H.308 (Racal Justice Reform) ACT NOW!

H.308 (Racal Justice Reform) unnamed.jpg

Friends, we are almost there. We need Governor Scott to sign H. 308 as soon as he receives it. There is a legislative rule that says that the Governor must sign a bill passed by the Legislature within 5 days or it beomes law automatically UNLESS the legislative session ends within that period. Then, if the Governor does not sign it, the bill fails automatically. We are in that period, the Legislature is scheduled to convene by this Saturday; we do not know when the Governor received it and the clock started ticking. There have been some indications from the Scott Administration that they wanted to derail the bill. This does not necessarily mean that the Governor will let the bill fail or will veto it, but it does raise grave concerns. Therefore the Racial Justice Coalition and Justice for All, the main organizer for this bill (and on whose board I sit), and I personally, ask you to contact the Governer by email, see below, or by phone at 802-828-3333. Please help the governor understand that by signing H.308 he declares that our State motto “Freedom and Unity” is more than rhetoric; that we will not just pay lip service to “liberty and justice for all,” but we in Vermont will establish legal mechanisms to make those high values real and a living part of our common life. Thank you, Joseph
Joseph Gainza

Producer and Host

Gathering Peace
Tuesdays 9-10:30 AM
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www.wgdr.org live streaming & archive

Yearly Meeting Consultation on Climate Change

Dear Friends,
At last year’s Annual Sessions, New England Yearly Meeting affirmed a Divine call to the witness of addressing climate change, and encouraged all local meetings to consider how they might further respond.IMG_1063

On April 22 Friends will gather at Friends Meeting at Cambridge (MA) for a Yearly Meeting Consultation on Climate Change. This will be an opportunity to connect with other Friends, share news, and offer input on next steps for the Yearly Meeting.

From 9:30 to 12 we will gather in worship and then share how each of our meetings has been responding to the call. We will have lunch together, and then from 1 to 3:30 we will discern together about possible future directions for NEYM around this concern. Feel free to come for the whole day, or just the morning or afternoon.

We are expecting a small gathering, but we think there may be people coming who haven’t yet registered. It’s not too late! Click here for more information on the consultation and to register.
If you are not able to come on Saturday, and you want to share your news or thoughts, please email witness@neym.org.
For more information, contact Katherine Fisher: kath.fisher@gmail.com.

Faithfully,

Sara Hubner

Friends, welcome prophets among us in these dark times!

To New England’s Meetings

Dear Friends,

Many of us are feeling under the weight of grief, fear, and anger in the face of national and world events. Many of us are digging deep, to feel where a prophetic response may be: Is there a word from the Lord that Friends are to carry at this time, in deed or in word? Is our spiritual condition healthy, alert, and clear enough to hear and receive such a word?

Here is one thing I know: A prophetic people is one which welcomes the arising of
prophecy.  The first motion is, in love, to make room for the leadings, and the people who are led, and give them opportunity to bring what they have been given.  This advice comes from the earliest life of the Christian movement. In the ancient book of advice called the “Didache” or “Teaching of the apostles,” the little fellowships gathered in Christ’s name are admonished to be open to the motion of the Spirit as embodied in traveling ministers: “Let every bdquoteapostle [one who has been sent] who comes to you be received as the Lord.”  Knowing that we have this treasure in earthen vessels, we are to “try the spirits” and feel where the divine is present when someone feels moved to act or speak under the guiding influence of the Divine Spirit — but we are warned not to quench the Spirit’s motion, but to accept the unexpected activity of that Spirit in our lives as a community as well as individuals:  “The spirit blows where it will, and you hear its sound, but don’t know whence it comes or whither it goes.  So is everyone who is born of the spirit.”

As a people, we have fallen so far into a comfortable and secular mind,  that we think concerns and leadings are somehow a matter personal to the concerned Friend, and our meetings can pick and choose whom to hear, whom to invite and allow to come among us!  That is a way to avoid the uncomfortable evidence that the living God is still working through us, preparing individuals and pushing them or drawing them into service.     It is a way not to change, not to grow, to keep control of our schedules and our attention; to keep ourselves unfree.  We often talk about being “spirit-led,” but as a people how available are we really to that experience?

When we make time for the unexpected, when we accept the opportunities that come to us through Friends who are called to travel to us, and have the encouragement of their meetings to do so, we enable those Friends, and others not yet arisen, to learn better how to watch for, hear, bear, and accomplish their service.  Our meetings  are “schools of the prophets” — or can be if we recognize the opportunities that come our way, accept them with joy, and learn from them — both from the message and from our experience of reception and discernment.

I have known many Friends, newly drawn into service, who have been discouraged by the convention that prophets come to meetings only when meetings issue invitations.  This turns the matter upside down, Friends:  The calling and the service are given through the body, through and out of the common life in the Spirit, and represent an invitation from God to see, to feel, to know, and perhaps to act in fresh ways, in ways renewed by the living water of God’s life that brings these leadings and opportunities to us.

It can be inconvenient for a meeting to make room for such an unplanned, “wildcat” experience of the Spirit.  It may also be that a Friend’s concern, to be brought to a meeting, will require some discernment by the meeting about ways and means.  I can assure you, though, that it is pretty inconvenient for a Friend to have such a concern, to set aside other things, and dare to stand forth, dare to speak for God and for us.  The sense of unreadiness, of unworthiness, of emptiness, is very sharp in such a Friend, and he or she is only too conscious of difficulties for themselves and for their visitors.  Yet the act of faithfulness, however imperfectly accomplished, is a step into greater life, and if it is rooted in love, it is evidence of God’s work and life active among us.  And Friends, there is such a famine among us, and among people in general, for such evidence!

So if a Friend reaches out to your meeting, with an earnest statement that she or he is traveling under concern, with the unity of their meeting (your brothers and sisters!), remember that we can earn a prophet’s reward even by offering a cup of water to a prophet.  Find a way to entertain this Friend, as we are to entertain strangers sent among us, for thereby we may unexpectedly be visited by an angel — not the traveling Friend, but the beloved Spirit, the Shepherd and Teacher, made available in the giving and receiving of spiritual hospitality.  Make room, Friends, light your lamps in welcome, live like people who truly love the Spirit, and who love to see the springs of Life break forth in any!

In Christian love your friend,

Brian Drayton

A Call to Prayer and Support for Standing Rock

insideNovember 3, 2016

In North Dakota, the Standing Rock Sioux and their allies are struggling for the future of their land and people. Where those without worldly power stand in the Truth in the face of empire, God is at work and our faith calls us to support them.

For months, the Indigenous people leading this witness have embraced their role as “water protectors” in opposition to the completion of an oil pipeline that threatens the water supply, sacred sites, sovereignty and survival of Native people. Their nonviolent stand to protect the water, land, and climate for future generations faces escalating violence in a militarized, state-supported assault.

On behalf of Quakers in the six New England states, we affirm that we see God at work in the courageous actions of those in the protector camp in Cannon Ball, North Dakota. In their ongoing resistance, we see the convergence of struggles for Indigenous rights, climate justice, and liberation from white supremacy, moving with the power of the Spirit, raising up a vision of a world renewed.

Many New England Quakers and local Friends meetings are engaged in supporting this witness and we pray for those who plan to deepen their involvement. We are keenly aware that winter is coming to North Dakota and that direct material support is needed for those continuing this work.

We encourage all Friends to keep this unfolding confrontation in their prayers and to keep themselves and their communities educated about nonviolent resistance to the Dakota Access Pipeline at Standing Rock and elsewhere. We urge local meetings across New England to consider how we might offer practical and spiritual support to those standing for Life in the face of violence.

In support of this witness, we hope Friends and meetings will prayerfully consider the following possible actions:

  • Prayer: Hold all involved and affected by these events—on every side—in the Light, including Friends from New England who are working to support the water protectors and those planning to travel to North Dakota in the coming days
  • Advocacy: Join the advocacy work of Friends Committee on National Legislationin solidarity with the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe
  • Support: Respond to the call for timely and direct support of those gathered at the Sacred Stone Camp

In faith,

Fritz Weiss, Presiding Clerk
Noah Baker Merrill, Yearly Meeting Secretary
New England Yearly Meeting of the Religious Society of Friends (Quakers)

P.S.– In recent days, New England Yearly Meeting’s Committee on Racial, Social and Economic Justice approved a minute in support of the Standing Rock water protectors. We encourage Friends seeking more background to refer to this minute, as well as the Minute of Annual Sessions 2016 affirming a divine call to respond to the climate crisis.

“What Would It Look Like…?”

…to come more fully alive, together?
…for our faith communities to be filled with the power of the Spirit?
…to heal the wounds of racism and ecological destruction?
…to nurture a world of love and hope?

In my service among Friends across New England, I’m blessed to glimpse the many ways we are living into the promise of all that is possible when we open ourselves to the Light—step by faithful step.

As summer turns to fall, I’m writing to share news and joy from Annual Sessions, to lift up clear voices of New England Friends, and to highlight resources supporting faithfulness in our Quaker communities.

Read on for a preview of the upcoming Living Faith gathering, ways to engage in the work of racial justice and other opportunities to connect with the rich and thriving web of New England Friends of which you are an essential part.

In faith and service,


Noah Merrill
Secretary
New England Yearly Meeting of Friends

News and Joy from Annual Sessions


Friends gathered for the 356th Annual Sessions of New England Yearly Meeting turned our attention toward the spiritual imperatives our communities and our world face, committing to action in the areas of racial justice, climate change and support for LGBT people.

From August 6-11, more than 600 New England Friends joined by many guests considered together how we are led by the Spirit to help nourish the Quaker movement throughout our region in this important time.

Read a summary of news and key decisions here.

Download a printer-friendly set of Talking Points to post on a bulletin board, distribute, or share in your local meeting for business. 

Resources for Dismantling Racism

Friends sing at the World Conference of FriendsFriends across New England are deepening our engagement in work for racial justice and addressing systemic racism.

At Annual Sessions, our Yearly Meeting committed to take concrete steps to address the toxic effects of white supremacy and its effects on us as individuals and as a community of faith.

Many local meetings are already doing this important spiritual work and discovering its potential to help all of us grow in wholeness and Love.

Wherever you are in this process, know that you are part of a wider community of Friends seeking to be faithful in this journey toward healing, love and transformation.

Click here for a brief collection of resources that you and your meeting may find helpful.

Exploring Travel in the Ministry: New Pamphlet

Debbie Humphries of Hartford (CT) Friends Meeting shares her personal experience of this vital Quaker practice in New England and beyond in a recent Pendle Hill pamphlet.

Here’s a review by Brent Bill in Friends Journal. Learn more and order the pamphlet here.

Debbie serves as Clerk of Ministry & Counsel of New England Yearly Meeting. She can be reached at mc-clerk@neym.org

Living Faith Gathering: November 5

image of joined hands and poster for living faith event
The first-ever Living Faith gathering will be held on Saturday, November 5 in Portland, Maine—will you be there?

Join Friends from across New England for a day dedicated to Nurturing Spirituality, Fostering Community and Strengthening Witness.

Workshops will explore themes including:

  • Quakers and social media
  • Supporting your local meeting to address climate change
  • Quaker parenting
  • Spirituality through poetry and art
  • Discernment and testing leadings
  • Daily spiritual practice & guided meditation
  • Working together for racial justice

Join us for shared worship, multigenerational time, a dynamic children’s program, nourishing and delicious food and time for fellowship and connection. Parents with young children welcome!

Online registration and more info will be posted soon at neym.org/livingfaith, shared in this newsletter and with all local meetings.
Click here to download a flyer with more information

Questions? Interested in volunteering to help out with this event? 

Email the Living Faith planning committee at livingfaith@neym.org to find out what’s needed.

Strengthening Our Response to the Climate Crisis

At Annual Sessions in August, New England Friends for the first time formally recognized the urgency of the climate crisis as a spiritual imperative and committed to strengthening our response as a web of faith communities.

Read the 2016 Minute on Climate Change here. More on concrete actions coming soon.

World Quaker Day 2016 is October 2.

Continuing the role New England Friends are increasingly playing in encouraging wider collaboration across the Quaker world, this year NEYM Religious Education and Outreach Coordinator Beth Collea helped produce a Community of Practice Resource Guide to accompany the QuakerSpeak video linked below, developed in partnership with Friends World Committee for Consultation and the Quaker Religious Education Collaborative.

Click here to view the guide to using this video in your meeting’s Religious Education program. For First Day School, here’s a resource and accompanying materials especially for the first Sunday in October—World Quaker Day.

New Video: On Spiritual Hospitality

Listening in Tongues: Being Bilingual as a Quaker Practice
Robin Mohr from Friends World Committee for Consultation describes a powerful practice of welcoming – and what she’s learned from being bilingual.

Don’t forget: World Quaker Day is October 2 – is your meeting celebrating?

Watch for more voices and videos of New England Friends coming soon through our partnership with QuakerSpeak.

Quaker Events

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A Last Word

A Community Conversation on Policing

PLEASE JOIN US FOR A COMMUNITY CONVERSATION

POLICING IN BRATTLEBORO


JULY 27, 2016

5:00 TO 7:30

At the

RIVER GARDEN

157 Main Street, Brattleboro


Our Panel:  Ken Williams (Interim Dean, S.I.T.), Chief Michael Fitzgerald (Brattleboro Police Dep’t), Dan Davis, Esq., José Moldando, Orlando Alverez, Patrina Lingard (moderator), and Darah Kehnemuyi (Director, Brattleboro Community Justice Center)

 

Sponsored by:BCJC.png

Supported by: Town of Brattleboro

Black Lives Matter Stolen

We Quakers here in Putney Vermont arrived at Worship today to find that our “Black Lives Matter”sign in front of our Meeting house was stolen some time this week. To quote from our minute on Black Lives Matter; “What’s important for us is that it’s not just a sign, not just a statement, it’s a commitment to join with others in doing the work we need to do.”

The stealing of our sign by some unknown community member hurts, but it in no way lessens our resolve to be “actively involved in whatever ways we can to make our Quaker Meeting and our community as a whole a part of the change that needs to happen.”

Sheila Garrett has volunteered to create a new sign and install it this evening, Sunday July 10th, during a candlelight vigil. Join her, if you can, in solidarity.iur

Here is the full text of our minute;


Open Letter In Support of Black Lives Matter

“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.”

Excerpted from the Minute on Racism ~ Approved at New England Yearly Meeting Sessions 2003 

Putney Friends Meeting, in solidarity with the “BLACK LIVES MATTER” movement, has erected a sign in front of the Putney Friends Meeting house on Route 5 in Putney, Vermont. What’s important for us is that it’s not just a sign, not just a statement, it’s a commitment to join with others in doing the work we need to do.

“BLACK LIVES MATTER” is a local movement as well as a national movement. Even in Vermont people of color are disproportionately singled out, treated with suspicion and treated as outsiders.  When Putney Friends Meeting agreed to put up the sign, we intended it for the whole community.  Yes, we do hope that people of color will know our intentions to be in solidarity, to honor their leadership and support their efforts. And Putney Friends Meeting also wants to remind ourselves and others that this means being actively involved in whatever ways we can to make our Quaker Meeting and our community as a whole a part of the change that needs to happen.

Because Vermont is one of the least racially diverse States, we have different challenges than States with more residents of color. This means exploring the opportunities to support and learn from those who are most affected by racism and bias.  All Vermonters are affected in a variety of ways.  There are programs and activities that help people learn about how racism and white privilege exist everywhere and how everyone is involved.  The goal is to become a community that is truly welcoming, open and affirming, where anyone can come and know they are valued and safe.

Putney Friends Meeting looks forward to working with other religious communities, groups and individuals to communicate and share what they are doing, engage in further actions, and challenge each other to do effective organizing.