Quakers and Others Protest AR15 Gun Sales in Scarborough, December 2, 2023

From the Portland Press Herald:

In response to the Oct. 25 mass shooting in Lewiston, a new organization held a two-hour prayer circle on Saturday in front of Cabela’s in Scarborough, asking the national chain to stop selling AR-style semi-automatic rifles, or what they called “weapons of war.”

They held signs that read: “Stop Selling Assault Weapons Now,” “Cabela’s Profits Weapons of Mass Murder,” “What Would Jesus Carry, Not Guns” and “604 Mass Shootings This Year: How Many More?”

The group, Thoughts and Prayers in Action, is made up of numerous interfaith organizations, including Trinity Episcopal Church of Lewiston, First Universalist Church of Auburn, Portland Friends Meeting (Quakers), Congregation Bet Ha’am of South Portland and more.

Whole article here.

A few members of Durham Friends Meeting participated.

Other coverage:

Meetinghouse Use Guidelines, 2024

Durham Friends Meeting continues to monitor the health risks associated with COVID and other infectious diseases, and adjusts these guidelines for Meetinghouse use from time to time. 

We hold worship services at our Meetinghouse every Sunday.  On the 1st, 2nd and 3d Sundays (First Days) of each month, we also provide the opportunity to participate via ZOOM. 

We use air purifiers  in the worship room. Please use them for all meetings and events. You may temporarily move an air purifier from the worship room to another room that you are using for a smaller meeting. Please return it to the Meeting room after your event.  We also ask that you turn on overhead fans when using the worship room

Masks are no longer required in the Meetinghouse. For the safety of those choosing to continue wearing a mask, there is a section of the Meeting room where we ask that no one without a mask should sit. We have a supply of masks available at the entrances to the meetinghouse.

We ask that those who feel If you feel even the slightest bit unwell, please stay home and join us on Zoom.  If you come down with Covid within 3 days of attending a meeting at the meetinghouse, please contact us so that we may let others know. 

Fellowship before and after meetings is encouraged. We are continuing to be cautious about serving food, but coffee and tea are available after Meeting for Worship. 


Meetings and events should be scheduled on the Durham Friends Meeting calendar. Committee clerks can schedule meetings; others need to contact our Trustees for scheduling events. At present the trustee to contact is Sarah Sprogell. There is a link to the calendar on the Durham Monthly Meeting of Friends website. Note if it is a Zoom meeting, in person, or hybrid.

These guidelines apply to all members and attenders, as well as families or any group seeking to hold memorial services or similar events.

Kitsie Hildebrandt, 1952-2023

Posted here with permission of her family

Katharine Booth Hildebrandt, 8/10/1952 – 7/5/2023

Katharine “Kitsie” (or “Kit”) Hildebrandt grew up in Ohio and moved to Maine after attending Earlham College in Indiana.

In Maine she met her husband, William Beazley and they were married for 47 years, until her death. Together they lived an unusual, adventurous life that included years aboard a wooden sailboat with their infant firstborn, several small homes without running water, building their own home, raising 2 children, and returning to sailing on their lively trimaran. ]

Kitsie was a wonderful mother to her 2 children, Sarah Guite and Willis Beazley. She was at every sporting event, even in the rain, even hours from home. She was her children’s biggest fan and fiercest defender. 

Kitsie was the 2nd of 4 daughters of Robert and Mary Hildebrandt. She is survived by her 3 sisters, who she loved dearly and spent lots of time with in her retirement. Her sisters’ children and grandchildren were also beloved to her. 

Kitsie was a member of Durham Friends Meeting of Quakers for many years and was very active in the meeting. 

Kitsie worked for several small businesses before returning to graduate school at age 50. After graduating she started her career as a guidance counselor at Lewiston Middle School. She said, “It was a blast, except when it was heartbreaking.” She amazed her family with her dedication to her students and her genuine love for them. 

Kitsie was endlessly curious about people, especially those that had a different background or point of view from her own. She built a loving, diverse community of friends with her warmth and humor.  

Kitsie has 2 granddaughters, Greta and Edith, who she simply adored. She took care of them daily during the pandemic and formed a very close bond with both of them. She welcomed her daughter-in-law, Lori Lommler, and son-in-law, Matt Guité into her family with open arms and loved and appreciated them both immensely. 

Kitsie loved picking fresh mussels from the shoreline, burning brush, doing yoga, sailing with her husband, having potlucks with her dear ones, and creating connection and love wherever she could. 

Kitsie was diagnosed with incurable brain cancer in June of 2022 and it killed her on July 5, 2023 at age 70. Through those 13 months she showed incredible strength and resilience in the face of a devastating disease. 

Kitsie will be missed beyond words. 

At Kitsie’s request, in lieu of flowers, please contribute to Planned Parenthood of Lewiston Maine, 179 Lisbon Street.

NEYM Midwinter Young Friends Retreat, January 13-15, 2024

From New England Yearly Meeting:
Register for the Midwinter Retreat by January 2nd

Hello Young Friends!You are invited to our upcoming Midwinter Young Friends Retreat! We will gather at Woolman Hill Retreat Center in Deerfield, MA from Saturday, January 13th at 10 a.m. to Monday, January 15th at 12 p.m. The theme is “We are Whole Beings!”. Over the long weekend, we will explore inward, with choices to engage in conversations and activities around different aspects of our whole selves: gender, sexuality, relationships, mental health, spirituality, and Quakerism. We will also play games, get to know each other, and enjoy the beautiful nature that Woolman Hill has to offer. Anyone who is of high school age and curious about Quakerism is welcome to come!While we will not have a formal sex education as part of the structured retreat program, there will be educational materials available to Young Friends (such as books and pamphlets on sexuality, sexual health, and gender), as well as opportunities to ask anonymous questions to a health professional. This topic is part of the retreat because we hear from Young Friends that our sexuality, gender, and relationships–just like our spirituality–are aspects of ourselves that warrant loving reflecting and learning as we grow through adolescence. At this retreat, we seek to offer an affirming and age-appropriate space for that reflection and learning. We know different aspects of this broad theme will speak to different individuals and nobody will be required to engage in a program that they are uncomfortable with. The goal is to have electives so that each Young Friend can explore topics that feel relevant for them. If you have any questions or concerns about any aspect of the retreat, please be in touch with Young Friends Interim Coordinator Drew Chasse (drew@neym.org). Join us for a long weekend centered around embracing our wholeness with integrity, understanding, openness to Spirit, and love.

Other reasons to be excited about Young Friends Midwinter:It’s 8 hours longer than our other weekend retreats: more time to get to know one another and have fun!We sleep in beds and there are showersCozy fireplace in a 150-year-old farmhousePlease note that this retreat will begin on Saturday morning on January 13th (rather than Friday night on the 12th). Young Friends may arrive between 10:30 and 11:30 a.m. on Saturday, and leave between 11:30 a.m. and 12:00 p.m. on Monday. 

This retreat does fill up, so please register early to make sure you get a spot! The deadline to register is Monday, January 2nd.

I really hope we’ll see you later this winter!

Love, Drew

Drew Chasse, she/they
Interim Young Friends Coordinator

Advent Message 1 to Velasco Friends from Falmouth Quarter Friends, December 2023

From Falmouth Quarter NEYM to Velasco Friends, Cuba Yerarly Meeting

We sent this Greeting to Velasco Friends today, our hope is to send one each week of Advent.

Dear Sisters and Brothers in Velasco,

Our prayers and love to you this first weekend of Advent.  Tomorrow we will light the candle of Hope – remembering Mary’s song where she says that the new life she is bringing into the world will ”lift up the lowly and fill the hungry with good things.”  Today our community is witnessing to this hope in two ways.  During the day, there is a peace vigil in a store that sells assault rifles proclaiming the vision of our country free of these weapons and the fear that they represent. This evening Portland Meeting will gather for the annual advent celebration in which the children walk a spiral path carrying a candle and lighting their candle in the center, walk back and choose where to place their candle along the path.

In this advent season, as we hope for the light that is already here and wait for the miracle that has already happened, may we each carry our candle of hope and place it where it will illuminate the path.

In Love


Queridas hermanas y hermanos de Velasco

Nuestras oraciones y amor para ustedes este primer fin de semana de Adviento. Mañana encenderemos la vela de la Esperanza, recordando el canto de María donde dice que la nueva vida que ella trae al mundo “levantará a los humildes y colmará de bienes a los hambrientos”. Hoy nuestra comunidad es testigo de esta esperanza de dos maneras. Durante el día se realiza una vigilia de paz en una tienda que vende rifles de asalto proclamando la visión de nuestro país libre de estas armas y el miedo que representan. Esta tarde, la reunión de Portland se reunirá para la celebración anual de Adviento en la que los niños caminan por un sendero en espiral llevando una vela y encendiendo su vela en el centro, regresan y eligen dónde colocar su vela a lo largo del sendero.

En esta temporada de Adviento, mientras esperamos la luz que ya está aquí y esperamos el milagro que ya sucedió, que cada uno de nosotros lleve nuestra vela de esperanza y la coloque donde ilumine el camino.

En Amor

Durham Monthly Meeting Minutes, November 19, 2023 [DRAFT]

Durham Monthly Meeting of Friends met for the conduct of business on Sunday, November 19, 2023, with people 11 people in attendance at the Meetinghouse and two via Zoom.

1.     Meeting Opening

Clerk opened the meeting by reading a prayer by Rabbi Irwin Keller, a prayer he wrote ten days after the attack on Israel by Hamas. The prayer is available to read through the Meeting website.

2.     Review Agenda

        There were no changes to the agenda

3.     Approval of Minutes of October 2023 — Ellen Bennett

               The October minutes were approved.

4.     Finance Committee — Nancy Marstaller

The 3rd quarter budget report was presented. Overall, we are in fine shape. Revenue is slightly lower in weekly contributions, but is offset by increased revenue in other categories, for example receipt of grant funding for Peace and Social Concerns.

With respect to operating expenses, we are under budget because not all committees have used their money, no children asked for scholarships for camp, and two positions have not been filled.

               Meeting accepted the third quarter budget report.

        Reviewing the 2024 proposed budget, revenue has been decreased due to the drop in weekly contributions. Most other sources of revenue stay the same.

Budgeted 2024 Operating expenses remain the same with the addition of a childcare worker. A contribution to Wabanaki REACH was added. In addition, annual contribution to the Yearly Meeting was increased.

The 2024 proposed budget ends with a deficit of $1,655. It was noted that the Meeting has not yet taken a distribution from the Parsonage Fund, so this may be possible if needed.

Discussion followed concerning the inclusion of Wabanaki Reach in the budget alongside other Quaker organizations. The dollar amount is not a concern. The Meeting could consider the contribution as addressing reparations and place the expense alongside other Physical Plant expenses. The budget will be brought back next month for approval.

5.     Peace and Social Concerns — Ingrid Chalufour

Kim Bolshaw read the attached report, which includes two requests: One for Wabanaki Reach (as noted in the proposed 2024 budget) and the second for $500 for AFSC’s Gaza emergency fund. Funds from AFSC would come from charity account. Given the need in Gaza, Peace and Social concerns asks that approval be made at this meeting.

               Meeting approved the contribution.

6.     Nominating Committee — Linda Muller                                                                           

The committee recommended two Marian Dalton and Rob Spivey to conduct comprehensive financial review of the Meeting’s books. Note, this would not be an audit, but a careful review of 2022 and 2023 financial records. It was suggested that they be offered remuneration, which they can then donate as they please.

               Meeting approved the recommendation.

        Wendy Schlotterbeck is recommended to serve on nominating committee.

               Meeting approved.

7.     Ministry and Counsel — Tess Hartford and Renee Cote

Please refer to the report. No actionable items. Still considering the use of technology in the Meeting Room during worship. Thoughts may be shared with M&C.

8.     Trustees Report — Sarah Sprogell

        Please refer to the report. Trustees brought forward a list of projects that will be considered for the coming 3-5 years.  Please refer to their report for more details. No actionable items.

9.     New Business

Do we want take corporate action on the request from NEYM, FCNL, and AFSC, to express to our members of congress our support for a cease-fire in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict?

        Clerk noted our voice in Durham, Maine, straddles both congressional jurisdictions.

It was agreed that the minute from NEYM to be sent to our congressional delegation on our behalf. Also encouraged us as individuals to add our own voices. Hold in our hearts what witness in the public square looks like as individuals and as part of the Meeting.

10.   Closing

Clerk expressed thanks to the Meeting community, who show their desire to be present for one another, and gratitude for this community being able to identify important needs, rise to meet those needs, and have the resources to do so.

        Purposing to meet again on the 3rd First-day of the 12th month.

Respectfully submitted, Ellen Bennett, Recording Clerk


Woman’s Society Minutes, November 20, 2023

Present: Dorothy Curtis, Kim Bolshaw, Nancy Marstaller, at the Meetinghouse

  1. We will hold our next meeting in person at Dorothy Curtis’ house, with zoom as an option, Monday, December 18 at 7 PM. We will hold an exchange of small gifts, handmade if possible.
  2. We are sending thinking of you cards to Friends and will pray for them also.
  3. Nancy led the program using the lesson from “Blueprints”- Rooted in Love by Deb Moyer. The author shared her experiences when her husband got the Covid virus and was so sick they thought he might die. She shared the devotional readings that really helped her, as well as the prayer chain organized by their Meeting. Her closing prayer:

“Father God, thank you being ever present with us. Thank you for letting us “feel” your presence through those who care for us here on earth. Bring to mind those whom you want us to care for in your name. Help us to live each day letting your love and light flow through us. We love you and praise Your name. Amen.”

  • The minutes of the last meeting were read and approved. The treasurer’s report was read and accepted. Our current balance is $92.96. We’ve received $30 for memberships and $26 for Blueprints. We need to pay dues of $60 to USFW-NE. Tonight’s offering was $18.
  • There was no report of the November Tedford meal. Team A, led by Kim, will provide the December meal.

Dorothy closed the meeting with this poem from Children’s Prayers: A Little Book of Prayers and Praise by Lucy Gray Kendall.


For the blessings from Thy hand

Thou hast sent upon our land- Father, we thank Thee.

For Thy gifts of rain and snow,

Sunshine, too, to make things grow- Father, we thank Thee.

For the golden wheat in sheaves,

The glory of the autumn leaves- Father, we thank Thee.

For the purple grapes hung low,

For the corn shocks in a row- Father, we thank Thee.

— Nancy Marstaller, secretary pro tem

Training to Be a Volunteer in Support of New Mainers

From the United Way of Mid Coast Maine, lifted up by Peace and Social Concerns

For those interested in volunteering with the New Mainers in Brunswick! 

I am pleased to announce that we will be holding a public volunteer orientation on December 11th and December 14th at Curtis Memorial Library in the Morrell Meeting Room from 2 pm until 4 pm on both days. 

The orientation will include: 

  • Overview of New Mainer Needs/ Background 
  • Cultural Competency 
  • Expectations of Volunteers 
  • Panelist discussion with community organizations 
  • Opportunity to sign up for volunteer opportunities 

Please sign up for one of the two days at this link: https://volunteer.uwmcm.org/event/

Again, thank you so much and I hope to see you in a few weeks. Don’t hesitate to reach out with any questions!

Best, Maggie Cummings, Community Response Coordinator, United Way of Mid Coast Maine

34 Wing Farm Pkwy, #201, Bath ME 04530

Phone: 207-295-3876

Main Office: 207-443-9752

maggiec@uwmcm.org | uwmcm.org

Toward Right Relationship with Native Peoples: Upcoming Online Webinars and Workshops

Peace and Social Concerns commends these online programs being sponsored by Friends Peace Teams:

Upcoming ONLINE Webinars and Workshops

December 4, 7pm EASTERN, 4pm PACIFIC: “Assimilate or Be Exterminated” by David Raymond (Mi’kmaw descendant). 

For much of their existence, the Quaker Yearly Meetings of Turtle Island and Britain pursued the eradication of Indigenous Peoples’ cultures and matriarchies as a means to save Indigenous Peoples from the supposed necessity of extermination (mass killing). David Raymond will examine Quaker writings and deeds from the late 18th century to the present and will offer reflections on the impact of the truth on his faith journey. Co-sponsored by Decolonizing Quakers. REGISTER HERE

January-February 2024: “Returning to the Land” by Nia To Go There (Cree) 

Nia To Go There, PhD will offer a series of four webinars that are co-sponsored by Decolonizing Quakers. We recommend registering for all four, although this is not required. Nia will recommend short readings for each program. 

January 13, 3:30-5 pm EASTERN, 12:30-2 pm PACIFIC: “Returning to the Land: Cultural Perspectives.” REGISTER HERE.

January 27, 3:30-5 pm EASTERN, 12:30-2 pm PACIFIC: “Returning to the Land: Seeing with a Native Eye.” REGISTER HERE.

February 10, 3:30-5 pm EASTERN, 12:30-2 pm PACIFIC: “Returning to the Land: Colonization.” REGISTER HERE.

February 24, 3:30-5 pm EASTERN, 12:30-2 pm PACIFIC: “Returning to the Land: Decolonization.” REGISTER HERE

“Roots of Injustice, Seeds of Change: Toward Right Relationship with Native Peoples” Workshop
In this 2-hour participatory program, we experience the history of the colonization of Turtle Island, the land that is now known as the United States. The story is told through the words of Indigenous leaders, European/American leaders, and Western historians. We engage with this history through experiential exercises and small group discussions. And we are invited to consider how we can build relationships with Indigenous peoples based on truth, respect, justice, and our shared humanity. Facilitated by TRR’s Native and non-Native teams. Appropriate for high school students and adults.
Two opportunities to join:
 January 21, 4-6 pm EASTERN, 1-3 pm PACIFIC. REGISTER HERE.
 February 18, 4-6 pm EASTERN, 1-3 pm PACIFIC. REGISTER HERE.
During the Holidays:Visit Tribal Museumshttps://www.indian-affairs.org/tribalmuseumsday-public-map.html
Give Gifts from Native American Artists and Businesses
For your holiday shopping (and all year round) please consider purchasing gifts from Native American and Indigenous artists and businesses. Here are some websites where you can browse: 
10 Buffalos Art by Shana Yellow Calf Lukinich, Northern Arapaho in Wyoming
Earrings from Native HarvestNative Harvest for Ojibwe-made gifts (baskets, jewelry, maple syrup, more)
Partnership with Native Americans: Buy Native
American Indian Services, 12 Indigenous-Owned Businesses to Shop this Holiday 
Sacred Circle Gifts and Art 
Native Owned (Etsy)  
A List from Good Housekeeping  
Business Insider’s list of 41 Native-owned businesses 
New York magazine’s list of 24 Best Gifts from Indigenous-owned Brands 
Parade Magazine, 24 Indigenous-Owned Businesses 
Support Native Media and Organizations
Subscribe to these Native e-newsletters and support them:
Native News OnlineIndian Country TodayThese and other Native organizations will appreciate your donation:
National Native American Boarding School Healing Coalition, boardingschoolhealing.orgThe Mission of NABS is to work to ensure a meaningful and appropriate response from responsible agencies for those Native American individuals, families, and communities victimized by the United States’ federal policy of forced boarding school attendance and to secure redress from responsible institutions in order to support lasting and true community-directed healing. 
Native American Rights Fund, narf.orgFounded in 1970, the Native American Rights Fund is the oldest and largest nonprofit law firm dedicated to asserting and defending the rights of Indian tribes, organizations and individuals nationwide. 
Seventh Generation Fund, 7genFund.orgSeventh Generation Fund promotes and maintains the uniqueness and sovereignty of our distinct Native Nations by offering advocacy, small grants, trainings and technical assistance to Indigenous communities.  
Indigenous Environmental Network, ienearth.orgIEN is an alliance of grassroots Indigenous Peoples whose mission is to protect the sacredness of Mother Earth from contamination and exploitation by strengthening, respecting, and maintaining traditional teachings and natural laws.
Indigenous Law Institute,  ili.nativeweb.orgThe Indigenous Law Institute assists American Indian and other Indigenous communities to work toward a future of restoration and healing. They do this by working to develop a radically new basis for thinking about Native rights, from a Traditional Native Law perspective, and by contending that Native nations and peoples have an inherent right to live free of all forms of empire and domination.
American Indian College Fund, collegefund.org The American Indian College Fund transforms Indian higher education by Funding and creating awareness of the unique, community-based accredited tribal colleges and universities, offering students access to knowledge, skills, and cultural values which enhance their communities and the country as a whole.
IllumiNative, illuminative.org IllumiNative is a Native woman-led racial and social justice organization dedicated to increasing the visibility of—and challenging the narrative about—Native peoples.
Indigenous Language Institute, ilinative.orgThe Indigenous Language Institute provides vital language related service to Native communities so that their individual identities, traditional wisdom, and values are passed on to future generations in their original languages.
Indian Land Tenure Foundation, iltf.orgThe ILTF serves American Indian nations and people in the recovery and control of their homelands.
Follow Toward Right Relationship with Native Peoples on social mediaConnect to us on Facebook and Instagram! Upcoming events are regularly posted on social media and to our website: https://friendspeaceteams.org/upcoming-events 
DonateIf you’d like to donate to support the work of Toward Right Relationship with Native Peoples, you can send money online here — be sure to choose TRR — or you can mail a check to Friends Peace Teams and write “TRR” on the memo line: Friends Peace Teams, 1001 Park Ave., St. Louis, MO 63104.
Thank you!
Toward Right Relationship with Native Peoples is a program of
Click here to see our upcoming events!

Interested in Traveling to Cuba in Spring 2025?

Are you interested in traveling to Cuba to visit our sister meeting in Velasco? Or are you interested in supporting those who go? We’re  excited to share that Durham and Portland Meetings will be sending a delegation to visit Velasco Cuba in early Spring 2025 as a part of the Puente de Amor between New England Friends and Cuban Friends. 

If you are interested in going or helping those who go, or just want to find out more, please contact Fritz Weiss (rossvall.weiss@gmail.com, 802-299-7660)  by January 1.

The Portland/Durham/Velasco Sister Meetings committee will organize an informational session in January to talk about details. Members of the delegation we sent in February 2023 will be with us.

Donations to the Food Security Project for Bolivian Families

UPDATE 23.11.20 from Emma Condori Mamani, Director of FIBC

 I am writing to you to share the joy about our successful Seed Potatoes Food Security Project done through Friends International Bilingual Center. Bolivian young Friends and I were able to distribute the seed potatoes until Nov. 11th, 2023. With the favor of God, 309 Bolivian families who live in the highland, received 125 pounds of seed potatoes per family. We, Bolivians, thank God with all our heart for this service work project. Also, we thank Friends who donated for this food security project. We bless Friends who have prayed for us, and they are still praying for the rain now. We are grateful to God for giving love and courage to Bolivian young adult Friends who did volunteering work for this project. And our gratitude to our Friends who support us to run the FIBC by giving donations, so we can do work to take care of others.

We will continue working on this Food Security Project if God opens the way to do this work. Families are happy because they were able to sow the potatoes this year. They will have to wait for the harvest until next March, though.  Meanwhile, there is a need for food to sustain their families. So, we will start distributing potatoes, oil and sugar to families in January, 2004 as part of our third stage of the Food Security Project.

There are four brief articles as reports in order to share the wonderful stories and the photos about this seed potatoes project. The Seed Potatoes reports can be read on our website: “Projects button”. Quienes somos | FIBC (centrobilingueinternacionalamigos.org). Enjoy reading them! 

We send our gratitude to the Durham Friends Meeting for their generosity by supporting our Food Security Project with $1,300. And blessings to all of you. 

Emma Condori Mamani, Director of FIBC


ORIGINAL POST 23.07.19. At its July 16, 2023 business meeting, Durham Monthly Meeting approved a donation of $500 from our Charity Fund to the Food Security Project for Bolivian Families. This can be supplemented by additional personal donations.

Friend Emma Condori Mamani, the Director of the Friends International Bilingual Center of Bolivia, brought the message to Durham on July 16th, and attended our Meeting for Worship with Attention to Business. She shared details about the FIBC’s  emergency food project for Indigenous communities in the Bolivian Highlands.

If other Friends are led to contribute, earmarked donations made payable and mailed to Durham Friends, received by August 1, will be included in one check.  An overview about the project plus contact information are found in the flyer.

We are grateful to Emma for her ministry and to New England Yearly Meeting for making it possible for Emma to travel among Friends and meetings in New England, as she is the Bible Half Hour presenter at our annual sessions in August.

Agenda and Materials for Durham Friends Business Meeting, November 19, 2023

The reports and other materials for the Durham Friends Meeting business meeting on November 19, 2023 are available at this link.

Proposed Agenda for Durham Meeting Worship for Business

November 19, 2023

Opening reading

Review Agenda

Minutes for Approval

Finance Committee and Draft Budget

Peace and Social Concerns  Report

   New item: Action re: Gaza and Israel?

Nominating Committee Report

Ministry and Counsel Report

Trustees Report

Closing Worship

“Our Losses, Our Sorrows,” by Tess Hartford

message given at Durham Friends Meeting, November 5, 2023

Dear Friends,   It is my privilege to bring the message this morning and my hopes are that it will bring blessing and closure in some manner to us this day, in this season of the drawing back of nature’s life force to be contained and conserved in the darkness, preparing for another season of growth in yet another time. I asked to bring the message today for two reasons. One, because there was an empty line on our calendar for message bringers, but more importantly  because this message has been growing inside of me for at least two years, perhaps even more.

I have captured little thoughts and inspirations from the life and lives we share as a corporate body and of course from my personal prayers, meditations and conversations with the invisible realms, with the angels and spiritual guides, with my relationship with God.

This message comes out now following our last Sunday’s Meeting for Grieving as a continuation of the deep need to honor and grieve all those we have said goodbye to over the last three years and also all that has been lost within our community as a result of the Corona virus pandemic.  I want to speak to all of this because our wounding from it is deep, and because it continues to reverberate throughout the present experience we share. I am mindful that not all has been lost, and there have been gains of new growth and adaptation throughout this period as well. BUT, I want in this moment  in time to give attention and voice, here and now, to what we have lost. To give voice to that which causes us to sorrow, here, in our small beloved community and beyond! Because our small, beloved community exists in the larger world and we recognize how our lives are affected by tragedies around us. That which we sorrow after is the physical, warm, flesh and blood and bone presence of our friends. Those who we sorrow over have vanished from our sight and we are filled with sadness while we continue to yearn for the, while we long for their presence among us. The spaces that they inhabited are now hollow……….. We no longer feel the comfort of their tenderness, or the joy of their laughter. We no longer bask in the light of their eyes and the music of their voices, each one’s unique and distinct personality and the vibrance  of their spirits. What makes these losses even more poignant is that they are not flesh and blood family members. They and we are a body of like- minded spirits who come together in relationship because we share in the common desire to seek after God, we come together to worship the Divine in all life and in each other , to lift one another into that light and to be led by that life and fullness. So, it is right and good that we suffer the absence of their warmth and companionship and shed our tears and feel the gnawing in our throats when their memories rise within us.

I personally grieve a lot of life that has been missed since we stopped meeting here in this holy space, our Meetinghouse. And I will say it again, how I ache over missing our connectivity by not gathering near to one another for two long years. My soul aches terribly when I think about the slow deaths of aged ones who in their isolation during the lockdown, were buried  by the weight of loneliness and lack of human touch. I grieve over the loss of our young families and the precious growing years of our youth, never to be recovered. And I grieve over the misunderstandings and hard and difficult differences among us that were only magnified when we couldn’t sit down with one another in attempts to work things through. I grieve the loss of normalcy and the strange, cold distancing that kept us afraid of one another getting close. I the reality and trauma of mask wearing, robbing us of seeing each other’s facial expressions and smiles, and I grieve that weddings and funerals and birthdays and graduations were not celebrated as is our custom in the life of our Meeting community. I grieve and regret the disruption of our lives together and many who are no longer with us.’ But,’ you might say, we survived and we came through and we and we and we……………………………………………. And that is true, but today’s message is not about survival, is not about adapting, it is not about how we came through. As I said at the beginning, this message is about loss. Let us allow one another to grieve our losses, pay them the attention they deserve, and then and only then, in the space that follows look to and acknowledge all that we have survived and how we have come through.

When my mother died eleven years ago, I remember the sense of losing the biggest part of myself, that beautiful woman who brought me into the world and was my anchor here spiritually and physically. Suddenly, she was gone, no more laughter and shared moments, no more going to the grocery store with her or for her, no more dinners and sleepovers and family gatherings, no more trips to PA, or Vermont or Ohio. She was just gone- and her leave taking ripped away at the very fabric of life and time and purpose. I remember feeling such terrible loneliness and raw sadness going into the grocery store, knowing that I was not shopping for her anymore. It would come over me and permeate my whole self, such that I would feel like a little lost girl and could not wait to get out of there.

And so, it is with each one of us, missing the people who have gone on and are no longer with us.  Who have gone with their precious human forms, leaving with a little portion of our souls that go with theirs.

And so, here we are, still here, with each other, figuring out the new dance steps with fewer dancers remaining. Like survivors of a shipwreck holding tight to the flotsam of debris left floating on the sea, holding on for dear life to one another.

It becomes even stronger then, our need for one another. Our need to pray with one another and for each other. To bear up patiently and with deep kindness, the understanding that we are all surviving the pain and the losses, the trauma of our collective suffering on a grand scale. And that we carry the burden of grief and sorrow together.

I want to close now with the words of an amazing soul who was a poet, philosopher and artist. Born in 1883 and who lived till 1931. Kahlil Gibran, who  many know, for his seminal work,” The Prophet. “  It is one of my favorite works of spiritual writing which as of this year is 100 years old. It is a collection of poems in which innumerable people have found in them an expression of the deepest impulses of man’s heart and mind.

So I end this message with Gibran’s poem called, “On Joy and Sorrow”

Then a woman said, Speak to us of Joy and Sorrow.

And he answered:

Your joy is you sorrow unmasked.  And the selfsame well from which your laughter rises was oftentimes filled with your tears.

And how else can it be?

The deeper that sorrow carves into your being, the more joy you can contain. Is not the cup that holds your wine the very cup that was burned in the potter’s oven? And is not the lute that soothes your spirit, made by the carver’s knife?

When you are joyous, look deep into your heart and you shall find it is only that which has given you sorrow that is giving you joy. When you are sorrowful, look again in your heart, and you shall see that you are weeping for that which has been your delight.

Some of you say, “Joy is greater than sorrow,” and others say, “Nay, sorrow is the greater.” But I say unto you that they are inseparable. Together they come, and when one sits alone with you at your board, remember that the other is asleep upon your bed.

Verily you are suspended like scales between your sorrow and your joy. Only when you are empty are you at standstill and balanced.

When the treasure-keeper lifts you to weigh his gold and his silver, needs must your joy or your sorrow rise or fall.

“In Praise of Tolerance, a Second-Best Solution,” by Doug Bennett

[Or, We’re Slipping Again into a Time of Religious War]

Message given at Durham Friends Meeting, November 12, 2023

It is tolerance that is on my mind this morning.  Tolerance isn’t one of the Testimonies of Friends, and perhaps it should not be so considered, but still it has an importance for Friends. 

Wouldn’t it be wonderful if all of us agreed about everything?  Wouldn’t that be splendid – a harmony.  A peace, you might say.  I don’t mean we’d all agree about the little things, like which flavor of ice cream is best, or whether the Patriots are our favorite team. 

I mean wouldn’t it be great if we all agreed about the big questions like what is the proper name of God, or how should God be worshipped or what is sinful in the eyes of God and what is not.  Wouldn’t agreement on those matters be heavenly?  Surely in heaven there is nothing but agreement. 

Or would it?  Maybe you can think of some reasons this might not be so good.  Maybe you can think of reasons this would be hard to achieve without conflict or violence.  Humans can find it hard to agree with one another; that seems to be just the way we are.  Sometimes people try to force others to believe what they believe, to achieve that uniform harmony of belief.  And that conflict can be painful.  It can become religious war – war to achieve heaven on earth.    

Today, I’ve been thinking we are slipping again into a time of religious war – or something very like it.  Conflict, yes, but “religious”?  Is that the right word?  That may strike you as an odd thing to say.  In the United States many fewer people consider themselves religious than just a few decades ago.  The same is true in Europe and in much of Asia and Latin America. 

Nevertheless, around the world we have religious wars between Jews and Muslims.  Think about what’s happening in Gaza.  And we have religious wars between Shia and Sunni within Islam.  Think of the long struggles between Iran and Saudi Arabia for dominance in the world of Islam – struggles in which we are constantly being caught up.  These conflicts are heartbreaking. 

But I’m also finding myself thinking there is a possibility of religious war here in the United States.  Some of this mirrors those global conflicts, but more to the point it involves conflicts among Christians, and between some Christians and others who do not consider themselves religious at all. 

1648.  That’s a date I don’t imagine many of you ever think about.  It’s the year the great religious wars in Europe ended.  It was the conclusion of what we came to call the Thirty Years War, but it was really a war that lasted longer than that.

The Thirty Years War was a long, extremely bloody struggle to decide what was the one true religion – the one, true religion that everyone should believe and practice – to achieve that universal agreement bon big questions.  It was largely between Roman Catholics and Protestants, though sometimes also between different kinds of Protestants.  Each side tried to impose its understanding of the one true religion on everyone else.  Our understanding of sin.  Our understanding of baptism and communion.  Our understanding of marriage. 

This was an appalling war.  The International Red Cross estimates that between 4 and 12 million people lost their lives from combat, or from resulting disease or famine.  Perhaps 20% of the population of Europe died. 

The Thirty Years War ended in a stalemate, a very bloody stalemate.  Exhausted and appalled at the carnage, the various kings and princes and Dukes of Europe agreed that each country would have whatever religion its king or prince or duke decided, and that the various countries would no longer try to impose their religion on others.  These wars ended in 1648 with the signing of the Treaty of Westphalia. 

This wasn’t yet religious liberty as we know it today – the kind of religious liberty that we celebrate in the First Amendment.  After 1648 Kings could still impose the one true religion on those in their own country.  And they did. But they agreed not to try to impose across national borders. 

Nevertheless, it wasn’t many decades before countries began to agree that there wouldn’t be religious war within their own boundaries.  They began to agree that each person could worship God as he or she saw fit (or not worship at all).  They began to agree that governments wouldn’t say this is the right way, the only way allowed.  It wasn’t so far and so long from The Thirty Years War to the First Amendment, from the one true religion to religious liberty. 

Aren’t I talking politics here in Meeting?  Yes, but I’m also talking religion.  The beginnings of Quakerism are deeply connected to this search for religious liberty.  Remember we’re the religious group without a creed, without an authoritative statement of belief.  We’re a religious group whose beliefs and practices disturbed many people. 

Let’s come back to 1648, the Treaty of Westphalia.  It was just four years after that date that George Fox climbed Pendle Hill and had his epiphany: Christ would speak to him if he stilled himself to listen.  And that very same year Fox preached to over a thousand people at Firbank Fell beginning the movement we call Quakerism. 

The beliefs and practices of Quakers were deeply offensive to the leaders of the Church of England.  I think we can lose track of that.  Fox was imprisoned and more than once.  Dozens, hundreds of other Quakers were imprisoned.  Some died.  Why?  Because Quakers wouldn’t go the local Church of England church.  They wouldn’t take off their hats to nobility.  They used “thee and thou” with everyone.  They believed they didn’t need priests.  They wouldn’t swear oaths.  They wouldn’t recite the creeds of the Church of England.  They wouldn’t fight in wars.  They allowed women to preach.  All these upset people in the established church. 

In those first decades of Quakerism, it was perilous to be a Quaker.  It took secrecy or courage – or both.  Not until the Petition of Right, in 1685, was there even a modest measure of individual religious liberty in Britain.    

We all know the stories of people coming to the American colonies for religious liberty.  Often, however, they created communities where there was one true religion, their own, and they persecuted others.  In 1660, Mary Dyer was hanged in Boston, in Massachusetts Bay Colony, for repeatedly defying a Puritan law banning Quakers from the colony.

We might think those days are long in our past.  After all I’ve mostly been talking about the 17th century.  But here in the 21st century, some of our most difficult conflicts involve abortion, sexual orientation and gender identity, and attitudes toward those with different religious beliefs, Muslims or Jews or Sikhs.  We’ve come to call these “social issues,” but they are very much like religious ones.  They involve beliefs about “the right way to live.” These are conflicts fueled by strong beliefs about what is sinful and what is not:  like abortion, like sexual identity.  I fear we are slipping back into a time of religious war. 

We often talk about the religious freedom part of the 1st Amendment to the Constitution as “Separation of church and state.”  Those aren’t the words of the Amendment, though.  The Amendment really has two parts.  It says there shall be “no establishment of religion.” That means no official church.  No one is compelled to have any particular beliefs or practices, and no church is given special status.

And the Amendment also says (this is the second part) that there shall be “no prohibiting the free exercise of religion.”  That means each person can have whatever beliefs they choose or use whatever worship practices they choose. 

“No establishment of religion” and “free exercise”.  Those two principals have defined what religious freedom has meant in the United States since our founding.  They are bookends.  And they are simple, aren’t they?  No, not really.  Both principles are open to a good deal of interpretation.  And we are finding ourselves again in a time when the current interpretations are being challenged. 

“Tolerance” is another way to talk about these two principles.  ‘You go your way and I’ll go mine.’  ‘You worship as you please and I’ll worship as I please.’  We can try to persuade one another, but we won’t try to coerce others into sharing our beliefs or our practices.  It’s a way to avoid conflict over deep beliefs.  “Tolerance” is a basis for living together with people with whom we disagree – with whom we disagree about the most important matters. 

“Tolerance” is a good thing, or so we’ve long thought.  Quakers have valued it because tolerance has allowed us to have our unusual practices without being thrown in jail.

We should recognize, however, that “tolerance” is a second-best solution.  Wouldn’t it be better if we all agreed?  Wouldn’t it be better if we all shared the same beliefs and practices?  Wouldn’t that be best?  I think we’d all rather live in harmony with people in a situation where no one did things that horrified or disgusted anyone else.  But is we cannot have that, tolerance is second best, and the best humans can achieve. 

Such harmony can be hard to achieve.  We found that out in the 17th century in a very deadly, bloody war.  And it seems like some people are aching again for that first best solution: everyone agrees, and we use the law and coercion to insist that everyone agrees. 

Nevertheless, if we want everyone to agree, the only way to achieve that is likely through coercion, conflict and war.  Think about that when you hear someone say this or that is the only right way to live, or you hear someone say that this or that practice should be outlawed.  Think about that when you hear someone speak of the U.S. as “a Christian nation,” and men by that their own particular brand of Christianity. 

If we don’t want that, if we don’t want religious war, tolerance is the way to live together.  We’ve been here before.  Tolerance doesn’t mean we give up having our beliefs and our practices.  It simply means we give up trying to coerce others to follow our beliefs or our practices.  We can try to persuade people, but not coerce them.

As William Penn says, ““Let us then try what love can do to mend a broken world.”

Also posted on Riverview Friend

“Why Peace with Justice? Reflections on a Quaker Delegation to Israel/Palestine” with Steve Chase via Zoom on November 12, 2023

On November 12, from 7-9 PM, Steve Chase (formerly of Putney Meeting) will present his reflections and observations from his summer trip to Israel and Palestine with Max Carter. 

His most recent article in Friends Journal can be found here:

Steve is also the author of the Pendle Hill Pamphlet 445, “Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions? A Quaker Zionist Rethinks Palestinian Rights” as well as “Letters to a Fellow Seeker”.  All are welcome.

Please register for this event at  https://lu.ma/wl2whc5y

This event is sponsored by the Israel-Palestine Resource Group of New England Yearly Meeting which is under the care of the Permanent Board.  To contact us, please write to israel-palestine@neym.org.  Our resource page is available here:https://neym.org/israel-palestine-resource-group

We hope to see you on November 12.

Don’t forget to register https://lu.ma/wl2whc5y.

It’s the only way to connect on Zoom.

— From Leslie Manning, Durham ME and 3 Rivers Worship Group, Convenor

NEYM Statement on Conflict in Israel-Palestine


November 3, 2023

Statement on Conflict in Israel-Palestine

These troubled weeks have brought yet again a devastating eruption of the long suffering caused by the conflict in Israel-Palestine. With anxiety and heartbreak, we witness the horrors unfolding in Gaza, Israel, the West Bank, and beyond. The global community of Quakers, of which we are a part, includes Friends with deep roots and relationships in the land between the Mediterranean and the Jordan. As violence has expanded and intensified in recent days, alongside continuing strife raging across the globe and violence in our own region, we write on behalf of the Quaker faith communities in the six New England states to offer our prayers and raise our voices and hands for the healing of the world.

The Religious Society of Friends (Quakers) holds that every person has the capacity to receive and respond to the love and guidance of God. All human beings are created and unconditionally beloved by God. We are dependent on one another, and it is through our relationships—as persons and as societies—that our lives make real our love for God and neighbor. We join our voices with all who strive to meet the sacred obligations to acknowledge and honor the belovedness and dignity of every person, every life.

We affirm again the declaration of the first Quakers in 1660:

“We utterly deny all outward wars and strife and fightings with outward weapons, for any end, or under any pretense whatsoever; and this is our testimony to the whole world. The spirit of Christ by which we are guided, is not changeable, so as once to command us from a thing as evil and again to move unto it; and we do certainly know, and so testify to the world, that the spirit of Christ, which leads us into all Truth, will never move us to fight and war against any man with outward weapons, neither for the kingdom of Christ, nor for the kingdoms of this world.”

We are called to reflect and pray more deeply, resisting reactivity, aggression, self-justification, and othering of those we experience as enemies. We must recognize and resist the escalating pressures throughout our human family that attempt to justify atrocities against fellow human beings. We remember that we are each capable of evil, even in the name of good. And we are called to daily examine and reject the seeds of war in our own hearts and living, through God’s help.

Promoting adherence to universal humanitarian values, and to the essential use of nonviolent methods to resolve differences, is not simply an option but a necessity for the survival of the human family. With humility and boldness, we take up and renew a commitment to turn from indulging our own hostile impulses, from the fostering of division within our local communities, and from the rush to violence and escalating cycles of retributive action in conflicts worldwide, and turn toward the courageous work of peacebuilding.

We join with people throughout the world calling for an immediate ceasefire and for the provision of desperately needed humanitarian aid to the people of Gaza. We affirm and support the ongoing work of the Friends Committee on National Legislation and the American Friends Service Committee in their advocacy and service in support of a just peace for all. We unite with this recent statement on Gaza issued by wider Quaker bodies and Friends organizations of which we are a member.

Let us each continue to seek paths to participate in the work of peace, in whatever ways and with whatever tools are available to us. We are called to act in faith, with persistence, patience, and courage, as partners with Divine Love in the deep healing of the world.

New England Yearly Meeting of the Religious Society of Friends (Quakers)

Rebecca Leuchak, Presiding Clerk

Noah Merrill, Yearly Meeting Secretary

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“When the Signs of Age Begin to Mark My Body,” by Teilhard de Chardin

At worship on October 29, Tess Hartford read the following, from French priest Teilhard de Chardin:

When the signs of age begin to mark my body

(and still more when they touch my mind)

when the ill that is to diminish me or carry me 

 off strikes from without

or is born within me:

when the painful moment comes in which I 

 suddenly waken

to the fact that I am ill or growing old;

and above all at the last moment

when I feel that I am losing hold of myself

and am absolutely passive in the hands

of the great unknown forces that have formed me;

in all those dark moments, O God,

grant that I may understand that it is you

(provided only my faith is strong enough)

who are painfully parting the fibers of my being

in order to penetrate to the very marrow of my 


and bear me away within yourself.

   —Teilhard de Chardin

Woman’s Society Minutes, October 16, 2023

Announcement: Woman’s Society will meet next at 7pm on November 20 at the Meetinghouse, with zoom participation as an option.

Minutes, Durham Friends Woman’s Society October 16, 2023

Present: Qat Langelier, Dorothy Curtis, Kim Bolshaw, Nancy Marstaller

  1. We plan to hold our next meeting in person at the meetinghouse, with zoom as an option, Monday November 20 at 7 PM.
  2. We are sending thinking of you cards to several Friends.
  3. We just received the new Blueprints, but not everyone has them yet. Kim read a program from the ’21-22 Blueprints: Cynthia Steele’s In the Midst of it all, His Eye is on the Sparrow. Cynthia is now president of the USFWI.

She spoke of working as a nurse during the pandemic, and shared scripture verses that helped her during that time. Those verses spoke of seeking and accepting God’s blessings, and the opportunities we have to rest in God if we feel anxious or overwhelmed.

Friends had different reactions to the restrictions imposed by the efforts to control the pandemic. One liked the time to work outdoors and be with children, while another felt crowded in her small home with children and visitors staying for a time. Relationships could be strained at times, leading to misunderstandings, and it was hard to watch when family members were not as careful as hoped. We agreed with the reminder from a Friend: We need to be friends of each other, as well as Friends of the Truth/Jesus.

  • Dorothy read her Triennial travel minute, which was signed by Cynthia Steele. She will make a copy for our minutes binder.
  • Dorothy just finished a quilt for Skai Soltys- newborn son of Tess Marstaller and Jaime Soltys. Tess is Nancy’s niece. Nancy mailed the quilt today, as they live in San Francisco. Another recent quilt Dorothy made was for Cindy and Paul Wood’s son; he and his wife recently had a baby boy.

Qat mentioned that both her sons still love and care for their quilts!

  • The treasurer’s report was accepted. We have received money toward 1 membership and 3 Blueprints and a late auction payment. The $800 earned from the auction has been sent to the LACO Food Pantry. $46 was paid for Blueprints and their postage.

Membership dues for USFWI are $10 this year. Blueprints plus postage is $6.50. We have $185 in our account. From the $200 given in memory of Kitsie Hildebrandt we approved donating $50 each to SASSMM, Wayfinder Schools, and New Beginnings.

  • Nancy will lead the program next month.
  • We will pray especially for friends with health concerns.
  • Minutes of the last meeting were read and approved.
  • On Saturday Oct. 14 the USFW-Northeast region met on zoom with 12 present. They shared their experiences at the Triennial. No date or place has been set yet for the spring meeting.
  • The October Tedford meal was chili, cornbread, vegetarian soup, fruit, cider, and ice cream.
  • Dorothy closed the meeting with this poem by Grenville Kleiser:


Thank God for dawn,

The songs of birds,

Sophia’s House Worship Move to Zoom for October 27

Because of the terrible, tragic shootings in Lewiston, Maine

From Leslie Manning, Clerk of Durham Friends Meeting:

Our regular Sophia’s House worship is scheduled for tomorrow at 10:30. Sophia’s House is in Lewiston, we will meet on ZOOM ON the Durham Friends site.  Durham is in Androscoggin County, and we pray for the safety of all.

If any of you want to talk or pray before then, please feel free to contact me.  As some of you know, I was the regional coordinator for an anti-gun violence group in northern New England and worked closely with communities, survivors and loved ones.  I was based in Lewiston, and my heart is heavy.

Please join us in prayer.

Blessings, Leslie

 All are welcome.

Durham Monthly Meeting Minutes, October 15, 2023

Durham Monthly Meeting of Friends met for the conduct of business on Sunday, October 15, 2023, with 12 people in attendance.

1. Meeting Opening

Clerk opened the meeting with a reading from Advices and Queries from the Religious Society of Friends, Great Britain: Advices 10. 

2. Approval of Minutes of September 2023 — Ellen Bennett

Minutes were approved

3. Review of Agenda

4. Finance Committee — Nancy Marstaller

In response to the Meeting request that Finance take a broad look at the overall financial health of the meeting, the attached report includes a series of questions to consider moving forward.

Finance and Trustees will meet together soon to delve more deeply into the questions posed in the report. 

The Meeting engaged in a listening session.

Clerk offered this over-arching question: What is the best stewardship of the funds in our care? It was noted that we are not currently covering annual operating expenses with regular income; we need to draw on interest from our investment accounts to meet expenses. 

Summary of Friends’ comments and observations:

  • There was a commitment voiced to keep the line item for childcare position.  
  • There was general agreement that there was no reason not to pool investment accounts. 
  • Some funds are invested in a CD. When it matures in the spring, the proceeds might be earmarked to support youth programs (such as childcare and summer camp scholarships).

The Meeting revisited the request from Trustees to Finance, made at last month’s Meeting for Business, to move $55,000 from pooled funds to cemetery funds. Conversation ensued about designations and use of the Parsonage funds. 

The Finance Committee recommended that $55K be taken from the Parsonage Fund and added to the Cemetery Fund. This money will be added to the Cemetery Fund money invested with New England Yearly Meeting Pooled Funds.  The NEYM Pooled Funds will pay out 4% per year, to be used for cemetery maintenance, this percentage prudently calculated so that the principle of the fund will be protected and preserved into the future.  We record that the origin of these funds was through the sale of the parsonage. 

The Meeting approved this request with one Friend standing aside. 

5. Ministry and Counsel — Renee Cote, Tess Hartford

No new items were brought forward. Please refer to the report. 

Clerk emailed Friends who attend Meeting primarily or solely via Zoom to ask them about M&C’s recommendation that 4th and 5th Sundays be in-person/tech-free only. Clerk read the responses. All conveyed appreciation for being queried, and many suggested that Meeting try to simply engage the Owl without active oversight. 

Friends discussed considering meeting for worship a “no-tech zone” all the time. Tech is a distraction in the quality of worship for many. One idea offered is to have meeting for worship with Zoom audio only, and to bring the Owl into the gathering room so that those in attendance in person and those attending remotely can ‘Zoom-meet’ with one another. 

Meeting approved 4th and 5th Sundays being tech-free starting in November, skipping December because of the holiday, and resuming for January and February. 

M&C will take up the idea of going completely tech-free and return with additional ideas.

Meeting accepted the report noting that monetary support from the Charity account will be provided for a Friend in need.

6. Trustees — Sarah Sprogell

No written report. Clean-up at Lunt Cemetery went very well. Much was accomplished. Also, two trustees will be attending the Maine Cemetery Association conference on April 18th.

7. Peace and Social Concerns — Ingrid Chalufour

Please see attached report. 

Clerk noted the importance of the ministry of bringing books used in the Social Justice project to Indigenous People’s Day events. The books touched many people; the quality of this kind of outreach was honored.  

The Meeting minutes its deep appreciation for the Social Justice project, the work of the Committee, and of Ingrid Chalufour. 

8. Nominating Committee — Linda Muller

No written report. 

Recently, two Friends verbally agreed to serve on committees, and their names were brought forward for approval. Note that the approval is for committees service to begin in January 2024, but if okayed by the “receiving” committee, their work might begin earlier.

The Committee brought forward Doug Bennett to serve on Finance Committee. 

Meeting approved.

The Committee brought forward Kim Bolshaw, to serve on Peace and Social Concerns. 

Meeting approved. 

Clerk noted that effective January 2024, we will be without a Treasurer and without a Clerk. The position of Treasurer is legally required by the state to do the work of the Meeting. 

Clerk also noted that we are looking for help with the newsletter. Consider: is the newsletter still needed? May take this up in the Threshing Session next Sunday, October 22.

9. Closing Worship

Respectfully submitted, 

Ellen Bennett, Recording Clerk


Threshing Session This Sunday, Noon to 1:15pm

From Nominating Committee, Linda Muller, Clerk

We are a smaller group and still have work to do together….

Friends are reminded to enjoy your bag lunch then gather in the worship room by 12 noon on this coming Sunday, October 22, 2023.

This THRESHING SESSION will be centered on the query:

Can we SIMPLIFY our committee structure in order to do the work of our beloved Meeting together?

Some more specific questions we might consider:

**Are there committees that can be combined, like Finance and Trustees?  If so, should those names be required to have membership in the Meeting?

**Do we need a separate Nominating Committee, and should it require membership?

**Do we need a formal committee for Peace and Social Concerns, or does it function more like a work group with various interest groups that can be voluntary (not nominated).  Should clerk be a member of Mtg?

**Similarly, do we need a formal Library Committee, or is it a work/ interest group? Does it require nomination?

**Do we need a Communications Committee, or rather discreet tasks taken on by individuals (i.e., Webmaster, Newsletter Editor, Friends Note organizer )?
(At this moment, with (newly) no newsletter editor, perhaps we want a trial of having a weekly bulletin instead (an expansion of This Week at DFM)? Do we need a back- up webmaster?)

The more threshing the better so come if you possibly can.  We’ll keep it to an hour, or an hour and 15 min.

And thank you for considering,     — Nominating Committee Clerk, Linda M

“Craig’s Prayer — the Latest,” by Craig Freshley

Message given at Durham Friends Meeting, October 15, 2023

Craig Freshley began his message by reading the latest version of a prayer he has been writing and rewriting for several years.


Thank you for making the universe.
Thank you for making me a part of it.
Thank you for providing me with all that I need, and more.

You are the light upon me,
the heat within me,
and the time that carries me along.

I want to see straight and stand true,
notice miracles all around me,
always ready to receive, give, and forgive.

Help me detach from expectations.
Help me like me.
Help me do what’s light.

Here is a recording of the whole message — what he said about this prayer.

Durham Monthly Meeting Minutes, September 17, 2023

Durham Monthly Meeting of Friends met for the conduct of business on Sunday, September 17, 2023, with 12 people attending from the Meetinghouse and one via Zoom.

1.     Meeting Opening

Clerk opened the meeting by reading the following:

Query 3:  Meeting for Business.  Are meetings for business held in a spirit of worship and prayerful search for the way of Truth?  Are all members encouraged to use their talents in the service of the meeting?  Do you undertake your proper share of the work and financial support of the meeting?

— NEYM Faith and Practice, 1985, p 211

2.     Approval of Minutes of July 16, 2023 — Ellen Bennett

                                                                                                                               Meeting approved the minutes, with two additions regarding Finance and clerking the meeting, to be included in Items 3 and 4. Recording Clerk made those additions.

3.     Finance Report — Nancy Marstaller

Nancy read a thank you note for the $1,300 donated for the Bolivian Food Security Project. The Meeting received $800 additional dollars in individual contributions to the $500 approved in July.

Finance Committee will be meeting to review, overall, funds needed to support the Meeting on an annual basis, and will report its findings next month.

Quarter 2 report. Please see attached report.

                The Meeting accepted the report, with gratitude.                                                

4.     Trustees — Sarah Sprogell

Refer to attached report re: funds from the sale of the parsonage, and recommendations for funds needed to maintain a fiscally healthy Meeting.

Trustees have recommended $55K from the parsonage fund be transferred to the cemetery fund bringing its balance to $125K. Using a 4% distribution would cover most or all of our annual expenses, about $5K/year. This recommendation will come before Meeting again next month.

With regard to the Meeting’s buildings and grounds, we do not have a plan for funding capital expenses. Finance Committee will review this, with Trustees, in looking at overall financial health.

Question: Is past performance an indicator of future needs? Might we look at a 3-5 year plan for capital expenses? Are there other needed improvements? Consider these in future discussions.

Clerk agreed to reach out to NEYM to find out where the Eileen Babcock bequest funds are.

The Meeting approved Clerk of the Meeting get in touch with NE Yearly Meeting to ascertain where the funds are from the Eileen Babcock bequest.

Much appreciation was expressed for the hard work and discernment that went into the report.

5.     Ministry and Counsel — Renee Cote, Tess Hartford

Clerk read the relevant portion of Faith and Practice as it pertains to resigning membership in a Monthly Meeting.

Mey Hasbrook submitted a letter of resignation to the Clerk of Meeting and the co-clerks of Ministry and Counsel. The first portion of the letter was read aloud, including referenced passages from scripture.

Meeting approved M&C’s recommendation to accept Mey’s resignation. M&C will discern next steps in reaching out to Mey for one more meeting.

M&C also brought forward the letter proposing that Leslie Manning be recorded as a minister, that was approved by the Meeting in July. (Note that Leslie stepped out from her role as Clerk for this portion of the meeting. Renee Cote assumed the role of Clerk.)

Meeting approved sending, to Falmouth Quarter, the letter from M&C asking that Leslie Manning be recognized as a recorded minister.

It was suggested that Leslie’s ministry beyond the meeting — prison ministry, Sofia House — be included in the letter. M&C will make those edits/additions before sending it on.

Leslie Manning returned and assumed her role as Clerk.

Please refer to report for dates of important, proposed upcoming meetings.

                Meeting approved a memorial meeting to be held on October 29th.

M&C discussed fourth and fifth Sundays as in-person worship only, thus encouraging people to come to the meetinghouse and relieving pressure on technology support. It was recommended that Members who participate solely by Zoom be contacted to get their reaction. The recommendation will be revisited next month.

Members were encouraged to sign up for the Care of Worship role.

6.     Nominating Committee Report — Linda Muller

        Please refer to the attached report.

                                                                                                                                                       Meeting approved the recommendation that committee term limits be removed. This change will be reflected in the handbook

                        Meeting approved a threshing session be held on 10/22 at the rise of Meeting.

7.     Peace and Social Concerns — Ingrid Chalufour

        Please refer the the report.

It was noted with pleasure that the United Way has approved a position to help coordinate support for New Mainers who will be moving into Brunswick Landing this month.

8.     Report from Dorothy Curtis on FUM Triennial and USFWI Conference

“Come. Abide. Go.” Theme of this year’s USFWI triennial. Dorothy read a note of deep thanks, in which she expressed her tremendous gratitude for the support of many in making this trip. “This was a trip of a lifetime.” Dorothy then annotated several of her photographs and regaled all with wonderful stories about her trip to Kenya.

9.     Closing Worship

        Durham Monthly Meeting of Friends will reconvene on October 15th, 2023.

Respectfully submitted,

Ellen Bennett, Recording Clerk

Attachments here

Agenda and Materials for Meeting for Business, October 15, 2023

The agenda and materials for this Business Meeting can be found here.

Proposed Agenda for Meeting for Business, October 15, 2023  

Opening Reading

Minutes of September meeting

Review Agenda

Finance Committee

Request for transfer of Funds by Trustees (2nd reading)

Ministry and Counsel 

Zoom free worship 4th and 5th Sundays*                                                                 

Report on Emergency Funds disbursement of $1,000 

Trustees Update

Peace and Social Concerns Update

Closing Worship

*Clerk’s Note: 

Ministry and Counsel has recommended that the Meetings for Worship on fourth and fifth Sundays of the month be held in the meetinghouse only, with no technology assistance.  This is based on feedback from several Friends, including members of the Tech Support group, and was brought to Meeting for Business last month.

It will be reviewed again this coming Sunday, since no one was on Zoom for the September meeting, and we would like to hear from those who regularly use Zoom.  If approved, we will be happy to provide information about other meetings who use Zoom or hybrid worship who welcome visitors.

Friends Committee on National Legislation (FCNL) Urges Action on Palestine-Israel

Here is the most recent “Take Action“from FCNL on the unfolding tragedy in Israel-Palestine. Our Peace & Social Concerns Committee urges us to communicate with Congress.

The U.S. Must Act to De-Escalate the Violence in Israel and Palestine

We are heartbroken by the recent violence in Israel and Gaza. As Quakers, we deeply mourn the loss of all lives and pray for those who have lost loved ones due to this latest escalation. We unequivocally condemn Hamas’ attacks and inhumane treatment of civilians and call for the immediate release of all hostages. We also condemn the indiscriminate and violent Israeli response that has already claimed hundreds of civilian lives.

More war and weapons won’t bring peace. In the face of growing violence, lawmakers must:

  • Work to de-escalate this situation by calling for restraint, ceasefire, de-escalation, and respect for international law.
  • Protect lives—those of the Israeli hostages and the roughly 1 million children who live in Gaza.
  • Address the root causes underlying this explosion of violence, including decades of institutionalized oppression and collective punishment of Palestinians through brutal military occupation and a 16-year Gaza blockade.

Urge Congress to call for an immediate ceasefire, de-escalation, and restraint to prevent further civilian harm in Israel and the occupied Palestinian territories.