to identify and interrupt the patterns of seeing and doing– within each of us, and within New England Yearly Meeting–that lead to complicity in white supremacy and oppression. The need for this continued work was identified in committee reports, during several items of business, in ministry during our sessions and worship, in the writing and approval of minutes and in ongoing conversations among small and large groups of Friends. We-as individuals, in our meetings, and in our organization-must continue this conversation. We must continue to follow the Spirit wherever it leads, trusting in the Grace that is with us always.

Here’s a summary of important news from the week:

Responding to Previous Years’ Commitments:

Continuing Support for Immigrants and Refugees: Friends shared news of the responses to Sessions’ minuted commitment (Minute 2017- 42) to support the rights and dignity of all 2 of our neighbors who are threatened in this time, including especially undocumented immigrants, refugees, and Muslims. We heard about some of the myriad ways that Friends and Friends Meetings throughout New England have been responding to this commitment. Friends approved the formation of an Immigration Justice working group to bring together Quakers across New England who are under the weight of this concern, and committed the support of the yearly meeting to this group. If Friends in your meeting are engaged in ministry in support of these concerns and would like to connect with others similarly involved, please contact the Yearly Meeting office at neym@neym.org.

Continuing to Respond to the Climate Crisis: At the recommendation of the NEYM Earthcare Ministries Committee, those gathered affirmed a commitment to using the Cape Cod Climate Change Collaborative’s carbon calculator to calculate their carbon footprint and commit to a 10% reduction from baseline measures this fall by December 2019, and to encourage Friends throughout New England to do the same. More detailed information on support for this work will be forthcoming from the Earthcare Ministries Committee.

Consideration of Minutes brought forward from Quarterly Meetings:

Poor People’s Campaign: At the recommendation of Vassalboro Quarterly Meeting, Friends approved New England Yearly Meeting endorsing the Poor People’s Campaign: A National Call for Moral Revival. Sessions encourages Friends and Friends Meetings to “…unite with the Poor People’s Campaign by working to change the war on the poor to a condemnation and eradication of poverty itself, and to become involved through volunteering, organizing and/or financially supporting the coming together of many people across many different spectrums to further the witness of the Poor People’s Campaign.”

Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons: Connecticut Valley Quarterly Meeting brought forward a minute asking that the Yearly Meeting “…encourage Friends in New England to seek ways to support [the 2017 United Nations Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons] and… inform people about it.” Friends approved sharing this minute with local and Quarterly Meetings.

Criminal Justice Reform: Salem Quarterly Meeting asked Sessions to support a minute stating their “…support [for] comprehensive criminal justice reform in Massachusetts that will promote restorative justice, support alternatives to incarceration, reform the pretrial process, and reduce the criminalization of poverty and race.” The minute further invites Friends, and meetings across New England to “join [Salem Quarterly Meeting] in the work of repairing and restoring our communities by reforming our criminal justice system.” Friends affirmed this minute as well seasoned, and asked that the Clerk share this minute with other quarters for discernment and further action.

Other Important Reports and Decisions:

Legacy Gift Funds: Friends gathered were moved by a slideshow of images of the many ways in which the Funds have been being used to support the ministry of New England Quakers in the areas of racial justice, climate change, outreach, religious education and more, coming soon to the NEYM YouTube channel. A list of recent grant recipients can be found on the NEYM website. The deadline for the next round of grants is October 1, 2018. For more information and to apply, visit neym.org/legacy-gift

Faith and Practice Revision: As part of the Yearly Meeting’s ongoing process of revising the book of Faith and Practice for Quakers in New England, Friends considered a draft paper on Membership. Important questions arose, including consideration of the effect that approving a practice of dual membership might have on our understanding of the core commitments of our tradition. Two additional draft papers were presented for comment–one on Pastoral Care and one on Death, Dying, and Bereavement. Meetings are encouraged to further engage corporately with the material presented, and to share with the Faith and Practice Revision Committee what unity and wisdom they receive, trusting in the guidance of the Spirit in our midst. The draft chapter on membership is available here. For further information, or to share your meeting’s responses, contact Phebe McCosker (Hanover, NH, Friends Meeting), Clerk of Faith and Practice Revision Committee, or visit neym.org/fprevision.

Transforming our Relationship with Money: After five years of dedicated and faithful work, its charge fulfilled, we celebrated the laying down of the Ad Hoc Long Term Financial Planning Committee. The Finance Committee’s proposal of a balanced budget for the coming fiscal year–the fruit of a diligent process including both expense reductions and increased income–included a reduction of the total amount of New England Yearly Meeting’s donations to three of the organizations of which NEYM is a member (Friends United Meeting, Friends World Committee for Consultation, and Friends General Conference). This provided Friends in attendance an opportunity to engage with the dynamic tension between our responsibility for fiscal stewardship, and our responsibility and commitment to support the work of the wider Quaker movement of which we are an inextricable part. After much discernment and with a sense of God’s continual provision, Friends approved maintaining our current level of support for these three organizations, recognizing that further increases in contributions from meetings and individuals will be needed to prevent a deficit in the coming year.

Further details, video & audio recordings are posted at neym.org/sessions. Minutes of Annual Sessions will be posted soon and distributed to all local meetings.

To receive news and updates on the life and ministry of Friends across New England, subscribe to the monthly email newsletter at neym.org/mc-signup. New England Quakers also have an active and growing presence on social media through Facebook, YouTube and Instagram.

The next Annual Sessions will be held August 3-8, 2019 at Castleton University, in Castleton, Vermont. For questions or more information about anything mentioned in this document, contact neym@neym.org.

Book Review: Trouble I’ve Seen: Changing the Way the Church Views Racism by Drew G. I. Hart

By Nancy Marstaller

For the last couple years, I’ve been reading to understand how racism has affected the attitudes and actions of myself and others. It’s been a saddening and sometimes shocking journey to learn of the experiences of many people of color, and how entrenched personal and institutional racism is. This book is well written and challenges us to understand ourselves better and pursue racial justice. I’ll donate it to the Meeting library so that others can learn from it.

Other books I’ve found helpful:

Amanda Kemp’s Say the Wrong Thing

Ta-Nehisi Coates’ Between the World and Me

Michelle Alexander’s The New Jim Crow

Debby Irving’s Waking Up White

Michael Dyson’s Tears We Cannot Stop

Racism and white supremacy are attitudes that affect us all, whether consciously or unconsciously, and have terrible negative effects all through society. Join me as I continue to uproot prejudice in my heart and mind and find actions to uproot racism in society.

Reflections on Indigenous Peoples Day – October 8, 2018

By Linda Muller

I am glad to recognize the continuing debt we owe to the original people of our area; Casco Bay and beyond.

I am relieved not to recognize C. Columbus, who practiced severe genocide and never stepped foot on North or South America.

I am aware that Norsemen and fishermen had traded with people in our area prior to 1492. They did not invade in the 1400s but for the most part, visited and let the indigenous people be.

After I was alerted through Peace and Social Concerns Committee, I attended a workshop by Ralph Greene, publicized by New England Yearly Meeting, held at Vassalboro Meeting. He interpreted multiple bible passages and incidents from Quaker history to develop his conception of “ the lamb’s war”. To condense these 2 hours, I’ll share that this is in reference to speaking truth to power and being faithful to leadings even if risk or danger of violence or possible sacrifice is involved. Ralph lectured that Papanuhang was a man of the Mohegan people, whose tribe was decimated by settlers with rigid ideas (such as Puritans) and US government policies regarding “the Indian problem”. Despite this, he was part of a small group that left their Connecticut homeland and went to live with a related tribe in the Delaware region, the Lenape people. This was a move to survive. He was able to establish a peaceful cooperative settlement for several years and negotiated prisoner of war releases and avoidance of bloodshed on occasion. Ralph had a distant relative from the Mohegan people.

This achievement by Papanuhang is remarkable and speaks to this indigenous man’s spiritual strength, as he was already battling alcoholism and in contact with others who were too.

I attended a film and discussion sponsored by Wabanaki Reach, at the UUC in Brunswick. There are several of these groups in Maine and several local Quakers are involved. These groups are an attempt by native Maine people (collectively referring to themselves as Wabanaki) to educate all of us “ from away” or not native… another term is settlers. This was a film about the Dann sisters, two elderly women living a traditional ranching life on land they were deeded and open range ranching on land of their tribe, the Western Shoshone people. They were put out of business by annulment of the tribe’s treaty rights by, “ gradual encroachment”, sad but true. Their niece was present to be part of the discussion that followed. I saw the images of multiple open pit mines on their land and the taking of their horses and cattle, which ensued, to represent the very worst of our present culture, greed got the upper hand and the suffering was monstrous .

I am told by native Mainers (Wabanaki) that they want those of us who are not native to educate ourselves about all that has happened as our ancestors and as present-day non-native people interact with the remaining native population.

There is much to reflect on as our governor has signed an interpretation of the Maine land claim of the 1980’s, stating the Penobscot tribe has no right to monitor and protect the health and safety of the Penobscot River. This is working its way through the courts. Will the outcome be fair, will it be in the best interest of all the people of Maine? Will it uphold the treaties? Will it help to protect the quality of water in one of the major rivers here in Maine? I understand that the Penobscot people consider this river to be the lifeblood of their tribe. Much to learn, to contemplate, to discuss and act on.

Latest Library News, June 2018

By Dorothy Hinshaw

The latest addition to the meeting library is a very interesting book: “Memories of Milton Hadley” who was a Quaker pastor at meetings in Illinois, Indiana, North Carolina, and Florida, serving both programmed and unprogrammed meetings. His Quiet approach as a servant pastor/meeting secretary is a fine example of serving a variety of Quaker meetings. He also taught physics and coached sports teams at the Vermilion Academy (Friends Secondary School) in Illinois, 1920-1924, incidentally where Clarabel Marstaller was born.

At one time Milton Hadley was New England Yearly Meeting northern section Field Secretary and instrumental in the establishment of China Camp (Friends Camp) in China, Maine. He also served as pastor of our meeting!

“Finding Simplicity in My Life,” by Robert Bennett

From the May 2018 issue of Friends Journal, The Student Voice Project 2018 on “What Are Quaker Values Anyway?”

robert-bennett

Finding Simplicity in My Life

As many people’s lives become more cluttered with events and activities, we become more and more reliant on physical items. I spend a large amount of time thinking about this during the summer. My family spends about a month on Southport Island in Maine. We stay in a cottage that my dad’s grandparents purchased during the Depression. It has electricity and running water, but we have no access to the Internet, and we are forced to spend time away from our electronics. As a result of this, we are kept away from the clutter caused by our digital lives.

I am rarely thrilled to put down my cell phone and spend time outside, but once I get over the initial shock of being separated from my electronics, I realize how much more we are able to take in when we aren’t looking at the world through a screen. It makes life simpler to only be interacting with people in person and be out of touch with everything that is happening everywhere except for what is right around you. It is hard not to enjoy the simple and straightforward life I am forced to live there; it is always a very refreshing month for me. I think a lot afterward about what I could do to change my day-to-day life to make it more similar to my time on Southport, but I find with school and other activities it is hard to live without many of the things that previously thought were essential. My parents grew up in a time when people were not consumed the way we are by portable electronics. I think about how they got on just fine without it all.

I have found that to reduce my usage, everyone around me would need to as well, and I think that is something that we can’t just do overnight. I love the simplicity of living without my phone, and will continue to look forward to that month every summer.

I feel that simplicity is a testimony that is not particularly clear as others. What is meant to be more simple? I find that my digital life is the most complicated part of my day-to-day life. This might not be true for everyone, but I think for the majority of people I know, especially people my age, it is a big, complicated aspect of their lives. This is easily the testimony I think of, and struggle to practice most in my life.

 Robert Bennett, Grade 9, Westtown School, member of Durham (Maine) Meeting

 

Quakerism = Hope

April 17, 2018

“As the stillness of Quaker Meeting unfolds,

it opens up a space in which we can listen and wait — both comfortable and uncomfortable, holy and ordinary, still and dynamic. And whilst I don’t pretend Quakerism has all the answers, sitting in collective quietness with other Quakers has been profoundly healing for me because the silence has made way for something else in my life: hope. The radically kind and egalitarian foundations of Quakerism, coupled with this weekly practice of stillness, has sparked a flicker of hopefulness that I can make a difference, in whatever small and mundane ways I am able. That it is ok to rest. That it is ok to fail. That it will all be ok.

“Regardless of whether you are young or old, atheist or faithful, I would encourage you to take some time for silence today. Sit down, let the quiet wash over you, and breathe.”

From Jessica Hubbard-Bailey, Life Is Tough for Young People But Being a Quaker Has Given Me Hope

h/t Martin Kelley, Quaker Ranter Daily

Ann Audland, Early Quaker Prophet

This is one of the stories I’ve been preparing for the New England Yearly Meeting sessions this month, about early Friends answering the call to radical faithfulness.

Ann Audland is one of the lesser known early Quaker prophets. She and her husband John were in their early 20s and among the hundreds of Seekers that responded to George Fox’s preaching around northern England in May and June of 1652. That was the ground-zero moment when the Quaker movement became a recognizable phenomenon. Ann and John Audland became part of the Valiant Sixty, a band of wandering prophets spreading the Quaker message. They clearly understood themselves as a latter-day version of the seventy disciples that Jesus sent out in pairs to preach the gospel (see Luke 10). They understood themselves as starting the Church all over again, from the ground up, as it began in the first place, by the power and leading of the Spirit.

John Audland paired up with his friend John Camm. In 1654, they invaded Bristol with the Quaker message. Bristol was the second largest city in England at that time and a hotbed of seeking groups. The two Johns, Camm and Audland, had spectacular success there.

Ann Audland teamed up with Mabel Camm, wife of John, and they began their own itinerant ministry. They were preaching in the streets of the Oxfordshire town of Banbury in 1655, when Ann was physically assaulted by some ruffians. She later told the local parish priest that this outbreak of violence was a symptom of his spiritual influence. For this and other provocative statements, she was arrested and charged with blasphemy. Someone posted bail for her and she resumed preaching around the area for some months before her trial. Many were convinced and local meetings were started.

But the local establishment was outraged by “that prating woman Audland.” It was reported that those who listened to her quaked and foamed at the mouth. Some said she was a witch and should be burned. But the judge at her trial was a more moderate man. He offered to free her if she would swear to stop causing trouble. But as a Quaker, she could neither swear an oath nor promise to desist from preaching. So she was sentenced to eight months in prison, kept in an underground cell that “did stink sorely; besides frogs and toads did crawl in,” she later wrote.

Like other Quaker prophets in these situations, Ann took her imprisonment not as a defeat but an opportunity to lay siege to the town with the truth. Other Quaker leaders converged there to nurture newly convinced Friends, to agitate among local sympathizers, and to protest Ann’s imprisonment. Richard Farnworth was also arrested and imprisoned. He preached to crowds through the grate of his prison window and many more Seekers became Friends. As her imprisonment wore on, Ann wrote to Margaret Fell, saying, “This is indeed a place of joy, and my soul doth rejoice in the Lord. I continue a prisoner in Banbury, but I witness freedom in the Lord.” Doug

The Phoebe Family: Empty-Nesters – or Not?

I’ve enjoyed hosting a family of phoebes, a species of flycatchers, on the parsonage porch. I noticed them one day in May trying to build a nest on an impossibly narrow ledge under a corner of the porch ceiling. So I cut a triangular piece of corrugated cardboard and fastened it there. Within an hour, they were busy building their nest on this makeshift platform. Soon Mrs. Phoebe was sitting on her eggs. Before very long, both she and Mr. Phoebe were busy feeding their hatchlings all day long. Some warm weather in early June made the porch pretty hot, and one afternoon I could see a hatchling with its head resting against the edge of the nest in an open-beaked daze. But the weather cooled and they survived. Like a loaf of bread puffing up in the oven, the mass of baby birds kept rising higher above the top of the nest, constantly jostling. I wondered just how many small flying insects it took to grow these little birds. But I do know I’ve not been bothered by mosquitos anywhere near the house so far this summer. Caroline was here with me for this part of the drama. We watched and wondered when the crowding would get to be too much, or if the babies would just start spilling out of the nest. One day we decided to help them by putting a staging area near the nest, a place to flutter to. Caroline carried a small step-ladder to lean against the wall near the nest. But as she approached, all four baby phoebes bolted from the nest at once. Being flycatchers, I guess they were expert fliers from the start, because there was no fluttering around, just very competent flight. While three of them headed out into the open, one of them flew into the house through the door we had left open. But didn’t take long for me to chase it out to join the others. Knowing that some of our families at Durham Friends are moving into that empty-nest phase of life, I thought I would tell a story of successful transition. But wait – there’s more! A week or so later, I noticed a bird sitting in the nest again. At first I assumed it was one of the young phoebes. Perhaps a phoebe version of today’s millennials coming back to live with their parents, into their 30s. But now I think it’s Mrs. Phoebe. Could she be sitting on another batch of eggs? I thought birds raised only one family per year. Or is she experiencing empty nest denial? She’s still there as I write. Stay tuned. Doug Gwyn

The First Motion

John Woolman said in his journal on one of the days he spent travelling in earnest pursuit of God’s will for him, that “Love was the first motion,” after which “a concern arose to spend some time with the Indians, that I might feel and understand their life and the spirit they live in, if haply I might receive some instruction from them, or they might be in any degree helped forward by my following the leadings of truth among them.”

I appreciate that Woolman’s words give precedence to the instruction he will gain from the people whose land and culture he visits. I like how humbly he hopes that his presence and witness to truth among them might “in any degree” be helpful to them. Living in Palestine has made me keenly aware of the margin for harm that is possible when outsiders arrive thinking they have the balm that will sooth whatever ails people here (before they have any idea what ails them). It seems if more people were like Woolman, and arrived keen to be instructed by the Palestinians’ remarkable resilience, solidarity and forgiveness, the rest of the world would benefit greatly.

I’ve been wondering about my own return home. I wonder what I will say when prompted to speak about Palestine. When I was in the courtyard with 11th graders the other day I asked them what they would want Americans to hear about them. This is a paraphrase of what they said:

“We express ourselves in the many ways. We dance, and sing, and play music, and write, and act. There is so much more to us than violence, violence is not the only way we respond to the Occupation. We live like the rest of the world, but for us there is a piece missing.”

“That piece that’s missing, it doesn’t overtake our whole lives. Sometimes the media shows it like we’re being bombed and shot every day. We live normal lives, but we do feel that piece missing.”

“And we don’t let it depress us. We don’t get depressed and sad living under occupation, we are still happy and living good lives. We don’t let it prevent us from having a good time and being happy.”

“And we don’t want any harm for the other side. I want to be able to go back to my home town, but I don’t want other people to be harmed in the process. I just want to have my right to my land acknowledged.”

These students had, earlier that day, analysed a passage from a novel by Yashar Kemal, providing their own witness to the truth embedded in literature through discussion and questioning. That is the strongest impression I have of these students: their remarkable ability to collaborate to create meaning around a text.

I wonder what John Woolman meant when he wrote that “Love was the first motion.” In literature, and it seems in life, the first motion is usually accusatory, or defensive, or dishonest. The first motion is often rooted in fear, and I can think of nothing more contradictory to love than fear. Woolman says this right before he felt a concern for the Indians. That makes me think the first motion was God’s motion, not anything coming from Woolman. God makes the first motion, and we are asked to follow through. That first motion is love. When the job at RFS became available, and I felt the tug, it must have been the tug of the motion of God’s love.

I hope to continue making a life of following through on that motion of love, big or small, close to home or far. Love’s motions can be tiny, as when a colleague asks me how a class went or a person in the street returns something I’ve dropped. I believe God gives us opportunities to follow his love’s motion every day, and that it is in following those motions that the world progresses toward greater peace. We can as profoundly change the world by turning toward a neighbor as by crossing an ocean.

Mimi Marstaller, Ramallah Friends School

Elizabeth Fry: Quaker Prison Reformer

I’ve been reading a biography of Elizabeth Fry (1780 – 1843) that I bought from the USFW used book table in the meetinghouse. The biography is itself a century old and USFW used book table in the meetinghouse. The biography is itself a century old and better ones have probably been written since. But I’ve been inspired by reading it. I’m only about half-way through it at the time of this writing, but here are some interesting points so far. Elizabeth Gurney grew up in a wealthy Quaker banking family in Norwich, England. She was one of eleven children, mostly sisters. But a brother, Joseph John Gurney, would become a key actor in the evangelical renewal of Friends. His travels in America in the 1830s were a watershed event that strongly influenced Friends, including here in New England. Elizabeth and her sisters were “gay Friends” – which in those days meant that they rejected the traditional plain dress, speech and lifestyle of Friends. They enjoyed literature, “mirth,” singing and even dancing(!) Betsy wore purple boots with scarlet laces, even to meeting for worship. The family were members at the Goat’s Lane Meeting in Norwich. She and her sisters disliked going to meeting – or what they called being “goatified.” Elizabeth’s story reads something like a Jane Austen novel that goes off the rails. At age fourteen she asked her father to take her to see the women in the Norwich House of Correction. The conditions she saw there horrified her, causing her to ask, “If this is the world, where is God?” She became a religious skeptic, but still caught between her love of diversion and her grief at social conditions outside her comfortable home. A major turning-point came when she was seventeen and William Savery, a traveling Quaker minister from America, spoke at her meeting. His message (two and a half hours long!) reached her powerfully. He came to the Gurney home for breakfast the next morning and prophesied great things about Elizabeth. She wrote that Savery’s “having been gay and disbelieving only a few years ago makes him better acquainted with the heart of one in the same situation.” Her sisters were annoyed by the changes in Elizabeth in the following months. She became more serious, kind, and charitable to the poor. She preferred reading the Bible to dancing, became more patient, humble and plain. What a drag! During a trip to London, a “weighty” elder Friend, Deborah Darby, also prophesied great things of her. Elizabeth wondered, “Can this be?” At age twenty, she married Joseph Fry, of another Quaker banking family in London. She started a school for girls and did various works of charity. But her greatest work would take place at the Newgate prison in London. Its terrible conditions had claimed the lives of some Friends in the early days of persecution in the
1600s. On average, five deaths occurred there every month from lack of ventilation and overcrowding. The criminal and mentally ill were thrown together. Men, women and even minors were executed for offenses as minor as theft and forgery. About four executions occurred daily. The French evangelical Friend Stephen Grellet visited Newgate in 1813 and went at once to Elizabeth Fry to ask her to help the 300 women prisoners and their children there. The degrading conditions of the prison (and the alcohol available to anyone with money to buy it) led to degraded behavior, outright mayhem at times. Fry spoke to that of God in the women and children by treating them with respect, assuring them of God’s love and her own for them, and offering education for the children along with productive work for the women. The results were immediate and profound. The ventilation didn’t improve but the overall atmosphere among the prisoners did. Fry also campaigned against capital punishment for theft and forgery, arguing that it showed a higher regard for property than for human life. Stay tuned for more on Elizabeth Fry in the next newsletter. Doug

Aspirations for Durham Friends Meeting

March 2016

In 2014, Durham Friends Meeting held a series of Visioning sessions to better understand who we are and where we would like to go as a Quaker Meeting.   At the end, the Committee on Ministry and Counsel drafted the following statement of our aspirations.  It describes seven aspects or faces of our Meeting  that state who we are.  With each, it identifies (a) what we are currently doing and (b) our hopes for the future.

  1. Circle of Friends; admire, encourage, love each other.

Ongoing;  

  • Pastoral care team
  • Durham Young Friends
  • Occasionally support/clearness committees for individuals.
  • Contemplative prayer group
  • Women’s Society

 Going forward;

  • Repeat Visioning session( s)
  • Friendly Dinners and discussions to bring up some good ideas and become more familiar.
  • Improve our follow up with visitors/seekers ? could greeters attend to a new person during the coffee hour?
  • Is Pastoral care team able to meet the needs that arise? communication, organization?
  1. Learning community of truth seekers.

Ongoing;

  • Message bringers from within Durham Mtg and wider Quakerism, as well as pastor.
  • Our present pastor is a great fit and part time seems to be working for all.
  • Have some/need more newer people on committees, at business meeting.
  • Continue variety of spirit centered gatherings; adult Sunday school, Contemplative prayer, midweek worship, Godly play.

Going forward;

  • Outreach to seekers/engagement w/ seekers.
  • The work formerly done by publicity committee….visibility in the media.
  • Knowledge of Bible, Quaker testimonies and history.
  • Expand our spiritual language to be inclusive of other beliefs, as well as Christianity.
  • Need Webmaster to update/ recreate webpage, Facebook.

     3. Growing community; playful, joyful living in challenging world.

Ongoing;

  • Orienting/engaging newer members/attenders.
  • Excellent youth pastor, youth group and Godly play.
  • Outdoor play equipment assembled, available w/ supervision.

Going forward;

  • Improve Facebook, webpage presence.
  • Best ways to meet needs of young children during Meeting for Worship.
  • Provide opportunities for our young people to participate in meaningful service projects (intergenerational as well).
  • Wendy may want help creating a Durham Friends banner, for activism/ parades, to expand visibility.
  1. Service community; individually, collectively.

Ongoing;

  • LACO, Tedford, Kakamega.
  • A local 12step and environmental groups meet here.
  • Joys & concerns of individuals during worship.
  • Announcements of local activism opportunities.
  • Support in death & dying.
  • Carpooling, sharing/trading items together.

Going forward;

  • Exploration of further renewable energy project for our buildings( i.e. solar)
  • Immigrant community outreach.
  • Plan activism based on Quaker values to be local change makers.
  • Banner
  1. Spiritual community; based on Quaker/ Christian values and sense of the meeting.

Ongoing;

  • Study and worship groups, variety of gatherings.
  • Decisions at Monthly Meeting for Business…when there are differences.
  • We have a gifted and committed clerk.
  • Member who serves Council of Churches.

Going forward;

  • Continue our education and engagement w/ concepts like racism and white privilege.
  • Start meeting for worship, for business and M&C w/ query from Quaker roots.
  • Our involvement in local (nonmember) groups, to be available for inquiries.( i.e.. Bowdoin College, 7pm in the Chapel on Wednesdays)
  1. Tolerant and humble community; welcoming new ways of understanding God, blended with our traditional beliefs.

Ongoing;

  • Sunday potluck programs often educate and encourage .
  • Continuing revelation a central tradition of Quakers.

Going forward

  • Continue to follow leadings; P&SC and others.
  • Continue creating space for openness and respect of other faith traditions.
  1. Responsible community; financial viability, stewardship of our land and buildings, good governance and clear communication.

Ongoing;

  • Many projects completed in the last year( roof, outhouse,etc.)
  • Offering coming directly from people’s banks is helpful for consistency.
  • Fundraising/ publicity committee? Active

Going forward;

  • Consistently meet our budget with a pastor here.
  • Clear reports on proposed projects to aid decision-making.
  • Regular financial updates and education where ALL can see/ hear….rise of Mtg?
  • Cell tower project is in process, contract was signed.
  • Fund raiser activities to support our meeting, as well as the nonprofits we support

‘Service is our sacrament’

By Mimi Marstaller

One of the phrases from June’s Friends United Meeting Triennial that sticks with me is “As Quakers, service is our sacrament.” The man who spoke these words is named Ross and he works with the Quaker Voluntary Service program (www.quakervoluntaryservice.org). I heard these words after having had a few conversations with Friends about the existence and practice of sacraments in Quaker Meetings and appreciated Ross’s concise summary.

The Catechism of the Catholic Church says a sacrament is sign of grace, by which divine life is dispensed to us. The Anglican Book of Common Prayer calls a sacrament an outward sign of an inward grace given unto us, through which we also receive grace. Each definition contains the same two movements: We receive God’s grace, and by performing a sacrament receive another dose of the healing power and life of the Spirit.
I can easily see service in this construction. I am able to help a neighbor because of the life energy, skills and awareness that God gave me by grace. When I help that neighbor — watching her children while she does an errand, bringing in the recycle bin from the sidewalk, offering a joyful greeting in the morning, inviting her to a backyard barbeque — I feel closer to divine life.

In a QuakerSpeak video called “Form without Substance,” Michael Birkel explains that Early Quakers took issue with the formal nature of sacraments that could be performed without much attention being paid. Service, as I see Quakers perform it, solves this problem by reversing it. Opportunities for service — opportunities to experience divine life— present themselves without form, spontaneously through our days. And because acts of service are our own work, they are substantive: Service springs from our hearts and exists within our
daily living experience, rather than in a book or a church building.

As summer arrives and schedules become changeable, we might seek spiritual nourishment less in the formal activities of the school year, and more in the substantive but spontaneous sacrament of service.

Teen Camp: Relationships, Spirituality and Sexuality

By Nat Shed, Director of Friends Camp This three-day camp session will give teens an opportunity to explore relationship ethics and to define the elements of healthy and equal relationships. Teen Camp starts at 2 p.m. on Sunday, Aug. 18, and ends at 2 p.m. on Wednesday, Aug. 21. A few years ago I read an interesting article about a teacher at a Friends’ school, Al Veracchio, who teaches teens about sexuality from a comprehensive, positive, ethical and joyful perspective. Al Veracchio’s story inspired me to bring together a group of Youth Adult Friends —many of them former campers and counselors — to design a three-day Teen Camp on the ethics and joys of relationships and sex. The planning team for our new Teen Camp includes: Kate Bonner-Jackson, Lucy Churchill, Liz Doran, Kate Fussner, Lisa Graustein, Ben Guaraldi, Will Jennings, Clementine Little, Porsha Olayiwola and Katherine Sorrows. At the first Planning Team meeting, we gathered in silence and then shared our personal reasons for joining the group. We brainstormed a list of ideas, values, and feelings that we hope teen campers will take away from this unique camp session. Here are a few:
1) To gain comfort with the topic of human sexuality and relationships.
2) To be knowledgeable enough to navigate relationship issues and sexual decisions.
3) To prepare for courageous conversations about relationships and sexuality with friends, partners and parents.
4) To understand the meaning of sexual consent and to have the ability to respect the wishes of others.
5) To be able to look to Quaker values as a guide for talking about relationships and sexuality.
6) To be comfortable talking about bisexual/gay/straight/transgender identities of oneself and others.
7) To have a better understanding of the problems with hetero-normative thinking.
8) To build trusting relationships with fellow campers for on-going support around relationship and sexuality.
9) To understand and appreciate that all bodies are different.
10) To view sexuality as joyful, sensual, caring and fun!
We are taking these outcomes and turning them into six thoughtful and interesting workshops, and leaving lots time for waterfront activities, electives, evening games and vespers. We hope you’ll join us in August for this new Teen Camp.