“Unless We Know Each Other,” from Britain Yearly Meeting Faith and Practice (2013)

All of us in the meeting have needs. Sometimes the need will be for patient understanding, sometimes for practical help, sometimes for challenge and encouragement; but we cannot be aware of each other’s needs unless we know each other. Although we may be busy, we must take time to hear about the absent daughter, the examination result, the worries over a lease renewal, the revelation of an uplifting holiday, the joy of a new love. Every conversation with another Friend, every business meeting, every discussion group, and every meeting for worship can increase our loving and caring and our knowledge of each other.

Loving care is not something that those sound in mind and body “do” for others but a process that binds us together. God has made us loving and the imparting of love to another satisfies something deep within us. It would be a mistake to assume that those with outwardly well-organized lives do not need assistance. Many apparently secure carers live close to despair within themselves. We all have our needs.

Careful listening is fundamental to helping each other; it goes beyond finding out about needs and becomes part of meeting them. Some would say that it is the single most useful thing that we can do. Those churches that have formal confession understand its value, but confession does not have to be formal to bring benefits. Speaking the unspeakable, admitting the shameful, to someone who can be trusted and who will accept you in love as you are, is enormously helpful.

Plain speaking is a longstanding Quaker testimony. It is not only that we hold a witness to the value of truth but also that straightforwardness saves us from many mistakes and much time wasted. On first acquaintance some Quakers can seem rather brusque; without the conventions of flattery and half-truths, we particularly need to make clear the steadfast love we have for one another.

Caring can take many forms. Some help will be beyond the resources of the local meeting, but it should not be beyond our resources to see when it is needed and to see that it is provided. Often it is what we are rather than anything we do which is of help to others. We should be wary of giving advice: a sympathetic ear, whilst a person finds their own way forward, will usually do more lasting good. Some people may not want to be helped, seeing our concern as an intrusion. Great sensitivity is called for.

The adults in a meeting have a shared responsibility for making a reality of our claim that the presence of children and young people is valued and that everybody’s needs and feelings matter. People vary in how comfortable they feel with silent worship; some children, like some adults, take naturally to its disciplines and joys; others have to work at it. Some meetings offer other forms of worship from time to time. In any case it is important that the needs of all age groups are considered when we plan our activities.

Britain Yearly Meeting Faith and Practice, Fifth Edition (2013)
reprinted from Extra Extra Western Friend, August 13, 2022

What’s Ahead for the Friends Committee on Maine Public Policy, July 2022


A small group of FCMPP members (Jim Matlack, Shirley Hager, Diane Oltarzewski, Janet Hough, Ann Dodd-Collins and Wayne Cobb) gathered together on July 8th for lunch and a discussion of future FCMPP activities as well as its processes and structure. It was a cordial, extended, and roaming exchange of views and expectations

We agreed that FCMPP should continue to honor its dual emphases from its founding–both civil liberties/legal rights and Wabanaki (Tribal-state relations) issues. Due to the loss of
certain individuals who were closely informed about criminal/restorative justice issues, as well as the rising concern for Tribal justice in recent years, FCMPP has focused almost exclusively on Wabanaki-related issues in recent years. Important personal relationships have been established with Tribal leaders, and Quakers are recognized as reliable allies in campaigns to extend a fuller measure of sovereignty to the Tribes. Yet future politics in Maine are unpredictable and we may find that our work requires renewed focus on the civil liberties agenda.

As a result of the heightened attention to Wabanaki issues, Shirley has taken primary leadership for FCMPP due to her prior experience with these concerns. She has performed admirably but now feels it is important to share leadership for this work, both for the future of FCMPP and to lessen the burdens of her current role. Diane has also said that she wants to step back for a while after a period of intense political activism with FCMPP.

There is a need for new, more active participants in FCMPP and for fresh potential leaders. No certainties emerged from the long conversation, however the group wondered what issues now reach “faith level” engagement among younger Friends. We proposed to approach a young veteran activist among us to help us discern the way forward, both in terms of issues and how we address them, and also how we attract young Friends to our work. 

It was agreed that FCMPP should continue to work closely with the Episcopal Committee on Indian Relations. A group of socially active Unitarians (MUUSAN) may also prove to be
valuable allies.  These three groups might well join in future meetings with Tribal leaders to avoid duplication of effort and to ease their schedules. 

The New England Yearly Meeting Apology project was discussed.  So far, Shirley has contacted Tribal leaders of all but one of the Tribes in Maine to make sure that they are
aware of the intent of this project and have a chance to express their willingness to receive the Apology. Shirley has shared their feedback with the NEYM Right Relationship Resource Group that is shepherding the Apology and who will be sending official letters to Tribal leaders.

 Looking ahead we expect that a successor bill (or several bills) to L.D. 1626 will emerge in the
Maine legislature. FCMPP will again seek to advance such bill(s)toward passage. New bill numbers will not be released until January. A new Minute/Letter from FCMPP will be
needed to express continued Quaker support for relevant sovereignty legislation.  This should
be drafted and cleared so that both Falmouth and Vassalboro Quarterly Meetings can approve the message in timely fashion.  Jim Matlack and Wayne Cobb volunteered to look at the previous minutes approved by both Quarters, and to suggest updated language that would be relevant to any new legislation being proposed. 

Further efforts should also be made to seek support from Senators King and Collins for a Senate counterpart to H.R. 6707, especially since it is now apparent that Governor Mills has sought to delay consideration of this bill. HR 6707 is the bill introduced by Jared Golden to the House: Advancing Equality for Wabanaki Nations Act.

We anticipate a meeting of the whole in late September or early October.

Jim Matlack, Clerk, FCMPP

Friends Hold Ukraine Situation in the Light

Ukraine Friends Online Worship

Because many of you have woken up at night to pray with Kyiv Quakers and because of your amazing support, love, and great attention to Ukraine, we will do two Meetings for Worship on Sunday, to reach out to friends in all time zones!

  • The early meeting is scheduled for Friends in Aotearoa/New Zealand, Australia, Oceania, and Japan.
  • The late meeting is scheduled for Friends in U.S.A, Canada, Kenya, and Europe.
  • Join us for a worship meeting to pray for Ukraine = Pray for PEACE!
Click here to worship with Kyiv Friends on Sunday. 11:00 AM Pacific = Noon Mountain = 8:00 PM Kyiv
Click here to worship with Friends House Moscow daily. 9:00 AM Pacific – 10 AM Mountain

from Kyiv Quakers and Julie Harlow, Davis Meeting (3/6/2022)

Quakers of Kyiv posted the following:

There is no doubt that Quakers are people seeking peace. In the past week, we have received dozens of examples of a desperate desire to help Ukraine, prayers for peace, words of encouragement, and assurances of the steadfastness of the basic testimonies that are close to 400 years old, namely, testimonies of peace. God is good to us, and Quakers are a living organization of good people who believe in peace and in God’s light.

Friends Committee on National Legislation released a statement

Also worth reading on the Ukraine Russia situation are posts from Johan Maurer on his blog Can You Believe. A Russian speaker, Johan lived in Elektrostal, Russia from 2007 to 2017, and earlier was General Secretary of FUM.

Resources suggested by Haverford’s Center for Peace and Global Citizenship (22.3.15)

U.S. Friends Visit to Cuba, December 2021

[Report courtesy of Friends United Meeting]

Worship in Velasco.

In December, Jade and Tom Rockwell, under the care of Camas Friends Church/Sierra-Cascades Yearly Meeting of Friends, followed a personal leading to visit Friends in Cuba. They called the ministry ¡Viva Amistad! — Living Friendship. Since Covid has created such difficulty in traveling to Cuba, we thought Friends would be interested in Jade’s report.

We were able to visit two Friends churches during our trip to Cuba in December, Velasco and Puerto Padre. We wanted to visit Havana as well, but, unfortunately, they were closed because of the holiday during the portion of our trip when we were in Havana. (The Friends in Havana Meeting are all from Oriente and return home to spend the holidays with family in the Eastern part of the island.)

The Velasco church only recently reopened after two years of closure for Covid. They are keeping their services short in duration in consideration of Covid risks. Cuban people were under a mandatory lockdown for Covid, which was only lifted in November. People were not permitted to leave their homes during this time, so it was much stricter than what we have had in the United States. Although this is now lifted, masks are still required both indoors and on public streets and this rule is enforced by a fine. The good news is that upwards of 85% of Cubans are reported to be fully vaccinated at this time. In Velasco and Puerto Padre, many restaurants and businesses were still closed. In Havana, most had reopened. 

There are widespread shortages of supplies that are affecting every sector of society. This has led to situations of civil unrest this past year, though we did not encounter any protests or confrontations while we were visiting. 

Included in the shortages are almost every medicine, medical supply, or household item. Even tropical fruits that fall from the trees are scarce in these times. We’re told people take what there is and sell them in Havana where they can make a better profit. It is recommended that visitors bring absolutely every personal item they may need for their trip because if you forget a small item, you likely will not be able to buy it anywhere. For our trip we brought donations of needed items and gave these to the Puerto Padre and Velasco churches for distribution. We also donated some supplies to some Quaker medical students to distribute in their clinical work in the wider communities. Trail mix was a nice luxury treat to share and we were grateful for it when transportation difficulties delayed us and we were left without meals. 

Donations we brought: latex gloves, soaps, toothbrushes, toothpaste, laundry soap, sanitizer, deodorant, menstrual supplies, first aid supplies, condoms, batteries, over the counter pain/allergy/diarrhea relief, vitamins, school supplies, instant read thermometer for Velasco church (other churches could still use these), and some very small gifts for kids in Sunday schools. I can say that absolutely every item we brought was much needed and appreciated. We were told that people are being turned away from needed surgeries if they cannot furnish their own latex gloves, suturing thread, etc. Donations that carry much monetary value are difficult to manage well. Useful-but-not-valuable are the best things to bring. Think what you use most frequently at home. The churches keep a stash of these supplies to respond to needs, but in these times, if the public knows that there are resources, people take them to hoard or sell, so our leading was to let the pastors or healthcare professionals that we know handle them with discretion according to needs they encounter.

We also brought some videos from my Yearly Meeting of songs and greetings and these were very much appreciated. In Puerto Padre, we were able to share them in a worship service. This really encouraged and inspired people to be able to connect and share worship. Puerto Padre and Velasco have both gone through changes in the past few years of embracing more Cuban-style music and expression in worship, and this is bringing a lot of spiritual vitality to their Meetings. In the past, Cuban style instrumentation and music, as well as expression such as movement and clapping, was seen as not appropriate in a Quaker Meeting, but now these communities have a different leading. Friends described this change as liberating their worship, as expressing their authentic selves in worship (rather than imitating a foreign culture), and as expressing the joy of their faith that some described as a spiritual gift of Cuban culture. It is part of a formal music ministry in Puerto Padre, and their praise band sometimes visits other Friends churches to share (not only Cuban music—they enjoy many styles).

We greatly enjoyed participating in this joyful worship and praise in both Velasco and Puerto Padre.

In Velasco, because they did not have a projector, we were not able to share our videos in worship, but we shared with our host family and church leaders who appreciated them. We also captured video greetings from Cuban Friends to bring home.

In Puerto Padre, the church has been able to persist in their construction projects, completing more of them during Covid. They pause the projects when they are short on supplies. Right now they are not able to get cement at an affordable rate, and this is the main material used in the construction projects. However, they are pleased to have completed a cafeteria which is used for a ministry feeding elderly people, and also overnight for up to seventy visitors. They also have a carpentry shop where they build wooden furniture to raise funds for the church. 

There have been some very devastating Covid losses in Quaker communities that folks are still grieving. We remain in prayer for our Friends there, and give thanks that the vaccination campaign has hopefully brought these tragedies to an end in Cuba. 

Green Burials at Durham Friends Meeting

Durham Friends Meeting has recently established a Green Burial Site, as part of the Lunt Cemetery.  We have mapped out small plots, and the plots are available for purchase by members and nonmembers.

Further arrangements, beyond the plot, are not provided by Durham Friends Meeting. These arrangements are generally arranged for by the Power of Attorney for the individual.  Resources are available for these arrangements, including the care of the body, storage of the body during the winter months, the casket or shroud, the digging of the grave, the transport of the body, etc.

Although these resources will change over time, the following are some of the currently available resources:

*   Green Burial Council, allows people to download “Your Green Burial Planning Guide” The website also offers a Top 10 questions list, with answers, about green burials and another primer called “Going Out Green.”

*   Funeral Alternatives

*   Funeral Consumers Alliance of Maine

Some funeral directors have training in green burials, such as David Floryan, a funeral director for Jones, Rich & Barnes in Portland and Lindquist Funeral Home in Yarmouth. Both funeral homes are certified by the Green Burial Council. These funeral homes can provide, for a fee, storage of the body during winter, the transport of the body and the digging of the grave.

December 2021

Malaga Island, by Surya Milner

Peace and Social Concerns Committee encourages members and attenders of Durham Friends Meeting to read “Inhabited: The Story of Malaga Island,” by Surya Milner (Bowdoin College ’19).

Here’s how it begins: Less than ten miles from Bowdoin as the crow flies, just a short distance from the Phippsburg shore, Malaga Island was once home to a small fishing community established by descendants of a freed slave, all of them forced from their homes by greed and state-sanctioned intolerance. Nature is Malaga’s only resident now, but the presence of those who lived on the island lingers.

To read the rest, follow this link.

Malaga Island is now owned and conserved for public use by Maine Coast Heritage Trust (MCHT). MCHT’s website on Malaga Island is here.

Cuban Churches Experiencing Economic Crunch, April 2021

From Cuban Friends, shared by NEYMF Puene des Amigos Committee

The Gibara Friends Center is set to provide hospitality to large groups — but groups have not been able to travel to the Friends Center since the Covid pandemic began

The economic crisis that Cuba is experiencing at present is the most acute since the 1990s, when the collapse of the socialist bloc in Europe occurred. Although Cuban experts say the country is more prepared now than then to meet the crisis, there are circumstances that make the road to recovery more difficult, such as the pandemic context that aggravates the world’s economies. Internal and external factors create uncertainty that is difficult to unravel.

In addition to the six-decade embargo on the island, recent US policies create difficulties with tourism—which constitutes the country’s main income—by prohibiting the entry of cruise ships and the arrival of travelers through the different provinces of the country. Another US-created difficulty is the recent restriction on the remittances that normally flowed between families on one side and the other of the waters. In addition, conflict between the US and Venezuela has led to a decrease in oil supplies in Cuba and an appreciable decrease in the availability of transportation.

Nonetheless, Cuba has continued to maintain free education and health care even as it is forced to regulate the internal economy in ways that have led to the increase of wages and prices in a year of epidemiological complexity that has unleashed a crisis of food, medicine, supplies, fertilizers, animal feed, etc.

How this crisis affects the Cuban church

Everything that affects society also affects the church. Communities of faith need an economic base that sustains both community members and their institutional and administrative order. Cuban churches have been supported by the contribution of their membership and additional support from counterpart churches abroad—which now encounter obstacles in sending their contributions. In general, the Cuban churches do not have financial support beyond these options.

Ministries continue even as the economy suffers. Churches that have ministries to assist the elderly persist even when the cost of food has risen by up to five times. Car maintenance, fuel, and various services that have always been paid for in US dollars continue to be needed, even though they have become more expensive on account of inflation, and because of the difficulty in acquiring US dollars in the interior of the country. (On the black market, one US dollar is now equivalent to forty-eight or fifty Cuban pesos.) Just as the state has increased the salary of its workers, the church has also increased the salary of its workers, lay or pastoral, because everyday life has become more and more expensive. All churches have ministries that need funds to function, in commissions, departments, councils, etc. Electricity rates have risen up to ten times their value, so the monthly rate is close to or exceeds one thousand pesos.

Churches that have buildings and are accustomed to renting out space have seen their income possibilities reduced as travel has ceased, both internally and internationally. Similarly, the pandemic has limited the ability of churches to gain income by providing transportation services.

How it affects Cuba Yearly Meeting

Cuba Yearly Meeting has been supported by a budget equivalent to twenty thousand US dollars a year (five hundred thousand Cuban pesos). In addition to the annual contribution from each of the Monthly Meetings, main economic inputs have come from use of the Gibara building, the Friends Center bus, and donations from groups that visited us during specific events or with special interests. This budget has supported twelve pastoral workers from ten Monthly Meetings, and three retired workers. Income generated by the Gibara building also supported those who worked there.

The Yearly Meeting suggested that the necessary salary increase for pastoral workers should correspond to 3,000 pesos. Since there are no other means of support, the duty for raising funds for the salary increase was given to the Monthly Meetings. The Meetings located in cities, and therefore on more solid financial footing, were able to raise the suggested figure. Holguín, Gibara and Puerto Padre achieved the increase, while Velasco did it with more difficulty. The Meetings of Banes, Retrete, Bocas, Pueblo Nuevo, Vista Alegre, and Floro Pérez were able to raise only approximately fifty percent of the requested increase for their workers. The missions of Delicias, Calabazas, and Asiento de Calderón are supported by the Monthly Meetings to which they belong and the Yearly Meeting, although Delicias does contribute to its worker. The Yearly Meeting encourages ventures that can generate internal income to pay not only salaries, but also ministries and administrative expenses. Our church buildings and parsonages, many of which are approximately 100 years old, require restorative interventions that are impossible to carry out in this complex period. That is why, during this pandemic, we are focused on the support of the church structure and prioritize the payment of our pastoral workers.

—Jorge Luis Peña,
translated by Karla Jay

Cuban Churches Experiencing Economic Crunch, April 2107


The Gibara Friends Center is set up to provide hospitality to large groups—but groups have not been able to travel to the Friends Center since the Covid pandemic began.

The economic crisis that Cuba is experiencing at present is the most acute since the 1990s, when the collapse of the socialist bloc in Europe occurred. Although Cuban experts say the country is more prepared now than then to meet the crisis, there are circumstances that make the road to recovery more difficult, such as the pandemic context that aggravates the world’s economies. Internal and external factors create uncertainty that is difficult to unravel.

In addition to the six-decade embargo on the island, recent US policies create difficulties with tourism—which constitutes the country’s main income—by prohibiting the entry of cruise ships and the arrival of travelers through the different provinces of the country. Another US-created difficulty is the recent restriction on the remittances that normally flowed between families on one side and the other of the waters. In addition, conflict between the US and Venezuela has led to a decrease in oil supplies in Cuba and an appreciable decrease in the availability of transportation.

Nonetheless, Cuba has continued to maintain free education and health care even as it is forced to regulate the internal economy in ways that have led to the increase of wages and prices in a year of epidemiological complexity that has unleashed a crisis of food, medicine, supplies, fertilizers, animal feed, etc.

How this crisis affects the Cuban church Everything that affects society also affects the church. Communities of faith need an economic base that sustains both community members and their institutional and administrative order. Cuban churches have been supported by the contribution of their membership and additional support from counterpart churches abroad—which now encounter obstacles in sending their contributions. In general, the Cuban churches do not have financial support beyond these options.

Ministries continue even as the economy suffers. Churches that have ministries to assist the elderly persist even when the cost of food has risen by up to five times. Car maintenance, fuel, and various services that have always been paid for in US dollars continue to be needed, even though they have become more expensive on account of inflation, and because of the difficulty in acquiring US dollars in the interior of the country. (On the black market, one US dollar is now equivalent to forty-eight or fifty Cuban pesos.) Just as the state has increased the salary of its workers, the church has also increased the salary of its workers, lay or pastoral, because everyday life has become more and more expensive. All churches have ministries that need funds to function, in commissions, departments, councils, etc. Electricity rates have risen up to ten times their value, so the monthly rate is close to or exceeds one thousand pesos.

Churches that have buildings and are accustomed to renting out space have seen their income possibilities reduced as travel has ceased, both internally and internationally. Similarly, the pandemic has limited the ability of churches to gain income by providing transportation services.

How it affects Cuba Yearly Meeting Cuba Yearly Meeting has been supported by a budget equivalent to twenty thousand US dollars a year (five hundred thousand Cuban pesos). In addition to the annual contribution from each of the Monthly Meetings, main economic inputs have come from use of the Gibara building, the Friends Center bus, and donations from groups that visited us during specific events or with special interests. This budget has supported twelve pastoral workers from ten Monthly Meetings, and three retired workers. Income generated by the Gibara building also supported those who worked there.

The Yearly Meeting suggested that the necessary salary increase for pastoral workers should correspond to 3,000 pesos. Since there are no other means of support, the duty for raising funds for the salary increase was given to the Monthly Meetings. The Meetings located in cities, and therefore on more solid financial footing, were able to raise the suggested figure. Holguín, Gibara and Puerto Padre achieved the increase, while Velasco did it with more difficulty. The Meetings of Banes, Retrete, Bocas, Pueblo Nuevo, Vista Alegre, and Floro Pérez were able to raise only approximately fifty percent of the requested increase for their workers. The missions of Delicias, Calabazas, and Asiento de Calderón are supported by the Monthly Meetings to which they belong and the Yearly Meeting, although Delicias does contribute to its worker. The Yearly Meeting encourages ventures that can generate internal income to pay not only salaries, but also ministries and administrative expenses. Our church buildings and parsonages, many of which are approximately 100 years old, require restorative interventions that are impossible to carry out in this complex period. That is why, during this pandemic, we are focused on the support of the church structure and prioritize the payment of our pastoral workers.

—Jorge Luis Peña,
translated by Karla Jay

We Gather on Land That Is a Homeland for the Wabanaki

Durham Friends Meeting sits on land that is a homeland for the Wabanaki for centuries. Nearly all of us who regularly worship at Durham Friends live and work and play in this Wabanaki homeland.

We are in the homeland of the Wabanaki, the People of the Dawn. We extend our respect and gratitude to the many Indigenous people and their ancestors whose rich histories and vibrant communities include the Abenaki, Maliseet, Micmac, Passamaquoddy, and Penobscot Nations and all of the Native communities who have lived here for thousands of generations in what is known today as Maine, New England, and the Canadian Maritimes. We make this acknowledgement aware of continual violations of water, territorial rights, and sacred sites in the Wabanaki homeland. [from the Abbe Museum website]

At its 2021 Annual Session, New England Yearly Meeting approved an Apology to Native Americans. More resources from New England Yearly Meeting for considering the draft Apology are here.

Below are some resources for better understanding of the Wabanaki people.

The Wabanakis of Maine and the Maritimes: A Resource Book by and About Penobscot, Passamaquoddy, Maliseet, Micmac and Abenaki Indians, Prepared and Published by the Wabanaki Program of the American Friends Service Committee (AFSC, 1989).

Resources at the Abbe Museum Educator Hub

Holding Up the Sky – Maine Historical Society Exhibit via Maine Memory Network

Arthur Spiess, Maine Native Americans: An Archaeological Perspective Covering 13,000 years of Native American History in Maine, Maine State Bicenennial Lecture Series, September 15, 2019

Bruce Bourque and Fred Koerber, 17th Century Native and European Contact, Maine State Bicentennial Lecture Series, July 6, 2021

Wabanaki CollectionUniversity of New Brunswick’s Mi’kmaq-Wolastoqey Centre

Native Americans and the Amascongan and European Exploration and Native American Contact, Bethel Historical Society

The 2020 Annual Meeting of the Brunswick Topsham Land Trust featured presentations by Joseph Hall (a Bates College professor) and Kerry Hardy (author of Notes on a Lost Flute).

Doug Bennett, We Worship On Land That is a Hoimeland for the Wabanaki, Message given at Durham Friends Meeting, January 17, 2021

Films:

Books:

Approximate territorial range of Eastern Abenaki groups

Durham Women’s Christmas Meeting in 1988

By Twila Greene, August 2, 2020

It’s been a lonely season and I hunger for my friends,

And I find my thoughts reverting to the past.

For last night I took a journey, that gave my soul delight,

As I walked across an old familiar path.

Elated, I surveyed the scene that was in front of me,

For all my Friends were gathered there in peaceful harmony.

All the women of the group were gathered in the Meeting,

Together for our fellowship, with pleasure in our greeting.

Bee was sitting by the bookcase, with Margaret in the loop,

Sue Wood suggested one to use for our discussion group.

She had read it and it touched her heart,

It would benefit all if we read it from the start.

Lida, Eileen and Sylvia were putting out the dishes,

With lots of festive goodies that all looked so delicious.

Dorothy, Mary and Charlotte Ann were in the kitchen with the food.

Something from the oven was smelling mighty good.

Dotty, Susan and Norma were in the Nursery Extension,

Reading to some little ones too numerous to mention.

This was the winter of ’88 with lots of little tots,

To love and teach and sing to them the joyous Meeting thoughts.

Nancy, Linda and Charlotte were decorating the tree,

With homemade socks and mittens for those who were in need.

Clarabel was trying to peacefully end a squabble

Syretha and Tess vied for the privilege to hang the treetop bauble.

Kitsie and Muriel were leading in devotions,

Giving us things to ponder and asking for our notions.

Elizabeth and Mabel were engaging in a chat,

Remembering all the old times and discussing this and that.

Dorothy Henton and Ruth Graham and also Del Weed,

Were inviting Helen Clarkson to join them for the feed.

Mildred had come early to make coffee and fruit punch,

Such were the events that made our Christmas lunch.

Everyone was gathered in contentment and accord,

Lunch was ready and everyone paused to thank the Lord.

Dorothy, from the Henton House, insisted on saying grace,

And a happy smile was seen to come on to Gracie’s face.

After gifts were open and we all had had our fill,

Sukie had a gift for us which was our closing thrill.

She had brought her harp with her, we all joined voice in song

I’m sure the angels joined with us in singing right along.

Such a pleasant time I spent with all the women there,

I woke up then refreshed and joyous music filled the ‘air,’

What a joy and gift I found in reliving that delight,

All was so realistic as I pondered on that night.

That was such a pleasure, a joy that was all mine,

Such a glorious meeting, such a glimpse of Love divine.

What I wouldn’t give if I could visit just once more,

And share that joy of entering through that meeting door.

I sure do miss those days and all the women that were once involved. Wish we lived closer, so I could continue in worship and get to know the newer members. When this pandemic is over I hope to visit. Durham is my heart’s home. Love to all, Twila

“Pastoring Without a Pastor”

The most recent Friends Journal, August 2020, is organized around the theme “Pastoral Friends,” an unusual topic for Friends Journal. The articles are worth reading. Especially interesting is “Pastoring Without a Pastor,” by Kathleen Costello Malin, about the experience of Smithfield Friends Meeting, which, like Durham Friends Meeting, is part of New England Yearly Meeting. And, like Durham Friends, Smithfield is trying pastoral worship without a pastor. I recommend the whole article. Likely you’ll need a subscription to read it, but here’s a snippet or two:

We continue to try things to keep our pastoral meeting’s tradition alive. We had several volunteer “pastors” and have also tried to share the duties of presenting messages among our members. We know that we have people who come to our meeting for the programmed worship. They have alternatives that offer sermons and hymns, including a welcoming Old Catholic church that some of our members also attend. Pastoral care for the members of the meeting was certainly the hardest thing to replicate when we tried it on our own. Not everyone is suited to this type of ministry, and the duty usually falls on those most willing to help.

“After our last pastor retired, our Ministry and Counsel Committee met to explore our options. …

“[F]or several years we took turns giving messages from the lectern during our meetings for worship. We would start with a song and follow with sharing our joys and concerns of the week. After some silent worship, the volunteer would give a message, and then after another period of open worship, we ended with a song. 

Durham Friends Meetinghouse Centennial and Rededication, August 31, 1929

Doug Gwyn (former pastor at Durham Friends and noted Quaker author, came upon the article below, which appeared in The American Friend, October 3, 1929, about a celebration of the centennial of the current Durham Friends Meetinghouse. He sends it along with greetings to all. The Meeting history by Hattie O. Cox, to which reference is made, is here. The Meeting as a worshipping community was founded in 1775.

Can You Gather With God Over Zoom?

The New York Times asks the question, and shows that Quakers can and do. Photographs and Text by Bianca Giaever. (May be subject to paywall.)

The subtitle: “Quakerism goes virtual, offering an intimate window into silent worship.” Durham Friends Meeting isn’t mentioned; the focus is on Meetings in Brooklyn, Middlebury (Vt.) and Portland (Maine).

Ways That the Climate Crisis and Militarism Are Intertwined

From Peace and Social Concerns Committee:

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

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

Doug Gwyn Tells His Story

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Climate Crisis; Youth Speak Out!

By Linda Muller, for PSC

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At this September 29 afternoon gathering, our Meeting provided a platform for three local youth activists to share their concerns and ideas about how to move forward. After a finger food potluck, we started at 12:30pm with a moment to acknowledge our presence on Wabanaki land and to prepare ourselves to listen deeply to our youth, for the betterment of all beings. 
Presenters followed. First, Ellie Douglas started us out with her poem:

Ellie Douglas is a fourth grade student at Harpswell Community School. She loves animals and nature. She also loves to write and thought this would be a good chance to express her self.
About 26 attenders at the SPEAK OUT were asked to let these beautiful words sink into our hearts, as well as our logic and discernment. Several commented that this poem was powerful precisely because it found it’s way to our hearts so well. 

Next, Lucia Daranyi explained the teamwork needed to accomplish the resolution for the PortlandSchool District to solarize. Lucia is 17yr. and a senior at Casco Bay High School. “I am on the board of directors for SolaRISE, a nonprofit with the goal of offsetting Portland Public schools carbon foot print through the installation of solar panels as our main source of energy. We have just recently got a resolution passed that will install a solar farm that will produce 80-90% of the district’s energy! Many in her friend group are as concerned as she.WE were so encouraged about this. Congratulations to her group!

And finally, Riley Stevenson brought forward the deep need for all voices to be included in this ecological work. She is aware that some marginalized people are not being included in finding solutions, yet are often disproportionately effected by adverse harsh weather, food distribution problems, etc. She expressed concern that white people in our culture need to develop capacity to relate more warmly and personally with “ people who don’t look like us”.Riley is a junior at Lincoln Academy and lives in Waldoboro, Maine. She moved to Maine almost seven years ago and ever since has been in awe of the natural beauty of our state. She noted how precariously we are holding onto it. Since the start of this past year, Riley has joined the Maine Climate Strikes team as one of their Communications team members, the Maine Youth Environmental Association as their Event Coordinator, and has been a part of the MEEA Changemakers Gathering Planning Team. 

Two young members of the Indigenous Youth Group, convened by Heather Augustine at our Meetinghouse,were invited to share but were unable to attend. We are hoping to share The Changemakers Team information with them, as Riley related that this group has been helpful in keeping her energized and supported in this work, as she balances all this with her high school courses!

A lively discussion rounded out the event. We were so moved by the courage and determination of these youth, that our clerk and many of the members present have determined we need to bring the further solarization of our Meetinghouse forward for the whole of our Meeting community to consider and work on.

The members of Peace and Social Concerns Committee want to thank all of who helped this happen; doing clean up, bringing finger foods, making coffee, taking photos of the event, etc. It takes this kind of group effort to help our Meeting become more visible in our community, and be up to date with Climate Change efforts.

Durham Meeting Members Participate in Vigils at Bath Iron Works

  By Renee Cote and Brown Lethem

   Durham Monthly Meeting of Friends, along with over a dozen Maine organizations including Maine Veterans for Peace, has co-sponsored vigils at the “christenings” of two warships to be launched from Bath Iron Works. The USS Lyndon B. Johnson, the third and final Zumwalt-class guided missile destroyer to be built at BIW, was “christened” on April 27, 2019. During that vigil, 25 people were arrested for engaging in nonviolent civil disobedience. Eight weeks later, on June 22, 22 people were arrested during the “christening” of the USS Daniel Inouye, a naval destroyer. Dozens of people came out in solidarity during both events.

     Brown Lethem, along with several members of Durham Monthly Meeting, participated in both vigils, creating two pieces of banner art and being arrested during the June 22 vigil. During both vigils, witnesses for peacetime conversion of the BIW facility gathered at the entrances with banners and signs proposing the many benefits to society of a conversion to renewable green energy and the de-escalation of the military budget.   

     The Sagadahoc County District Attorney’s Office announced on May 9 that it would decline prosecution of the peace activists arrested on April 27. Those arrested on June 22 were offered bail; nine of the 22 declined bail and asked to be released on their own recognizance. The nine were later sent to Two Bridges Regional Jail in Wiscasset and held over the weekend in lockup, where they witnessed in solidarity with those being held long term to the insufficient food and poor conditions in the jail.  They also reported that the majority of the prisoners supported their efforts to convert the nation to a peacetime budget that benefits human needs as well as their efforts to save the planet from the climate crisis. Eventually all nine were released without paying bail. Hearings will be held in August.

     Long-time peace activists Bruce Gagnon and Mary Beth Sullivan of Bath were among those arrested at the June 22 “christening.” Bruce described their experience at Two Bridges to Brown Lethem: “After we were released from the Two Bridges jail yesterday one of the guards came out and thanked me for my service in the military.  (I had on my VFP sweatshirt.)  I told him that we vets are not so proud of our time in the military but are actually more proud of our current work for peace and environmental sustainability.  We had a long talk and as he was going back into the jail he shook my hand and thanked me again.”
     Russell Wray, an artist and long-time environmental activist from Hancock, stated in an email to Renee Cote: “My time in Two Bridges jail made it even more clear to me how little the current system we are living under cares for those with little money or political clout, including all those other species we are supposed to be sharing this planet with. Those in power don’t even seem to be concerned with their own, or their children’s future, as has been made clear by their military and environmental policies. This insanity has to change … and hopefully it will, as more and more people are waking up to the crisis we are confronted with, and doing something about it.”

Wendy Schlotterbeck Hosts a Family of Eight from East Africa

In early August, with the many recent asylum seekers staying at the Portland Expo needing homes, a call went out for people to host families in their homes.  Wendy Schlotterbeck, Durham’s Youth Minister who has devoted a great deal of time working with the asylum seekers, offered to take a family of eight from East Africa into her home in Auburn.  Wendy says the family is settling in well and seems happy to be here.  The children are learning English and are excited that school will soon be starting.  Wendy brought the mother to a prenatal check-up where they discovered she will be having twins in November, so soon there will be ten!

     Wendy says they have many needs, listed below. Please contact Wendy right away if you can help provide something: wendy.schlotterbeck@gmail.com.

1. Cash or gift cards for household and personal needs

2. Soccer shin guards and mouth guards for the 13-year-old and the 14-year-old

3. Laptop insurance fees for two middle school students ($50 each) so they can bring their laptops home

4. Ear buds or earphones for computers (four sets)

5. Extra-large soup pot with lid — extremely needed!!

6. HELP assembling a play structure with slide (needs some sanding and painting)

7. HELP sorting and transporting donations

8. A towel rack (nine people and one bathroom make for a lot of wet towels!).  There is a great ladder towel rack at Bed, Bath and Beyond for $69.99.  Here is the site:

https://www.bedbathandbeyond.com/store/product/casual-home-decorative-twin-ladders-in white.

Durham Meeting Makes Donation to the Make Shift Coffee House

At the June Monthly Meeting for Business, Durham Friends approved a $2,000 donation to the Make Shift Coffee House, founded and run by Durham Friends member Craig Freshley.  Craig began the Make Shift Coffee House gatherings about six years ago, during a time of great disagreement and friction in regard to Muslim immigrants.  The coffee house format was developed to encourage civil discourse and discussion about issues that were highly emotional, bringing together people of different perspectives and persuasions. 

The purpose of Make Shift Coffee House is to promote understanding of different political views while relaxing with light music in a coffee house atmosphere.  It’s a face-to-face place for respectful conversation.  It’s not a debate, and there’s no persuasion. It’s about listening to people with different beliefs to understand why someone believes what they believe. Make Shift Coffee House conversations help reduce conflict and gridlock so people can work together to build our communities, in spite of our political differences.  It is exactly what Quakers have tried to do on the local, national, and international levels for years.  Durham Meeting is proud of the work Craig has done to develop Make Shift Coffee House, and we decided to make a donation to the organization at this time to take advantage of a matching grant that will help the organization and Craig’s work with it grow around the state.

James Nayler, Excerpt from a Letter to Charles II, 1660

Nayler sent this letter to Charles II, who had recently been restored to the throne of England in 1660. (His father, Charles I, had been beheaded during the English Civil War, 1641-1652.)

0 King! God hath in these Nations a People gathered by himself into his Light, who are known to himself better than to Men, and therefore have we suffered by Men under all the Powers that have risen in this Nation ever since God called us toward himself, by his Eternal Light and Spirit.

And though we receive not our Laws from Man, yet we are not without Law as to our God, but have one Law-giver, even Christ Jesus our Lord … from his Laws we may not depart. And by his Law in our Conscience, and the Power of his Spirit in our Hearts, we are ordered and guided to walk holily toward our God, and harmlessly towards Men … however they be minded towards us: and by the Virtue of the Lamb … we are made to give our Goods to the Spoil, and our bodies to the Tortures of cruel Men, rather than defile our Consciences …

[T]his hath God sealed in our Hearts, to seek the Good of all Men, Plot against none; but study peace and live quietly, and Exercise our Conscience faithfully toward whatever Government our God shall set up …

For more on Nayler, see Doug Gwyn (former DFM Pastor), “James Nayler and the Lamb’s War,” Quaker Studies: Vol. 12: Iss. 2, Article 2.
Available at: http://digitalcommons.georgefox.edu/quakerstudies/vol12/iss2/2

Peace Vigil at Bath Iron Works

On the morning of April 27th at 8:30 a coalition of peace groups including the Durham Meeting of Friends gathered at the Bath Iron Works to witness their opposition to the military buildup represented by the “Christening of another Zumwalt destroyer. Approximately 75 vigilers proposed the conversion of this powerful facility to peacetime production, especially on renewable energy sources and away from the wasteful and redundant defense budget. This budget represents a clear threat to the serious environmental and human resource needs of this country and the world. To address this urgency, 25 protestors were arrested for civil disobedience.

–Brown Lethem

Here is an article by one person who was involved:

For the whole article, click here.

Meeting Music and Pianists, by Nancy Marstaller

            Currently there are 3 of us who take turns playing the piano during meeting for worship: Dot Hinshaw, Sue Wood, and Nancy Marstaller.

            Dot started taking lessons when she was 6 years old. She could play by ear and found it harder to learn to read music. When she was taking lessons, her teachers would remind her to play the notes on the page! She practices all the hymns in our books, concentrating on those that might be called for in the current season. She didn’t play for worship services until coming to Durham. We’re lucky to have her with her lively playing style, especially as she can transpose a piece to make it easier to sing, and add chords and flourishes to pieces with only the melody written down.

            Sue also started taking lessons as a young girl. She fell in love with the organ and started playing for churches when she was in her teens. She doesn’t practice particular hymns for meeting, and likes to work on classical pieces at home. We are fortunate to have her accompany the choir too; she plays with such feeling.

            Both Dot and Sue choose pieces to play during the offering based on what’s said or arisen in worship.

            I also started taking piano lessons at an early age. I’m glad sight-reading was one of the skills the teacher stressed. When I first started playing at Durham Meeting, mostly filling in for Mary Curtis or another pianist, the pastor picked the hymns, and I chose a piece with the same theme for the offering. Now, of course, we don’t know what will be called for. It may be a piece we really don’t know, and I’m grateful no one points out all my mistakes! I practice a few pieces with the offering in mind, and may play one of them or another that seems called for by worship. I miss playing organ/piano duets with my mom.

            We’d love to have others play, for the hymns or for the offering. Speak to any of us if you are interested.

Stamp Collecting for Friends’ Work, by Nancy Marstaller

         My mom (Clarabel) and I are still collecting stamps. In January we sent off a large envelope full of your donations, and plan to send more in May.

         A group at Indianapolis First Friends collects the stamps and prepares them for sale to collectors. Money raised goes to the Right Sharing of World Resources program. This program works with groups of women in Kenya, India, and Sierra Leone, giving loans to start and run micro-businesses. The women pay back the loans and more groups can benefit. Check out their website to learn more.

Here are the latest guidelines:

         The stamp program accepts stamps of all issue dates and countries, both used and unused stamps, sheets of stamps, albums or boxed collections of stamps. Foreign stamps (excluding Canada) may be left on the postcard or envelope, especially if the envelope has some special drawing or indication of the country. There are collectors who like to receive a whole envelope or postcard with a foreign stamp. 

         USA and Canada stamps: Cut the stamp(s) off the envelope or postcard. Leave the perforations on the stamps. Leave 1/4 inch to 1/8 inch around the stamp so the whole stamp is preserved, including the perforations. When there is more than one stamp, treat the group as a unit.

         Peelable stamps: Please leave these on the envelope paper. If you try to peel them off of the paper, they stick to other stamps, and damage both.

         Nonprofit and presorted mail stamps: All stamps are acceptable, but we want to be financially effective. If you already have a group of stamps that includes a lot of nonprofit and/or presorted stamps, just leave them and send them to us. However, as you are assembling new shipments, we recommend you leave out the nonprofit ones and the presorted ones, so you are not paying postage for something of little value.

There is a box on the library table for your stamps. Keep saving them and we’ll keep sending off what we have a few times during the year.

Thanks for your help!

1782 Map Shows Durham Friends Meeting

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Portion of a 1782 map showing Quaker Meetings in New England.  Among the Meetin gs shown is Royaltown or Durham.  It is on a road 25 miles north north east of Presumpscot or Falmouth Meeting, and 17 miles west north west of Georgetown Meeting.  Just to the north of Durham Friends Meeting is Lewiston Meeting.

from Henry J. Cadbury, “A Map Of 1782 Showing Friends Meetings In New England, Recently Acquired By The John Carter Brown Library, Brown University,” Quaker History, Vol. 52, No. 1 (Spring 1963), pp. 3-5.

My Experience at Yearly Meeting Summer Sessions, 2018

By Sarah Sprogell

For those who are not familiar with Summer Sessions, it is a time of year that Friends from across New England gather to attend to business, learn from each other in workshops, share meals, art, music and community; to meet new people, see old friends, have meaningful conversations, and much more. Opportunities abound for conversation, prayer and friendships to flourish. Quoted sections in the article below are taken from the Epistle written, as is our custom, at the close of Sessions. (See the October Newsletter for the complete Epistle.)

~~~~~~~~~

The theme for this year’s NEYM Sessions was “In Fear and Trembling Be Bold in God’s Service”. We gathered “on lands once cared for by Abenaki ancestors and appropriated by European settlers centuries ago….dedicated to our use for five days” from August 4 – 9, 2018 by Castleton University in Vermont. Over 600 Friends were gathered, including over 100 children, youth and their families. We gathered as “queer and straight, physically challenged and able-bodied, trans- and cis-gender, descended from the peoples of most continents of our globe, and of various income levels.” We were grateful for the opportunity to be present together in such a beautiful and gracious place.

This was my seventh year attending New England Yearly Meeting Annual Sessions. I arrived on Sunday in time to hear the plenary presentation by three Quaker women who have been courageously and faithfully working on social justice issues for a number of years. Each spoke movingly of their personal experiences and deep commitment to work that resonated clearly with our theme of being bold in God’s service. The Bible Half Hour sessions, presented by Diane Randall, Executive Secretary of Friends Committee on National Legislation (FCNL), also echoed our theme, as she spoke of how her faith plays a role in her work in the political sphere.

In the spring before Sessions, NEYM Ministry and Council had asked if I would be among a few Friends to hold the gathered body in prayer during our business meetings throughout the week, sitting as an elder in front of the clerk’s table. I was honored to be of service in this way and found it to be a unique way to experience Sessions. I have always found Meeting for Worship with Attention to Business at annual Sessions to be a profound experience in a number of ways, presenting opportunities for deep listening, careful discernment, and unexpected openings that reveal our unified truth. While fulfilling my role as a prayerful elder this year, I was able to let go of my usual practice of taking notes and following the agenda items closely. My practice this year allowed me to ride the waves of the spirit, which could range from challenging to frustrating, heart-breaking to heart-warming, energizing and uplifting to occasionally exhausting and sometimes entertaining.

This year the work of challenging white supremacy became a central feature, as patterns and language were called out and named throughout many items of business. During business sessions we witnessed our work with social justice issues, approving the formation of an Immigration Justice Working Group; endorsing the Poor People’s Campaign; affirming a minute on Criminal Justice Reform; and approving a minute supporting the 2017 UN Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons. Earthcare Ministries brought forward a Carbon Calculator to determine carbon footprints, which we gratefully received. We honored our spiritual practices by receiving the work of the Faith and Practice Revision Committee’s draft chapters on Death, Dying and Bereavement, and Pastoral Care. We witnessed the movement of the spirit throughout New England, made possible by projects generously supported by our own Legacy Fund.

As always, the week was full and rich with the Life of the Spirit. Once again, I left Sessions feeling moved by the power of Quaker testimonies and actions in both the temporal and spiritual worlds.