Our Common Life

Our Common Life New England Yearly Meeting of Friends (Quakers)

One of the most enlivening aspects of my work is visiting local meetings across New England, connecting with Friends and encouraging the Life of the Spirit in the Quaker Movement.

In my travels in recent years—in meetings small and large, pastoral and unprogrammed, urban and rural, with meetinghouses and without—I’ve noticed similarities that seem to underlie our diversity. Though we organize and express our common life as Friends in myriad ways, at the root of our life together are several ways of being and doing that to me seem essential.

I’ve been searching for ways to describe these qualities, and want to ask for your experience and perspective.

In our meetings, when we’re thriving, I see us:

  • worshipping together
  • learning to love one another
  • engaging and exploring Friends’ tradition and how it’s relevant today
  • supporting one another to live our faith in our daily lives
  • making decisions together—with Divine guidance—and acting on those decisions
I’d love to hear about your experience of these aspects of our common life as together we continue to share, learn, nourish and encourage the thriving of our local meetings, which are the heart of the Quaker Movement.

You can email me here; I look forward to hearing from you.

In this issue, you’ll find news of how Friends are doing this work throughout our region. I hope you find these stories and opportunities enlivening.

In faith and service,

Noah Merrill
Secretary
New England Yearly Meeting of Friends (Quakers)

In This Issue:

Becoming the Quakers the World Needs

Dear Friends,

Last week I served in the role of spiritual elder, accompanying and supporting Lisa Graustein of Beacon Hill (MA) Friends Meeting as she led a daylong workshop in New Haven, Connecticut for educators, students and other civic leaders focusing on how our systems of education might be transformed to foster racial justice and healing of multi-generational harm as an alternative to the devastating effects of current realities.

Often working in partnership with Niyonu Spann, a Friend with deep New England roots who shared powerful ministry at Annual Sessions in 2014, Lisa’s ministry in the wider world is to me a pattern and example of how New England Friends are living their faith in ways that matter, within our own spiritual communities and beyond the walls of our meetinghouses and events.

Throughout the day, I felt joy and a renewed sense of hope to be part of such an energized and committed group of attenders, diverse in age, race, background and profession as we envisioned a world transformed.

It was also powerful to be there alongside several Friends from New Haven (CT) Meeting, as well as visiting Friends from Vermont and Massachusetts. Last Thursday, we were modeling the ways I hope New England Quakers will more and more support each other in carrying the spiritual treasures of our tradition into our wider communities, sharing with humility and boldness what we have to share and learning alongside others who like us are called to seek and to nurture the Beloved Community, here and now.

On the long way home that night, it struck me that this experience was a foretaste and a glimpse of the vision for our common life that is also reflected in the Epistle from Annual Sessions this year.

In the best tradition of Friends spiritual writing, this year’s Epistle is not simply a description of what happened at a weeklong Quaker conference. It offers a spiritual invitation and encouragement for faithful living, and a testimony to how together we might more deeply embrace and express the Power available to us – the Life to which our living tradition bears witness.

If you haven’t yet read the Epistle and shared it with your local meeting, I encourage you to do so.

We’re living out this invitation in many ways. The image to the left is of another group of New England Friends – this time in Boston – taking part on September 12 in an interfaith witness as part of the Moral Revival events across the country.

This fall is full of opportunities to connect with our wider Quaker community for spiritual nurture, discernment and witness on shared concerns.

Read on for brief news of just some ways the Spirit is at work among Friends in New England. I hope to see you at one of these events, or in worship at meeting soon.
In faith and service,


Noah Merrill
Secretary
New England Yearly Meeting of Friends

P.S. – And please – send your events, news and suggestions for upcoming issues! How does the Spirit prosper in your meeting, or in the wider witness and work of Friends in your part of New England and beyond?

Images above: (right) Friends in New Haven for Lisa Graustein’s forum; (left) Friends from Salem Quarter at the Massachusetts Statehouse for the Moral Revival Day of Action.

*A quotation from Robin Mohr, Executive Secretary of Friends World Committee for Consultation, Section of the Americas.

Racial Justice: Steps Toward Healing and Wholeness

Friends communities across New England are engaged in work for racial justice – and we have much work to do to live into God’s vision of wholeness and healing.

In this brief reflection, Clarence Burley of Worcester (MA) Friends Meeting offers a glimpse of an interfaith service in which Worcester Friends participated, witnessing for a new season of justice and healing for their city.

This August, the Annual Sessions of New England Yearly Meeting approved a minute committing to work for racial justice and toward overcoming white supremacy.

Image: Putney (VT) Friends meeting.

Watch: New England Friends on Outreach and Welcoming

Click the image above to watch the first video in this year’s partnership between QuakerSpeak and New England Yearly Meeting of Friends, answering the question:
“How do Quaker Meetings Do Outreach and Welcome Newcomers?”
Find out what Friends throughout New England had to say.

News from Friends Camp

New England Yearly Meeting of Friends joyfully welcomes Anna Hopkins as our new Friends Camp Director.
With support from our longtime former director Nat Shed – who is staying on as a senior consultant this year – Anna is already deeply engaged in preparing for next year’s camp season, and helping us to lift up a shared vision for the future of our beloved Friends Camp as an ever more vibrant youth ministry of New England Friends.

Read a welcome letter from Anna

News and Images from World Quaker Day 2016

Did your meeting participate in World Quaker Day this year?Several meetings across New England have already shared their photos and reflections.

View a gallery of images from Friends around the world – including several local meetings in New England.

Please hold in the Light the Executive Committee for Friends World Committee in the Americas, as they gather in New England this weekend clerked by Benigno Sanchez-Eppler of Northampton (MA) Friends, with Dorothy Grannell of Portland (ME) Friends serving as recording clerk.

Register Now for Living Faith: Spaces Filling Up Fast

The first Living Faith gathering will be held November 5 at Friends School of Portland in Portland, Maine – and spaces are filling up fast.

While we’ve set aside spaces to ensure enough room for Friends from local meetings in Maine, the initial strong response means you’ll need to register as soon as possible to confirm a place if you plan to attend.

For more information, visit the Living Faith pages on neym.org.

Can’t make this one? A second Living Faith event will be held in Providence, Rhode Island on April 8, 2017.

Register Now for the November 5 Living Faith Gathering 

Climate Witness: Progress to Celebrate

Cambridge (MA) Friends witness to stop the Spectra pipeline in West Roxbury, MALast spring, Portland (ME) Friends Becky Steele and Doug McCown – serving as Friends in Washington with Friends Committee on National Legislation – contacted New England Yearly Meeting to ask us to join an interfaith effort to protect an environmental treasure of biodiversity in the northwest Atlantic Ocean near New England.

Utilizing our policy on time-sensitive statements, New England Yearly Meeting of Friends joined faith groups from throughout our region to sign on to a letter asking the President for permanent protection of recently-discovered canyons and seamounts off the New England coast.

Last month, President Obama responded, creating the first marine national monument in the Atlantic Ocean.

Here’s a White House video of the announcement, and a response to the decision from the advocacy organization Earthjustice.

And if you haven’t seen it, the Minute from Annual Sessions committing to corporate action to support climate witness is here.

Image: Friends from Friends Meeting at Cambridge (MA) witness against construction of the Spectra natural gas pipeline in West Roxbury, MA.

Upcoming Quaker Events

Save the Date

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

In Closing

As many Friends are aware, for more than twenty years New England Friends have been building a Bridge of Love with Quakers in Cuba. In the wake of Hurricane Matthew’s passage over Cuba, here is an update from the Presiding Clerk of Cuba Yearly Meeting that we wanted to share.

Please continue to hold Cuban Friends, the people of Cuba, Jamaica, Haiti, the Bahamas and all in the path of the hurricane in the Light.

Copyright © 2016 New England Yearly Meeting of Friends (Quakers), All rights reserved.

Trying what Love will do

This week the news of two more shootings of black men by police sends our hearts reeling. We are praying, mourning, crying again for justice, for healing, for wholeness. The devastating bombing in Baghdad claiming hundreds of lives again lays bare both the enduring wounds of war and the flawed belief that violence can bring peace. The corrosive litany of fear, prejudice and division that has come to characterize the U.S. election process rolls on. Yet even in this time—especially in this time—Love is kindled, present, active. Let us then try....jpg

For many of us, our local Quaker meetings support and challenge us to live in the guidance of Love every day. Hundreds of Friends across New England are preparing to gather for Annual Sessions in August, where we’ll continue to explore together how our community of faith can more fully “be the hands of God” in the world.

Whether you’ve ever attended Annual Sessions or not, whether or not you consider yourself involved with the wider movement of Friends beyond your own local meeting, you are a vital part of this web of Love, woven and sustained through a living faith. It is this Love that calls and strengthens us to work for justice, to witness to the world we know is possible, and already being born.

In this third edition of the new monthly email newsletter, we offer some glimpses of how Friends across our region are loving in the world with everything they have, challenging and encouraging all of us to do the same.

In faith and service,


Noah Merrill
Secretary
New England Yearly Meeting of Friends

P.S. – Does your meeting have a story to tell? We’d love to hear from you.

Friends across New England and beyond are increasingly connecting through social media to share news and coordinate their work and witness. Don’t forget to follow the NEYM Facebook Page, Twitter and Instagram for announcements and sharing the ministry of Friends as it happens, as we continue to bring Friends together to raise our voices and our hands in the work of Love. Just use the icons at the top of this message.

And make sure to read to the bottom of this message for exciting upcoming events, service opportunities and more. 

New England Friends Respond to Orlando
In the immediate aftermath of the tragic acts of violence in Orlando last month, Galen Hamann of Providence (RI) Meeting received a request from Orlando Quakers asking for meetings to gather to hold all affected in prayer.The request she forwarded was posted on the New England Yearly Meeting Facebook page, and then shared widely through social media and email in New England and in Quaker networks beyond, leading to an outpouring of Friends communities lifting up Love and Life and calling for acts of healing in a time of grief, anger and confusion.

The Presiding Clerk and Clerk of Permanent Board offered a public prayer on behalf of New England Quakers. Read it here.

Other Friends quickly translated this prayer into Spanish to be shared with Latino communities in the United States, and with Friends in Cuba and throughout Latin America.

Moving swiftly and with clarity, local meetings throughout our region organized worship gatherings and public events to pray for those affected, to express their support and to advocate for life-giving responses. These included Monadnock (NH), Gonic (NH), Putney (VT), Cambridge (MA), Worcester (MA), New Haven (CT), Beacon Hill (MA), Wellesley (MA), Providence (RI), North Sandwich (NH), Northampton (MA), and Smithfield (RI). Several other meetings participated in interfaith events in their communities. 

Friends of Midcoast (ME) Meeting issued a statement of their own, renewing their commitment to building a more just and compassionate society, and affirmed that their meetinghouse opens its doors “to all, regardless of ethnicity, expression or identity.”

Here’s an article summarizing some of the wider Quaker response from Friends Journal.

This week, New England Friends are again taking to social media to organize worship and vigils in support of #BlackLivesMatter. May we remember how deeply we are connected with all who suffer, and may this awareness strengthen our willingness to witness to Truth.


What is God’s Dream for Friends?

Connecting the ministry of New England Friends with our wider Quaker community across the continent, Yearly Meeting staff Hilary Burgin and Nia Thomas share news of their recent experience leading a workshop on the future of the Quaker movement with Friends from the West Coast of the United States and Canada.

What they learned might surprise you.Read the article

image of earthFriends Climate Witness Continues

Quakers from throughout our region participated with people of many faiths in the #StopSpectra #EscalationSummer actions to oppose the construction of a new natural gas pipeline in West Roxbury, MA on June 29.

Read a reflection from Kristina Keefe-Perry of Fresh Pond (MA) Meeting on participating in this witness.

To learn more about a new email list connecting Friends for mutual support and coordination of climate witness, click here.

The New England Yearly Meeting Earthcare Ministry Committee maintains a page here.

Images below, from Top Left: Jay O’Hara (West Falmouth Preparative and Sandwich (MA) Meetings, with friend and climate advocate Tim DeChristopher. Top Right: Severyn Bruyn of Friends Meeting at Cambridge (MA) is arrested as Maureen Lanan, also of Cambridge Meeting looks on. Bottom Left: Frances Crowe, Northampton (MA) Friends. Bottom Right: Jennifer Serdy, Arthur Klipfel, Gwen Noyes, Mary Coelho, Nancy Cirillo and John Bach of Friends Meeting at Cambridge (MA). 

Seeking a Just Peace in Israel-Palestine

A group of New England Friends carrying a concern for peace in the Middle East has been working to develop learning opportunities for Quakers in our region, including films, presentations and discussions.

Northwest Quarterly Meeting, as well as Storrs (CT) and Cambridge (MA) Monthly Meetings have affirmed minutes related to the conflict, and the group encourages other meetings to explore these important issues. They expect to have a vibrant presence at Annual Sessions.

More information about what Quakers are doing nationally and internationally about this conflict can be found at QuakerPI.org.

To learn more about the work of this group, or to get involved, contact Sandy Isaacs of Monadnock (NH) Quaker Meeting by clicking here.

Kenyan Pastors Visit New England

Last week Wellesley (MA) Meeting hosted a Godly Play/Faith & Play training at Wellesley (MA) Friends Meeting with Kenyan pastors as honored participants, as they traveled in New England with recorded minister Marian Baker of Weare (NH) Meeting before going on to the Triennial of the United Society of Friends Women (USFW) in Iowa this week. They’ll also join Friends at Annual Sessions in Vermont in August.

Recognizing the recent travels in ministry of another African Friend, Sukie Rice of Durham (ME) Friends writes about the successful visit of Pastor Ida of Kakamega Orphans Care Center Project to New England and beyond.

Seen in the image below, left to right: Agneta Kwayumba Injairu, Marian Baker, Beth Collea, Cynthia Ganung, Pam Cole, Margaret Namikoye Musalia.

Quaker Events

Coming Soon


Save the Date

  • October 21-23: A gathering for Quaker Women in Public MinistryMade possible with support from the New England Yearly Meeting Future Fund.
  • November 5 in Portland, ME: The first in an exciting new series of daylong gatherings sponsored by New England Yearly Meeting for worship, spiritual nurture, connection and celebration across generations for Friends throughout our region. We’re calling it “Living Faith.” More info coming soon!

So, How Was It?

  • Last month we shared the news that Framingham (MA) Friends planned to celebrate their 50th Anniversary with a “Friendly Fair” for the whole community. Read a report from this time of outreach and connection.

But Wait…

Don’t see events in your area? 

We’d love to hear more about your exciting upcoming events and news. Please reply to this message with details so that we can share more of what’s happening in future issues!

And as always, check out the Yearly Meeting calendar for more events in the life of Friends across New England

Service Opportunities

Service for Annual Sessions

  • Volunteers are the backbone of Annual Sessions. Help in the bookstore, carry a meal tray for someone in need, play with kids under the tent in the afternoon.If you plan to attend Sessions (still time to register!), please tell us how you would like to serve. Click here to fill out a simple form.
  • Special Volunteer Position: Display coordinator/plenary supportThis Friend will coordinate the reserving and arranging of informational displays on Saturday (and occasionally throughout the week) at Sessions.  This person will also provide support for clerk’s table and plenary speakers for all plenaries as needed (providing water, setting up clerks table, ringing childcare bell at the end of sessions).  A partial fee waiver is provided. Email Kathleen at events@neym.org
  • Help is especially needed after Sessions to unload the truck at the Yearly Meeting office in Worcester, MA on the evening of Thursday, August 11. If you can help, email Sara Hubner, Office Manager at office@neym.org

More Opportunities

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

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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)

It Started with $5

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Dear Friends,

I can still remember the first time I chose to make a financial contribution to the ministry of our yearly meeting.

As a young adult traveling in the ministry, living with student loans and an uncertain future, my resources were limited. Like many of us, I grew up with a sense of not enough. I told myself I had nothing to give, that I’d give when I was older, that I’d give next year. But as I clicked the “donate” button, I realized I was choosing to align what resources I did control with this spiritual movement that was changing my life.

For me, it started with five dollars.

Those two cups of coffee a month that I was willing to sacrifice opened a new dimension of relationship with our community of Friends. Giving financially has become a spiritual discipline for me, a practice of abundance. Like becoming a member in my local meeting, giving money is another way I join the Quaker movement as together we bear the fruit of Love in the world.

As 2015 approaches, our hearts turn to what’s most important – and hopefully away from email. I’m looking forward to a time of retreat, reflection and prayer as the old year turns to new. My bags are almost packed.

But before I go, I’m going to make an end-of-year gift to help sustain our shared work together in the coming year.

Here’s what this message is really about:

Financial support is just a small part of the many ways we accompany one another on this journey of faithfulness. But it’s an important part.

I believe giving financially is one more way we affirm the sacredness of every aspect and every moment of our lives, as we walk together in the Light.

In this time of global challenge and change, the world needs a way of life that doesn’t draw lines between “spiritual” and “worldly” concerns. We need an integrated approach that invites our whole lives to be filled with and guided by the Spirit. And this is something Friends have tried to practice for a long time.

In this season, I’m reminded that it’s vital to bring all of my life – including my relationship with money – into the Light.

Might this be true for you, too?

If you’ve already given this year, thank you.

If you haven’t given a gift – or haven’t even considered it this year – I hope you’ll join me in making a contribution in any amount by tomorrow night.

In this new year, may our lives and our local meetings be a blessing in our world.

In faith and service,

Noah Baker Merrill
Putney (VT) Friends Meeting
Secretary
New England Yearly Meeting of Friends

Read The New England Friend online.

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DEAR FRIENDS,

I’m pleased to share with you the latest online edition of The New England Friend.

Read The New England Friend online

One of the great joys of my work is getting to see new Life rising up in so many corners of our Quaker community. In a season when our society and our world seem besieged by conflict, violence and injustice, I find hope in the ways our meetings–at our best–can serve as circles of Light. I keep hearing stories of how we are helping one another find courage, seek deeper relationship with our neighbors and with Creation, and join with others to build the world of wholeness and right relationship that Jesus called the Reign of Heaven–and what Martin Luther King, Jr. called The Beloved Community.

As the demonstrations seeking deep change in response to the laying bare of systemic injustices mount across the country, and with the release of the Senate report on torture making visible the tragic costs of failing to acknowledge that of God in one another, I believe recommitting ourselves to living our faith as Friends is ever more important. We need each other’s help to be faithful, to consider the implications of Ferguson and Guantanamo in the lives of each one of us. Friends, how is the Spirit shaking our assumptions, calling us to pray, to serve, to witness, to speak, to act? How can we share that news with one another, strengthening connections and helping each other find courage and humility to learn, to grow, and to live?

In this online content, you’ll find news from the growing edges of the Quaker movement in our region, including exciting updates giving you a glimpse of new explorations in several of our diverse local meetings.

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As you’ll read below, New England Friends are helping to kindle new collaborations in support of Quaker religious education, and partnering with Friends organizations like Quaker Voluntary Service and Friends World Committee for Consultation to bring the richness of the global community of Friends to enliven our life together in New England, in worship and in witness.

I hope you’ll also check out the updates on our work to improve our Yearly Meeting’s staffing and organizational structure to better support the life of the Spirit among us. Finally, we’ve included a summary of highlights from this past summer’s Annual Sessions, held for the first time in our 354-year history in Vermont. The full Minutes of business sessions are posted online. It would be wonderful to welcome even more of our Quaker family next summer at Sessions in Vermont, August 1-6, 2015.

Below are two events I’d like to especially highlight in the coming months, with more information to be posted to the online calendar and shared with local meetings soon. The conversation will be more complete with your meeting’s participation!

Finally, we want to hear from you. Do you have:

  • News to share about the life of the Spirit in your corner of New England?
  • Examples of successes or creative new initiatives in your local meeting?
  • Reflections on how your faith leads you into witness and action for our world?
  • Suggestions on how we might help this newsletter be an even more useful tool to connect and energize Friends communities in New England?
Please send an email to Office Manager Sara Hubner at office@neym.org(link sends e-mail) or call the office at 508-754-6760 to learn more about submissions, suggest upcoming themes and share how the Light is at work in your meeting.

In faith and friendship,

Noah Baker Merrill

Noah Baker Merrill
Secretary
New England Yearly Meeting of Friends (Quakers)

Read The New England Friend online

PFM Member Recommended To Serve As NEYM Field Secretary

From NEYM’s Webpage:

With joy and anticipation, Permanent Board will bring the name of Noah Baker Merrill to NEYM Annual Sessions in early August for approval as Yearly Meeting secretary, beginning January 1, 2013.

Noah and his wife Natalie are members of Putney (VT) Monthly Meeting, where Noah has been released* for service in the ministry. Noah already has a long history of service, ministry and listening intently to where and what he is being called. Noah has worked for the American Friends Service Committee in Providence, in Philadelphia and in Washington, filling a variety of roles including community organizing, policy advocacy and technology consulting. With Natalie he co-founded and was program director for Direct Aid Iraq, an organization devoted to advocacy and material support for Iraqi refugees.

Noah is a writer, with articles in Friends Journal, Quaker Life, Spirit Rising and other publications. He maintains a web page and blog. And he is a gifted vocal minister, both in unprogrammed worship and in prepared messages. Noah was selected to give the plenary message on behalf of the Section of the Americas at the recent Sixth World Conference of Friends. This fall he’ll be traveling in the ministry supporting Friends World Committee for Consultation’s theme: “Let the Living Waters Flow: Friends Serving God’s Purposes.”

Demonstrating his belief that Quakers hold an untapped power to create positive change, Noah is a founding board member of Quaker Voluntary Service, an organization seeking to orient young adult Friends toward lives committed to service and justice, grounded and sustained by their Quaker faith.

In conversation, Noah displays a remarkable breadth of knowledge including Quaker history and current practice around the world. And he brings a tender sensitivity to the spiritual needs of the individual, the monthly meeting, the quarter, and the Yearly Meeting. He has a remarkable depth of understanding of the issues and the potential of NEYM, and of the role that the Yearly Meeting Secretary plays in these issues.

Most of all, interactions with Noah demonstrate his quiet energy and his sense of connection to the living tradition of Quakerism, past and future, and to the vision that we can make a difference in the world. In Noah’s words: “My small part in this work is encouraging the life of the Spirit among Friends, helping us together … to live more fully into the promise that if we are faithful, we can be made channels of Love’s life-giving work.”

—Bruce Neumann, on behalf of the Yearly Meeting Secretary Search Committee

Search Committee: Deana Chase, James Grumbach, Dwight Lopes, Wendy Schlotterbeck, Jackie Stillwell, Donn Weinholz, Hannah Zwirner and Bruce Neumann, clerk.

*A Released Friend is one whose leading to carry out a particular ministry has met with approval from a Meeting which then promises to provide such support as would enable the Friend to follow that leading. In Noah’s case, he is released to speak, preach, write, lead workshops, and generally nurture the life of the Spirit.

Putney Friends Focus on the 2012 World Conference of Friends — June 10

On Sunday, June 10, two members of Putney Friends Meeting will report on their experience this April attending the 2012 World Conference of Friends in Kenya. Noah Baker-Merrill and Rosemary Zimmerman will share photos and stories from the conference, which was the largest worldwide conference of Friends since 1967. The Conference included Quakers from many parts of Asia, Africa, the Middle East, Europe, Latin America and North America engaging the theme of “Being Salt and Light: Friends Living the Kingdom of God in a Broken World.”

Noah and Rosemary will start their presentation around noon, after a light potluck at the close of the late morning Meeting for Worship. They will also focus on the concluding statement of the conference, the Kabarak Call For Peace and Eco-Justice.

In addition, at 9:30 am on Sunday the Adult Religious Education committee will host an open discussion in the Fellowship room of the Salt and Light booklet created as a preparation document for the World Conference. This booklet can be downloaded or viewed online at the World Conference of Friends website.

For those who cannot make either of these events on Sunday, you can watch an earlier report by Noah Baker Merrill to Putney Friends Meeting about the conference.



Noah Baker Merrill also led worship on one of the days of the Conference. Click here for the full text of his ministry and click below on the short video clip of the conclusion of Noah’s talk at the conference. To access the texts of other talks and sermons at the Conference, check out this webpage.



Please join us at Putney Friends Meeting this Sunday, June 10, to hear about this inspiring World Conference of Friends!

PFM Member Writes Article On Occupy Movement For AFSC

At the invitation of the American Friends Service Committee, PFM member Noah Baker Merrill has written an article on the growing Occupy Together movement. This thoughtful piece was recently posted on the AFSC website and is called “Occupy Together: We Are All Moses.”

Here are just the first two paragraphs:

On what was perhaps the worst night of violence against peaceful demonstrators during the occupation of Cairo’s Tahrir Square, I searched reports and images shared on Facebook and Twitter, blogs and news sites, poring over messages from friends in the Middle East. I tried like so many others to piece together a clearer sense of the movement that had come this far, of where it might be headed, and what it might mean for the world. The power of those hours, the waiting, watching, and praying of those weeks, and the jubilation felt by and for the people of the Arab world, remains closely with me. A deep turning, long in coming and with so much farther still to go, was breaking through.

Now, as the Occupy Together movement emerges across the United States, I have a similar sense of this turning beginning to happen among us in a new way. It’s a time to listen carefully, a time to seek understanding, and a time to respond.