Agenda and Materials for Durham Friends Business Meeting, January 21, 2024

Reports and Other materials for the business meeting can be found at this site.

Agenda for Durham Monthly Meeting Jan. 21, 2024

1. Opening

2. Approval of last month’s minutes

3. Finance Committee report with action items

4. Woman’s Society Charity Fund request for Warm Thy Neighbor
     - 2nd approval

5. Ministry and Counsel 
     Margaret Wentworth memorial minute
   
6. Trustees Annual Report

7. Peace & Social Concerns Annual Report, updates

8. Website 2023 Report

9.Nominating Committee report
     Resignation of individual

“Breach of the Peace,” Iona Community

At worship this past Sunday (January 14, 2024), Leslie Manning brought the message. You can see and hear a recording of the lecture here (password is UL7WA?zi). She read this poem from the Iona Community:

She also read this passage from William Penn:

True religion does not draw men out of the world but enables them to live better in it and excites their endeavors to mend it. — William Penn

Durham Friends Woman’s Society Minutes, December 21, 2023

Present: Dorothy Curtis, President, Nancy Marstaller, Treasurer, Susan Gilbert Secretary, Wendy Schlotterbeck, Kim Bolshaw, Tess Hartford.

We met at  Dorothy Curtis’ home and combined our meeting with the traditional WS Christmas party and gift exchange, held for the first time since 2019.  Surrounded by Dorothy’s collections of Christmas ornaments, and tree, we shared fun and laughter, conducted our meeting, signed cards to Friends, and enjoyed tasty Christmas cookies, hot herbal tea, grown and blended by Kim, and  delicious fruitcake made by Dorothy from Clarabel Marstaller’s recipe.

Cards: For Friends. Wendy has cards to donate to the WS card ministry.

Program: We took turns reading from Blueprints, “Showing Up In The Neighborhood”, by Margaret Fraser an American Quaker now based in Northern Ireland. Scripture: Luke 6:37 -38. “ Judge not, and ye shall not be judged: condemn not, and ye shall not be condemned: forgive, and ye shall be forgiven: 6:38 Give, and it shall be given unto you; good measure, pressed down, and shaken together, and running over, shall men give into your bosom. For with the same measure that ye mete withal it shall be measured to you again.”  Margaret felt called to move to Ireland, and settled near  East Belfast.  In this area of  religious and social divisions, poverty and unrest, drug gangs,   Margaret volunteers at the Methodist Church’s East Belfast Mission which offers “An urban regeneration project in inner East Belfast providing shared space for community transformation and renewal… It’s about providing shared space for people from all backgrounds and communities in East Belfast.” 

Minutes: Not available at the meeting.

Treasurer’s Report: November’s offerings were $18. Nancy paid the annual WS dues. We have $50.96. in our account. Our request for $1000. from the DF Charity Fund to be given to Warm Thy Neighbor  passed first approval at the monthly business meeting.

Telford Meal: Team A, Kim and Wendy provided scalloped potatoes with and without ham, carrots, broccoli, and a big pumpkin pie. January, Nancy’s team B will be cooking. She suggested that some of her large active team could be moved to teams with fewer volunteers. Kim offered to help any team if she is called.

New Business: Nancy suggested that our January 15 meeting be spent writing the Memorial Minute for Margaret Wentworth and others who have passed.

Dorothy ended the business meeting with a traditional Shaker poem:

Respectfully Submitted, Susan Gilbert

Falmouth Quarter to meet Saturday, January 27th at Durham Meeting, 11:30 to 5 pm.

UPDATED 24.1.30 Minutes of the session can be found here.

UPDATED 24.1.24 Agenda and Materials for the Quarterly Meeting gathering can be found here

You are invited to attend the Falmouth Quarterly Meeting from 11:30 to 2:45 at Durham Friends Meeting. 

We will have a simple Meal available 11:30 to 12:30.

Meeting for Worship with Attention to Business will begin at 12:40 and conclude by 1:25. The agenda and two proposed minutes are at this link.

To attend the business meeting by zoom, use this link: durham meeting zoom link. The password is 1775

We are excited to welcome Brian Drayton, who  will lead a program and discussion, entitled “There is a Spirit which I feel… James Naylor’s Last Words” from 1:30 to 2:45.

“There is a spirit which I feel that delights to do no evil, nor to revenge any wrong, but delights to endure all things, in hope to enjoy its own in the end. Its hope is to outlive all wrath and contention, and to weary out all exaltation and cruelty, or whatever is of a nature contrary to itself. It sees to the end of all temptations. As it bears no evil in itself, so it conceives none in thoughts to any other. If it be betrayed, it bears it, for its ground and spring is the mercies and forgiveness of God. Its crown is meekness, its life is everlasting love unfeigned; it takes its kingdom with entreaty and not with contention, and keeps it by lowliness of mind. In God alone it can rejoice, though none else regard it, or can own its life. It is conceived in sorrow, and brought forth without any to pity it, nor doth it murmur at grief and oppression. It never rejoiceth but through sufferings; for with the world’s joy it is murdered. I found it alone, being forsaken. I have fellowship therein with them who lived in dens and desolate places in the earth, who through death obtained this resurrection and eternal holy life.”

An opportunity to stay for the second session of the webinar, Returning to the Land, “Seeing with a Native Eye”  from 3:00 to 5:30, a four part program that Peace and Social Committee of Durham Monthly Meeting is offering .  Readings for this session are available at this link: returning to the land

EARLIER POSTING:

Falmouth Quarter will meet on Saturday January 27th at Durham Meeting.

The draft schedule follows.

11: 30 gather and simple lunch

12:45 opening worship and brief business meeting

1:30 – 2:45  Program focused on James Naylor’s last statement facilitated by Brian Drayton:

“There is a spirit which I feel that delights to do no evil, nor to revenge any wrong, but delights to endure all things, in hope to enjoy its own in the end. Its hope is to outlive all wrath and contention, and to weary out all exaltation and cruelty, or whatever is of a nature contrary to itself. It sees to the end of all temptations. As it bears no evil in itself, so it conceives none in thoughts to any other. If it be betrayed, it bears it, for its ground and spring is the mercies and forgiveness of God. Its crown is meekness, its life is everlasting love unfeigned; it takes its kingdom with entreaty and not with contention, and keeps it by lowliness of mind. In God alone it can rejoice, though none else regard it, or can own its life. It is conceived in sorrow, and brought forth without any to pity it, nor doth it murmur at grief and oppression. It never rejoiceth but through sufferings; for with the world’s joy it is murdered. I found it alone, being forsaken. I have fellowship therein with them who lived in dens and desolate places in the earth, who through death obtained this resurrection and eternal holy life.”

Those who wish to can stay for the Program hosted by Durham’s Peace and Social Concerns Committee:

 3:30-5 pm: “Returning to the Land: Seeing with a Native Eye.”

Meditation from Steven Charleston

Read at the opening and closing of worship at Durham Friends Meeting, January 7, 2024:

Meditation of the Rt. Rev. Steven Charleston, Ret. Episcopal Bishop of Alaska, of Choctaw Ancestral Lineage. 12/24/2023, Sunday.  

Please join me today, whoever you are, whatever you believe: join me in releasing love into the world.

Love as mercy, love as peace, love as forgiveness, love as healing: join me in sharing love in every way you can.

And when you do, join me in believing it will make a difference. Love always makes a difference.

Please join me today in extending that love as far as your heart can reach.

“Walking in the World as a Friend,” from QREC, 2nd Mondays in 2024 @7:30pm

an invitation from the Quaker Religious Education Collaborative:

Walking in the World as a Friend Discussion & Practice Group
Please join us for a free Online Practice & Discussion Group sponsored by Quaker Religious Education Collaborative (QREC)We meet monthly to enrich adult Quaker Religious Education for ourselves and our meetings/churches.Each month will open with worship and a message from the book Walking in the World as a Friend: Essential Quaker Practices. Then we will hold worship sharing to hear from each person, followed by a discussion on any questions, reflections, or implications for us as Friends and our witness in they world, then close with worship. We may discuss practices, such as journaling, spiritual companions, and faith and practice or scripture study, that help us and our meetings/churches.We are using Walking in the World as a Friend for reference. You may purchase the book at CourageousGifts.com or download the PDF HERE for free. You may also watch the videos on YouTube.
Monday, January 8, 2024 7:30pm Eastern US Time
Experiences of Living in the Spirit and the role of a Minister (pp 27-30 or relevant videos)
Monday, Febuary 12, 2024 7:30pm Eastern US Time
Experiment with Spirit and the Role of the Steward (pp 35-37 or relevant videos)
Monday, March 11, 2024 7:30pm Eastern US Time
Essential Quaker Structures as an Ecology of Practices (pp 45-58 or relevant videos)
In 2024, we plan to meet the second Monday of the month in January, February, and March and take a one-month break in April. We expect to continue this pattern of 3 months on and 1 month off through 2024. This is spiral curriculum. Every time we engage the themes, we bring more to the reflections and go deeper.

REGISTER HERE

Advent Message 4 to Velasco Friends from Falmouth Quarter Friends, December 2023

Dear Sisters and Brothers in Velasco,

This is the week we light the candle for Love and remember the family in the stable in Bethlehem.  Then, as now, their homeland was occupied. Then, as now, their children were threatened.  And yet I imagine that when Joseph and Mary held their baby, they felt their hearts filled with more love then they could ever have imagined being possible.  Spirit holds each of us, rocks each of us, loves each of us with more love than we can possibly imagine.  “For unto all of us a child is born, unto all of us …”

With love and great gratitude to share this season with the Iglesia de los Amigos en Velasco.

___________________________________________________________________________

Queridas hermanas y hermanos de Velasco,

Esta es la semana en la que encendemos la vela por el Amor y recordamos a la familia en el establo de Belén. Entonces, como ahora, su patria estaba ocupada. Entonces, como ahora, sus hijos fueron amenazados. Y, sin embargo, me imagino que cuando José y María cargaron a su bebé, sintieron que sus corazones se llenaban de más amor del que jamás hubieran imaginado posible. El Espíritu nos sostiene a cada uno de nosotros, nos mece a cada uno de nosotros, nos ama a cada uno de nosotros con más amor del que podamos imaginar. “Porque a todos nosotros nos es nacido un niño, a todos nosotros…”

Con mucho amor y mucha gratitud de compartir esta temporada con la Iglesia de los Amigos en Velasco.

Durham Monthly Meeting Minutes, December 17, 2023

Durham Monthly Meeting of Friends met for the conduct of business on Sunday, December 17, 2023, with 11 people in attendance at the Meetinghouse.

1. Meeting Opening

Clerk played a recording of Peace of the Earth — a Guatemalan hymn, followed by silent gathering. There were no additions or corrections to the agenda.

2. Approval of Minutes of November 2023 — Ellen Bennett

Meeting approved the minutes of the November meeting.

3. Finances — Nancy Marstaller

a. Finance Committee: The committee brought forward the proposed budget for 2024 for a second reading and approval. Changes from the first reading include: increasing the income from weekly contributions; Peace and Social Concerns carry-over grant revenue was moved to operating income and then expensed out; money allocated for Wabanaki Reach was moved to an operating expense line and will be identified for land reparations, and custodian salary was increased. The result is a deficit budget now reduced to $544. 

Meeting approved the 2024 budget.

b. Woman’s Society: To continue the tradition of annual support to area organizations, Woman’s Society would like the Meeting to consider giving $1,000 from the charity account, to Warm Thy Neighbor, administered through Tedford Housing in this area. 

Meeting approved this first request.

4. Ministry and Counsel — Tess Hartford and Renee Cote

Visiting committee is considering Diana White’s transfer of membership from Portland to Durham.

Renee read the minute from M&C concerning Mey Hasbrook’s resignation:

 “At Monthly Meeting on October 15, 2023, Mey Hasbrook’s letter of resignation was accepted. The final meeting encouraged by Monthly Meeting did not take place when Mey objected to the number of persons that would be present and refused to meet. During her time with Durham Friends Meeting, at the time of her resignation, and in an email in November, Mey made a number of allegations of harm that were circulated within and outside the Meeting. Ministry & Counsel investigated these allegations and found that they have no basis in fact. We are very sorry for the distress that these allegations have caused and ask that we continue to hold all involved in prayer. We remain available to respond to questions and concerns, as confidentiality allows.

Meeting accepted this report with gratitude for the hard work of Ministry and Counsel.

5. Trustees Report — Sarah Sprogell

Update report available on the website.

6. Nominating Committee — Linda Muller

Highlighting updates on DMMF committee assignments, please see attachment. The Committee will be considering a Music Committee. 

Meeting expressed its great appreciation for the committee and for the work that it, with Linda as clerk, has done.

7. New Business 

Approval of Positions in lieu of Officers:  Clerk recommends that the duties traditionally done by the Clerk and the Treasurer are delineated and assigned, regardless of who is occupying those positions. Specifically, “that the Clerk of Trustees be named as Acting Clerk for the purposes of contracts and other Meeting business and that the Clerk of Finance be named as Acting Treasurer, as needed…”

Meeting approved this proposal, with an effective date of January 1, 2024.

Meeting Care Coordinator: Clerk left the room. Tess Hartford was approved as interim Clerk for this portion of the meeting. Renee read the report of the MCC search committee. 

Meeting approved Leslie Manning as MCC beginning January1, 24, a position described in the document dated February 2023.

The question of oversight and support will be taken up in concert with Leslie. The Search Committee for this position will make a recommendation as to the composition of the support/oversight committee for the MCC at the next meeting for business. 

8. Closing Worship 

Respectfully submitted, 

Ellen Bennett, Recording Clerk

Attachments: Reports and Other Materials

“Please, Thanks, Sorry,” by Craig Freshley

Message given at Durham Friends Meeting, December 3, 2023

You can hear a recording of Craig Freshley’s Message, “Please, Thanks, Sorry,” at his website Craig’s Quaker Messages.

This message focuses on three types of prayer and during this message I held up three little signs to match what I was saying; signs that read PLEASE, THANKS, and SORRY.

For a few cycles to start the breathing exercise at the end, I held up PLEASE as I inhaled, and THANKS as I exhaled.

There’s silence in the middle of the message from 13:30 to 16:30, and also at the end of the message beginning at 18:34.

Here is a transcription of the message:

Please, Thanks, Sorry

Good morning, friends.

The last message I brought was about prayer, and today’s message is about prayer. Last time I recited my prayer, a specific prayer that I have pushed myself to write over many years, and it’s evolving. In fact, I’ve changed it since the last time I spoke to you about this prayer, and maybe I’ll say it at the end of today’s message. Last time I talked about the value of what I’m going to call stock prayers, prayers with specific words and verses that we say over and over again the same way. The Lord’s Prayer, the prayer of St. Francis, the 23rd Psalm, the Prayer of Yellow Hawk, the Serenity Prayer. These are some of my favorite stock prayers. A lot of thought has been put into the words of these prayers, and it’s so helpful to say them and think about their meaning. Take them to heart over and over. Reciting stock prayers is, for me, a form of meditation. It focuses, the mind cuts out distraction. It’s in keeping with the Catholic tradition of using rosary beads, or the Buddhist tradition of chance or mantras. It provides a discipline. So whereas last time I focused on my stock prayer, my way of bringing discipline and saying the same things over and over. I say that to myself several times a day that, that prayer,

But I also ex explained last time that sometimes I make up prayers, and that’s good too. That’s the focus of today’s message, is making up prayers on the spot. I think there is great value in quieting the mind in wrestling with this question. What should I pray for right now? What a big question it requires me to consider all that I could pray for and make a short list. It pushes me to decide what’s most important. Just the exercise of making that decision before we even get to the prayer. Deciding what to pray for is, I suppose its own form of prayer. I’ve been told, I don’t remember where I heard this, but I’ve come to believe this, that there are basically three kinds of prayer.

Please. Thanks, and Sorry. So to help me make my short lists, I think of prayers in these three categories. I think to myself, what do I want help with? What am I thankful for? What things have I done that I’m sorry about.

In a moment, I’m going to ask you to think about your short lists of what’s most important in these three categories. But first, I’m going to say just a little bit more about these three different types of prayers and what they mean for me, how I think of them. These are often prayers of desperation. Please help so and so get better. Please prevent X, Y, z, bad thing from happening. Please stop the fighting. Stop the oppression, stop the flooding. Please help those in desperate need. Please help me get out of this jam. Sometimes those are the most desperate prayers of all. I’m in trouble. I need help. Please help me. But a please prayer can also be from a not so desperate place, a more, a more thoughtful place. Please help me be a better person by blank, blank, blank. Please help me with this particular thing so I can be better. Please help me better understand why. Blank, blank, blank, blah, blah, blah. Please help me forgive him or her. Please help me be more open to them.

It can also be a prayer of humility. Just yesterday, I heard Rob Levine say, if you don’t know what to do, pray. If you don’t know what to pray for, pray for help. Sometimes I don’t know what to do. I don’t know what to think. I don’t know how to be, but I remember that I have this available to me. I can ask for help. I can say a prayer and I can begin it with please. It’s really hard for me to ask for help. Yet I’ve learned that it’s one of the most valuable things I can do, and I’ve learned that when I ask for help, it’s good to be okay with non-specifics rather than please change that person in these ways so that they’re nicer to me. I’ve learned that’s not a helpful prayer. I’m likely to be disappointed with that type of prayer, but rather, please help me find peace in this situation from a place of humility, not knowing the answer, rather than, please tell me what I should do about this or that. Instead, please help me be okay with however, turn this turns out and help me play my part.

It’s okay to ask for help. It’s good when you start with the word please, and it’s good to be open to however the help might come. Thanks. This is gratitude. When I’m not feeling good about myself or about the world around me, there is nothing more helpful to me than to take stock of the good things I have. Do not take things for granted.

It seems to help me every time. I knew a guy named Leon, an old guy, and when you asked him how he was, he would always say the same thing. I’m fantastic. I woke up on the right side of the grass today.  Every time, same answer, grateful to just be alive. That is a good place to start.

But not only that, it’s not just that I’m alive. I have an amazing life. So many blessings. We as humans have a long and deep tradition of prayers, of gratitude and blessings. Blessings before a meal, blessings at the start of an endeavor. Gratitude at the end of an endeavor. Gratitude upon winning the award. I couldn’t have done this without you. All prayers of gratitude. Folks in recovery are often asked to make a gratitude list. When I was a child, my mom encouraged me to end my day by kneeling at my bed and thinking of the good things that happened that day. Pretty simple prayer. Just think back on the good things that happened. I have found that gratitude is pretty much universal medicine for whatever ails you.

Sorry, another type of prayer. You might call this confession or repentance. I’m going to bring something else that I have learned in recovery. This is, this book is called Alcoholics Anonymous. I’m going to read a paragraph. “When we retire at night, we constructively review our day. Were we resentful, selfish, dishonest, or afraid? Do we owe an apology? Have we kept something to ourselves, which should be discussed with another person at once? Were we kind and loving towards all? What could we have done better? Were we thinking of ourselves most of the time? Or were we thinking of what we could do for others of what we could pack into the stream of life?”

But we must be careful not to drift into worry, remorse, or morbid reflection for that would diminish our usefulness to others. After making our review, we ask God’s forgiveness and inquire what corrective measures should be taken. I find it helpful to review my actions, to look at me and consider how I have been aligned or not aligned with how God wants me to be. And consider what corrective actions need to be taken. What apologies do I need to make to help me feel better? What do I have to fix with actual actions and what do I need to let go of? I don’t need to be responsible for everything. Back to please. I can ask for help with the burdens of my regrets. I would like us to pause for a moment. I’m going to stop talking and I’m going to offer a few minutes of silence for you to consider, for us all to consider our transgressions. What are you sorry about? What regrets do you have between you and your God? Let’s just take two or three minutes here and each try to make a short list.

[PAUSE]

I love that everyone seems to be praying so hard, and I hate to interrupt.  But I’d like to wrap up and take us into even more silence, and I’d like to do one or maybe two more things before I walk back over there. I’d like to do a little breathing exercise with you. 

We just spent some time reflecting on, sorry, regrets, transgressions. Now I’d like to spend a little time reflecting on please and thank you. And the way that I do this sometimes is I, I breathe and when I breathe in, I think please. And when I breathe out, I think thanks. It’s a really simple prayer, and when I breathe in, I think of things that I need help with, and when I breathe out, I think of things that I’m grateful for. So I’m going to ask that we start this together. I’m going to hold up signs, and then I’m going leave you to your own rhythm and we’ll see what happens after that.

We breathe in and we breathe out.

FGC Changing Times Conference, January 18-21, 2024

Join Us Online January 18-21, 2024
Registration is Open
Dear Leslie, Registration is open for FGC’s Changing Times Conference –
In these changing times, how is Spirit moving among us?

Join Friends from across North America in seeking what messages Spirit offers us as we explore Spirit led growth and transformation. We will have time to deepen our spiritual lives, share ideas across yearly meetings and explore new ones as we meet online.

Our schedule will begin with a plenary each day followed by workshops and we will have the opportunity to reflect and consider the day’s events in Reflections Groups each evening. There will be morning worship and chances for fellowship online in the evenings.The main components of the conference are:Our connection to SpiritBecoming an Actively Anti-racist Faith CommunityChanging structures for Changing TimesThe Future of the Religious Society of Friends.Come, take a break, find community, share ideas and concerns and find refreshment as we seek together what messages Spirit offers us.
with excitement and gratitude,
Ruth ReberRuth ReberSpecial Events CoordinatorFriends General Conference1216 Arch St. #2BPhiladelphia, Pa 19107ruthr@fgcquaker.orgwww.fgcquaker.orgWhy this Conference now?
This online conference grew from the seeds of desires expressed by Friends in Gathering Anew Focus groups to have opportunities to share across Yearly Meetings and Monthly Meetings. It is one of four Gathering Anew Experiments to explore meeting Friends needs in these changing times.

In consultation, Yearly Meeting Clerks and Secretaries spoke of a deep desire to seek the Divine together. What messages might Spirit be offering to us at this time? Changing Times is a chance to explore together, some of the key questions before us. We are in a time of change, a time full of potential and choices.Who will speak to us?Tuning InFrancisco Burgos,
Executive Director, Pendle Hill
Francisco Burgos is the executive director at Pendle Hill and has facilitated spiritual retreats and lectio divina sessions for many audiences. Francisco was a De La Salle Christian Brother for almost ten years, serving in Dominican Republic, Guatemala, and Costa Rica, and has been a Friend since 2004. He is a member of Harrisburg Friends Meeting and an attender of meetings including Monteverde Friends Meeting in Costa Rica and Adelphi Friends Meeting in Maryland.Living into Continuing RevelationVanessa Julye,
Friends General Conference’s Associate Secretary for Organizational Cultural Transformation
Vanessa Julye, works on increasing awareness of White Supremacy and its impact in the Quaker and sectarian communities. She meets with and provides programs for BIPOC Quakers throughout the world both in-person and virtually. She has been recognized as having a calling to a ministry with a concern for helping the Religious Society of Friends become a whole blessed community. Vanessa speaks on racism focusing on its eradication and the healing of racism’s wounds.Changing Structures in Changing TimesTitle: Empower, Support, Cross-Fertilize, and Encourage
Paul Buckley is a member of Clear Creek Friends Meeting in Richmond, Indiana. Since his graduation from the Quaker Studies Program at the Earlham School of Religion, he has been a traveling minister and a writer on Quaker topics. He is serving as the Clerk of OVYM’s Restructuring Committee. His most recent publication is a 2023 Pendle Hill Pamphlet, Quaker Testimony: What We Witness to the World, the product of twelve years of thought and contemplation on Quaker Testimony.

Title: Restorative Quaker Design
Rashid Darden is a member of Friends Meeting of Washington and Associate Secretary for Communications and Outreach for Friends General Conference. He is also a novelist who focuses on the Black LGBT experience, whether in contemporary fiction or in urban fantasy. 

Title: The economic and sociologic context of contemporary Quaker experience and how it informs our future
Barry Crossno is a member of the Monthly Meeting of Friends of Philadelphia sojourning  with Cleveland Friends Meetings. He serves as the General Secretary of Friends General Conference. He brings to FGC a deep commitment to the future of the Religious Society of Friends and the  nurture and care for Friends.WorkshopsEach day offers a new selection of workshops focused on the topic of the day. Check out the website for a full listing of topics and leaders.
 Learn more about the Speakers and Workshop LeadersRegister Now
Some workshops have limited space.
And please consider making a gift.
Your support helps make FGC programs like the Gathering possible and accessible. Whatever the amount, your contribution connects Friends, newcomers, and meetings in spiritually powerful ways. Thank you for nurturing a vibrant Quaker faith!Support Friends. Give Today.Like what you’ve read? Please help us by sharing this Gathering update with your friends and Friends by using the buttons below!

Joy and Love, from Maine Council of Churches

For five weeks every year, songs about the incarnation of Christ can be heard playing everywhere—on your radio and TV, at the car wash, in the grocery store.  And just about everybody knows the words.  They might not be able to tell you what the first book of the New Testament is (just for the record, it’s Matthew), but they can tell you that all is calm, all is bright on a silent, holy night in the little town of Bethlehem where away in a manger the little Lord Jesus lay down his sweet head while certain poor shepherds lay in fields listening to angels on high singing “Gloria in excelsis deo,” and three kings of the orient bearing gifts traverse afar.   Christmas carols are, after all, the best known of all religious music, and these days, most people get the only theology they have from the carols that they sing.  This year our Advent blog series will explore a favorite carol each week, listening to familiar words with fresh ears and learning the story of when, where, and why they were written. (We also have an Advent message for December’s National Gun Violence Prevention Sabbath available at this link.)
O Holy Night
O holy night! the stars are brightly shining. It is the night of the dear Savior’s birth.
Long lay the world in sin and error pining, till He appeared and the soul felt its worth.
A thrill of hope- the weary world rejoices, for yonder breaks a new and glorious morn!
Fall on your knees! O hear the angel voices! O night divine, O night when Christ was born!
O night, O holy night, O night divine!

Truly He taught us to love one another. His law is love and His gospel is peace.
Chains shall He break, for the slave is our brother, and in His name all oppression shall cease.
Sweet hymns of joy in grateful chorus raise we. Let all within us praise His holy name.
Christ is the Lord! O praise His name forever! His pow’r and glory evermore proclaim! 
Christmas Eve 1906. The clock on Reginald Fessenden’s workbench in Brant Rock, Massachusetts, struck nine.  He carefully set the needle of his Victrola down on a spinning record and pointed a homemade microphone into the gramophone horn.  When a short aria by Handel finished playing, he stopped the record, and moved the microphone over to his wife, Helen.  He motioned to her to begin reciting the words from the second chapter of Luke’s gospel, the story of Jesus’ birth, but she froze in fear and couldn’t speak.  Flustered, Reginald brought the microphone up to his own mouth and blurted out, “Glory to God in the highest, and on earth, peace…to men of good will.”  (It should have been “peace, good will toward men,” but close enough!)  Then Reginald handed the microphone to Helen, picked up his violin, leaned in as close as he could and played the French carol “O Holy Night.”  He sang the final refrain before switching off the transmitter.
 
Somewhere out in the cold, dark, Atlantic Ocean, miles to the east of where Reginald and Helen sat wondering if their experiment had worked, wireless operators on several U.S. Navy and United Fruit Company ships sat in amazement.  Before that moment, the only sound they had ever heard coming through their radio headsets were the dits, dots and dashes of Morse code. But on that Christmas Eve, they heard music and the sound of a man’s voice saying, “Glory to God in the highest.”  It must have seemed like a miracle!
 
Three days earlier, Fessenden had transmitted a message in Morse code to ships at sea telling them to have their wireless transmitters turned on at 9:00pm on Christmas Eve.  He was going to test out his theory that if he combined two frequencies together he would be able to transmit more than just Morse code over radio airwaves—he would be able to transmit music and the spoken word.  This theory had gotten him nothing but ridicule—in the press, in the business world, even in scientific circles.  He was seen as a crackpot outsider with hare-brained schemes.  But on Christmas Eve 1906, it was his voice reciting the gospel of Luke, his violin playing “O Holy Night,” that were heard for the first time over the radio.  After his death in 1932, a stone memorial was erected over his grave bearing these words: “By his genius distant lands converse and men sail unafraid upon the deep.”
 
Fifty-nine years before that first radio broadcast, another pair of oddball misfits who lived in France had composed “O Holy Night.”  Placide Cappeau, misfit number un, was the wine commissioner of Roquemaure, a small town in the south of France where Monsieur Cappeau didn’t quite fit in. For starters, he only had one hand (his right hand had been amputated when he was 8 years old after a playmate accidentally shot him); then there was the fact that, unlike his devout Catholic neighbors, Placide Cappeau didn’t attend church; and finally, the icing on the gâteau—he was a political radical, affiliated with the socialist movement.  But he was known in his village as someone who had a way with words—he enjoyed writing poetry as a hobby.  So, when the town church’s organ was renovated and plans were made to include a rededication ceremony during Christmas Eve services in 1847, the local priest asked Monsieur Cappeau if he would write a special poem for the occasion.  Cappeau wrote the poem, “Cantique de Noel,” and then, realizing his words really should be set to music for maximum effect, asked his friend Adolphe Adam to compose a song to go with it. 
 
Enter misfit number deux: Adolphe Adam, a Jewish musical composer who worked in vaudeville, opera and ballet with a notoriously bad temper and a permanently empty bank account.  He had his fifteen minutes of fame as composer of the music for the ballets “Giselle” and “Le Corsaire,” but then a tantrum put him on the outs with the movers and shakers of the Paris opera world, and he spent the rest of his life in bankruptcy.  That day in 1847, he accepted his friend Placide’s request and wrote the soaring score we now know as the tune to “O Holy Night.”  The combination of music and poem made the carol instantly popular, and soon it was being sung in churches and homes all over France.
 
That is, until French religious authorities got wind of the fact that the carol’s composers were a non-believing socialist and a red-light-district musician with Jewish ancestry.  Immediately the carol was banned from churches throughout France.  For more than two decades it would not be heard in worship services there, though it continued to be sung in homes and loved by many.  It wasn’t until Christmas Eve 1871, during the Franco-Prussian War, when a French soldier laid down his weapon, faced the enemies’ guns and sang “O Holy Night,” the Germans responded by singing a carol by Martin Luther, and a Christmas truce began, that the French Catholic church relented and once again allowed “O Holy Night” to be sung in worship.
 
Despite its twenty-year ban in the churches of France, the carol had grown in popularity across Europe and even in America, where a young Unitarian minister who believed deeply in the movement to abolish slavery, was so inspired by the words of the third verse that he felt compelled to translate the entire carol into English.  It was an instant hit, particularly in the North, during the Civil War.  
 
You may not be surprised to learn that this American, Rev. John Sullivan Dwight, was…you guessed it, a bit of a misfit, an outsider!   Extremely intelligent, John Dwight had attended Harvard Divinity School and then took his first call.  But after only one year, he had to resign because he suffered from what we now know as agoraphobia. After leaving the ministry, he tried living in communes associated with the Transcendentalist movement (think Henry David Thoreau and Ralph Waldo Emerson), but eventually found his calling as a writer and music critic, and the founder of an influential music journal.
 
And so, the story of “O Holy Night” is a story of outsiders, outcasts, misfits and broken people: a disabled socialist poet, a bankrupt Jewish vaudevillian, an agoraphobic abolitionist, and a ridiculed crackpot inventor playing his violin into a microphone that might—or might not—be transmitting his song to anyone. 
 
That sounds like a story that’s got God’s fingerprints all over it!
 
Outsiders, outcasts, the ridiculed.  It’s the story of Christmas, too.  Mary: the unwed pregnant teenager.  Joseph: the man facing the prospect of raising someone else’s child.  Together: part of a community oppressed by the occupying forces of the Roman empire, forced to deliver a baby in a stable and lay him in a feed trough.  Then there’s the shepherds: people not welcome in polite company—dirty and smelly, they slept outdoors, were often suspected of being thieves, their testimony wasn’t acceptable in a court of law.  What about the magi?  Strangers, foreigners from the East, who practiced a mysterious religion and had unfamiliar clothes and customs.  The oppressed, the poor, the hurting, the outsiders.  That is who comes to the manger. 
 
Even as an infant, Jesus was already turning the world upside down.  Dirty, smelly shepherds are serenaded by angels from heaven; foreigners who practice a different religion are among the first to be invited to meet the Christ child; and an unwed, pregnant teenager becomes the mother of God.  Once again, God chooses the foolish and the weak to transform the world; God stands with the poor, the outsider, the last and the least that they might be first in the kin-dom, that their souls, in the words of the carol, might feel their worth, that their weary hearts might feel the thrill of hope.
 
But God doesn’t stop there.  As the final verse of “O Holy Night” expresses so beautifully, God is clear about how we are each called to respond to that thrill of hope, to that great good news that our souls do have worth in the eyes of the Creator.  We are to love one another, to abide by God’s law of love and to preach Christ’s gospel of peace.  We are called to recognize every enslaved person as our brother, our sister, and to work to break the chains of oppression in all its many forms: poverty, hunger, addiction, racism, loneliness, greed.  When we hear the Christmas story, when we listen to the beautiful words and music of Placide Cappeau, Adolphe Adam, and John Sullivan Dwight, we should ask ourselves, “What am I doing to give others the thrill of hope?  What can I do to break the chains of oppression?  How can I show others the worth of their soul?”  There is a weary world out there in need of hope.  There are people in need of love and peace and justice.  Do we have a song to sing to them, a story to tell them of a new and glorious morn? 
 
I believe that we do.  I believe that we, like Reginald Fessenden, are meant to sing that song out into the night sky, even though we’re not sure anyone will hear it.  We sing because we have faith, trusting that someone is listening, and maybe, just maybe, because they hear us, will no longer be afraid to sail upon the deep. 
 
May it be so.
 
All of us here at the Maine Council of Churches wish you the blessings of hope, peace, love and joy this Christmas and in the New Year,
 

Rev. Jane Field, Executive Director
Maine Council of Churches
202 Woodford Street  |  Portland, ME 04103
www.mainecouncilofchurches.org

Click here to read the whole Advent Blog series. 

Advent Message 3 to Velasco Friends from Falmouth Quarter Friends, December 2023

Dear Sisters and Brothers in Velasco,

Our prayers and love to you this third week of Advent.  Tomorrow we would light the candle of Joy and remember the joy felt by the shepherds when the angels came to them with the amazing news.  One of the last poems published by Wendell Berry (a favorite poet of mine) has these lines:

“He sees the shepherds on their cold hill by night, / the sky flying suddenly open over their heads,/the light of very heaven falling upon them, / the angels descending, slowly as snow, their singing / filling far and wide the dark. “On Earth / peace, good will.” … He thinks of the distance, the hard hungry / journey of a pilgrim … /  … towards the almost forgotten / light beyond the polluted river, the blasted mountain, / the killed children, the bombed village,/ beyond and beyond is the shepherd-startling, ever staying light. .. / he sets out”.  May we, in these challenging times in Cuba and in Maine remember the shepherd’s joy and journey together towards that light.

With Love

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Queridas hermanas y hermanos de Velasco,

Nuestras oraciones y amor para ustedes en esta tercera semana de Adviento. Mañana estaremos encendiendo la vela de la Alegría y recordando el gozo que sintieron los pastores cuando los ángeles vinieron a ellos con la sorprendente noticia. Uno de los últimos poemas publicados por Wendell Berry (uno de mis poetas favoritos) tiene estas líneas:

“Ve a los pastores en su fría colina por la noche, / el cielo volando repentinamente abierto sobre sus cabezas, / la luz del mismo cielo cayendo sobre ellos, / los ángeles descendiendo, lentamente como la nieve, su canto / llenando a lo largo y ancho la oscuridad. . “En la Tierra / paz, buena voluntad”. … Piensa en la distancia, el duro y hambriento / viaje de un peregrino… / … hacia la casi olvidada / luz más allá del río contaminado, la montaña devastada, / los niños asesinados, la aldea bombardeada,/ más allá y más allá está el pastor- sorprendente, siempre luz. .. / se pone en marcha”. Que nosotros, en estos tiempos difíciles en Cuba y Maine, recordemos la alegría del pastor y caminemos juntos hacia esa luz.

Con amor

“Returning to the Land” Webinars from Toward Right Relationship

Featured

UPDATE: Peace and Social Concerns is asking that Friends meet at the Meetinghouse to view these webinars together (and to do the readings suggested beforehand). .

The Peace & Social Concerns Committee at Durham Friends Meeting Invite you to a Webinar Series, January-February 2024:

“Returning to the Land” by Nia To Go There (Cree) 

Nia To Go There, PhD will offer a series of four webinars that are co-sponsored by Toward Right Relationship with Native Peoples and Decolonizing Quakers (both national Quaker organizations). Nia will recommend short readings for each program. 

January 13, 3:30-5 pm: “Returning to the Land: Cultural Perspectives.” Readings for this first session are AT THIS LINK.

January 27, 3:30-5 pm: “Returning to the Land: Seeing with a Native Eye.” Readings for this second session are AT THIS LINK.

February 10, 3:30-5 pm: “Returning to the Land: Colonization.” Readings for this third session are AT THIS LINK.

February 24, 3:30-5 pm: “Returning to the Land: Decolonization.”

Durham Friends look forward to some collective thinking about how we bring the important messages from these sessions home to Maine.

We hope to see you for all or some of these sessions at our Meetinghouse, 532 Quaker Meetinghouse Rd, Durham ME 04222.

Please contact Ingrid Chalufour at ichalufour@gmail.com with questions or to ask to have recommended readings forwarded to you.

Agenda and Materials for Durham Friends Business Meeting, December 17, 2023

The Reports and other materials for this Meeting for worship for business can be found here.

Proposed Agenda for Monthly Meeting, 12/17/24

Opening Worship

Approval of November 2023 Minutes

Finance Committee Report and Requests

  Second Reading of the Budget

Ministry and Counsel Report

Trustees Report

Nominating Committee Report

New Business

   Approval of Positions in lieu of Officers

   Meeting Care Coordinator

Closing Worship

Advent Message 2 to Velasco Friends from Falmouth Quarter Friends, December 2023

Dear Sisters and Brothers in Velasco,

Tomorrow we will light the second candle of Advent – the Candle of Peace.  In Maine this is a season of darkness and cold.  We will have only 9 hours of sunlight today; there is a little snow on the ground.  I imagine Joseph and Mary travelling to Bethlehem through the dark. Today on that road they would be travelling through a war zone. Peace seems to be more of a dream then a promise.  And I am reminded that God often speaks to us through our dreams. May we know that we are all travelling on that long road in the same direction with peace in our hearts with the certainty that Spirit is with us and the kingdom is before us.

With Love

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Queridas hermanas y hermanos de Velasco,

Mañana encenderemos la segunda vela de Adviento: la Vela de la Paz. En Maine ésta es una estación de oscuridad y frío. Hoy tendremos sólo 9 horas de luz solar; hay un poco de nieve en el suelo. Me imagino a José y María viajando a Belén en la oscuridad. Hoy por ese camino estarían transitando por una zona de guerra. La paz parece ser más un sueño que una promesa. Y recuerdo que Dios a menudo nos habla a través de nuestros sueños. Que sepamos que todos estamos recorriendo ese largo camino en la misma dirección con paz en el corazón desde la certeza de que el Espíritu está con nosotros y el reino delante de nosotros.

Con Amor

“What I Bring to the Spiritual Potluck,” by Diana White

Message given at Durham Friends Meeting, December 10, 2023

Good morning, Friends,

This is Diana White in the Meeting House. I have not yet met all of you. I am in the process of transferring my membership from Portland Friends Meeting. In my request for transfer, I said that I feel that the semi-programmed worship here speaks to my condition. My sense is that in a silent Meeting there is not the opportunity for sharing, education, and spiritual development in the same way that is possible in this setting. I am excited about becoming a member of this Meeting.

Robert Lawrence Smith, head at Sidwell Friends for many years, said that a Quaker Meeting is “…something akin to a spiritual potluck. Each person [brings] something personal, simple, and sacred to the table in the belief that out of the silence, the voice of truth might be heard.”

Today I will tell you something of what I bring to this spiritual potluck, the Durham Monthly Meeting of Friends.

I first attended Quaker Meeting as a teenager, in Princeton, New Jersey. I was a well-churched child, baptized twice after the Methodists found the Dutch Reformed baptism an insufficient guarantee of my membership in the Kingdom of Heaven. I have many years of Sunday School pins, acquired into my teens. I was also a Pioneer Girl, a sort of fundamentalist Girl Scout. I earned badges for such skills as being able to recite all the books of the Bible.

I was brought up in a union family. My father served in the Pacific theater in World War II. He was a civil rights activist and a champion of democracy. I was raised as an activist and a patriot. Four members of my family, my grandmother, my father, my sister and I, all ran for public office. We are proud losers, zero for seven. My father’s death when I was a teenager left an indelible mark on me about the importance of living one’s life in the moment, because there may not be that many moments. I became a nurse and union activist, then a lobbyist and organizer.

I started attending Quaker Meeting regularly in Farmington in 1990. I spent 25 years active in my monthly meeting, Vassalboro Quarter, and New England Yearly Meeting. I was the first woman to serve as Yearly Meeting Treasurer. I was clerk of Friends Committee on Maine Public Policy after Ed Snyder stepped down. I found Quaker thought and practice consistent with my sense of justice and activism…. “Let your life speak.”

When my son started college, I felt restless. I was teaching at the University of Maine at Fort Kent. I loved my life in northern Maine but felt led to make a contribution to social justice. That sense slowly became a leading to go South, to work for change around issues of racism. I met a professor from Tuskegee University at a conference and then was recruited to teach there.

One of the books that deeply affected me was Booker T. Washington’s autobiography, Up from Slavery, which I first read in elementary school. I have returned to it several times in the last 50 years. Washington was a freed slave who founded Tuskegee Institute to educate other freed slaves. Tuskegee University is a Historically Black University, what is known as an HBCU. It is now one of the Black Ivies. When I first visited there, I felt that I was standing on Holy Ground.

In August 2011, I went to Yearly Meeting in Vermont, and then drove south. I stopped to see my brother in New Jersey. He asked me if I knew the difference between a Yankee and a Damn Yankee. I did not. He explained that a Yankee visits the South, but a Damn Yankee stays. I stopped at my father’s grave to tell him where I was headed. Two days later, I arrived in Montgomery, Alabama, and started at Tuskegee the next day.

I left Maine, with one of the lowest rates of church attendance in the country, to go to

Alabama, which has one of the highest rates of attendance. There is always a whole lot of public praying going on. We always said grace at meals and prayed for success for the football teams. My students prayed before exams… not just prayed… one of the students would spend several minutes in fervent exhortation for their success.

At the end of my first week at Tuskegee, I was asked where I planned to go to church. I said I did not know. I was living and working almost exclusively with African Americans. That Sunday morning, I decided that I needed to find me some white people. So, at the most segregated hour in America, 10 am on Sunday, I attended the Unitarian Universalist Fellowship. A week later one of the regulars called me a Damn Yankee.

I was frequently asked by my co-workers about my religion. I said I was a Quaker and then I was asked what Quakers believe. I used a phrase I learned from Brian Drayton, a New Hampshire Quaker. I said that Quakers believe that the Kingdom is already here and we live in the Kingdom. Anyone who asked found that an acceptable answer although I don’t think that was understood in the way that I meant it.

It was easy to live the testimonies in Alabama. I settled in and learned a great deal. My overall contribution may have been that I demonstrated that there are white people who understand the problems and are supportive of change. More than once I was told, “You understand. You can talk to white people. They don’t listen to us.”

My work in Alabama extended beyond my involvement with Tuskegee University and the Tuskegee community. The US Air Force graduate school is in Montgomery, educating officers advancing to higher ranks. Every year, there are also several hundred foreign officers who are educated with US officers to support collaboration around the world. I started working with the program for foreign officers from Botswana, Tanzania, Rwanda, Kenya, Uganda, Burkina Faso, and Zambia. I did not know how to square that with the peace testimony.  As I got more involved, my dilemma worsened. I talked with a Quaker I knew in Montgomery, a war tax resister and activist. We decided that I was speaking truth to power, in the “belly of the beast,” as it were. I was demonstrating that there is a different way to be an American patriot. I did my best work undermining the Air Force doctrine of air power, supplementing for African officers a different approach, an African framework.

One of the Ugandan officers was a helicopter pilot and an attorney. The Ugandans have long fought the Lord’s Resistance Army, a Christian rebel group which sent armed child soldiers into action against Ugandan troops. He asked me to help him with the literature review for a paper he was writing, evaluating the ethical issues when faced with an armed child shooting to kill. I was witness to his distress, and by proxy, to the suffering faced by those who live in very difficult and complex situations around the world. 

I sometimes worked with a defense attorney who had a well-honed sense of justice, with righteous indignation about the injustices of the criminal justice system. I was an expert witness in federal court in a high-profile prisoner abuse case. My testimony gave the judge a rationale to reduce the mandatory minimum sentence of 20 years to four years.

I also went to an execution at the lawyer’s request, to evaluate the efficacy of the drug cocktail used to terminate the prisoner’s life. When I arrived at the maximum security prison, I was met in the parking lot by officers who greeted me, “Are you the witness?” I answered, “I am the witness.”  I was strip searched and then taken to the viewing room of the execution chamber.

Both the Southern Poverty Law Center and the Equal Justice Initiative are based in Montgomery. The Civil Rights Memorial Center is fronted by a Maya Lin sculpture. The sculpture includes the verse from Amos frequently cited by Martin Luther King, “until justice rolls down like waters and righteousness like a mighty stream.” 

I returned from Alabama in 2019. I was very ill and spent 2020 so sick that my son returned home to take care of me. My daughter was deployed for much of 2020 and 2021, as a nurse supporting COVID care. I have been recovering slowly and learning to walk again. For three years, I have been asking myself, “What am I to do with the time I have been given?” It is still a question that I ask myself every day.

Ten years ago, I met another Damn Yankee, a career Air Force attorney from New Hampshire who was living in Montgomery. He wanted to write a book and needed help. We published Heartlessness of Dixie in 2016, documenting the conditions in Alabama which support racism. Things have not changed much since then.

I was the witness. I was there, in Alabama, to witness. Change occurs in our society when many people work to make that happen. It is important that we witness, name the injustices we see, and stand with those who are burdened by injustice. We witness and we show respect, over and over and over again. Until justice rolls down like waters and righteousness like a mighty stream.

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

From the Portland Press Herald:

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

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

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

Whole article here.

A few members of Durham Friends Meeting participated.

Other coverage:

Meetinghouse Use Guidelines, 2024

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

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

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

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

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

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

COMMITTEE AND OTHER MEETINGS

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

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

Kitsie Hildebrandt, 1952-2023

Posted here with permission of her family

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Kitsie will be missed beyond words. 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Love, Drew

Drew Chasse, she/they
Interim Young Friends Coordinator
978-382-1850
drew@neym.org

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

From Falmouth Quarter NEYM to Velasco Friends, Cuba Yerarly Meeting

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

Dear Sisters and Brothers in Velasco,

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

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

In Love

——————————————————————————————————————–

Queridas hermanas y hermanos de Velasco

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

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

En Amor

Durham Monthly Meeting Minutes, November 19, 2023

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

1.     Meeting Opening

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

2.     Review Agenda

        There were no changes to the agenda

3.     Approval of Minutes of October 2023 — Ellen Bennett

               The October minutes were approved.

4.     Finance Committee — Nancy Marstaller

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

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

               Meeting accepted the third quarter budget report.

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

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

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

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

5.     Peace and Social Concerns — Ingrid Chalufour

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

               Meeting approved the contribution.

6.     Nominating Committee — Linda Muller                                                                           

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

               Meeting approved the recommendation.

        Wendy Schlotterbeck is recommended to serve on nominating committee.

               Meeting approved.

7.     Ministry and Counsel — Tess Hartford and Renee Cote

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

8.     Trustees Report — Sarah Sprogell

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

9.     New Business

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

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

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

10.   Closing

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

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

Respectfully submitted, Ellen Bennett, Recording Clerk

Attachments

Woman’s Society Minutes, November 20, 2023

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

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

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

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

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

A LITANY FOR THANKSGIVING

For the blessings from Thy hand

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

For Thy gifts of rain and snow,

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

For the golden wheat in sheaves,

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

For the purple grapes hung low,

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

— Nancy Marstaller, secretary pro tem