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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Adult Sunday School, Fall 2018

By Martha Sheldon

Adult Sunday School will be reading “In Fear and Trembling Be Bold in God’s Service” from The Freedom & Justice Crier, a periodic newsletter from the Committee on Racial, Social & Economic Justice of New England Yearly Meeting. It was published by NEYM this past summer.

All are welcome to join us at 9:30 each Sunday morning.

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Our Approach to Pastoral Care Today   

Committee on Ministry and Counsel, September 2018                      

For many decades, Durham Friends Meeting had a paid pastor who, among other responsibilities, took primary responsibility for pastoral care in the Meeting community.   The Meeting made the decision in November 2016 first on a trial basis, and then, in October 2017, to continue “for the time being,” to proceed without a paid pastor.

With this decision, the Committee on Ministry and Counsel took on the lead responsibility for pastoral care in the Meeting community.   Especially over the past year, members of Ministry and Counsel have discussed how we should carry out this responsibility. We would like to give Meeting members a summary of what we have developed as the current approach to pastoral care.

  • Members and attenders of the Meeting are encouraged to bring situations calling for pastoral care to the attention of The Meeting clerk, the clerk of Ministry and Counsel or another member of Ministry and Counsel.
  • Ministry and Counsel discusses situations calling for pastoral care at least once each month as part of its regular meeting agenda, and more frequently if pressing.   The committee maintains a list of such situations to be sure we don’t neglect any of them. We regularly review this list.
  • We ask one member of the committee to be the point person for each situation, asking that person to make visits or take other appropriate action and subsequently report back to Ministry and Counsel. In more complex situations, we convene a team to work together on the matter.
  • The Committee on Ministry and Counsel takes the need for confidentiality very seriously. We respect the confidentiality of whatever is said to us by those experiencing difficulties, and do not discuss specific pastoral care situations outside of the committee without specific permission from those affected.

We know this approach to pastoral care is a change from the past, particularly for those with long experience in the Meeting of having a paid pastor providing pastoral care.

We ask members of the Meeting community to give us feedback on how this new approach to pastoral care is working. What is going well and what is not going so well?

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Woman’s Society Dinner, September 17. 2018

The Woman’s Society met for dinner on Monday, September 17 at the Thai’s Cuisine Restaurant in Topsham with fifteen Friends attending. The only business conducted was fellowship and enjoyment of good food with good friends. Appreciation goes out to Theresa Oleksiw for her choice of restaurant.

Jo-an Jacobus, a grateful and well-fed attender of the meeting

 

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“We Are Spirits Having a Human Experience,” by Donna Hutchins

A message given at Durham Friends Meeting on September 16, 2018 by Donna Hutchins

Good Morning Friends.  I heard this quote a few years back and it has stuck with me. I think of it often and I thought it would make a good message. I hope I can deliver it the way I feel it needs to be delivered.

Pierre Teilhard de Chardin:  My Sophomore French is very rusty…and although I You Tubed the pronunciation of his name…I’m not gonna try to do it for you…. I’m sure many of you have heard his quote:

“We are not humans having a spiritual experience; We are spirits having a human experience.”

I think some people tend to confuse spirituality with religion. I think there are times when we humans think that being religious is the same as being spiritual … For me Religion is more specific than spirituality. Some religions come with a tenet or creed, specific to their beliefs.  Christianity has the Nicene Creed, Judaism has the Shehmah prayer, Islam has the Shahada.

Different religions have different ways in which to worship. Catholicism has full mass on Sunday and a daily mass with an actively responsive congregation, Quakers meet on First Day in silent meditative worship,  or some variation of that… Judaism observes worship on shabbat which is from Friday at sundown until Saturday afternoon.  Religion also comes with a place of worship, a temple, a church, a meetinghouse, a mosque…

The definition I found online describes Religion as a particular system of faith and worship.

Spirituality is more eclectic. It has no hard set guidelines. One can be spiritual in the out of doors or in a house, with a mouse, on a boat or with a goat… you get the picture….to be spiritual one only needs to believe.

And I found this definition of spirituality on line:  “Spirituality is a broad concept with room for many perspectives. In general, it includes a sense of connection to something bigger than ourselves, and it typically involves a search for meaning in life. As such, it is a universal human experience—something that touches us all.”

So…….back to the quote…the first parts says: We are not humans having a spiritual experience.

For most of my life I have been searching for that spiritual experience. To have that strong faith that my mother had, to be overwhelmed with Jesus and his teachings the way my sister is…to feel that something others feel when they speak of their devotion and in the way they live their lives.

I have searched in the silent worship of Portland Friends, the semi programed meeting here in Durham, the congregational church in my hometown, the Episcopal Holy Eucharist with my Great Aunt, the Evangelical path with my born again sister, the Catholic Church with my husband.

When I was very young, I attended Portland Friends with my very patient mother. I remember it as a child, sitting in a circle, in an often cold and bare room…squirming in my chair…staring at the clock that never seemed to move…and listening to the gentleman behind me softly snore. As a child, I never understood the want or the need to be quiet.

In my teens I was allowed to venture out and explore other options. I went to the local Congregational church and joined the youth group with my high school friends where we held dances and retreats…fun but not a lot of religion.

I tried the evangelical path with my older and wiser sister. Lead by the Pastor Carl Stevens my soul would be saved. His hellfire and brimstone sermons lasted for hours and left me in such fear of God and my past that I felt the need for salvation. But…within just a few short years of that professed dedication to our Lord and Savior, I attended a sermon that spoke of the sin of vanity and self appreciation, all the while the dear pastor wore his blonde toupee. The irony was not lost on me and I never went back. Disheartened I stopped attending church for a while.

Years later, married with children, I joined the Catholic Church with my husband and drove into the faith full throttle. I took adult classes, did the Easter Eve confession…baptism …confirmation…first communion…we had our marriage blessed and I became a eucharistic minister, a sexton, and a sacristan. I went to mass every….single….day. But after years of this dedication, I left that too. Feeling underwhelmed by the ‘results’ and feeling more like one of a flock just following orders.

The second part of the quote goes: We are spirits having a human experience

At one point in my life I was living a rather solitary existence…. My husband was military and away more often than not…leaving my young son and I to live nestled deep in the woods, on the side of a mountain, just above a crystal clear lake. In my solitude, I became more interested in my surroundings, the pine and fir trees that season after season never lost their needles….standing tall and graceful through the harshest winter….. the oak and the elm that would produce the most amazing color changes for each season.. from vivid green in Spring to gold, red and orange in the Autumn….the water of the lake that provided life for the water foul, the fish and creatures of the woods…. the land that sustained me with wood for fire and shelter from the storms, the wildlife that entertained me in my solitude… all the things I felt God had placed there just for me. I would sit for hours, in total silence save for the wind in the trees, the knocking of the woodpecker on a lively oak, the coo of the mourning dove, the chatter of the chipmunks as they gathered their nuts and seeds for the winter, the cry of the coy dogs in the dark of night…All of God’s creatures stirring in the woods around me. I would walk for miles on the mountain roads or on the long forgotten cattle trails in the woods without seeing another human, totally at peace with this solitude. On rainy days I would curl up in a chair with a cup of coffee on the covered porch, listening to the steady drizzle of rain on the tin roof and watch the rivers of water pour from the eaves onto the path below. I enjoyed the randomly placed lady slippers, scattered among the wild low bush blueberries.

This wasn’t a religious experience, there was no creed, no preacher, no building, no other human with me.

At some point, in the quiet of those woods, I started to believe. And more than just believe, I felt. I felt peace, serenity and love.

Remember  Alexander Pope’s “To err is human” “To forgive divine.”? 

 As humans we are flawed. We love and we hate..we want peace and yet we wage war…we feel compassion and malice…we give birth and we take lives….. But…I believe that our spirits are inherently good. I believe that it is our spirit having a human experience that moves us to feed the poor, house the homeless, aid the sick, rally for peace and accomplish great and compassionate deeds.

If our spirits live on forever, and are truly inherently good, then our spirits need to feel the flaws of our humanness. And if spirituality is the search for the meaning of life, and life is experienced though being human, it makes sense that our spirits must have that human experience in order to develop and grow.

I believe that this quote should read

We ARE humans having a spiritual experience but we are ALSO spirits having a human experience.

 

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Durham Monthly Meeting Minutes, September 16, 2018

Durham Monthly Meeting of Friends convened in worship for the conduct of business on Sunday, September 16, 2018. Clerk Susan Rice opened the meeting by reading verses from the hymn, Spirit of God, Descend upon my Heart. We did not meet in August.

  1. The July minutes were approved, with one correction: in minute no. 8: “We approved the Nominating Committee recommendation that Donna Hutchins be added as a Trustee.”

2. Martha Sheldon reported for Ministry and Counsel which met Sunday, September 9th and again for their annual retreat on September 15th. In both meetings, they discussed pastoral care concerns of the meeting and determined appropriate ways to respond to the needs of meeting members and attenders. They also discussed how worship is going and how to enrich the experience of worship. Developments and possible program proposals will be forthcoming. Please contact any member of Ministry and Counsel about pastoral care and worship concerns.

3. Trustees: Lesley Manning sent a comprehensive detailed report which is attached.

a. Donna Hutchins reported that she and Dan Ross will not be moving from the parsonage. She will continue as our custodian. Trustees recommend that the current month to month rental agreement remain in effect. They are very satisfied with her care of the meetinghouse and parsonage.

b. Trustees have scheduled a “Love Your Meetinghouse Day” for Friday night and Saturday, October 19 and 20. The list of chores needed are noted in their report and will be listed. All are welcome to participate.

c. Donna is working with Andy Higgins to monitor and respond to storm damage to trees in our cemeteries. Trustees authorized Andy to do the tree work in and around the meetinghouse, horse shed and parsonage.

d. The horse shed had been excavated and gravel laid. The sill and shingles in the back are rotten and will need to be replaced.

e. They recommend that Lunt Road Cemetery be mowed more often since it is visited regularly.

g. Andy Higgins will repair the column at Lunt Cemetery, remove the old basketball hoop on the horse shed and help repair the storage shed at the parsonage if needed.

h. Interior repair and painting of the meetinghouse ceilings will be done before winter; an exterminator has been hired to deal with the on-going mouse problem; and the chimneys and furnaces will be serviced.

i. The Trustees plan to get estimates for water treatment systems for both the meetinghouse and parsonage; the well pump at the meetinghouse may need to be replaced since it may be the original to the well dug when the addition was built in the 1950s.

4. Tess Hartford reported for the Christian Education Committee and Youth Ministry.

a. Concern has been expressed regarding electronic equipment used by children and youth, distracting from the worship and community atmosphere in Sunday School and other activities.  Parents will be contacted with this concern.

b. Our child care provider is unable to continue, and thus they are seeking help in this area; it involves 2 hours on Sunday morning, $15.00 an hour. An article will be included in the newsletter with this request for someone to fill this need. Contact Wendy Schlotterbeck if interested. Wendy will be the child care provider until someone is hired.

c. The World Quaker Day sponsored by Friends World Committee for Consultation (worldquakerday.org) on October 7th will replace Rally Day. There will be a pot luck lunch and activities.

d. Family Game Night will occur November 3rd with a pot luck meal.

5. The Peace and Social Concerns Committee report was given by Ingrid Chalufour. Future activities include a social justice film series, October 12, 9, 16 and December 7, and a “Seeds of Peace” activity at Curtis Library in Brunswick. Details of these events will be included in the Newsletter.

6. Ad Hoc Committee report: Doug Bennett reminded us that A Community Conversation about the Way Forward for our meeting without a pastor will be held on September 30, 2018. An article about this event will be included in the Newsletter and a Friendly Note will be sent.

7. Susan Rice reminded us that a report from the representatives to New England Yearly Meeting Sessions would be in order. It was suggested that Ministry and Counsel schedule messages related to Yearly Meeting concerns.

8. Tess Hartford expressed appreciation for attending the Arts Camp at Friends Camp in China (Maine) which included writers, visual artists, and musicians.

We adjourned in gratitude for the Spirit of the day!

Dorothy Hinshaw, Recording Clerk

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“Looking for Lake Huron,” by Doug Bennett

Taken from a message at Durham Friends Meeting, September 9, 2018, by Doug Bennett

Much of life, I think, is like driving on the Trans-Canadian Highway, or like driving on I-95 or Route 1. You can get somewhere pretty fast. You can deal with the necessities of ordinary life. You can get to work or to a store or to a friend’s house. But the majesty and mystery of life, maybe not so much. That majesty and mystery may be nearby, but the highway won’t take you there. You have to go looking for the big water, and you may not find it. Maybe you have to get into a boat or walk a rocky path. Maybe you have to go to Meeting.

There are many days I’m looking for the big water. There are many days I’m looking for the experience of the divine, the presence of God, the holy. More often than not I never quite see the big water. I might catch glimpses. I might see bits of water through some trees. I might see boats that maybe could get me there, but they aren’t my boats, and most of the ones I see aren’t being used by anyone. I keep hoping to come round a bend and see the big water open up. I keep hoping the next bend will give me the long view, maybe even the eternal view, and take my breath away. Most days my view of the holy is blocked by dozens and dozens of bits of ordinary life.

For all the talk of God in the Bible, there are only a few instances where God makes a direct appearance. Think Moses and the burning bush. But that only happens a few times. And most of those few instances are times when someone simply heard God’s voice. Think Noah, or Samuel, or Paul. Most of the time people are just trying to find out what God wants them to do without ever catching even a glimpse.

Quakers often talk of being seekers. We talk of seeking God. We talk of stilling ourselves, quieting ourselves, getting off the highway away from the buzz, hoping to hear God’s voice. We know it takes effort, practice, prayer, waiting worship.  What’s more, it doesn’t always work. Sometimes we go through spiritual dry spells. Other times the big water, the holy, takes us by surprise. But we know, don’t we, there’s no direct route there, no simple turn-off scenic vista that promises us a view of God.

You can read the whole message at River View Friend.

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Woman’s Society Eat-Out, September 17, 6pm

The Annual Eat-Out of Durham’s Woman’s Society is this coming Monday, September 17 at 6 p.m.  We will be meeting at the Thai’s Cuisine Restaurant at 6 1st Street, Topsham.  It is located behind the Topsham Town Office; 1st Street turns off Monument Drive, near the Route 201/Main Street end.

The restaurant’s website is https://thaismaine.com/ and they can be reached by phone at 721-0103.

This is a great opportunity to come out for a nice meal, talk with people from Meeting, and find out more about Woman’s Society.  The restaurant sets no minimum on orders, so you could have a full meal, something less, or just sit and chat.

Please join us, all are invited.    

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Library News for September, 2018

By Dorothy Hinshaw

Four books on the USFWI Reading List were purchased following the suggestions of Woman’s Society members:

  • Freeman, Henry B.: Unlacing the Heart. Henry has been a fundraiser for several Quaker institutions; he shares his inspirational friendship with Henri Nouwen, and a meaningful visit to El Salvador.
  • Karon, Jan: Come Rain or Come Shine. This is a must read for those who have read her other books, but it lacks the depth of previous novels.
  • Thebarge, Sarah: The Invisible Girls. This is a memoir which shows empathy and support for a Somali family she met on a bus, her struggle with cancer, and her religious journey.
  • Walton, Mary: A Woman’s Crusade; Alice Paul and the battle for the ballet. Quaker Alice was a major leader in the woman’s suffrage movement in the States. This book is tedious but a well written historic account.

Also “check out” our renewed subscription to the pamphlet series, Quaker Religious Thought. These are short reads on Quaker theology and experience. Don’t forget that we continue to receive Pendle Hill Pamphlets on relevant topics. A gem of a recently discovered pamphlet in our collection is Friends and the Sacraments, by various Quaker leaders. Pamphlets are located on the Pamphlet Shelf!

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“Into Unknown,” by Craig Freshley

Taken from a message given August 27, 2017 by Craig Freshley

I’m a pretty good skier, I love skiing fast. Very confident in my comfort zone, I’m experienced and when I’m on the ski slope I know what’s going to happen next. I know that I can handle it; it is so fun. Sometimes I get skiing a little too fast, a little on the edge of my comfort zone, that is when it turns from fun into a religious experience. Not a religious experience like “Oh God, Help Me!” , but a religious experience like “Oh God, this is awesome!”. I don’t know what’s going to happen next and I know I can handle it, because I have confidence in my ability and I have faith. It’s like this with lots of things, with music, theater, sports, where somebody knows well how to do something. Actors on the stage follow the script, they know it down pat. But it’s when they go off the script just a little, let the emotions get a little bit out of control, with true faith that it is going to be okay anyway – that’s when the magic happens.

Quakers have a history of going off the script a little bit. George Fox, many trail blazers, I might call it going from the comfort zone into the unknown zone. Don’t know what’s going to happen next, but if you have faith you know you can handle it anyway.

I’ve been doing an experiment in Maine… I want to tell you about that experiment. I want to tell you how I have gone into the unknown zone, how I’ve tried to bring people with me into the unknown zone. Before that, let me tell you a bit about my profession. I am a professional meeting facilitator. I have facilitated probably 3000 meetings over the past 15 or 20 years. Non-profit boards of directors, corporate groups, governments hire me. When there is contention, when there are high stakes decisions to be made, that’s typically when I’m contacted.

I first was called to do this by a Quaker woman. I’m a convinced Quaker and it was from a Quaker woman that I learned the principles of Quaker business practices and consensus decision making. I try to bring these practices into the main stream world. I worked in Augusta for many years and I sat through many bad meetings. I had the sense that we can do better. I set out to learn how to do things better. I really believe this, so I have written a book called The Wisdom of Group Decision. I’ve written many one-page tips. I have made over 100 videos. All of these are available on my website if you are interested. I’m not trying to be promotional, but there are resources available to you, you can Google my name and find that stuff.

At the last presidential election, I became deeply troubled at the magnitude of the political divide in our country, in our state, in many of our communities. I had a sense that the political divide was growing but the election results made that clearer to me. Like a lot of people, I wondered what I could do about that. What’s my part? Many people have activated in their own ways. My way was to try and bring people together. I had the idea to do this sitting one night in my Quaker Meetinghouse. Peter Blood and Annie Patterson – the folks who created the book Rise Up Singing – were there that night playing music and leading us in singing. I thought, if we are going to bring people together a good way to do that is to have arts or music or something. I invented the “Make Shift Coffeehouse”, rented space at the library, got the word out, made posters. I tried to bring Democrats and Republicans, liberals and conservatives together with live music, food in a coffeehouse environment for some informal table chit chat and some formal dialogue where we simply try to understand each other.

I’ve had more than 6 of these so far in different parts of Maine and I have several more scheduled. There is a group that is very enthusiastic about this idea, they’ve formed the Friends of Make Shift Coffeehouse, trying to raise money and pushing me to take this further. They think this is really what the world needs.

It’s an opportunity for people to simply understand each other. Not persuade each other, not agree with each other, not find common ground. We are very clear about that. You are allowed to go to a Make Shift Coffeehouse and leave with exactly the same political views that you walked in with. The hope is that at least you shift a little bit of your understanding of where other people are coming from. Because I have learned from years of group dynamics experience that 90% of all conflicts are the result of misunderstanding. When we don’t understand our adversaries and where they are coming from, we make stuff up about them. We demonize them, we turn them into the bad guys, and it’s when we take the time to understand where each other is coming from, whether we agree or not, we have a much better chance of coming to a peaceful resolution.

Doing this, I’m outside my comfort zone. When I have one of these meetings, I’m not sure what’s going to happen, but I know I’m going to be able to handle it, because I have faith, I have confidence in my ability and I have the tools I need on board with me. I’m asking other people to come with me into that unknown zone also. A lot of people are afraid to attend one of these makeshift coffeehouses. I went on a morning talk show and the guys were teasing me, “Oh are you going to need medical supplies on hand?” It’s that kind of thing. I organized one at a local library and the librarian called me that afternoon and asked if I thought we might need a police officer on hand, because she had heard from people and the public concerned about going to this meeting where there were going to be Democrats and Republicans in the same room talking to each other. There is some fear about this. But with faith on board we can walk through that fear, step into the unknown zone. I’m doing it, because I think it is what the world needs. I think it is what God wants me to do. And other people are doing it because they think it is what the world needs. It’s not like we don’t have any tools. Like I don’t have the tools for doing this. I’m not stepping into the unknown zone unequipped. In my Quaker meeting, someone brought this analogy… it’s like being in the dark, carrying a lantern. Imagine an oil lamp, it makes a ring of light beneath my feet and illuminates few steps ahead and after that it is dark and it’s scary to step into the dark. Here’s the thing, when I take a few steps the light moves with me.

I am here to inspire you to step outside your comfort zone a little into the unknown in the direction that you believe God wants you to step.

What is the direction that you will step in to the unknown zone with your lantern?

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Ad Hoc Committee Continues Its Work

By Doug Bennett

The work of Durham Meeting’s ad hoc committee will be back on the agenda in September and we need your help. The most recent report of the committee (from April) is on the Meeting’s website.

At the May Monthly Meeting we agreed to these next steps:

  1. That committees currently providing pastoral care (M&C), outreach (CE, P&SC, newsletter) and coordination (clerks meeting) consider their roles and effectiveness more deeply;
  2. That these groups and committees report back to the Ad Hoc working group with their thoughts by Sept. 17;
  3. That the Ad Hoc group organize a time for A Community Conversation about the Way Forward on Sept 30 (5thSunday) 2018.

So please, if you are a member of a Meeting committee, please note what we are asking you to do, and send the ad hoc committee your thoughts by September 17. And please mark your calendars for a special discussion on Sunday, September 30.

Thank you.

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Vassalboro Quarter Fall Gathering Weekend

Vassalboro Quarter Fall Gathering Weekend

Friday through Sunday, September 7-9, 2018

 The Vassalboro Quarter Fall Gathering weekend at Friends Camp will be a wonderful opportunity to have time with Friends from around Maine to share our actions, what inspires us and where we are stuck!

60 minute breakouts: Here are a few samples:

  • The Power of Enough: a continuation of discussion from Living Faith Spring retreat
  • Poor People’s Campaign/White privilege discussion, [check out Rev. Dr. William J Barber’s Address to the 2018 Friends General Conference (FGC) Gathering – America Must Have a Moral Revival: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=S7u6BTyLqy8 ]
  • Global Day of Action for Climate Justice: review of a workshop offered at NEYM Sessions. Learn to use a Carbon Calculator to gauge your individual or Monthly Meeting carbon footprint (bring your computer so you can do it at Fall Gathering!)
  • Universal Health Care and Active Hope
  • Art as a form of spiritual expression

There will be 60 minute gatherings Friday evening and Saturday morning, with more spontaneous sharing/break outs welcomed for Saturday morning and afternoon. The preliminary schedule is below. If anyone would like to offer a 45-60 min workshop, they can contact the Fall Gathering committee below or sign up on Friday night.

Pre-registration by August 31st is appreciated to allow for meal planning and any child programing that is needed. To sign up, please go to this link: (copy and paste it in your search).

Pre-register at: https://goo.gl/forms/ec5KQVfXsTrLpoMe2

Spread the word in your meeting’s newsletters or correspondence by forwarding this or copying. Be sure everyone has the link.

Walk-ins are always welcome! Register when you arrive or at the next meal. Come for one day or stay for the full weekend.

If someone doesn’t have internet access to pre-register, or is having any problems with pre-registering, they can call the registrar, Stephen Assante, at 207-649-0619 and leave a message or email at sassante314@gmail.com.

Youth of all ages are welcome and there is no fee for children or for parents/guardians bringing children. The VQM subsidizes all children under 18 yo.

Young Adult Friends are also meeting with us for the second year.
Their programing and Vassalboro Quarterly Friends program will be overlapping as-led! We will be gathering together Friday starting with supper. YAF should use the same link to pre-register.

Housing: There are cabins with bunkbeds, tenting areas and a few handicapped accessible cabins with a bathroom. The latter are limited and usually reserved for those who indicate at pre-registration that they need one. If you would like hospitality off campus with a local Friend, please contact Joann Austin: austinlaw@fairpoint.net

Meals: All vegetarian: please let us know at pre registration about any special dietary needs.

Cost of the weekend:

Due to the generous support of Friends in the Vassalboro Quarter, this gathering is pay-as-led for participants – and children are free, as are. Please do not let cost get in the way your attendance but feel free to donate as led and able. Payment is due at registration when you arrive at Friends Camp. 0-17years: free.18-35 years: $0-$50. All parents and adults bringing children: $0-$50. All adults over 35: $0 – $100. Please indicate your total amount that you are able to contribute.

Common questions about costs: Friends Camp charges VQM based on the number of adults and children who eat each meal, stay over each night (regardless of whether they camp, use a cabin or trailer), or attend for just part of a day. Those who attend may make a contribution based on what their charges would be or what they think they can afford. This is called Pay-as-Led.

Here are costs to VQM: Meals are around $10, day rate is $7, and day with an overnight is $14. So one adult staying for the entire weekend including overnight would be 6 meals and 2 overnights or $88.

Hope to see you there!

Vassalboro Quarter Fall Gathering Weekend &
YAF Retreat

Link to the Pre-registration: https://goo.gl/forms/ec5KQVfXsTrLpoMe2

Draft Schedule

Friday (PM)

4:30–6        (VQM) Ministry & Counsel Meeting

5:00–7        Registration

6:00–8        Dinner

7:00–8        VQM and YAF: Gathering of Friends in Gratitude

8:00-9         Separate VQM and *YAF activity

 

Saturday (AM)

7:30–8:30    Breakfast—Grace at end of meal

8–8:30        Registration

8:45–9:30    *Program—Introduction—Centering Worship Sharing

9:45–10:45 *Small Group Session

11–12         *Small Group Session

12–1:15       Lunch

Saturday (PM)

12–12:30     Registration

1:30–3        VQM *Business Meeting

3:15–4:30    *Small Group Session

4:30–6        Free Time

6:15–7:15    Dinner

7:30–8:30    *VQM and YAFs Sharing with music, singing and dance.
YAFs and others may plan to continue longer.

 

Sunday (AM)

7:30–8:30    Breakfast

8:45–9:45    *Worship Sharing/Reflections on our weekend

10–11         *Meeting for Worship

12–12:45     Lunch

12:45 PM    Camp Clean-up and goodbyes!

*held in the Aviary at the top of the hill or in multiple other locations

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Durham Monthly Meeting Minutes, July 15, 2018

Durham Monthly Meeting of Friends convened in worship for the conduct of business on Sunday, July 15, 2018 with 13 people present. Clerk Susan Rice opened the meeting with a reading from the New England Yearly Meeting website statement, “The Quaker Way.” We did not meet in June.

  1. Sukie Rice reported that Eileen Babcock’s will states that a significant bequest will be made to the New England Yearly Meeting pooled invested funds, to benefit our meeting. These funds are unrestricted in their use.

2. Tom Frye is moving to North Carolina to be with family. A group of volunteers (Gene Boyington, Sukie Rice, and Sarah Sprogell) have been cleaning his condominium in Freeport. It will be renovated and sold. It was suggested that the Bernice Douglas fund be used to pay the costs of renovation for up to $20,000; this amount would be reimbursed by Tommie C. Frye at the closing of the sale of his property at 17 Linwood Road, Freeport, Maine. A letter from the clerk (Sukie Rice) regarding this agreement, also signed by the treasurer, Katharine Hildebrandt, will be given to Tom Frye for his signature. Gene Boyington is Tom Frye’s Power of Attorney and is managing Tom’s affairs in his absence.

3. We approved a loan from the Bernice Douglas Fund be used to renovate Tom Frye’s condominium, with an agreement as stated above.

4. Finance Committee: Sarah Sprogell presented the January l-June 30, 2018 finance report of Income and Expenditures   Income for this period was $25,851, and expenses were $23,591, Both figures close to 50% of the budgeted amounts. This report is attached. It was noted that the need for Friends Camp Scholarships has exceeded our budget. It was suggested that we ask for donations to meet this need.

5.  We approved fund raising for the extra amount needed for Friends Camp Scholarships. An appeal will be included in the Newsletter.

6. Youth Minister/Christian Education Report: Wendy Schlotterbeck reported about several events. “June 2nd was the Annual Yard and Plant sale which earned $750.00. June 3rd was Children’s Day when we celebrated the children and youth of our meeting and marked the close of Sunday School for kids. In addition of many adults present, we were happy to have 10 children/youth among us for the hot dog, mac and cheese and ice cream picnic. A special treat was rainbow fruit kabobs made by Katherine Langelier. We started a quilt of Durham Children’s hand prints and planted a pumpkin patch. We signed cards for 3 graduates in the Durham Family: Elliott Nagler, Andrew Wood and Hannah Wood.

The annual family campout at Betsy Muench’s home in Georgetown, June 16-17 was a great success. 25 people enjoyed the sea air, water and beach. We held meeting for worship on the beach under sunny, blue skies, giving thanks for the beautiful world God created, each other and the Muench family’s generosity sharing this treasure with us.

On Saturday July 14, seven Durham Friends attended ‘Healing Turtle Island’ at Nibezun, in Passadumkeag, Maine at the invitation of our Wabanaki friends. The 2 Durham children were entranced by the Sacred Water Ceremony and the Mother Earth Ceremony led by indigenous elders from around the world. One highlight was the song/dance circle by the children, and the Blessing of the Children Ceremony that followed. Each of the approximately 30 children was blessed by an elder gently touching their head, face, and heart with a giant eagle feather while another elder fanned a smudge pot as the rest of the gathering sang, ‘Children, this is for you.’ After a shared lunch, our youngest Durham Friend chose to sit on the front bench with the head Penobscot elder, Sherri Mitchell (wena’hamu’gwasit) during the lengthy Mother Earth Ceremony. She was taken by hand and welcomed to participate by adding tobacco to the sacred fire to close the ceremony. It was a special privilege to witness the deep spirituality of the people, spend unhurried hours praying and feel the warm welcome to share in their grief and their deepest longing to heal the earth.”

7. Leslie Manning reported for the Trustees. Donna Hutchins has informed the Trustees that she and Daniel Ross will be moving from the parsonage. She will not continue as custodian. The Trustees ask that the Nominating Committee appoint Donna as a member of Trustees. They would like another member as well. Membership in the meeting is required to be a Trustee. They will informally ask people about a new tenant and the position of custodian. They will not advertise at this time. They recommend that the current rental agreement for the parsonage continue.   They recommend a rental agreement of $1200 per month to include electric usage; renter would pay for lawn care within the fenced area, plowing, and heat. The meeting would fill the pellet furnace hopper; a new tenant would refill as needed and leave it full.

Outstanding projects:

  • Cemetery: Trustees received an estimate from Andy Higgins for mowing grass using his own equipment, and report that they will pay a salary of $15.00 per hour from the cemetery fund for all locations. Andy will also do the repair work on the columns at Lunt Cemetery. No checkbook has been located for the Cemetery Fund. Donna Hutchins and Margaret Wentworth will go to the credit union and order a new set and void the number series for the lost book. Donna will replace Eileen Babcock on the cemetery checking account which will give us two signers. The second signer is Katherine (Kitsie) Hildebrandt. Donn will serve as the Cemetery Fund bookkeeper and be the record keeper delineating cemetery plots. She will prepare the accounts for auditing.
  • Parsonage: A plumber will be asked to schedule repairs to the toilet and the outside faucet at the parsonage. The gutter on the parsonage porch will be removed.   It was recommended that a community wide discussion concerning the future of the parsonage be held, either as an item of business at monthly meeting or at a special called meeting. The clerk will schedule this discussion.
  • Meetinghouse and horse shed: basement windows will season before being painted in the fall. Andy Higgins has agreed to do work on the horse shed, along with the repair and painting of the ceilings in the meetinghouse; he will submit proof of insurance and W-9 form for payment. Andy Higgins made a trash run from the parsonage and storage shed; Wendy Schlotterbeck cleaned the horse shed. Some valued items might be listed on Craigslist or shown to an appraiser for sale. Daniel Henton has installed a system for raising and lowering banners on the south side of the meetinghouse. Many thanks to Dan.

Long Term Projects:

  • Parsonage: investigate a filtration system for water; conduct a radon test; replace storm door and door to patio; monitor pipes in laundry area (insulation, heat lamp, relocation?); clean attics in garage and house; paint porch floor and ceiling; do electrical inspection.
  • Replace shed roof.
  • Grounds: Donna Hutchins will check with the Durham Town Office and an appraiser regarding a woodlot plan and tree growth tax reduction.

Items listed in the Trustees’ report concerning the meetinghouse and horse shed will be discussed at a later date. Trustees announced a “Love Your Meetinghouse Day” on October 13.

8. We approved the request that Donna Hutchins be added as a Trustee.

9.  We approved the following: a new tenant to the parsonage would pay all utilities except the CMP electricity bill, with a rent of $1200 per month.

10. We approved refunding the security deposit to the current renters of the parsonage.

11. Items listed in the Trustees’ report concerning the meetinghouse and horse shed will be discussed at a later date.

12. Trustees announced a “Love Your Meetinghouse Day” on October 13.

13. Peace and Social Concerns:

a. Sukie Rice reported that proceeds from the Friends of Kakamega Dinner amounted to $1000, plus a $2000 donation with a total of $3000 for the event!

b. We approved scheduling a Seeds of Peace fundraising event, date to be determined.

14. A concern was raised concerning the presence of dogs in the meetinghouse as that might discourage persons of other faiths to feel welcome.

15. Joseph and Alexandrine Godleski have requested that their name be removed from membership as they now live in Florida and attend a local church. We approved, and the clerk will send a letter of appreciation for their active participation in our meeting and that they will be missed.

16. We approved the following persons as representatives to New England Yearly Meeting sessions: Kristna Evans (also representative to NEYM Ministry and Counsel), Sukie Rice, and Sarah Sprogell.

17. A request for financial assistance to attend New England Yearly Meeting Sessions was received and since we don’t contribute to the Equalization Fund, travel expenses in the form of gas receipts can be submitted to the treasurer. We were reminded that we “pay as led.”

18. The Treasurer, Kitsie Hildebrandt, asked Jo-an Jacobus who initially set up the phone/internet system in the meetinghouse for advice on how to lower our costs.   Jo-an researched our account with Consolidated Communications regarding phone and internet service, phone book listing, and repair of the outside line. Jo-an reported that the line will be repaired without cost. She recommends that we move to a two year plan that would cost approx. $80.00 per month (less than the $117 per month if we don’t change the plan). Our phone listing was moved back from the Lewiston phone book to Brunswick phone book. Jo-an recommends that we buy a backup power source due to power outages. Her research is attached.

19. We approved changing our phone/internet service to the two year plan at $80.00 per month and that we purchase a backup power source, not exceeding $80.00.

20. We approved May’s monthly meeting minutes, with corrections noted.

The meeting adjourned at 2:15.

Dorothy Hinshaw, Recording Clerk

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“Joy in Unexpected Places,” by Leslie Manning

Message given at Durham Friends Meeting, June 24, 2018

I want you all to see my coffee cup, which says “It’s a tough world, stay Prayed Up”. Most days, coffee and prayer get me through the day. Alright, coffee, prayer and the love of a good dog.

This cup is a gift and came from a very important Christmas tradition in my family – the Yankee Swap. I see this tradition is familiar to a lot of you. Every year, about 30 of us gather in my mother’s living room with a gift, costing no more than 20 bucks, and we wrap them up and pile them up in the middle of the floor.

Then, after drawing numbers we choose one gift for our own. If we don’t like what we have drawn, we can exercise the right to take someone else’s, until the last person has drawn, and then the first person can look them all over and choose any one they want. The Elvis Presley cookbook? Lottery tickets? A pair of Jesus socks? (Not socks that Jesus actually wore.) Wine and a couple of glasses? All yours–except the chocolate body paint. That was drawn by my then 80-year-old widowed mother–and she wouldn’t give it up. (She later said it was delicious over ice cream.)

And what, may you ask has that got to do with my studies at the Chaplaincy Institute of Maine? Well, my dear friends, every day at ChIME, every monthly weekend of intense study and practice, every weekly class, is a spiritual Yankee Swap. But in our version, every one of us gets not only the present that we want, but the present that we need.

I have invited some of my classmates to join us in worship today, and I hope you get to visit with them later. They are all remarkable , ordinary people.
The kind of people who show up without being called, who speak up, who stand up and who sometimes dance. It’s called chaplaining, — who knew chaplain was a verb? And it is becoming my life’s work and the work of a lifetime.

Chaplaincy Institute of Maine is an interfaith program with the intention of turning us out into the world, as called and led, to offer hope, healing and a listening presence for people at some of the darkest and most joyful occasions in their lives; and to be available, on spiritual stand-by, for all the moments in-between.

In between, that liminal space where we find grace, sorrow and joy. Today I want to concentrate on the joy. Liminal space is occupying a position at, or on both sides of, a boundary or threshold. For example: “While doctors operate, she hangs suspended in liminal space”. In other words, G-d space.

The ChiME website says, “ChIME educates and ordains interfaith leaders who serve with integrity, spiritual presence, and prophetic voice.”

As part of our studies, we learn about the world’s religions, about our own vulnerabilities, our dark and golden shadows; we learn to listen and go deep to the source of all grace, sorrow and joy. We learn the difference between forgiveness and forgiving; to hang on and to let go; to open ourselves and allow ourselves to be opened. And we are only in the first phase of this work and calling, as we go together into the “classwomb” and are churned as we are chimed.

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