Notes from Listening Session (Called Meeting), October 30, 2022

On October 30, 2022, Durham Friends Meeting held a facilitated listening session to consider how we have felt after five years of being a pastorless meeting. In the first half of the session we reflected on what brought each of us to DFM and what keeps us coming back; in the second half, what we see for DFM moving forward. No decisions were made. Ministry & Counsel will consider the thoughts expressed today and report back. — Renee Cote

Comments are paraphrased.

First half

Leslie: Everyone has a story. I attended a church supper at a vital Presbyterian church, whose mission is motivated by Matthew 25 and which has effective outreach. I encountered a woman who told me she came to DFM in the 80s, single and pregnant, and how much she appreciated our support. Her beliefs aren’t necessarily my beliefs but we were there for her.

Silence.

Linda: I knew I was a Quaker from attending other meetings. I came to DFM and heard a sermon by Ralph Greene. I was not used to programmed meeting and found it a little disappointing. But I felt the spiritual community and it was a good place to bring my children. I keep coming for the sense of spiritual community. I would like more multigenerational events.

Kim: I came to DFM for the wonderful dinners. It was close by and my kids could meet persons of all ages in a relaxed setting. I kept coming because the community felt genuine. I had no religious background or training. I have learned a lot and received much support.

David: I was raised an evangelical Baptist. I studied Quaker writers in college. I then went to an Episcopal church and I liked the quiet. I was confirmed but began to have doubts about the theatrical aspects of the service. I kept a journal 50 years ago while working on Mt. Washington and wrote that inside I felt like a Quaker. I felt affirmed by my contact with Clarabel although I continued as an Episcopalian until six or seven years ago. Friends have meant so much and I feel like DFM is the best of both worlds (programmed/unprogrammed). I feel that the Quaker ladies in the walls are still speaking to us. Jonathan Vogel-Bourne affirmed that I have always been a Quaker and said, “Welcome home.”

Martha: I came to DFM with my parents. I have wandered and experienced many kinds of meetings and worship. I appreciate the hybrid nature of worship at DFM.

Ann: Pastor Stephen (last name?) invited single persons who were attending DFM to dinners at the parsonage. He reached out to us. I transferred from Brunswick to Durham. I was more active but physical circumstances now keep me away. I feel a connection to people here and a sense of belonging.

Leslie: I came because I was invited. I was feeling anger at God and wanted to work on that relationship. Childless people can find it hard to make connections. At the time DFM had a food distribution program for persons of all income levels. Tommie Frye asked for my help moving boxes and Sarah invited me in. This community offered safe space and safe harbor from damage from other religions. Durham helps healing.

Doug: I am a convinced Friend. I’ve had experience of a wide variety of unprogrammed meeting, including Philadelphia with its meaningful worship. When I moved to Maine I wanted to join Brunswick but eventually felt there was not enough of the spiritual life I needed in a small meeting with little vocal ministry. I came to DFM and enjoyed the rich voices and the pastor. Doug Gwynn followed . . . I know that God is with us and people are feeling that and acting upon it.

Ingrid: Doug brought me. I identified as a Quaker and I had come to the point where I wanted more spiritual nourishment. Doug recommended DFM. I found spiritual nourishment and liked the messages. I enjoyed the varied voices. I have found a place to practice spirit here. Sukie recommended me for Peace and Social Concerns and I’ve stayed there.

Wendy: I visited DFM with my family in 1992. I had been in another faith community and in 2003 I wanted a change. Sunday morning church was a given in our family and my children wanted to come here. They were welcomed. In 2008 I became a member and then youth minister. I figured out the Quaker structure. The kids gave life. Climate and racial justice is my passion and I have received support from the MM, QM, and YM. I have met some wonderful people and I love this community very much.

Tess: I was born and raised Catholic. I came to Quakerism after the pastor at St. John’s in Brunswick with whom I had a close spiritual connection was rotated out. When I came to Durham I had had a bad faith group experience. Sukie invited me here 35 years ago. I have often felt like an outlier but I fit in here. I believe that small is beautiful and it’s how we make connections. A small group offers the intimacy for spiritual growth. I have been taught to listen deeply in this spiritual home.

Cush: I became a Quaker in 1967 through a college girlfriend in Virginia Beach Meeting. Later with my first wife I became a member of Portland Meeting for ten years. After divorce I began attending Allen Avenue Unitarian along with my second wife.  It was a good experience. Upon her death I went back to my Quaker roots. With my present wife I came to DFM. It has taken some time over the past three years to get used to a semiprogrammed meeting. I wanted to belong to a church in my geographical community, as community is defined these days. I still feel a little outside but I am integrating.

Second half—What would we like to see, what do we see? Should we hold conversations with those who aren’t here regularly? What do we do well, what can we do better?

Linda: We provide a safe space. We are here every Sunday even with small numbers. Our meeting is important for those needing healing or seeking mentorship.

Mey: I hear Leslie question where are we growing and where are we resisting. I have considered my expectations around meeting versus what happens in life. I’ve had varied experiences with Friends in different places. I chose DFM over Portland or Washington state. We are growing in love and compassion and after feeling discomfort. My interaction with Bob Eaton has become affirming, for example. I experience the prompting of spirit and love to help, and I experience love from meeting.

Dan: I was born into this church and I had to come here. I was assigned to pick up Mildred and I dreaded it at first but it became something I looked forward to. I enjoyed hearing her story. We developed a friendship outside of our usual roles. I did her good. Why would someone want to join DFM? To do some good for everyone here.

Cush: This has been a wonderful session and chance to sit down and share. I hope for more opportunities like this.

Tess: What are we doing well? We should give ourselves a pat on the back for what we have gone through. Tech has helped us to continue. Do we appreciate that we have been able to gather? As a member of M&C I have grown beyond what I thought was my comfort level.

Some people genuinely wanted to figure out how to bring technology into meeting and others feared it would change meeting. We can now choose how to be here, Zoom or in person. I’m happy I could paint the beautiful wall to see everyone on.

Ann: Like Tess I am grateful for Zoom even though I don’t like it. Covid has been hard with many losses of people. I feel part of meeting even though not there physically.

Sarah: We are good at being welcoming. I felt welcomed even as an outsider. I bonded with people I felt were the opposite of me in some ways. I learned from the elders’ forbearance, and to allow space while clerking. The elders modeled that love when we disagree. There’s been an enormous transition here at DFM and a chaotic world. So this is a test.

It’s hard when we’re not in unity. Some more listening sessions would help us hear each other. This creates good roots to help in addressing difficult issues.

Kim: I agree that we are very good at making space, being willing to listen, being sincere when it’s not easy. I have many opportunities to speak about Friends in the outside community. We need more ways to share our message of kindness, joy and love.

Leslie: With the passing of some members I’ve had a chance to see how our values of love and tolerance get transferred and passed into families. People react deeply to being in this space that feels like home. People feel seen and held. 

Can we draw some people back, those who keep up their membership or get the newsletter? How do we maintain the outer circle? To attract young families can we go to the families and offer our help? Some are adrift, how to help? Those who are carrying burdens or have the patterns of their lives change, can we release them? How should we nourish our roots?

Sarah: It would be beneficial to have future listening sessions, and useful to gather at intervals to check in where we are.

Mey: There are meetings for healing on the first Thursday of the next two months through Portland Meeting, at DFM in person or through Zoom.

Rental Information (as of 2022)

We offer the meetinghouse for use by others as a form of outreach.

Suggested Rental Fees, Durham Friends Meetinghouse

Half Day        $100

Full Day         $200

Use of Kitchen          Additional $100

The Meetinghouse is available for Meeting-sponsored activities at no charge. It is also available at no charge for use by Falmouth Quarterly Meeting, by New England Yearly Meeting or by other Quaker organizations.

The Meetinghouse will be available for rent to individuals, other groups and organizations with similar values or concerns as Friends.  For these, we use a pay-as-led approach.

Pay- as-led is a way of acknowledging that wealth is not distributed fairly, and that Durham Friends want the building to be available for community use. Pay-as-led means that you reflect on and discern what amount you are led to pay for use of the space. We ask that you consider your financial resources and the value you believe use of the space brings to you. Based on this personal reflection, we invite you to pay as you are led, and to make a donation that feels appropriate to you and helps cover the cost of your use of the building.

To ask to schedule the Meetinghouse, contact

Sarah Sprogell, sarahsprogell@gmail.com, 207 319-5077 or

Kim Bolshaw, kimbolshaw@gmial.com, 207 808-3007

Overview of Facilities.  The Durham Friends Meetinghouse includes:

  • A worship room, with a capacity for seating about 200 people.  It has benches arranged in a square.  We ask that these not be moved without permission.  There is also a piano in the worship room.
  • A social room with a capacity of about 100 people (standing) or 100 people seated at (8) tables.
  • A kitchen adjacent to the social room.
  • Two small rooms off the social room, one with a capacity of about 12, and one of about 6.
  • Two parking lots that can hold a total of 40 to 50 cars.
  • A grassy yard appropriate for outdoor gatherings or picnics and that has some play facilities for young children.

The Meetinghouse is not appropriate for overnight accommodation.

RESPONSIBILITIES FOR RENTERS OF DURHAM FRIENDS MEETINGHOUSE

We hope you will enjoy the use of our Meetinghouse.  We ask that you respect it as our place of worship by observing the following:

  • We will unlock the door before you arrive; please be sure it is locked when you leave
  • Please leave everything in the same condition you found it.  A vacuum cleaner, a mop and bucket can be found in the hall closet; cleaning supplies are in the kitchen. 
  • Please, no smoking, alcohol or drugs on the premises.
  • Food or drinks only in the social room and in the kitchen, or outdoors, not in the worship room.
  • No tacks or scotch tape on walls, doors or woodwork.  Masking tape only on painted woodwork, please.
  • Please do not use classroom or nursery supplies, or any foodstuffs in the kitchen.
  • Please use the telephone for emergency calls only.
  • Heating instructions are posted near the thermostat.
  • Please let us know of things are not working properly. Questions can be directed to our custodian, Kim Bolshaw, 207 808-3007. 
  • There is no storage space for equipment you may bring for your program. Please take any equipment or supplies with you when you depart. 

Please use the following check list when leaving:

  • Put window shades down position in the Meeting Room.
  • Turn off stove burners, oven, and fans, and unplug and clean coffee makers, if you used them.
  • Be sure faucets are turned off, and no toilets are running.  Please leave toilet lids up. 
  • Leave open all interior doors. 
  • Collect and take your trash with you.
  • Turn out all lights. 
  • Lock front and rear doors, and check handles to be sure exterior doors are locked.

After your event has concluded, please call our custodian, Kim Bolshaw, 207 808-3007.

“The Living Waters,” by Mey Hasbrook

Message given at Durham Friends Meeting, November 13, 2022

For me, prayer is like water:  We seek water, listen for its sound and follow. We go to fresh water and drink, and bring it back to offer others.  We wash and refresh with water. 

Prayer is akin to worship, and emerges through worship.  We may call worship “inviting” the Divine.  I experience worship as remembering the Living Presence of the Divine…  Who Already Is –  Spirit, God, Jesus, The Light.  It’s like re-immersing in a body of water – at times, being with the calm stillness that always is; and at others, riding life’s waves and strong currents.
~~
My leading to bring the message came when sitting here in worship.  It was during Meeting for Worship with Attention to Healing – for short, Meeting for Healing. This worship is led by Portland Friends, and I sync Durham’s Owl system occasionally – the next time being Thursday, December 1st.

Friends first convened this meeting for healing when the Covid pandemic started.  I visited by Zoom while living in  Michigan, sitting in my home’s basement. Friends continue to gather on a bimonthly basis. I’d like to share the introduction from Portland Friends about their meeting for healing: 

Meeting for Worship for Healing is an old Quaker tradition.  Our goal with this meeting is to focus on the physical and spiritual illnesses of the current world.  It’s not intended to be the same as a full meeting for worship but instead is meant to be focused on communal prayer.  We are often blessed with a time of deep silence.  Messages may arise but should be de-centered from our ego.

Invitation to Worship in clamorous times

We are living through a time when we are inundated with words.

We invite you during worship to sink deeply

Below the political messages,

below the personal efforts to put things into words

Down to the Silence

Down to the Living Waters
Down to the Source that connects us all
~~
Meeting for Healing – at times also called “healing prayer” – is foundational to my  becoming a Quaker.  Preparing today’s message has made this fact plain to me.  During Durham Friends’ listening session on October 30th, I heard stories of how people came to be here – in Quaker worship, at this meeting house.  And I could feel the truth of my own:  My experience is about seeking the Living Waters, or the Living Presence; and listening to where God would have me be, or to go.

Please join me in a journey.  Let’s go to Lansing, Michigan, dialing back to October 2007.  I attend my first Sunday silent worship.  Held in a community room at a neighborhood book store, the meeting is called “early worship” and hosts a small circle.  How have I come to be here?

A seed is planted two years earlier, 2005, by a writer friend who also is a fellow former evangelical.  She thinks that I’d like “Quaker meeting”  – that is, Quaker as she knows it:  silent or unprogrammed worship.  When she gives me this idea, I already know Quakers since 9/11, through our co-organizing anti-war protests and programs over several years.

So come again to the Fall of 2007, I try out the bookstore location for worship.  Firstly, because it is not a church;  my body has found it a hardship to sit in a church for several years.  And I also come because I recently began sobriety from alcohol.  The most basic truth is that I come to Quaker worship because I am thirsting for the Living Waters, and it is the Living Presence that brings me back.
~~
A new acquaintance from Sunday worship tells me about another meeting.  It’s a monthly meeting for healing.  The gathering is at the home of Richard, a cozy cape-cod house laden with knick-knacks.  An avid thrifter, Richard is warm-hearted, big-bellied, and a very out gay man who wears amber-beaded necklaces during worship.

I become a regular in this home-based worship.  People who show up bring open hearts, and we are human in every way.  After worship, many stay to ask questions and share our experiences.  We enjoy Richard’s pots of tea and a potluck-style dinner.  Through faithfulness and fellowship, friendships grow.  And some months later, I do visit the larger later Sunday worship, which gathers in a circular room of a local church.
~~
Friends, let us journey “back” to here and now.   And wherever we are “arriving” from in the Meeting House – perhaps sitting on a bench with one another, or physically from another geography – I pray that we refresh ourselves with the Living Waters.  I pray that we hear the Living Presence calling us into relationship – with Jesus as the Path of Love, with one another, and with persons known and yet known to us.  Friend Rufus Jones, from the 19th and 20th centuries with roots in Maine, writes:

…most of our life, whether it is simple or complex, is a life of relationships with other persons. It is this fact of inter-relationship that makes life spiritual, and it is this that often makes it so tragic.  We cannot, if we would, fence round our souls and keep them naked and alone.  We are good or bad, not in soul-tight compartments, but in our dealing with other persons who fill our world.

Our
highest* dealings, those which affect our entire being in the profoundest way, are our relationships with God. Nothing else so completely shapes one’s whole nature as his way of responding to his Infinite Companion, for everybody does respond in one way or another.         (*emphasis in original text)

Here is the closing prayer that I lift up:   Spirit, may the doors of Durham Friends Meeting open widely – physically from the Meeting House, and imaginatively as a faith community into our daily lives.  May we open our homes to neighbors, seekers, and strangers.  May we become invitations to prayer and worship.  May we refresh our minds, hearts, and souls with the Living Waters.  May we remember the Living Presence of the Divine Who Already Is.  Jesus, may we be healed and bring healing to others.  Amen.
——–
Resources about Meeting for Healing among historical and contemporary Friends are available on this web page maintained by Red Cedar Friends Meeting of Lansing, Michigan (Lake Erie YM), <https://redcedarfriends.org/join-us-for-worship/deepening-our-experience/meeting-with-attention-to-healing/meeting-for-healing-resources/> .

Social Justice Enrichment Project (2022)

As members of the religious Society of Friends (Quakers) we have a deep and abiding concern for social justice and racial equity. Values such as community, equality, and harmony are central to our approach and advocating for social justice in the greater community is an important expression of our values. This project grew out of a series of discussions focused on becoming antiracist in the fall of 2020.

What is the Social Justice Enrichment Project?

Participating teachers are given a set of children’s books that focus on the development of social justice values in children ages 4-8.  Teachers join us in teams from schools in the Durham Friends Meeting catchment area. They are able to use the books to enhance their social studies and language arts curriculum as they chose. Support is provided through periodic meetings with teaching teams and educational sessions focused on child development and creating inclusive anti-bias classroom.

Lists of the books we are distributing can be seen by clicking here.

What are the project goals?

The books will help the children:

  • Gain understanding and appreciation for diverse peoples and ways of life
  • Build an empathic way of viewing life situations
  • See the value of working collaboratively for the benefit of all
  • Learn about people who work non-violently for justice and equity
  • Learn the importance of appreciating and caring for the natural world
  • Learn some history of the Wabanaki peoples of Maine and other Indigenous people
  • Learn some African-American history, including stories from the struggle for civil rights
  • Find acceptance of themselves and others by seeing representation in books
  • Learn that every family is different and all families support their children in different ways

Why a focus on young children?

Children in the early elementary grades are developing the values that will guide their behavior throughout their lives. They are focused on fairness and learning to play games with winners and losers as well as working together collaboratively. They are participating in group settings which require rules to function smoothly and equitably. Some Maine children are participating in school communities that are increasingly diverse, but at the same time see mostly white people in positions of power. Other children have no diversity in their community. In preparing our children to be part of the global economy we want them to have familiarity with people from backgrounds different from themselves. When diverse cultures are not represented in the classroom, children’s literature offers experiences of other cultures and ways of life, past and present.

Selecting books

Thanks to the work of Black Lives Matter, The 1619 Project, Maine Wabanaki-State Child Welfare Truth and Reconciliation Commission, Wabanaki Reach, The Anti-Racist Movement and many others, publishers have begun to produce many new social justice books for young children. New publishing houses are also emerging to meet the demand. It is now easy to find diverse 21st century families portrayed realistically in children’s books. We have chosen books that are:

  • Developmentally appropriate for 4 to 8-year-olds who are in public Pre-K, Kindergarten and Grades One and Two.
  • Wonderful children’s literature; often Coretta Scott King, Ezra Jack Keats, Caldecott or Newberry Award winners. The authors will be from the group represented in the story, for example Ambreen Tariq, Hena Khan, Jerry Pinkney, etc.
  • Aesthetically engaging and illustrated by members of the group being portrayed in the story, for example Floyd Cooper, Mehrdokht Amini.  Maine illustrators are sought, e.g. Daniel Minter, Ashley Bryan.
  • Reflect social justice issues which Maine children experience, for example: friendship, civil rights, homelessness, immigrant, refugee and asylee welcome, anti-bullying, water rights, LGBTQ rights, voting rights, Indigenous People’s rights, climate change, Wabanaki history, African-American history.

We buy hardcover books whenever possible, ensuring their longevity in the classrooms. Teachers comment on how rare it is for them to have beautiful hardcover books. We have benefited from a 20% discount at Gulf of Maine Books in Brunswick.  

New Mainers –We have also given books to the Angolan and Congolese children who came to Brunswick and Bath in 2019. This project has its own booklist.

Our work group is Margaret Leitch Copeland, Cindy Wood, Wendy Schlotterbeck, Jeanne Stinson, and Ingrid Chalufour. We are grateful to the Durham Friends Meeting for funding this important work. If you have further questions you can contact Ingrid Chalufour at ichalufour@gmail.com.

Durham Monthly Meeting Minutes, October 16, 2022 (Draft)

1.     Meeting Opening

Durham Monthly Meeting of Friends met for the conduct of business on Sunday, October 16, 2022, with 7 people attending from the Meetinghouse and 6 by Zoom.

Clerk opened the meeting with a moment of silent centering.                                             

2.     Review Agenda — Leslie Manning

Clerk reviewed the agenda, and asked if anything else needed to be added. There was nothing to add.    

3.     Approval of September Minutes — Ellen Bennett

Two paragraphs included with the Trustees Report in the September 19 minutes were not part of the report. These paragraphs will be moved to “Other Important Items of Note”.

       With this change, the minutes were approved.

4.     Ministry and Counsel — Renee Cote, Tess Hartford

       With no written report, the Ministry and Counsel report was read aloud.

               The Tommy Frye Memorial Minute was read.

       This minute was approved, with appreciation and thanks.                                           

Clerk read a Letter of introduction in support of Kim Bolshaw joining the NEYM/Puente de Amigos trip to Cuba in February 2023

       The Meeting approved the letter.

5.     Trustees — Sarah Sprogell

The “Draft Rental Information for use of the Meetinghouse” was brought forward for a second reading and approval. Question: Does “rent” for use of the Meetinghouse have ramifications for the Finance Committee or budget? The feeling was that it should not. Note that worship room capacity is approximately 200. Ministry and Counsel may want to address the issue of COVID capacity.

       Meeting approved the rental information document.

A contractor has been hired to remove the old heating units and oil tanks. The work will take place during the week of October 24.

6.     Finance Committee — Nancy Marstaller

The following items were highlighted in the finance report: Weekly contributions are lower than last year at this time. There have been fewer committee requests, and contributions to other organizations remain on par.

Included in the budget is a section on Capital Expenses, which occur outside the regular operating budget.

Information about donations to the Lunt Cemetery from the Clarkson family was explained, as was donations for support of the trip to Cuba.

6a.   The Woman’s Society brought back its request for support to assist in the rebuilding of the Lindi School in Nairobi, Kenya, for the amount of $500 from the Charity account.

       The Meeting approved the Lindi School request.

7.     Peace and Social Concerns — Ingrid Chalufour

There was no written report. The Committee is planning on developing a relationship with the Midcoast Indigenous Awareness Group. The Committee ls also working with the Cathance River Education Alliance (CREA) to bring speakers in the spring to address carbon sequestration, as well as indigenous land practices that work to support and preserve the natural world. The Committee’s book project is now working with 11 teachers across 4 schools, and doing very well.

8.     New Business

Meeting as received three requests for membership. Clerk read the request letter from Ezra Smith. With approval, Ministry and Counsel will set up a clearness committee.

               The Meeting heartily approved Ezra’s request.                                                            

Clerk read the request letters from Vladimir Shatalov and Elina Shatalova. These friends live in Bridgton. M&C had a preliminary conversation about their applications and several agreed, with Meeting approval, to be a part of the process of bringing them in to membership, including driving to Bridgeton if necessary.

It was noted with joy that feeling the pull to join Meeting via Zoom is a sign of things to come, and very exciting. What do we think of “virtual” membership? Meeting agreed there are some things to consider around this issue.

The Meeting approved the request for the formation of a clearness committee for Vladimir and Elina.

There will be follow-up with Sue Woods’ family regarding the particulars of her memorial service.

Quarterly Meeting was held at Durham Friends on Saturday, and Clerk expressed deep appreciation both for the gathering itself and for the warmth and welcome of our Meetinghouse.

Clerk closed the meeting with a moment of silent reflection.

Respectfully submitted,

Ellen Bennett, Recording Clerk

Attachments Here

Financial Basics Webinars with Everence, October 26, November 2, 9, 16, 2 pm and 8 pm

Everence, partnering with New England Yearly Meeting, is offering a series of webinars designed to support you in your personal finance journey. Everence is a faith-based stewardship agency, grown from a Mennonite tradition, which supports New England Yearly Meeting and its members who are seeking to integrate their faith and values with their finances. Everence provides charitable, investment, insurance and banking services for both individuals and organizations. Webinar dates and topics include:

·         Oct. 26: Understanding Medicare: Hear about how (and when) to sign up for Medicare; what it covers (and doesn’t cover); Parts A, B, C and D; and plans that supplement Medicare.

·         Nov. 2: Estate Planning Basics: Learn how an estate plan can ensure that your wishes for family and financial assets will be carried out upon your death. Hear about the key elements of an estate plan, including wills and trusts, powers of attorney and life insurance. Discover key stewardship questions to be asking as you prepare your plan.

·         Nov. 9: Basics of Investing: Learn the basic principles of investing, including hearing about the various types of investments, the power of compounding, managing risk and diversification. Along the way, consider the role your faith plays in making decisions about investing.

·         Nov. 16: Maximize Your Generosity with a Donor Advised Fund: Explore how this flexible “charitable checking account” can help you streamline your charitable giving. Find out about the many types of assets than can be gifted and how a DAF can help you manage both the gifting process for tax purposes and the distribution component of when you want to support the organizations you care about.

Each event in this “Webinar Wednesday” series is offered at 2 and 8 p.m. For more information or to register, click on the title links. If you have questions, contact Everence Stewardship Consultant Lyle Miller at lyle.miller@everence.com.

“Fear Not,” by Doug Bennett

Message given at Durham Friends Meeting, October 16, 2023

“Fear not.”  That’s my message this morning:  “Fear not.” 

In the Bible, this may be the statement most commonly said by God, or by one of God’s special messengers.  I’ve read that this phrase appears 103 times in the Bible.  I don’t know whether that’s an accurate count but it’s a big number. 

“Fear not.”  There aren’t that many clear, unambiguous instructions from God in the Bible (even if some people mistakenly think there are).  But there is this one:  “fear not.” 

I don’t know whether it’s an instruction or a command, an exhortation or a soothing comfort.  Maybe it’s all of these.  Maybe sometimes it’s one and sometimes another.

“21 So do not fear; I will provide for you and your little ones. Thus he reassured them and comforted them.”  That’s Genesis 51:21.  It’s Joseph speaking to his brothers who had sold him into slavery.  The brothers had worldly reasons to fear what Joseph might do.  But Joseph is telling them what God wants him to say:  fear not. 

Or how about this:  22 You shall not fear them; for it is the Lord your God who fights for you.’”  That’s Deuteronomy 3:22.  That’s Moses talking to Joshua, his military commander, telling him that God will look out for them as they conquer their way toward the Promised Land. 

And then there’s this:  Fear not, for I am with you;  I will bring your offspring from the east,  and from the west I will gather you;”  That’s from Isaiah 53:5, the prophet Isaiah speaking, at a time when God’s people weren’t paying attention and had worldly reason to worry that God was very displeased with them. 

I’m not going to read all 103 instances, but I’ll read one more.  “Fear not” is not only in the Hebrew Testament.  Here is Luke 1:30, the beginning of the Christmas story:  30 And the angel said to her, “Do not be afraid, Mary, for you have found favor with God. 31 And behold, you will conceive in your womb and bear a son, and you shall call his name Jesus.”  That’s the Angel Gabriel speaking to Mary, giving her good – if surprising — news. 

“Fear not.”  It’s said over and over again.  “Al tirah;”  that’s the Hebrew. 

There’s a lot to fear in this world.  In the book of Exodus, with the Israelites in captivity in Egypt, God sent ten plagues:  water turning to blood, frogs, lice, flies, livestock pestilence, boils, hail, locusts, darkness and the killing of firstborn children.  And God counsels “fear not.” 

In recent years, we’ve had what begins to feel like our own ten plagues.  Terrorist acts, endless war, financial panic, wildfires, more war, Covid pandemic, hurricanes, school shootings, attempted election theft, abortion madness (whichever side you’re on).  You get why we’re fearful.  But God says, “Fear not.” 

Many are feeling anger, too, but much of that anger grows out of fear.

I’m talking to myself this morning as much as I’m talking to any of you.  I wake up to the temptation to feel fear every day.  And I go to sleep facing the same temptation.  Fear can paralyze us.  I find myself bracing for the next bit of bad news.  I don’t do anything constructive because I want to hear that next bit of bad news. 

In the science fiction classic Dune, Frank Herbert has a character – it’s Paul Antreides – say “I must not fear. Fear is the mind-killer. Fear is the little-death that brings total obliteration.” 

It’s the same thought.  When we fear, we diminish ourselves; we die a little without really dying, we die a little-death.  We grow passive; we withdraw from life.  And there’s more: we isolate ourselves from others; we withdraw from God.  Fear takes us over.  It becomes all consuming. 

God says “fear not:” if we can do that, then what?  If we can manage to follow God’s instruction, to “fear not,” if we empty ourselves of fear, what next?  With what do we fill the large hole that fear has been filling up inside us?  When we empty ourselves of fear, when we let it go, what should we look to find instead?

This oft-repeated exhortation to “fear not” is telling us what not to do.  It isn’t, just in these words, telling us what we should do.  But isn’t it obvious?  Isn’t courage the alternative to fear? 

Here’s the surprise for many of us.  God does not tell us to “have courage.”  To exhort us to “have courage” would have us rely on ourselves.  But that’s not it; that’s not what we should do. 

Instead, over and over, God says “trust in me;” “have faith in me.”  The opposite of fear isn’t courage.  It’s faith.  It’s trust in the Lord.  It’s “know that God loves you, always.”

Listen to Psalm 56:

When I am afraid,
I will trust in you.
In God, whose word I praise,
In God I trust; I will not be afraid.
What can mortal man do to me?

And here’s Psalm 46:

God is our refuge and strength, an ever-present help in trouble. Therefore we will not fear, though the earth give way and the mountains fall into the heart of the sea, though its waters roar and foam and the mountains quake with their surging.The Lord of Hosts is with us; The God of Jacob is our refuge.

We may find courage once we have faith, but faith and trust come first — and love.

In 1:John:1, one of the letters in the New Testament, we are told to “rely on the love God has for us.”  That letter continues:

God is love. Whoever lives in love lives in God, and God in them. 17 This is how love is made complete among us so that we will have confidence on the day of judgment: In this world we are like Jesus. 18 There is no fear in love. But perfect love drives out fear, because fear has to do with punishment. The one who fears is not made perfect in love.

Trust in the Lord.  Have faith.  Give yourself over to love:  that’s what God tells us when God tells us not to be caught up in fear. 

The first bit of the Bible I learned by heart was the 23d Psalm.  Perhaps you learned it, too, as a child.  I invite you to say it with me: 

The LORD Is My Shepherd  A Psalm of David.  The 23d Psalm

1The LORD is my shepherd; I shall not want.
2He makes me lie down in green pastures.
He leads me beside still waters.
a
3He restores my soul.
He leads me in paths of righteousness
b
for his name’s sake.

4Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death,c
I will fear no evil, for you are with me;
your rod and your staff, they comfort me.

5You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies;
you anoint my head with oil; my cup overflows.
6Surelyd goodness and mercye shall follow me all the days of my life,
and I shall dwell
f in the house of the LORD forever.g

So Friends, this morning I am reminding you of God’s reassurance, “fear not.”  Trust in God.  Have faith.  Love one another and love God.  Remember that God is with us, always. 

also posted on River View Friend

Durham Monthly Meeting Minutes, September 18, 2022

Durham Monthly Meeting of Friends met for the conduct of business on Sunday, September 18, 2022, with 9 people attending from the Meetinghouse and 7 by Zoom.

1.     Meeting Opening

Clerk asked for a moment of silent centering, ending with a reading in honor of Tommy Frye, written by Ralph Green: “A Gift of Freedom and Justice.” The reading was gratefully received.

Friends reviewed the agenda.                                                                                               

2.     Approval of Minutes of July 17, 2022 — Ellen Bennett

        Recording Clerk read the minutes.

               Meeting approved.                                                                                                        

3.     Nominating Committee Report — Linda Muller

Since there are no nominations for Treasurer coming forward, we will not need a called meeting in October.

The Committee is bringing Leslie Manning forward to serve as Clerk of Meeting beginning September through December 2022. Leslie is in discernment about serving as Clerk for 2022-2023, and would like a co-Clerk for this time period, someone who might be interested in rising to the position of Clerk.

               Meeting is delighted that Leslie is willing to serve. All approved.

Christian Education has not reconvened. The Committee will reconvene if there are families in need. In others meetings, there is a kit available so that if and when children are present, there is an activity available for them to engage in. Wendy agreed to look into creating such a kit.

The Ad Hoc Committee for use of parsonage funds has not met. Nominating Committee recommends this Committee be laid down. The issue of use of parsonage funds will be considered by the Meeting as a whole.

The Committee looked at the needs of the Meeting as a whole for committee work. In the coming months, it is likely that the openings on committees will outnumber the people we have to fill those positions. This is a concern.

4.     Ministry and Counsel — Renee Cote, Tess Hartford

        Rene read the M&C report.

M&C recommends using the October 30 date to discuss the wider slate of officers and committee members for the Meeting, the meeting care coordinator position, as well as a review of our status as an unpastored meeting

               Meeting approved the recommendation

A Clearness Committee for Kim Bolshaw recommends she join the NEYM/Puente de Amigos trip to Cuba in February 2023. The clerk will draft a Letter of Introduction to share with the Clearness Committee

               Meeting approved the recommendation.

A recommendation was made for M&C to plan a Meeting-wide discussion of end-of-life issues sometime in November. A subcommittee will conduct research on this issue and share its findings with M&C, who will then oversee a discussion by the Meeting as a whole.

              The Meeting approved this recommendation.

After discussion and education about of end-of-life issues, M&C encourages development of written protocols that explain what DMM does when a member passes, as well as individuals in members’ families. There is guidance in Faith and Practice for DMM to discern its own practice, which can then be shared with families whose wishes can be integrated. A Meeting-wide conversation will ensue. NEYM has a current version of Faith and Practice available via the web.

        The Celebration of Life for Suki, planned for October 1st, 2022, was discussed.

5.     Finance — Nancy Marstaller

        The new pillars for the Lunt Cemetery are complete and beautiful, paid for the Clarkson family.

No one has stepped forward to take on the role of Treasurer. The Finance Committee recommends that we do not fill the role of Assistant Treasurer. The new bookkeeper is doing very well. Together, the Committee and bookkeeper are doing everything that needs to be done. With a new opening on the Finance Committee, Committee is looking for someone who knows Quickbooks.

              Meeting accepted the report, and approved proposals 1 through 4 as written.

6.     Trustees — Sarah Sprogell

A draft proposal fro request for use of the Meetinghouse was submitted, titled “Rental Information: Durham Monthly Meeting of Friends.” It is attached for review. If approved, Trustees propose putting the information on the website. The proposal will go out to Meeting members as an attachment to the minutes with a request for comments. This is a first reading. Having received comments, this topic will be raised again at Meeting for Business in October for a second reading.

The question arose around insurance. If the property is used as rental property, is the Meeting covered for liability purposes? Believe that it is. Trustees will check.

New Business

Draft of a memorial minute for Tom Frye will be coming to M&C next month.

7.     Correspondence report:

Correspondence received:  Friends World Committee on Consultation update on World Quaker Day, October 2

Thank you for financial support and a reminder about the Section of the Americas March 23-26 in Greensboro, NC USA

Portland Friends Meeting newsletter, Summer 2022

Programs for Worship Services from Ralph Greene of Dedham. ME

FCNL Summer Newsletter focusing on Yemen

Quarterly updates from the Gospel Tract Society

8.    Other important items of note:

How to receive the report from Yearly Meeting was discussed. Clerk will provide a written summary by end of September. Clerk will organize a worship around the points gleaned from the Yearly Meeting, as well as the report from the Yearly Meeting as a whole.

Falmouth Quarterly Meeting meeting at DF next month on October 15. We named Leslie Manning and Wendy Schlotterbeck as our representatives. Please consider attending!

Clerk noted this is a time of transition for many. Ed and Dorothy are moving, Suki Rice and Sue Wood memorial services are taking place, and Margaret Wentworth is still in the hospital. It was reported that she is doing well. When and if she comes home, her apartment will need to be examined to make sure that it works for someone with limited mobility. Margaret also needs to be asked about her own advanced directives.

9.     Meeting Closing

Clerk: “For all the gifts that we are given, especially this time together, let us close this meeting, promising to meet again on the 16th of October.” The meeting closed with a moment of silent thanksgiving.

Respectfully submitted,

Ellen Bennett, Recording Clerk

Materials for DMM Business Meeting, October 16, 2022

The agenda, reports and other materials for the October 2022 business meeting of Durham Friends Quaker Meeting can be found here.

PROPOSED Agenda for Durham Meeting for Business, October 16, 2022

Centering Worship

Review Agenda

Minutes of Previous Meeting

Ministry and Counsel

  Letter of Introduction

  Memorial Minute

Trustees

  Rental Proposal

Finance

  Lindi School Request

Peace and Social Concerns Update

New Business

   Letters requesting membership

Woman’s Society Hybrid Meeting Notes September 19, 2022

Present: Dorothy Curtis, President, Nancy Marstaller, Treasurer, Susan Gilbert, Secretary, Qat Langelier, Dorothy Hinshaw.

Card Ministry: Dorothy Curtis told us that Sue Wood passed away. We do not have an address for her family. Dorothy will bring a card to the Meeting House for people to sign, and we will try to find an address. Margaret has been between Maine Medical Center and Brentwood Manor. She may need help organizing her belongings and clearing space in Brunswick.

Program: We did not have a program this month.

Tedford Meal: For September, Qat ordered groceries from Hannaford; delivery charges were waived. The menu was sweet corn, burgers, watermelon and pies. Qat’s Team D which provides meals in March and September, could use  volunteers to assist her, either cooking or contributing to the purchase of food. Thank You! Susan volunteered to assist Team C in August. We remembered with love Dorothy Curtis’ aunt,  Helen Clarkson, a ‘’snowbird’’ between Maine and Arizona, who assisted Team C in the summertime. In August, Dorothy Curtis made a chicken and rice casserole, provided salad fixings, rolls, watermelon and brownies.

US Friends Womens International, Northeast gathered on September 5. Dorothy Curtis and Dorothy Hinshaw attended.

Helen Clarkson and Sue Wood have passed away.

Treasurer’s Report: Nancy said we have $37. in the account. She will order 5 copies of the Blueprint book.

We will change the meeting time to 7:00 in October.

Respectfully Submitted, Susan Gilbert

“Meditation,” by Mimi Marstaller

On September 25, 2022, Mimi Marstaller gave a message on meditation.

In it, she shared a poem, “Longing”, by Julie Cadwallader Staub.

Longing, By Julie Cadwallader Staub

Consider the blackpoll warbler.

She tips the scales
at one ounce
before she migrates, taking off
from the seacoast to our east
flying higher and higher
ascending two or three miles
during her eighty hours of flight
until she lands,
in Tobago,
north of Venezuela
three days older,
and weighing half as much.

She flies over open ocean almost the whole way.

Oh she is not so different from us.
The arc of our lives is a mystery too.
We do not understand,
we cannot see
what guides us on our way:
that longing that pulls us toward light.

Not knowing, we fly onward
hearing the dull roar of the waves below.

“First Love,” by Ken Jacobsen

Message delivered at Durham Friends Meeting, September 18, 2022

This morning’s message at Durham Friends was given by Ken Jacobsen, a member of Ohio Yearly Meeting (Conservative). 

He spoke of First Love, beginning with recollection of the passing of his wife and partner Katherine five and a half years ago.  Out of his grief he found himself led back to his first love – the first love any of us know – the steady love that God has for each and every one of us.

This life, he said, is “a school of love.”

He drew our attention to the teaching about the two great commandments in Mark 12:28-31:

28 One of the teachers of the law came and heard them debating. Noticing that Jesus had given them a good answer, he asked him, “Of all the commandments, which is the most important?”

29 “The most important one,” answered Jesus, “is this: ‘Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one.[a] 30 Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.’[b] 31 The second is this: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’[c] There is no commandment greater than these.”

Towards the end, Ken Jacobson brought to our recollection Isaac Penington’s letter that begins “Our life is love.”  Here is the full text of that letter. 

TO FRIENDS IN AMERSHAM                      Aylesbury, 4th of Third Month, 1667

FRIENDS,

Our life is love, and peace, and tenderness; and bearing one with another, and forgiving one another, and not laying accusations one against another; but praying one for another, and helping one another up with a tender hand, if there has been any slip or fall; and waiting till the Lord gives sense and repentance, if sense and repentance in any be wanting. Oh! wait to feel this spirit, and to be guided to walk in this spirit, that ye may enjoy the Lord in sweetness, and walk sweetly, meekly, tenderly, peaceably, and lovingly one with another. And then, ye will be a praise to the Lord; and anything that is, or hath been, or may be, amiss, ye will come over in the true dominion, even in the Lamb’s dominion; and that which is contrary shall be trampled upon, as life rises and rules in you. So watch your hearts and <487> ways; and watch one over another, in that which is gentle and tender, and knows it can neither preserve itself, nor help another out of the snare; but the Lord must be waited upon, to do this in and for us all. So mind Truth, the service, enjoyment, and possession of it in your hearts; and so to walk, as ye may bring no disgrace upon it, but may be a good savor in the places where ye live, the meek, innocent, tender, righteous life reigning in you, governing over you, and shining through you, in the eyes of all with whom ye converse.

Your Friend in the Truth, and a desirer of your welfare and prosperity therein. — Isaac Penington

“Spiritual Leadership for a Climate-Changed World,” by Rev. Allen Ewing-Merrill, Executive Director, The BTS Center

Message given at Durham Friends Meeting, August 14, 2022

Words of Joanna Macy, on gratitude:

We have received an inestimable gift. To be alive in this beautiful, self-organizing universe — to participate in the dance of life with senses to perceive it, lungs that breathe it, organs that draw nourishment from it — is a wonder beyond words. It is an extraordinary privilege to be accorded a human life, with self-reflexive consciousness that brings awareness of our own actions and the ability to make choices. It lets us choose to take part in the healing of our world.

Gratitude for the gift of life is the primary wellspring of all religions, the hallmark of the mystic, the source of all true art. Yet we so easily take this gift for granted. That is why so many spiritual traditions begin with thanksgiving, to remind us that for all our woes and worries, our existence itself is an unearned benefaction, which we could never of ourselves create.

The great open secret of gratitude is that it is not dependent on external circumstance. It’s like a setting or channel that we can switch to at any moment, no matter what’s going on around us. It helps us connect to our basic right to be here, like the breath does. It’s a stance of the soul… Gratitude is the kernel that can flower into everything we need to know.

Take a few deep breaths and call to mind something for which you are grateful. If you’re comfortable, hold your hands in front of you like this, and imagine that you are holding this thing for which you are grateful. Quite possibly it’s not a tangible thing that you can hold in your hand, but imagine that you are. Hold it, and silently offer your unspoken words of thanks.

Today I’d like to talk with you about spiritual leadership for a climate-changed world.

First I want to let you in on a little secret: When I say “Spiritual leadership,” I’m talking about you. You are a spiritual leader. By virtue of the fact that you are part of this Friends Meeting, striving to embody Quaker values — a commitment to simplicity, a belief in the centrality of silence, openness to truth as it is continually revealed, a genuine desire to seek peace with oneself and others, practices rooted in community, equality, and stewardship (these are some of the things I appreciate about the Quaker tradition!) — by virtue of this, I want to you to hear me say that you are a spiritual leader. Maybe you’ve never thought of yourself that way, but today I boldly proclaim that you are one, or at least you have the potential to be one, and the world needs you to live into the fullness of that identity.

Spiritual leadership for a climate-changed world — do you see what we did there? Climate-changed? Maybe you noticed that we added a little “d” tacked on the end. What happens when we do that? Suddenly that familiar phrase, “climate change,” becomes past tense. No longer can we think of climate change as something off in the future. It’s here and now — and it’s a primary characteristic of the world in which we are living and in which spiritual leaders are called to lead.

So what does spiritual leadership demand of us, in a world where temperatures are rising? Yesterday’s headline read, “The Arctic is heating up nearly four times faster than the whole planet, study finds.” Probably you know that the Gulf of Maine is warming faster than 96% of the oceans on the planet. In a world where sea levels are rising, causing more frequent flooding that threatens coastal communities, even forcing residents of some low-lying islands to relocate… In a world of more intense hurricanes, unpredictable winter storms, disastrous drought in some places and equally disastrous rainstorms in other places… In a world where devasting wildfires destroy habitats and ravage forests that sequester carbon… In a world where 1 in 7 bird species is at risk of extinction and more than 40% of insect species are in decline, 1/3 of them endangered — and of course, the loss of birds and insects threatens agriculture in significant ways, which has a devastating ripple effect across the food chain… What does spiritual leadership require of us in a climate-changed world?

I don’t know about you, but I find it’s essential, maybe even a little bit liberating, to name the truth — to put it all out there and acknowledge it for what it is. The truth is heavy, but what’s worse than confronting all of this is denying it. Turns out there’s nothing at all hopeful about burying our heads in the sand. Environmental scientist Katharine Hayhoe says she is often asked, “What can I do?” Her response: the most important thing we can do to address the climate crisis is to talk about it.

When I talk about it, I often quote another environmental advocate, Gus Speth:

“I used to think the top environmental problems were biodiversity loss, ecosystem collapse, and climate change. I thought that with thirty years of good science we could address these problems. But I was wrong. The top environmental problems are selfishness, greed, and apathy, and to deal with these we need a cultural and spiritual transformation. And we scientists don’t know how to do that.”

When I hear these words, I get energized. Cultural and spiritual transformation may not be within the purview of scientific community, but it should be within the purview of the faith community! It should be within the purview of the Quaker community! We at The BTS Center are focusing on spiritual leadership for a climate-changed world, because we want to see cultural and spiritual transformation!

The climate crisis is more than just a parts-per-million problem. It’s more than just a fossil fuels problem. It’s more than just a plastics problem, more than just a global warming or greenhouse gas or sea level rise or species extinction problem — these are all symptoms. The underlying crisis is a spiritual crisis — rooted in selfishness, greed, and apathy, expressed in a pernicious cycle of domination, extraction, and consumption. In our extractive capitalist culture, we have been fed the lie that the sole purpose in life is to consume more. To see meaningful change, we need a new vision for what it means to live a good life — a life that is rooted in justice, in equity, in the common good, and not only for ourselves, but also for all living things.

At its roots, the climate crisis is a spiritual crisis, and the solutions need to be grounded in spiritual transformation.

Which is to say, the world needs us to show up in this moment. The world needs you, my Quaker friends: you and your commitment to simplicity, your belief in the centrality of silence, your openness to truth as it is continually revealed, your genuine desire to seek peace with oneself and others, you practices rooted in community, equality, and stewardship — more than ever before, the world needs you and your spiritual leadership. And I know that can be overwhelming, and I know we don’t know where to start, but I want to suggest that it begins by digging ever more deeply into our practice of faith. For a moment, let me return quickly to Joanna Macy.

In her book Active Hope, Joanna Macy offers some important guidance for what she calls the Work that  Reconnects:

• Begin with Gratitude: “When we come from gratitude,” Joanna Macy suggests, “we become more present to the wonder of being alive in this amazing living world, to the many gifts we receive, to the beauty we appreciate.” Especially in a time when so much in our world seems to be spinning out of control — so much loss, so much suffering, so much violence — we need to practice gratitude, and it needs to be daily because yesterday’s gratitude isn’t sufficient for today’s struggles. A regular practice of gratitude helps to build a context of trust and psychological buoyancy that supports us to face difficult realities.

• Honor our pain for the world: When we begin with naming what we love, what we’re grateful for, we quickly become aware of all that is unraveling in our world, and this leads us to feel deep pain — maybe outrage, alarm, grief, guilt, dread, despair — these are all normal and healthy responses to a world in trauma. It’s important to honor these emotions. Joanna Macy writes, “Our pain for the world not only alerts us to danger, but also reveals our profound caring. And this caring derives from our interconnectedness with all life. We need not fear it.”

• See with new eyes: This means widening our vision, taking stock of the resources and communities available to us. In Joanna Macy’s words, “When seeing with new eyes, you know that it isn’t just you facing this. You are just one part of a much larger story, a continuing stream of life on Earth that has flowed for more than three and a half billion years and that has survived five mass extinctions. When you sink into this deeper, stronger flow and experience yourself as part of it, a different set of possibilities emerges.” We begin to see ourselves differently. We begin to see our own power differently. We discover a richer experience of community and a more expansive view of time.

• Go forth: Let go of feeling like this is all on you. Focus on discovering and playing your part, sharing your gifts, offering your best contributions to the healing of the world. Take the next faithful step.

Begin with gratitude. Honor our pain for the world. See with new eyes. Go forth.

In their collection of essays called All We Can Save: Truth, Courage, and Solutions for the Climate Crisis, editors Ayana Elizabeth Johnson and Katharine Wilkinson write:

“So where do we go from here? First, we take a breath. It’s a lot. And in some ways, we, humans, were not designed for a crisis this massive and all-encompassing. In other ways, we were made for this moment. What we do now is dream. From a foundation of science and community (note: I would add spiritual practice, as well), we must imagine the future we want to live in, and the future we want to pass on, and every day do something to reel the dream closer to reality.”

This is who we’re called to be, and this is what we’re called to do.

What if you’re not feeling particularly optimistic? Here’s what Joanna Macy says:

“I’m not insisting that we be brimming with hope. It’s okay not to be optimistic. Buddhist teachings say feeling that you have to maintain hope can wear you out. So just be present. The biggest gift you can give is to be absolutely present. And when you’re worrying about whether you’re hopeful or hopeless or pessimistic or optimistic — who cares? The main thing is that you’re showing up, that you’re here, and that you’re finding ever more capacity to love this world because it will not be healed without that. That is what is going to unleash our intelligence and our ingenuity and our solidarity for the healing of our world.”

May it be so. Amen.




Durham Monthly Meeting Minutes, July 17, 2022

Ellen Bennett — Recording Clerk

Durham Monthly Meeting of Friends met for the conduct of business on Sunday, July 17, 2022, with 9 people attending from the Meetinghouse and 6 by Zoom.

  1.    Meeting Opening

Meeting members were invited into worship holding Helen Clarkson and her family in the Light. Helen, a longtime and beloved meeting member, passed away July16th.                                                                                           

2.     Approval for Clerk of the Day

Rene Cote shared that Bob Eaton announced he would be stepping down immediately, as Meeting Clerk. M&C recommended that Leslie Manning serve as interim clerk for the meeting, with great appreciation.

               The recommendation was approved.

3.     Approval of Minutes from June 26 — Tess Hartford

In item # 2 of the May minutes, the request was made to delete the sentence beginning with “There followed a discussion.”

       With this correction, the minutes were approved.

New Business

4.    Clerk of the Day asked the Meeting to consider the following New Business item early in the meeting agenda due to the time availability of the requester.

Ellis Noetzel, a young and faithful attender of Meeting, would like to attend Friends Camp. Her family requests support for the cost of attending. This is the only request that the Meeting had this year and the money is available.

               Meeting approved the request.

Reports from Committees

5.     Ministry and Counsel — René Cote

Bob Eaton resigned his position as clerk effective immediately. Approval is not needed for this request. Nominating Committee is aware of the resignation, and Leslie Manning will inform Quarterly Meeting of the changes.

Katherine (Kitsie) Hildebrand requests that the Meeting accept her resignation as a member of Durham MM. M&C recommends the Meeting accept the resignation, with tremendous sadness and regret, as well as deep and abiding gratitude for her many years of service. Kitsie and her family will always be in the Meeting’s thoughts and prayers. There will be a letter from M&C to Kitsie.

       The Meeting approved her request, with sadness.

6.     Finance Committee — Sarah Sprogell

A verbal summary was given. Expenses are significantly lower than budgets due to vacant staff positions, and though weekly contributions are down, the meeting’s financial position is good. Contributions may now be sent to the Finance Committee at the Meeting’s address.

        Heidi Todd has been hired as bookkeeper. She began her work the end of June.

A family contribution has been made covering the full cost of rebuilding the stone pillars at the Lunt Cemetery. The family has historical connections to the Cemetery. In consultation with the new bookkeeper, the finance committee will determine how gifts such as these are recorded. Clerk will work with the Recording Clerk and finance committee to draft an acknowledgment of the gift.

               The Meeting accepted the Finance Committee report.

7.     Trustees Report — Sarah Sprogell

Trustees recommend that the meeting join a solar farm to reduce its electric bill, and would like approval to proceed with exploration of solar farms and eventual sign-up. Friends who are not in attendance at Meeting for Business may submit any questions or comments about joining a solar farm to Trustees, who meet the first Sunday of the month.

Knowing that Trustees will proceed with due diligence and good research, the Meeting approved Trustees request to proceed on the Meeting’s behalf.

8.     Nominating Committee — Mey Hasbrook

The committee reminds Meeting that there will be a meeting in the fall (suggested date, Oct. 30th) to discern the role of Treasurer moving forward.

       The Meeting approved the recommendation for a called meeting in October.

Committee recommends that Mey Hasbrook join the Communications Committee, term to begin in January 2023. Mey asked for early approval so that she may sit in on meetings to determine how she might best fit.

       Meeting approved the nomination.

        Clerk reminds Meeting that we are seeking an auditor for cemetery funds.

9.     Peace and Social Concerns —Ingrid Chalufour

Ingrid summarized the committee report noting particularly: DMM has a presence in the wider Durham community; letter to Brunswick Town Council has been received and is “in the queue,” and the social justice enrichment project in Pownal, Freeport, Auburn and Friends School of Portland is going very well. The meeting expressed its thanks to this diligent group. Clerk recommended that this be shared so as to appear in New England Yearly Meeting’s newsletter.

       Report is accepted with gratitude.

The Meeting was reminded that similar initiative needs to be taken with our US senators with regard to H.R. 6707: Advancing Equality for Wabanaki Nations Act. A letter on behalf of DMM, drafted by Clerk with help from Shirley Hager and Friends Committee on Maine Public Policy, will be sent to Maine senators. This measure passed the US House with bipartisan support.          

New Business

10.   It is the practice of NEYM to name representatives to their Annual Sessions, who will then report back to each monthly meeting in August or September. Clerk asked if any members would be attending. Responding were Mey Hasbrook, Sarah Sprogell (in discernment),

Portland Friends Meeting is having a special event around the Cuba Trip on July 24. Members are encouraged to attend.

In lieu of Meeting for Business in August, Members suggested a gathering on 8.21, following Meeting for Worship, for sociability and friendship. Kim and Mey and Leslie agreed to help plan the gathering.

    Meeting approved a social gathering on 8.21.

Meeting Closing

Durham Monthly Meeting will hold its next Meeting for Business on 9.18.22. Should it be necessary to conduct business before then, please contact the clerks of M&C.

Margaret Wentworth led all in prayer for closing.

Respectfully submitted, Ellen Bennett, Recording Clerk

Note: Special mention was made that 7.17. 22 is the second anniversary of Sukie Rice’s death. Members paused for a moment of silence in remembrance, and two members spoke personally of her importance to them.

Attachments:

DMM Business Meeting 22.07.17 Agenda

DMM Business Meeting Minutes 22.06.26

DMM Business Meeting Ministry and Counsel Report

DMM Business Meeting Budget

DMM Business Meeting Trustees Report

DMM Business Meeting Nominating Committee Report

DMM Business Meeting Peace and Social Concerns Report

“Membership Matters,” by Doug Bennett

Message given at Durham Friends Meeting, September 11, 2022

It’s membership that’s on my mind this morning.  It’s on my mind because recently I’ve been asked a few times about how one becomes a member of a Quaker Meeting.  I’m a member of Ministry and Council, the committee of the Meeting that handles membership matters.  

Membership:  Is this a club you’re joining?  Is membership just a matter of affiliation? Like being a member of Rotary, not a member of the Lions or of the Odd Fellows.  Or like being a Phillies fan not a Mets or Yankees fan. 

I wasn’t born into membership.  I’m a convinced Friend, not a birthright Friend.   I grew up in a Presbyterian Church.  I first went to Quaker Meeting in college, and attended fitfully until I made the decision to become a member in my mid-30s.  I remember with some embarrassment how long it took me to write a letter to the Meeting I joined – mostly because I didn’t really know what I believed.  Writing the letter made that all too clear.  They took me in anyway.  (It turned out it didn’t matter so much what I believed.  More on that later.)

I said I grew up in a Presbyterian Church.  My mother and my father had each grown up in a Northern Baptist Church.  They had full body immersion baptism as teenagers, not infant Baptism.  They met at a Northern Baptist college – Bates.  But as a family we went to a Presbyterian Church.  Why?  because it was nearby, because friends went there, and because there wasn’t a Northern Baptist Church easily to be found.  So was this Rotary not Lions, Phillies not Yankees.  I wondered as a kid.  Does it matter?  Why?

Early Quakers didn’t have membership.  They weren’t trying to create another distinct group of Christians with a slightly different set of beliefs.  They wanted to change the way everyone thought about being a Christian.  It was only after a few decades had passed and Quakers were being persecuted that they started having membership – so they could keep track of who needed assistance from other Quakers while they were in jail or didn’t have a job.  

Being a Quaker is an affiliation, I suppose.  This is my religious club; this is my religious clubhouse.  But this isn’t all it is, an affiliation.  A little over a decade ago I was a member of Quaker Meeting in Indiana Yearly Meeting, and we were thrown out.  Not from Quakerism, but from the Yearly Meeting.  It was a rude and unsettling experience.  Why were we thrown out?  Because we had beliefs and practices that welcomed people whatever their sexual orientation.  We didn’t believe homosexuality was a sin.   So we got the heave-ho. 

Does being a Quaker mean having the correct beliefs?  Many Friends recoil from that thought, don’t we?  Part of being a Quaker is not having a creed, not having to ascribe to a formula of beliefs.  It’s something else, something more.  That ‘non-creedalism (no orthodox, insisted-on beliefs) is important to me, and it seems like Indiana Yearly Meeting lost its way on that. 

What does it mean to become a Quaker, a member of a Quaker Church or Quaker Meeting.  It’s not just an affiliation.  It’s more.  To talk about that something more I think we have to think about matters of discipline and commitment, too. 

Let’s start with discipline. I know that can be a worrying, even forbidding term, with its suggestive overtones of punishment. It becomes a warmer word, however, when we think of it as having to do with being a disciple – a student, a follower, a learner. Discipline is a way of discipleship. 

We each need a discipline, I think, because we each need a way to learn about God and what God expects of us. I’m wary of those who believe that knowing God is easy, as if it were something that just happens without our having to make much effort. Perhaps that is so for some people, but I am skeptical. For me, knowing God takes active effort. Making no effort is much more likely to lead me towards inattention and selfish behavior. 

So for me, I need a discipline: a learning strategy, a regular approach to knowing God. I am pretty sure we do not all need the same discipline.  For me, that is a clue to why it is not a bad thing that there are a variety of denominations. Think of each as embodying a distinctive religious discipline. “This is how we work together to know God.”   (Of course, for many denominations, there is also a creed, an orthodoxy.)

For me, waiting worship is a most helpful approach: gathering with others in stillness to seek God.  I know many who find the repetition of the Mass to be especially useful for drawing closer to God.  I know many people who value external sacraments, or who value ‘smells and bells’, or – a lot of other things.  A place to start on a spiritual journey is to know what spiritual discipline is best for you. 

From the British Quaker Ben Pink Dandelion I learned a new word:  orthopraxy.  Quakers, he says, don’t have an orthodoxy; they don’t have a creed.  But they do have a set of distinctive practices especially in worship.  Those distinctive practices, especially waiting worship, are the orthopraxy. 

Discipline opens the door to commitment, and to community   There may be some who can find and settle into a discipline all by themselves – without anyone else.  But that’s not for me, and I imagine would not be for most others.  If I am to settle into deep, waiting worship, I want to gather with others in doing that.  We do it together.  And so it is with most religious disciplines: their practice requires a community to practice them well.  So spiritual discipline requires community, and community requires commitment. 

In seeking such a community, I’m looking for a group of people who will not just be present once, but be present together over time, gathering and regathering.  I’m looking for a group of people who will make a commitment to being together for worship and seeking, and I’ll expect to make a commitment to them, too.  To become a member of a Quaker Meeting is to say, ‘you can count on me as we seek together for God’s will.’ 

How will that commitment be shown?  I can imagine a variety of ways: via regular financial contributions, via service on committees, via volunteering to help in other ways.  But most of all through regular count-upon-it attendance, week in and week out.  Taking part, showing up, being engaged.  In my Quaker meeting it does me good to see familiar faces each week, people I expect to be there and who expect me to be there, too.  We gather strength from one another. 

Also posted on Riverview Friend

Falmouth Quarterly Meeting, October 15, 2022

[Updated] Falmouth Quarter will meet on October 15th from 10:00 – 1:30 at Durham Friends Meeting.

We invite you – all of you – to come to share about the abundance you have found in these hard times. 

We are imagining our entire time together as a meeting for worship, with sharing, art, laughter, reading, cider, and business. 

The schedule for our time together is:

10:00 – gather in worship – Singing,  fellowship, perhaps some Juice and coffee and snacks and sharing

10:30 – Brief meeting for business to approve the budget, approve donations for the year, to confirm the dates we will be meeting and to consider what program we might like to bring to the Quarter in January. 

              During the business meeting, those who would rather make cider will be setting up and operating the cider press.  The books that Durham meeting has been donating to pre-schools and early elementary classrooms will be out for reading.

11:00 – We will be making windsocks with an invitation to inscribe the wind socks with messages about where we have felt God moving in our meetings and in our lives.  There will be times of open sharing of these messages.  Each meeting is invited to think about what the meeting will share and inscribe upon their windsock.  Cider making will continue, book reading will continue.

12:30 – Picnic lunch – bring something to share or bring your own.

1:30 –  Wrap up; close worship. Please take your windsocks home to fly them from your porch, or from your meeting house so the wind can spread the messages to the world.

 “We didn’t find what we were looking for, but look at what we found.” (Wendall Berry)

Fall 2022 Meeting for Healing Schedule, Portland Friends Meeting (with update)

Update: In November and December, there will be an in-person option at the Durham Friends Meeting on the 1st Thursday of the month. Doors will open at 6:45p.m. For questions, contact Mey Hasbrook.

Fall Meeting for Healing schedule: 7PM on 1st & 3rd Thursdays (mostly)

The Portland Friends will hold its Meeting for Healing this Fall, on Zoom, on 1st and 3rd Thursdays at a slightly different time: 7:00 pm. (For September the Meeting for Healing will be on 2nd and 4th Thursdays.) You are welcome to join worship for part of the time or to worship with us without the Zoom connection. The Divine connects us all.

Fall Meeting for Healing schedule, Thursdays at 7PM

September 8 & 22

October   6 & 20

November  3 & 17

December  1 & 15

If you have any questions or need the Zoom link, please feel free to reach out to

Chris Davis: goblinshark@gmail.com or

Beth Bussiere-Nichols: beth.bussiere@gmail.com

Meeting for Worship for Healing is an old Quaker tradition. Our goal with this meeting is to focus on the physical and spiritual illnesses of the current world. It’s not intended to be the same as a full meeting for worship but instead is meant to be focused on communal prayer. We are often blessed with a time of deep silence. Messages may arise but should be de-centered from our ego.

An invitation to Worship in clamorous times. We are living through a time when we are inundated with words.  We invite you during worship to sink deeply below the political messages, below the personal efforts to put things into words, down to the Silence, down to the Living Waters, down to the Source that connects us all.

All are welcome!

Fall Gathering, Vassalboro & Falmouth Quarterly Meetings, September 10, 2022

Falmouth Quarter is invited to join Vassalboro Quarter at Friends Camp on September 10. The event will be in-person at Friends Camp, 8:30 am – 3:30 or 4pm

Friends Camp address: 729 Lakeview Dr, South China, ME 04358

We are so excited to offer (everything being favorable) the chance to be together in-person at Friends Camp.

Saturday, Sept. 10: In-person
After two years away, we are having a physical gathering.
We encourage Friends to bring someone with them, perhaps someone who has yet to experience gathering at Friends Camp.

Schedule:

8:30-9:00 Gather

9:00-12:00 Shared worship around queries.

12:00-1:00 Lunch: Vassalboro Meeting will bring the main dishes and Friends are asked to bring breads, salads, and desserts. We will be eating outside. All 18 yr olds and younger are free.  All others donate as led. Please let us know several days in advance if young children will attend.

1:00-3:30 or 4:00 Small groups to discuss various areas of concern. Ending with Meeting for Worship.

There are many concerns in the United States and around the world that speak to Friends. One timely effort is “An Urgent Call to the Religious Society of Friends” regarding the threat to our democracy.
Please see the linked information about “The Call” as it will be part of the Saturday program.

“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