Friends United Meeting E-News, January 25, 2023

Friends United Meeting sends out a weekly e-mail newsletter (FUM Weekly E-News) that contains information about news, events and opportunities across Quakerism that may be of interest to FUM-inclined Friends.

The January 25, 2023 issue is here.

You can subscribe to the FUM Weekly E-News here.

New England Yearly Meeting is a member organization of Friends United Meeting, and Durham Friends Meeting is in turn a member of New England Yearly Meeting. New England Yearly Meeting is also a a member of Friends General Conference.

Most Quaker Yearly Meetings are affiliated with either FUM or FGC. New England Yearly Meeting, along with New York Yearly Meeting and Baltimore Yearly Meeting is unusual in being affiliated with both FUM and FGC.

State of Society Report, 2021, Durham Monthly Meeting of Friends

From NEYM 1985 Faith and Practice: “The [State of Society] report should be a searching self-examination by the meeting and its members of their spiritual strengths and weaknesses and of the efforts made to foster growth in the spiritual life. Reports may cover the full range of interest and concerns but should emphasize those indicative of the spiritual health of the meeting.”

In 2021, Durham Friends Meeting continued to worship as a pastor-less, semi-programmed meeting. During this year we were simple Quakers, maintaining the essentials of Quaker community life: meeting for worship, meeting for business, and some fellowship whenever possible.

We open and close our meetings for worship with hymns, which form a vital source of ministry, including in their selection. We continue to be blessed with message bringers, some from outside our own community, who inspire and challenge us.

We continued to worship via Zoom, but we began the long process of moving to hybrid worship through a threshing process that led to the purchase of a “Meeting Owl.” During this process we have tried to consider what’s best for our entire community; not meeting in person allowed us to protect the more vulnerable among us in keeping with a depth of caring within our Meeting. We remain aware that there are Friends who do not enjoy Zoom, and we would like to have them present.

Friends have been willing to adapt to learn new technological skills to help our community, and gratitude has often been expressed for the task of bringing meeting via Zoom.

The worship among those present on Zoom feels strong. DFM is a group of people from a variety of conditions and traditions; we draw on our unity when faced with challenges. We are a group that enjoys being together, and come from a distance to get here when we have the opportunity to be present in the meetinghouse.

The Monday morning prayer circle holds concerns that have been raised in worship on Sunday.

Mey Hasbrook, the Meeting Care Coordinator, brought her gifts and ministry to us until June of 2021, arranging message bringers, attending to the care of worship rotation, and helping committees with events and programs. Although she no longer serves as MCC, we have continued to benefit from Mey’s messages. It was a test year for developing new tools to fill the gaps in a Meeting now five years without a pastor; direction and supervision, and support for the person tasked with these pastoral responsibilities could be better delineated.

We have fractures in our community, from tensions and challenges that arose at the end of 2021 and continued into the new year. Ministry and Counsel was tasked with assisting in the potential resolution of these tensions. We are prayerfully listening and seeking guidance from the Holy Spirit. Some of the fracturing is influenced by our lack of physical presence in meeting for worship and meeting for business.

We continue to be challenged to be the people we wish to be and to resolve our differences with love and compassion.

We have initiated an educational media project that will harness the talents of our young people to record the faith journeys of members of Durham Meeting.

Wendy Schlotterbeck retired as Youth Minister after over a decade of supporting the children of Durham Meeting with love and concern. As the Clerk of Meeting noted in the Minute of Appreciation (newsletter September 2021), Wendy’s ministry to our youth reminds us of George Fox’s admonition to us: “Then you will come to walk cheerfully over the world, answering that of God in everyone; whereby in them ye may be a blessing, and make the witness of God in them to bless you.”

We sadly note the absence of our children and their families at Meeting as we’ve continued to worship over Zoom. Our youth minister continued to create opportunities to bring youth and families together: a skating party that became a parking lot party; hike on the Papermill Trail; Godly Play on Zoom on Easter; Children’s Day, annual plant sale, and picnic at Labrador Pond in June; at Christmas through wreath making, an outside program, with much-appreciated carol singing at various members’ homes.

We did not have active adult religious education in 2021, and many are feeling the absence.

In late August 2021 we lost Tom Frye, a beloved member of our Meeting. Loving Friends stepped forward to support Tom in the challenges he faced as his journey ended. A group of faithful and caring Friends shepherded Tom to his resting place in the green burial section of the Lunt Cemetery near his friend Sukie Rice.

We held memorial services for persons who passed in 2020. 

We continue to welcome participation from Friends outside of our immediate geographic area.

A great-grandson was welcomed.

The Peace and Social Concerns committee functions like the “mortar” between the worship “bricks” of the meeting.

Participating New Mainer children in Brunswick and Bath received books that will support children’s learning about and value for diversity, peaceful conflict resolution, Wabanaki and African American history, and caring for the environment, distributed by the Social Justice enrichment branch of the Peace and Social Concerns committee.

We along with other Friends across Maine have been engaging with legislative issues of concern regarding the Wabanaki, as well as deepening our understanding of the land we occupy and our relationship with Maine tribes. As noted on the Durham Friends Meeting website, “We are in the homeland of the Wabanaki, the People of the Dawn. We extend our respect and gratitude to the many Indigenous people and their ancestors . . . and all of the Native communities who have lived here for thousands of generations in what is known today as Maine, New England, and the Canadian Maritimes.” 

Responding to the increase in Afghan refugees in Maine, the Peace and Social Concerns committee recommended and Meeting responded with a financial donation and consideration of donation of necessities to these families.

We are learning new ways to support Friends in the callings they have heard.

We continue to engage and connect with Falmouth Quarter and to be part of the Velasco, Cuba–Durham/Portland Meeting sister relationship. We participate in setting the priorities of Friends Committee on National Legislation, we maintain our ties to Friends United Meeting, and we continue to provide assistance to Friends Camp. 

We updated and made significant revisions to our Meeting Handbook, a practice we commend as highly useful.

The Woman’s Society of Durham Friends Meeting met each month this past year, as it has done for decades, with the purpose of supporting ministries across the world and ministries in Maine. Cards and prayers for those in need were sent out each month. Programs and devotions shared by attenders to encourage and challenge were on courage, simplicity, faith, “Come, Abide, Go,” “Go and make disciples of all nations,” and more. Outreach and financial support was given through Monthly Tedford house homeless shelter meals, donations to USFWI Children and Youth projects, Warm Thy Neighbor heating assistance, Midcoast Hunger prevention programs, Good Shepherd food pantry, Friends in Belize projects, Wayfinder schools, and New Beginnings. Inreach has been offered in the well-loved hand-made quilts by Dorothy Curtis for the babies of the Meeting community.

We continue to participate in the work of the Lisbon Area Christian Outreach and the Brunswick Area Interfaith Council.

One member who works among veterans has offered us a wider view of the struggles and conditions of veterans and their families. 

In 2021, after thoughtful consideration and with some sadness, the parsonage was sold. A discernment group for use of the funds has been formed. Ongoing issues in the meetinghouse, such as replacing the furnace, pest control, and repairs, are part of the challenges of owning and caring for a beloved, almost 200-year-old building in the context of rising concerns about good stewardship of the Earth.

As with our meetinghouse, we are a community of aging persons who are challenged by how best to care for ourselves within this sustainable context, and continue to live faithfully, loving God, loving our neighbors and caring for our community.

State of Society Report, 2020, Durham Friends Meeting

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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I Have Longed to Be Back in the Meeting Room

By Katherine Hildebrandt

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

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

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

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

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

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

In the meantime, we gather in this way.

Each of us in our own space, mostly alone.

But I do not feel alone.

I sense our connectedness, our mutuality.

I experience God’s presence, deeply and profoundly.

It’s curious, isn’t it?

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

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

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

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

“We could meet in a barn!”

Ralph always looked on the bright side.

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

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

Our worship seems uncluttered, focused.

On God’s abiding love for us.

And our love and patience for each other.

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

Sometimes, I feel Prayed Through.

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

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

Leaving our outward differences at the door,

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

In that place where we are one in the spirit.

Approved at Monthly Meeting for Business on April 18, 2021

State of Society — Durham Monthly Meeting of Friends — 2019

In 2019, Durham Friends Meeting was a spiritually vital, supportive worship community in Maine’s lower midcoast.  Our numbers were a little diminished this year.  Nevertheless, there was strong ministry from a wide array of members. We looked after one another — sometimes in difficult situations–, and we leaned into our commitments to peace, justice and sustainability throughout the year.  

On a typical First Day, we gathered a few dozen people in worship.  Now in our third year as a programmed and yet unpastored Friends Meeting, messages are generally brought in turn by members of the meeting.  Occasionally we invite someone from a neighboring Meeting or a Friends organization to bring a prepared message.  Eighteen different members or regular attenders gave these messages this year.  The honesty of these efforts at seeking and speaking the truth are the soul of our Meeting. 

As we gather in worship, one or another Friend calls out a hymn for us to sing together.  A few much-appreciated members of the Meeting rotate the responsibility to play the piano to accompany this hymn singing.  We also close Meeting with a hymn chosen at the moment.  Often there is a wonderful resonance between the hymns we sing and the messages we share. 

We are a Meeting that takes delight in children, and we celebrate the births and significant moments in the lives of the children, grandchildren and great grandchildren of our members and regular attenders.  One of our members, with assistance from others, takes care that a quilt is sewn and gifted when a child or grandchild is born, even at a distance.  We provide childcare and adult Sunday school every Sunday all year and offer Sunday school during the school year for children and youth on the first and third Sundays of the month.  Our Christian Education Committee sponsored several intergenerational game nights, a yard and plant sale, a Children’s Day, and wreath-making and egg painting occasions.  We are especially grateful for the work of our Youth Minister. 

Julie Fogg passed away in the spring, and Clarabel Marstaller passed away in the fall.    A mentor to many of us, for decades Clarabel was a stalwart member, a wise and cheerful steward of both this Meeting and of New England Yearly Meeting as well.   We mourn the passing of both.  We welcomed a few newcomers who have joined the Meeting this year, and we miss a few who have drifted away. 

We have been challenged this year to provide care for an unusual number of our members who are aging, ill, poorly housed or facing other significant life difficulties.  Providing the right approach and finding the right people with sufficient time to devote has been regularly before us.   We are grateful for the generosity of spirit and energy that has allowed us to meet these challenges, many of which continue. 

Our Peace and Social Concerns Committee has made climate crisis issues a particular focus of attention.  They hosted a film series, a youth panel and house parties to raise awareness, and sponsored climate crisis events with other churches in midcoast Maine.  They also supported lobbying efforts encouraged by the Friends Committee on National Legislation. 

Several of our members (and this has been true, too, in the past) are significantly involved in in wider engagements among Friends and the concerns that animate Friends.  These include New England Yearly Meeting, Friends United Meeting, AFSC, Pendle Hill, the Center for Courage and Renewal, the Lisbon Area Christian Outreach foodbank, promoting civility in public discourse, supporting refugees, sponsoring peace vigils around Bath Iron Works (a builder of war weapons), prison reform, the Kakamega Orphan Care Center in Kenya, and opposition to gun violence.  A hardworking affiliate of USFWI, our Woman’s Society continues to provide spiritual sustenance and practical support for nearly everything we do. 

The Meeting continues to host a Twelve-Step Group and a Native American worship group. 

Our Finance Committee gave needed attention to reorganizing the Meeting’s finances (especially its various funds and bequests), and our Trustees gave diligent attention to care for our Meetinghouse, rented parsonage and burial grounds. 

We are seeking wider attention to our community’s spiritual life, fellowship and our concerns and leadings.  We widened the purview of our Newsletter Committee to become a Communications Committee.  With that change we are trying to see how best to communicate – in both old and new ways — with all who are a part of Durham Friends Meeting. 

A very old Meeting, Durham Friends is finding ways to renew itself.

Approved at Monthly Meeting for Business on April 19, 2020

State of Society — Durham Monthly Meeting of Friends — 2018

In 2018 the State of our Society at Durham Monthly Meeting of Friends was healthy and thriving. We gather at our old brick Meetinghouse from towns north, south, east and west from Durham, forming a community grounded in a vital worship life that that both gives and receives strength from a range of other activities in the Meeting. We are still feeling our way, but more confidently, in our second full year of proceeding without a paid pastor.

Ministry and Counsel has accepted new responsibilities both for the worship life of the Meeting and for pastoral care of members and attenders. We love receiving messages from one another, sometimes in linked themes across weeks, and also as each individual is led. We also have been much enriched by invited message-bringers from outside the meeting. We continue to reserve 5th First Days in a month, when there is one one, for unprogrammed worship. We have been adjusting our regular schedule to accommodate expressed needs for more gathered silence during Meetings for Worship.

All of us are still not completely comfortable proceeding without a pastor, but we are finding ways to have various committees and individuals do what a pastor once did for us. An ad hoc committee appointed in 2017 led a yearlong consideration of the issues in proceeding without a pastor. We asked ourselves, what can we do to strengthen the Meeting? We came to focus on three needs to which we need to be attentive: pastoral care, outreach and coordination. Without a pastor, each of these areas is an important function with which we may struggle if we do not fresh approaches. An adult Sunday school meets regularly and we have been experimenting with prayer circles.

Our membership numbers have stayed relatively constant with a few passings and a roughly equal number of new members. Nearly every week we have visitors. We average 30 to 40 in worship each week except in the summer when, with one and another of us scattered to other Maine pleasures, numbers are a bit lower. We meet for business regularly and appreciate an excellent monthly newsletter.

Ministry Counsel has taken on responsibility for pastoral care of members. Having this as a committee responsibility rather that mostly relying on a pastor has been an important challenge. We have developed an organized approach to seeing that we are attending to all expressed needs. Some of us are still learning to see a visit from a fellow member rather than a pastor as pastoral care.

We take delight in the presence of children among us and are grateful for the creativity and care of our Youth Minister. We provide childcare every Sunday, and children’s programs on 1st and 3d Sundays. Our Christian Education Committee continues to be a source of vitality for the whole Meeting. It has developed an inter-generational approach to reaching out to families and provides spiritual nurture to youth through Godly Play and Young Friends seeking. CE also arranged a series of Game Nights for children of all ages and these will continue. Through our budget and extra efforts we arranged support for several children to attend Friends Camp.

We aim to make a difference in this world guided by the Spirit, love and our understanding of scriptures. Our Peace and Social Concerns Committee has new members and new energies for a variety of initiatives. The Kakamega Orphan Care Center, Lisbon Area Christian Outreach’s food bank, witnessing for peace at Bath Iron Works, a quilting project to address gun violence, the American Friends Service Committee and Seeds of Peace camp all received our attention and support. Towards the end of the year, P&SC arranged a thought-provoking social justice film series.

Our Trustees have been faithfully attentive to caring for our Meetinghouse, horse shed, parsonage burial grounds, and phone/internet service. Each has needed and received attention. Our Finance Committee and our Treasurer have the Meeting’s financial house in good order. We vexed ourselves with disagreements about whether and which clock to allow in the Meeting room but we appear to have found a solution. We share the Meetinghouse regularly with a 12-step Group and a Native American fellowship group.

Outreach has been a question on our minds. How can we reach out beyond ourselves to bring our message and the delights of our community to others? We have taken this on as a challenge for all of us, as we turn to a new year.

Approved at Monthly Meeting for Business, March 17, 2019, Sukie Rice, Presiding Clerk

State of Society — Durham Monthly Meeting of Friends — 2017

In 2017 the State of our Society at Durham Monthly Meeting of Friends was strong, vibrant and energetic. Our trust in our community and shared Quaker faith led us to explore new terrain with hopefulness, trusting that more Truth would be revealed to us through expectant waiting, spiritual faithfulness and good stewardship.

We took a risk early in the year, agreeing to explore becoming an un-pastored meeting. Ministry and Counsel guided our path through a number of listening sessions, surveys and called meetings to help chart our course and measure our community needs. While we had grown to see ourselves as ministers among ministers, we wondered whether we were ready to take on this responsibility more fully and without a pastor to guide us. Ministry and Counsel coordinated and arranged for spoken ministry by meeting members and the wider spiritual community. This experience has resulted in a growing number of members of our community feeling led to speak more regularly, which has become a deeply rewarding part of our corporate worship. We continue to be moved and inspired by the variety of voices and messages.

A Clerks’ Committee was developed which met bi-monthly to help support and encourage communication and coordination within the meeting. This group was successful at building stronger connections and mutual support across committees and with the presiding clerk.

Another Spirit-led effort was the successful completion of a project involving the installation of a new roof, a solar installation to meet our electric needs and a heat pump for a portion of the meetinghouse. We are incredibly grateful to the NEYM, Obadiah Brown’s Benevolent Fund and Friends General Conference Green Meetinghouse Fund contributing 60% for the costs of this project, helping us meet our commitment to reducing our carbon footprint and living as an example in our community. The completion of this $50,000 project was recognized with a ribbon-cutting in June. We look forward to many years of sunshine warming both our bodies and our souls!

We were cheered by another year of increasing membership, adding four new members and two children. We are delighted by a growing number of new attenders and families that have become a regular part of the meeting. Attendance at worship was generally 30-40. Peace and Social Concerns Committee took on welcoming many of our new attenders, inviting them to special dinners throughout the year, which were filled with warmth and good conversation.

First Day school for both children and adults continued to meet regularly. The Christian Education Committee offered a number of gatherings and activities to encourage family and inter-generational involvement. Godly Play continued as an inspirational curriculum for the young children, along with First Day School for young Friends. We continued to support our highly capable Youth Minister, involved in family ministry and we also hired a childcare worker to assist with the younger children. The adult hour included a variety of topics including discussions, of NEYM Interim Faith and Practice updates, and a very popular fourth-Sunday series featuring a different member’s spiritual journey each month.

In other areas, our Woman’s Society remains an important catalyst for many good works, including a monthly meal for a local homeless shelter, ministering to our home-bound friends, and supporting projects for the United Society of Friends Women International. A new Men’s Group came together, meeting for discussion and companionship. Energy converged to bring new life into our website, for which we are deeply grateful, and we remain thankful for many individuals in the meeting who are involved in service and action as well as numerous Quaker-affiliated groups.

As the year ended, we drew together once again for a series of listening sessions to guide our discernment of the meeting’s needs and direction. Are we on the right path? What is our vision? How can we best meet our needs and work toward this vision? We look to 2018 with awe and wonder… and with faith we will be led to our unique Truth.

State of Society – Durham Monthly Meeting of Friends – 2016

We continued to appreciate the leadership and caring concern of Doug Gwyn, our part time “minister among ministers.” In addition to thoughtful and inspirational messages brought by Doug and others, friends continued to enjoy selecting hymns; prayers of joy and concern were abundantly shared and a variety of youth stories were included in our Meeting for Worship, including Godly Play presentations for children and youth during the celebrations of Christ’s birth and resurrection.   Doug conducted a helpful workshop on the spoken ministry. The Pastoral Care Team continued to answer needs as they arose. Ministry and Counsel produced a paper on prayer in meeting and in our personal lives.

Membership increased by 4 persons; the average consistent attendance at meeting for worship was 38. If all local members and attenders were present, we would have about 60 in attendance. In order to keep our membership list up to date, we dropped 27 members who have been inactive for many years. Our total membership is now 104.   68 are resident members.

Our Youth Minister, Wendy Schlotterbeck, continued to effectively serve the meeting by her work with youth. The loss of several youth through graduation redirected her efforts to involving families with younger children. We appreciate her emphasis on environmental and social concerns as she and the youth represented the meeting in many efforts to effect positive change in our society.

“Godly Play” continued to be the Sunday School curriculum for children, which met the first and third Sundays. The Youth Class discussed Quakerism and current justice issues. The Adult class met every week, with regular attendance of faithful members. Doug Gwyn led a series on the Gospel of John; Most of the year was spent reading and discussing the book, The Powers that Be by Walter Wink. A popular part of the Adult Sunday School hour was the inclusion of spiritual journeys of members and attenders on the fourth Sunday of the month.

Other activities of the Meeting included a rousing song fest with Peter Blood and Annie Patterson; several planned friendly eight dinners in homes; holiday pot luck dinners, and the traditional annual Kakamega Dinner supporting the Kakamega Care Center in Kenya. Also we continued to be in contact with our sister Meeting, Velasco Friends Meeting in Cuba. Our extensive garden at the parsonage has flourished thanks to very hard workers; we were pleased to receive a gardening grant for 2017. A newly established Clerk’s Committee met regularly to integrate and coordinate Meeting activities. “Coffee hour” after Meeting for Worship is a splendid time for social interaction and enjoyment.

The Trustees have been inspired to study the possibility of installing solar panels on the roof, and a more efficient heating system. They have received financial grants for this purpose. Rugs in the meeting room were removed and the floor underneath was refinished; matching wood was installed in other areas resulting in a beautiful floor for the whole room. We appreciate their diligence in maintaining the property.

One vibrant group which continued to meet is our Woman’s Society, meeting on the third Monday of every month. They provide meals for a homeless shelter once a month, contribute to United Society of Friends Women International projects, and support a ministry of Christmas boxes to many in our meeting and others in need. Some Friends attended the USFWI Triennial gathering in Iowa.

We are thankful to have members and attenders who are active in Lisbon Area Christian Outreach, Maine Council of Churches, Falmouth Quarterly Meeting, New England Yearly Meeting, Friends General Conference, Friends United Meeting, Friends Committee on National Legislation, Friends World Committee for Consultation, and Quaker United Nations Committee.

At the Ministry and Counsel annual retreat in August, Our pastor, Doug Gwyn, announced his resignation to assume a position at Pendle Hill. His ministry and teaching were much appreciated, and he will be greatly missed. His leaving prompted Ministry and Counsel to consider an adventure of being pastor-less for a period of time, and also evaluate the needs of the meeting. M and C recommended an experiment in which the meeting would have spoken ministry by various members and attenders and provide pastoral care where needed for at least six months, and that the parsonage be rented during that time. After a large gathering of Friends met to consider this experiment, it was approved, with some standing aside. This 6 month period will be reviewed periodically through questionnaires, and a called session will be held to evaluate the Meeting’s vitality and spirituality.

Approved at Monthly Meeting for Business, March 19, 2017, Sarah Sprogell, Martha Hinshaw Sheldon, Co-clerks

State of Society — Durham Monthly Meeting of Friends — 2015

Over the past year Durham Friends Meeting is pleased and blessed that seven individuals became full members: some new and others by transfer. The statements and letters of these new members were an inspiration to all members. We also joyfully recognize the participation of 15 Young Friends; five will graduate from high school this year. We are inspired by the social concerns of our youth. Our average Meeting attendance is 40.

We appreciate our pastor Doug Gwyn: his Sunday messages, leadership style, listening skills, scholarship, optimistic manner, observations, and sense of humor. Under the care of Ministry and Counsel, Doug has organized and coordinates a Pastoral Care Committee.   Midweek worship, Sunday Adult Education, writing group and Woman’s Society help keep us connected and grounded. Hand-made baby quilts are given to families. There is an appreciation of being a part of the Society of Friends with its history and challenges.

We continue to be blessed with our creative and adaptable youth pastor and Christian Education Committee. Wendy Schlotterbeck’s leadership of the teen trip to the Southeast was a fine example. The group visited Quaker centers in North Carolina and had queries for each place they explored. There are two Sunday School classes for children and youth, the younger one using Godly Play. The facilitators and their work with our children is soulful and appreciated widely. Our need is for more children to be involved in Meeting for Worship and Sunday School and for more adults to be continually learning about our faith and our history.

We are making thoughtful choices about financial resources, facilities, and programs. We installed a metal roof for the parsonage and replaced our old outhouse with an insulated wall. A cell tower on our woodlot land is in process. We have welcomed community groups such as Twelve Steps and 350.org, and hosted a transgender meeting. Two workshops on Black Lives Matter were very much appreciated.   Some are active in Quarterly Meeting and New England Yearly Meeting.

We have a choir that sings at Easter and Christmas times, led by a fine musician. Our Christmas program took the form of a Latin American inspired Posada. This focused attention on migration and the experience of being “other” in our society. We each are learning, growing, assisting as able, and grateful to be part of this evolving spiritual community. The urgent worldwide and local human needs we see call us to educate ourselves and those nearby, as well as provide aid locally.

Each year the loss of elder Friends reminds us of their valuable contributions to Meeting and how important it is to honor and respect life. We remember with gratitude two members who were a valuable part of the Meeting who have died in the past year.

Approved at Monthly Meeting for Business on January 17, 2016, Sarah Sprogell, Presiding Clerk

State of Society — Durham Monthly Meeting of Friends — 2014

2014 has been a year of transition for Durham Meeting.  The physical change was re-arranging the benches in the Meeting room into a rectangle.  Changes in pastoral leadership went from the end of one pastor’s regular service to her working with a former pastor to serve, then a new pastor arrived to serve us one-half time.  We have been blessed by their contributions to our Meeting’s community. Several people contribute vocally in Meeting for Worship, in addition to prepared messages.  We continue to be a semi-programmed meeting with hymn singing and an enthusiastic choral group which performs at various times.

During this transition period, four well attended vision sessions were held to consider our present and future needs, resulting in the bench rearrangement, and several aspirations.

Under the care of our Youth Minister we have a Sunday School program and a Youth Group.  Several new attenders with children have added to the growth of the Meeting.  The Youth Group has worked for some time to raise funds and plan a trip, scheduled to take place in February 2015.  The Youth support a boy at the Kakamega, Kenya, Orphan Care Center.

Some adults participate in a Sunday School class, a weekday evening Contemplative Prayer Group, and a Writing Group.  An active Woman’s Society, affiliated with United Society of Friends Women International, meets for inspiration, education, business, and socializing.  It prepared a meal once a month for a homeless shelter and supports financially projects in Belize, Ramallah, Kenya, Kickapoo Native American Center, and locally.  The Meeting has individuals who are active in the area food and clothing bank program.  Others are active in environmental issues.

One of our young adults served as a Meeting summer intern helping with visitation and other pastoral duties, and left in August to serve as a teacher at the Ramallah Friends School, a two-year commitment.

Trustees have paid diligent attention to property upkeep and improvement, harvesting trees on the property and the sale of land on Lunt Road.

Some in our Meeting community are active in New England Yearly Meeting of Friends, with Friends Camp, sessions, committees, and retreats.

We are thankful for Friends who live lives of commitment to God in their homes, Meeting community, workplace, local community, and with a concern for the world.

Approved by Monthly Meeting for Business, March 15, 2015, Sarah Sprogell, presiding clerk

State of Society — Durham Monthly Meeting of Friends — 2013

 Our journey as a spiritual community seeking God’s will among us was rich with the continuation of many beloved traditions and our commitment to a number of inner and outer concerns that we hold dear.  We continued to be sustained by our traditions. Our Pastor’s spirit-led messages gathered and deepened our Worship. Music was an important part of each Meeting.  Our Youth Minister and Christian Education Committee offered a vibrant and engaging program for the young people and children of the Meeting.  Adult study remained an inspiring and sustaining practice for many. The Woman’s Society continued to be a strong and important part of our vitality.  Through this group we constructed numerous baby quilts, held the annual yard and plant sale, provided a reading program for all ages, and offered financial support to many community and wider Quaker concerns.  Peace and Social Concerns engaged with environmental concerns.  Our library continued to provide a rich resource to the Meeting.

Our spirits were nourished in additional ways.  The contemplative prayer group was a powerful means of centering and deepening for those who participated.  Community dinners and fundraisers, such as those for Lisbon Area Christian Outreach (LACO) and Kakamega, Kenya, Orphan Care Center, served to strengthen our friendships and build strong bridges among us. Ministry to those needing special attention provided a mutual benefit to all and served to deepen our relationships to one another.  We were delighted to receive a number of traveling friends from Bolivia and Cuba this year.

Care of worship was especially important this year, particularly when we received the news that our pastor, Daphne Clement, would be retiring in October.  This drew us together to arrange an interim plan, and further deepened a movement toward exploring and visioning the emerging needs of the meeting. While we know our spirit is strong, we recognize that our numbers have diminished. We know that each of us carries the power of ministry, and we are drawn to find new ways to develop and share these gifts more fully.  We desire that our corporate Light would shine more brightly in the larger community, encouraging others to more easily find us.

As the year came to an end, we found ourselves on the cusp of new growth, bringing both a feeling of excitement and exhilaration and also a sense of caution and confusion about a future that will bring some form of change.  We seek wisdom and strength for our journey, and so we call upon the One Who Knows All to watch over us, and we say:  Divine Creator and Guide, help us to deepen our practice, awaken our insights, and remain true to Your Way, so that we might expand our vitality and feel Your Presence among us.  Keep us steady and trusting of Your Wisdom.  Greet us with patience each day, as we learn to listen and grow in love for You and for one another.

Volume 2013 Issue 11 November 2013

From our Pastor:

The medieval theologian and mystic Meister Eckhart said that the most real kind of prayer is the prayer of gratitude.
For the past three years I have stood on the Facing Bench, most Sundays, and offered to Durham Meeting a message (a number of them have been published here in our Durham Friends Newsletter). Most of my life, before coming to Durham, was spent in preparation — in getting ready to be a part of Durham Friends Meeting. There were years of life experience, nearly a decade as a Hospice Chaplain, and nine years of post-graduate theological study. Once I arrived — quite quickly — almost immediately, I could say: I am at home, at home in the parsonage, at home spiritually in Durham Meeting, at home in Maine.
Now that it is time for me to retire, I’d like to say a little about what it’s been like to prepare and to rise in Meeting for Worship to offer a message. I’d like to say something about where these messages have come from.
The clearest thing that I can say about vocal ministry — the Sunday messages — is that each of them has been a surprise … a gift. I’d sit down to prepare, thinking: “I’ll say this or that …” only to be surprised, again and again, by a completely unforeseen direction taken. Once mid-message I even found myself suddenly wondering what the astronauts felt when they gained God’s perspective, seeing the whole Earth — as one. How amazing!
Many of you have heard me say that after eight or so months I had really said all that I had to say. There was a time of learning to be willing to have no idea what the next message would be; a time of learning to wait and to listen. And, of course, to pray. So I am full of gratitude … and coming to understand that it is from the deep well of our Worship together that I have been drawing the spiritual sustenance to rise and offer a message. Our covered Worship together is where the messages come from.
And so, during the transition in our Meeting, I invite us all to enter a time of being willing to wait, to listen and to pray together as we are led toward a future that will no doubt be full of surprises … and, of course, gratitude.

AFTER MEETING REFRESHMENTS SCHEDULE

November 2013 to February 2014
Thank you for being willing to prepare refreshments!
Please switch if needed.
Directions are posted in the kitchen. Supplies need to be donated- check what is already available in the kitchen. “Basic” refreshments are coffee, milk and/or half & half, tea, juice, and crackers. People appreciate having cheese, sweets, veggies, or fruit, but it can be as simple as you like. The Woman’s Society makes this schedule with people who come to Meeting regularly and have been willing to prepare refreshments in the past. We have not checked with each person regarding dates. If you would like to be added to or taken off this list, see Nancy Marstaller. Thanks!

November

3 Sarah Sprogell, Eileen Babcock
10 Sue Wood, David Marstaller
17 Betsy Stivers & family
24 Charlotte Anne Curtis, Clarabel Marstaller

December

1 Kathy & Harmony Brown
8 Jeannie Baker Stinson & family
15 Linda Muller & Jim McCarthy
22 Eileen Babcock, Mildred Alexander
29 Nancy Marstaller, Jo-an Jacobus

January

5 Margaret Wentworth, David Dexter
12 Dorothy & Ed Hinshaw
19 Brenda Masse, Wayne Hollingworth
26 Kitsie Hildebrandt, Sarah Sprogell

February

2 Sukie Rice, Don Goodrich
9 Dotty DeLoach, Susan Wood
16 Angie & David Reed 22 Dorothy Curtis, Daphne Clement

22 Dorothy Curtis, Daphne Clement

From Our Pastor:

Feb. 13 marked the first of the 40 days before Easter. And as modern Friends, we understand why our spiritual ancestors, early Friends, had small regard for the liturgical calendar: each and every day is indeed just as Holy as the next. Early Friends resisted letting their lives be prescribed by the liturgical year because that calendar was enforced not by the Power of God but by the power of the church. It was the power of the church that dictated how one could or could not worship, and it was the civil power of the church that Friends resisted.
But, I wonder what they would say today, now that our society has become almost completely secular? Since the power of the church that George Fox protested is now gone, I wonder what he might say about our bending a bit toward the liturgical year?
So, right now it’s Lent, the 40 days before Easter and what might that mean for us as Friends today?
I think that because in theory, at least, we do recognize that every day IS Holy, but in practice most of our lives are so full, so full to overflowing with commitments that even George Fox might approve the potential turning inward, the spiritual preparation that Lent may offer.
He might like it that we take time to hold in our intention the Holiness of these days: Taking time to focus our attention on the spiritual, taking time to open to the deeper wisdom of our biblical tradition.
For instance, when Moses encountered God for the first time at the burning bush, he asks, “What shall I call you?” The answer he gets is “Yahweh” meaning “I will be.” What kind of a name is that? It’s not exactly a name at all. Maybe we can imagine it with three dots following it: “I will be …” many things to many people. “I will be …” understood and experienced in lots of different ways. “I will be …” the power within all possibility.
In the Old Testament God’s name could not really be spoken, it was understood that the ultimate power behind all that is and all that will be is really beyond definition. We cannot really name God, for to do so turns the verb “I will be …” into a noun, a known entity. You might notice that some translations of the Bible try to do this by subtly translating “I will be” as “I am.”
In the New Testament, Jesus reveals to us what knowing this Living Dynamic Presence, this “I will be,” intimately looks like. He models a new way of being in relationship with Yahweh, the Living Presence, verb to Be. He models a new way of living, relating, and Being with each other, and living lives centered in the potential of God’s active Living Presence. He asks that his followers step off the path that must reduce and define the Living Presence.
And, to do this experimentally, because it is our own firsthand experience of this Living indefinable, Yahweh, this verb to be, it is out of knowing God this way, that our own confusion about who we are, about our own real identity is born. And Jesus hoped, I imagine, that we too could learn to live lives engaged as he did with the Living Dynamic Presence.
This way of knowing the Living Presence of God, Yahweh, was something that George Fox really understood. It was “this” he knew “experimentally.” When early Friends found unique metaphors for sharing their faith, for describing their relationship with Yahweh, with this verb to Be, they used words like the “Motion,” “the Principal,” the “pure and Living seed,” the “Inward Teacher.” Do you see how all of these words, these names for God have vitality and more Power than any noun. When we are asked to “sink down into the Living seed” this suggestion is more dynamic and alive than any static definition that has mostly been used throughout history to speak about God. Early Friends borrowed from the Old Testament understanding of the “Light” and used this image of Light to express their first-hand experience of the Living Christ.
Faith for early Friends was a powerful first hand way of knowing God, Yahweh. They did not confuse verbs for nouns, in the way that can reduce and take the life of the Living Presence out of our human spiritual experience. When they used words like “silence,” as in expectant waiting in silence, they did not mean “the silence,” the kind of silence that is a noun, the kind of silence that is just empty. They meant waiting in Living Silence, the Living Being of God, Yahweh, as a Way to meet with and interact with the “Motion,” the action of the Living verb, to BE, Yahweh.
So, during this 40 days, let us take the practice of waking up to the Living Presence, as a dynamic real relationship, let us during this 40 days begin to ponder the difference between what the Church has called “the resurrection,” clearly a noun, and let us, instead, during this Lent, wonder.

From our Pastor

Two weeks ago Carl Williams sent the devotion copied below …
A prayer:
“God, the farmer of my soul, who sows fields of possibility and gardens of loving-kindness make me your
seedling (Psalm 1:3):
— call me to be your root, reaching deep into the earth, drawing nurture and substance from the deep well of
your Spirit.
— and the stem, pushing out the green, green leaves of compassion and bright blossoms of understanding.
— and then to return to your source, to compost and break down, to nurture others and to prepare for new
growth.”
— cdw
I share it with you here because so many of us (Durham Meeting Friends) are in the garden now. We may
be planting only a small flower box on the front-door step, or we may be small farmers laboring on a huge plot
full of veggies and flowers, or perhaps somewhere in between, working a modest-sized bit of earth with just a
couple of tomato plants. But, most of us will notice how we relate to our gardens, how lovingly we connect to
the plants and our garden tasks. How we protect young plants from pests, and hover nearby energetically.
Usually, I walk in the garden at dawn, even before my tea, and at night before I fall asleep I check to see what
the day has done.
I think God is just like this, the farmer of our soul, watching over, protecting, loving. The gardener of the
spiritual life of all people, everyone, everywhere – the garden of God’s care … our soul life tilled and planted.
Early Friends loved farming / gardening images. Isaac Pennington says: “… sink down to the seed which God
sews in thy heart and let that be in thee, and grow in thee, and breathe in thee, and act in thee, and thou shalt
find by sweet experience that the Lord knows that and loves and owns that, and will lead it to the inheritance of
life …”

Eagle Poem

To pray you open your whole self
to sky, to earth, to sun, to moon
to one whole voice that is you
and know there is more
that you can’t see, can’t hear
can’t know except in moments
steadily growing; and in languages
that aren’t always sound, but other circles of motion.
like eagle that sunday morning
over salt river; circled in blue sky
in wind, swept our hearts clean
with sacred wings.
we see you, see ourselves and know
that we must take the utmost care
and kindness in all things.
breathe in, know we are made of
all this, and breathe, knowing
we are truly blessed, because we
were born, and die soon in a
true circle of motion
like eagle rounding out the day
inside us.
we pray that it will be done
in beauty.
in beauty.
Joy Harjo

From our Pastor

From our Pastor’s message of Sunday, April 15, 2012
Rufus Jones grew up near here in South China, Maine. In his book “Trail of Life through the Early Years,” he wrote about what it was like to grow up as a Friend, to grow up “Quaker.” In the following quote, he is talking about what going to Meeting was like when he was just about 10 years old. He says: “Very often in these meetings for Worship, there were long periods of silence … I do not think that anyone ever told me what the silence was for. It does not seem necessary to explain Quaker silence to children. They feel what it means …”
Then on the next page he says: “Sometimes a real spiritual wave would sweep over the Meeting in these silent hushes, which made me feel very solemn and which carried me – careless boy that I was – down into something deeper than my own thoughts, gave me a momentary sense of that Spirit who has been the life and light of people in all ages and in all lands.”
It is that same “something deeper” that we are gathered this Easter in family Worship to recognize and to celebrate. What we are actually doing is FEELING … in the same way that Rufus Jones says Quaker children feel and just know why they’re sitting here together even without explanation. We are feeling our way down to the place where we get it that God is with us. Since that first Easter morning when Mary sees that the stone has been rolled away, when she meets and recognizes Jesus there in the garden; since that very morning we have all had direct access to the Light of the risen Christ. And Friends have always seemed to know that we find it in our own hearts. From the oldest of us to the youngest it is this that we come to know in Meeting for Worship.
But, until George Fox made his great discovery on Pendle Hill in England, until he had his direct experience of God — of the inward teacher — the risen Christ; until then, for nearly 1,500 years (and sometimes even today) this kind of knowing was almost forgotten. It got hidden, locked away really, in church ritual. And for most people hope got postponed, put off to the distant future … till the end of time.
Hope postponed reminds me of our human tendency of putting off until tomorrow what might be better done today. Why? Because moving the very present reality of God close at hand, into the future, into another time … a second coming … could be a way of saving the actual practice of Christianity for later. If we say “Christ is risen” but continue to see this spiritual reality only as a metaphor, something that is not real and certainly not very practical, we may be able to convince ourselves that it’s OK to cut some corners where justice is concerned. We may be able to rationalize slashing budgets for social programs, but continue to spend countless billions on armaments. These are the sort of corners that we might not cut so easily, if we knew, really deeply knew, felt from our own experience, that Christ is risen, eternally present among us. Would knowing this deepen our integrity and compassion?
At Easter we do this every year — we celebrate Jesus’ resurrection — but what, I wonder, does this inner resurrection actually look like? I know myself that I have been slow to understand and receive the guidance
of this Light. I think this is largely because the inner experience can be quite subtle, and because the Light of the inner resurrection shows up in the most ordinary places and times. It shows up in the everyday events of our lives.
Remember how from time to time you’ll have a flash of insight or a wise moment when you perceive some deeper truth, perhaps a truth that once you see it you just know and have always known it to be true?
Or perhaps you are working on a problem and suddenly you see your way forward, you just know how to proceed? These are, I think, gifts … gifts of the spirit to our better selves. But, for so much of my life I misunderstood them to be the product of my own mind. I did not understand the source of that still small voice within — I did not understand just how intimate God is, or what part Spirit plays in our daily lives. I do not think that I often realized just how much help we really receive. This is how it is: the inner resurrection helps us trace the footsteps of God as they wind their way through the ordinary moments of our lives.
The resurrection lets the Truth of God’s Presence shine.
So, it’s Easter and we celebrate the beauty of God’s world. We celebrate the shining Truth of the Resurrection, and we give thanks … for all the help we do receive.
For, He is, indeed, Risen this day.

From Glenice Hutchins:

On April 20 I will be one-third into my radiation treatments. So far I feel well but tire quickly. All your support and prayers have been such a blessing. The healing service sustains me as I lie under the mask. Thanks to all.
Peace, Glenice

Society of Friends Family Tree

From our Pastor, Daphne Clement

“I would like to see us (the Religious Society of Friends) turn our family tree upside down,” I said.  And Margaret Cooley, Director of Woolman Hill, immediately saw what I was envisioning and responded: “The branches would then be our roots.”[1]

Our family tree turned upside down?  The branches now the roots?  If this were so, would it mean that Friends have learned from the mistakes of the past?  This version of the Family Tree would surely portray a mature Society of Friends in which real Christian love of God, of the Light and of each other would help us to be tolerant and respectful of difference.

Here in New England where so much of American Quaker history originated, we have had lots of opportunities to practice and nurture this sort of tolerance and love of each other; throughout our 350 year history, we have at times done this well … and at other points, when it came to bearing with diversity among Friends … we fell quite short … short on Love.  The problems among us have reflected the larger human condition and are illustrative of how we humans tend to think and act when we are not centered in the Light.

It is so easy to be swept up in controversy and be swayed by the warmth of emotion generated by strong opinion.  It is the real work of elders and ministers in the face of such controversy to hold fast to the Light … allowing the Light to transform and make room for a potential “new thing” to be wrought among us.

I propose to you that since George Fox abolished the laity … making us truly the “priesthood of all believers” … we are all ministers.  And because we Friends are all ministers now, this is our task: To trust in Light of God and in the awesome diversity of God’s creation, knowing that really, there are as many ways to worship as there are people.  And because we know this, let us join together, as kindred: Friends General Conference (FGC), Friends United Meeting (FUM), Evangelical Friends International (EFI), Conservative, Independent, Programmed and Un-programmed … let us value each other … let us love each other … letting go of divisive judgment  … let us turn our family tree upside down. 



[1] Several weeks ago we, the Durham Friends Meeting, hosted a Woolman Hill Board Meeting. Before worshiping together they presented a slide show portraying the beauty of Woolman Hill Retreat Center in Western Massachusetts. Part of their presentation was an opportunity for us to respond to their inquiry about the ways Woolman Hill might better serve the program needs of New England Meetings.

From our Pastor, Daphne Clement

In the 20th century Friends’ witness in the world placed a high value on our Testimonies and our community has made strong statements for Equality and Civil Rights and for Peace.

But it is important to remember that early Friends saw their witness in the world mainly as a reflection of their inner life and they “described themselves as persons who had undergone a radical transformation.”  Their immediate first-hand experience of the Light of the Living Christ changed them.  As this inward change took place, there was a corresponding change in the way Friends lived their day-to-day lives.  Living the Testimonies was the natural outward expression of the inward life, the natural expression of doing “what love required.”

George Fox suggested that Friends become “patterns witnessing to the Truth” and the “pattern” to which he referred was an inward opening to continuing revelation of the Living Truth, which when followed leads us to witness with our lives.  This is what we mean when we say: “Let your life speak.”

Our Testimonies have been described differently in different times and places.  Some suggest that there are 4 and name them as: “Harmony, Community, Equality, and Simplicity.”  Others say: “Equality, Peace, Simplicity, & Truth.”  Recently our Testimonies reflect the collective longing for deep integrity and cohesive community, bringing the number to 5: “Community, Equality, Integrity, Peace, Simplicity.”  And the NEYM Faith and Practice adds “Stewardship.”

No matter how we name or number them, the beauty of Friends’ Testimony in the world is our ability to adapt, to meet the most significant issues of the day in meaningful and relevant ways.

We no longer testify to equality by speaking plain; it is no longer necessary to address people with the familiar / singular pronoun ‘thee’ as it was in 17th Century England when the noble class expected to be addressed with the formal / plural ‘you’ to acknowledge their ‘divine rights.’  Early Friends acknowledged “that of God in everyone” (not just in the nobility) and gradually society has achieved new understandings of equality.  We are now less class bound and though we are probably not conscious of it when we address each other as ‘you’ we are really recognizing Equality – “that of God in everyone” when we say ‘you’.

Another early Testimony was to Simplicity – dressing plain.  Plain dressing was a response to fashion as a lavish expression of wealth by the English gentry … and an early call to an intentional, thoughtful life style.  Unfortunately, plain dressing quickly became a badge, an ‘outward sign,’ an empty form. Even Margaret Fell, wife of George Fox, protested it, saying that to dress “all in one dress and all in one color” is a “Silly poor gospel!”   She goes on to say: “It is more fit for us to be covered with God’s eternal Spirit … clothed with the Light … which leads us and guides us …”

Today we might say that Simplicity is our testimony if we are intentional with our time and energy.  Lloyd Lee Wilson says that the simple life is one in which there is “time to remember the divine purpose behind our tasks, time to listen for a possible divine amendment to the day’s schedule, and time during the day to be thankful for the divine presence …”

And Friends’ witness for Peace – that is: living in the life and power that takes away the occasion for all war – will, of course, always endure.

Each of our testimonies is born of Friends’ commitment to Integrity or Truth … integrity / conscience rises out of God’s concern for us.  It is by listening to the ‘still small voice within,’ that we are able to tend with integrity our witness for Equality, Simplicity, Community and Peace.

The beauty of Friends’ testimony is that we tend not to get stuck (at least for very long) in empty form.  Our capacity to adapt speaks to the strength of Friends’ “creedless” witness of our faith, the transformative potential of simply allowing the Light of Christ to lead … and to open Friends to the new Light of continuing revelation.  In the future Friends’ witness in the world will inevitably need to address new leadings that arise to meet new needs … but because Spirit is consistent, certain principals will always prevail.

It is important for us, while living the testimonies, that we do not get the “cart before the horse” and look outward for confirmation of their value.  When we ask, “Are we making a difference?”; “Are we changing the world?”; “Are we still fighting wars in Iraq and Afghanistan?” we risk growing discouraged.  If the testimonies are acted upon with a misplaced expectation that the world will change we do indeed risk becoming both exhausted and dispirited. It is enough to tend and stay obedient to the Light, the inward guide. And then to do just what love requires of us, for love’s sake. This is living our testimony. This is enough.

From our Pastor, Daphne Clement

“The true light that gives light to everyone was coming into the world.”

John 1:9

“I no longer call you servants, because a servant does not know his master’s business.  Instead I call you friends, for everything that I learn from my Father I make known to you.”

John 15:15

It’s Easter!  The Eternal Christ is revealed anew!  It is not only the mystics and poets who share in this… we all do.  The word ‘eternal’ has more than one meaning: it means both the Light of God that has been with us since the 1st day of creation and ‘eternal’ means a single moment in time that has particular quality … it is a Presence full, Light filled moment.  George Fox & John Woolman share such moments often in their Journals, as do Whittier, Wordsworth and Elizabeth Vining in their poetry.

Light filled eternal moments are available to us all; but sometimes I think that the mystics and poets describe them too well.  So well that when we ordinary folks experience these sweet and simple moments, the heart lifted Light filled moments, we tend to discount them.  Somehow our own moments don’t quite measure up.  Most of us when asked: “So when was your last experience of the Eternal?” … will shake our heads doubtfully … and wonder … wonder if we are valuable enough …

But Easter is here … and though we may have only fleeting glimpses of the resurrection … the Eternal Christ Light within … the love of Jesus that is alive and always with us. When we honor these ‘eternal’ moments and understand them to be our spiritual sustenance .… our ‘soul food’ .… gifts of God … blessings … we will begin to notice them more and more often.

So, let our prayer this season be for that other kind of wonder … a prayer of noticing … Let us gaze, oh God, upon all your creation with wonder … seeing everywhere your Eternal Presence.

Thus, our relationships – with God and with each other – will deepen and grow.  Eternal Presence filled moments awaken us intuitively and emotionally to God and to each other.  They resurrect us.  So, look for and notice with wonder your glimpses (no matter how humble) … for it is by their Light that we are refreshed and made whole.

State of Society – Durham Monthly Meeting of Friends – 2010

Prepared by Ministry and Counsel, approved at Monthly Meeting March 20, 2011

“Let us cherish the seed of God in ourselves and in others, that we may be open to new revelations of truth. Let us look to our meetings to guide and stimulate our spiritual growth.” Advices on Spiritual Life, F and P, NEYM, 1985

How have we been open to truth and how has our meeting guided and stimulated us? At the end of the first decade of the twenty-first century after the birth of Jesus, what do we offer to our families, our community and our world that speaks to “that of God” in each of us?

Our spiritual community has been deeply enriched by the work and messages from our interim pastor, Andrew Grannell. Our Pastoral Search Committee worked diligently and deliberately to call the best qualified Friend to our midst, Daphne Clement. Our Youth Minister and her able assistants provide a rich array of resources and opportunities to our beloved youth. They made a field trip to Philadelphia, worshipped with our Shaker neighbors and visited the Heifer Project. Attendance at Sunday School, Youth Passages and adult religious education has been consistent and strong.

The Woman’s Society has been active, raising more money in their annual yard sale than ever, and thus has more to give away. Our worship time is enlivened by the gifts of music, ministry and silent waiting. We offered Quaker Quest to our neighbors to let them know that they are welcome among Friends.

We have been ably led by our co-clerks, and the faithful stewards of all our gifts, spiritual, financial and material. We have completed extensive work on our buildings, making them more energy efficient, welcoming and as well ordered as resources allowed. We welcomed new attenders and mourned the passing of several of our members who were inspiring in their lives of grace and faithfulness. We grow older and bolder, but take time to offer each other fellowship and support in times of illness and duress. We know the power of love and tenderness and have heard repeatedly the calls to forgiveness.

We need to take the love and concern we experience in our meeting and pour it out in the rest of our lives. We have benefited from the ministry of traveling Friends, from our deepening connections with our Quarter through Quaker Quest. We are distressed to find ourselves without unity in matters that speak directly to our testimonies and pray that unity with all Friends, everywhere, may be found. We rejoice in our connections to Kakamega, Cuba, Kaimosi and Ramallah. We wish to offer more to the needy in our own neighborhoods, to feed the hungry, shelter the homeless and clothe those in need. We pray for peace.

We have found comfort in the metaphor of the potluck. Each of us brings what we are able, and we gather joyfully to share the bounty. It does not matter if we have little or nothing to bring, there is always enough. And being with each other, in light and laughter while giving thanks, is our deepest blessing. We are grateful.


+++

Teachers Needed!

By Dorothy Hinshaw
The Christian Education Committee is planning the new year, beginning in September.
We note that many children will have “graduated” from the “Playing in the Light”
(Godly Play) curriculum; thus, another class is planned for the middle school age group. Therefore, we need teachers for this new class as well as others to help with the “Playing in the Light” class for the younger age group. Please consider volunteering for a span of time
(perhaps 2 or more months at a time) to lead/teach Sunday School.
Those willing to teach the “Playing in the Light” class will want to attend the April 15-
17 workshop. Contact Wendy Schlotterbeck for fee information and registration for the
workshop. Also, let committee members know if you are willing to devote some time in
teaching Sunday School! Christian Education Committee: Dorothy Hinshaw, Clarabel
Marstaller, Daphne Clement, Wendy Schlotterbeck, Erin Martin.