“Choosing Love in a Season of Fear”: New England Quakers Respond to the Paris Attacks

Quaker youth leaders worship in song / Image by Noah Baker Merrill

Nov 16, 2015

The recent violence in Paris again shakes us awake to the horror and chaos that is the routine reality for people across the Middle East, and in so many corners of our world. Growing millions seek safe haven from escalating suffering caused by war, injustice and climate change. We know God loves each of us, even when we are terrified, even when we hate. We know God loves us always, even when we struggle to love each other.

Our hearts are breaking for the peoples of Syria & Iraq; the peoples of Lebanon, Turkey, and France. We mourn the loss of life and livelihood, the shattered hopes of peoples and nations, the brokenness of relationships. We yearn for a world where all people are recognized as beloved children of God.

The Quaker faith communities in the six New England states share in this season of fear, confusion, anger and grief for our world. In our own country, the unrelenting litany of killings of African Americans and our nation’s entanglement with the sins of racism present a convicting challenge to our consciences. Our hearts are also with those struggling for justice and recognition in our own country; our prayers are with all who suffer and are in fear. We grieve that even in our own faith communities we often struggle to speak and work with integrity toward racial justice and healing.

We have no easy answers. New England Quakers recognize that we share in the privilege, separation and inaction that are the potent seeds and sustenance of racism, violence and hatred in our world. Too often we are afraid to do the necessary healing work to confront the prejudice and privilege that corrupts our country. We must renew our commitment to love and to share the Light of God’s Love. We find meaning in the season of Advent, a time when Christians await the birth of new Life in a suffering world. As darkness in our region deepens and the nights grow long and cold, Advent calls us to trust and participate anew in the coming of the Light.

Facing the horrors of war, racism and hatred, the One who is Love calls us to love. A naive hope falls lifeless in the shallow soil of fear, anger and chaos; but we can help each other unearth a different kind of hope – a deep and living hope beyond despair. We can choose to live in the recognition that the wholeness and peace God dreams for our world is already present with us, and is still on its way. Moment by moment, concrete acts done with patience set us free to live in courageous love. As we choose this path, we help release each other from the captivity of hopelessness and fear. This is how the Light is born anew among us; this is how Love triumphs.

In this way, we can be God’s hands in our world.

In this season:

  • We encourage each other and all of our neighbors – especially our fellow Christians and people of faith – to act with simple courage to welcome and accompany immigrants, refugees and the most vulnerable in whatever ways are available to us.
  • We commit ourselves and call on others – especially religious leaders – to counter racist, anti-immigrant and Islamophobic speech, policies and acts with words and deeds that strengthen relationship, understanding and partnership in our communities. When we encounter fear and anxiety in our workplaces, our homes and our schools – with every person we meet – each of us can choose to respond with that love that casts out fear.
  • We commit ourselves and encourage others to sustained and increasing advocacy to oppose further violence and military action by our own country in the name of security, and to pursue effective peaceful means to bring an end to suffering and to address injustice. The current chaos and deepening tragedy across the Middle East arises from the undeniable failure of war and violence to bring lasting peace. We encourage Quakers and others to support the work of the Friends Committee on National Legislation (fcnl.org(link is external)) and the American Friends Service Committee (afsc.org(link is external)) toward creating shared security.
  • We urge our federal, state and local governments as well as humanitarian aid organizations to significantly increase efforts to aid and accompany refugees and immigrants in our communities, and to offer sanctuary to those fleeing war and chaos. We have a responsibility to support those with such desperate needs at this time, even as many public voices call for increasing isolation and distrust in the name of security, building walls and acting out of fear.
  • We call on public officials and candidates for public office – especially all candidates for the office of President of the United States – to search their hearts and consciences for ways their voices can bring people of diverse faiths and backgrounds together, rather than dividing and isolating communities from one another. When we sow the wind with fear, we reap the whirlwind of insecurity, suffering and chaos. Our world needs a harvest of hope.

In this season, may we remember that the choices we make between love and fear truly matter.

Fritz Weiss, Presiding Clerk
Noah Baker Merrill, Yearly Meeting Secretary

New England Yearly Meeting of Friends (Quakers)

Called Meeting; Racism in Our Culture

View From Putney Mtn Top, Copyright 2015 Roger Vincent Jasaitis, RVJart.com

At our October Meeting for Business Putney Friends Meeting agreed to the following:

PFM will host a called Meeting on a date to be determined by the

Clerk and Social Justice and Peace committee before the next Meeting

for business of 11/15/15 to consider how the Meeting can support in

unity the planting of a “Black Lives Matter” sign in front of the

Meeting house and how PFM wants to proceed in addressing the issue

of racism in our culture

Here are queries from the NEYM Committee on Racial, Social & Economic Justice:

  • How has the issue of white privilege touched your life? 

  • What are the spiritual consequences and brokenness related to living in a world that hasn’t achieved perfection in these justice concerns?

  • What does that still small voice say to inform us of our responsibilities in this regard?

  • How does your Meeting bear witness to this work?

This is now scheduled for Dec. 3 (a Thursday) at 6:30.

In preparation Friends are asked to consider the NEYM Query:

Minute on Racism
New England Yearly Meeting of the Religious Society of Friends affirms its commitment to
becoming an open, affirming, anti-racist Religious Society. Our understanding of racism is that
it is a system that accords advantage or disadvantage based on racial identity. Racism is
fundamentally inconsistent with the divine guidance that has led our Religious Society to
testimonies such as Equality, Peace and Community. We seek divine assistance and the help of
other friends of Truth to examine our individual and corporate complicity in racism. We aspire
to a more perfect union with the Author of all, who shows no partiality in the diversity of
Those of us who have grown up with a white identity in America have a particular challenge in
that we have been conditioned not to notice the system of racism and white privilege. Our well intentioned
attempts at color-blindness can have the unfortunate result of blinding us to the
system of racism in which we unwittingly participate. Let us remember Jesus’ admonition to
remove the log from our own eye before seeking to remove a speck from our brother’s or sister’s
eye. We all pray for clarity of vision so that in the words of George Fox, we may “be patterns,
be examples in all countries, places, islands, nations wherever you come; that your carriage
and life may preach among all sorts of people, and to them; then you will come to walk
cheerfully over the world, answering that of God in everyone; whereby in them you may be a
blessing, and make the witness of God in them bless you.”
Approved at New England Yearly Meeting Sessions 2003


Visit the Black Lives Matter Site:


Here is an Article entitled: Please stop telling me that all lives matter

Article: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/julia-craven/please-stop-telling-me-th_b_6223072.html

Response – Ability

Oh Shenandoah! Photo by Sheila Garrett

Sheila Garrett deconstructed the word responsiblity as part of her following note. Have you ever thought of this word in this way? It opens up possibilities for action in ways that you may not have thought of… both as individuals and as Faith groups.
Sheila is walking from Vermont to Georgia. You can follow her diary on PutneyFriendsMeeting.org; Sheila’s walk to Georgia.
Part of what I struggle with in understanding and explaining my ministry is the universality and inclusivity of it.  One thing became clear in the past few days.  The Doctrine of Discovery, the Papal edicts of the 1400s justifying the subjugation and annihilation of indigenous peoples, was the EXACT same system, the same definition of Christianity that justified/called for slavery of African people.  John Woolman’s writings make that very clear. The exploitation of natural resources and of other species is also justified the same way.  It really is all connected.
When people ask ‘why are you walking?’ I say ‘I’m walking with a concern for the earth and all it’s beings, including you.’  In saying that, I intend to honor John Woolman’s approach.  Woolman was very intentional in making all those connections, perhaps especially the inclusive aspect of concern for the slaveholder as well as the slave.  I think when I can, I need to be able to articulate clearly and concisely what I mean by this. It is what Woolman and others say about ‘taking away the occasion for war.’ It is that BLACK LIVES MATTER as much as any lives matter, more than others right now, because the movement (Black Lives Matter) needs support and because they have been so intentionally and consistently disregarded. This is not to say that other lives don’t matter, too. When I met with the working party on Racism at Stony Brook in Baltimore, people were saying they thought the message should be BLACK LIVES MATTER, TOO.  I think it’s good to hold the line on BLACK LIVES MATTER as a definitive statement of the need for redress. It means for me that no matter how simply I live I will always be privileged and with that privilege comes responsibility, the ABILITY to respond effectively to injustice.  I carry that response ability and I need to use it as best I can.  I need to find ways to effectively express it and live into it so it can resonate with each person I meet.  For me prayer and direct connection to the divine are completely entwined with this.  I cannot do this alone. For some, it is obvious and easy to discuss. For others, ‘God talk’ shuts them down immediately.  Same with talk of social justice. And there are levels that work and don’t work for each of us. I pray for the ability to be sensitive to each person’s needs.  I try to meet each person where she/he is and engage meaningfully to whatever extent possible.
Blessings, Sheila
To read more about Sheila go to Fellowship of Reconciliation 

With Courageous and Responsible Efforts

27 September 2015
In his address to the U.S. Congress and to our nation, Pope Francis invited us to pray for him, and to pray together.
On behalf of the Quaker faith communities in the six New England states, we offer our prayers for the healing of the world. We join our voice with all who strive to meet our sacred obligations to the planet we share.
Francis reminds us that all creatures are connected, that each must be cherished with love and respect. We are dependent on one another. It is through our relationships with each living being that we make real our love for God and for Creation. Francis challenges us to accept the urgency of the crisis created by human-caused climate disruption, recognizing it as a central challenge of our time. This work cannot be left to the future. Responding to the climate crisis requires of us a serious and clear-eyed recognition of the severity of our impact on the planet and the devastating effects already being experienced, especially by the most vulnerable. Our actions today determine the world our children will inherit. We welcome Francis’ message and his conviction that acting together we can still make a difference.
It is the testimony of Quakers that we are divinely required to respond with courageous and responsible efforts to avert the most serious effects of environmental deterioration caused by human activity. At our best, we seek the deep healing of the world.  As a faith community, Francis’ words confront us with the question, “Are we prepared to bear the burden of this truth?”
We know there is a place for us in this work. We are called to act in hope, with persistence, courage and charity.
We witness Francis’ visit with gratitude for his faithful engagement with the people of the United States, both as a nation and personally. We pray that all people will hear and heed the important challenge this servant of God has brought to our country. We call on faith communities and people of faith to take up this burden as together we find the way forward.
Fritz Weiss, Presiding Clerk
Noah Baker Merrill, Yearly Meeting Secretary
New England Yearly Meeting of the Religious Society of Friends (Quakers)

NEYM Sessions 2015 Talking Points

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Image by Kristina Keefe-Perry


More than 600 Friends attended NEYM Sessions. 58 of those were first-time attenders, and 120 of them were youth. Together we came to unity on:

Legacy Gift Committee:   The New England Yearly Meeting Future Fund and the NEYM Released Ministry Fund are now named and established. Application guidelines will soon be posted online. The first application deadline will be December 1, 2015 with disbursements to begin in February 2016.

Public Statements:  Hearing a hunger for Quaker public witness, Sessions approved a mechanism for the Yearly Meeting Clerk and Secretary to issue statements and take actions that align with Friends testimony and minutes. Monthly and Quarterly Meetings will be notified when any such statements are made, and meetings are encouraged to develop their own means to speak in a timely way.

Long-Term Financial Planning Committee:Sessions approved the core organizational purpose and priorities recommended by the Committee. The Committee begins its implementation phase.  See “We Need a Plan” for detailed information and for important background. LTFPC will now begin its implementation phase.

Archives:  Sessions approved moving the NEYM archives to a permanent home at the W.E.B. Dubois Library at the University of Massachusetts, Amherst.

Structural Review Committee:  The Committee recommended increasing support for local meetings, providing more opportunities for Friends to gather and connect for worship and fellowship, and streamlining and making more accessible our committee structure and work. Permanent Board will carry forward this work.

Student Loan Committee:   After careful discernment, the committee has been laid down, its work now done. A sub-committee of Permanent Board will distribute remaining funds as grants.

Budget:   Sessions approved the fiscal year 2016 budget, projecting a reduced deficit over last year

Friends Camp:  Director Nat Shed reports that this summer’s campers were the most racially integrated in Friends Camp history.

Images of Covenant Community, a large- format picture display, is available to lend to monthly meetings. Contact Beth Collea, recoord@neym.org(link sends e-mail).

Details/recordings/minutes will be posted at neym.org/sessions

Last Call For Pendle Hill’s Next Radical Faithfulness Program

Are you or someone you know spiritually called to help heal and repair the world? If so, check out Pendle Hill’s five-month long, online/on-campus program Answering the Call to Radical Faithfulness, which focuses on deepening our skills in spiritual practice, grassroots organizing, and nonviolent action. This innovative new interfaith program includes four training residencies at Pendle Hill Hill, weekly readings and online learning activities, and fieldwork projects in each participant’s community. The program runs from October through February.

For More Information

Visit our website at www.pendlehill.org/learn/radicalfaithfulness or contact PFM meeting member Steve Chase, who is the program director, at schase@pendlehill.org or 610-566-4507,x 123. Some scholarship funds are still available.

Radical Faithfulness Program Participant Testimonial

“As a woman from the Deep South and an Episcopal priest, I have spent much of my professional life addressing issues of justice. However, after the non-indictment of those who killed Eric Garner, it was like a light switch went off deep inside of me. I had to act. I have done lots of leadership and mediation training work, but none focused on justice-based groups. I recognized the need for resources to help me know how to keep investing in the work that I so passionately cared about for the long run and connect the dots more intentionally between my faith and my activism. What I have discovered in the Radical Faithfulness program is a community that will be part of my life forever. Pendle Hill feels to me like stepping through the veil into one of this world’s thin places. The faculty is simply outstanding, giving space, calling forth new insights, drawing things out of me I did not know were there. The community of learners is richly diverse. In our meetings, we crossed over from polite early relationships to deeply demanding, powerfully real engagement. I can’t wait to see what will unfold next.”

Steve Chase
Director of Education
Pendle Hill
338 Plush Mill Road
Wallingford, PA 19086-6023
(610) 566-4507, ext. 123

World Quaker Day, El Día Mundial de los Cuáqueros, La Journée Mondiale Quaker

4 Oct. 2015

Friends World Committee for Consultation…

. . . invites every Quaker meeting and church from around the world to celebrate WORLD QUAKER DAY (WQD) on October 4, 2015. As the sun rises in each area of the world, we want to remember that Quakers are worshiping through every time zone, celebrating our deep connections across cultures and Quaker traditions. We are united in love and can accompany each other on this special day that draws us together. As we worship, let us hold each other in prayer and thanksgiving, and let our hymns of praise resound across the world.

The theme of the Plenary is Living the transformation: Creation waits with eager longing for the revealing of the children of God (Romans 8:19). More information can be found on the World Office website.

A FINAL SERVICE Preparation for Death, On Living and Dying

Photo by Roger Vincent Jasaitis, RVJart.com, Copyright 2004


Preparation for Death

On Living and Dying, Putney Friends Meeting

Putney Friends Meeting created this pamphlet in 2010 to assist members in their preparation for death in the manner of Friends. Since that time many requests have been made to make this useful tool available to a wider audience. Here is a link to a PDF file of this pamphlet. Click on the Following link to open a new window displaying the text.

PFM A Final Service

This link will now be available at any time in the right hand column under Books & Pamphlets.



Saturday Sept 26  9 to 5  &

 Sunday Sept 27 9:30 to 10:20

 Theme:  Exploring our Gifts

 Place:   Meetinghouse

Come to whatever parts appeal to you. Childcare provided 10-12:30 and 1:30-4:00

Saturday, September 26 

9 a.m.  Muffins, tea, coffee, and OJ

9:30     All ages celebration of our new Peace Pole  – outside parking lot

with Francie Marbury and Brent Seabrook

10 a.m.  Exploring Our Gifts

All ages presentation by Laurie Rizzo Medved  using Godly Play

materials and an opportunity to draw/collage/write afterwards and sharing

our responses with all ages. Bring your own journal  if you  have one.

Writing and art supplies provided.

11:15     Choose one of these two activities

  •    Worship Sharing in the Meeting Room – getting to know better some

of the folks you worship with – led by Elisabeth Dearborn


  •     Making pizza for lunch with Gail Haines and Ann Coakley

12:30     Lunch starting with gathering songs led by Julie Forsythe

1:30     Clean Up

2:00     Choose one of these two activities

  •      Deep Relaxation with John Calvi in the meetingroom. Bring your

own yoga mat if you have one, blanket, pillow as needed


  •      Hiking to Putney Mountain led by  ???

4:00    Lemonade and Cookies

4:30- 5:00  Intergenerational Games led by Richard Brady and Gail Haines.

Get to know your community of Friends in new ways!

5:00    Closing Song(s)  led by Francie Marbury

Sunday, September 27 

9:30 to 10:20  Noah Merrill will be offering some reflections on exploring

our gifts.  All are welcome!  Let us know if you need childcare because

you plan to attend this.


Be in touch with Gail Haines or Elisabeth Dearborn with questions

Bring your Rise Up Singing book if you have one. 

Note: Childcare is  available  Saturday 10-12:30 and 1:30-4:00

NH Coalition to Abolish the Death Penalty Annual Gathering

Good morning Northwest Quarter folks,unnamed-2
Some of you may be interested in attending this event.  You may recall that Northwest Quarter is a member of the NH Coalition to Abolish the Death Penalty as is the New England Yearly Meeting.  The Yearly Meeting joined the Coalition after a request was brought to session jointly by Northwest and Dover Quarters a few years ago.
Also please remember to register for Quarter if you know you are planning to attend and please consider attending if you have not yet decided.
Connie Kincaid-Brown,
Outgoing Presiding clerk, Northwest Quarter