State of Society Report, 2020

It was the year of staying home; the year of staying apart from one another.  It was the year without hugs or refreshments.  It was the year we worshipped in digital boxes.  Zoom was the name of our manner of worship, but we all stayed put. 

It was a year of global disease — a new virus that took the lives of millions of people.  Members of Durham Friends Meeting were spared from this epidemic and only a few of our friends and relatives were directly affected.  Nevertheless, it changed our lives and filled our minds and hearts with news of the devastation it brought. 

Worship.  In March 2020, the rapid spread of the coronavirus pandemic pressed us to suspend worship in the meetinghouse and to enter a new realm of virtual worship.  Without any way of knowing how long this would last, we truly needed to be led as way opened.  The abrupt slowdown in daily life brought new awareness of the beauty of creation in the unfolding of spring. It also brought difficulty and uncertainty to our families, friends, and neighbors and a new meaning to the pastoral care that we give to one another. 

Our worship rituals were tested and stretched.  We adjusted to seeing one another face on, in little boxes, or, in some cases, to only being able to hear another’s voice.  We learned to mute and unmute and to use the chat function.  While the skills of more technologically attuned Friends and examples from other Meetings eased this unwelcome transition, glitches in technology made for moments of frustration and occasional humor. Eventually worship in song reappeared even if we could only sing together without hearing one another. 

A contemplative prayer group meeting on Monday mornings has meant that more of us throughout New England could gather in prayer and fellowship. 

Our new form of worship brought opportunities for physically distant Friends to join us, increasing our numbers gathered at Meeting.  Others we count on seeing have found electronic worship to be difficult or unsatisfying and we have missed them.  We continued to care for our members when we learned of difficulties in their lives, but, separated from one another, we worried whether we were learning about all the circumstances that should have drawn our attention.  

Christian Education.  In this COVID year, we saw much less of our children.  Still, the deep and abiding concern for providing spiritual guidance for the Meeting children continued to be a strong point in the Meeting.  The resilient leadership and skilled guidance of Wendy Schlotterbeck kept momentum with our youth by creating opportunities for gathering in safe ways.  We experimented with online connections, holding weekly story time and a Virtual Game Night, but later settled on in-person, masked gatherings outside – hikes and games and celebrations — to maintain personal connections.  We look forward to the time when we can meet together safely, without restrictions.

Peace and Social Concerns.  Our Peace and Social Concerns Committee sustained a consistent educational effort to bring greater awareness to concerns about racial injustice, mistreatment of indigenous peoples and what we might do to challenge these social ills.  We are grateful for initiatives and materials from Friends Committee for National Legislation and from New England Yearly Meeting. 

Money and Property.  In financialterms, we came through the year in good condition.  Our Trustees made a number of important improvements and repairs to the meetinghouse.  They also established a new plot in Lunt Cemetery for green burials with 30 individual plots designated for such use.

Outreach.  Still feeling our way in being a programmed Meeting without a paid pastor, in August, we added a paid Meeting Care Coordinator to help strengthen the meeting’s outreach and in-reach. Mey Hasbrook has brought energy and initiative to this work.  Her arrival accelerated our work identifying message givers for worship.  She brought new program ideas and strengthened our pastoral care activities. 

Losses and Gains.  Clarabel Marstallar passed away just before the year began.  Midway through the year we lost Sukie Rice.  A generation apart in age, these two had been stalwarts of the Meeting for decades.  We also grieved the losses of longtime members and attenders Phyllis Wetherell, Edie Whitehead, Mildred Alexander and Jane Walters. 

Several newcomers found their way to join us in worship together.  We are grateful for their fresh energies. 

Still in COVID closure, Durham Friends Meeting is steadfast and hopeful.  We are discovering new ways we can be a community of worship, care and witness. 

We end with a poem from one of our members that speaks to our condition. 

I Have Longed to Be Back in the Meeting Room

By Katherine Hildebrandt

I long to be back in the Meeting room with each of you.  I do.

The quality of that space helps me center down, experience God’s spirit.

When I am in that room, I sense, as a Friend said recently, the spirit of those who are no longer with us.

I feel the spiritual presence of others who have sat in waiting worship before me.

When I go out each week to get the mail, I always take a few minutes to go

Into the Meeting room, and it settles me to do that.

In the meantime, we gather in this way.

Each of us in our own space, mostly alone.

But I do not feel alone.

I sense our connectedness, our mutuality.

I experience God’s presence, deeply and profoundly.

It’s curious, isn’t it?

That we, as Quakers, don’t call our place of worship a “Church”.

We don’t adorn our Meetinghouse; we don’t generally center our worship around rituals.

The “Church”, for Quakers, is the gathered people.

After the Meetinghouse burned in 1986, I remember Ralph Green, our minister at the time, say,

“We could meet in a barn!”

Ralph always looked on the bright side.

But it’s true for us, we can worship without the building, and we are.

I have sensed that, since March, our worship has settled into a deep place. I have felt nourished and held.

Our worship seems uncluttered, focused.

On God’s abiding love for us.

And our love and patience for each other.

Sometimes I stop and look at each one of you on the screen, and I send a silent prayer to each one.

Sometimes, I feel Prayed Through.

My hope for our Meeting is that when we can gather again at our beloved Meetinghouse,

That we can strive to maintain this simple, clear, direct connection to the spirit.

Leaving our outward differences at the door,

We can gather, find nourishment, to commune in that deep, eternal place.

In that place where we are one in the spirit.

Approved by Durham Friends Meeting, April 18, 2021

What to do with the Parsonage? Threshing Session, April 25, 2021, 12:30 pm, Meetinghouse Parking Lot

The Trustees of Durham Friends Meeting will hold a threshing session on April 25, 2021, at the Meetinghouse, outdoors in the parking lot. The topic will be what to do about the parsonage. Should we continue to own it? Or should we sell it?

Possibilities for participation in the threshing session via Zoom are currently being explored. Updates here as available.

Worship Options After COVID, Threshing Session, April 11, 2021 at noon (after Meeting for Worship)

On Sunday, April 11, 2021 at noon, Ministry and Counsel will hold a threshing session on worship options post-COVID that were presented at Monthly Meeting for Business in February. We welcome thoughts, questions, and concerns regarding how we should move forward. We plan to devote about an hour to the process. Below are questions we invite you to consider.

We are all agreed that we want to return to the meetinghouse as soon as possible, but we also want to put a priority on the health and safety of all who participate. During this past year, we have been joined by many people at a geographical distance who have been able to participate via Zoom. At the same time, some regular participants in Meeting have been absent because they do not feel comfortable with Zoom meetings. 

1.  In balancing between return to the meetinghouse and safety, should we lean more toward returning as soon as we can, or more toward ensuring safety?

2.  As we return to the meetinghouse, do we want to use some hybrid solution in which some are present at worship in the meetinghouse and others are present via Zoom? 

3.  Which should we be aiming at: (a) or (b)?

(a)  An eventual return to having worship in the way we have had it in years past, that is, worship in the meetinghouse without use of Zoom.

(b) A new form of worship (a hybrid solution) in which we have both (a) people present in the meetinghouse and (b) people present via Zoom. 

4.  If we opt for a hybrid solution, should we think of this mostly as a transitional or short-term solution, or should we be planning on using a hybrid solution long into the future as our normal way of doing meeting for worship? 

Some options presented at Monthly Meeting in February are outlined below, as well as a few words about a device that is currently being used in some other Meetings in New England. You may want to refer to these in the threshing session. 

True Hybrid – Option 1: Commit to long-term hybrid worship. Work out a tech solution: big screen, cameras (costs $$). Seating arrangements in meetinghouse. Staffing arrangements for tech on a regular basis. Move toward a situation that has Zoom primary AND some people in the meetinghouse. Then move toward meetinghouse primary AND with Zoom a nearly-as-good option

Temporary Hybrid – Option 2: For the next several months, Zoom remains primary, with option to come to the meetinghouse. Each person in the meetinghouse brings their own electronic device (a smart phone or a tablet). Later: drop the Zoom option.

Hybrid with Secondary Zoom – Option 3:. Like Option 1 but without a good Zoom option. Do a good-enough Zoom set-up but much less effort. Some weeks perhaps not available. Perhaps eventually drop the Zoom option. 

The Meeting OWL is a thousand-dollar device that has 360 degree visual and full audio capability that some New England meetings are using. About the size of a table lamp, it can swivel around (like an owl) to pick up the speaker. The device may project better going out from the meeting than for bringing speakers in. It is used via Zoom. Use of this device could be integrated into Option 3.

“The World We Build,” by Leslie Manning

Message given at Durham Friends Meeting, March 28, 2021

Mind the light of God in your consciences which will show you all deceit; dwelling in it, guides out of the many things into one spirit, which cannot lie, nor deceive. Those who are guided by it, are one. ~ George Fox, 1624-1691

Early Friends refer to the Inward Light, which, we are warned, will rip us open.  And, my conscience is troubled.

As we observe the beginning of Passover, the festival of liberation, and the observance of Holy Week, which celebrates liberation in a totally different Way, let us remain open to that searching Light.  It blazes into the empty tomb no and emanates from it. It serves as a beacon in the wandering of the desert that is our culture, our economy, our politics.

It is a pillar of fire and a still, small voice.

As I prepare for the completion of my time with the Chaplaincy Institute of Maine and to graduate in June, I have made the decision to be ordained by that wisdom school in the Interfaith tradition.  ChIme’s mission is to educate and ordain interfaith leaders who serve with integrity, spiritual presence, and prophetic voice. 

And, I cannot do any of this without you.  We friends believe that the Spirit delivers a variety of gifts, but not equally. These gifts are given to an individual for the benefit and the greater good of the community.  In our tradition, we name, claim, nurture and care for the gifts given to us all and hold those so gifted accountable for those gifts.  So you, my community, have done for me.

You heard me when I came to you and asked, as a condition of my membership

 to become an open, inclusive and affirming community.  

You offered me leadership and teaching roles here 

and encouraged me to step out into our wider Society.  

You held me as I served with the Maine Council of Churches,

 and provided me with a travel minute when I was led to visit other FUM affiliated meetings   nationally and many here in New England ==with a concern for unity among all Friends.  

You embraced me when I served as an openly lesbian member of the General Board of Friends United Meeting as a representative for New England, even as that association continues to discriminate against me.

You provided me with clearness committees and prayerful support, 

you challenged me to remain faithful and held me while I mourned for members of my family, our state and this world.  And you will, I have no doubt, continue to do so.

Because, my ministry cannot be untethered. It must have root in our faith community and be subject to the wisdom and discernment of our gathered body in order to flourish.  Our Quaker history teaches us, especially today, Palm Sunday, what happens to a ministry gone astray; what happens when a Friend seeks the support of a wider community and is refused.  We are challenged by the James Naylors and Benjamin Lays of this world and it is our responsibility to take them under our care.

Leadings must be tested, within community.

Ministry must be supported with prayer and accountability, within community,

Care must be exercised, so that Truth may prosper.

I have a young friend who speaks of the “many awfuls” of this world, the many awfuls – but believes, as I do, that we are here to help heal them. I have close friends who have been baptized in a Christian tradition which asks them, every year “Will you strive for justice and peace among all people, and respect the dignity of every human being?” And their promise is, “I will, with God’s help.”

And, so it goes.  I commit to showing up and speaking up, here and in the wider world, not with all the answers, but hopefully asking some of the right questions.

And my conscience is troubled.

 I ask this of us:  How do we live together in peace, knowing all the sins and darkness of this world — embracing and celebrating our differences, if we continue to prize our comfort over our convictions? 

 In a time of deep uncertainty and turmoil, of climate catastrophe, increased militarization and commodification of the world’s resources, my hearts asks:

What would our conscience have us do? 

I hold these questions for ourselves and for our wider Religious Society>  

Is capitalism compatible with Christianity?  with Quakerism?

Is our capacity to commit to being an anti-racist faith community in direct proportion to our ability to live with difference?

How can we be living our testimonies if we remain conflict averse and afraid of engaging in the work it takes to love our enemy and pray for those who would do us harm? 

AS I prepare to leave the Chime community and take up my work in the greater world, I will need your love and challenging support more than ever.  For you see, Friends, I am not content with our condition of seeking a world, as articulated by Friends Committee on National Legislation who say:

We seek a world free of war and the threat of war; We seek a society with equity and justice for all;  We seek a community where every person’s potential may be fulfilled; We seek an earth restored.

I am not content with merely seeking that world, I am building it.  And I invite you to join me.

Falmouth Quarterly Meeting, April 24, 9am to noon

Falmouth Quarter is gathering on April 24th from 9:30 to 12:00. We will be celebrating ministry and the life of the Spirit in our meetings throughout the morning in each of the concerns before us.

The ZOOM link is here (the same link that Durham Friends uses for First Day worship). .

We will hear Memorial Minutes sharing the lives and witness of Friends we have known and loved.  If there are minutes I have not yet received, please send them to me

We will hear the State of Society reports, sharing our experience of Spirit in the life of our meetings.  If there is a SoS I haven’t yet received, please send it to me.

We will hear reports and sharing about and from individuals with recognized ministries in Falmouth Quarter.

To help prepare, I am sharing the following from Carl Williams, Plainfield meeting, as one expression of Friends understanding of ministry:

Love Fritz [Fritz Weiss is Co-Clerk of Falmouth Quarter]

Living Close to the Center
Carl Williams, Plainfield (VT) Friends Meeting
My prayer time has felt a bit chaotic recently. Not uncentered, really, but there’s been a sense of swirling and disjointed divergence, seemingly with no common thread. And then during worship on Sunday—wham. I  imagine I share the experience with many Friends—the startling epiphany, that moment of clarity, when understanding is laid suddenly bare and you’re presented with a gift you didn’t even know you wanted. 

For me, this time, there was a renewed understanding, a reminder, of the depth of one of Friends’ pivotal concepts, often encased in the phrase “that of God,” or “the seed of Christ.”  I confess I use these a lot—both out loud and in my head. In their overuse, they’d become hollow and trite. I’d lost my awareness of the essential importance they carry in my day-in-day out life. 

And as I sat in virtual worship, this refreshed understanding brought me around to the practical aspect of carrying the Seed of Christ—our ministry. I know that the idea of ministry among Friends is sometimes a challenge for many of us. I think, in part, because it’s one of those terms that looks the same but whose meaning is different “in the world” than in our Friendly understanding. The world’s definition has proven only a short walk to hierarchy and exclusion, certainly antithetical to the path of Friends. 

My Quaker understanding of ministry comes (in part) from its Latin root, “to serve.” Friends ministry holds primarily an active engagement with that Divine Spark that we each carry. And as we embrace that Spark, a path of service opens. It’s not just doing things we are good at or like to do, but the things—which are sometimes hard and not infrequently inconvenient—that God calls us toward. Yes, vocal and Gospel ministry are part of it, but there are many and varied ministries, from baking to eldership, expressions of being the hands and feet, the eyes and ears and mouth of God.
Ministry is the reverberation of the “that of God” we each carry. It grows and is nurtured in community. We find it by living close to the Center. Genuine ministry involves waiting and listening as well as giving and receiving. Our ministries rise, are recognized, nurtured, and challenged within our worship communities. While it’s the role of the community to identify a Friend’s ministry and encourage it, ministry grows from the Spark, the Seed, the “that of God.” 

It’s easier said than done for me, this living into the Center. How do I step into that place? It requires surrender, it requires stepping into places I might not normally step into. It requires openness to God’s whispering call. In my seeking I join in prayer with Flursey, a 7th-century Irish monk, and his protection prayer (lorica):

May the guiding hands of God be on my shoulders,
may the presence of the Holy Spirit be on my head,
may the sign of Christ be on my forehead,
may the voice of the Holy Spirit be in my ears,
may the smell of the Holy Spirit be in my nose …
may the work of the church of God be in my hands,
may the serving of God and my neighbor be in my feet,
may God make my heart his home …

In the joy of listening to God’s call,

Carl Williams
Plainfield (VT) Friends Meeting

All-Maine Gathering of Friends, May 1, 2021, 8:30 – noon

For additional information about each of the workshops, contact the leaders below.
*Wabanaki  Sovereignty: Kay Carter  <>
*Racial Justice: Hank Washburn < >
Holly Weidner <>
*Earthcare: Carole Beal <>, Wendy Schlotterbeck <>

Draft Schedule:

8:30 am: Gather. Each person puts name, meeting, and email in chat.

9:00 am: Welcome to all recognizing the work Friends through Monthly Meetings, NEYM and individuals have devoted to these issues. What do we hope for today? We hope to listen intently to every idea with respect: honoring imagination, creative thinking,
and remembering that today we will not be able to solve all issues, but we will focus on one step at a time.

9:05 am: Worship.

9:20 am- 10:50 am Break-Out Groups. (1 1/2 hours)

10:50 am – 11 am Everyone takes a short break.

11:00 am: Summary from each group with follow up questions. A group may offer a recommendation to the group for further action. 15 minutes each group.

11:45 am: Worship.

12:00 Noon, adjourn. Those who wish to stay and have informal conversation are invited to do so.

AFSC Corporation Sessions in April

This year, taking advantage of our recent ability to gather Friends from all corners, the American Friends Service Committee Annual Corporation Meeting will be preceded by an exciting series of afternoon/evening seminars on a number of important topics in peace and justice.  The presenters will be a mix of AFSC staff and external partners/colleagues.  AFSC does peace and justice work in your name—come learn about what they are doing.  ALL ARE WELCOME!  

If you are interested in any of these events, you can get further information and register here:

Sunday, April 11, 7-8:30pm:  Quakers, AFSC, and abolition:
Then and now

Monday, April 12, 8-9:30pm: #FreeThemAll: How we are living into
the call to free folks in the context of COVID-19 and beyond

Tuesday, April 13, 8-9:30pm: Pursuing freedom for Palestine: A
campaign for Palestinian children’s rights

Wednesday, April 14, 4pm: Global migrant justice: Manifesting
the joint Quaker migration statement

Wednesday, April 14, 8-9:30pm: Restorative Justice: What does it
look like/feel like in our communities?

Thursday, April 15, 1:30-3pm: Making new worlds: Creating a
society based on care and a solidarity economy—what to divest from/what to
invest in?

Thursday, April 15, 7-9pm: KEYNOTE SPEAKER: Plenary session on Abolition with Nyle Fort

Nyle Fort is a minister, activist, and scholar based in Newark, New Jersey. He has worked in education, criminal justice, and youth development for over a decade in various capacities including: the national director of Communities Against Militarized Police; founder and co-director of the Organizing Praxis Lab at Princeton University; and lead trainer at Momentum, an activist incubator that builds large-scale social movements in the United States and around the world.

Looking Ahead to Easter Sunday, April 4, 2021

Easter Sunday worship- 10:30 am April 4. Theme/ eggs and new life.

For Easter, Kim Bolshaw will grow small containers of wheatgrass for anyone who would like one. Friends can pick up a small pot of wheatgrass on March 28 at the hike or at the Meeting house or free delivery! Contact Wendy Schlotterbeck or Kim Bolshaw if you have questions.

On Easter Sunday morning, attenders are encouraged to have an egg with them during Meeting for Worship- placing one in the wheat grass if desired- or have scrambled eggs for breakfast that day!

And When I Rise

Sung at Durham Friends Meeting, March 14, 2021, by Rebecca MacKenzie

based on a poem by Wendell Berry, from The Mad Farmer Poems (Counterpoint, 2014)

Velasco Friends Meeting (Cuba)

Velasco, Durham and Portland Sister Meeting Committee February 2021 Report 

In the fall of 2020 Portland Friends Meeting and Durham Friends Meeting approved Portland joining in the sister relationship with Velasco Friends Meeting in Cuba and the formation of a joint committee to care for and nurture the relationship. The new committee meets monthly. Nancy Marstaller and Fritz Weiss are co-clerks. 

Durham has noted and appreciated that there is new energy in the relationship with Velasco. Our two meetings in Maine are building a stronger relationship. Committee members are now receiving newsletters from both meetings and recognize that the first experience of intervisitation may well be Durham and Portland visiting each other. 

An invitation to Friends in Portland and Durham is to hold Velasco in Prayer as they gather. Velasco meets

  • on Sunday at 9:00 AM and
  • on Tuesdays at 7:30 pm for a service of prayer and preaching,
  • on Thursdays at 8:00 pm for house worship,
  • on Fridays at 7:30 pm the ladies meet,
  • on Saturdays at 8:30 pm the youth.

They are in the same time zone as we are. We can hold them in prayer at those times.

Communication with Velasco Meeting is via facebook messenger with Yadira Cruz Pena (Pastor) and email with Zoe Lazara (Clerk).  Nancy Marstaller and Wendy Schlotterback from Durham and Hannah Colbert and Sydney McDowell from Portland are able to send messages; if you have messages you might like to send, please share with them. 

Our meetings are open, if you are interested in being involved, please contact one of the co-clerks.

Con amor, Nancy Marstaller, Wendy Schlotterback, Hannah Colbert, Doug Malcom, Ann Dodd-Collins, Sydney MacDowell, Fritz Weiss

Velasco Friends Meeting (Cuba), September 2020

Recent Message Exchanges with Velasco Friends Meeting

20.2.21 to 20.5.26 Velasco .docx
20.7.10 to 20.8.29 Velasco .docx
20.10.4 to 20.12.8 Velasco.docx
20.12.31 to 21.1.13 Velasco.docx
21.1.20 to 21.2.28 Velasco.docx
21.1.24 exchange during V meeting .docx

21.2.28 to 21.3.11 exchange with Velasco

21.3.22 to 21.3.28 exchange with Velasco

Durham Monthly Meeting Minutes, February 21, 2021

            Durham Monthly Meeting of Friends met virtually via Zoom for the conduct of business on Sunday, February 21, 2021 with 16 people present. Clerk Martha Sheldon opened the meeting with a quote from Stories That Heal by Rachel Naomi Remen: “We are all here for a single purpose: to grow in wisdom and to learn to love better.” 

1 .The January minutes were approved as printed in the Newsletter.

2. Ministry and Counsel: Renee Cote reported that Doug Bennett has developed three options for moving into hybrid worship, considering how we might meet again in the meetinghouse with the possibility of continuing to offer a digital option. Much discussion ensued, and the topic was referred back to Ministry and Counsel for further study.  These options are attached, and will be discussed in an up-coming “threshing meeting” to be scheduled by Ministry and Counsel.

            A sub- committee continues to develop the Educational Media Project, consulting with Andy Burt (Midcoast Meeting), and are working on a pilot, to be presented next month.

            Traveling Friend, Jay O’Hara, requests funds to support his work with a Midwest coalition supporting indigenous peoples’ attempt to stop the Line 3 pipeline in Minnesota. Jay has been involved in climate change work and direct action around water protection.  Ministry and Counsel recommends that the meeting donate $1000 toward this ministry.   More information regarding this request will be researched and brought to the March monthly meeting for approval. 

3. Nominating Committee: Kristna Evans reported for the committee. They recommend that Barbara Simon be added to the Communications Committee, and that Robert Eaton become Monthly Meeting Clerk.  A complete report will be presented in March.

4.  We approved these recommendations, extending our appreciation to Martha Sheldon for her years as clerk. 

5. Finance Committee: Sarah Sprogell presented an Accounts Report, and a well prepared FY 2020 Year End Report:

            “The year 2020 was unusual for the meeting, and indeed for the world in general, because of the world-wide corona virus pandemic that developed in the early months of the year.  Beginning in March, we closed the meetinghouse to all group gatherings, and held meeting for worship, business and committees on the digital zoom platform.  We adjusted our budget, in the expectation that many Friends might find themselves in difficult financial circumstances.

            Despite our financial concerns about uncertainty, we ended the year on very solid footing, with a total income of $71,348.46 and total operating expenses of $37,153.61.  This unexpected surplus of $34,194.85 allowed us to transfer $25,000 into our capital account, leaving us with a healthy cushion of $9,194.85.

Our income for the year was about $8000 more than expected for several reasons.

  • Our members and attenders gave generously this year, increasing our weekly and monthly contributions by about $4000.
  • The quarterly distributions from our NEYM investment funds were about $2000 higher than expected.
  • The sale of a small, unusable piece of property on Rt. 1 in Brunswick brought in $2000.

Our expenses were significantly lower than expected primarily because of our absence from the meetinghouse due to the year-long pandemic restrictions.  Thus, our operating expenses were about $20,000 less than expected for a number of reasons.

  • Committees spent very little of their budgets.
  • Our Youth Minister and Custodian offered to reduce their income based on their reduced work schedules.
  • Although we hired a Meeting Care Coordinator, the start date was late-summer, resulting in a reduced salary for the year.
  • Our fuel oil and regular building maintenance expenses were quite low because we didn’t use the building as usual. 
  • The parsonage had very few maintenance expenses this year.

            Significant events of the year included the approval to hire Mey Hasbrook as our Meeting Care Coordinator in August, and she began work in September.  We were very pleased that this long-desired goal was met in a year filled with the unexpected challenges of a pandemic.  Mey has already been a blessing in so many ways.

            Other notable financial actions included significant work being done on the meetinghouse, and the installation of a new water heater at the parsonage.  These expenses were paid from our capital account.  Together, these tasks came to about $37,000.  After approving the transfer of $25,000 from our operating surplus, we ended the year with about $20,000 remaining in our capital account.  The meetinghouse improvements, organized and carried out by Trustees include:

  • The repair and painting of the walls in the meeting room. 
  • The painting of the kitchen, the back hallway and several outside areas.
  • The removal of the old carpet in both hallways, the refinishing of the front entry floor and replacement of the back hall floor.
  • The installation of a new water treatment system and the re-plumbing of both kitchen sinks.
  • The repointing of the south-facing brick wall of the building and repairing exterior windows when needed. The complete repointing of the meetinghouse exterior will be a multi-year project.

            Our Charity account remains healthy with a balance of $13,445.86.  We were pleased to give $3600 to causes approved by the meeting in 2020.”

            A chart listing all of our accounts can be forwarded upon request.  Please contact Sarah Sprogell at if you would like a copy.

6. Trustees:   Katharine Hildebrandt reported for the Trustees.  They have received a number of estimates for the replacements of the two oil furnaces at the meetinghouse.  They are considering options, including an additional heat pump, or maybe two.  They are hoping to have a proposal next month and plan to include the Greening of the Meetinghouse Committee in their discussion, but in the meantime, the furnaces are functioning and the building seems to be adequately heated.

            They have a report from the Modern Pest technician regarding the Parsonage.  The mouse infestation is significant and being treated.  The technician is concerned about numerous holes and rot in the foundation. The prospects of addressing the extent of the repairs needed is daunting.  Although the rental income of last year was $13,200, the expenses were approximately $8590.00, and this included the very few repair expenses.  This left a net result of approximately $4600.00.  We are very fortunate to have young tenants who do not complain very much and seem very happy living there.            

          We discussed the possibility of selling the parsonage.  There is a significant amount of expense in maintaining the property.  Concerns expressed were: being landlords is not part of our mission, a lot of work and effort is involved in looking after two old buildings, and those living there have felt isolated.  Employees (pastor, etc.) would probably prefer a housing allowance in order to purchase their own property. It was suggested that the Trustees convene a “threshing” meeting to discuss this matter in order to involve more participation.

7. Christian Education Committee:  They met on February 9th with all present. The committee includes Kim Bolshaw, Scott Barksdale, Tess Hartford, and Wendy Schlotterbeck, clerk.  They discussed the coming year, and plan to continue social distancing, meeting outside only, and masked in- person gatherings until at least September 1st unless the monthly meeting decides that they can resume gathering in the meetinghouse.  They made plans for a February 28th skating party.  They discussed collaborating with Central Maine SURJ (Showing Up for Racial Justice), and participating in a Wabanaki Reach Educational program at which the topic will be Wabanaki history and decolonization.

8. Youth Minister: Wendy Schlotterbeck will attend anti-racist training on February 27th.

9. Peace and Social Concerns Committee: Ingrid Chalufour presented the committee’s annual report: “Peace and Social Concerns is charged with the tasks of discernment and taking action. We seek to identify current issues of importance to the Meeting and plan ways to address the issues through reflection, education, and action. We began 2020 with a continued focus on the climate crisis and an event focused on the military’s outsized carbon footprint. We provided educational materials and guidance in writing letters to our federal legislators. Soon after COVID shut us down. The committee took a break as we focused both personally and collectively on how we would stay safe and maintain our spiritual community.

            In June we regrouped on Zoom to consider how we could respond to the issue of police violence toward Blacks that was gaining new attention through the power of video footage. We planned and facilitated a series of discussions titled Becoming Antiracist. Along with the discussions, readings were posted on the Meeting website. Two paths of action grew out the third discussion and these continue to be the focus of our activities. The first, a strong interest in Indigenous sovereignty has led us to both educate ourselves and to look for ways to support the activities of the Wabanaki population in Maine. The second focus is on the social justice education of the children in our part of Maine. To meet this focus a subcommittee of P&SC was formed. Both of these sets of activities have drawn new membership to the committee and we are strongly committed to an active 2021.”

9. Mey Hasbrook, Meeting Care Coordinator, reported.  She continues to schedule meeting message bringers and is preparing a special youth-centered or intergenerational Easter worship; collaborating with Sophia’s House of Lewiston on their planning team for special event benefits and promoting these events; and is working with the Education Media Project sub-committee of Ministry and Counsel. She continues leading the Café Corner virtual meetings.         Mey is attending New England Yearly Meeting leaders’ meetings, and had conversations with NEYM Faith and Practice Revision Committee about the position of Meeting Care Coordinator.

10. Nancy Marstaller gave a report regarding our sister relationship with Velasco Meeting in Cuba. “Since Portland Friends Meeting and Durham Friends Meeting approved Portland joining in the sister relationship with Velasco and the formation of a joint committee to care for and nurture the relationship, the new committee has met three times. Nancy Marstaller and Fritz Weiss are co-clerks.

            Durham has noted and appreciated that there is new energy in the relationship with Velasco.  Our two meetings in Maine are building a stronger relationship.  Committee members are now receiving newsletters from both meetings and recognize that the first experience of inter-visitation may well be Durham and Portland visiting each other.

            An invitation to Friends in Portland and Durham is to hold Velasco in prayer as they gather.  Velasco Meeting meets on Sunday at 9:00, on Tuesdays at 7:30 the ladies meet, and on Saturdays at 8:30 pm the youth meet.  We can hold them in prayer at those times.

 Communication with Velasco is via facebook messenger.  Nancy Marstaller and Wendy Schlotterbeck from Durham and Hannah Colbert and Sydney McDowell from Portland are able to send messages; if you have messages you might like to send, please share with them.

Our meetings are open; if you are interested in being involved, please contact one of the co-clerks. Con amor, Nancy Marstaller, Wendy Schlotterbeck, Hannah Colbert, Doug Malcom, Ann Dodd-Collins, Sydney MacDowell, Fritz Weiss.”

            They have received a letter from the pastor of Velasco Friends Meeting which requests prayers for their annual assembly during the pandemic and their financial challenges regarding raised salaries required by the state.

11. Clerk Martha Sheldon received a friendly letter from our former member and pastor, Ralph Green.

12. The revision of the Durham Monthly Meeting of Friends Handbook has been circulated and was approved.  Sarah Sprogell and Renee Cote will edit the booklet for errors, etc.

Clerk Martha Hinshaw ended the meeting with spoken prayer. 

Dorothy Hinshaw, Recording Clerk

Cafe Corner, 7-8 pm, March 29, 2021

Cafe Corner returns! Durham Meeting’s social experiment in revelry. 

Monday, March 29th, 7-8pm.

Our theme will be “Fiber Forward!” Guests will share in a “round robin” (or salon style ) about our encounters with fiber. We might share a precious memento gifted by another or our own creation. All types of fiber experiences are welcome! This includes fabrics and plants.

Join us via Zoom link for Durham Meeting’s Sunday worship.

Earthcare, Call to Action, Empowerment and Engagement, February 27, 8:30/9:00 to Noon

Vassalboro Quarterly Meeting and Acadia Friends Monthly Meeting invites Falmouth Quarterly Meeting and NEYM Young Adult Friends to an interactive workshop via Zoom.

Earthcare, Call to Action, Empowerment and Engagement

Saturday, February 27, 2021, 9:00 a.m. — noon (8:30 a.m. to gather)

Speakers: Andy Burt, Jay O’Hara, Peter Garrett, Gray Cox

Facilitators: Margaret Marshall and MaineBob O’Connor

Maine Activist Earthcare Friends will speak about their personal journeys including moments of insight, and anecdotes of success and failure. There will also be two break-out groups (3-5 people) in which each attender will share their own journeys, and hope and intentions for 2021.

If interested, please reach out to Carole Beal ( to make sure you get the Zoom link (to be sent out a few days before the event) and for a document with a personal witness prepared by each speaker, plus information about the facilitators, and queries and levels of climate concern prepared by the NEYM Earthcare Committee.

Join Zoom Meeting with this Long Link
Meeting ID: 961 0969 4747
Passcode: 207207
By Phone Dial by your location
+1 312 626 6799 US (Chicago)
+1 646 558 8656 US (New York)
Be sure to press # after the Meeting ID and Passcode.

Information about Speakers and Facilitators and Useful Materials for the Session

*8:30 am log in, gather, request sign in of name, meeting, email address into chat for distribution
to participants only. (welcome individual by Margaret)
*9:00 Welcome by Margaret. (5 minutes.)
*9:05 Worship for 15 minutes. (15 minutes.) (Margaret)
*9:20 Gray introduces speakers by name and asks them to speak out of the silence in this order:
Jay O’Hara, Peter Garrett, Andy Burt. They share their personal journeys for 15 minutes each.
Bob will announce 1 minute left. (45 minutes plus time for silent transition between speakers.)
*10:15: Breakout groups of 3 random individuals:
“Where am I in my personal journey? What gifts do I bring?
(Gray will put in chat) (10 minutes.)
*10:25: Chat: Bob invites all to write a word or two or short phrase reflecting your journeys and
gifts in the chat and Margaret reads them as they come after a pause to give all a chance to think
about ideas.
(3-5 minutes)
*10:30: Gray invites all for10 minute break. Short music Earthcare theme (Bob). (10 minutes)
*10:40: Speaker: Gray Cox. (15 minutes)
*10:55: Breakout groups sharing out of the silence with 4-5 participants assigned randomly.
Query: What am I led to do? What might my meeting be led to do? What action do I imagine?
What is the next step? How do we remain engaged on behalf of the Earth beyond good
(Gray will enter these in Chat) (screen prompt will be provided halfway through. (20 minutes.)
*11:15 Bob invites all to write short phrases of leadings into chat out of the silence. Candle or
fireplace on screen. (5 minutes.) Chat read out loud by Margaret after a pause to give participants
and chance to contemplate ideas…
*11:20 Query: What am I led to as a next step for us? Gray invites all to take three breaths as we
enter Worship Share: things that rise up out of the silence. (40 minutes)
*12:00 Gray offers gratitude to participants with an invitation to linger with an explanation of the
breakout room options. After thoughts?
MaineBob opens up chat to private sharing. Also optional breakout rooms would be available for
people to talk in small groups for as long as they wish (one hour?). Bob will ask for titles to go
with numbered breakout rooms. 1.Pine Tree Amendment, 2.Citizens Climate Lobby 3…

Ice Skating Party, February 28, 1-2:30 pm

On Sunday, Feb. 28, the Christian Education Committee will host an ice skating party from 1-2:30 p.m. Skating will take place on a pond near the meetinghouse.

Meet at 740 Durham Road; park nearby or park at Durham Meeting and walk a half mile up the road. Please wear a mask and observe social distancing. Kid friendly!

Contact Wendy Schlotterbeck with questions.

“Getting to Know God,” by Joyce Gibson

Message given at Durham Friends Meeting, February 14, 2021

G’ Morning Y’all,

I am pleased to be here this morning.  Thank you for being here. My message this morning is “Getting to Know God

My resources today are from a new book I found on prayer—called simply PRAYER, by Timothy Keller, published in 2014.  After 911, Keller, a Presbyterian minister, and his wife were both suffering from serious illnesses, and on her suggestion, they decided to pray together.  They already had individual prayer practices, but she challenged them to make this a habit together, to be closer to God.  They have been praying nightly since that time in 2001, often on the phone when one or the other is away, but it is now a daily practice—not taking the place of other forms of prayer they are still engaged in.

My other sources are old stand byes:  The Bible, and Thomas R. Kelly.  I am using sections of his book Testament to Devotion, published in 1941, and excerpts from an article titled “Reality of the Spiritual World” from the Pendle Hill Reader.  (This 184-page reader sold for $2.75 in 1942!)  And finally, the small book published in 1982—at least my edition, The Practice of the Presence of God by Brother Lawrence.

In his book called Prayer, Keller tells us something some of us have come to believe, others not so fully, as we are still testing, still learning:

God is the only person from whom you can hide nothingBefore Him, you will unavoidably come to see yourself in a new, unique light.  Prayer, therefore, leads to a self-knowledge that is impossible to achieve any other way.  Prayer is the only entryway into genuine self-knowledge.  It is also the main way we experience deep change—the reordering of our loves—NOT our lives, but our loves.  Prayer is how God gives us so many of the unimaginable thing he has for us.  Indeed, prayer makes it safe for God to give us many of the things we most desire.  It is the way we know God, the way we finally treat God as God.  Prayer is simply the key to everything we need to do and be in life.

Paul also tells us the way we get to know God better.  In writing to the people of Ephesus, he offers thanksgiving and prayers.  Ephesians 1:16-17:

I have not stopped giving thanks for you, remembering you in my prayers.  I keep asking that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the glorious Father, may give you the Spirit of wisdom and revelation, so that you may know him better.

Getting to know God and experiencing His love is what this special relationship is all about—Not just getting our desires met.  And there are many benefits to this relationship according to Thomas Kelly:

Within (us) is a meeting place with God, who strengthens and invigorates our whole personality and makes us new creatures—then the tempests and inner strain of self-seeking, self-oriented living grow still.  (Overriding our deep levels of selfishness is indeed a tough job!)  Something of the cosmic patience of God Himself becomes ours, and we walk in quiet assurances and boldness for He is with us, His rod and His staff, they comfort us.

Kelly goes on to write that this practice is not unlike that of Brother Lawrence who lived in the 17th century—the same period as George Fox who discovered after long searching—this Inner Light.  The Light we Quakers believe is in every person.  Brother Lawrence found God when he was 18 years old, and began experimenting with prayer, continuous prayer over the years.  When asked how he came upon this habit, he reported that he believed that God was at the beginning of each day, at the end and throughout the day, no matter what he was doing; thus, uttering prayers of thanks, reporting mistakes, just having a conversation just became a habit.  He was convinced that God loved him, forgave him for his mistakes, and heard his confessions.

Finally, I want to share that Thomas Kelly thought that the practice of continuous prayer is difficult, but that we should be gentle with ourselves, beginning again and again, even after long periods of drought—not praying at all.  Daily, hourly, at every opportunity—a running conversation that he believed happens on two levels; two levels that ultimately evolve into a mature, sound connection with God.  I will quote from the Pendle Hill Reader from the article called the “Reality of the Spirituality World”, pp. 26-27.

This practice of continuous prayer in the presence of God involves developing the habit of carrying on mental life at two levels. At one level we are immersed in this world of time, of daily affairs.  At the same time, but at a deeper level of our minds, we are in active relation with the eternal life.  I do not think this is a psychologically impossibility or an abnormal thing.  One sees a mild analogy in the very human experience of being in love.  The newly accepted lover has an internal life of joy, of bounding heart, of outgoing aspiration toward his beloved.  Yet he goes to work, earns a living, eats his meals, pays his bills.  But all the time, deep within, there is a level of awareness of an object very dear to him.  This awareness is private; he shows it to no one; yet it spills across and changes his outer life, colors his behavior, and gives new zest and glory to the daily round.

Oh yes, we know what a mooning calf he may be at first, what a lovable fool about outward affairs.  But when the lover gets things in focus again, and the couple (my language) settle down to the long pull of the years, the deep love-relation underlies all the raveling frictions of home life and re-creates them in the light of deeper currents.  The two levels are there, the surface and the deeper, in fruitful interplay, with the creative values coming from the deeper into the daily affairs of life.

Think about getting to know God through continuous prayer.  Getting to know God and His love for us.  Getting to know yourself in new ways, undergoing a deeper love of change with God—in ways that are unimaginable.  Amen.

Maine Council of Churches Faith-Based Advocacy Series: 2/23, 3/16, 4/6, 4/26

The Maine Council of Churches will is holding a four-part online series designed to inspire and equip Mainers of faith to become advocates for public policies that promote peace built with justice and justice guided by love.  Each session will include worship (led by Rev. Sara Ewing Merrill), engaging interactive discussions featuring theologians, policy experts and legislators, and opportunities to develop real-world skills and practice in speaking about policy with the voice of faith.

Cost is $10 per session or $30 for all sessions.
Churches that register 5 or more participants – $100 flat fee.
For those for whom this cost would be prohibitive, we are happy to provide scholarship assistance. To request a scholarship please call 207-772-1918. For those who are able to afford more, we would gratefully accept your donations to help us defray costs.

More information here.

Cafe Corner, February 4, 2021

Cafe Corner, an experiment in creative revelry, returns Thursday, February 4th. This week’s theme is “Beauty in Brokenness.”  The gathering is facilitated by Mey Hasbrook.

Relaxed chatting starts at 6:30pm, and a listening circle is held from 7pm to 8pm; join us at either segment.

Creativity of many expressions is welcome.

Access the Zoom link for Sunday worship to join.

Quaker Advocacy — FCNL Suggestions and Resources

Alicia McBride, Director of Quaker leadership at FCNL, spoke with us on January 24 to give us insights on best practices in Quaker advocacy and to share some resources with us. Here are some of the suggestions she made:

Dear Friends,

It was a joy to be with you yesterday in worship and to talk about Friends’ advocacy and FCNL. I wanted to follow up and send the links I shared in the chat, as well as more information on some of the areas that came up. 

Resources and support for lobbying virtually: Here’s where you’ll find written guides as well as links to our regular in-person training, “Learn to Lobby in 30 Minutes” (the next one is February 2) and ways to contact FCNL’s organizers with specific questions. 

Connecting Durham Friends to FCNL: In addition to FCNL’s action alert email list, I put out a monthly newsletter specifically addressed to Quakers. You can sign up on our website here. The email list is open to everyone, not just a person officially designated as a contact with your meeting. 

Federal Native American advocacy resources: An overview of FCNL’s focus is on our website. There’s also more on the history of FCNL’s Native American advocacy program. If you don’t receive it already, I highly recommend subscribing to the monthly Native American Legislative Update email for regular updates.  

Other topics that we discussed: 

  • The Electoral College Should Be Abolished” (FCNL statement). Also a response to the May 2020 Supreme Court case on “faithless electors,” which included one of FCNL’s General Committee members. 
  • In President Biden’s first 100 days, FCNL recommends several actions related to the United Nations and restoring U.S. partnerships with the global community
  • I mentioned a project related to dismantling militarism (as well as racism) in U.S. foreign policy, led by FCNL’s Diana Ohlbaum and Salih Booker of the Center for International Policy. The project is in a consulting phase right now, so we don’t have info publicly available. I’m sure we will share more soon. It’s an exciting effort to support a movement to address the structural and worldview challenges that often prevent peace and justice policy from moving forward. 
  • The E. Raymond Wilson quote I shared is from his acceptance letter for the FCNL Executive Secretary position in November, 1943: “We ought to be willing to work for causes which will not be won now, but cannot be won in the future unless the goals are staked out now and worked for energetically over a period of time.” For a bit more about FCNL’s history, the first few minutes of this video from our 75th anniversary is worth your time.

 Thank you again for welcoming me, and if you have further questions or would like more information on a specific aspect of FCNL’s work, please let me know! I also wanted to let you know that we host a regular time for silent reflection and worship for the FCNL community, every Wednesday from 5:15-6pm Eastern. You’re most welcome to join Friends from across the country for a midweek pause and centering.


Alicia McBride, Director of Quaker Leadership (Pronouns: she/her/hers)

Friends Committee on National Legislation, A Quaker Lobby in the Public Interest

245 2nd St. NE | Washington, DC 20002| (202) 465-7576

“Moving From Your Center,” by Alicia McBride (FCNL)

Message given at Durham Friends Meeting, January 24, 2021

I appreciate that Quakerism recognizes that God can speak in everyday life. William Taber talks about worship as a stream that is always present and that we can dip into at any time. Knowing those moments of connection are possible both eases my frustration when my mind won’t settle during the appointed hour of worship, and also encourages me to be open to the wisdom I encounter outside of that time.

About 15 years ago, when I was just starting to practice yoga, one of my teachers described it as “the art of moving from your center.” He was referring to anatomy and body alignment, but that description sunk deep within me and has been something I’ve come back to, again and again, to describe the alignment – the integrity – I want to live into in my life more broadly.

Of course, this description presents two questions: What is my center, and how do I move from it?

I am holding these questions today, in the midst of the emotional roller coaster of the last few weeks. Excitement, joy, fear, anger, relief, and cautious optimism have all been present in my January alone. That roller coaster is profoundly un-centering and exhausting.

At times, I’ve responded to this kind of destabilization by trying to push ahead and power through – to focus on what’s in front of me, not on what’s behind. Sometimes, that’s necessary. But, in the long run, I have found that this approach, while tempting in the moment, ultimately works against the kind of centering I need to move with integrity.

In his book The Body Keeps the Score, Dr. Bessel Van der Kolk discusses the ways trauma reshapes both the body and the brain – and I would add the soul. We are what we experience. Ignoring what we’ve been through, however painful and unsettling in the moment, only means more we have to work through later.

I believe that all of us, in the United States today, are facing our own experiences of individual and collective trauma. There’s a layer of that trauma that’s personal to our identities and circumstances. There’s also a layer that is corporate – coming from the mounting death toll from Covid-19, and efforts to subvert the U.S. election, culminating in the violent assault on the U.S. Capitol and what it symbolizes about our country. Those layers often intersect; on January 6, for example, I experienced the Capitol riot as a threat to our government, a stark demonstration of the power racist, anti-Semitic, and Islamophobic worldviews have in the U.S. today, and also a personal attack on a part of the city where I work and where friends and family live. I can only imagine the trauma of those who hold marginalized identities, people who work in the Capitol building, and others more directly affected than I am.

In these circumstances, what does it look like to move through, not past, to re-center for the work ahead?

To me, it looks like taking the time to acknowledge my experience and to celebrate or mourn as I need to. It means recognizing the gaps – between how I want things to be and how they are, between what our country claims to stand for and how it acts – and radically reimagining how to shrink them. It means accountability and learning. It means absorbing the experience of our personal and national trauma to give us empathy and bring us resilience.

Over the past few weeks, I’ve found myself coming back to a passage from 1st John. It reminds me of what centered movement means, as well as what it looks to move away from it.

Beloved, let us love one another, because love is from God; everyone who loves is born of God and knows God. Whoever does not love does not know God, for God is love…There is no fear in love, but perfect love casts out fear; for fear has to do with punishment, and whoever fears has not reached perfection in love. (1 John 4:7-8, 18)

As we settle into waiting worship, I invite you to consider: what is your center, and how are you led to move from it now?

Durham Monthly Meeting Minutes, January 17, 2021

            Durham Monthly Meeting of Friends met virtually via Zoom for the conduct of business on Sunday, January 17, 2021 with 12 people present.  Clerk Martha Sheldon opened the meeting with the query: How do you seek leadings of the Light in meeting for business as you do in meeting for worship?

1. The December minutes were approved as printed in the Newsletter.

2. Peace and Social Concerns Committee: Ingrid Chalufour reported for the committee:

            Both branches of the committee are actively working on projects that they have described previously. The committee is educating themselves on the Indigenous history of Maine, preparing a couple of events for the Meeting, and also preparing legislative information for those who want to do some lobbying. 

            The subcommittee focusing on books for children is in the process of selecting the books for the New Mainers. They have decided to use the generous budget they have been given as seed money. Once they purchase the books they will put a price on the books going to each of the 20 families and ask for sponsors for each family. They will do something similar when they start to purchase books for classrooms. They ask permission from the Monthly Meeting to put plates in the books for New Mainers saying “Welcome to Maine! Durham Friends Meeting”.

3. We approved the request to add book plates with the statement, “Welcome to Maine! Durham Friends Meeting.”

4. Youth Minister: Wendy Schlotterbeck reported that she will be staffing the NEYM Young Friends virtual retreat as a Resource Person, January 29-31.

5. Christian Education Committee: The committee acknowledges the tremendous wisdom and love from Dorothy Curtis, Amy Kustra and Jeanne Baker-Stinson who will be stepping off the committee.  The committee now includes Kim Bolshaw, Scott Barksdale, Tess Hartford and Wendy Schlotterbeck.

6. Ministry and Counsel: Renee Cote reported that Ministry & Counsel continues to explore the possibilities for involving young people in an educational program that will document the witness of members of Durham Meeting, particularly with the technology aspects.  We discussed sources for IT and video-editing.

            A hybrid worship proposal will be forthcoming. One of the aims of hybrid worship would be to engage those members and attenders who do not participate via Zoom. The hybrid strategy could be for a transition period before pandemic is under control, or for a long-term period. The committee discussed the usefulness of a survey, which could be conducted online or by phone.

7. Trustees: Donna Hutchins sent a report.  The hardwood floor is down in the back hall.  The ¼ round finish molding will be installed shortly.  The molding in the front hall was installed. They are looking into an alternative to the furnace used for the worship room.  The furnace blower had to be replaced.  They are receiving quotes for a new heating system.

8. Finance Committee: Sarah Sprogell reported that Friends were very generous and the expenses were lower than expected due in part to the fact that we didn’t use the building for meetings.  The year ended with a surplus, and $25,000 was transferred to the capital account for much needed work on the meetinghouse.  The end of year finance report is attached.  We expressed our gratitude for their work.

9. Nominating Committee: Kristna Evans reported that a final report will be presented in February. Many committees need additional members.

            The meeting concluded with quiet reflection and prayer for the meeting, larger community, and future national events. Clerk Martha Sheldon read a quote from Martin Luther King Jr.: “I have decided to stick with love; hate is too great a burden to bear.”

Dorothy Hinshaw, Recording Clerk

“We Worship on Land That Is a Homeland for the Wabanaki,” by Doug Bennett

Message given at Durham Friends Meeting, January 17, 2021

“We worship on land that Is a homeland for the Wabanaki.”  We say those words each Sunday when we gather.  I want to say something more about that today.  I want to tell a fuller version of the story.

 “In the last of the eighteenth century when the present town of Durham went by the name of Royalsborough and was part of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts we find the record of the coming of several Quakers from Harpswell among whom were Lemuel Jones, Joseph and Caleb Estes, Andrew Pinkham and Elijah Douglas.  They were soon followed by Samuel Collins of Weare, New Hampshire and Robert and Silas Goddard from Falmouth.  Many of these names have a familiar sound in our ears and many people here present could trace their lineal descent from these founders of our meeting.” 

Those are the opening sentences of Hattie Cox’s history of Durham Friends Meeting that she wrote and presented in 1929 on the occasion of the 100-year anniversary of our current brick Meetinghouse.  These Friends held their first Meeting in the home of Joseph Estes in 1775.

Told that way this is a story that sounds like it starts at the very beginning, the story of the gathering here of a group of Quakers for worship together, a gathering for worship that continues to this day.  But we should realize there is another story that the Hattie Cox version jumps over.  It is a story we should also know and remember.  

What went before are the thousands of years of indigenous peoples living in the Androscoggin River valley — and up and down the Atlantic Coast and across the Americas.  The coming of the Quakers and others of European descent tore apart the communities of these indigenous peoples.  It’s that longer story, the story of peoples on this land, that I want to tell today.  It’s an unhappy story in many ways.  It is a story of disease, disruption and dispossession. 

In their own telling, the indigenous peoples of New England and the Maritime Provinces (as we call them today), were placed here at the beginning of time by Glooskap, a trickster god who still watches over these peoples.  The way of knowing we call archeology tells us that indigenous peoples filtered north into Maine following the retreating glacier, the last glacier to cover this terrain, about 12,000 or 13,000 years ago. 

When European explorers and fishermen first intruded, the indigenous people they encountered numbered, perhaps, 20,000 people in what is now what we call Maine. 

These people lived in villages and encampments.  They followed the seasons harvesting the fruits of the forest, the rivers and the sea when and where these were most abundant.  They grew corn and some other vegetables.  They were a mobile people moving often across the land in a rhythm with the changing seasons. 

They travelled by waterways using birchbark canoes.  The rivers were their highways.  They had ‘carrying places’ where they portaged between streams or around waterfalls.  They lived in wigwams or teepees and long houses that could be moved seasonally.   

On the Androscoggin, there was a large year-round village at Canton Point near the town we call Livermore Falls.  On the Kennebec there was a village on Swan Island and a larger village at Norridgewock, near the town we call Skowhegan.  When the fish ran in the rivers, the alewives and salmon, they camped near the falls, like the ones at Brunswick/Topsham and at Lewiston/Auburn. 

The Indigenous people who lived in what is now Maine were all part of a broad grouping of Eastern Algonquian people.  Those who lived in southern and mid-coast Maine we now call Eastern Abenaki.  We can call the people who lived in the Androscoggin Valley the Arosaguntacook.  (That’s a name from which the word Androscoggin was probably derived.  In their language it means “rocky flats flow” or “a river of rocks refuge.”)  Later, in the 1680s, they joined together with other indigenous people in what is now Maine and the Maritimes to form the Wabanaki Confederacy, a word with the same language root as Abenaki.  It is a word root that means Land of the Dawn.  They were the first people on this continent, the world they knew, to see the dawn each new day

What became of these people when Europeans intruded? Again, this is a story of disease, disruption and dispossession. 

Disease.  Many of us have an image in our heads of armed conflict or warfare between these indigenous peoples and the European settlers.  And there was such conflict, but there is a different and deadlier image we should put earlier than that.  From the moment of first contact, the indigenous peoples were exposed to diseases carried by the Europeans, diseases such as smallpox, diphtheria, plague, chickenpox, measles, cholera, syphilis, typhoid and typhus.  Those diseases proved enormously deadly to indigenous peoples because they had no immunity to these diseases whatsoever. 

Perhaps 75% of the population died in the first decades after contact – that is, in the early 1600s.  These epidemics had their most deadly effect before there were colonial settlements.  The mere intrusion of Europeans — fishermen or trappers — set off epidemics.  The years from 1616 to 1619 – that is, before the Mayflower — are spoken of as ‘the Great Dying’ because in those years, especially in Massachusetts, the deaths were so numerous.  Whole villages were wiped out.  The arrival of Europeans was lethal to the indigenous people already living here. 

The diseases did not just kill people, they also tore apart their ways of living.  It deprived them of able-bodied people. It wiped out their leaders.  It weakened their confidence in themselves, in those they trusted, and in what they knew. 

Disruption.  The diseases that the Europeans carried were one kind of disruption, and there were others.  The European intruders brought goods with them that the indigenous people did not know.  They brought metal goods useful for cooking and for hunting.  They drew the indigenous peoples into trading relationships – for beaver pelts, for example.  The Abenaki began to hunt not just for their own use but to trade with the Europeans.  These new relationships began to change their way of life. 

The Europeans also settled themselves on the land in ways that disrupted the more mobile ways of the indigenous peoples.  English intruders built a fort at the lowest falls on the Androscoggin, where the building we know as Fort Andross now stands.  It was a wooden fort then, but it was a powerful indication that the intruders meant to dominate that site, make it their own.  The intruders fished at the falls not just for their own subsistence, but to send salted fish back to Europe for trade and profit.  The Abenaki were pushed out. 

These were uneasy times.  There were insults and thefts, kidnappings and killings.  At times the two groups, the intruders and the Abenaki, managed to live near one another without much conflict.  But after several decades of the Abenaki trying to live with the European intruders there came to be full-scale war between them.  Beginning about 1675 (that’s about 100 years after the first intruders) and lasting for about another hundred years, there was war in this part of Maine that involved the Abenaki.  These wars go today by a series of names of our making: King Phillip’s War, King William’s War, Queen Anne’s War, Dummer’s War, the French and Indian Wars.  They involved the French as well as the English intruders:  these wars were part and parcel of a long struggle between the English and the French for domination of these lands, and each found allies among the indigenous peoples. 

In the early stages of these wars, the English settlers were largely driven out.  But when these wars were concluded, in the 1760s, it was the Abenaki had been driven out of southern and mid-coast Maine.  They had been driven inland, north and east – scattered and decimated. 

Today, the eastern Abenaki are not a group that is recognized as having continuing existence by the U.S. federal government.  They are a recognized group by the Canadian government in a settlement on the St. Lawrence River in present day Quebec.  And, of course, some Abenaki live among us, drawn to living more like we do, but also holding as they can to their long-established ways. 

Hattie Cox’s history of this Meeting starts where those wars end.  With the Abenaki largely pushed out of southern and mid-coast Maine, the land was open to settlement by European newcomers.  Among those newcomers were the original members of this Quaker Meeting.  In these parts, the wars ended in the mid-1760s, and this Meeting began just a few years later, in 1775. 

Dispossession.  What became of their land?  There were treaties by which the intruders took possession of large tracts of land.  We know those treaties were seen differently by the indigenous people and the intruders.  The Abenaki and other indigenous people did not think of land ownership the way we do.  And, of course, most of these treaties were not respected – especially not respected by the intruders.  Promises were not kept. 

The history of land titles in our part of what we now call Maine is full of disagreement and ambiguity and quite complex.  But we can say that most of the land we on which we live, work and play, those of us who are members of Durham Friends Meeting, were legally secured by Richard Wharton in 1684, in a deal with six members of the Abenaki that Wharton, at least, considered ‘Sagamores’ or leaders.  Whether the Arosaguntacook (the Abenaki in this Androscoggin valley) saw these six as leaders with powers to trade away their land is very much open to doubt.  But we can say that this Wharton Deed (it’s also called the Warumbo Deed after one of the Sagamores) contains this provision: 

“Provided Nevertheless yt nothing in this Deed be Construed to deprive us ye Saggamores Successessors [?] or People from Improving our Ancient Planting grounds nor from Hunting In any of s’d Lands Comgo [?] not Inclosed nor from fishing or fowling for our own Provission Soe Long as noe Damage Shall be to ye English fisherys,”

I believe every current deed of land within the bounds of this Wharton Deed derives from the deal that was struck that day.  (That’s pretty much all the land lived upon by every one of us gathered here today.)  And we should remember that in their understanding the Abenaki never after gave up that crucial legal proviso:  to have use of the land for planting, fishing and fowling for their own provision.   But as the intruders crowded in, the Abenaki were dispossessed.  The animals were driven out, their habitat destroyed.  Forests were cut and the rivers were poisoned.  The land was fenced in and built upon.  Roadways replaced waterways.  These lands were no longer ones familiar to the Abenaki.  The lands no longer sustained their way of life. 

Something like this is what we mean when we say that ‘we gather on land that is a homeland for the Wabanaki.’ 

Perhaps we can remember they had a life here. 

Perhaps we can remember that some still live among us. 


Here are some resources for better understanding of the Wabanaki on the Durham Friends Meeting website. 

You can see a copy and a transcript of the 1684 Wharton Deed on the Maine Historical Society’s Maine Memory Network. 

Cross-posted on Riverview Friend.

Durham Monthly Meeting Minutes, December 20, 2020

            Durham Monthly Meeting of Friends met virtually via Zoom for the conduct of business on Sunday, December 20, 2020 with 17 people present.  Clerk Martha Sheldon opened the meeting by reading a Howard Thurman poem: “The Work of Christmas.”

1. The November minutes were approved as printed in the Newsletter.

2.  Ministry and Counsel:  Martha Sheldon reported that Mey Hasbrook has requested sojourning membership in Durham Meeting.  Kalamazoo Friends Meeting sent a supporting letter for Mey, stating that Mey has a minute of religious service among the Religious Society of Friends.

            Memorial minutes were prepared for Susan (Sukie) Rice and Mildred Alexander.  The minute for Sukie was written by Tess Hartford, Sarah Sprogell, and Liana Thompson, using material from Sukie’s obituary, written by Lee Chisholm.  Mildred Alexander’s minute was written by Martha Sheldon with the help from Margaret Wentworth and Charlotte Ann Curtis.  Helpful suggestions were made. These minutes are attached and will be included in the Newsletter and sent to Falmouth Quarterly Meeting which then sends them on to New England Yearly Meeting.  We also requested that Sukie’s memorial minute be sent to the Kakamega Care Center in Kenya. 

3. We approved the request that Mey Hasbrook become a sojourning member in Durham Friends Meeting.

4.  We approved the memorial minutes for Susan Rice and Mildred Alexander.

5. Nomination Committee: Margaret Wentworth reported that Martha Sheldon will be meeting clerk for the first half of the year while they find a replacement, Sarah Sprogell will be added to the Peace and Social Concerns Committee, and the rest of the report will be presented in January. 

6. We approved their report.

7. We approved the addition of Linda Muller to the Nominating Committee.

8. Finance Committee: Katherine Hildebrandt presented the 2021 budget which was approved and will be included in the Newsletter and attached to these minutes.

            The committee requests that $1000 be donated from the Charity Account to a meeting member who is experiencing financial hardship.

9.  We approved the donation of $1000 from the Charity Account to a meeting member.

10.  Trustees: Katharine Hildebrandt reported that the meetinghouse furnace needs to be replaced.  We look forward to an annual financial report from the Trustees.

11.  Christian Education Committee: Wendy Schlotterbeck reported that the wreath making party on November 28 was enjoyed by 9 hearty individuals.  A very special thanks go to Dorothy Curtis who made 2 wreaths for the meetinghouse doors.  At the December 19th advent candlelight spiral in the parking lot Tess Hartford spoke meaningfully about the meaning of light while walking the spiral.  A highlight for many was singing carols together around the candlelit spiral.  They formed a caravan bringing goodies and a few songs of cheer much to the delight of those they visited.

12.  Youth Minister: Wendy Schlottebeck continues to staff New England Yearly Meeting youth activities, and helped with the December 12th Young Friends virtual retreat.  She plans to help staff winter retreats. 

13.Ingrid Chalufour reported for the  Peace and Social Concerns Committee:  The committee is pursuing the leadings identified in the third anti-racist discussion on Oct. 27. To accomplish this ambitious agenda they now have a sub-committee with new members. The committee is working on supporting the sovereignty of the Indigenous people of Maine and beyond. The nature and scope of this work will evolve over the coming months. The subcommittee will focus on the two book projects as reported last month. The committee is planning a series of events to guide us in identifying the collective actions we want to take in relation to Indigenous sovereignty. On January 24 Alicia McBride from FCNL will give the message in meeting and join us after meeting to discuss the FCNL publication, A Theological Perspective on Quaker Lobbying which will be available on the web site; hard copies are also available. Alicia will also share FCNL current work on legislation related to the Native American population. Their second event, February 28, will focus on the New England Yearly Meeting Apology to Native Americans. The apology and suggested actions will be offered as a query in the unprogrammed Meeting with a discussion following at 11:30. They are looking for ways to respectfully include the Native voice in our work.

            We expressed appreciation for this committee’s work.

14. Martha Sheldon reminded us that Falmouth Quarterly Meeting will virtually meet on January 23rd and we approved the following representatives: Sarah Sprogell, Ingrid Chalufour, Ann Ruthsdottir and Joyce Gibson.

15.  Regarding posters and Banners as mentioned in the November minutes: we were reminded that there already is an approved procedure in place: committees are to present their suggestions for messages to be displayed in public to monthly meeting for business for approval.   

16. Meeting Care Coordinator: Mey Hasbrook and Mimi Marstaller facilitated a virtual workshop on the subject of decolonizing.  

            The meeting ended in quiet waiting and a prayer was offered by the clerk, Martha Sheldon.

Recording Clerk, Dorothy Hinshaw

Alicia McBride of FCNL to Speak January 24, 2021

On January 24 Alicia McBride from Friends Committee on National Legislation (FCNL) will join us for Meeting. She will give the message and after Meeting she will join us to discuss the FCNL publication,  A Theological Perspective on Quaker Lobbying. 

This is available for you to read here, or email Doug Bennett (dougb AT earlham DOT edu) to request a copy.

Alicia will also share FCNL current work on legislation related to Indigenous sovereignty.

Café Corner, December 30, 7-8pm, via ZOOM

Cafe Corner is an online social experiment hosted by Durham Friends. We’ll revel in fellowship and creative sharing.  The debut is Wednesday, Dec 30th, from 7pm to 8pm (Eastern Time) for a special edition, ” Holiday Cheer.” 

We’ll continue periodically on select Thursdays;  please read the newsletter and visit the web site for future listings. The Zoom link for Sunday worship will be used to join.

The gathering is facilitated by Mey Hasbrook, Meeting Care Coordinator