November 2018 Library News

By Dorothy Hinshaw

Most of you may know that New England Yearly Meeting was the first yearly meeting organized in the Society of Friends, even established before London Yearly Meeting. For more information about NEYM, check out one of the newest additions to the Durham Friends Library (289.6): Two Hundred and Fiftieth Anniversary of the Beginning of New England Yearly Meeting of Friends, a printed account of a gathering in celebration held at Moses Brown School, Sixth Month, 24th, 1911. Other recent additions to the library include booklets which contain NEYM minutes of sessions held in 1904, 1905, 1907, 1927, 1928, and 1944.   Fascinating reading! The early years included minutes from both the men’s and women’s meetings. Also, in those early days, not only were queries read, but answers were included regarding compliance to the queries! These minute booklets are located in a plastic bag in the Quaker section (289.6 New) of the library.

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Woman’s Society Report, November 19, 2018

By Nancy Marstaller

Six “hardy souls” met at Dorothy Curtis’ home. We sent cards to several folk.

Dorothy Curtis led the business meeting. The November Tedford Shelter meal included chili, hot dogs, and macaroni salad. The December meal will be provided by Margaret Wentworth’s team. The treasurer’s report was read and accepted. We have $1484.85, with $1000 set aside for travel to the next Triennial. We approved sending $150 to Warm Thy Neighbor and $65 to USFW-NE for dues. We did not do a collection for the Kickapoo Friends Center this fall but will consider doing it this winter or perhaps supporting a Maine Native American group.

We agreed we would collect items for a mitten tree and for Christmas boxes. We will ask that donations be brought by Dec. 16, the day before our next meeting. We will also have a “home-made” gift exchange at that meeting.

We are asked to pray for Shawn and Katrina McConaughey of the Friends United Meeting office in Kaimosi, Kenya, and also for Getry Agizah, head of the East Africa Friends Church Peace Team, whose son recently died. We signed cards for them also.

We reviewed a proposal for a North East Region USFW. No consensus was reached.

Margaret led the program, reading from the current issue of the Advocate. She read many suggestions on ways to increase support and connections for Friends United Meeting and other Friends workers, including sending cards. That prompted us to send cards as well as prayers to the above folk.

Our December meeting will be on December 17 at the meetinghouse with Kat Langelier as hostess. Angie will lead the devotions and program. We will compile Christmas boxes and sort donations to the mitten tree, as well as have our own gift exchange.

We enjoyed Dorothy’s delicious apple crisp and other treats before heading home.

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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.

 

 

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Donation Requests: Mittens! Legos! Christmas Boxes!

Mitten Tree!

By Nancy Marstaller

The Woman’s Society is collecting new or gently used hats, scarves, mittens, and gloves, which will be donated to local places (such as Head Start or homeless shelters) to warm those in need. Please pin your items to the mitten tree hanging in the vestry on or before December 16. Thanks for your help!

Lego Blocks!

by Wendy Schlotterbeck

Friends, do you have some Lego blocks that are looking for a good home? Some kids and youth at Durham Meeting are finding Legos to be good way of building community and would appreciate a few more!

Christmas “Boxes”

By Nancy Marstaller

The Woman’s Society is collecting items for small boxes (or bags) to give to those we especially think of this season but don’t see as often as we’d like. Please bring donations for the boxes to the Meetinghouse by December 16. Items such as soap, toothpaste, toothbrushes, dried fruit, warm socks, pens and pencils, and calendars are appreciated. Thanks for your help!

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Newsletter Committee Updates, December 2018

By Liana Thompson Knight, Clerk
The Newsletter Committee has a few updates and reminders this month:

1. Newsletter Deadline: We are changing the deadline for submissions to the newsletter to 5pm on the Wednesday after Monthly Meeting.

2. Newsletter Submissions: We need your help with submitting information to the newsletter. If you have a submission (report, article, description of an upcoming event, etc.) please write it up in a way that will be able to run in the newsletter without requiring further writing. Pieces will be edited; however, we need them to arrive to us written. However, please do not include formatting (no hyperlinks, heading fonts, etc.); pieces will be formatted as part of being put into the newsletter. If possible, please send submissions in the body of an email, rather than as an attachment.

3. Durham Friends Notes: We remind Friends who have information that should go out as a Durham Friends Note please to pass that information not only to Jo-an (who sends out the emailed Notes) but also to David Dexter (207-595-3329), who initiates the phone tree for the same information. If you cannot reach David, Liana Thompson Knight (207-737-9781) will be a backup for initiating the phone tree.

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Listening, Being Bold, and Looking for the Divine in Everyone, by Nancy Marstaller

Message at Durham Friends Meeting, November 11, 2018

I want to share some thoughts about listening, being bold, and looking for the Divine in everyone. I’ll open by reading Dwight Wilson’s psalm 13 in Modern Psalms in Search of Peace and Justice.

For most, it would be easiest

to see You perform

solo on the universal stage

while we sit in the audience, eating popcorn.

That is not the design.

We are in this love together;

You as Spirit Prodding,

we as physical beings charged

with improving unfinished work.

We seek to perfect Your creation.

With wars and terrorist attacks

all across the globe,

and hatred running rampant,

apathy is not a choice.

We must act, or close the road

to our descendants’ survival.

Through Your call to love

You bring an arsenal of compassion.

Help us sing in tune,

spiritually rising to conquer evil,

fortifying the world

with our unwavering love.

Being a better listener has been one of my life goals. I have to work really hard at it, because I know that my attention is easily distracted. If a speaker says something that reminds me of something else, my mind can go off on a tangent about that instead of staying focused on what the speaker is actually saying. If you mention birds or ducks for example, I might start thinking about the antics of our ducks or what birds I am seeing at the feeder. I have developed strategies to help me maintain focus, like taking notes or doodling or maintaining eye contact, and use these when I can.

I’ve never been a bold person. I look around and see and hear the problems and needs of the world. I worry and wish others would do something. Every year at yearly meeting sessions I hear about great work that Friends are doing, with immigrants, with prison reform, and with many other issues. It’s always very humbling. I admire people like Wendy taking action on environmental problems. Oh, I do little things that I hope help the world, but don’t step into bold action myself. So lately I’ve been praying and meditating on how I can be bolder to help this world be a better place.

A couple weeks ago I went to one of the Makeshift Coffeehouses that Craig organizes. I’d hoped to have my husband, or a friend go with me but ended up going alone. This was definitely out of my comfort zone, and I didn’t even feel I could take my doodling supplies with me. I’d have to rely on my interest and care for others to stay focused.

The theme of the coffee house was why we vote the way we do. I WAS really interested to hear what people said. I truly don’t understand why many people believe the way they do and vote the way they do. I truly wanted to know as I have been especially discouraged about this country’s heated and angry political rhetoric and how people are swayed by it- myself included. But I have been shy and hesitant to talk with others about politics if I know they are on the “other” side of the political spectrum. It’s hard for me to remember to look for the Divine in someone whose words are strident, self-righteous, or deliberately divisive.

If you know my social and political beliefs, you know that I lean liberal. Sitting at a table with a number of self-identified very conservative people was enough to keep me focused. After a time, I realized that conversations during a two-hour coffee house were only scratching the surface. It would take much longer and more effort on my part for me to truly understand any of the people at the table.

One woman, when asked why she felt she was conservative, described growing up in a way very similar to mine, then went on to state her views about one issue that were quite different than mine. She also felt she had been snubbed by neighbors because of her conservative views. As the coffee house ended, I had the urge to ask her to meet me for coffee someday to learn more. I got her attention and started talking with her, then another woman came along, and they walked away together. I didn’t try to get her attention again so never made the offer but have regretted it.

This was a powerful reminder that we need focus and boldness to listen and respond to the Divine, just as we need focus and boldness to listen and respond to each other. I need to be better not just at listening for but also at carrying out those nudges from the Divine, like asking the woman to join me for coffee.

I’m grateful to this Meeting and the wider yearly meeting of Friends for inspiring me and reminding me to listen, be bold, and continue to look for the Divine in each person.

I’ll close with a poem by a 14th century Persian poet named Hafiz.

If God invited you to a party and said,

“Everyone in the ballroom tonight will be my special guest,”

how would you then treat them when you arrived?

Indeed, indeed!

And Hafiz knows that there is no one in this world who is not standing upon God’s jeweled dance floor.

(Hafiz’s poem is from Love Poems from God: Twelve Sacred Voices from the East and West, translated by Daniel Ladinsky; Penguin Compass Press, 2002. Dwight Wilson’s psalm used with permission of the author.)

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Janet Douglas, Memorial Minute

Janet Douglas, a long-time member of Durham Friends Meeting and mother of member and former pastor Jim Douglas, passed away on September 10, 2018. A memorial service was held in the Meetinghouse to celebrate her life on November 10 with her family and members of the Meeting present. Janet was well loved and appreciated for what she taught those who knew her through her life work.

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December 2018 Family Events at Durham Meeting

By Wendy Schlotterbeck, Youth Minister

We will have our Annual Wreath Making Party on Sunday, December 2 after a potluck following worship. Materials will be provided, but live greens of any kind are welcomed!

On Saturday, December 15 we will gather for a Christmas Worship and Turkey Dinner. We have found that often the preparation is as rich as the actual event. So, come at 4:00 to help prepare the meal and set up. Worship, a sharing of poems, songs or personal stories, will be at 5:30 with dinner to follow.

As part of Durham Meeting’s efforts at outreach, we encourage all Durham Friends to invite neighbors and friends to our special family events as well as our regular weekly Meetings.

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Durham Monthly Meeting Minutes, November 16, 2018

Durham Monthly Meeting of Friends convened in worship for the conduct of business on Sunday, November 18, 2018 with 15 people present. Clerk, Susan Rice, opened the meeting by reading from the Pendle Hill Pamphlet #453 by Elizabeth Meyer: A Practical Mysticism.

  1. The minutes of October 21st were approved.
  2. Newsletter Committee: Liana Thompson Knight reported that the deadline for news for the Newsletter has changed to 5:00 pm on the Wednesday after Monthly Meeting. Committee reports are to be sent to Jo-an as well as to the Recording Clerk. Persons submitting information about upcoming events should write up a blurb for the Newsletter. The Newsletter Committee is open to run articles written by Friends on topics with which they are engaged.

Due to difficulty with the meeting copier, the Newsletter will be copied at Staples. They will need an adjusted line item in the budget for this purpose.

Currently the phone tree is for those who do not have email. They ask persons who have information for a Durham Friends Note call David Dexter who initiates the phone tree. David will have a summer landline number that should be used in the summer months. Those who do have email but would like to receive a call will be invited to opt-in to the phone tree, and thus might call others as a part of the phone tree.

  1. Ministry and counsel: Martha Hinshaw Sheldon reported that they are reviewing, overseeing, and praying for pastoral care issues and worship experiences in the meeting.

A concern was raised about disruptions in worship occurring when the doors are opened multiple times throughout worship. M&C encourages folks entering during worship be mindful of how often they open and close doors for various reasons.

Jo-an Jacobus has offered to facilitate a Christmas Eve worship service at the meetinghouse in the same manner as last year. We greatly appreciate this opportunity.

In January, M & C plans to outline themes to be used by those responsible for Care of Worship and bring messages which will be from New England Yearly Meeting Faith and Practice and from the yearly meeting annual focus. This year the theme – “In Fear and Trembling, Be Bold in God’s Service” – asked us to be bold in a broken world.

A small group of Friends (Edwin Hinshaw, Nancy Marstaller, and Nat Shed) volunteered to meet with Ralph and Twila Greene, and listen to their concerns. They explored options and possibilities, and discussed workable solutions for the Greene’s housing needs. Durham Friends may contact Ed and Nancy for further information.

Appreciation was expressed for Ministry and Counsel’s on-going concern for the meeting.

  1. We approved the following minute: Janet Douglas, a long-time member of Durham Friends Meeting and mother of member and former pastor, James Douglas, passed away on September 10, 2018. A memorial service was held in the meetinghouse to celebrate her life on November 10th with her family and members of the meeting present. Janet was well loved and appreciated for what she taught those who knew her through her life work.
  2. Finance Committee: Sarah Sprogell presented a preliminary 2019 budget for the meeting. Some committees have requested an increase in their line item. The final budget will be brought to the December monthly meeting for approval. We expressed gratitude for their careful work.
  3. Christian Education Committee and Youth Minister: Wendy Schlotterbeck reported that the Halloween Party was held October 26th at the Meetinghouse. The children enjoyed an outside “in the dark” scavenger hunt with prizes, a piñata, bobbing for apples and donuts on a string with a lovely spread of food. It was attended by 26 people, including 9 children. At Game Night, November 3rd, they enjoyed a hefty potluck and several hours of games, conversation and laughter.

They will have the annual Wreath Making Party on Sunday, December 2nd after a potluck meal following worship. Materials will be provided, but live greens of any kind are welcome!

The Christmas Program will be on Saturday, December 15, gathering for worship and a turkey dinner. Come at 4:00 to help prepare the meal and set up. Worship, sharing of poems, songs or personal stories will be at 5:30 with dinner to follow.

“We encourage all Durham Friends to invite neighbors and friends to our special family events at well as our regular weekly meetings.”

The committee welcomes Ashley Marstaller as our new Child Care Provider. She started November 11th and will continue to provide loving care every Sunday from 10:15am – 12:15pm. It was suggested that she remain on duty for another hour or so to facilitate the attendance of parents to monthly meeting on monthly meeting Sunday, if she is able to extend her time.

We expressed appreciation for the ongoing work of this committee and the Youth Minister.

  1. We approved the proposal that the Child Care Provider, Ashley Marstaller, extend her time on monthly meeting Sunday until 1:30 pm if possible.
  2. Peace and Social Concerns Committee: Ingrid Chalufour reported that there were 10 persons who attended the showing of the film, It’s Criminal on November 16th. A meaningful discussion was led by Paul Miller.
  3. Trustees: Margaret Wentworth reported that Kim Bolshaw, a regular attender who lives near the meetinghouse, has been hired as Custodian. We are thankful that Kim is willing to do this work.
  4. Ad Hoc Working group: Joyce Gibson reported for this “committee.” Their final report was presented concerning strengthening Durham Friends Meeting regarding pastoral care, coordination, and outreach. They noted that we are a meeting in transition and reminded us that Ministry and Counsel is responsible for pastoral care, and coordination is under the care of the Clerks Committee. They recommend that the Newsletter Committee become a Communication Committee. They noted that outreach is everyone’s responsibility. An alternative approach would be to establish an Outreach Committee, and/or a part time position devoted to outreach.

They recommend revision of the Meeting Handbook to be fresh and accurate reflecting changes in the meeting. Included in their report is a summary of Ministry and Counsel’s approach to pastoral care. Their full report is attached to these minutes.

It was recommended that the Clerks’ Committee become a standing committee and take on continued discussion of these concerns. They believe the Ad Hoc “committee” has done the job that the meeting assigned to it and therefore requested that the Ad Hoc Working Group should be laid down.

  1. We approved the Newsletter Committee be renamed the Communication Committee and that it include the website and other similar activities.
  2. We approved that the Clerks’ Committee be a standing committee to meet regularly at least every other month.
  3. We approved revising and updating the Durham Monthly Meeting of Friends Handbook.
  4. We approved laying down the Ad Hoc Working Group and expressed much appreciation for their work.

We closed with a period of silence.

Dorothy Hinshaw, Recording Clerk

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Christmas Program, Saturday, December 15, 2018

The Christmas Program will be on Saturday, December 15, gathering for worship and a turkey dinner.

Come at 4:00 to help prepare the meal and set up.

Worship, sharing of poems, songs or personal stories will be at 5:30 with dinner to follow.

 

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Strengthening Durham Friends Meeting – November 2018

November 16, 2018

The final report of the Paid Position Working Group will be presented to Monthly Meeting this Sunday, November 18.  The members of the Working Group, which has focused on the larger question of Strengthening Durham Friends Meeting, are Doug Bennett, Joyce Gibson, Theresa Oleksiw, Sukie Rice, and Wendy Schlotterbeck.

A compilation of the Working Group’s earlier progress reports to the Meeting can be found here.

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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.

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Stamp Collecting for Friends’ Work

By Nancy Marstaller

My mom (Clarabel) and I are still collecting commemorative stamps. A group of Friends collects them and prepares them for sale to collectors. Money raised goes to various Friends organizations.

There is a box on the library table for your stamps. Please cut them off the envelope with about ¼ inch around the edges (unless it is a special postmark) and don’t try to soak them off the envelope.

We’ll send off what we’ve collected after the first Sunday in December: 12/2. But don’t stop saving them! We’ll keep sending off what we have a few times during the year.

Thanks for your help!

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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.

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“Acceptance,” By Craig Freshley, October 21, 2018

A message given at Durham Friends Meeting on October 21, 2018 by Craig Freshley.

About this message, Craig Freshley says “This message is mostly a story – Acceptance was the answer – from the book, Alcoholics Anonymous.”

Craig records all the messages he gives and posts them on a website, Craig’s Quaker Messages.  You can listen to this one here.

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Kakamega Orphans Care Centre Pot Luck Dinner, November 5, 2018, 6:00p.m.

You are invited to a pot-luck dinner to join Pastor Ida, Administrator of the Kakamega Orphans Care Centre on Monday, November 5 at 6:00 p.m. at the meetinghouse.

After the meal, Ida will bring us up to date with changes happening with the Care Centre programs.  He will share personal reflections on his own work as it, and his thinking and understanding has evolved.  This will be more of a conversation with old friends, rather than a slide presentation.

Bring a favorite dish to share.  Questions: Sukie Rice, 318-8531.

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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.

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Celebration of the Life of Janet Douglas, November 10, 2018

Member Janet Douglas, the mother of Jim Douglas, a member and former pastor here at Durham, passed away on September 10. Her life will be celebrated in a memorial service at the Meetinghouse of Durham Friends on Saturday, November 10 at 11:00 a.m. All are welcome to join the Douglas family.

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Fall 2018 Social Justice Films at Durham Friends Meeting

By Cindy Wood

Social justice film and discussion series:

November 16  It’s Criminal, film with discussion led by Paul Miller.  Light refreshments.  Durham Meetinghouse 7 pm.

December 7  I Am Not Your Negro, — discussion to follow. Light refreshments.  Durham Meetinghouse 7 pm.

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Adult Sunday School News, November 2018

By Martha Hinshaw Sheldon, Adult Sunday School Coordinator

The adult Sunday School class is looking at the following books to read and discuss for the months of November and December.  If one is of particular interest to you and you would like to attend the class, please let me know.

  1. Waking Up White by Debby Irving
  2. The Muslim Next Door: The Qur’an, the Media, and that Veil Thing by Sumbul Ali-Karamali. A well written and easy to read description of Islam.
  3. Lies My Teacher Told Me: Everything Your American History Textbook Got Wrong by James W Loewen

Feel free to attend Sunday mornings at 9:30 or seek out these books for your own library.

 

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2018 Epistle of New England Yearly Meeting

Sep 21, 2018

We are troubled on every side, yet not distressed; we are perplexed, but not in despair;

Persecuted, but not forsaken; cast down, but not destroyed;

For our light affliction, which is but for a moment, worketh for us a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory;

—II Corinthians 4:8-9, 17

To Friends Everywhere,

Greetings from the 358th New England Yearly Meeting Sessions. We sit on lands once cared for by Abenaki ancestors and appropriated by European settlers centuries ago. Today this is the home of Castleton University and dedicated to our use for five days.

Green mountains surround us. The many trees on campus drink in the intermittent heavy rainfalls. It is hot and humid. And we have struggled with this evidence of climate change: The unusual has become usual.

We are 620 Friends, including 109 children and youth and 56 young adults. We are queer and straight, physically challenged and able-bodied, trans- and cis-gender, are descended from the peoples of most continents of our globe, and are of various income levels. Each of us, in our own way, strives for blessed communion of family, old friends, and newly encountered friends.

We are renewed in our connectedness to the wider Quaker world, through visitors and epistles and our own travels. We affirm our commitment to the life of the Religious Society beyond our Yearly Meeting, and we grieve that the US government prevented our Cuban Friends from joining us this week.

Our Session theme is: “In Fear and Trembling, Be Bold in God’s Service.”

We are struggling with our own contribution to the white supremacy that has formed a blood-drenched thread in the fabric of this country, since the beginnings of its colonization by Europeans: contributions to systemic racism by us as individuals and by us as the body, assumptions, priorities, and practices of New England Yearly Meeting.

The unusual becomes usual as we bring our margins—particularly those people of color among us and those economically challenged—to the center of our attention.

And we are afraid for our future: the future of the earth that our domination is making uninhabitable and the future of our society, whose government manipulates us into fear by its lies and dysfunction. In dynamic tension with our affliction is our love and commitment to each other. We hope and pray that this difficult process of repair and renewal becomes an opportunity for transformation, swelling into the flood tide of Grace.

Our day begins early. Two Friends head across the lawn to early morning worship—a decades-long tradition for this pair. A member of sessions committee carries material for a photo frame. Memories of this time together. Golf carts emerge to carry some to early breakfast. A fleet of kids on scooters sails by. Life ordinary and Life extra-ordinary at Sessions.

Friends testify to the nature of God and our world, to help us in these challenging times. Sometimes, our God is a subtle God, who nudges us from the margins in a quiet voice. We have been learning to listen at those margins. And we are reminded that the enemy is no person, no matter their position, but within each of us. The norms and values of our culture (the system) hold us all in thrall.

Our business sessions have been challenging and have served as a microcosm of the work we are called to do as a faithful people. We have heard from our Development Committee and the ad-hoc Challenging White Supremacy Working Group. Their reports have begun to reveal the extent to which the orientation of our yearly meeting manifests the culture of white-centeredness and middle-class values in which we sit.  Both Friends of color and white Friends have named these examples from their own experiences. We are struggling to honor and begin to assuage the real pain felt in the moment by Friends of color, as well as the fear of loss of privilege felt by white Friends. We see that we are teachable. We are not where we were three years ago. Nevertheless, we must accept and acknowledge that real healing is long-term work.

Healing is spiritual work. Even if salvation comes as sudden epiphany, the cross must be taken up daily. We must turn our whole selves over to God, letting every nook and cranny of our culture and expectations be illuminated.

We have been reminded over and over again this week that the heart of our faith is paradox—that while we struggle we will not be paralyzed. Growing our faithfulness inwardly and being faithful to our outward work in the world are equal imperatives.

In social action, particularly about immigration and climate change, we are gaining coherence and momentum, working together as a body across our region. Friends with strong calls, in these and other concerns, are providing leadership to our Yearly Meeting to manifest the Kingdom of God, in new working groups and in revitalized committees. For these gifts and this boldness we rejoice.

The fire of the week has brought us closer together in love. Our deepening unity is based on ever more shared knowing of one another, and we find such sweetness together in our struggles to be faithful. We are tearing apart and rebuilding a ship at sea. The new ship may not look like the one we came here in, but it will be built with the strong timbers of our tradition.

Conversation and reports during our attention to business show the ties that bind our home meetings. Our memorial meeting bathed us in joy and love for those still on earth, as well as those who are present only in the hearts of those left behind. Ministry arose that halted time and made place irrelevant. We were gathered in the Eternal Now.

We have heard prophetic ministry about the meaning of money in our religious society. We know that money is not the measure of our faithfulness. Rather, we are called to turn our whole lives over to God.

How much do we hold each other accountable? How much are we able to show our full vulnerable lives to one another and place ourselves in the hands of our Meetings, as we struggle to be faithful to God? For example, are we ready to know, hold and support those who are food insecure in our meetings?

Our work challenging white supremacy in our culture and ourselves is difficult, at times jarring and messy. Friends have prophesied boldly. Early Friends were intimately aware of the discomfort of God working in us. A print of Margaret Fell’s words appeared on our podium Tuesday: “Friends, let the eternal light search you, and try you, it will rip you up, lay you open. Provoke one another to Love.”

We are feeling our way towards repentance, imperfectly and, at times, haltingly, but moving nonetheless. We feel God’s mystery working among us, and we know the fear and trembling.

We go forth with a charge to share the good news we have found. In this turbulent week we have known experientially the rock—the inward teacher, the inward Christ, the little bird—upon which we can rely. As we labor against the powers and principalities to manifest God’s kingdom, we turn our lives over to the still, small voice, finding that we, as a community, have everything we need, that we have been given the time we need in which to do our work, and that God can guide us every step of the way. All we have to do is follow.

We receive ministry. We are humbled. We wait in awe, yearning that “all may be lifted up to thrive and flourish in the shared, Life-giving fellowship of the Spirit.” [1]

Yours in God’s Everlasting Grace,

New England Yearly Meeting of Friends
Frederick Weiss, presiding clerk

[1] The quoted phrase is in Susan Davies, ”Challenging White Supremacy Working Group.” Advance Documents – 2018 New England Yearly Meeting. p.34

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Sending Love to Ralph and Twila Greene

By Martha Sheldon

Ralph Greene has played a pivotal role of guidance, grounding, and encouragement for many, many Friends in New England and beyond! Now, it is our turn to help Love circle back around to Ralph and Twila, his wife! Last winter, while Ralph was in the hospital, winter did things to their house that Maine winters do—pipes froze, damage resulted. Costly repairs won’t be made in time for this winter.

Ralph served as pastor at Durham Monthly Meeting for many years. He also served Friends at Dartmouth at Smith Neck in Massachusetts among other Meetings throughout New England. Wherever he served, he exemplified the invitation into New Life through faith that he extended to others.

Let’s help Ralph and Twila find alternative safe and warm housing for this winter.  Friends are invited to make contributions on their behalf to Durham Monthly Meeting with “The Greene Family” on the memo line.  Checks may be mailed to:

Durham Monthly Meeting, 532 Quaker Meetinghouse Road, Durham, ME  04222.

For more information contact Sarah Sprogell or Martha Hinshaw Sheldon.

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Woman’s Society Report, October 15, 2018 Meeting

By Angie Reed

On the date above, 9 women gathered at the Meetinghouse for our first meeting of this year. The program was presented by Kitsie Hildebrandt from this year’s Blueprint Program book. The programs this year center around the theme “Great is Thy Faithfulness”. This month’s program was written by Leuola Beck and was titled “An Unwanted Journey: Our Walk Through Dementia”. In the program, Leuola speaks about her role as caregiver for her husband who had been diagnosed with Vascular Dementia. We all shared our feelings and experiences caring for loved ones in their later years. What a wonderful group this is…

In business, the card ministry was completed. Prayers were requested for the Amari Play center. The Treasurer report was reviewed and accepted. We reviewed the eat out we had in September. There were 15 people in attendance at Thai’s Cuisine restaurant in Topsham. People enjoyed moving the eat out from August to September and felt that it was an easier time to attend. The new time for Woman’s Society meeting was also discussed; people seem to like the earlier time of 6 pm for the meetings. Tedford meals were discussed. The September meal fell on Labor Day and the team decided to host a barbecue at the shelter. It was very well received. The team lists need to be modified. Angie has been working on this but will give the list to Kitsie to work on the final changes. We ended the meeting with a reading by Dorothy Curtis, wonderful food and hugs all around.

Our next meeting will be on Monday, November 19 at 6pm at Dorothy Curtis’s home. All are welcome to attend.

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Durham Monthly Meeting Minutes, October 21, 2018

Durham Monthly Meeting of Friends convened in worship for the conduct of business on Sunday, October 21, 2018 with 10 people present. Clerk Susan (Sukie) Rice opened the meeting with spoken prayer, expressing gratitude.

  1. The September minutes were approved.
  2. Ministry and Counsel: Martha Sheldon reported that Ministry and Counsel continues to be available for support, encouragement and pastoral care of meeting members and attenders. One new concern is that of Ralph and Twila Greene who have serious housing and financial difficulties. Persons from New England Yearly Meeting have written a letter which is being sent to many meetings to ask for financial and prayer support for Ralph and Twila and to enable them to find alternative safe and warm housing for this winter. The letter is attached. Sarah Sprogell reported that funds have been requested from the Obadiah Brown Benevolent Fund to help with this need. The sense of the meeting was that funds would be used to repair their house and find temporary housing for this winter.
  3. We approved a donation from the Charity Fund for Ralph and Twila Greene, amount to be determined at the November monthly meeting.
  4. Finance Committee: Sarah Sprogell brought the third quarter finance report, attached to these minutes. We budgeted $52,107 for income for 2018 and have already brought in $40,408, which is 78% of the amount budgeted. The amount budgeted for expenses was $51,320 and we have expended $31,937 by the end of September. The Finance Committee agreed that Durham Meeting/ Treasurer can serve as a conduit for monies donated for the Green Fund, including a grant from the Obadiah Brown’s Benevolent Fund. Their report was accepted with gratitude.
  5. We approved the request from Peace and Social Concerns Committee to increase their budget to $200 to support their film series, dates and times announced in this Newsletter.
  6. We approved authorization for the Treasurer to send budgeted contributions to other organizations.
  7. Trustees:
    1. Member Donna Hutchins reported that indeed, she and her husband Dan Ross will be moving to Bridgeton. She will be finishing her work as Custodian for the meeting at the end of October. Volunteers will be needed until a new custodian is hired by the Trustees.
    2. Sukie Rice recommended that we have a “heat and doors” tutorial; there has been heat loss due to open doors, and heat exchanger settings. It was recommended that we purchase new secure front doors. An article will be included in the Newsletter regarding this concern.
  8. The Christian Education Committee and Youth Minister report was given by Wendy Schlotterbeck and Tess Hartford.
    1. “Media at Meeting” – Movies and videos games have shown up at the Meeting House since we have gotten the TV. We had a far-ranging discussion about electronic media and its place and our role in regulating it. When talking with parents about this concern, they support the children and youth keeping electronics off unless they are part of a purposeful plan. We will also find more discreet location for the TV/VCR to keep the temptation for its use at bay.
    2. World Quaker Day- We used the occasion of World Quaker Day on October 7 to celebrate the return of Sunday school for the youth. This is an event sponsored by FWCC to encourage a sense of community for all the Quakers in the world. Following Meeting for Worship, where Katherine Langilier brought both the youth and Meeting messages, we sang This Pretty Planet and enjoyed a potluck lunch.
    3. Children’s Stories are still being offered on first and third Sundays. On second and fourth when children are present we will sing a song.
    4. Child Care: Christine Baglieri is no longer able to care for the children at Meeting.   It was agreed that the presence of a reliable person (whose values and way with children were so in tune with our own!) was well worth the $30 per week (10:15-12:15). The sense of continuity we believe has helped bring back some of the new families who have been visiting.   We need to find a new child care provider. Please contact Wendy at wendy.schlotterbeck@gmail.com if you know someone who may be interested.
    5. Upcoming family events: Halloween Party- Friday Oct 26 from 5:30-8pm at the Meetinghouse. Creative costumes are encouraged.   We will have snacks, bobbing for apples, donuts on a string and pumpkin carving. A fun time for all ages! There will be a Family Game Night- Saturday, November 3 from 5-7:30 for our 3rd game night. It will be a potluck followed by games. We found in the past that no other structure is necessary. All are welcome.
    6. Outreach – We encourage all Durham Friends to invite neighbors and friends to our special family events as well as our regular weekly Meetings. Wendy has been sending e-mail and/or text invitations to people who have shown interest in being part of our community, even sporadically. If you think someone would appreciate being added to the ‘invitation list’, please let Wendy know.”
  9. Peace and Social Concerns: We were reminded of the “Social Justice Film and Discussion Series.” The dates are November 16 = Criminal Justice; December 7 = “I Am Not Your Negro”; January 4 = Seeds of Peace.
  10. Falmouth Quarterly Meeting: We approved representatives to Quarterly Meeting which meets October 27 at Windham Friends Meeting, 9:00 – 1:00: Martha Sheldon, Sarah Sprogell, and Margaret Wentworth. The Quarterly Meeting will enter into discernment on how to move forward.
  11. Nominating Committee: Margaret Wentworth requested that Gene Boyington be added to the Nominating Committee. Another member will be requested to replace Jo-an Jacobus when she is finished in December. Please let the committee or the meeting clerk know if interested and are able to serve.
  12. We approved the appointment of Gene Boyington to serve on the Nominating Committee. He will finish this year as a member and begin a three-year term in January.
  13. New England Yearly Meeting Annual 2018 Sessions report, Castleton University in Vermont.   Sarah Sprogell gave a personal report of Sessions which is attached.

The 2018 Epistle of New England Yearly Meeting of Friends is included in this newsletter as well as “Talking Points from Sessions”. Both of these documents will be attached to these minutes. Ministry and Counsel is encouraged to schedule speakers who will share these documents in meeting for worship.

  1. Ad Hoc Committee: Doug Bennett sent a report from the Ad Hoc Committee.

For nearly a year, Durham Friends Meeting has had an Ad Hoc Committee working on developing ideas for strengthening the Meeting. After input and discussion from many Meeting members, we came to focus on three areas where we might try to strengthen ourselves: pastoral care, outreach and coordination. In May, after the Ad Hoc Committee reported, Business Meeting asked that various Meeting committees discuss their current efforts and effectiveness and let the Ad Hoc Committee know how they are doing. More specifically, Ministry and Counsel was asked to consider pastoral care, Christian Education, Peace and Social Concerns, and the Newsletter Committee were asked to consider outreach, and the Clerks Group was asked to consider coordination. These committees of the Meeting were asked to give feedback to the Ad Hoc Committee by September 17, in time for a Meeting-wide discussion on September 30. We POSTPONED the September 30 discussion because we have not yet heard from all the committees to which requests were directed. So, we are renewing the request. A Meeting-wide discussion of what we learn will be scheduled on October 28. Questions? Contact Doug Bennett (dougb@earlham.edu or 207-721-9575).

The Meeting closed with a moment of silence.

                        Dorothy Hinshaw, Recording Clerk

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Meeting Wide Discussion, October 28, Noon to 1:30 pm

After Meeting on Sunday, October 28, 2018, we will have a Meeting-Wide Discussion on Strengthening Durham Friends Meeting.

For nearly a year, Durham Friends Meeting has had an Ad Hoc Committee working on developing ideas for strengthening the Meeting.

After input and discussion from many Meeting members, we came to focus on three areas where we might try to strengthen ourselves: pastoral care, outreach and coordination.

In May, after the Ad Hoc Committee reported, Business Meeting asked that various Meeting committees discuss their current efforts and effectiveness and let the Ad Hoc Committee know how they are doing. More specifically, Ministry and Counsel was asked to consider pastoral care, Christian Education, Peace and Social Concerns, and the Newsletter Committee were asked to consider outreach, and the Clerks Group was asked to consider coordination.

On October 28 the Ad Hoc Committee will report what we have learned and invite Meeting members to consider how we want to proceed.

Questions? Contact Doug Bennett (dougb@earlham.edu or 207-721-9575).

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Family Game Night, Friday November 3, 5:00 to 7:30

There will be be a Family Game Night, Saturday, November 3 from 5-7:30 at Durham Friends Meeting.  It will be a potluck followed by games.  All are welcome.

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Halloween Party, October 26, 5:30 to 8:00 pm

There will be a Halloween Party, Friday October 26 from 5:30-8pm at the Durham Friends Meetinghouse. Creative costumes are encouraged. We will have snacks, bobbing for apples, donuts on a string and pumpkin carving. A fun time for all ages!

 

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“Our True Colors,” by Doug Bennett

Message given at Durham Friends Meeting, October 14, 2018

Driving to Meeting this morning through the reds and yellows brought on a different message than I had anticipated. “True Colors” was the phrase that rose and settled in my mind. I shelved the message I had prepared. Looking at the vibrant spectrum of colors of the fall leaves, I found myself wondering whether these are the leaves true colors? Or are the greens the true colors and these reds and yellows something odd and unusual?

We’re awash these days in occasions to wonder about a person’s true colors, especially in civic and political life. As we take in the news of elections and confrontations and scandals, we’re often left wondering what we make of this person or that one. Are they telling the truth? Are they trustworthy? What are their true colors? Do we see someone at their truest when they are relaxed or when they are under stress? Do we see their true colors in prepared remarks or when they are confronted in a Capitol Hill elevator?

In gathering to worship this morning we sang, at someone’s suggestion, “Still, Still With Me,” as one of our opening hymns. As we sang together, I noticed that the beautiful melody is by Felix Mendelssohn. He called it “Song Without Words.” And so I imagine he thought the piece’s true colors were as a melody without words. And then someone came along – that someone turned out to be Harriet Beecher Stowe – and wrote the words we sang this morning. So is this the song’s true colors?

Here in Maine we live in a place with four full seasons. We go through a long winter with the deciduous trees limbs empty of leaves. As the trees begin to leaf out in the spring, Ellen and I often quote to one another the Robert Frost poem that begins, “Nature’s first green is gold, Her hardest hue to hold. Her early leaf’s a flower; But only so an hour. Then leaf subsides to leaf. So Eden sank to grief, So dawn goes down to day. Nothing gold can stay.”  In summer, the leaves turn a deep, lush green. And now in fall we have this glorious riot of colors. Which is the true color?

In my teens I came to have a deeper interest in the fall leaf turn. A good deal of my social life in high school involved working on science projects and competing in science fairs. I had a very good project in 9th grade, but I was beaten by Susie Burrell who did a project on Why Leaves Change Color. I was stunned; probably pouted a good deal. Susie was a good student and a friend, but not, I thought, the sort of person who should best me in a science fair. It especially rankled because we had the same advisor for ours projects – my Dad. How could my Dad help Susie win? I’m sure I wasn’t at my best when I lost. But the episode left me with a special interest in leaves turning color. Every fall I still think of Susie Burrell.

What’s happening as the leaves turn their colors in the fall? If we think about it, we know that the leaves are about to fall to the ground. Are the true colors only revealed when the leaves are stressed, about to die? Are the colors just a distraction, or are they a last burst of glory?

At first I learned that as the fall comes, the chlorophyll and other chemicals that make the leaves green disappears. As the green color fades, the underlying reds and oranges appear. Just this summer, Ellen and I learned something else: that it isn’t just that the chlorophyll dies off or disappears. It is that the tree withdraws the chlorophyll, to store it in readiness for the winter and to save it for the next spring and summer. If that’s what’s happening, what are the leaves true colors, the colors when the leaves are productive, or the colors when they are facing death? How about human beings?

With trees, it’s a relentless cycle, one strictly controlled by soil, light and temperature. The trees and the leaves have no choices to make. The colors simply turn from gold to green and from green to rust and red.

It is different with human beings isn’t it? We believe we have some control over our colors. We have the ability to choose when and how we show anger or frustration, joy or grief. Which are our best colors and which our truest colors?

Do we show our truest colors when we blurt something out or when we have a chance to prepare? Do we show our truest colors when our health is at its peak or when we are nearing death? Do we show our truest colors when we are challenged to do something brave or when we can calculate what’s best to our advantage? Do we show our truest colors in positions of authority or when we feel powerless?

How about our truest colors in Meeting for Worship? Do we shape our true colors in worship? If not, when is it we choose, and how? Does what we find in worship carry into our work and into our relationships with family and friends?

[also posted on River View Friend]

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Love Your Meetinghouse Day Coming October 19 & 20

Trustees have scheduled a “Love Your Meetinghouse Day” for Friday night and Saturday, October 19 and 20, 2018.

The chore list includes window washing, cleaning pews and cushions, prep and painting of parsonage porch, and priming and painting the replacement windows in meetinghouse basement. All are welcome to participate.

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“Dawnland,” October 4 at Curtis Memorial Library

By Linda Muller

Peace and Social Concerns Committee wants all of Meeting to know that “Dawnland” a new film from an excellent group – Maine Wabanaki-REACH – will be shown at Curtis Memorial Library in Brunswick on Thursday, October 4 in the Merrill Meeting Room from 6 to 8 p.m. for free though donations will be accepted.

The film was years in the making and shares the findings and recommendations of the Maine Wabanaki Truth and Reconciliation Commission, which was set up by Maine’s Legislature and funded for 2 years. The archives of this are stored at Bowdoin Library. Most of the findings focus on kidnapping and abusive treatment of native Maine children and the long-term consequences of that treatment.

The film also teaches history – 1300 to the current day – with “view from boat” and “view from the shore” perspectives. This proves to be very powerful and educational, refreshing change from the often misleading “history written by the winners” often taught in schools.

P&SC Committee highly recommends that all of us in Meeting take advantage of this free showing, leave a donation and enjoy the insightful discussion group directly after the film.

 

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