With Our Whole Hearts

Dear Friends,

I’ve been ill for the past few weeks, so I hope you’ll forgive my not sharing a longer reflection this month.

Last week, with support from many Friends, our presiding clerk and I published a public statement on behalf of Quakers in New England, “The Love that Overcomes.” You can read the letter here.

I hope the stories of faithful living and opportunities for engagement featured in this month’s newsletter will bring you encouragement and nourish your spirit. My prayer is that in these turbulent days, each of us might find space—even if only for a few moments—for the refuge, rest, and renewal that will allow us to be who we are called to be.

May we help each other to discern and do just what is ours to do—what only we can do—and to do it with our whole hearts.

In faith and service,

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

Partners in Spirit matches young adults and aspiring mentors

February 15–18, 2019
Woolman Hill
Deerfield, MA

Hilary Burgin (Beacon Hill, MA, Friends Meeting) and Nia Thomas (Northampton, MA, Friends Meeting) will be joined by guest teacher Kristina Keefe-Perry (Fresh Pond, MA, Friends Meeting) to lead this weekend retreat bringing together two cohorts: emerging adults (ages 18–25) seeking to strengthen their understanding and experience of Quaker spiritual practices and more experienced Friends seeking to grow in their gifts as mentors and spiritual nurturers.

Attendance is by application. For more information, click here.

At the Well

A gathering for Friends in public ministry who identify as women (cisgender and trans), trans men, genderqueer, non-binary, and all gender expansive identities, December 6–9, 2018.

At the Well aspires to witness to the particularity of callings laid upon participants’ hearts by providing a venue for Spirit to knit together a blessed community of connection, support, mentoring, restoration, and passion.

The weekend will include times of worship, worship-sharing in small groups, workshops, multiple participant-led offerings, socialization, rest, and renewal. We intend to follow a hybrid model of structured planned program time and some time for Open Space/Unconference exploration.

An optional 24-hour pre-gathering will offer participants space for self-led sabbatical time or guided discernment program facilitated by Jennie Isbell Shinn (Mt. Toby, MA, Friends Meeting).

Attendance at the gathering and pre-gathering will be open to any Quaker in public ministry whose gender identity is targeted by any form of gender-based discrimination.

Learn more about At the Well and register.

Other events coming soon

Upcoming Quarterly Meetings

Upcoming Youth Retreats

View More Events

Dawnland film streaming on PBS this month

Dawnland, the acclaimed documentary chronicling the work of the Truth and Reconcilation Commission in Maine, is now available to stream in the United States on the PBS website and apps through the end of November in recognition of National Native American Heritage month. The Upstander Project team, Dawnlandfilm participants, and their partners at Maine-Wabanaki REACH are available for teacher workshops and to join conversations at all screenings of the film.

Click here to book a speaker. For more about the film, visit the Dawnland website.

Faith & Practice Revision Committee invites
your insights

This year at Annual Sessions, the committee charged with leading the revision of Faith and Practice, our Yearly Meeting’s book of discipline, brought two additional papers to NEYM for Friends’ consideration; one on Pastoral Care and one on Dying, Death and Bereavement. In addition, the Faith and Practice Revision Committee is continuing to work on the papers on Personal Spiritual Disciplines and Membership. Friends can find all of these papers here.

The committee is asking Friends to engage with these papers corporately, in each of our local meetings, and to share our advices and responses. The Faith and Practice Revision Committee is particularly interested in responses to the two new chapters: Pastoral Care and Dying, Death and Bereavement. Responses can be sent to the Committee’s email address, preferably no later than February 1, 2019.

These Friends have been doing careful and deeply discerning work in bringing forward a new book of discipline for New England Yearly Meeting. The invitation to read this material and to engage with it together is an invitation to consider corporately who we are and how we are called to live into our faith.

Song, prayer, and fellowship gather Friends at Living Faith

Photos: (top, lower left) Maggie Nelson, (lower right) Lisa Graustein

More than 125 Friends gathered for a day of community-building, worship, workshops, and fellowship on Saturday, October 27th at The 224 EcoSpace in Hartford, Connecticut. We began the day with a game, and closed the day with worship and song. Read more voices of Friends sharing about the day here.

“Provoke one another to Love” Chosen as Theme for 2019 Annual Sessions

The theme for the 2019 Annual Sessions has been discerned: “Provoke one another to Love.” The phrase comes from a 1656 epistle from Margaret Fell, and was quoted in the Yearly Meeting 2018 Epistle.

Read a message about this theme from Yearly Meeting Presiding Clerk Fritz Weiss

Responding to Climate Change

Measuring your carbon footprint

As many Friends are aware, the Yearly Meeting gathered in August committed to assessing New England Quakers’ current impact on the climate and taking concrete steps to reduce our carbon footprint—both for individuals and our local meetings—by December 20, 2019.

An online carbon calculator developed by Friend Steve Gates (West Falmouth, MA, Friends Meeting) can be used by individuals and groups to estimate your carbon footprint. Steve and Rebecca MacKenzie (Quaker City/Unity, NH, Friends Meeting) from the NEYM Earthcare Ministries Committee would love to visit your meeting to listen and share with you about the calculator, to explore the transformations required of us, and to support your meeting in taking steps forward.

Contact Steve by email or call 508-564-2761. Rebecca can also be reached by email or by telephone at 603-504-2851.

Taking action

Middlebury (VT) Friends expressed their gratitude to the local Jewish community by purchasing solar panels for Havurah House, the building where Middlebury Friends meet. These Friends have been thinking for some years about how to help Havurah make the building more environmentally friendly. Once electricity begins flowing from these solar panels, Havurah will get a credit on its electric bill that will offset most or all of the building’s electricity expense.

More resources and inspiration

Andy Burt (Midcoast, ME, Friends Meeting) has created a full-length documentary that tells how 13 Maine activists started their journey of activism for climate justice, and where they find support and hope. The film is free for downloading and streaming at downtoearthstories.org.

Traveling Ministry: Art & Spirituality

Maggie Nelson, of Portland Friends Meeting (ME), is beginning a traveling ministry this year (through May 31, 2019) offering workshops for New England Friends of all ages to explore art as an expression of faith. Additionally, there is an open call for work from Quaker artists exploring this topic. The project will culminate in a collection of artwork that illustrates and illuminates Quaker testimony. Are you an artist with work to share? Would you like Maggie to visit your meeting, retreat, or school? Contact her at maggie@neym.org.
Maggie also served as artist in residence at Friends Camp, in China, Maine, this past June. Read about her experience here.

Friends Camp Registration is Open!

Friends Camp offers 2-week overnight camp programs for children and teens ages 7 to17 in South China, Maine. Campers ages 7 to 12 can try camp for just one week. Check out the Camp’s Instagram photos here and watch a video from this past summer. Visit the Friends Camp website for more information and to register your child.
Learn More and Register

Following Where Faith Leads

An unexpected leading to visit Friends in New Bedford led Martha Mangelsdorf in surprising new directions—with significant implications. Read about her journey here.

Wellesley Friends Join Area Clergy to Support Transgender Rights

June 6, 2018, Needham Community Conversation about Transgender Equality, First Parish UU Church. Cynthia Ganung is at the far left.

Wellesley (MA) Friends Meeting, represented by Cynthia Ganung, joined area clergy in a letter supporting Question 3 on transgender rights in Massachusetts. The faith-based statement was read at the Needham Transgender Equality Coalition program on October 22, “Why Yes on 3? A conversation on preserving transgender rights in MA.” (The photo above is from an earlier event supporting transgender equality.)Cynthia reports “I was proud to be part of this group and to speak out as a Quaker who supports transgender equality. At the end of the program, a woman who is transgender told me she was moved to tears during this reading and is beginning to feel that she might be able to reclaim her faith.”

The Transgender Day of Remembrance is November 20.

New Quaker Action Program Manager at
Beacon Hill Friends House

The Beacon Hill Friends House (Boston, MA) is excited to announce that Emily Savin has joined the staff and residential community as the organization’s first full-time Program Manager. Emily is a Friend, a writer, and a community-builder, coming to the Friends House from Northampton, MA. A former staff member and resident at Pendle Hill, Emily also brings many years of experience as a grassroots organizer at the Friends Committee on National Legislation (FCNL) and in several U.S. congressional campaigns. Her work will center on stewarding and expanding the Friends House’s educational and action-focused programming on Quaker and social justice topics—both those designed in-house and those hosted by outside individuals and groups.

The addition of the Program Manager—who joins three existing staff and 18 other residents—is the latest step in living into the Friends House’s 2017 strategic plan to grow its role as a center for learning, witness, and action for Friends and others in the Boston area and beyond. Learn more about Emily and the plans for her work in this post on the Beacon Hill Friends House website.

Collaborating for Religious Education

The Quaker Religious Education Collaborative (QREC) is a grassroots network of Friends holding a sense of stewardship for life-long Quaker faith formation. Friends from all branches involved in religious education are welcome to join. The collaborative is a community of practice to share resources, skills, gifts, questions, and insights, and to support one another in this vital ministry. QREC hosts monthly online conversation circles on relevant topics.This month’s theme is Friendly Resources for the Holiday Season. For more information on the collaborative and to sign up for the conversation circles, visit the QREC website.

Explore Quaker Parenting

The Quaker Parenting Initiative, with leadership from Harriet Heath of Schoodic (ME) Friends Meeting, offers online parenting discussion series. During a series, parents share their experiences and explore how their Quaker beliefs, the testimonies and practices guide and support their parenting. As one parent wrote:

Online makes it accessible. It was amazing to connect to the community this way!! It has been so lovely to feel part of something with like-minded people, each with their own challenges. It is difficult to commit to a weekly time slot for a number of consecutive weeks, but I am so glad that I did.

She continued by noting how she and her partner now approach each situation using their values, beliefs, and the cognitive development of their children.

Two new series of five sessions of parenting discussions will start in January 2019, one on the 9th and the second on the 10th. For more information or to register, contact Harriet Heath at 413-230-6568 or email her.

In 2019 Friends Peace Teams will be offering opportunities for training in peacebuilding and healing and rebuilding communities. The 6th Annual International Peace Training will happen in Indonesia, January 10 through 23, 2019. Two sessions of “Healing and Rebuilding Our Communities” will be offered, February 3–23, 2019; and July 7–27, 2019; both in Rwanda. For more information on their work, visit the Friends Peace Teams website.

News of New England Friends sharing and acting from their faith in the past month:

Are you aware of Friends or Friends Meetings featured in the media? Email us so that we can share the news!

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Copyright © 2018 New England Yearly Meeting of Friends (Quakers), All rights reserved.
You are receiving this email because you expressed interest in the life and ministry of New England Quakers.Our mailing address is:

New England Yearly Meeting of Friends (Quakers)

901 Pleasant St

Worcester, MA 01602

Civil Resistance Documentary Films Launch

Dear Friends,

Our former member at Putney Friends Meeting, Steve Chase, has shared these free resources in non-violent resistance.

Civil Resistance Documentary Films Launch


Dear Friends,

BIG ANNOUNCEMENT!: We just posted five critically acclaimed documentary films on civil resistance on our website, in English as well as translated into over 20 languages.

Originally available only on DVD or videocassette, and shown in hundreds of screenings in over 25 countries, the films can now be viewed freely, worldwide. The films are:


A Force More Powerful: 
The Emmy-nominated documentary exploring civil resistance campaigns in India, the United States, South Africa, Poland, Denmark, and Chile.


Bringing Down a Dictator: 
The award-winning documentary chronicling the student-led Otpor! Movement that led to the ouster of Serbian dictator Slobodan Milosevic.


Orange Revolution: 
The acclaimed documentary recounting 17 days of nonviolent civil resistance by the people of Ukraine against their chronically corrupt government.


Confronting the Truth: 
A documentary examining the dynamics and mechanics of Truth and Reconciliation Commissions in the aftermath of conflicts in South Africa, Peru, East Timor, and Morocco.


Egypt: Revolution Interrupted?:
 A documentary recounting the 2011 Egyptian revolution, and its aftermath in the years that followed.

All of the films are available for free streaming on the “ICNC Films” page of our website.

Please share this exciting news with anyone who may be interested!

Sincerely,
The ICNC Team


INTERNATIONAL CENTER ON NONVIOLENT CONFLICT
1775 Pennsylvania Ave. NW, Suite 1200
Washington, D.C. 20006
nonviolent-conflict.org

The Love That Overcomes

November 3, 2018
For I am convinced that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor rulers, nor things present, nor things to come, nor powers, nor height, nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God –Romans 8:38-39
This week, Quaker communities of faith across the six New England states are mourning with our Jewish neighbors the deadliest act of violence against Jews in this country’s history.  We mourn with all who are targeted by hate.  We join our hearts in grief with the grieving.  We search for ways to respond to the corrosive evils of anti-Semitism, white supremacy, and the persecution of those labeled as “other,” even as we acknowledge our own complicity in these sins.  We yearn for justice, for healing, for refuge for those most at risk.  In town squares, in places of worship, in living rooms, in legislative offices and detention centers, we unite with countless others to protect people from further violence, violence fueled by false prophets preaching fear.
Each day brings further anxiety, violence, and vitriol, while some charged to be leaders incite the worst in us as human beings.  We are surrounded by stories of hatred, division, and despair.  And yet, we know this: The story of Love will endure.
This week, in the face of the mass murder of Jews at prayer, Jewish doctors and nurses treated the man who opened fire in the Tree of Life Synagogue.  A stranger in a parking lot cradled the 12-year-old boy whose grandfather was one of two black people shot and killed by a white man outside Louisville, Kentucky.  As some deny the basic humanity of transgender people and people seeking asylum, communities respond with acts of radical love, inclusion, and sanctuary. In these and so many unnamed acts, amidst such suffering, we see the infinite Love of God.
It is the testimony of the Religious Society of Friends that God is at work healing the brokenness of the world and the brokenness within each of us.  Nothing can hold back the unshakeable power of Love in this time, and throughout all time.  What matters in this moment–in every moment–is how we choose to participate in this eternal story.  Our lives must proclaim that this Love is stronger than all fear.
We commit to live today trusting in this Truth.  The words we say and the choices we make in the coming days and weeks must bear witness to Love in concrete acts of connection and care, in our homes and neighborhoods, in our schools and workplaces, in the coming elections, as communities of faith, as people who call this country home, as those seeking refuge and those offering it.  We must waste no opportunity to love.
We must seek the grace to keep free from the politics of rage, division, numbness and dehumanization, even toward those we may perceive as enemies.  We must nurture in each other the courage to come together across difference, to resist hopelessness, to renounce a worldview that treats anyone as disposable, to affirm that the Spirit of God dwells in everyone.  With each person, in each moment, each place—this movement grows.
This is the time for a politics of presence, of radical relationship, of mutual aid and reconciliation.  It’s a time to be witnesses, storytellers of the broken-hearted Love that overcomes the powers of fear.  Let the walls of separation come crashing down.
New England Yearly Meeting of Friends (Quakers)
Fritz Weiss, Presiding Clerk
Noah Merrill, Secretary

Free the Children

Include photo creditPhoto: Jon Krieg/AFSC

Dear Friends

As President Trump announced in his press conference yesterday, his administration is working on a new plan to detain immigrant families indefinitely. I want to make sure you know there is a public comment period that allows you to weigh in on this cruel proposal – and the deadline is this Tuesday, Nov. 6. If you haven’t already done so (and thank you if you have!), please take a few minutes to make your voice heard.

Tell the government today that it shouldn’t detain immigrant children and families at all.

We know that families belong together – and not in jail. But in recent months, we’ve seen the devastation wrought by the Trump administration’s inhumane immigration policies: Children separated from their parents at the border. Thousands of people funneled into a violent and inhumane detention and deportation system. And now, Trump is using the migrant caravan – which includes many families with children – to fuel support for his anti-immigrant agenda.

Trump’s proposed change would create a system of indefinitely family detention. It would supersede the Flores settlement, a decades-old court agreement that limits how long children can be detained and requires standards of care for detention facilities holding children.

Add your voice to the growing number of people telling the government: Stop detaining immigrant families! Here’s how:

1. Click here to publicly comment on Trump’s proposed rule. It’s titled “Apprehension, Processing, Care, and Custody of Alien Minors and Unaccompanied Alien Children.”

2. Tell the government to reject any regulation that would allow the detention of immigrant children and families. Use your own words and write from your own values and experiences. Here are some points to consider:

  • Keeping children in detention causes lasting trauma.
  • Detention cannot be carried out humanely.
  • Indefinite detention of immigrant families violates human rights, fosters abuse and mistreatment, and is expensive, impractical, and unnecessary.
  • Protecting basic human rights is not a loophole.

Comments must be submitted by Tuesday, Nov. 6. Tell the government today: No more family detention.

In solidarity,

Kathryn Johnson
AFSC Policy Advocacy Coordinator

Submit your comment now

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

Now is the time to stand up for more humane values

American Friends Service Committee
Header Image

EMERGENCY RESPONSE

DONATE NOW

 

Yesterday the Trump administration announced the deployment of more than 5,000 troops to the U.S.-Mexico border. In El Paso and other ports of entry, border agents have been seen in riot gear conducting exercises.

Now is the time to stand up for more humane values. Will you help fund AFSC’s emergency response to protect human rights and help those fleeing violence?

People fleeing violence in Central America should be able to seek asylum in this “land of liberty.” And deploying more troops to our southern border only endangers lives and puts all of our rights at risk – at enormous taxpayer expense.

We can make a difference. You can help.

AFSC works in Guatemala, El Salvador, Mexico, and dozens of U.S. cities and towns, including at the U.S.-Mexico border. Our team has traveled with the migrant caravan and is on the ground in the region now, assessing where our expertise and resources can make the greatest difference. We have also been convening faith and human rights groups in the U.S. to develop a visible, moral response to this human rights emergency.

We are developing plans to:

  • Meet human needs like shelter and safety.
  • Expand human rights monitoring.
  • Advocate for policy change.

Amidst the harassment and threats of detention that migrants face on their journey, we have been inspired to see people along the caravan’s route respond with generosity and compassion. I have no doubt that our community will do the same.

Please make a special gift today to support the people of the migrant caravan who are fleeing violence and poverty. Let’s show the world what love can do.

(portrait) Yours in service,

(signature)

Mark Graham
Director of Communications and Development
American Friends Service Committee

P.S. My colleagues and I will be following up shortly with more about our efforts and how you can get involved in being a voice for change. Thank you once again for considering a gift to support this work!

DONATE NOW

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

Putney Area CASP meeting

Screen Shot 2018-10-21 at 7.46.10 AM

Putney Area CASP meeting (Community Asylum Seekers Project)

Thursday, October 25, 6:30pm at the Putney Friends Meeting House

 

Please join us for a simple potluck supper followed by a meeting to update us on CASP’s work in southeastern Vermont and to strategize our next steps in the Putney area as we seek to support asylum seekers.

 

Three Days Left to Give

Three Days Left to Give

Here we have a prospect of one common interest from which our own is inseparable, that to turn all the treasures we possess into the channel of universal love becomes the business of our lives… 
                                                                            – John Woolman, 1763
Dear Friends,

We have just three days to go before the end of the fiscal year for New England Yearly Meeting of Friends (NEYM)—and we need your help.

Thanks to Friends’ generous support, here’s a snapshot of some of what we’ve been able to do together in the past year:

  • Publish a monthly newsletter lifting up the life and ministry of New England Quakers–sharing Friends’ stories, and amplifying our shared witness on the climate crisis and work for racial justice;
  • Partner with local meetings to help foster multigenerational relationships, and integrate young adults & families more fully in our faith communities;
  • Offer workshops and opportunities for connection among those whose service sustains our local meetings, from clerks and treasurers to members of ministry & counsel committees;
  • Remove barriers to participation and offer a wider welcome through the use of the Pay-As-Led approach to event fees;
  • Host events that nurtured Quaker faith and practice, including Annual Sessions, Living Faith gatherings, youth retreats, spiritual nurture workshops, and more;
  • Support those who work with our youngest Friends, providing training and background screenings for youth workers, and implementing our newly-approved child safety policy;
  • Consult with Friends and local meetings to imagine new and better ways to support the spiritual health and life of children and their families throughout New England;
  • Through time-sensitive public statements, ecumenical engagement, and organizing, raise a more powerful voice on behalf of Friends in our wider region on vital issues of our times.

Meeting our financial goals means we’ll be able to continue this work.

Contribute Now
Here’s some good news: We’re almost there–with a total goal of $200,000, and with committed intentions, we’ve raised more than $195,000 in gifts by generous Friends, from Connecticut to Maine.

If we can raise $5000 in the next three days, we’ll have exceeded our budgeted goal this year, and taken another important step toward financial sustainability and the thriving of New England Friends.

The work of Love–of which our shared ministries are a part–is the business of our lives. May all the treasures we are able to share help it thrive, now and in the coming months.

If you have given in the past year, thank you. If you haven’t, I hope you’ll consider contributing now in whatever amount you can afford.

Regardless of your ability to contribute financially, thank you for all of the ways you share your gifts with the world through our Quaker communities of faith.

In faith and service,

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

P.S.: All online contributions or checks dated September 30, 2018 or before will count toward our annual fundraising goal. 

P.P.S.: Don’t forget to check out the upcoming Living Faith gatherings to be held this year in Hartford, Connecticut on October 27, and in Southeastern New England in April—hope to see you there!

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Member News: Chloe Learey

VTDigger Report

Chloe Learey: Strategies to increase child care slots

Editor’s note: This commentary is by Chloe Learey, executive director of the Winston Prouty Center for Child and Family Development in Brattleboro, and a member of the Building Bright Futures State Advisory Council. The Brattleboro Area Chamber of Commerce recently named her Entrepreneur of the Year.

In the recent survey by the Child Care Counts Coalition of Windham County employers indicated that challenges around child care create a burden on business. A lack of quality, affordable child care impacts existing business as well as healthy economic development. The shortage of child care spots, especially for infants and toddlers (ages 0 to 3), has been well researched. We cannot afford to ignore this issue if we want our region and our state to attract a vibrant workforce and support thriving communities.

This is not a new issue in Vermont. Twenty years ago, a group called the Child Care Fund of Vermont issued a report titled “A Vermont Employer’s Guide to Child Care Solutions” which offered strategies for employers to consider in order to support employees who juggle the demands of parenting. Today, several organizations have picked up this idea of investing in a variety of projects aimed at supporting child care in Vermont. These initiatives are working to identify statewide opportunities and develop local initiatives to make a difference. While individual employers can develop their own strategies for supporting employees, the issues around child care are larger than any one company, and it will take a coalition to move the needle on some of the biggest challenges we face in maintaining and increasing the child care slots needed to support economic growth.

Challenge #1: There are not enough early educators.

Early care and education are not babysitting. The field has become more professionalized with the need for more qualifications. Right now, there are two local programs that are reducing their available spots for children due to a lack of staff, and one that has a classroom ready to open but cannot find teachers.

Strategy 1: Invest in workforce development.

Investing in workforce development, from creating opportunities for people to get in on the ground floor to subsidizing their education at the college level, addresses this challenge. For instance, the Windham Regional Career Center is sponsoring a course for people interested in getting the baseline qualifications for being able to be hired into a classroom position. “Fundamentals of Early Childhood Education” will run from Sept. 24 to Nov. 19 and could help generate up to 12 potential employees.

Strategy 2: Subsidize post-secondary education.

In a field that boasts some of the lowest wages of any job classification, college credits are a requirement for climbing the early educator career ladder. Supporting people to pursue advanced degrees will make the field more attractive. The United Way of Windham County has a Fund for Quality Early Education that provides resources for a range of activities that help improve the field, including money for professional development. Growing this fund can help more people enter and stay in the profession. This local solution can be adapted to other regions. More broadly, the state could consider some sort of loan forgiveness program or subsidizing the education of students in early education at Vermont state colleges.

Challenge #2: There are not enough slots.

“Stalled at the Start” estimates that 73 percent of infants in Windham County likely will not have access to a regulated program, and people get on waiting lists as soon as they find out they are pregnant.

Strategy: Provide funds to increase infrastructure.

Vermont Birth to 5, an initiative of The Permanent Fund, has created a statewide grant program, “Make Way for Kids,” to give funds towards projects that will increase quality child care slots. This concept could be expanded locally using the Windham County United Way Fund for Quality Early Education as well. So, for instance, if someone considers opening a program out of their home and needs to make some renovations, they could apply to the fund for assistance.

Challenge #3: Child care is too expensive.

Strategy: Increase scholarships and subsidies for families.

One of the conundrums in solving the child care puzzle is how to cover costs of providing the service and pay a wage that attracts a strong workforce without increasing tuition which already costs as much as housing every month. Employers can offer benefits that help alleviate the financial burden such as Flexible Spending Accounts and direct financial assistance such as a child care allowance. The costs of turnover and absenteeism help pay for the investments employers might make in this way. Child Care Fund of Vermont laid out these and other options 20 years ago!

There are concrete steps we can take together to solve the child care puzzle. If all the pieces fall in place, our future workforce gets the strong foundation they need to succeed, our current workforce can participate in the local economy, and our communities will grow and thrive the way we hope.

New England Yearly Meeting 2018 State of Society Report

Dear Friends,

This year the 32 members of New England Yearly Meeting Ministry and Counsel read all 35 of the State of Society reports that were sent to us from local meetings across New England.

At our meeting in May we walked around the room and drew pictures and wrote phrases about “what had life” in each of the geographical regions we call “Quarters.” Out of worship we shared what rose for us as we considered the overall state of our Religious Society, in this corner of the world. Our discernment was informed by the State of Society reports that you shared, the news we have been reading each month in the monthly e-mail newsletter, and by our travel in Ministry among Friends in the past year.
The prayerful reflection at this meeting as well as the work of a smaller group of Friends nominated to carry forward the work of putting the sense of the meeting into words, led us to the final document which was read at Annual Sessions, and which is being shared with you now (attached). We hope your meeting both sees itself reflected in this report, and is able to recognize the ways in which the meeting is a part of a larger whole, which may or may not share the exact same condition.
This report is an imperfect effort at capturing how Truth prospers among us. We continue to hold your meeting in our prayers and we look forward to hearing from you throughout the year, with joys and concerns, and particularly if there are ways that our committee can support the thriving of your local meeting community of Friends.

In the abundant Love that holds us all,

Honor Woodrow (Framingham, MA, Friends Meeting)
Clerk of New England Yearly Meeting Ministry and Counsel

2018 State of Society Report

Behold, the days come, saith the Lord God, that I will send a famine in the land, not a famine of bread, nor a thirst for water, but of hearing the words of the Lord. Amos 8:11

The words of the Lord are justice, love, mercy, patience, service, comfort and
joy. We find them inscribed deep in our yearnings, suffering, hope, and imagination, often unaware they are a sacred gift. Through them we enact our lives, inhabit our bodies, and work with the materials of the world and of culture. Reminders echo around us in the wordless language of the land, the creatures, and the rhythms of the cosmos. Some of us are reached in one way, some of us in another; at bottom the hunger is the same—to be available, filled up, transformed so as more and more to speak, act, and live as children of the Light. We feel the words as divine intention and a call to follow where it will lead in this time of fear—and hope.

As we have reflected and prayed about the spiritual condition of our Yearly Meeting, we have heard in visits, meeting reports, newsletters, minutes of concern, and prophetic witness that Friends are seeking to live more fully according to the gifts of the Spirit that we are given. The hunger for knowledge and for better access to the wisdom of our community are leading to a widespread desire for adult religious education. The recognition of this need, or desire, in turn is calling out gifts of teaching, writing, and organizing in many meetings. The results take many forms—book groups, forums, retreat attendance, and more. Groups of Friends called to ministry are gathering more frequently for mutual encouragement and guidance to better service. The gift of eldership, which can liberate the life and service of individuals and of meetings, is more widely understood, encouraged, and put into action. We rejoice in the freshness of the life that rises. It stands in bold contrast to the tenor of our times that leaves us at times cold and lost.

The longing for justice, for right living, and for peace that is more than the absence of war is bearing fruit in acts of witness. Friends reach for the commonwealth of God when we stand with the earth in a time of climate change, stand with refugees, immigrants, and Native Americans in a time of xenophobia, and stand with those who bear the burdens of the economic and social systems in which we are all embedded. One Friend’s gift of money to every meeting in New England stimulated the power of

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imagination, and enabled many meetings to take steps to strengthen their work or presence in the community.

There are, in truth, as many challenges before us as ever. Some meetings feel themselves in decline; some Friends feel isolated in meetings which have not taken the risk of seeing and encouraging the gifts of their members. A number of meetings have made an effort to increase their connectedness within their meeting community and thereby reduce the sense of isolation that some may feel. This has often been coupled with outreach to the communities which surround them. The work to know and see each other more deeply, and to reach out to non-Quakers has resulted in a clearer sense of who we are as Friends. It has also been important when meetings have actively shared resources with each other within their quarters and beyond.

There is a constant pressure from the culture and society around us to live individualistically. We feel the invitation to judge, separate, and make distinctions within our communities. Friends struggle to turn the invitation aside and claim instead the blessing of true community so that the common life can flow freely. We are learning that when we allow the Spirit to keep our individualism in check, fuller life and vitality in the meeting are unleashed. Investing in the common life brings blessings that are for some surprising and unfamiliar. In true community, the individual’s uniqueness, voice, agency, and gifts, are affirmed and refreshed with new meaning.

We have been led as a people to walk further and further out on the limb of faith. Taking risks in our commitment to address the seeds and practices of white supremacy within us, and to respond prophetically and actively to the climate crisis. We see that taking a risk, even a small one- encourages more risk-taking, and as we have read all the news of the yearly Meeting, a risky question arises: What is the foundation of our hope? How can we speak with confidence about the springs from which our witness, our endurance, our experiments and our joy take their strength? We see that where we are alive to the springs of life, are willing to be foolish in the eyes of the world, to be children in the Spirit, our faith takes us into hard places. In these hard places we see our true condition more clearly. This demands of us both deep inner work and deep outer work. Where will we find courage and capacity to tell that story, and to share what wonders we have found?

Ministry and Counsel Committee

New England Yearly Meeting

A Deeper Hope

SEPTEMBER 2018

A Deeper Hope

Dear Friends,

In my morning devotional time since Annual Sessions, I’ve been reading Howard Thurman’s Jesus and the Disinherited, a foundational reflection by Thurman, the Black theologian, preacher, professor, activist and mystic whose work helped inspire the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., and who was a student and friend of Maine Quaker Rufus Jones.

This writing, first published in 1949, wrestles with the question, “What is the word of the religion of Jesus to those who stand with their backs against the wall?”

My own experience and identity shape the way I receive his message. Reading his work, I feel far from the condition of the radical Jesus he describes. I’m shaken, yet comforted. And I’m challenged. I’m particularly struck–even convicted–by one challenging word Thurman uses again and again to describe people in all times and places “with their backs against the wall”–disinherited.

Because to be disinherited, one first has to already be an heir.

Much secular activism in which I participate focuses on a vision of progress toward the realization and expansion of universal rights for all. A central premise is that, together, we are building a better world. Painfully, often slowly, history moves forward. We can and do make things better. Step by step, through skillful organizing and advocacy, sound policy, better institutions, enlightened leadership, and greater inclusion, we (hopefully an ever-widening “we”) make progress. We struggle and strive to build with human hands the structures of a more perfect world. This is powerful, essential, and often life-saving work, to which many Friends for generations have dedicated themselves, understanding this as an expression of Quaker ethics shaped by our faith.

But this isn’t the whole story. Thurman’s challenge brings me back to the ground truth.

Infinite worth permeates Creation. Absolute, unconditional Love is the organizing principle of the Universe. At the heart of things, every person is a being of incalculable value, filled with an unshakeable dignity, beloved beyond all measure.

What I understand from the testimony of our faith tradition as Friends is that, at the heart of things, we are not constructing a better world. From the beginning, Friends have been animated by the understanding that we are helping to reclaim, restore, and remember what has always been true from the foundation of the world. And in this world founded on this unshakeable truth of belovedness, some of the beloved have been disinherited by one another, and by the powerful forces and structures of separation, confusion, hatred and fear that have been built and sustained across generations–but never disinherited by God.

As I begin to remember, it becomes clear that the rock bottom reality is this: nothing in all Creation can change the fact that every person is an infinitely beloved child of God. And yet, in countless ways, we live our lives in ways that seem to deny it.

So for me, the central challenge is: Will I live today as if this Truth is true? Can I recognize this essential belovedness, both in myself and in my neighbor? When I am anchored in this recognition, I am opened to see more clearly–and help to transform–the patterns, prejudices, and powers that deny this Truth.

Recently I shared an unexpected quiet moment with a Friend as we both made our way to a common destination. As we walked together, we reflected on the condition of our Quaker faith community in New England, and the condition of our wider society. She shared her concern for a loved one who–like so many among us–has been pouring energy into the upcoming elections, desperate to bring about a political change that, this person so deeply hopes, could open a way toward greater compassion, justice, and moral courage.

We affirmed the necessity and profound importance of each of us doing the work before us, of laboring together with all the means available to build the world we seek.

And yet she feared for her loved one, for herself, and for all of us. She worried about what could happen if the election or the political process doesn’t bring about the redemption that so many of us yearn for, if the political arena in which so many of us have placed our hope proves unable to respond to the depth of the hatred, division, distraction, and violence that has been unmasked and unleashed in these times. She worries about the cost–and the fruits–of a shattering despair. Secular political action is vital and needed. But it will not, by itself, bring the healing the world needs.

“We need a deeper Hope,” she said.

Thurman’s challenge lights a path for me toward that deeper Hope–a Hope that is not at risk.

What is at risk–and what is being decided in every moment–is whether we will trust that Hope, turn toward it, abide in it, and let it guide our living.

May we find that essential belovedness–both within ourselves and in our neighbor–and know that it is unshakeable. From this ground, may our actions spring. 

In faith and service,

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

Photo: Friends Couple Enrichment

Couple Enrichment with John and Debbie Humphries

September 21–23, 2018
Powell House
Chatham, NY

A Couple Enrichment Workshop is an opportunity for a couple to focus on their relationship, enhance communication skills, and deepen their appreciation of each other. This couples weekend will be facilitated by Debbie and John Humphries (Hartford, CT, Friends Meeting). Couple enrichment workshops help couples celebrate their relationship’s joys and strengths, and develop skills to deepen and improve them. A Couple Enrichment program is not therapy; it is a way to make good relationships even better. Find more information at the Powell House website.

Other events coming soon

Upcoming Quarterly Meetings

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Highlights from 2018 Annual Sessions

Photo: Diane Weinholtz

Curious what Annual Sessions was like this year? Interested in revisiting the experience? Want to share what happened with your meeting?

You can see video from Bible Half-Hours, the plenary panel, slide shows and more on the Yearly Meeting YouTube channel.

These “talking points” give highlights of the week’s events to post and share with your local meeting. Minutes from business sessions will be posted on the Yearly Meeting website soon!

Lost and Found at Sessions

Several items left behind at Castleton are in the Yearly Meeting office. If you lost a travel mug, water bottle, hat, shirt, or umbrella, call or email Sara Hubner to see if it’s among these items.

Racial Justice Course for Friends,
small groups, and local meetings

Image: Hartford Friends

Lisa Graustein (Beacon Hill, MA, Friends Meeting) is leading an on-line course to explore how we perpetuate racism and white supremacy as individuals and as a Religious Society. We will also practice skills for interrupting racism and deepen our capacity to work for racial justice within ourselves, our meetings, and our wider communities. More information about the course, including a syllabus and options for participation, can be found here.

Witnessing for Immigrants

Photo: Monadnock Quaker Meeting
Many New England Friends participated in the Solidarity Walk for Immigrant Justice, which began August 22 at the Immigration and Customs Enforcement office in Manchester, NH. Four days and forty miles later, they ended at the Strafford County jail in Dover, NH, where ICE incarcerates people. The march was covered by the Associated Press, NH Public Radio, the Seacoast Online and Manchester Ink Link websites, WMUR-TV, and Foster’s Daily Democrat, among other outlets. You can find photographs taken along the way on the Facebook event page.

Concern for Palestinians in Gaza

A group of concerned New England Friends has written a Minute of Concern for Palestinians in Gaza which they are sharing for monthly meetings to consider. Read the minute here.

Making the Experience of Palestinians Visible

Skip Schiel (Cambridge, MA, Friends Meeting) returns to Israel in September, hoping to enter Gaza with the Alternatives to Violence Project to witness and photograph conditions for Palestinian refugees. Learn more on Skip’s website.

Living Faith: Fresh Changes This Fall

On October 27, Friends from across New England and beyond will again gather for Living Faith, a daylong, multigenerational celebration of Quaker spirituality, community, ministry, and witness.

As we enter the third year of our experiments with Living Faith, we will be hosted in Hartford, Connecticut by the dynamic community at The 224 EcoSpace, a social enterprise of the Conference of Churches and FaithWorks CT.

This beautiful new space offers exciting possibilities for interaction with the diverse community groups that share in the center’s life, and with this ministry of creativity, creation and renewal in the heart of the city.

We’re trying something new, which will bring some changes. We’ll share some parts of the facility with other groups, and have an opportunity to meet and learn from local leadership about this thriving ministry and the context in which they work. Based on requests and continuing feedback, there will be shifts in styles and attention to worship, a smaller number of more curated workshops, and programming placing greater emphasis on supporting the life of local meetings, living our faith in our daily lives, and creating connections beyond Living Faith.

Living Faith seeks to be especially welcoming to those just beginning to explore Quaker spirituality, to New England Quakers who are venturing into Quaker activities beyond their local meetings for the first time, and to families with young children.

Questions? Contact livingfaith@neym.org. Save the date for October 27, and watch for a registration announcement later this month!

Ministry in Mongolia

Sas Carey (Middlebury, VT, Friends Meeting) has traveled among Mongolia nomadic herders for 24 years. Sas shares about her work here.

New Video: Becoming a Quaker Minister

What is Quaker ministry? What does it mean to be recorded as a Quaker minister? Stephanie Crumley-Effinger (Earlham School of Religion) speaks from her experience.

Upcoming Grant Application Opportunities

  • Did you know New England Yearly Meeting gives grants to support the thriving of local meetings and Friends ministry and witness? The deadline for the next round of grants from the NEYM Future Fund is October 1, 2018.

    For more information and to apply, visit neym.org/legacy-gift.

    If you have questions about applying please contact Suzanna Schell (Beacon Hill, MA, Friends Meeting) & Jean McCandless (Burlington, VT, Friends Meeting) co-clerks at legacy@neym.org.

    A list of recent grant recipients can be found here. A slideshow of the many ways in which the Funds are supporting the ministry of New England Quakers in the areas of racial justice, climate change, outreach, religious education and more, is coming soon to the NEYM YouTube channel.

  • The Forum for Theological Exploration offers grants to congregations and church-related ministries interested in providing young adults with leadership opportunities within pastoral ministry. The deadline for the current round of grants is September 15, but even if you can’t meet the deadline, Friends might want to keep the grants in mind for the future.  Learn more here.

What is a “Living Epistle”?

What is one of the oldest Quaker practices, now being renewed? Friends World Committee for ConsultationSection of the Americas is sending Friends to travel within the Religious Society of Friends, across difference.  FWCC hopes that these “living epistles” will help knit us together, and encourage Friends in their faith.  It’s called the Travelling Ministry Corps. Read more about the program here.

Interested in joining the Traveling Ministry Corps? Visit the FWCC website for more information.

Quakers in Print

Andrew Grannell (Portland, ME, Friends Meeting) has published a memoir of his journey as a husband, father, and public Friend. A Lifetime of Good Beginnings is available for sale at your local bookstore or online …

… Kathleen Wooten (Fresh Pond, MA, Friends Meeting) has an article in Friends Journal, “Simple, Relevant, Amusing,” about sharing the Quaker message via social media …

… And Jeffrey Schmalz (Allen’s Neck, MA, Friends Meeting) published a letter to the editor in the Standard Times.

Celebrate Friends Everywhere

Are you passionate about creating connections and building relationship within your meeting and between Friends? Seeking to connect seekers and long-time Friends with our diverse Quaker traditions? Yearning to gather in worship?

Consider joining Friends around the world on October 7, 2018, in celebration of the Quaker faith on World Quaker Day (WQD). Find out what it’s all about at neym.org.

Sharing about World Quaker Day on your social media platforms?  Kathleen Wooten (Fresh Pond, MA, Friends Meeting) NEYM Social Media Manager, is creating some graphic posts for New England meetings. You can find them posted on our Facebook page.

Help Design Our New Website!

In order to better lift up the life and ministry of Quakers in our region, we’re working with a team of web developers to create a new, more focused, functional, connecting and inspiring neym.org—the website of New England Yearly Meeting of Friends.

This is an important chance to make your voice heard, and we’d love to hear from you.

Have an experience to share about using the current website? Your answers to three questions on this user survey would be a great help. And thank you!

Take the survey

Got Images?

We need photographs for the website, newsletter, and other publications for New England Friends.

If you have photos from Annual Sessions, events at your local meeting, or other activities of Quakers in New England, please send them to office@neym.org, including the names of the person(s) in the photo, the date taken, the event, and the full name of the photographer.

Thanks in advance!

News of New England Friends sharing and acting from their faith in the past month:

Are you aware of Friends or Friends Meetings featured in the media? Email us so that we can share the news!

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