What is Durham Friends Meeting Doing About Coronavirus? — a message from Ministry and Counsel

UPDATE 3/19/20: Sunday Worship will be conducted via ZOOM until further notice.

Meeting link:     https://zoom.us/j/2814426094      Click here to join by video and audio
Phone number:     +1 301 715 8592    Dial this to join by audio only
Meeting ID:    281 442 6094  

You will also need a password that has been sent via e-mail. If you don’t have it, ask another member of the Meeting.

Together with every other organization and community across the globe, Durham Friends Meeting is faced with questions about what to do with the threat of possible Coronavirus infection in our midst.  Some of the answers will have to be made together, and others are for each individual or family to answer on their own.

We are a worship community.  Gathering together is what we do.  We gather for worship, for prayer, for study, for support, for fellowship and for fun.  In normal times, we gather strength from gathering together.  But in the current situation, we may do each other harm. 

The situation is likely to change.  We’ll be learning more about the risks and best approaches.  We expect that the current situation will last at least until the end of May.  Members of Ministry and Counsel, together with the Clerk, will monitor the situation and make decisions.  We’ll send out information on e-mail, and we’ll try to see that those who do not receive e-mail receive phone calls. 

For the present, here is how we will proceed. 

  • We will have 1st Day Worship each Sunday as regularly scheduled.  Please attend via Zoom.  As always, someone from Ministry and Counsel will be responsible for Care of Worship.  There will be a prepared message most Sundays. And someone will provide tech support for our use of Zoom.

Various committees of the Meeting are gathering using Zoom, but all other events have been cancelled.

We need to care for one another.  Please stay in touch by phone, e-mail and other means.  By all means ask questions of M&C if you have them, and we will try to answer them or point you to someone who can. 

With God’s love and strength, and with support from one another, we will get through this.

Martha Hinshaw Sheldon, Co-Clerk of the Meeting

Sukie Rice, Co-Clerk of the Meeting

Doug Bennett              Tess Hartford

Renee Cote                 Joyce Gibson

Brown Lethem            Wendy Schlotterbeck

Ways That the Climate Crisis and Militarism Are Intertwined

From Peace and Social Concerns Committee:

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

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

Woman’s Society Report, February 17, 2020

On February 17, 2020 five women met in the home of Theresa Oleksiw. Cards of friendship and well wishes were signed and a prayer request for Getry Agigh was made. Getry works in the Alternative for Violence program in Kenya and braves many dangerous situations. Meals for the Tedford Shelter were organized.

Margaret Wentworth read from the 2019/2020 Blueprints, Finding the Way by Margaret Musalia, who lives in Kenya, is “retired but not tired,” and practices pastoral ministry. She offered a lot of sage advice, including “Don’t give up, God has plans for you,” “Be willing to do God’s will,” and “Never compare your blessings, you are unique.” We were reminded that comparison is the thief of joy.

Nancy Marstaller, treasurer, reported that we now have savings of $1,519.93, with $690 set aside for two of our members (Dorothy Curtis and Martha Hinshaw Sheldon) who will be going to the USFWI Triennial in Kenya this summer. It was noted that $1,470 has been donated to Woman’s Society in memory of Clarabel Marstaller. It was also agreed that we would ask Durham Monthly Meeting to give $600 for both Martha and Dorothy’s registration and related costs.

Refreshments were enjoyed by all, including Gene Boyington, who joined in the rollicking conversation. It was noted, with due seriousness, that duct tape is always useful — “if you can’t duct it, chuck it.”

Respectfully submitted by Theresa Oleksiw

“Should We Leave Politics at the Door of the Meeting Room?” by Doug Bennett

excerpt from a message given at Durham Friends Meeting, March 8, 2020

Should we keep politics out of Meeting?  Is it something we should leave outside, for another day and another place? 

I think we certainly have to acknowledge that Jesus was a political figure.  He was “born a king” in a land that already thought it had a different king.  And he was executed for treason, for claiming to be a king.  (Crucifixion was reserved for punishing treason.)  In between he advocated all manner of things that run against the policies of the current government.  How can I follow Jesus and exclude politics from this room?

So what to do?  I’m still thinking in terms of what do I lay down when I come into this room, and what do I pick up and carry away from it.

When I come into this room, I have to lay down everything, and that includes all my worldly allegiances and commitments.  As Paul says in Galatians (3:28), “There is neither Jew nor Gentile, neither slave nor free, nor is there male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus.”  Nor is there Red Sox or Yankee.  When I come into this room, I’m not a Democrat.  I’m not for Bernie or Joe or Elizabeth.  I have to lay down my slogans. I have to even lay down my certainties about gun control, climate change and a woman’s right to choose.  They may still be there waiting for me to pick them up when Meeting is over, but for the moment I have to lay them down. 

I’m only with God.  No, that’s not right.  I’m also with all of you.  We’re all sharing in the work of helping each other settle deeply into worship.  We’re making each other welcome.  We’re looking at each other expectantly.  Perhaps you, or you, or you, will be who channels the voice of God today.  I’m not dismissing anyone because of their politics.

We’re making a place for God, and that means we need to be tender with each other. 

On the other hand, what do I take from this room? 

I have to expect that what I hear in this room, what I take in, will make a difference in every aspect of my life.  It will shape my politics.  It is here in worship that my most basic commitments are forged, and sometimes re-forged.  I have to expect that this is possible.

I have to carry the commitments formed in worship out of this room and let them influence everything I do.  My personal relationships.  My finances.  Everything.  Even my politics. 

Quakers sometimes say, “Let your life speak.”  That goes for politics as well as for everything else.  But it’s what we carry out of worship that lets our lives speak, it’s not what we smuggle into worship. 

The entire message can be found at Riverview Friend

Library News, February 2020

We have a large collection of Pendle Hill Pamphlets, which a
short and always relevant on a myriad of subjects. Please note that
we just received a very helpful index of the pamphlets, 1934-2018,
listed by number, author, title, and subject! The latest one is titled:
“On Vocal Ministry.”
Anonymous gifts include A Permeable Life, Poems and Essays, by Carrie Newcomer (Quaker songwriter); Our Endangered Values, by Jimmy Carter; and a highly recommended book, A Dangerous New World, Maine Voices on the Climate Crisis.

Durham Monthly Meeting Minutes, February 16, 2020

Durham Monthly Meeting of Friends convened for the conduct of business on Sunday, February 16, 2020, with 14 people present.  Co-Clerk, Susan (Sukie) Rice, opened the meeting with quiet waiting.

1.The January minutes were approved.

2. Sarah Sprogell reported that the balance in the Charity Account is $16.321.63; this report was requested due to projects which might use this account.

3. Katherine Hildebrandt reported that the Woman’s Society requests funds from the Charity Account to support Durham Meeting representatives to the United Society of Friends Women International triennial conference which meets in Kenya in July.  The amount requested is $600 each to cover registration, food and lodging.

4. We approved the amount of $1200 from the Charity Account ($600 each) for Martha Sheldon and Dorothy Curtis who are attending the USFWI conference.  The clerk will prepare traveling minutes for Martha and Dorothy and will plan a “prayer sendoff” late in June.

5. Finance Committee: Sarah Sprogell handed out the 4th quarter finance report which includes income and operating expenses for 2019. She also circulated a list of Designated Accounts,

Saving Accounts, and investments and CD figures. These reports will be attached to the minutes.

            Sarah gave a 2019 yearend report: We received a bequest of $32,352 in the early part of 2019, and approved tithing 10% ($3,235) for our Charity Account, and put the balance into our Capital Account ($29,117), based on the long-standing history of the giver’s family having encouraged and supported good stewardship and care of our buildings and property.

  In addition to tithing $3,235 to the Charity Account, the meeting also approved moving the balance of the Bailey and Cox Funds, totally about $11,000 to this account, increasing its balance to $19,000.  This increased our ability to support worthy causes brought before the meeting through committees.  Through this process we made contributions of close to $3000 in 2019.

 After the above actions were taken, we ended the year with a surplus of $20,590.15

The primary reasons for this surplus are described below:

  1. An unexpected increase of approximately $3000 in our interest income from the NEYM invested funds, due to a new formula in the distribution policy.
  2. A savings of about $2000 in committee expenses.
  3. A savings of about $700 in meeting expenses for advertising, copier expenses, and similar costs.
  4. A savings of about $1300 in youth ministry expensesfor conferences and youth activities.
  5. A savings of $10,000 in expenses which had been set aside for the possibility of hiring someone into a new ministerial type position.
  6. An insurance reimbursement of approximately $3000 for our expenses to repair damages to the parsonage from the freeze in December 2018.

 Some actions have already been taken in response to this surplus. 

  1. Most significantly, we have committed to hiring a Meeting Care Coordinator for an annual stipend of $10,000, and a search committee is already working on this. 
  2. We also committed to increasing our giving to several national Quaker organizations by about $1000 annually.
  3. With the addition of a Meeting Care Coordinator, we may find that committees and our youth minister are able to find ways to spend more of their budgets.  I think we can agree that this would be a happy occurrence!
  4. It should also be noted that some of these savings may not be repeated in coming years, in particular the $3000 insurance reimbursement. 

It is with a deep sense of gratitude for the many people who give of themselves so generously to the care of the meeting, that we find ourselves in a strong position to steward our meeting community spiritually, to provide responsible care for our buildings and property, and to engage with the broader community as advocates for “an earth restored.”

 We received these reports with gratitude.

6. Peace and Social Concerns:  Ingrid Chalufour reported that the committee held a forum on January 26th to discuss the U.S. Military carbon footprint and to write letters to our legislators.  The meeting was well attended and they were encouraged to continue to conduct activities that address our outsized military and their contribution to the climate crisis, and to voice our thoughts widely.  There were several suggestions which will guide the committee’s planning for the future.

 The ad-hoc Carbon Footprint Committee brought two contractors into the meetinghouse to assess our insulation needs and gave estimates for work they recommend to lower our fuel use.  We have vermiculite insulation in the attic to be tested for asbestos; one contractor recommend its removal; the other to keep it in place.  The committee will bring a proposal to monthly meeting for the best way forward regarding our carbon footprint.

7. Margaret Wentworth reported that an ad-hoc support committee (Margaret Wentworth, Margaret Leitch Copeland, and Sukie Rice) has been formed to support Theresa Oleksiw who has felt drawn to work on issues of poverty and food insecurity in Maine and to raise the realities of this issue to law-makers with hopes of increasing the funding for SNAP (Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program).    Theresa met with a clearness committee from Portland Friends Meeting to develop a clear picture of how to proceed, and they developed plans for the SNAP ReBoot Project that personalizes and addresses food insecurity.  She has received grants from Portland Meeting, New England Yearly Meeting, and the Lyman Foundation to fund the project through April.  She is applying for further grants to complete this project.  Because of a two-month funding gap between grants, the support committee recommends that Durham Meeting grant her $3000 for these two months, May and June.  A full report of this project is attached. 

8. The meeting approved the grant of $3000 from the Charity Fund for the SNAP ReBoot Project.  We look forward to a report from Theresa regarding this project, and a financial report of expenses.

9. Christian Education and Youth Minister:  Wendy Schlotterbeck is staffing the Young Friends Retreat at Woolman Hill this weekend and thus sent a report.  Sunday School classes are going well. The preschool

Elementary age class taught by Tess Hartford averages 3-5 children and is continuing to use Faith and Play and Godly Play stories.  Feedback from parents indicate that this curriculum is much appreciated.  The middle/high school class taught by Wendy Schlottebeck averages 2-3 youth, and uses the Quaker Affirmations curriculum from the religious Education Collaborative.  The Adult class continues to meet every Sunday at 9:30.  It is facilitated by Martha Hinshaw Sheldon and they are currently reading “White Fragility” by Robin DiAngelo.  Martha reported having incredible, intense, and lively discussions.  “Waking Up White” by Debby Irving was the previous book the class read and discussed.  This class averages 3-5 participants.

            Upcoming events: family game night March 14; Easter breakfast April 12; and Faith and Play/

Godly Play training on May 8-10.

10: Nancy Marstaller brought a concern regarding the organ in the meeting room which unfortunately has not been used for some time; it was approved that it be sold or given away to another church. 

We closed in gratitude for the present and the past. 

Dorothy Hinshaw, Recording Clerk

Durham Meeting Donations to LACO Food Pantry

In December, the Durham Meeting Woman’s Society organized an Advent “food drive” for the Lisbon Area Food Pantry. During this month we asked people to bring in foods that LACO has on its “wish list” for their families, after which Kim Bolshaw drove a truckload of goods to the food pantry.
Dorothy Curtis once again worked her cooking magic this past autumn, making about 80 jars of raspberry, grape, and peach jams from fruits grown in the Meeting garden. These absolutely delicious jams were then happily purchased by members and attenders, raising a little over $400, which was donated to LACO. Thanks to all who brought in food for the pantry. Thanks to Dorothy for making all that jam! Thanks to those who helped in the garden to grow and harvest the fruits. And thanks to everyone who purchased the jams (and some garlics), making this a very successful Meeting outreach.
There are nine Durham area churches that make up Lisbon Area Christian Outreach. Questions about LACO can be brought to Margaret Wentworth, Margaret Copeland, and David Dexter, who have been our representatives on the LACO board.

“Finding Harmony with the Natural World,” by Ingrid Chalufour

Message given at Durham Friends Meeting, February 26, 2020

I have been reading a book of Greta Thunberg’s speeches. As you probably know, Greta is the Swedish student who is striking for action on the climate “emergency”.  She has had the opportunity to speak to political and business leaders throughout the world using the extensive work of scientists as her message, Greta is attempting to reach the most powerful, those with the ability to address the climate crisis in a way that brings necessary and lasting change. Why are her impressive words not eliciting more action at the top? What is it that motivates us to respond to the climate crisis or not. I think we know what motivates inaction – money and probably fear of having to give up the comforts of an unsustainable lifestyle.

Greta is motivated by the science and the desire for a livable planet for her’s and future generations. This should be enough. The science is clearly telling us a livable future is not possible at our current rate of consumption. It is obvious that our children and grandchildren will face many challenges as a result of our inaction. That is enough for me, although there are other motivators. For many, a spiritual connection to the natural world drives their response. In a December message we were reminded of the Bible’s call for caring for the natural world and offered up Christian moral convictions as a reason to respond to the climate crisis. “We are called to be stewards of God’s creation. When we keep the Earth, then we do God’s will.”

For the indigenous people of this country a belief in the interconnection of all living things is central to their spiritual beliefs, and it guides their daily way of life and an activist agenda. I read a poem attributed to a Taos elder:

Now this is what we believe.

The mother of us all is earth.

The father is the sun.

The grandfather is the Creator

Who bathed us with his mind

And gave life to all things.

The Brother is the beasts and trees.

The Sister is that with wings.

We are the Children of Earth

And do it no harm in any way.

Nor do we offend the sun

By not greeting it at dawn.

We praise our Grandfather for his creation.

We share the same breath together-

The Beasts, the trees, the birds, the man.

Sherri Mitchel, a member of Maine’s Penobscot Tribe, expresses similar thoughts. I quote:

Our “way of life is about living close to the Earth, close to our kin, and remaining ever mindful of our responsibilities to the sacred agreements that we have with every living being. It is about the sustainability of the Earth, our relationships, and our spiritual connections.

“Everything is interconnected and interdependent; the well-being of the whole is determined by the well-being of any individual part…. This belief forms the foundational understanding weaving through all of our other values. It’s the thread that ties them all together.”

I will briefly review three of the values Sherri discusses in her book Sacred Instructions:

  • We all have enough, meaning that everyone should be ensured they have enough to live with dignity and a sense of security and that community has enough to thrive.
  • Harmony is an inner state of equilibrium, in spite of life’s challenges we are asked to understand the dual nature of the universe and recognize the beauty in everything. When we are connected to the source of life we develop greater compassion and patience.
  • Harmony with the natural world teaches taking active steps to live in harmony with the rest of creation. Quoting Sherri, “We cannot even see ourselves as being stewards of the Earth. We are only keepers of a way of life that is in harmony with the Earth…. This understanding is very different than the belief that human beings are chosen above all others.’

These beliefs and values are shared across Native tribes and communicated through ceremonial dances, chants, and folk tales/stories passed down from generation to generation.

I repeat: We all have enough, Harmony is an inner state of equilibrium, and Harmony with the natural world.

This reverence for the natural world was central to the Native way of life long before the colonists came to this country and it did not take long for the colonists to impact the New England environment. In 1855 Thoreau wrote in his journal about the ecological changes to New England that resulted from the colonists way of life. He was comparing his observations with those of William Wood, who recounted his observations in a 1633 book, New England’s Prospect. Some of these changes resulted from clearing forests to send timber to England, others from their farming practices. Colonists had a very different relationship with the natural resources of New England than the original Americans.

Today, motivated by these beliefs, Natives take civil action to protect the environment. Nick Estes, of the Sioux Tribe, writes about the belief that “water is a nonhuman relative who is alive and that nothing can own her (referring specifically to the Missouri River) and she cannot be sold or treated as a piece of property.” It is this belief that motivates the native camps of protesters attempting to block building of the Keystone XL Pipeline. In the February Friends Journal find an article by Shelley Tananebaum, a Quaker Earthcare Witness, who spent time in a camp in Standing Rock.

These are all strong motivators for caring for the natural world. I too believe in the interconnection of all living things and the importance in maintaining the health of the many ecosystems that sustain the natural world. I wish I were as sure about a path forward as I am about why we need one. I don’t know how to motivate those who have not bought into any of the values I have shared here.

I sometimes play a game imaging a world that resulted from the Colonists learning care of the land from the first residents of this country. This is fantasy I know, but maybe it has some value.  At least it puts my mind in a happier place. Imagine for a minute what kind of economic system we might have if its health was not based on how much we are consuming? What kind of trade deals would we have with other countries? Would they be designed to increase production and sales? Or think about the Industrial Revolution. There would have been one, of course, but how might it have been different if there was more concern for preservation of natural resources? Or how would farming be different if we cared about the health of the soil and the ecosystems that large farms disturb? Or think about the value “we all have enough” and how public policies would differ if that was a commonly held value.  

What else might have evolved differently and how might we mine these ideas for use in creating a sustainable future for our children and grandchildren. How can we move backwards to a time of less consumption, more preservation of our natural resources? Isn’t that what reducing our carbon footprint is all about? We are not going to reverse climate change by composting and recycling. But we are working to find a life style that provides a sustainable future for humanity.

I leave you with a quote from the Harvard entomologist, E.O. Wilson,

“Natural philosophy has brought into clear relief the following paradox of human existence. The drive towards perpetual expansion – or personal freedom – is basic to the human spirit. But to sustain it we need the most delicate, knowing stewardship of the living world that can be devised.”

Durham Monthly Meeting Minutes, January 19, 2020

Durham Monthly Meeting of Friends convened for the conduct of business on Sunday, January 19, 2020 with 11 people in attendance.

1. Nominating Committee: Margaret Wentworth reported for Nominating Committee. They recommend that appointments remain the same as 2019, with the following changes:
Presiding Clerk: Add Martha Hinshaw Sheldon, so she and Susan (Sukie) Rice will be Co-Clerks.
Trustees: Remains the same, keeping Paul Wood on the committee.
Ministry and Counsel: Add Renee Cote.
Finance: No changes.
Christian Education: Katherine (Qat) Langelier is going off the committee.
Communications: Change Newsletter Editor from Qat Langelier to Sukie Rice.
P & SC: Linda Muller is going off. New members are very much needed.
Next month the full list will be attached to the Newsletter.

2. The Nominating Committee report was approved. Martha Sheldon continued to preside over the Meeting for Business as a duly approved co-clerk.

3. The minutes of December 15, 2019 were approved as printed in the Newsletter.

4. Ministry and Counsel: Martha Sheldon reported that Doug Bennett will draft the State of
Society Report. Upcoming speakers will be Ingrid Chalufour, Joyce Gibson, Tess Hartford, Heather Augustine, Peter Crysdale, Fritz Weiss, Doug Bennett, and Leslie Manning.

5. Christian Education: Wendy Schlotterbeck submitted the report.

Dorothy Curtis will be the CE representative for the search committee for the Meeting Care Coordinator position.
(b) The committee decided to nurture relationships and connections with the Maine Native American community as their theme for the year, including learning more about Native American history. They hope to collaborate with Heather Augustine’s youth group and will encourage Durham Friends to attend Healing Turtle Island in July.
(c) They will continue family game nights and aim for the next one to be on March 14.
(d) Faith and Play/Godly Play training has been confirmed for May 8-10 at Durham Friends. Portland Friends and possibly several other NEYM Friends will join us. Melinda Wenner Bradley from Philadelphia Yearly Meeting will bring the training.
(e) They discussed naming a clerk for the committee, but decided at this time to rotate the role among members. Wendy has agreed to bring the CE/youth minister report to Monthly Meeting.

Youth Minister Report:
(a) Wendy Schlotterbeck has begun visiting Durham Friends families with children to get a sense of their needs.
(b) Wendy is participating in “Noticing Patterns of Oppression and Faithfulness,” an online training sponsored by NEYM and facilitated by Lisa Graustein, on January 16 and March 12. This training focuses on informing our work with youth.
(c) Wendy attended an all-day reflection and planning session for the Young Friends program of NEYM on January 18 and will continue to help staff with upcoming Young Friends and Junior High Young Friends retreats. The report was accepted gratefully.

6. Communications Committee: It was reported that Sukie Rice will be the CC representative for the search committee for the Meeting Care Coordinator position.

7. Martha Sheldon reported that the first meeting of the search committee for the Meeting Care Coordinator will occur this coming week. The search committee will now be under the care of Monthly Meeting rather than Ministry and Counsel. It was suggested that there be a deadline for applications. Dorothy Curtis, Ingrid Chalufour, Sukie Rice, and Martha Sheldon will be on that committee. Notice of the job advertisement will be sent out as a Friends Note and include the deadline.

8. Finance Committee: Sarah Sprogell brought the report, which included the 2020 budget. There was discussion about our giving to Quaker organizations, specifically to increase the amounts we give to them in 2020. From this discussion, we raised the original $100 budgeted for each of them to the following: AFSC: $250; Velasco Friends: $250; FCNL: $300; QUNO: $200.

9. The Budget 2020 was approved to include the aforementioned changes, with appreciation to the Finance Committee. Our projected income for 2020 is $60,826 and expenses are $60,690. 

10. Meeting Auditor: Sarah Sprogell, the Meeting Auditor, brought her report for the years 2014 and 2015. The Auditor states that the books for both years are in very good order, and noted that we have a gem in our Treasurer, Kitsie Hildebrandt, in her navigation of the funds of the Meeting. These reports are attached.

11. Monthly Meeting accepted the Auditor’s reports with appreciation for the work Sarah has done. It was noted how Sarah and Kitsie’s work on these reports has assisted the Finance Committee in a number of ways to better oversee the finances of the Meeting.

12. Brunswick Friends Meeting continues their process of finding a future place for Meeting for Worship. Martha Sheldon will reach out to them regarding the possible use of the Meeting house.

The meeting ended with a moment of quiet reflection in gratitude for the Spirit being present with us.

Sukie Rice, temporary Recording Clerk

Woman’s Society Report, January 20, 2020


The business portion of the gathering began with our monthly card ministry to those who are home bound, ill, or in need of encouragement, and to those engaged in world ministries who are celebrating their birthday. We then discussed our support of two members who will be attending the Friends United Meeting and United Society of Friends Women Triennial this summer in Kenya. Then we reviewed the Meeting refreshments volunteer list and the Tedford meals.
Jo-an Jacobus presented a program and discussion generated by USFW’s Blueprints on “Finding a Way to Peace” by Jan Dough. As she shared stories and reflections, we were encouraged to listen, pray, and act: listen for what is behind an act, pray without ceasing, act where we can. We reflected on the following queries: What are your tools to find peace and solve conflicts? Do you listen to and rely on God’s will to find answers? Do you complain about the injustices of the world, or do you act to make the world better for those around you? As Quakers, what are our peacemaking responsibilities?
Nancy Marstaller gave the annual treasurer’s report. The final total for the silent auction was $329. Memorial donations in honor of Clarabel Marstaller came to $1,375. Donations have been made to United Society of Friends Women International Children and Youth Projects, Warm Thy Neighbor, Wayfinder Schools, and Sexual Assault Support Services of Mid Coast Maine. Appreciation was expressed for Nancy’s work on this annual report.
We ended our meeting with the sharing of prayer requests and learning of updates from past requests.
In peace, Martha Hinshaw Sheldon, recorder.

“Driving the Difficult Driveway of Life,” by Gene Boyington

Message given at Durham Friends Meeting, January 19, 2020

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Good Morning, Friends.

There are lots of ideas about guidelines for the speaking part of worship and our oral ministry to ourselves and others. Here is a specific one and a general one:

Specifically, Never give Gene the microphone.

Generally, here is a four-part one with a title like those quartets that were ubiquitous back in 1940s and 1950s popular music:

This is an old Quaker guideline for being heard and appreciated in Meeting. I call it the 4 “S”s, or Three Sues and a Syd😊 (Su, Su, Su, Sd):

  1. Stand up (to be recognized);
  2. Speak up (to be heard);
  3. Shut up (to be appreciated);
  4. Sit down (to be invited to speak again).

**This could be enough of a main message this morning, but try and stop me from telling you my:

  Backing-out-of-the-driveway story.

In this story, there will be no names mentioned to protect the innocent, the guilty, and the pretty good relationship of the two!

My driveway (pause), with which some of you are familiar, slopes slightly upward into the yard. It also bends slightly to the right as one proceeds up the incline. It’s not long enough to drive in, then turn around somewhere, then later drive out. We have to drive in and back out. Or we have to _back_ in to be able to _drive_ out. But that requires forethought and determination.  Harried from our time away, we are in a hurry to get resettled into the comfort and calm of domesticity. So, we drive in.

Later, when a new errand calls, we usually are (again) in a hurry, now to do what must be done in the bigger world, we must back out. It is easy, when backing out, to forget the slope and the bend, then wind up slightly to the north side of the driveway, or to have a midcourse correction and oversteer into a slightly southerly position toward the road end of the driveway. Straying off the northerly side of the driveway is problematic for the rock border of the flower garden – the rocks are taller than the clear space under most moving vehicles☹. [It has happened.] The southerly side usually is not much trouble, as straying off the driveway would take one only into the lilac bush. [It, too, has happened.]

The aforementioned innocent, and guilty, have survived (so far) all the trials of navigation of the driveway. They _are_ still enjoying that pretty good relationship😊.

But recently, there was a snowstorm with a lot of pretty wet snow, after which the newish snowblower broke most of its shear pins, and the replacements would take a week to arrive. So, the innocent (or the guilty, we don’t recall which) shoveled a vehicle width path in the driveway to permit traveling – in the bigger world.

Later in the day, it was time for one of those travels. The innocent (or the guilty, depending on one’s current frame of mind) cranked up the car and began to back out of the driveway in the appropriate fashion. OOPS, quite completely stuck in the un-shoveled portion on the southerly side of the driveway, not quite into the lilac bush. [innocent and guilty worked together (with help of four-wheel drive truck) to extricate the car and get the innocent (or guilty) abroad in the bigger world.

How did this happen? Whichever (guilty or innocent) had this occur under their respective drivership, the other has had hardly ever such an occurrence. How does each of them negotiate backing up – in this driveway, in other driveways, out of (or into) parking spaces? Could there be a difference that is significant?

After much introspection by innocent (or guilty), there was this thoughtful conversation by both:

When you back out of the driveway, where is your right foot?

[Long pause] On the gas.

[Long pause] Problem?

Yup. Brake, poised at the top of the brake pedal’s travel. Let the car back down by itself?

Uh-huh. Then, there is more time to watch where the vehicle is going, being ready to apply the brakes, if needed.

OK, that’s good😊

Remember the slope? If we are backing uphill, we need to apply gas; downhill, be ready to brake. The car’s automatic transmission will power it backward ever so slowly, if we are on a downslope, or it might just roll.

Reflecting on this tale of woe and resolution, one might ask oneself:

“Am I a foot-on-the-gas person?

“Or am I a foot-on-the-brake person?”

“Do I know when to steer … with my foot on the gas, when to steer … with my foot on the brake?”

“Is there more I could know, and can learn, about making conscious choices?” 

Somewhere in the Bible, there is a statement about freedom of choice. Elsewhere in the Bible is commentary and implication about what God gives us along with this life opportunity, how we use what we are given, and the responsibility we have to make good, useful, and effective choices.

Forum: The U.S. Military’s Carbon Footprint

On January 26, Peace and Social Concerns will be hosting an event after Meeting, the first in a series examining current events of concern to Friends. These discussions are designed to inform letter writing.

On the 26th we will discuss the U.S. military’s carbon footprint. Please plan to stay after meeting to join us.

Tell Congress No War With Iran!

By Hassan El-Tayyab, FCNL, January 3, 2020

From the Friends Committee on National Legislation

Last night, the Trump administration assassinated Maj. Gen. Qasem Soleimani, the military commander of Iran’s Quds Force. This is a dangerous escalation of the confrontation with Iran, one that will lead to more bloodshed, and expand conflict and instability throughout the Middle East.Stop the March to War with Iran

As a Quaker organization we hold firm to the faith that war is not the answer. Our lawmakers have repeatedly failed to stop the march to war with Iran and return our nation to the path of diplomacy. This moment calls for political courage.

The House and Senate have introduced bills, H.R. 2354 and S. 1039, that would ensure the president cannot take military action against Iran without congressional authorization – except in response to an attack on America or its armed forces.

Congress has the power to prevent war with Iran. It must exercise its constitutional authority now. Urge them to act.

Statement from FCNL: FCNL Condemns Assassination; Urges Congress to Oppose Escalation of Deadly Conflict with Iran

Durham Monthly Meeting Minutes, December 15, 2019

            Durham Monthly Meeting of Friends convened for the conduct of business on Sunday, December 15, 2019 with 13 people present.  In the absence of Clerk Susan Rice, we approved the appointment of Sarah Sprogell to serve as clerk.  Sarah opened the meeting by reading a quote from Caroline Stephen from Light Arising, published in 1908.

1. The November minutes were approved.

2. Ministry and Counsel:  it was sadly reported that, after a brief illness, Clarabel Marstaller died peacefully on December 2nd, 2019.  Dorothy and Edwin Hinshaw who had served with the Marstallers in New England Yearly Meeting many years were approved to work with Ministry and Counsel regarding a memorial minute for Clarabel Marstaller.

             Martha Hinshaw Sheldon shared a list of speakers in meeting for worship for the next few weeks.

            An updated proposal for a Meeting Care Coordinator was presented.  It was suggested that a search committee be made up of representatives from four committees: Peace and Social Concerns, Christian Education, Ministry and Counsel, and Communications, plus the Clerk, Susan Rice.  Ministry and Counsel will ensure the formation of the committee.

3.  The meeting approved hiring a Meeting Care Coordinator as well as the formation of the search committee, which will limit its search to the New England area. 

4.  Finance committee: Sarah Sprogell presented the budget for 2020 and it is attached to these minutes. 

5. Peace and Social Concerns Committee:   Ingrid Chalufour reported that a new temporary group (Footprint Subcommittee) has formed to propose ways the carbon footprint of the meetinghouse can be lowered.  The group is made up of representatives from three committees: Sarah Sprogell (Finance), Robert Eaton (Trustees), Ingrid Chalufour (Peace and Social Concerns), and Kim Bolshaw, custodian.  They are researching a variety of ideas and proposals.

6.  Christian Education and Youth Minister:  Wendy Schlotterbeck reported that about 7 people from Durham and Portland meetings are interested in Godly Play training, tentatively planned for the weekend of April 3-5 at Durham Meeting.  Others from New England Yearly Meeting are invited at the cost of $150 per person.  Melinda Wenner Bradley, Director of Communications and Training (Faith and Play Stories, Inc., Godly Play Trainer) can offer the training.  The Quaker version of Godly Play is Faith and Play. 

            Wendy Schlotterbeck staffed the Junior High retreat at Woolman Hill the weekend of December 6-8.  A Young Friends retreat was also held the same weekend in Providence, RI.  Three young friends from Durham meeting attended retreats that weekend.

            The Christmas event on December 20th will include a labyrinth in the parking lot, soup, cider, cookies, carols and campfire, 4:30-7pm.  Parking will be across the street. 

7.  Betsy Munch announced that Brunswick Friends Meeting is losing their meeting place, and wonders if we might share our space with them.

8.  We approved the suggestion that Brunswick Friends Meeting consider using our facility for their meeting for worship on Sunday morning, suggesting a time of 9:00 to 10:15, specifics and shared financial arrangement to be further explored.

We closed in quiet reflection.

Dorothy Hinshaw, Recording Clerk

Three Ways of Looking at the Christmas Story, by Doug Bennett

Excerpt from a message given at Durham Friends Meeting, December 15, 2019

Here’s one way of looking at it.

Take the four gospels.  Each tells a story of a life.  For the moment, put the Christmas story, the birth, to one side.   And also put to one side the stuff at the end about the end of Jesus’s life: about Jesus coming to Jerusalem where he’s arrested, crucified and resurrected.  Now without that beginning and that end, we have the story of a preacher and healer who wanders the countryside doing and saying attention-getting things.  Fresh things.  World turned upside down things.  Be humble. Be so generous as to give away your only coat.  Love your enemy no matter what.  In that big middle story, Jesus gets crosswise with the religious leaders of his time.  He heals on the sabbath, for example.  But Jesus really doesn’t encounter a soldier or a policeman.  He’s never really in danger.  He never gets a ticket or a fine.  He never spends a day in jail. 

In the middle of the story there’s no mention of the Emperor or the Romans. And they’re in control, we need to remember.  The Romans have conquered Israel and Judah and subjugated them.  Their Empire is the greatest, the mightiest ever known.  At the end of story, when Jesus comes to Jerusalem, Jesus does get in trouble with the authorities.  Crucifixion is a Roman penalty for the most serious crimes – for challenging the authority of the Emperor. 

If we remember how it ends, that puts the Christmas story in a new light.  The Christmas story announces the birth of a king: not just a mighty king, but the mightiest of all.  It announces the birth of a king who will sweep away all worldly kings, even the Roman emperor.  Born in a stable, laid in a manger.  But here is a baby to whom the wisest of kings bow down.  Here is a baby attended by angels.  Here is baby who is hunted by a wicked king, but a baby who escapes and triumphs.  And here triumphant is a new kind of king who triumphs through love not through the sword. 

“This is the Anti-Empire,” we might call this story.  This is the empire out-empired.  The story at the end is the same story told at the beginning.  Christmas and Resurrection are versions of the same story. 

[The full message can be found at River View Friend.]

Passing of Clarabel Marstaller, December 2, 2019

Accompanied by love and a deep faith, Clarabel Marstaller peacefully crossed the threshold last night.  The family thanks everyone for their prayers and says they felt uplifted throughout this last part of Clarabel’s journey.  Plans for a memorial service will be announced at a later time.  Nancy Marstaller’s address is 32 Caitlin Shore Road, Harpswell ME 04079.


An obituary can be found here.

Doug Gwyn Tells His Story

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

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

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

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

Durham Monthly Meeting Minutes, November 17, 2019

            Durham Monthly Meeting of Friends convened for the conduct of business on Sunday, November 17, 2019 with 12 people present.  Clerk Susan Rice read from the 1985 New England Faith and Practice, p. 117: “the Search for Unity.”

1. The October minutes were approved.

2. Christian Education Committee and Youth Minister: Wendy Schlotterbeck sent their report.

 Seven people from Durham and Portland Meetings are interested in Godly Play training which would involve a weekend in the spring. Please let Christian Education Committee know if interested in this training.  The committee and the Finance Committee will consult concerning the cost of this training. 

The committee made a slight change to the Sunday School plan.  Parents may drop off a child with Ashley Marstaller, our “baby sitter” at 10:30 or bring them into the meeting room for singing, then quietly go to Godly Play class which will begin around 10:40.  Children will stay in the class until meeting for worship is over.  Middle and high school age youth will meet at 10:30 in their space and return to meeting for worship at 11:15.

Wendy will be staffing the New England Yearly Meeting Junior High Retreat at Woolman Hill on the weekend of December 6-8.

Upcoming events include attending the “Day of Mourning” event on Thanksgiving Day (Nov. 28) in Plymouth, MA; Wreath making on Dec. l; and a Christmas gathering on Dec. 20.  Details will be included in the Newsletter. 

3. Peace and Social Concerns Committee:  Ingrid Chalufour reported that the committee is exploring a variety of ways that the meeting could reduce its carbon footprint. 

4. Finance Committee: Attached is the third quarter finance report.  Our current budget income and spending has continued to be healthy and stable through the end of September 2019.  Total regular income year to date was $43,968.72 which is 76% of our annual goal.  Our expenses during this period were $33,900.89 which is 59% of our annual goal, resulting in a net difference of $10,067.83.

Items that were higher than expected are fuel oil, and maintenance and supplies for the meetinghouse.  Trustees have overseen several important carpentry repairs and repainted the addition this year, and they are still within their annual budget request.  Unfortunately, the price of fuel oil is unpredictable.  These additional expenses, however, have been offset by lower spending by committees and various other meeting expenses, so on balance, we are in a good position to finish the year without needing an annual appeal.

 Sarah Sprogell completed the transfer of funds from the Bailey and Cox Funds to the Charity Account, as approved and requested by the Monthly Meeting in October.  These two funds had been in low interest CDs, and have increased the balance in the Charity Account to $16,339.21

The Finance Committee will be meeting very soon to draft a proposed budget for 2020 and encourages committees to submit their requests for 2020 as soon as possible.

5. Ministry and Counsel:  Martha Sheldon reported that there will be Christmas Eve candlelight service at the meetinghouse facilitated by Jo-an Jacobus.

            At their retreat on November 2nd, they considered recommendations and suggestions from a number of members and attenders concerning adding a paid position of Meeting Care

Coordinator which would provide assistance and support to committees and volunteer activities.   They propose that it be a quarter time position to be paid $10,000 a year, supervised by a support committee. The Meeting Care Coordinator would include pastoral care, ministry, outreach and coordination of activities. Other descriptions mentioned for this position were: facilitator, encourager, and enabler.  The full proposal will be in the newsletter, and an informal discussion will occur after meeting on November 24.  Approval of the proposal will be considered at Monthly Meeting for Business in December.  We discussed ways to advertise this position.  We expressed our appreciation for the work of Ministry and Counsel, and accept their recommendation.

6. We recommended that the Finance Committee consider including charitable giving to Quaker organizations currently not included in our budget: Friends Committee on National Legislation, American Friends Committee, and Quaker United Nations Organization. 

            We closed in a centering stillness. 

Dorothy Hinshaw, Recording Clerk

“Building a Fire,” by Doug Bennett

Excerpt from a message given at Durham Friends Meeting, November 17, 2019

I’ve been thinking that Meeting for worship is a little like building a fire.  It takes at least a few of us gathered together in worship.  One person alone can hardly do it.  Even two or three doesn’t feel like quite enough, though I suppose it can be. 

When I’m here at Meeting and watching people come into the Meeting room, it fills me with gladness to see us gather.  Oh there’s that person and that person; I was hoping they’d be here.  There’s so-and-so: I wish we saw her more often.  Ah, and some folks I haven’t seen before, that’s terrific.  It takes all kinds to build a good fire, one that will catch and burn for a while. 

As we gather and seat ourselves, I can see us building a fire together. We have to leave room for God, or the Spirit.  Perhaps that’s why we ask that there be silence between spoken messages.  That silence is like the oxygen the fire needs.  Together we invite the presence of God. 

There’s magic in the fire, but we make the preparations that invite the magic. 

Britain Yearly Meeting’s Faith and Practice has this Advice: “We can worship alone, but when we join with others in expectant waiting we may discover a deeper sense of God’s presence. We seek a gathered stillness in our meetings for worship so that all may feel the power of God’s love drawing us together and leading us.” 

“A gathered stillness:” that’s what we need.  A gathering in stillness.  If you want to put a fire out, you pull it apart; you scatter it.  Scattering chases away the magic.  Once a fire dies down, it takes effort and time to make it blaze again. For us, scattering is latecomers, the opening and closing of the doors, bustling about, people entering and leaving after we’ve gathered. 

We want to welcome and encourage everyone to come, but we want everyone to remember we are building a fire together. 

A Southeastern Yearly Meeting Advice says “Be prompt and diligent in attendance at meetings.” That discipline is what it takes for us to build a fire together: to be prompt in gathering and then to join together in stillness.” That means:  Come on time to meeting.  Once in the room, settle yourself for the hour or so.  Stay settled; Together, in stillness, we invite the presence of the Divine. 

An old hymn says,

Lord, I have shut the door, Speak now the word Which in the din and throng Could not be heard;

Hushed now my inner heart, Whisper Thy will, While I have come apart, While all is still.

Without that stillness, we may not find our way to God.

In the stillness, the fire can ignite.  God is invited to come near. 

[A copy of the full message can be found on River View Friend.]

“Spiritual Gifts Among Us,” by Nancy Marstaller

Message given at Durham Friends Meeting, November 10, 2019

Ring the bells that still will ring. Forget your perfect offering. There is a crack in everything. That’s how the light gets in.

That’s a quote from Leonard Cohen’s song “Anthem.”

            Last month I went to my 45th college reunion. When I was in college, I had many ideas and ideals about the world and my power to change it for the better. Since then, I’ve struggled with the fact that I haven’t lived up to what I hoped, and the condition of the world seems to be getting worse in many ways. Yet, I still have hope. Cohen reminds me I still have bells to ring, I still have “offerings” to give. I trust the Divine is still working through me in spite of my cracks, or maybe because of my cracks, and that the Light of the Divine is entering me and inspiring me. And once the light enters me, I need to share it, as Jesus told us: No one lights a lamp and then hides it or puts it under a basket. Instead, a lamp is placed on a stand, where its light can be seen by all who enter the house.

            At one point during the reunion, we were wandering around campus looking at trees. There are some beautiful ones there and they were just moving into fall colors. Nuts and acorns littered the ground. I picked up this walnut shell, which I know you can’t really see, but you can check it out later. Meanwhile, imagine how it looks. The outside is dark brown, beat up, chewed upon, broken, and scratched- nothing to catch your attention or make you pause. But the inside! The walnut is gone, which must have been a perfect offering for some creature, but the shape of it remains, curvy and arresting. Like us as we grow and age, our outsides may not look that fresh, aren’t a perfect offering, but our insides are beautiful, have developed interesting twists and turns, and have offerings to share.

            At this past summer’s yearly meeting session, Lisa Graustein’s message about using our spiritual gifts resonated deeply with me. We Friends often speak of the gift of ministry, or spiritual gifts. When I was young I understood that to be spoken ministry, or the ministry of leading an organization or movement. Later the idea expanded: for example, my mom is recognized for her gift in organization. Jan Wood has identified many different areas of spiritual gifts, which I’ve posted, and Lisa spoke about those. I’ll share a few examples with you.

            Jan has given some of the gifts unexpected names. One is exorcism- the ability to liberate from systemic oppression. Wendy and Brown exemplify this gift, as they work to create a world not dominated by environmental degradation or militarism, but one where respect and justice for all beings and the earth is primary.

            There is the spiritual gift of translation, the ability to translate or understand languages you don’t know or the ability to understand and help others communicate across seemingly impossible divides. Craig exemplifies this with his facilitation of Makeshift Coffee houses.

            There is the spiritual gift of service: the ability and desire to meet the practical needs of people. Dorothy Curtis exemplifies this as she cooks bounteous portions when needed, leads the Woman’s Society, and helps organize memorial service refreshments. Dan as trustee and soundman and Kitsie as treasurer and trustee also exemplify this gift.

            Margaret Wentworth exemplifies the gift of trust, or faith- the deep assurance that “all is well” even when circumstances go awry.

            Paul Miller’s work as a counselor exemplifies the gift of healing- the ability to cure and restore body, mind, emotions, and/or spirit.

            With her work with the Kakamega Orphan Care Center, Sukie exemplifies the gift of shepherding or pastoring – the ability and desire to care for a group of people over time.

            I could go on and on, as many Sunday mornings I have gone around the room and thought of each person and the gifts that each one brings to this meeting and to the world. Everyone has bells they are ringing, whether or not it was the bell of their perfect offering, or the one that still rings no matter what.

            After my closing prayer, I’ll hand around a basket. Please draw a slip and look at the gift written on it. We did this at yearly meeting, then Lisa asked us these questions, which I modified slightly for our circumstance:

1. If this gift is new to you, how might you be asked to breathe life into it in the days and weeks ahead?

2. If this is a gift you currently manifest, how can you deepen and exercise this gift to a fuller extent?

3. If this gift is not for you, who do you see manifesting this gift that you can affirm and support? How can you name this gift in another, thereby empowering it to work among us?

Again, as Leonard Cohen wrote: Ring the bells that still will ring. Forget your perfect offering. There is a crack in everything. That’s how the light gets in.

I offer this prayer: Dear Divine Spirit, thank you for filling us with light, for giving us spiritual gifts, for accepting our imperfect offerings. Thank you for giving us the strength, courage, and wisdom to share those gifts with the world. Let our lights shine brightly and our bells ring out clearly.             Amen.

If you want to learn more about Jan Wood’s descriptions of spiritual gifts, go to https://goodnewsassoc.org/associates/jan-wood/spiritual-gifts-resources/

“Go to the Limits of Your Longing,” by Brown Lethem

Message given at Durham Friends Meeting, November 3, 2019

I came across a poem by Rainer Maria Rilke that I want to read. It is from his Book of Hours: Love Poems to God.

 Go to the Limits of Your Longing

 God speaks to each of us as he makes us,
 then walks with us silently out of the night.
 
 These are the words we dimly hear:
 You, sent out beyond your recall,
 go to the limits of your longing .
 
 Embody me.
 flare up like a flame
     and make big shadows I can move in.
 Let everything happen to you:  beauty and terror.
 Just keep going.  No feeling is final.
 
 Don’t let yourself lose me.
 Nearby is the country they call life.
 You will know it by its seriousness.
 
 Give me your hand.
 
 (Book of Hours, I 59) 

Doug’s words last week on getting past the “ME land” experience in waiting worship were telling.

My experiences of Quakerism since joining in 1971 have given me an understanding of corporate worship that  is thrilling, when it happens and  keeps me coming back for that deeper sense of community. The combined energy of an aggregate of Friends in deep expectant silence can produce what Friends call, there gathered meeting. 

 It’s a powerful experience of worship the requires few words, but produces the mindfulness of being in the now.

Finding that still, small voice of God within each of us requires an emptying out of the worldly noise and the personal ego as Doug reminds us.   Bringing that level of immersion in Silence and Communion is a goal.  I don’t often achieve this, but I know it is attainable.

I want that experience of the gathered meeting because it releases love and validates my belief in Prayer as expectant waiting.  It opens in me a clearness, an opening to love that I yearn for. To the extent that prayer channels and focuses my experience of love  it is self serving.  But is that not what God wants for us?

In my art work when I am deeply involved in process I experience a similar opening and being in the now. clearness that I associate with being in touch with  loss of self and ego. An energy that makes me keep coming back for that experience of the Spirit that is a renewal.   

There is a popular refrain that goes “Only the good die young.”  Some of us sinners have to live to a ripe old age to even approach that experience of devotion to god that St.Theresa of Avila and Thomas Kelly speak of. 

Especially those who have “gone to the limits of your longing’ and have loved the world of experience. 

We need to reach out for that hand.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Library News, October 2019

NEW BOOKS (and one CD and two pamphlets) added to the library collection:

—Buckley, Paul: Primitive Quakerism revived: living as Friends in the twenty-first century, 2018.

—Canto, Francisco: The line becomes a river: dispatches from the border, 2018. Canto joined the U.S. border patrol determined to experience what was happening on the Mexican border first hand.

—Cobb, Wayne: Quakers in early Falmouth and Portland, Maine, 1740-1850, 2019.

—Dawnland (CD): a documentary about cultural survival and stolen children, 2018.

—Gulley, Philip: Unlearning God: how unbelieving helped me believe, 2018. This book is extremely readable, written with humor, and is a thoughtful study on the nature of God.

—Hockett, Eloise and John Muhanji: Lessons from cross-cultural collaboration, 2017. Quaker projects mainly in Kenya are described through the lens and perspective of an American and a

Kenyan.

—Humphries, Debbie L.: Seeds that change the world: essays on Quakerism, spirituality, faith and culture, 2017. Debbie Humphries traveled in the ministry among Friends under the care of Hartford Meeting.

—Johnson, David: The workings of the Spirit of God within (Pendle Hill Pamphlet), 2019.

—Johnson, Elizabeth A.: Creation and the Cross: the mercy of God for a planet in peril, 2018. The proper focus is not humanity but creation in its entirety.

—Jones, Rufus M.: A call to a new installment of the heroic Spirit. NEYM, 1947.

—Jones, Rufus M.: Quakers in the American Colonies, 1911.

—Muench, Elizabeth: Friendly audits, 1990.

—O’Sullivan, Elizabeth: Building bridges: four stories from the Bible (Pendle Hill Pamphlet), 2019.

—Quaker religious thought, 2019 (a periodical of modern Quaker thinking issued twice a year).

—Trueblood, Elton: While it is day: an autobiography.

—Tutu, Desmond: Made for goodness, and why this makes all the difference, 2010.

These books were gifts to the library or purchased as recommended by Friends Journal and the United Society of Friends Women International. You will find most of these books on the NEW BOOK SHELF!

“Beyond Me,” by Doug Bennett

Excerpt from a message by Doug Bennett at Durham Friends Meeting, October 27, 2019

A lot of the time I’m pretty taken with myself.  I admit that.  I know that.  Many days, maybe most days, I can float on a river of “me-ness.”  I’m in “me-land” much of the time. 

It’s my concerns I’m thinking about; my needs, my wants, my worries, my hopes, my pleasures, my pains.  Me Me Me Me Me Me Me.  There’s a lot of me in my world. 

I may be worse in this regard than most people.  I don’t really know, but maybe.  I certainly don’t think I’m better at getting away from me-land than most people. 

Still, I do notice that most other people most of the time are wondering around in me-land. 

It can be a comfortable place to be, even when I’m annoyed or unhappy about something.  I’m the most important person in me-land.  What I want is the most important thing.  My thoughts are the ones I want to hear – and often the ones I want others to hear.  My hurts, my pains are the ones that seem to most need attention. 

How about you?  Are you number one in your feelings and thoughts most of the time? Are you in Me-land much of the time? 

I don’t believe I’ll ever fully escape Me-land, but I think I’m better for getting out as often as I can. I know I’m going to wind up back in Me-land but I don’t give up trying to escape. 

Where’s the door?  Where’s the pathway out?  Where’s the secret tunnel or hidden stairway?  How do I get outside of Me-land?  How does anyone? 

Actually, I’ve come to think there may be many ways to escape.  Some work better for some people; some work better for others.  (Number 6 found a different way to try in each episode of The Prisoner.)   If you want to escape and are willing to try, you have to find the way or the ways that work for you. 

Here’s one way that works for me – one pathway:  waiting worship. 

In Meeting for Worship, I try to lay down all the Me-ness.  I try to quiet the voices in my head that I know are “me” voices.  I try to lay aside the voices that are talking about my wants, my needs, my hopes, my concerns, and see if I can hear another voice – let’s call it the voice of God. 

Is it really God’s voice?  (How do I know who or what God is? I don’t know. That’s ‘beyond me.’)  All I know is that sometimes I can find another voice, and it’s not mine.  It’s a voice ‘beyond me.’  It’s more than me. 

Making friends with that voice is important to me.  Making friends with that voice settles me, makes me more aware.  Makes me (I think) a better person. 

It’s a voice that connects me.  It connects me to ‘whoever-that-voice-is’ (call it God or Spirit or Light).  But it also connects me to other people.  It helps me know them better – and in a way that’s less colored by “me-ness.” 

Do you have someone in your life who really knows you well?  Who’s honest with you, always, but always tells you things in a really tender and loving way?  I hope so.  (Actually, I’m pretty sure you do.)

It’s great if that someone is another person: a partner, a child a friend.  That bond of knowing you well, that connection, is love. 

But there’s something else, I believe, that can know each of us really well – who loves us.  That’s the voice of God I seek in worship.  That’s the voice we seek together. 

And the connection that voice makes with us is love.  Love: that’s what’s “beyond me.”

The entire message can be found at Doug’s blog, River View Friend.