Around the Fire: Evenings of “Sacred Conversations” at Putney Friends Meeting

Friends’ practice has always been to allow space in our schedules for conversations that matter, that are about what is mostly deeply Real in our lives. One of the ways we can deepen our spiritual journeys is to share them with one another. Last fall, a group of Friends began gathering for monthly conversations we’ve come to call “Around the Fire”.

Under the care of Noah Baker Merrill – who has been released for ministry by Putney Meeting – and with support from members of his oversight committee, the conversations we’re sharing together are wide ranging, funny, tender, challenging, and nourishing.

We’re often a group of about six or so. Some come once, some every time. We meet at 6:00pm for a brief potluck meal, and then we settle around the meetinghouse fire into “sacred conversation” – an informal time with plenty of space for words to be spoken and received with care. We allow ourselves to be led by the Spirit to ask questions of one another, to share our experiences and understandings, and to encourage one another as we find Life and Love at work in our lives.

We’ve discovered how powerful and surprising it can be to hear how Spirit has been at work in each others’ lives. Some of us have been able to ask burning questions about what Quakers actually believe. We’ve shared about how we came to Friends, and why we’ve stayed. We’ve talked about what we’re doing all that time in meeting for worship, about the role of the ego in Friends’ tradition, about prayer, about our encounters with what we call God. We’ve been challenged to consider how what we say we believe translates – or sometimes doesn’t – into how we act in our daily lives. We’ve found echoes of today’s challenges in the lives of Quakers long dead. With many different words to describe our understanding of the Divine, we’ve begun to see glimpses of what Quaker minister Bill Taber called “a shared vocabulary for the inward landscape”. And sometimes, we’ve been able to speak out loud for the first time what we have only known silently as Grace at work within us.

Together, we’ve been quietly reminded that meeting for worship doesn’t have to happen only on Sunday mornings. Wherever two or three are gathered, we’ve felt, the Light can be present with us, opening us to new understandings and new richness together.

If this unfolding story speaks to you, you’re welcome, regardless of how long you’ve been attending worship with Friends. We hope you’ll consider joining us!

Around the Fire Dates and Times:
6:00pm-8:30pm at the Putney Friends Meetinghouse:

February 9 (Thursday)
March 6 (Tuesday)
April 3 (Tuesday)
May 10 (Thursday)

For more information, contact Noah at 802-451-6931, or email

What does thee say?

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