‘Service is our sacrament’

By Mimi Marstaller

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

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

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

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

Durham Monthly Meeting Minutes, June 15, 2014

Durham Monthly Meeting of Friends convened in worship on Sunday, June 15, 2014, at 12:30 p.m. with 12 people present. Clerk Sarah Sprogell read a passage on Welcoming Change from the June issue of The New England Friend.

1.) Quakerism 101 will be a six-week “course” that begins June 22 at 9:30 a.m. on Sunday mornings.

2.) The Clerk read the Youth Pastor’s report. Durham Young Friends made $1,200 at the Yard and Plant Sale and give many thanks to all who helped out. The Family Gathering will be held at Betsy Muench’s summer home Friday, June 20 – Sunday, June 22. Young Friends will be working to improve the interior of the horse shed. They wrote letters to Cornelius, their sponsee with the Kakamega Orphans Project.

3.) Daphne Clement gave her pastor’s report. She and Amelia (Mimi) Marstaller have been making visits together. Daphne has had eye surgery, which has been a great help to her. Daphne expressed deep gratitude that we have among us such a seasoned minister in Peter Crysdale and is very grateful for the spiritual depths and experience he brings to this Meeting.

4.) Peter Crysdale reported that Ministry and Counsel requests the Meeting to grant up to $400 for travel for Theresa Oleksiw to go to the Russian Orthodox Seminary in Pennsylvania in early July for training in Russian Orthodox liturgical music.

5.) The Meeting recognizes this as a spiritual leading for Theresa Oleksiw and approved up to $400 for her travel. It was decided that it would come out of the Pastor Travel Reimbursement line item in the budget. We would like a report back after her return.

6). Peter Crysdale gave his pastor’s report. He expressed his great appreciation for Margaret Wentworth who eldered him many years ago saying, “Quakerism didn’t abolish the ministry. Quakerism abolished the laity.” He has done many visits, especially with new people. Sitting and listening to people has been very rewarding. Peter, under the direction of M&C, is looking for new ways for people to bring messages of faith from their heart.

7.) Susan (Sukie) Rice brought the Finance Report for May. Our income for the month was $3,366 and our expenses were $2,087. The bank balance for the General Operating Fund is $9,342. The Capital Fund, with income from the sale of wood and the sale of the Lunt Road property, is now $26,000. The report was accepted with gratitude.

8.) Susan Wood has organized and submitted the minutes and attachments from meeting for business for Durham Monthly Meeting of Friends for years 2006 – 2011. She has submitted these documents to a bookbinder in Portland, who will make three copies. The cost will be approximately $800. One copy will be kept at the meetinghouse, and the other copies will be forwarded to the Maine Historical Society and New England Yearly Meeting.

9.) The meeting approved to have this be an item included in our budget under Meeting Expenses. Finance Committee should be cognizant that this will be an expense we should budget for in future years.

10.) Margaret Wentworth reported for Trustees. Building repairs have been evaluated and contractors have been found. All this work has to be done and if we don’t do it now it will be much more expensive in the future.

  1. a)  The Youth Group will paint the interior of the horse shed.
  2. b)  Gravel will be put down on the floor of the horse shed for drainage.

c) Don Goodrich will complete repairs on the meetinghouse and horse shed roofs, paint and repair gutters, trim and repair any rot that is found. Don will also scrape and paint the portions of the wooden addition that require attention.

d) A local “tree man” will fell and remove 23 trees around the meetinghouse, outhouse and horse shed that are effecting the foundations and roofs of these buildings. The estimate for this work is $100 per tree.

Estimates for all of the above work, including the trees, total $15,000.

The trustees are also looking into cleaning the chimneys for the meetinghouse and the parsonage. The trustees are continuing to explore the possibility of removing the outhouse rather than repairing it.

11.) The meeting approved the above expenses to come from the Capital Account.

12.) Trustees recommend that the meeting pre-pay Durham Oil for the coming heating year. Last year we used 932 gallons of oil. The pre-pay rate would be $3.49 per gallon. Trustees have been happy with Durham Oil in that they have come right away when needed and their prices are competitive.

13.) It was recommended that Daphne Clement sit with Trustees about alternative methods of heating the meetinghouse. If no other method of heating is determined as acceptable to Trustees, the meeting gives approval for a one-year pre-payment contract with Durham Oil.

14.) The auditor expressed deep appreciation to Margaret Wentworth for the work she is doing to enable the auditor to give an opinion on the Trustees’ accounts.

15.) The meeting approved the following representatives to New England Yearly Meeting (NEYM): Sarah Sprogell, Mimi Marstaller, Betsy Muench, Nancy Marstaller and Daphne Clement.

16.) The Meeting approved Daphne Clement to be our representative to NEYM Ministry and Counsel. No names have come forward for NEYM Nominating Committee. We give the clerk authority to name someone for this position if someone feels a leading to fill this position.

17.) The minutes of Monthly Meeting were approved during the meeting. The meeting adjourned in the Spirit at 2:10 p.m.

Susan Rice, Recording Clerk

Woman’s Society Meeting June 16, 2014

By Patti-Ann Douglas

Fourteen women met at the home of Dorothy and Ed Hinshaw in Sumner. The women were served a lovely “High Tea” by Ed and grandson Chris that included delicious sandwiches, fruit and sweets.

Sally Skillman presented devotions and shared excerpts from a book of poetry, “On the Pulse of the Morning,” by Maya Angelou. Jo-an Jacobus presented the program from Blueprints on the topic of courage. She encouraged the women to share their own examples of when they observed others showing courage or how they themselves found the courage to move forward in difficult times.

We signed cards for numerous Friends here and not so close to home. Prayers were requested for Dale Graves in Belize.

Theresa Oleksiw presided over the business meeting. The minutes of the last meeting were read and accepted, as was the treasurer’s report. Jo-an presented suggestions for new books for the 2014 Adult Reading Program. It was recommended that we not purchase new children’s book this year, readership is down and there are plenty of wonderful books in the library to circulate. Sally suggested that someone at meeting make a regular announcement about the reading course. It might be helpful to have a separate table for these books.

Nominating committee report is as follows: Angie has agreed to be secretary again and Margaret has agreed to be treasurer. Dorothy Curtis agrees to be vice-president. Kitsie was not present tonight; Dorothy will ask her if she is willing to be president again. The program committee needs new members. There was no report on the last Tedford meal. The annual August “Eat-Out” will be on Aug.18 at Petrillo’s in Freeport. Sarah Sprogell will notify the restaurant and get more details. Clarabel Marstaller brought forward a concern that Marian Baker and Ann Armstrong need help putting out the New USFW newsletter. If interested please talk with Clarabel. Next month’s meeting will be held on July 21 at Helen Clarkson’s home. Theresa has devotions and the program. A suggested topic for next month was a discussion of the future of Women’s Society Meetings at Durham Meeting. Sally suggested that the annual financial report for Women’s society might use a “pie” format which is simpler for some to understand.

Theresa closed the meeting reading from Psalm 100, reminding us of many beloved members who have died in the past few years.