Faith Beyond Walls

Margaret Fell, mother of the Quaker Movement, welcomes traveling ministers to Friends’ headquarters at Swarthmoor Hall. Created by First Day School of Middlebury (VT) Friends Meeting. 

Dear Friends,

As we send this February newsletter, I’m reflecting on hospitality.

This past month, as some in power have called for walls and bans—and many more have raised voices and hands to oppose them—our faith’s commitment to welcoming the sacred through welcoming the stranger feels more important than ever. In my home meeting in Putney, Vermont Friends often recall the deep commitment of our departed Friend Hattie Reeves-Forsythe: hospitality is the basis of spirituality.

Participating in the women’s marches, supporting Islamic prayers in Copley Square in Boston, reaching out to refugees locally and participating in demonstrations at airports across our region, our wider community of faith has been living this truth, affirming life-giving relationship in the face of fear and all that would divide us as Children of Earth.

When we affirm relationships with our neighbors, our ways of seeing and acting change. We come to feel the harm done to even those who might seem far removed from us affecting us more profoundly as well. We come to see a little more clearly the ways we are all connected—not just in principle, but in the particularity of practice. The reality of the divine Life present in each one ministers to us, and is transmitted through us. Many of us know from experience how this can lead us to act for justice and healing in courageous and concrete ways, and sustain us for the path ahead.

This month’s issue of the email newsletter makes visible some of the ways the Spirit is leading Friends to share this core truth.

In November, I was blessed to join a group of six New England Friends who were welcomed as guests at the water protector camps on the Missouri River in North Dakota. Standing at the sacred fire; carrying a banner, minutes and letters from New England; we spoke about how paying attention to the faithful witness of one community can stir the conscience and the hearts of another. I believe the spiritual power expressed by the Native communities leading the nonviolent resistance at Standing Rock and beyond offers to teach us as Quakers something profound about aligning our lives with the imperatives of justice and wholeness at this time in history.

In these tumultuous days, may we continue to turn toward our neighbors, toward one another, and so toward God. May our faith be renewed through radical acts of spiritual hospitality. May we challenge one another daily to open our hearts, our meeting communities, and our lives to embrace a wider welcome for all, even as we are welcomed home by the Spirit against which walls and bans will never ultimately stand. May we stay humble, love fiercely, and keep our hearts teachable.

Please keep sharing your news of how Truth prospers among us.

In faith and service,


Noah Merrill
Secretary
New England Yearly Meeting of Friends

P.S.: Speaking of Friends serving Love through opening ourselves to deeper relationship, here’s a late-breaking report from one traveling Friend on last weekend’s Vassalboro Quarterly Meeting in Maine.

In This Issue

Faith Communities Oppose the Muslim Ban

Faith leaders from across Massachusetts gathering in opposition to the Muslim Ban (photo: Kathleen Wooten)
On behalf of Friends in New England, our Presiding Clerk and Secretary have joined with leaders of sixteen other denominations in Massachusetts to sign this letter opposing President Trump’s January 27, 2017, Executive Order “Protecting the Nation from Foreign Terrorist Entry into the United States.”
Read the letter from the Massachusetts Council of Churches
The Maine Council of Churches, in which New England Quakers hold membership, has also issued a statement condemning the Executive Order on immigration.

Read the letter from the Maine Council of Churches
Reflecting our wider global Quaker family’s engagement, here’s a statement opposing racism and injustice from British Friends’ equivalent of our NEYM Permanent Board.

New England Friends at the Women’s Marches

On January 21, 2017, Friends from throughout New England traveled to Washington, DC, and gathered across our region to participate in demonstrations supporting the rights and voices of women.
Read reflections from Friends who participated in the events

“Say the Wrong Thing” at Woolman Hill

Maureen Lopes of New Haven (CT) Friends participated in a January Woolman Hill workshop led by author, performer and educator Amanda Kemp of Lancaster (PA) Friends, and writes this reflection:

“We built a level of trust that allowed us to go deep into roots of feelings and fears around interactions between people of different ideas and beliefs around racial justice. We used readings from Amanda’s new book, Say the Wrong Thing: Stories and Strategies for Racial Justice and Authentic Community.”

Read the rest of Maureen’s reflection from the workshop

Order the book

Report & Resources from
Quaker Organizing and Preparation Day

In January, responding to a call from two Friends from Beacon Hill (MA) Meeting, a group of Friends and allies gathered to share stories and experience and to explore ways we might support our meetings in work and witness in these times.
Coming out of this gathering, they shared with us some resources developed by participants for local meetings. We’ve posted an initial collection of these materials on neym.org. If you are aware of other resources you think might be helpful to Friends, please email office@neym.org to let us know.
Read a Report from the Day
View Resources

A Friend’s Message:
The shadow, the substance and the lamb

Recently Susan Davies of Vassalboro (ME) Friends Meeting, which is unprogrammed, was invited to bring a message at Durham (ME) Friends, where worship is semi-programmed.

At the request of several Friends, we share an excerpt of the message she offered here:

“I find it’s hard to escape a creeping feeling of despair in this fall’s climate of political polarization where one group of people assembles their observations, compares notes, formulates their opinions and comes to one conclusion about what it all means, and another group does the same thing and comes to an opposite conclusion. I try to imagine that each group is acting out of some underlying positive intent. But I often fail.”

Read the rest of Susan’s message here

Friends Camp Seeks Resident Fellows

Friends Camp recently received a Legacy Grant to support four Resident Fellows visiting Friends Camp in the summer of 2017.

Each Fellow will live at camp for two weeks and share their special interests or talents with the community. Residents could be but are not limited to Quaker artists, climate activists, or musicians!

Stipend and travel funds provided.

Click here to download the job description.

Do you know someone who would be a good fit? Are YOU a great fit?

Email Anna Hopkins at director@friendscamp.org for more information.

New UMass Exhibit Features
Friends Archives

From a recent press release from the University of Massachusetts, Amherst:

“The UMass Amherst Libraries are hosting an exhibit “All That Dwell in the Light: 350 Years of Quakers in New England,” from January 23 through August 18, 2017, in the W.E.B. Du Bois Library, both on the Lower Level and in Special Collections and University Archives (SCUA), on Floor 25.

The exhibit will examine the history of Quakers and Quakerism in New England drawing upon the extraordinary records of the New England Yearly Meeting of the Society of Friends (NEYM).”

Read more about the exhibit

New Spiritual Nurture Program
Welcoming New England Friends

A collaboration between Woolman Hill Retreat Center,
New England Yearly Meeting of Friends and core teacher Marcelle Martin

Nurturing Worship, Faith, and Faithfulness (NWFF) is a multi-generational faith and leadership program to help Friends in New England explore ways to meet God more deeply, hone methods of discernment, reach for fuller faithfulness, and ultimately bring these gifts and strengthened abilities home to their local meetings and beyond. The program is structured to set in place support, encouragement, and accountability.The class members will become a “community of practice” in order to support each other, providing and receiving spiritual nurture to and from local meetings in lasting ways.

Image: Core teacher Marcelle Martin, Chestnut Hill (PA) Meeting
Learn More about the Program

Update: Spring Living Faith Gathering 

The April 8th Living Faith Gathering will focus on how Friends are living—and might more fully live—our faith in the world, helping us to make more real the Beloved Community to which all are invited. Through worship, workshops, small groups and more, we will increase our capacity for fostering relationships of healing and justice.

The daylong gathering will include:

  • Multigenerational community-building and get-to-know-you activities
  • Programmed and unprogrammed worship
  • Singing
  • Experiential workshops on spirituality & activism
  • Youth programming and child care
  • Fellowship and great food

We are planning workshops on topics such as:

  • War tax resistance
  • Avoiding burnout
  • Supporting the Quaker Initiative to End Torture
  • Faith & work
  • Immigrant justice
  • Visioning new strategies for Peace & Social Concerns committees
  • and more!

Online registration will open in early March.

Questions? Email the planning team at livingfaith@neym.org

Updates on Yearly Meeting Commitments

  • Last week the Treasurer, Accounts Manager and Secretary completed the steps necessary for New England Yearly Meeting of Friends to fully divest from TD Bank, which is a major funder of the controversial Dakota Access Pipeline that threatens life and indigenous sovereignty in North Dakota. This reflects continuing work in response to the Call for Prayer and Support for Standing Rock from November 2016.
  • Thanks to the support of Friends across our region, we’ve also met our Yearly Meeting’s minuted commitment to raise funds to support a cultural competency audit for Friends General Conference, a North American Quaker association of which our Yearly Meeting is a member. This action is another small step in our work as New England Friends to address the impact of white supremacy in our society and in our faith communities, in response to the Minute on White Supremacy approved by Annual Sessions in 2016.As directed by Sessions, the approximately $1000 surplus raised will be used under the guidance of the Permanent Board to continue this important work in our own Yearly Meeting.More news about how we—Friends across New England and the organization of the Yearly Meeting— are continuing to respond to our minuted discernment will be shared in future newsletters.

    As always, if you have questions about ongoing work of Sessions or the Permanent Board, email Presiding Clerk Fritz Weiss at clerk@neym.org or Clerk of Permanent Board Sarah Gant at pbclerk@neym.org.  

Friends in the News

rss iconHere are two stories we’ve seen this month of New England Quakers sharing and acting from their faith:

Are you aware of Friends or Friends Meetings featured in the media for their Quaker ministry and witness? Email us at neym@neym.org.

Service Opportunities

Seeking Key Position for 2016 Annual Sessions
image of hand

  • Childcare Coordinator
    • View the position description here

Interested in exploring service in this role for New England Yearly Meeting’s Annual Sessions this summer?

Contact Events Coordinator Kathleen Wooten at events@neym.org for more information.

Other Annual Sessions position postings coming soon.

View More Service Opportunities

Quaker Events

Coming Soon

Upcoming Quarterly Meetings

Save the Date

  • March 18, 2017, Winthrop, ME: “DayTreat” with Ministry & Counsel. A day of mutual support, resource-sharing and connection for those caring for the spiritual lives of their local meetings. Sponsored by Ministry & Counsel Committee of New England Yearly Meeting.

  • April 8, 2017, Providence, RI: Living Faith Gathering. Join Friends from throughout New England for a daylong event to nourish our faith, grow our communities, and strengthen our witness.

  • April 22, 2017, Cambridge MA. Earth Day. Consultation on Corporate Climate Witness for New England Yearly Meeting of Friends. For more information, read the Minutes of Annual Sessions 2016 committing to this work.

View More Events 

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