Materials for the July 18, 2021 Business Meeting for Durham Friends Meeting are available at this link.
Durham Monthly Meeting of Friends Handbook, March 2021
Durham Friends Meeting is a member meeting of New England Yearly Meeting. New England Yearly Meeting has a Faith and Practice which communicates “to members and inquirers the historic and continuing faith of Friends and outlines procedures to be followed by meetings regarding membership, organization, the conduct of their affairs, and the concerns of the Society.”
This Handbook states the particular policies and procedures of Durham Monthly Meeting of Friends within the overall guidance of The Faith and Practice of the New England Yearly Meeting of Friends.
Purpose and Goals
Durham Monthly Meeting of Friends is a community discerning and serving the will of God. Our understanding of God comes through corporate worship, study of the Bible and other literature, a sense of God through Jesus Christ, through continuing revelation, and in confirming experiences, many of which we share with one another. The Meeting seeks to provide opportunities for the individual to grow in faith and in expressing that faith. For these purposes it is important for us to attend Meeting for Worship and Monthly Meeting for Business, to support the Meeting financially, to serve on committees as time and energy allow, and to take part in opportunities provided by the Meeting for worship, study, and fellowship with others.
The Meeting strives to be a supportive community for those in it. Those in the Meeting should be aware of its involvement in Friends groups at many levels beyond our own community: i.e., Falmouth Quarterly Meeting, Friends Committee on Maine Public Policy, New England Yearly Meeting of Friends, Friends United Meeting, Friends General Conference, American Friends Service Committee, Friends Committee on National Legislation, Friends World Committee for Consultation, and United Society of Friends Women International. The Meeting is a member of the Brunswick Area Interfaith Council and the Lisbon Area Christian Outreach.
Membership in the Society of Friends is in a Monthly Meeting. Anyone who has faith in God and understands the precepts of the Bible, who wants to follow the life and teachings of Jesus under the guidance and authority of the Light Within, and who feels comfortable in the Meeting community is encouraged to apply for membership. If already a member of another Friends Meeting, the person should write for a letter of transfer to be sent to the Clerk of Durham Monthly Meeting of Friends. If an individual has been a member of another faith group, that connection and an appropriate communication with that group will be discussed in the clearness process. The Monthly Meeting acts on the recommendation of Ministry and Counsel after it has acquainted itself with the person and his/her religious/spiritual experience.
Monthly Meeting for Business
Durham Monthly Meeting of Friends meets once a month for business in accordance with Friends’ custom as stated in Faith and Practice of New England Yearly Meeting of Friends (1985). These meetings are held the third Sunday of each month after worship. Business of the Monthly Meeting includes minutes, treasurer’s reports, Ministry and Counsel reports, reports of committees as appropriate, and consideration of other concerns as they arise. Fund raising beyond the budget requires the approval of the Monthly Meeting. Committees, both standing and ad hoc, are appointed to help conduct and carry out the business of the Monthly Meeting. Concerns, issues raised, and proposed actions may be assigned to appropriate committees for “seasoning” and careful consideration. Such committees then report their recommendations back to Monthly Meeting for further action. Committees also present to Monthly Meeting concerns that they have discerned, and proposed actions.
It is recommended that an agenda be sent out previous to Monthly Meeting; and that substantive materials (reports, proposals, etc.), from committees and individuals be sent as email attachments or made available on the website. The Meeting will generally consider only matters that have been first considered and brought forward by a committee appointed by the Meeting. Generally the Meeting will not make a decision the first time a matter is brought forward but rather allow it to season for a month.
The Clerk or a Co-Clerk of the Monthly Meeting develops an agenda, presides at the Monthly Meeting for Business, and takes care of correspondence and the details of the business items unless such responsibilities are delegated to others. The Clerk or Co-Clerks must also be members of the Monthly Meeting.
The Recording Clerk makes a record of the minutes and reports of the Monthly Meeting. In preparation for archival storage the minutes are recorded on acid-free paper. Periodically the minutes are bound and copies are made for Durham Monthly Meeting, the New England Yearly Meeting Archives, and the originals are deposited at the Maine Historical Society in Portland.
Ministry and Counsel
Monthly Meeting appoints at least six members to Ministry and Counsel. Members of Ministry and Counsel must also be members of the Meeting. The Youth Minister, Meeting Care Coordinator, and Meeting Clerk meet with the committee. Recorded ministers who are members of the Meeting are ex officio members of M&C. Representatives are appointed to attend and report back on Quarterly Meeting and New England Yearly Meeting Ministry and Counsel sessions.
The primary functions of Ministry and Counsel are to oversee and to nurture the spiritual life of the Meeting. Visiting within the Meeting community, especially but not limited to those who have a particular need, shall be a high priority. Ministry and Counsel shall encourage, nurture, and support visiting by others in the Meeting community. Ministry and Counsel shall encourage members and attenders to develop their skills and leadings in the many facets of the mission of the Meeting.
M&C oversees Meeting for Worship, encouraging members and attenders to share messages and care of worship. M&C oversees the instruction of attenders and others who show an interest in the Meeting and considers applications for membership and, if favorable, recommends that the Monthly Meeting accept the applicant as a member. M&C prepares an annual state of the society report, which is forwarded to the Monthly Meeting for its consideration by April and then sent on to the Yearly Meeting Ministry and Counsel and Falmouth Quarterly Meeting.
M&C should appoint annually one of its members to be clerk to preside at its meetings and a recording clerk to keep minutes of proceedings. Meetings are held regularly each month. Special meetings may be called by the clerk of M&C on request of three members of Ministry and Counsel.
Meeting Care Coordinator
The Meeting Care Coordinator and members of M&C share responsibility for attending to individual pastoral care needs of the Meeting. The Meeting Care Coordinator would help ensure that those needing visits or special care have their needs met, and help maintain connection with those who may seem to be drifting away. The Meeting Care Coordinator would assist M&C or take the lead in contacting members to find message givers for each Sunday worship. The MCC helps coordinate prayer groups and prayer partners, as needed. The MCC also maintains coordination with the Youth Minister. The MCC provides assistance, as needed, in scheduling and communicating about these events and in coordinating with other churches or organizations with similar concerns. The MCC would also provide follow-up with visitors to the Meeting. Committee meetings to attend to gain clarity on the above are Clerks Committee, M&C, Monthly Meeting, and Peace and Social Concerns.
In the past the Meeting hired pastors who have inspired, encouraged, and challenged the community. After an extended trial period beginning in 2017, we explored the feasibility of continuing as a semi-programmed Meeting without a pastor and found that we continued to experience the life of the spirit within the Meeting, without having a paid pastor. We have adopted this practice for now, allowing financial resources to be used in other ways as the Meeting is led.
Christian Education Committee
The Christian Education Committee provides the leadership and resources for each participant in the Meeting community to grow in the knowledge, understanding, and commitment to his/her personal faith and our shared faith tradition.
Specific committee responsibilities include, but are not limited to:
- Oversight of the youth minister role as consistent with the agreement, which includes the committee’s responsibility for assessing whether the youth minister has met the expectations in the agreement. This includes appointment and responsibility for the Youth Minister Care and Oversight committee and support for the youth minister.
- Responsibility for Sunday School for all ages, with an appropriate planned or purchased curriculum in consultation and with support from the youth minister. Support for Sunday school teachers, including: providing opportunities for leadership training relating to Christian Education, maintaining necessary supplies, and maintaining a directory of all the children in the Meeting.
- Encouragement for the use of resources of the Meeting for study (library and curriculum library), different methods of instruction (flannel boards, maps, audio-visual equipment), grounds around buildings (cemetery, trails).
- Utilization and dissemination to the Meeting of resources from the Yearly Meeting (e.g., through its Christian Education Committee), Friends General Conference and Friends United Meeting.
- Communication with the Meeting at large regarding the Sunday School programs, special programs, providing Bibles or devotional books for each child in middle elementary school and/or graduates.
- Study groups as the need arises.
- Education about and opportunities for involvement in Friends work outside the local Meeting, including overseas work.
The Christian Education Committee is made up of approximately six named members and all of the Sunday school teachers. The youth minister is an ex officio member. The committee choses a clerk from among its members and prepares an annual report for the January Monthly Meeting for Business.
The Youth Minister has a flexible function within the Meeting. Within set priorities, the youth minister may shift emphasis over time to address the varying needs of our children and changing capacity of the Meeting to address those needs. Work is done with the Christian Education Committee, Ministry and Counsel, and interested individuals to support the children of the Meeting in their spiritual growth and connection to the Meeting. The youth minister works on a variety of activities for children, including the Sunday School, a youth group, camp outs, participation in New England Yearly Meeting, etc., and helps others who are led to develop their ministry with children.
The youth minister participates in Monthly Meeting and regional Meetings and workshops concerning Christian Education and youth ministry. Reports are made to the Christian Education Committee, and support is received from a Care and Oversight Committee made up of members from Christian Education, Ministry and Counsel, and the Meeting at large.
Peace and Social Concerns Committee
The task of the Peace and Social Concerns Committee is twofold: discernment and taking action.
The process of discernment consists of:
- Determining what issues confronting our present social order pertain to Friends’ traditional testimonies of equality, peace and non-violence, stewardship, and civic and community responsibility.
- Hearing the concerns of the Monthly Meeting or individual members of the Meeting and those brought by other religious, service and legislative bodies that address these issues.
As action is considered the committee seeks to make recommendations to Monthly Meeting for supportive action in order to:
- Educate the Meeting regarding Friends’ traditional testimonies and their application in the world, especially addressing the issues of violence, discrimination, addictions and poverty.
- Enable the Monthly Meeting and individuals to take action regarding their concerns.
- Support those who are suffering because of actions they have taken in support of their concerns.
- Act in solidarity with those who are affected by our failure to achieve a society of non-violence, equality, economic justice and equal opportunity.
The committee seeks to work in cooperation with other committees of the Monthly Meeting, other Monthly Meetings and community groups that work constructively on these issues. The committee choses a clerk from among its members and prepares an annual report for the January Monthly Meeting for Business.
The Communications Committee oversees several forms of communication within the Meeting community and reaches out to the wider world. The Meeting has a monthly newsletter called The Best of Friends, a website, a Facebook page, a phone tree, and an email list for of-the-moment updates called Friends Notes. Committee members update the website, assemble, edit, and distribute the newsletter, post to Facebook, initiate the phone tree, and send Friends Notes when needed.
The newsletter and website both carry news of the Meeting, with a more limited amount of information shared on Facebook. The newsletter is published monthly. The website is updated regularly as information, news, messages, and articles become available. Both contain information about Sunday Meeting for Worship, other scheduled events, and outside events of interest, as well as reports from committees, personal news about members and attenders, news of the financial state of the Meeting, any applicable artwork or photographs, and any articles that members or attenders may to submit.
Committee members each take on a role with the newsletter, the website, the Facebook page, or the phone tree. Those working with the newsletter and website solicit and collect Sunday messages, articles, news, and other information for dissemination. The newsletter is distributed in both electronic and print formats by the committee. Extra copies of the printed newsletter are available at the meetinghouse. The newsletter is also edited for personal identifying information and posted to the website.
The committee choses a clerk from among its members and prepares an annual report for the January Monthly Meeting for Business.
In 1833 Durham Friends realized the value of reading Quaker histories and biographies if a firm foundation was to be laid for continuance of Friends’ ideals. A librarian was appointed, and a library started.
The continued purpose of the library is to provide reading and teaching materials. The library has grown to be a well-rounded collection of Quaker-related materials as well as religious, socially concerned, children/youth and fiction books. Books should be signed out and brought back in a timely manner. All members and attenders should find the library a source of enrichment. All gift books and other materials should be given to the Library Committee. The Library Committee is responsible for maintaining the library by purchasing, receiving, and processing new books, discarding worn copies as needed, and keeping the bookshelves and card catalog in order and up to date, so that specific books can be easily found.
The committee choses a clerk from among its members and prepares an annual report for the January Monthly Meeting for Business.
The Music Committee coordinates music (choirs, etc.), accompanies hymn singing, and provides offertory music for Sunday Meeting for Worship.
Committees for Special Purposes
The Monthly Meeting may appoint committees for special purposes. A Clearness Committee is a unique and essential part of Quaker process, used to assist in the following of a leading or in a period of transition. Clearness Committees for membership or marriage are the responsibility of Ministry and Counsel. All other requests for a Clearness Committee can be made to Monthly Meeting or to Ministry and Counsel.
Woman’s Society of Durham Friends
All resident women members of the Monthly Meeting are members of the Woman’s Society, plus other women who choose to participate. The Society meets once a month for worship, program, business and fellowship. The Society seeks to provide inspiration, education, and opportunity for women to share in the mission of the Meeting. The Society gives spiritual and financial support to a number of domestic and international programs and projects. The Society is a part of United Society of Friends Women International.
Contact Persons to Wider Quaker Organizations
A contact person is named to be a liaison with Friends Committee on Maine Public Policy, Friends Committee on National Legislation, Friends United Meeting and Friends General Conference. This person receives information on relevant issues and updates from the respective organization and passes this information on to the members of the Meeting in ways most appropriate; e.g., posted or spoken announcements, individual contact or newsletter articles. The contact person keeps available pamphlets and newsletters.
The Recorder keeps a record of each member and of all changes in membership, such as births, marriages, deaths, applications, and transfers. Records should be kept in a form approved by New England Yearly Meeting. No recorder’s pages are destroyed but are kept for archival purposes. A statistical report is prepared each year for the Monthly Meeting and the Yearly Meeting. It is recommended that the Recorder issue annually to the membership an up-to-date list of names and addresses of all members. Once every tenth year an up-to-date list of the membership is to be attached to the Recording Clerk’s records (started in 2007).
The Nominating Committee makes nominations to the December Monthly Meeting for officers, committees, and others as directed by the Monthly Meeting and other nominations as necessary throughout the year. Nominees are named on a three-year rotating basis so that not all appointments must be renewed or filled each year. An appointee may serve two consecutive terms on a committee. After one year off the committee, that person may be re-appointed to that committee.
The committee members confer with proposed nominees before names are presented to the Monthly Meeting for appointment. Any member of the Meeting may suggest changes in the nominations. Nominees are members or regular attenders of the Monthly Meeting. Only members may be appointed to Trustees, Ministry and Counsel, and as Clerk.
The Nominating Committee does not remove any member with an unexpired term without approval of Monthly Meeting.
The Nominating Committee is appointed directly by the Monthly Meeting. There are three members, one of whom is appointed each year for a three-year term. A member may serve for a second consecutive three-year term. Members of the Nominating Committee are chosen with regard to their discernment, seasoned judgment, and general knowledge of the membership of the Meeting. The committee choses a clerk from among its members. Their roster of committee members, officers and others represents the work they have accomplished for the year.
The Finance Committee prepares a budget for consideration and approval at the January Monthly Meeting, to be in effect for the calendar year. The approved budget will be circulated to the members and attenders. The committee keeps records of all financial transactions (except cemetery funds). The treasurer, appointed by Monthly Meeting, takes direction from the Finance Committee. The committee choses a clerk from among its members and prepares an annual report for the January Monthly Meeting for Business.
The Treasurer receives and disburses funds as the Meeting directs, keeps the account books of the Meeting and reports regularly to it. These accounts are to be audited annually. The Treasurer may pay current bills under the budget without further approval of Monthly Meeting. All other bills are to be presented and approved by Monthly Meeting. With the approval of the Finance Committee, the Treasurer may open and close bank accounts. The Monthly Meeting shall appoint an alternate signer of all bank accounts.
Books of the Treasurer and of the Trustees are audited. The Auditor reviews the documentation and bank statements to ascertain that vouchers, checks and deposits agree with the Treasurer’s statements. If such records are in agreement, organized and accessible, then the Auditor certifies to the Monthly Meeting for Business the correctness of the accounts.
Tax Exempt Status
Durham Monthly Meeting of Friends, of the Religious Society of Friends (Quakers), is recognized by the IRS as exempt from federal income tax under IRC Section 501(c)(3), and is included in the group exemption ruling of the New England Yearly Meeting of the Religious Society of Friends. Detailed information is filed at the meetinghouse.
Durham Monthly Meeting Funds: Funds managed by the Meeting.
- Charity Account: Established by the Meeting by tithing 10 percent of the sale of various stocks owned by the Meeting, to be used for unique charitable requests and to support ministry or leadings within certain guidelines. Money is added to the fund when our financial situation permits. See below for a detailed description of guidelines.
- Capital Account: Used to pay for major repairs and capital improvements on the meetinghouse and the parsonage. The Monthly Meeting has authorized deposits into this account from income received beyond the budgetary needs of the Meeting. Examples are the income from the harvesting of the woodlot, and the sale of property.
- Bernice Douglas Fund: Established by the Douglas family to honor Bernice Douglas, a long-time member of Durham Meeting. She also left money to the Meeting, which was deposited in this fund. The funds are not restricted or designated. However, the Monthly Meeting has often drawn on this fund to support capital type improvements, or as loans to ourselves for such purposes, in recognition of the Douglas family’s dedication to good stewardship of our properties.
- Woodbury Fund: Established with funds given to the Meeting by Vivian Woodbury, a long-time member of Durham Meeting. The funds are not restricted, but the Monthly Meeting has designated this fund for Youth work, a tribute to her love of and devotion to the youth in our Meeting.
New England Yearly Meeting Pooled Funds: Stock funds managed by New England Yearly Meeting of Friends:
- Goddard Fund: Established to receive funds left to Durham Meeting by the Goddard family. The original bequest was restricted. The amount was not clear, as the funds were distributed to Durham over time. The principal has been established as approximately $85,000.00.
- Douglas Fund: Established by the Douglas family to honor Bernice Douglas. The fund is not restricted or designated by the Meeting.
Charity Account Guidelines
The Charity Account is to be administered, after careful consideration of each unique situation, for both Charitable Requests and Supported Ministry (Leadings) purposes.
In terms of Supported Ministry (Leadings), coming from members or regular attenders, the request, with an amount included, will be brought to a standing Meeting committee first to prayerfully consider said request for funds. If the Meeting committee finds clearness in the request, the committee can then bring the request to Monthly Meeting, with the request added to an agenda that is distributed ahead of the Monthly Meeting.
In considering proposals to support a ministry, we recommend the following criteria:
- Alignment of the ministry with the faith and practice of Friends, including the Testimonies.
- The character and integrity of the person or group seeking support.
- The merit and validity of the request. In other words, does this ministry help to deepen and promote the life, not only of the individual or group, but of the whole Meeting as well?
In terms of Charitable Requests, a request, with an amount included, will be brought to a standing Meeting committee first to prayerfully consider said request for funds. If the Meeting committee finds clearness in the request, the committee can then bring the request to Monthly Meeting, with the request added to an agenda, distributed ahead of the Monthly Meeting.
In the case of a time sensitive situation, a request for financial assistance, with an amount included, can be brought to the Monthly Meeting by a Meeting committee, where it would be tended, weighed and prayerfully decided at the next Monthly Meeting. In this case the request would be communicated to the Meeting community ahead of time.
In the case of a true emergency, a request, with an amount included, can be brought to the clerk of the Meeting, along with the clerk of Ministry and Counsel and the clerk of Finance, who can then direct the allocation of funds from the Charity Account, and report to the next Monthly Meeting.
In general, the Charity Account will not be a source of funding for Quaker organizations and causes such as FCNL, AFSC, QUNO, NEYM, Tedford Housing, or LACO, as these are included in the annual budget as contributions.
Requests for funds will generally be no greater than $1,000.00.
Trustees have charge of the property of the Monthly Meeting. They are responsible for the care of the buildings and grounds, cemeteries, and any special funds for the care of the cemeteries. The Trustees’ financial records are to be audited annually. Periodically the Trustees review the Meeting’s insurance coverage and make recommendations to the Monthly Meeting. The Trustees, in conjunction with the Finance Committee and Auditor, will prepare a detailed report of all assets (including invested funds, property, and cemetery funds) and present to Monthly Meeting and New England Yearly Meeting at least every ten years (start in 2011).
The Trustees plan for workdays to accomplish cleaning, outside clean up, and special projects. They hire work done when that is necessary, asking in advance for any funds needed above budgeted amounts, except in emergencies. They arrange to have the lawns at the meetinghouse and parsonage mowed, as well as the cemeteries, and arrange for snow to be plowed. The Trustees contract for custodial service with continuing oversight, and perform other duties as assigned by the Monthly Meeting.
Members of Trustees must be members of the Meeting. The committee choses a clerk from among its members and prepares an annual report for the January Monthly Meeting for Business.
The janitor is responsible for keeping the meetinghouse neat and ready for regular and special events, turning up the heat when needed. The janitor may also call, from the list approved by the Trustees, for the service people to attend to emergencies.
Guidelines for Use of Durham Friends Meetinghouse
The Trustees of Durham Monthly Meeting of Friends are delegated the responsibility for the use of the meetinghouse. All meetings should be recorded on the calendar on the bulletin board at the entry to the worship room and on the Meeting Google calendar. Regular meetings for worship and groups within the Meeting may use the meetinghouse as a meeting place without further authorization (e.g., Ministry and Counsel, Monthly Meeting, Woman’s Society, youth fellowship, and other committees of the Meeting). A request for the use of the meetinghouse for a single occasion should be made to the Trustee(s) delegated to receive this request. The Trustee(s) will consult the calendar and two other Trustees before permission is granted.
A request by a group outside the Meeting for use of the meetinghouse on a fairly regular basis over a period of time should be made to the Clerk of the Monthly Meeting, or the delegate Trustee(s), who will bring the matter before the Monthly Meeting. The Monthly Meeting will make the decision. For use of the building and grounds, the Trustees ask that a donation be given to a Trustee member or put in the committee depository (piano bench). No smoking and no alcoholic beverages are permitted in buildings or on the property.
Instructions Regarding How to Leave the Meetinghouse
The meetinghouse must be left as found, replacing everything used, and cleaning, taking down all but two tables in the fellowship room. When heat is on in cold weather, before leaving read and follow directions near the thermostats. The children’s room thermostat should be set at 55 degrees. Leave doors open to the children’s rooms, children’s bathroom, kitchen and hallway bathrooms. Leave both divider curtains in the fellowship room open. Check stove to be sure all burners are off. And be sure all faucets are turned off and that no toilet is running. Turn off all lights. Emergency lights will come on automatically. Lock back and front doors.
Lunt Memorial Cemetery of Durham Monthly Meeting of Friends
Single, two, and four-grave lots are available in Lunt Memorial Cemetery. For members of Durham Monthly Meeting of Friends, the charge is only the cost of perpetual care. For non-members who are residents of the community of the Friends Meeting and for certain other non-members under special circumstances allowed by the Trustees of Durham Monthly Meeting of Friends, lots are available at prices shown below.
Lot Price Perpetual Care Total
Single grave lot (4′´10′) $ 150.00 $ 200.00 $ 350.00
Double lot (10′´10′) $ 200.00 $ 400.00 $ 600.00
Large lot (10′´20′) $ 350.00 $ 650.00 $ 1,000.00
Family lot (20′´20′) $ 600.00 $ 900.00 $ 1,500.00
A lot may be transferred from the owner to another only with the approval of the Trustee in charge of the Cemetery. If a lot is unused and a written request to return the lot is sent to the Trustees of Durham Monthly Meeting of Friends within ten years of purchase, all of the Perpetual Care cost and half of the purchase price (Lot Price) will be refunded.
Green Burial Lot Agreement
Single lots are available for purchase in Lunt Memorial Cemetery. Each lot measures 4′´8′, allowing room for a small marker and flowers. The charge for members of Durham Monthly Meeting of Friends is $200.00; the charge for non-members is $350.00.
A lot may be transferred from one owner to another, only with the approval of the Trustee in charge of the Cemetery. If a lot is unused and a written request to return the lot is sent to the Trustees of Durham Monthly Meeting of Friends within ten years of purchase, half of the purchase price will be refunded.
A green burial is an unencumbered burial. There is no embalming and no need for a commercial casket. The body may be wrapped in a cotton shroud or other decomposable fabric and placed directly in the ground or placed in a plain wooden box and placed in the ground. The required depth for the green burial is three feet.
Care of Lots
- Simple stones and monuments will be in keeping with the Cemetery, and should be oriented parallel to Lunt Road.
- Simple decorations are permissible. Decorations should be in good taste and in keeping with the Cemetery. Decorations deemed not in keeping with the Cemetery will be removed.
- Seasonal decorations and silk/plastic flowers will be removed periodically.
- Lot owners may bury multiple urns on a lot, with or without professional assistance.
- Lot owners may spread ashes as they choose.
- No woody plants may be planted on lots (existing woody plants will be handled on a case-by-case basis).
- Plantings by owners should be in good taste and plantings of any kind that become overgrown will be removed.
- Perpetual Care provides for six mowings per year, trimming and edging as needed and grading and seeding when necessary.
CEMETERY LOT AGREEMENT
Lot # ________________ Member___________ Non Member ______________
I have read the cemetery guidelines and accept the provisions of this agreement:
Print Name: __________________________________________________
On the date of __________________, Received $ __________________________
Ministry and Counsel, June 20, 2021
For the past fifteen months, we at Durham Friends Meeting have been worshipping together each Sunday via Zoom rather than worshipping together in our Meetinghouse. We have done this, of course, because of the risk of infecting one another with the COVID-19 virus which has taken 600,000 lives in the U.S. and 3.8 million lives across the globe. With the recent successes of vaccination, we believe it is time to begin planning to return to worship in the Meetinghouse.
We emphasize: time to begin planning. We believe there are important steps to take first before we all return to worship in the Meetinghouse. We believe if we begin taking these steps now, it will be possible to return to regular worship in the Meetinghouse in the fall.
We believe these four considerations need to be kept foremost in our minds:
(1) safety: we need to be sure we are keeping everyone safe.
(2) access for all: we need to be sure we are providing access to worship for all, and that includes children who cannot yet be vaccinated, and any among us who cannot be vaccinated.
(3) announcement: we need to be sure we have communicated to all how we are worshipping together.
(4) messages: we need to recognize that after we return to the Meetinghouse, we will not be as able to have worship messages brought by those at a distance.
We believe Durham Friends Meeting should make preparations for a hybrid form of worship as we return to the meetinghouse. Under this arrangement, most people would attend the Meeting in person at our meetinghouse; others would participate via Zoom. In April, we held a threshing session in which this hybrid approach had broad support (notes attached). In May, we tested a Meeting OWL Pro Device that proved quite satisfactory to support this hybrid form of worship (notes attached). Using this device, especially in the meeting room itself, will require some improvements in the Meeting’s internet connection. (Without such improvements, to use the Meeting OWL Pro for hybrid worship we would need to hold worship in the social room.)
Here are the steps we believe we should take next in approximate order:
(1) Have the Meeting authorize purchase now of a Meeting OWL Pro, approximate cost $1000.
(2) Have Ministry and Counsel develop a plan that considers the following, and bring this to the Meeting for approval:
(a) Explore options for improving the Meeting’s internet connection.
(b) Think through protocols for ensuring the safety of all who come to worship. (How about children? How about those who cannot be vaccinated? What about visitors? What do we do about ventilation and air quality in the meetinghouse? Etc.)
(c) Think through what it will take each Sunday to support hybrid worship, both equipment and people support.
(d) Set a tentative date for returning to worship in the meetinghouse and communicate this to all members and attenders of Durham Friends Meeting well in advance.
NOTES from Threshing Session on 4/11/21 about Worship Options After COVID
Here are some notes from our threshing session. At the end, I’m appending three thoughtful responses that came via e-mail.
We had good participation in the threshing session: more than 20 participants. Mostly those gathered were folks we also see fairly regularly on ZOOM worship sessions. We may want to reach out to some of those we are not regularly seeing on Zoom.
On the whole, there was a good deal of agreement that we should be especially attentive to the health and safety of Meeting members. We were reminded that there are quite a number in the Meeting who would especially be at risk from a viral infection.
Several people said that they were surprised to find worship over Zoom to be better than they expected, even if they preferred to be in the meetinghouse.
There were a number of expressions of discomfort with allowing too much technology into our worship together.
Nevertheless, these expressions of discomfort were nearly always paired with a recognition that Zoom was making possible something good, and that we probably want to be heading toward some kind of hybrid solution. Such a hybrid solution would allow us to return to the meetinghouse and yet allow those not able to attend in person (for health or for distance reasons) to worship with us.
People seem interested in trying the OWL device.
Several people voiced discomfort with a large screen in the meetinghouse.
We were encouraged to see what other Quaker meetings are doing. We can learn from them.
We were reminded that we’ll need some protocols for addressing who can come to the meetinghouse in person: only those vaccinated? With masks? What distances, etc.
A possibility voiced for an interim step: gathering people in small, safe groups at various locations connected via Zoom.
A big issue to wrestle with: how much does ‘being a Quaker meeting’ require being in one another’s presence? If we allow the technology in the future, will we be altering the terms of ‘worshipping together’ and ‘making decisions together?’
From Sarah Sprogell
Good Morning Doug,
I won’t be at the threshing session today, but I wanted to offer my input for consideration on the topic of hybrid worship. I think it’s good that we’re taking some time to reflect and discern on how we can come together in worship safely post-pandemic, and continue to have wider participation.
If we go to a hybrid model, I think it would be beneficial to find a way to greatly enlarge the image of zoom participants – either by investing in a very large TV screen or be devising a system to project a large image onto a blank wall. Our sound system might need to be improved also, for best results.
Obviously, we will also need some technical expertise to get anything set up. There may be knowledge within the Meeting, and there may also be help available through NEYM. We do not need to re-create the wheel on our own!
Let’s look at what other meetings within the Yearly Meeting are doing.
For example, Allen’s Neck Meeting is using a screen, but it is too small to see the faces from a distance. Some feel that the screen itself is distracting. Thus, placement of the screen is important. Peter Crysdale or others at that meeting can provide more insight to their experience.
Another example is Cambridge Meeting, which has used a projector to put an enlarged image onto a blank wall. I saw this on an Instagram post by Kathleen Wooten. She may be a good resource for more information on this method.
Thanks for taking this input Doug, and thanks to M&C for shepherding this forward,
From Ingrid Chalufour
I regret I will miss the Threshing on Sunday. Our family is visiting, and they come first. I expect you understand that. For what it is worth I would like to share my thoughts with you. I think having a hybrid option for the long term is a good idea. I realize that we do not really know how this will impact the experience in the Meetinghouse, but there are advantages to having it. First, we do not know what our future is in relation to pandemics. We don’t even know when we might be COVID safe completely. Second, we have benefited from the participation of Friends from other places, including with message giving.
Originally, I thought that we might want to start modestly to see how it goes. After a conversation with Sarah I understand that this is likely to be an inferior experience and it would not give us a good understanding of what the experience might be.
That is the extent of my thinking for the moment. Zoom certainly has been a life saver in the past year. It has given us Sunday worship and the possibility of continuing committee work.
I look forward to hearing how all of this plays out. I long to return to the Meetinghouse but have some difficulty with wearing a mask for extended times so I have to figure that out first.
Many thanks for your efforts to guide us in figuring this out.
From KJ Williams
The focus seemed drawn into if hybrid makes sense to explore. We didn’t touch on where my thoughts were headed, more about when we should start gathering together again. I’ve thought a great deal about this, as I’ve been to work every day, answering screening questions, having my temperature taken, and now having Ag testing 2 times a week. We wear masks, stay apart, meet more still on Microsoft teams. When I think of the meeting house, I think of it as a pretty open space, fairly easy to have people sit in bubbles spread out. While singing would still be limited, the chance to be together in the space should become possible in the next 1-2 months I hope. I think the healing of being together balances out some of the safety risk. Findings of less viral spread on surfaces helps much of this feel safer. I do want people to be safe, so having the zoom option continuing is important. I am hoping that some who are more comfortable setting up zoom might help others in person.
The Wisconsin Council of Churches have a guide they call Holding Our Plans Loosely where they offer some guidance in thinking about opening. It might be useful as we think this through. It includes ideas about a blend of % of population vaccinated, positivity rate, and cases per 100,000.
I do support the hybrid model, in part given my living both in Brunswick and Oxford. I hadn’t planned on spending so much time in Oxford when I landed in Maine, but we are finding that the better way to work things. With the hybrid, I think I can stay a committed member of Durham Friends over time.
I was thinking about that balance of local, in person connection and distant connections. I have been visiting my previous congregation less, shifting to being more present here. I value being part of local activities, when I have time and energy. That is limited now, with me needing time with the community more to help me get ready for the week ahead. I value that support. I think there can also be a way of engaging those who are part of the community farther away, finding what captures their attention, their passion and gifts.
TO: Interested Folks at Durham Friends Meeting
FROM: Doug, Ellen, Renee, Joyce, Tess, Wendy
RE: Test of the OWL Pro
DATE: May 18, 2021
Today we tried a test of the OWL Pro device that New England Yearly Meeting lent us for a short while. On the whole, it was a successful trial, but not everything we tried worked.
Test Site: Social Room. The OWL connects to a laptop which becomes the host computer for the ZOOM session. We put the OWL on a table in the Social Room, plugged it in to Doug’s laptop, connected it wirelessly to the Meeting WiFi, and started up a meeting. (Durham Meeting has its internet connection from Spectrum, via DSL.) Doug, Ellen and Renee were present in the Social Room; Joyce, Tess and Wendy were logged in remotely. You can see a 14-minute recording of what this looked like here.
We could see and hear one another without difficulty. The OWL always shows one speaker in the room and also a panoramic 360-degree view of everyone in the room. Sometimes it would show a few people (separate images) in addition to the panoramic view. We did notice that the OWL’s camera was slow to move towards a new speaker; it took perhaps three sentences before that new speaker showed on camera (there was no delay in picking up the sound).
We did succeed in hooking up the Meeting’s TV to the laptop using a Chromecast device, but we did not figure out how to cast the Zoom session from the laptop to the TV monitor. This is surely a solvable problem.
Test Site: Meeting Room. We tried moving the whole set-up into the Meeting Room. This was not successful because we could not pick up a WiFi signal in this location. We tried wirelessly, first, and then tried running an ethernet cable from the cable modem/router in the kitchen across the floor of the Social Room into the Meeting Room. This too, did not work. The problem might be with the ethernet cable we used or with the cable modem/router.
Conclusions. Here are some tentative conclusions:
1. The OWL Pro (costs about $1000) could be a way to have the Meeting do hybrid worship – most people in the Meetinghouse and some logging in via Zoom. The sound and video are good, though the camera takes a bit of time to react and turn toward a new speaker.
2. Of course we could also use it for business meetings and committee meetings with some participants logged in from remote sites.
3. For starters, we would have to hold Meeting for Worship in the Social Room.
4. Using the OWL Pro in the Meetinghouse would require some upgrade of our internet capabilities. This upgrade would involve a stronger signal than we now have or a dedicated (and working) ethernet cord from our cable modem/router to the computer that is hosting the OWL. If we use ethernet, perhaps an electrician could find a way to run the connection from the kitchen to the Meeting Room via the basement.
5. Would we want a TV monitor in use during Meeting for Worship to see remote participants? That is a question for discussion.
We have a large collection of Pendle Hill Pamphlets, which a
short and always relevant on a myriad of subjects. Please note that
we just received a very helpful index of the pamphlets, 1934-2018,
listed by number, author, title, and subject! The latest one is titled:
“On Vocal Ministry.”
Anonymous gifts include A Permeable Life, Poems and Essays, by Carrie Newcomer (Quaker songwriter); Our Endangered Values, by Jimmy Carter; and a highly recommended book, A Dangerous New World, Maine Voices on the Climate Crisis.
NEW BOOKS (and one CD and two pamphlets) added to the library collection:
—Buckley, Paul: Primitive Quakerism revived: living as Friends in the twenty-first century, 2018.
—Canto, Francisco: The line becomes a river: dispatches from the border, 2018. Canto joined the U.S. border patrol determined to experience what was happening on the Mexican border first hand.
—Cobb, Wayne: Quakers in early Falmouth and Portland, Maine, 1740-1850, 2019.
—Dawnland (CD): a documentary about cultural survival and stolen children, 2018.
—Gulley, Philip: Unlearning God: how unbelieving helped me believe, 2018. This book is extremely readable, written with humor, and is a thoughtful study on the nature of God.
—Hockett, Eloise and John Muhanji: Lessons from cross-cultural collaboration, 2017. Quaker projects mainly in Kenya are described through the lens and perspective of an American and a
—Humphries, Debbie L.: Seeds that change the world: essays on Quakerism, spirituality, faith and culture, 2017. Debbie Humphries traveled in the ministry among Friends under the care of Hartford Meeting.
—Johnson, David: The workings of the Spirit of God within (Pendle Hill Pamphlet), 2019.
—Johnson, Elizabeth A.: Creation and the Cross: the mercy of God for a planet in peril, 2018. The proper focus is not humanity but creation in its entirety.
—Jones, Rufus M.: A call to a new installment of the heroic Spirit. NEYM, 1947.
—Jones, Rufus M.: Quakers in the American Colonies, 1911.
—Muench, Elizabeth: Friendly audits, 1990.
—O’Sullivan, Elizabeth: Building bridges: four stories from the Bible (Pendle Hill Pamphlet), 2019.
—Quaker religious thought, 2019 (a periodical of modern Quaker thinking issued twice a year).
—Trueblood, Elton: While it is day: an autobiography.
—Tutu, Desmond: Made for goodness, and why this makes all the difference, 2010.
These books were gifts to the library or purchased as recommended by Friends Journal and the United Society of Friends Women International. You will find most of these books on the NEW BOOK SHELF!
By Brown Letham
April Lenten Saturday vigils at Bath Iron Works
April 27 Vigil at BIW for the christening of a destroyer
April 28 P&SC give message, and sponsor potluck and discussion at Durham Friends Meeting
May 10 Co-sponsoring a panel discussion of climate change action at the Brunswick Unitarian Universalist (UU) Church
May 11 New England Yearly Meeting Permanent Board will meet at Durham Meetinghouse
May 11 Game Night to follow
May 17 Peter and Annie Blood concert at Portland UU church
Ingrid Chalufour reports that she will be attending meetings of the Brunswick Interfaith Council. Cush Anthony is involved with the Maine Council of Churches.
Planning of the Friday, May 10 climate change action panel discussion: Panelists will be Sen. Brownie Carson, Rev. Sylvia Stocker, and Ann D. Burt. There might also be a Bowdoin student. The purpose of the panel and the activity below is not to describe climate change or debate its existence but to talk about actions that people can take on an individual, legislative , and most importantly, organizational level.
Sunday April 28 Worship, potluck and discussion: The P&SC committee is generating queries to prompt thinking and discussion about corporate witness as a Meeting. A short First Day message may spring out of the queries that will be brought into worship. Finger food potluck followed by discussion.
Peace vigils at BIW: Brown mentioned that the next destroyer christening at BIW was planned tentatively for April, as well as the remaining Saturday Lenten vigils there. He brought a pamphlet about a call for a conversion to peacetime production at BIW and asked if Durham Friends would consider endorsing/sponsoring it.
The Minute reads: “Peace and Social Concerns Committee recommends to Monthly Meeting that Durham Friends be a co-sponsor of the vigil for conversion of Bath Iron Works to peacetime production at the upcoming warship christening.”
Sponsorship would entail permission to print our name in the flyer, display the banner at the vigil, but no financial obligation.
[Editor’s note: the destroyer’s christening has been scheduled for April 27 at BIW.]
By Dorothy Hinshaw
Hal Tucker was an ordained United Church of Christ (UCC) minister and a mentor to many students at Bangor Theological Seminary (BTS) and in the UCC tradition. He was one of “Bee’s Boys” and learned to love our Quaker way during his years at Bowdoin College while rooming with Bernice (Bee) Douglas. He also served our meeting as a pastor while a student at BTS. He and his wife, Bettina, have given us many valuable Quaker books from their collection.
I have thoroughly enjoyed reading one of these donated books, Living in a Larger World, the Life of Murray S. Kenworthy, who grew up in the Midwest (as did I). Kenworthy became a well-loved Quaker pastor, teacher at Earlham College, and served with the American Friends Service Committee. This book gives an insight into the development of the Quaker pastoral system and programmed meetings, and the AFSC feeding program in Russia. His son, Leonard, was a prolific writer about Quaker subjects; several of his pamphlets are on the pamphlet shelf.
“Check out” these valuable books and pamphlets!
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 by Monthly Meeting, March 17, 2019
Katherine Langelier reported that the committee is very grateful for Ashley Marstaller’s presence and skill in providing childcare.The Intergenerational Game Night on January 12th was very enjoyable, and the next one will be on March 9th, starting at 5pm with a potluck supper.
The committee has cleared with Trustees adding a “menstruation station” to the bathroom. This will include personal supplies such as tampons, pads, wipes, and paper towels and a more hygienic means of collection like a small, covered, and lined container for disposal of used items.
Adult Sunday School is covering the book Waking Up White by Debbie Irving.
Durham Friends have been given the opportunity to co-sponsor an event with Friends’ School of Portland in their Parenting For Peace series, “Tell Me The Truth: Exploring the Heart of Cross-Racial Conversations” between Debbie and Shay Stewart Bouley on May 1st. Christian Ed requested funds to share in the cost of co-sponsoring, and it was suggested and approved that the $100 be split equally between the budgets of Christian Education and Peace & Social Concerns. Leslie Manning volunteered to sit at a table representing Durham at the event.
Christian Ed will be coordinating with other committees including Ministry & Counsel to plan a Homecoming Sunday on World Quaker Day, the first Sunday in October. A key feature of the day will be sharing stories from the life of the meeting in the past. The committee invites everyone to help with preparations for this special occasion.
By Ellen Bennett
We appreciate the addition of Nancy Marstaller to the committee in 2018 and look forward to the addition of Ellen Bennett in 2019.
Many Quaker books were added to the library, donated from a retired Friend, and four books were purchased from the United Society of Friends Women International reading list. We included Library News in the Durham Friends Newsletter and continue to receive Pendle Hill Pamphlets and Quaker Religious Thought pamphlets.
We will compile a list of books we would like to have in the library and ask Friends either to purchase or donate any they can. We always appreciate recommendations and look for special books that people would like to donate. A good place to look for possible additions to our library is Friends’ Journal annual book review issue.
In addition, we thinned the collection some, giving a few books to Kristna Evans for the Vintage Quaker Books collection, and selling a few, taking in $50.00.
As with last year, we are looking for a table on which to put the card catalog to make it easier to use. And we hope people will take advantage of this singular meeting resource, as well as continue to make suggestions for how we can best serve you.
Margaret Wentworth, Dorothy Hinshaw, Ellen Bennett, Nancy Marstaller, and David Dexter.
By Ingrid Chalufour
The committee met with all members present, welcoming new members Bob Eaton and Cush Anthony. We discussed possible spring events and made several decisions:
- We discussed the importance of addressing climate change, the real crisis right now.
- We would like to put together a panel to help us move toward taking collective action.
- We would like to collaborate with another group(s) on this and are looking for partners.
Ingrid Chalufour has volunteered to represent the Meeting in the Brunswick Area Interfaith Council. The recently revived group meets monthly. This might be a path to finding collaborators.
As a follow-up to the American Friends Service Committee discussion about action priorities we are planning events for April 28, the last Sunday in April. Our committee will give the message that day and facilitate an after-Meeting discussion.
We have agreed to host a Peter and Annie Blood concert in May at the Meeting House. They have a new Pete Seeger songbook they will be using for the concert.
Prepared by Finance Committee; approved by the Meeting, December 18, 2018.
|DURHAM FRIENDS MEETING – 2019 BUDGET|
|Other Sources – gifts, use of meetinghouse, etc.||300.00|
|Rental of Parsonage (1200/mo.)||14,400.00|
|TOTAL OPERATING REVENUE||58,015.00|
|Contributions to other organizations||6,850.00|
|Meetinghouse Physical Plant||11,455.00|
|Position developed with Ad Hoc Group||10,000.00|
|Ministry – Youth||11,100.00|
|Parsonage Physical Plant||9,400.00|
|TOTAL OPERATING EXPENSES||57,800.00|
Peace & Social Concerns Requests Durham’s Discernment,
Hosting a Meeting January 6
By Bob Eaton
Monthly Meeting for Business has endorsed the Peace and Social Concerns Committee request for a special meeting to take place after regular meeting for worship on Sunday, January 6. The meeting will be convened by Lesley Manning and Bob Eaton for a focused response to the American Friends Service Committee request for Friends’ discernment on what programs the AFSC should focus on in the next ten-year strategic plan for the organization. Bob will prepare brief (but insightful!) background materials to be available before the meeting.
For January-February-March 2019 the theme Ministry and Counsel proposes is “where are we being led?”
One of the Advices (number 9) from NEYM tells us
“Attend to the Spirit at work in the ordinary activities and experiences of your daily life. There is inspiration to be found all around us, in the natural world, in the sciences and arts, in our work and friendships, in our sorrows as well as in our joys. Be open to and alert for how the Spirit may be speaking to you in fresh ways, leading you in new directions.”
To what should we be “open and alert?” What are the new directions that the Spirit may be leading you, or leading us?
You may find useful the opening paragraph of Paul Lacey’s Pendle Hill Pamphlet Leading and Being Led.
“Leading and being led: the words are simple enough. But for Quakers they have the most profound resonance as defining religious experience. Friends speak variously of being drawn to an action, feeling under the weight of a concern, being called or led in act in specific ways. We speak of being open to the leadings of the Light, of being taught by the Spirit or the Inward Christ. Extraordinary claims lie embedded in these phrases. They say it is not only possible but essential to our nature for human beings to hear and obey the voice of God; we can be directed, daily, in what we do, the jobs we hold, the very words we say; and that our obedience may draw us to become leaders in all spheres of human life – in the professions, arts and sciences, but also in discovering the ethical, political, social and economic consequences of following the will of God.”
So, again, where are we being led?
December 12, 2018, from the Committee on Ministry and Counsel
Our past two years it has been rich and challenging to have Sunday messages brought by various people. This has also deepened our connections to one another. Many of us have appreciated when there have been a series of messages around a single theme or topic. Sometimes those messages came when we had a pastor, other times when a member felt called to speak several weeks in a row.
The Meeting’s Committee on Ministry and Counsel has prayerfully considered ways to bring greater continuity to our worship. We would like to encourage having a theme for our worship that would change every three months.
We ask that Durham Friends Meeting use these themes we propose as encouragement and stimulus, not as a straightjacket or as a discouragement of other messages that arise within the Meeting.
Messages that do not fit the theme will continue to be most welcome.
Each few months we plan to propose a theme for worship and circulate it among Meeting members. Members of Ministry and Counsel will use the theme in our care of worship activities: we will use the theme to select a reading or a reflection, for example, to open worship.
We encourage Meeting members to consider whether they have a message to offer that arises from or speaks to this theme.
We also encourage other committees of the Meeting to suggest possible themes for our worship.
By Dorothy Hinshaw
Most of you may know that New England Yearly Meeting was the first yearly meeting organized in the Society of Friends, even established before London Yearly Meeting. For more information about NEYM, check out one of the newest additions to the Durham Friends Library (289.6): Two Hundred and Fiftieth Anniversary of the Beginning of New England Yearly Meeting of Friends, a printed account of a gathering in celebration held at Moses Brown School, Sixth Month, 24th, 1911. Other recent additions to the library include booklets which contain NEYM minutes of sessions held in 1904, 1905, 1907, 1927, 1928, and 1944. Fascinating reading! The early years included minutes from both the men’s and women’s meetings. Also, in those early days, not only were queries read, but answers were included regarding compliance to the queries! These minute booklets are located in a plastic bag in the Quaker section (289.6 New) of the library.
By Liana Thompson Knight, Clerk
The Newsletter Committee has a few updates and reminders this month:
1. Newsletter Deadline: We are changing the deadline for submissions to the newsletter to 5pm on the Wednesday after Monthly Meeting.
2. Newsletter Submissions: We need your help with submitting information to the newsletter. If you have a submission (report, article, description of an upcoming event, etc.) please write it up in a way that will be able to run in the newsletter without requiring further writing. Pieces will be edited; however, we need them to arrive to us written. However, please do not include formatting (no hyperlinks, heading fonts, etc.); pieces will be formatted as part of being put into the newsletter. If possible, please send submissions in the body of an email, rather than as an attachment.
3. Durham Friends Notes: We remind Friends who have information that should go out as a Durham Friends Note please to pass that information not only to Jo-an (who sends out the emailed Notes) but also to David Dexter (207-595-3329), who initiates the phone tree for the same information. If you cannot reach David, Liana Thompson Knight (207-737-9781) will be a backup for initiating the phone tree.
November 16, 2018
The final report of the Paid Position Working Group will be presented to Monthly Meeting this Sunday, November 18. The members of the Working Group, which has focused on the larger question of Strengthening Durham Friends Meeting, are Doug Bennett, Joyce Gibson, Theresa Oleksiw, Sukie Rice, and Wendy Schlotterbeck.
A compilation of the Working Group’s earlier progress reports to the Meeting can be found here.
Committee on Ministry and Counsel, September 2018
For many decades, Durham Friends Meeting had a paid pastor who, among other responsibilities, took primary responsibility for pastoral care in the Meeting community. The Meeting made the decision in November 2016 first on a trial basis, and then, in October 2017, to continue “for the time being,” to proceed without a paid pastor.
With this decision, the Committee on Ministry and Counsel took on the lead responsibility for pastoral care in the Meeting community. Especially over the past year, members of Ministry and Counsel have discussed how we should carry out this responsibility. We would like to give Meeting members a summary of what we have developed as the current approach to pastoral care.
- Members and attenders of the Meeting are encouraged to bring situations calling for pastoral care to the attention of The Meeting clerk, the clerk of Ministry and Counsel or another member of Ministry and Counsel.
- Ministry and Counsel discusses situations calling for pastoral care at least once each month as part of its regular meeting agenda, and more frequently if pressing. The committee maintains a list of such situations to be sure we don’t neglect any of them. We regularly review this list.
- We ask one member of the committee to be the point person for each situation, asking that person to make visits or take other appropriate action and subsequently report back to Ministry and Counsel. In more complex situations, we convene a team to work together on the matter.
- The Committee on Ministry and Counsel takes the need for confidentiality very seriously. We respect the confidentiality of whatever is said to us by those experiencing difficulties, and do not discuss specific pastoral care situations outside of the committee without specific permission from those affected.
We know this approach to pastoral care is a change from the past, particularly for those with long experience in the Meeting of having a paid pastor providing pastoral care.
We ask members of the Meeting community to give us feedback on how this new approach to pastoral care is working. What is going well and what is not going so well?
By Doug Bennett
The work of Durham Meeting’s ad hoc committee will be back on the agenda in September and we need your help. The most recent report of the committee (from April) is on the Meeting’s website.
At the May Monthly Meeting we agreed to these next steps:
- That committees currently providing pastoral care (M&C), outreach (CE, P&SC, newsletter) and coordination (clerks meeting) consider their roles and effectiveness more deeply;
- That these groups and committees report back to the Ad Hoc working group with their thoughts by Sept. 17;
- That the Ad Hoc group organize a time for A Community Conversation about the Way Forward on Sept 30 (5thSunday) 2018.
So please, if you are a member of a Meeting committee, please note what we are asking you to do, and send the ad hoc committee your thoughts by September 17. And please mark your calendars for a special discussion on Sunday, September 30.
Recommendations of the Ad Hoc Committee on Strengthening Durham Meeting, presented to May Monthly Meeting
A. Framing Thoughts. Three large ideas have emerged to frame our thinking about how to strengthen outreach for Durham Friends Meeting. We should bear these in mind as we consider what specific efforts we might want to undertake.
- Strengthening the worship life of Durham Friends Meeting should be the main concern of our outreach efforts in the future. We believe we should focus on those outreach efforts that have promise to draw more people to worship regularly with us. (Holding events that draw new people to the Meetinghouse but that draw none of these people to come to worship with us on Sunday should not be high among our priorities.)
2. Attend to deepening community as well as outreach. We want to strengthen not just our outreach to newcomers or those who do not yet know us; we also want to strengthen the relationships among those of us who are already members or regular attenders. We want to know each other better. A fair number of us still feel relatively new.
3. Also pay attention to Pastoral Care. Though perhaps not outreach per se, as we have sought ideas for outreach, people keep mentioning the need to strengthen what we are doing with regard to pastoral care. (We do not pursue this here. The Committee on Ministry and Counsel is currently considering how to strengthen Pastoral Care at Durham Friends Meeting.)
B. Possible Initiatives. While we have considered a large number of possibilities, these seem like the most fruitful ones to pursue. We are already doing many of these things, but the suggestion is that we do more.
- Make more and better use of media.
a. We should try to place more articles in local print newspapers, especially the Brunswick Times Record, but also others. We might also consider placing paid advertisements in newspapers.
b. We should make greater use of electronic media, especially our website and Facebook or other social media, trying to make these work together and to reach out beyond our current members and attenders.
c. Signage out front of the Meetinghouse. We should have signs or banners outside our Meetinghouse visible to traffic that passes by.
2. Hold more regular family events. We have had good success with intergenerational game nights, and similar events. We should do more of these and more regularly. We should also work on extending invitations to these more broadly.
3. Hold more Potluck Suppers with a speaker or panel. Again, regularly, we should consider having a series of events, widely publicized, each featuring a speaker (might or might not be a member). Peace and social concerns issues might be the focus of these.
4. Pursue some special Durham-focused efforts. We should try to make ourselves better known to our immediate neighbors in Durham, where we have a declining number of members. We might do a town-wide mailing inviting them to visit. We might do an open house. We might sponsor a forum on a topic of interest to Durham residents.
5. Make a more sustained effort to follow up with new visitors. We should be sure we get contact information from visitors and be sure we follow up via phone, mail, e-mail, invitations to potlucks and the like. We should also provide more opportunities for newcomers to learn more about Quakerism, perhaps through a Seekers and Sojourners class or gatherings.
C. How to pursue these initiatives. Whichever of these initiatives we pursue, there are two broad options for how we pursue them. We can see these options as alternatives, or we could see them as complementary. We especially seek the Meeting’s advice on which way to proceed.
- We could see Outreach as everyone’s responsibility. Perhaps we should see outreach as something to which every part of the Meeting and everyone should contribute. On this option, we’d all try to face outward a little more. For example,
a. We could ask each regular committee of the Meeting to be sure to undertake some Outreach activities. Christian Education could do game nights, Peace and Social Concerns could hold potluck suppers with speakers, Ministry and Counsel could follow up with visitors and hold Seekers and Sojourners sessions.
b. In addition, we could expand the charge and perhaps size of the Newsletter Committee giving it responsibility for our website and Facebook page as well as print media possibilities, making it a Communications Committee.
2. We could place responsibility for Outreach in a particular place in the Meeting. On this option we focus responsibility within the Meeting.
a. We could make Outreach the focus of a regular committee – an Outreach Committee that would pursue many of the ideas sketched in section B.
b. We could have also have a paid, part-time Meeting Secretary or Coordinator who would work on communications and outreach activities, under the direction of an Outreach Committee.
Trustees met on Sunday, May 13 and reviewed the list of outstanding projects, and began the planning for maintenance and repair for the next three years for the meetinghouse and grounds. In June, we will have a similar process for the parsonage and cemeteries.
Outstanding projects: Windows in Basement have been installed and Dan Henton will mortar up the windows that sit in the ground and cannot be replaced.
He will also refresh the water softener and replace the filter cartridge in an attempt to increase water pressure. We have been advised by a plumber that our system is obsolete and we are considering options in our long term planning.
We are still soliciting estimated for the repair and replacement of the ceilings and since the job is “so small”, to add the painting of the walls of the meeting room to the estimate.
We are actively looking for a lawn care provider, and Donna Hutchins will follow up. Cemeteries will be mowed 3-5 times between Memorial Day and end of September, parsonage and meeting grounds more frequently to reduce tick exposure.
We discussed tick control and will research both toxic and nontoxic alternatives, with cost estimates, before next month.
We are still soliciting bids for the horse shed.
A water test conducted at the parsonage show it is within acceptable limits other than the presence of radon.
Donna will work with Margaret on the cemetery accounts and plotting, which Eileen Babcock had previously done.
We are in need of an additional member to replace Eileen and ask Nominating Committee to also consider who might serve.
We remind Friends that the lease for the parsonage will expire in June and that it will go to month to month. Based on 2017 costs of approximately $11,800 and expected income of $14,400, we recommend that there be no increase in the rent and expressed appreciation for care our tenants show for the parsonage.
We received a request that the meetinghouse be made available to a Native American group for worship, drumming, dinners and fellowship and heartily agree to this. We do not believe that there should be a cost for worship and recommend that a free will offering of any amount be requested but not required.
We closed in deep gratitude and with silence, and then did a walk around to look at winter damage and identify future tasks, including the hanging of banners.
April 29, 2018
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.
Second Report of a Working Group – February 2018
[The first report of the ‘Paid Position Working Group’ was presented to Monthly Meeting on January 18, 2018. This is the Working Group’s second report.]
Doug Bennett, Joyce Gibson, Jo-an Jacobus, Theresa Oleksiw, Sukie Rice, and Martha Hinshaw Sheldon.
At the January Monthly Meeting of Durham Friends Meeting, we brought a report that sketched a number of alternative models for an additional part-time paid position at the Meeting. That was what we had been asked to bring. The Monthly Meeting was unusually well attended, and we are deeply appreciative of the many thoughtful comments and perspectives we heard in the consideration of the report. It seemed to us that those in attendance spoke from depth and listened unusually carefully to one another.
In this report we want to (A) summarize what we heard and (B) tell you how we propose to proceed.
(A) A Summary of What We Heard. Here is a brief summary of what struck us as the most important things we heard. (Of course, we heard a great deal more.)
1. We are a healthy Meeting. We affirmed we are a healthy, strong middle-sized Quaker Meeting. We are still adjusting to not having a pastor.
2. We have some things we need to work on. At the same time, we know there are some things we need to work on doing better, especially pastoral care, outreach, and coordination.
3. An additional paid position? Perhaps it is the way to go, but perhaps it isn’t. The report listed some reasons from having another paid position (confidentiality, reliability and accountability), but in the discussion we also lifted up a reason not to have another paid position: we all need to feel responsible for what the Meeting does, and we should all feel called to contribute.
4. Let’s focus on releasing one another to Ministry. There are lots of gifts in our Meeting. We need to encourage one another. We need to call one another out, call one another into taking initiative where and when someone has a leading. Perhaps this would lead us toward a paid position, but perhaps it wouldn’t. (For those who may not be familiar: A Released Friend is a Friend whose leading to carry out a particular course of action has met with approval from a Meeting which then promises to provide such support as would enable the Friend to follow that leading.)
5. We need to talk together more. This was an important discussion together: a joined discussion in depth. We need to have more of these.
(B) How we propose to proceed. Given the discussion at the January Monthly Meeting, we are reluctant simply to bring forward a single recommendation for a paid position, at least at this point.
We heard affirmation that the Meeting needs to work on all three of these matters: pastoral care, outreach and coordination. These are three important matters. All three need attention, but we do not think we should take the same approach with each. Indeed, we think each needs to be addressed in its own way. So, at this point we propose the following ways to work on each.
(1) Pastoral Care. The pastoral care team has now become part of Ministry and Counsel. Ministry and Counsel has taken responsibility for pastoral care, but has not really had an opportunity to consider how best to make sure we are meeting the needs of Meeting members in this regard.
Approach. We should ask Ministry and Counsel to consider how best to proceed with pastoral care, and to report and make recommendations to Monthly Meeting.
(2) Outreach. At present, Outreach isn’t really any person or committee’s responsibility though there are some good efforts being made, especially by Christian Education and Peace and Social Concerns. We lack a Meeting-wide understanding of what we should be doing about Outreach and who should be doing it.
Approach. This should a topic for discussion at a Monthly Meeting in the near future, perhaps March. Our Working Group would be willing to make preparations for having this discussion.
(3) Coordination. A relatively recent innovation, better known to some than others, is to have a Clerks’ Meeting from time to time: a gathering of the Meeting Clerk with the clerks of the various standing committees. This is one approach to coordination and seems to be doing good things. But is this enough? Does this Clerk’s Meeting connect with all the different parts of the Meeting that need to be coordinated?
Approach. Ask the Clerk’s Meeting to consult broadly about the issue and consider whether there is something more we need to do about coordination or whether our new approach to this is sufficient. 7 of 8
Again, they should report and make recommendations to the Monthly Meeting in the near future.
Perhaps consideration of these three matters, as we’ve sketched them, will lead to a recommendation for a paid position, or perhaps not. Perhaps it will lead to a new standing committee, or perhaps not.
At some point we also believe the Meeting Handbook should be updated and revised, but we believe that should wait until we take these further steps.
Report and Recommendations of a Working Group January, 2018
Doug Bennett, Joyce Gibson, Jo-an Jacobus, Theresa Oleksiw, Sukie Rice, and Martha Hinshaw Sheldon.
At the October Monthly Meeting for Business, Durham Friends Meeting approved a recommendation from Ministry and Counsel that we continue as a semi-programmed meeting but without a part-time pastor.
The six of us were appointed by the Monthly Meeting at that same Monthly Meeting for Business as an ad hoc committee “to develop a job description for a stipend position to address pastoral and other needs. The committee will explore alternative models to help us discern what might work best for us. The entire community is asked to hold in our hearts the concerns that we have heard for pastoral care, confidentiality, spiritual nurture and outreach.”
This first report from the Ad Hoc Committee we intend to be a basis for discussion among members of the Meeting. As requested, we present a few “alternative models” for consideration. After discussion by the Meeting, we intend to bring back a single recommendation to consider for approval.
The Christian Education Committee minutes its appreciation for our beloved Friend Clarabel Marstaller’s many years of faithful work in Christian education for Durham Friends Meeting. When she resigned from our Committee in March, she mentioned that she has been involved in the work here since 1949 – 67 years! She has seen our Meeting and its work in religious education go through many changes over the years, and has worked creatively every step along the way. We are grateful for the continuity and resilience she has lent the Committee’s work. She has offered a deep well of experience and knowledge to draw upon. We hope we can continue to draw upon her insights and encouragement in the future. Thank you, Clarabel! For the Christian Education Committee, Tess Hartford, Clerk Approved at Monthly Meeting, April 17, 2016
May 27, 2012
Good morning Friends,
These are sad times, having recently lost two dear Friends. It is often at sad times that we are reminded of
the importance of our physical presence, and how we each support and care for the Meeting. At times like this,
it is clear that we are here only through the Grace of God, that it is through God’s Grace that we each provide
the care and support so necessary to sustain our Meeting. So perhaps it is not too big a stretch to consider also
the importance of our financial support of the Meeting. Since it is also through God’s Grace that we have this
building in which to gather.
And so it is that we introduce ourselves to you today as members who are working on the Financial Health
and Care of Durham Friends Meeting. We are members of the ad hoc Fundraising Committee which was
appointed by Monthly Meeting in February. We come to you today to introduce ourselves and to speak about
the need for this committee. Our task is to explore ways to strengthen our weekly giving which supports our
operating budget, and to rebuild our capital funds.
You might ask: Why?
For the past several years we have been falling short in our operating budget, and we have been relying on
savings to fill the gap each year. Using this method, we are steadily depleting our savings. Also, with the
accomplishment of several major building improvements, we have depleted our capital funds.
We want to develop wise practices so that we can move forward toward a bright future for our Meeting.
But where and how to do we begin?
Appreciation: As a committee, we began with deep appreciation for what we have been given. We are
fortunate in many ways at Durham. We know that we have a generous membership, with people giving in
many ways to support our Meeting. We realize that each contributes as they are able. We know that all gifts
are accepted with gratitude. We recognize that all gifts, be they monetary, volunteer or in-kind contributions
come from a sense of spiritual and loving generosity.
Through this loving care we accomplish many things. We pay our bills each month. We have made many
improvements both at the Meetinghouse and at the Parsonage: (Fellowship Room, Library, Children’s Room,
Parsonage boiler). All of this demonstrates our loving care for each other and for the Meeting. The physical
improvements and maintenance of our buildings help ensure us all that Durham Friends will continue to be here
for us, as our Spiritual Home. We know that our ability to continue to function is due primarily to the
commitment to giving that comes from each person active in the meeting. It is this faithfulness that forms the
core of Durham Friends as a vibrant and loving community.
For these things we are deeply grateful. We are all blessed to share in this good fortune.
Current Status: However, our financial strength at Durham Meeting needs careful attention.
A. Operations: Our Operational Budget is like our heartbeat. It keeps us going each day, just like our hearts do
for us. Sometimes it is easy to forget that our hearts are working for us all day, every day. Similarly, we find
ourselves now in a situation where we our weekly giving does not match our operational expenses. We are not
keeping up with our heartbeat. The Heart-blood of our Meeting needs some help. Although we live modestly
at the Meetinghouse and the Parsonage, we find that we will fall short this year by about $15,000.
We currently take in about $42,000 a year in the weekly offering. With about 45 people attending each
Sunday, that averages about $18 per person per week. Some give more; some give less. But, in order to reach
our goal of $57,000 the average individual giving would need to increase to about $25 per week.
We are asking each of you to consider your current giving level, and determine whether you have room to
increase your offering. We realize that this is not an easy task, nor a very tempting one, and we know that there
are some who may not be able to make any changes. But for those of you who do have room for change we
have some ideas…
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I recently found a quote that spoke strongly to me on this subject, and I modified it a bit: “There is no set
formula for financial giving. Just as each person is unique, so is their ability and their response to financial
That has become my mantra for this committee.
In a few minutes, some of our committee members will speak about ideas that work for them. Perhaps one
of these ideas may inspire you.
B. Capital Fund: Although we come to you today primarily to present and explain our operational needs,
our group will also be working on ideas to re-build our capital fund. Similar to the needs and care of our
physical bodies, our capital needs also require attention to maintain the physical health of our Meeting
How can we best support our Meeting?
Just as Durham Friends feeds your Soul, which enlivens your heart, breath and body, may each of you
discern with wisdom how best you can financially support the Heart and Body of Durham Meeting, so that we
may remain spiritually vibrant, active and well-nourished.
— Presented by Sarah Sprogell
By Nancy Marstaller
Fourteen women met at Muriel and Karen Marston’s. Their recent work on the house makes the place just glow.
Margaret Wentworth led the program and devotions on the theme “God Speaks Through Others.” The author of the lesson in our Blueprints quoted Psalm 46: “As the deer panteth for water, so my soul panteth for you, oh God.” We shared how God can speak to us through others or in ways we might not recognize.
We sent many cards: thinking of you, birthday, get well, and thank you. Our treasurer reported a balance of $2,140.94, with $2,000 dedicated to a meetinghouse sound system. The April Tedford meal was chicken and rice, green salad, fruit, brownies and
cheesecake. Angie and her team will provide the May meal.
We are asked to pray for all Friends attending the Friends World Committee for Consultation world conference in Kenya. We planned details of the NE USFW meeting to be held at the meetinghouse on May 12 and the Yard Sale on May 26 (see related articles!). In closing our meeting, we held in prayer all those who could not join us for the evening.
We enjoyed Karen’s fabulous refreshments, the antics of their dog, and each other’s company before heading into the night. Our next meeting will be Monday, May 21, at Nancy’s house, with Angie leading devotions and Dot Hinshaw leading the program. Hope you can come!