A lot is happening

Dear Friends, GunsenseVT

If it seems like you’ve been hearing from us a lot, it’s because a lot is happening. We have a big opportunity to make real strides in gun violence prevention, and we can’t let up.


Universal Background Checks has made it through the Senate and is now in the House Judiciary Committee. The Committee is hearing testimony on Wednesday 3/14 and Thursday 3/15.



Your presence.

If you can commit even an hour or two to attending the House Judiciary Committee meeting to show your support, that would be very powerful.

Wednesday 3/14 — Testimony will begin at 9:00 and go through the afternoon with a break from 11:45-1:00
Thursday 3/15 — Testimony is scheduled for the morning only beginning at 9:00

You don’t need to speak. Simply being there is enough. Wear a GunSense button if you have one. If you don’t, we will have some available.

When you enter the State House, a page should be able to help you locate the meeting room. Rooms are also posted on a board in the main lobby.

On behalf of the leadership of GunSense, I hope we’ll see you there.
Clai Lasher-Sommers
Executive Director


p.s.–if you can come to Montpelier for an hour, please let us know by RSVPing here.

Together, we are making a difference

Dear Friends,GunsenseVT
Together, we are making a difference. Gun violence prevention is a top priority in the state capital right now and this historic shift is being driven by the voices of Vermonters calling for change.  
Governor Phil Scott took a courageous step when, in response to a school school threat in Fair Haven, VT, he changed his position and called for immediate passage of gun violence prevention reforms. He needs to hear your voice of support, now. 
Please call his switchboard, (802)-828-3333, to leave a message thanking him for his leadership and urging him to keep it up.
The gun lobby wants the Governor to back down. Don’t let them drown the majority of Vermonters’ voices out.
Please call the Governor’s message line today at (802)-828-3333.

Clai Lasher-Sommers

Executive Director

Living Faith Spring 2018

Dear Friends,NEYM-web

Registration is now open for the next Living Faith gathering, to be held Saturday, April 14 in Portland, Maine!

Please share the invitation with your networks, including meeting email lists, newsletters, announcements, social media, and word of mouth.

We hope to see you there.

In the Light,

The Living Faith Spring 2018 Planning Team

Lisa Graustein (Clerk), Elizabeth Hacala, Jay O’Hara, Sarah Cushman, Hannah Zwirner Forsythe, Noah Merrill

Register Now

Our Hearts are Broken

March 1, 2018


Dear Friends,

Again, our hearts are broken by news of a school shooting. pexels-photo-256395.jpeg

Galen Hamann of Providence (RI) Meeting, Director of Friends Education at Moses Brown School, writes to us asking: “What do we say to our children who ask why schools aren’t safe places?”

She shares the first query raised by the students in the school’s Letting Our Lives Speak group: “How many kids have to die before we take action?”

Each tragic episode challenges our faith and calls us to live it ever more deeply. We mourn with communities who have recently lost children to gun violence. We mourn with communities—especially communities of color—who have been losing children to gun violence for many years and whose decades of work to end it have gone unrecognized by those in power.

New England Friend Diane Randall, Executive Secretary of Friends Committee on National Legislation, calls us to move beyond “thoughts and prayers” to bold action.

Participants in our Young Friends program—teenagers from across New England who had planned to be on retreat in March in Hartford—have chosen to join the nationwide, youth-led “March for Our Lives.”

This is not a time to restate facts or to make new arguments about the need to prevent gun violence. We are called to testify to Truth, even when it may seem impractical or unpopular. William Penn reminds us, “Truth will not lose ground by being tried.”

As Quaker faith communities across New England, can we still proclaim as Friends did in 1660, “We utterly deny all outward wars and strife and fightings with outward weapons, for any end, or under any pretence whatsoever; and this is our testimony to the whole world…”?

New England Friends are deeply engaged in the education and nurture of youth.  In our youth ministries retreats, at Friends Camp in Maine, Moses Brown School and Lincoln School in Providence, Friends School of Portland, Cambridge Friends School, Friends Center for Children in New Haven, and at Quaker gatherings large and small, children and youth are cherished. In our local meetings and in our families we strive to create communities where all are safe, where all are loved and where all belong

But our testimony as Friends is not that we can create safe harbors in an otherwise dangerous world. Our testimony is that, wherever we are, we can hear and heed the promise of the voice that speaks in Isaiah 11:9, “They will not hurt or destroy on all my holy mountain… .”

We affirm that the whole world is the Holy Mountain. As a people called to faithfulness, we strive for a prophetic life that lives as if the Truth is true, that God’s Reign is here, now. Children and youth deserve to be safe in every part of their lives.

Friends, let those of us who are adults tell the children and youth in our lives what we will do to witness to this today—and let our words become actions.

Let us keep writing letters, making calls, joining demonstrations, and standing up. Let us counter the lie that violence is best met with more violence. Let us risk for love what some so readily risk for hate. Let us advocate for effective laws and regulations to prevent gun violence. Let us join our neighbors and rise with the fierce faith that inspires bold action.

In a blog post, Doreen Dodgen-Magee, a Friend from the Pacific Northwest who has lost family to gun violence, writes:

We can … take small but powerful steps to usher in ripples of justice, love, and action. While they may seem small, such actions carried out boldly, consistently, and over time can disrupt a system that has become overly passive about violence and … overly permissive about guns. I must believe that each of us, small and insignificant as we may seem or feel, have a part to play in creating a country and a world where the love of self and other reigns. Where we are willing to stand up for the rights of our neighbors and children to feel and be safe. Where we are willing to have difficult discussions and to listen and to be open to being moved. Where we can communicate effectively about our values, thoughts, and feelings and have the skills to handle the strong emotions of anger and rage. Where we feel capable of handling conflicts within us or between us with our words rather than with weapons.

The foundation of our witness is knowing where to stand—in the Life and Power of God’s Love—and to stand there together; with strength and courage, not giving up.

Fritz Weiss, Presiding Clerk

Noah Merrill, Secretary

New England Yearly Meeting of Friends (Quakers)

Healing Mind Body and Spirit: Care for the Caregivers

New England Yearly Meeting of Friends (Quakers)

Healing Mind Body and Spirit: Care for the Caregivers

Are you someone who takes the time to call people, or to hold them in your prayers when you know they are having a hard time? Do you help organize rides for older Friends who wouldn’t otherwise be able to make it to worship? Do people often confide in you? Do you feel at ease just being with people when they are struggling, suffering or in pain? Do others describe you as having a “healing”, “soothing” or “calming” presence? Perhaps you serve on your meeting’s Pastoral Care Committee, Ministry and Counsel Committee, or Care and Community Committee, or Friends in the meeting just naturally turn to you when things get “sticky”. You are doing the work of pastoral care. If any of the above seems like it describes you – and you are looking for fellowship with others and an opportunity for connection with the Divine Love that grounds this work- this might be the event for you.


“When we give cheerfully and accept gratefully, everyone is blessed.” ― Maya Angelou

New England Yearly Meeting Ministry and Counsel is hosting a one-day retreat and workshop of rest and healing for Friends who do the work of pastoral care in their meetings. Do you sometimes feel overwhelmed by demands on your time and energy? Come and be recharged in the fellowship of other caregivers. Working in pairs, we will give and receive comfort and healing while honing our skills in providing care for others. We hope that together we might experience the healing that comes from connection with the Spirit and with others who share in similar work, and that we will leave with practices and skills that will help us in the day to day work of healing and support that is so needed in each of our contexts, and in the world. There will be opportunities for fellowship and connection, worship, and sharing about the joys and struggles of our work. We will have the gift of being joined by several Friends with particular gifts to offer, including John Calvi (Putney, VT) who will be leading a portion of the day on energy healing practices.

Saturday April 21, 2018

Westport Meeting (MA)

Registration will be open soon! Please contact Cornelia Parkes (cornelia.parkes@comcast.net) or the Clerk of Ministry and Counsel (mc-clerk@neym.org) with any questions.

We hope to see you there!

Time to Act

Dear Putney Friends Meeting —

Students_2018.png           Speakers_2018.png

This past week was one for the record books in the Vermont legislature. From the start of the week, when more than 200 GunSense VT supporters rallied on the steps of the State House, to the end of the week, when the Senate Judiciary Committee voted to allow S. 221 (Extreme Risk Protection Order) to come before the Senate for a vote, the State House was buzzing with activity around gun violence prevention.

Dozens of middle and high school students spoke out powerfully about the fear that they live with and demanded that lawmakers and Governor Scott take steps to help reduce gun violence.

Legislators, and particularly the Senate Judiciary Committee, worked nearly around the clock in some cases to craft meaningful legislation.

The result is that we have the first opportunity in years to pass legislation that will truly help keep guns out of the wrong hands.

Both bills; S.221 (extreme risk protection order) and H221 (removing weapons from a person arrested or cited for domestic assault) passed through the Judiciary Committee this week and are moving to the Senate floor for vote on Wednesday.  Bill S.6 (universal background checks) is being brought to the Senate floor for debate as an amendment.

This week please call and email your Senators (Link to Senate Contact Info.) and ask them to pass Senate bill 221, house bill 422 and Universal Background checks. THESE EMAILS AND PHONE CALLS WORK. We hear from legislators, staffers, and lobbyists that your effort and energy are driving the change that we are seeing.  When they reach the House we will ask you to reach out to your Representatives.

We also ask you to please take a moment to thank SJC Chairman Dick Sears for working diligently on S. 221 and making it a strong and meaningful piece of legislation. We are also grateful to Governor Phil Scott for acknowledging that any conversation around public safety must include a conversation about guns and who should own them. This constitutes a significant shift in his position, a rare thing to see in political leaders today.

Finally, we ask again for your financial support. The NRA’s Institute for Legislative Action has activated their members in Vermont. They are saying that “most of these bills are being pushed by large out-of-state gun control groups who are trying to create a solution which simply does not exist in Vermont.”  This is simply not true!  We are a grass-roots organization of Vermonters who want to keep guns out of the wrong hands.  We are asking for your donations so we can fight back!


Clai Lasher-Sommers
Executive Director

Elissa Pine, GunSenseVT
Board President

Immigrant communities seeking justice

afsc logo

 Dear Friends

Earlier this week, we asked you to contact your senators to help stop billions of dollars in additional spending for border enforcement, advocate for paths to citizenship, and support policies that keep families together.

Yesterday the Senate voted on four problematic immigration proposals that would have deeply impacted the lives of hundreds of thousands of immigrants. I’m writing to let you know that thanks to your calls and advocacy, along with those of immigrant advocates around the country, all four proposals were defeated in the Senate. We are so grateful to everyone who helped send a message in this critical time!

We will continue to send you updates and opportunities in the coming days and weeks as we organize together to support Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) recipients who are in danger of losing their status and the millions of immigrants who are still seeking a pathway to citizenship.

Thanks again for standing with immigrant communities in seeking justice for all!
With gratitude,
Kristin Kumpf
Director of Human Migration and Mobility, AFSC

American Friends Service Committee
1501 Cherry Street
Philadelphia, PA 19102
United States

Support Gun Violence Protection bills before the Vermont legislature

“A Public Hearing on three legislative bills on Domestic Violence and Gun Violence Protection” at The Statehouse in Montpelier Tuesday January 30 at 5:30 PM

How you can help if you can’t attend………
You can still send a strong message right from your phone
It’s simple and it’s easy.

Call the Sargeant at Arms at The State House in Montpelier at 802-828-2228
Here is the message YOU want delivered to your State Representative and your State Senators:
“Please support Gun Violence Protection bills before the Vermont legislature: House Bill 422 and Senate Bills: 6 and 221”

Please tell your family members and friends to call the Sargeant at Arms as well. The gun lobby is hoping you and your friends won’t do anything .

You can go for free by bus; FROM Brattleboro or Putney
The location is: Brattleboro Transportation Center The time leaving is: LEAVING at 2:00 PM

RETURNING at 10:00PM (planning a stop at the Putney Inn as well)

We have secured The Ballroom at the Capitol Plaza- Capitol Hotel across from the State House to meet in before the hearing. We will be briefed, have light snacks, and walk over together in groups for the hearing.

Let Elissa know who is coming and would like to take the bus: elissa@gunsensevt.org

Embraced by the Mystery

Dear Friends,NEYM-web
Have you ever had the experience of being in meeting for worship, wondering whether a message that’s rising within you in the stillness is for you to speak, and then hearing the same message—maybe in different words—given through the voice of another Friend?

I had an experience like that this week, and I wanted to share that message with you, in the words in which I heard it expressed.

This ministry comes to us through the Puente de Amigos, our yearly meeting’s decades-long “Bridge of Love” between Friends in New England and Cuba.

In the past year, the denial by the U.S. government of visas for religious visitation has barred Cuban Friends from being able to attend New England Yearly Meeting Annual Sessions. In the current political climate of anti-immigrant sentiment, hatred, and fear, this is just one glimpse of the ways that so many members of our human family are disconnected from one another and denied full recognition of their worth and dignity as children of God. I’m mindful that many of you receiving this message have your own very personal stories to share, either of your own experience with this disconnection and denial, or in accompanying those most vulnerable in these times. May the “single star of Hope” this message carries shine for all of us.

Cuban Friend and pastoral minister Kirenia Criado of Havana Friends Meeting—whom many Friends may remember from her visit and message to Annual Sessions—offers a prayer for this season in our world (English translation follows the original Spanish).

As Friends in both our yearly meetings seek ways to re-open the doors of visitation between us, and as our presiding clerk Fritz Weiss (Hanover [NH] Meeting) and several other New England Friends prepare to travel to Cuba Yearly Meeting in February, I am grateful that the ministry of this Cuban Friend reaches out to us in spirit, though we cannot be together in person.

Y pensar que en Tus brazos soy así como vuelves: criatura frágil y expuesta, abrazada por el misterio de un Amor inexplicable.

Y pensar que en Tu mundo también me le asemejo: vivir de cara al vacío inmenso prendiendo la esperanza de una solita estrella es, sin dudas, mi signo.

Y pensar que a pesar de toda esta precariedad que somos, de tanto mundo roto e incompleto, no nos faltas…

regresas cada vez al vulnerable espacio de esta Vida, renaces para hacernos creer que sí es posible que el Amor aparezca, se haga carne y presencia, por ese Amor que das y eres Tú mismo.

Que el Misterio de la Vida que renace en los lugares más inesperados nos inunde de bien…
Abrazo a cada quien, en la Esperanza…

– Kirenia


And to think that in Your arms I am as you are when you return to us: a fragile and vulnerable child, embraced by the mystery of an inexplicable Love.

And to think that in Your world I also resemble You: facing the immense emptiness by lighting a single star of Hope, which is, without doubt, my sign.

And to think that in spite of all the precariousness of our broken and incomplete world, you never fail us …

You return each time to this Life, you are reborn to make us believe that, yes, it is possible for Love to appear, to become flesh and presence, because of your great Love for us, you who are Love itself.

May the Mystery of Life that is reborn in the most unexpected places fill us with good.

I embrace you all, in Hope…


In that same Hope,

Noah Merrill
New England Yearly Meeting of Friends (Quakers)

In This Issue:

We affirm that peace is possible

Dear Northwest Quarter of New England Yearly Meeting:

As many of you know, in 2013 an interfaith group of religious leaders, including the Clerk of the Burlington Friends Meeting, asked the City of Burlington to oppose the basing of the F-35 fighter/bomber at Burlington International Airport, scheduled for 2020. Since that time, the noise of other military aircraft has forced the demolition of 200 owner-occupied homes around the runway and the new plane will place 3,000 additional homes in jeopardy due to noise and heightened crash risk. This at a time when rents are rising beyond the means of those with minimum wages and the homeless increasingly camp in the wooded areas of Chittenden County.iu-1.jpeg

Why is opposition to the basing of the F-35 of significance to Quakers? Through FCNL we have long sought a reduction in military spending and a shift of funds to meet our great social needs in education, healthcare, infrastructure, job development, and environmental stewardship. At $1.4 trillion over 40 years, this war machine represents a considerable portion of the defense budget, $700 for the coming year, and will continue to do so in future years making social priorities impossible to achieve. Furthermore, our 2016 NEYM Minute on Climate Change affirmed that fossil fuel use threatened life as we know it on earth, https://neym.org/news/2016-yearly-meeting-climate-change. The F-35 is not only a huge user of fossil fuel, its deployment in the Middle East has been in defense of our unfettered access to petroleum.

The F-35 is now deployed to Japan and is being used to provoke and intimidate North Korea, a nuclear power, thus risking catastrophic war. Yet NEYM’s Faith and Practice states, “Because of the incomparable evil presented by the threat of nuclear war, we are moved to bear a passionate witness for life and peace.”
Burlington residents, including many Quakers, are trying to place the question of basing the F-35 near Vermont’s largest population center on the city ballot for Town Meeting Day, March 6, 2018. We have have created this video for Media and Democracy, our public access channel, to explain our reasoning.

We affirm that preparation for war before all other social goals isungodly. We affirm that peace is possible.

Charles Simpson, Co-clerk, Burlington Monthly Meeting