Report from Friends General Conference Gathering

Dear Friends,
Sadelle Wiltshire recently attended the Gathering and shared these plenary talks;

Rex Ambler: 

Living in Dark Times
Rex Ambler is a prolific Quaker author who has written about the inward teachings of George Fox (Truth of the Heart) and is perhaps best known for making the wisdom of early Friends accessible to Friends today. Two books – Light to live by and Seeing, Hearing, Knowing – Reflections on Experiment with Light – detail the practice of meditation which he had discovered in Early Friends, and suggest ways in which modern Friends could ‘experiment’ with the practice themselves, with a six-step guide to the meditation to help them through.  In the years that followed the publication of his book he was invited to introduce the practice, and the vision behind it, to many meetings in Britain, Europe, North America and Africa.  The practical workshops he presented became known as Experiment with Light, and the small groups set up in meetings to practice it became known as Light Groups. His most recent book is The Quaker Way: A Rediscovery in which Rex takes up the challenge of describing the Quaker way of life and at the same time making sense of it.  Rex asks the question, “What is really going on when Quakers sit in silence?” Rex has been a teacher and political theologian, helped to establish the Gandhi Foundation in Britain, and been active in Britain Yearly Meeting. His books spiral out from his personal experiences and influences, which include Gandhi’s work with the poor and oppressed, personal change in the face of crisis, and the value of meditation.
Information about Rex, which includes downloadable meditations: http://www.experiment-with-light.org.uk/medits.htm.

Dr. Nekima Levy-Pounds: 

Pursuing Justice Requires Boldness
Dr. Nekima Levy-Pounds is an award-winning professor of law at the University of St. Thomas School of Law and the founding Director of the Community Justice Project, a civil rights legal clinic.  Dr. Levy-Pounds is also the President of the NAACP Minneapolis Chapter, a civil rights attorney, legal scholar, media personality, blogger, and nationally recognized expert on issues at the intersections of race, public policy, economic justice, public education, juvenile justice, and the criminal justice system. In 2015, she was named one of 40 Under 40 by Minneapolis/St. Paul Business Journal.  In 2014, she was named Attorney of the Year by Minnesota Lawyer and recognized as one of 50 under 50 Most Influential Law Professors of Color in the Country by Lawyers of Color magazine. She has a heart for the people and works toward achieving justice for those whose voices are often unheard within society.
Dr. Levy-Pounds’ website includes several of her podcasts on topics including black history, institutional racism, and criminal justice reform: http://nekimalevypounds.com/.
Barry Crossno’s message to Gathering is also available as a pdf to read and share.  https://www.fgcquaker.org/barry-crossno-plenary-address-monday-july-4th
in peace,
Sadelle

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Don’t Forget

Dear Friends,

Are you interested in…

  • a summary of public statements and actions taken in the past year to make more visible the witness of New England Friends
  • news from the staff and committees of New England Yearly Meeting on the work they have done on our behalf in the past year
  • a proposed budget for how we plan to use the resources in our care to support the Quaker movement in New England
  • knowing more about steps New England Friends are considering as we:
    • respond to climate change
    • engage with White Privilege
    • support those persecuted because of sexual or gender identity
    • explore new initiatives for supporting ministry in our local meetings

These subjects and more are addressed in the Advance Documents for the 356th Annual Sessions of New England Yearly Meeting of Friends…

…which are now posted online. 

Download the Advance Documents

Don’t Forget

If you are available and would like to participate in worship, discernment, fellowship and spiritual nurture, we invite you to join Friends from across New England at Annual Sessions in Castleton, Vermont from August 6-11, 2016. Please register today.

Register for Annual Sessions 2016
Volunteering is an essential part of serving our Quaker community. If you’re attending Sessions, please complete the brief survey below.
Sign up to volunteer 

Can I still be involved if I’m not attending?

Yes! If you aren’t able to attend Annual Sessions for whatever reason, please know you are still a vital part of our community of faith and practice. We hope your local meeting will send at least one representative so that your important perspective can be included in the discernment.

During Sessions, news and information will be posted at neym.org/sessions. You can follow events and join the conversation on social media using #NEYM16.

Bible half-hour talks and plenary presentations will be video recorded and shared online as they’re available.

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.


Trying what Love will do

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

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

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

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

In faith and service,


Noah Merrill
Secretary
New England Yearly Meeting of Friends

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


What is God’s Dream for Friends?

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

What they learned might surprise you.Read the article

image of earthFriends Climate Witness Continues

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

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

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

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

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

Seeking a Just Peace in Israel-Palestine

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

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

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

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

Kenyan Pastors Visit New England

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

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

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

Quaker Events

Coming Soon


Save the Date

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

So, How Was It?

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

But Wait…

Don’t see events in your area? 

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

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

Service Opportunities

Service for Annual Sessions

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

More Opportunities

Yesterday’s Senate Vote: The Takeaway

Dear Friends,GunsenseVT

It’d be great if the U.S. Senate could act in line with what 90% of Americans want, but yesterday wasn’t the day. At least in Vermont we can be proud that both our Senators voted in favor of universal background checks and the “No Fly, No Buy” bill. Below is a powerful press release about Senator Leahy’s leadership on this issue, as well as a C-Span clip of his remarks yesterday in the Senate chamber. He has heard our voices clearly.

However, the takeaway from yesterday is not that progress is impossible. Instead, it means that the need for action at the state level is even more important. This is the time for us to rally behind our local candidates for state rep who support universal background checks and push back against those who don’t. You can donate your time or donate money to the cause, but choose one and show your commitment to making real progress on this issue.

To donate your time and be part of a volunteer team in support of candidates (with letter writing, helping with mailings, visibility events, or phone calling), click HERE.

To donate money to the GunSenseVT Victory Fund PAC to help support these candidates financially, click HERE.

Together, we will show the senators blocking basic gun reform that their inaction only drives us to take more action. They do NOT have the final say about gun laws in this country.

Thank you!the-u.s.capitol-dome-96
Ann

Ann Braden

President, Gun Sense Vermont

Here is the C-SPAN clip from yesterday in the Senate (Senator Leahy’s remarks start around 23:20).

And here is the press release about Senator Leahy:

One Week After Mass Shooting In Orlando, Leahy Urges Senators To Support Common Sense Legislation To Make Our Communities Safer

. . . On The Senate Floor, Leahy Responds To Vermont Teen’s Heartfelt Letter After The Orlando Massacre

WASHINGTON (Monday, June 20, 2016) – A Vermont teen recently penned an open letter urging Senator Leahy and all Senators to “do something. Something big,” in response to the mass shooting in Orlando that took 49 innocent lives.  The letter was written by a Vermont teenager named Ella Staats, and it appeared in the Vermont Digger as part of the Young Writers Project.

On Monday, Senator Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.) took to the Senate floor to respond to Ms. Staats and all Americans who are calling on Congress to reform the nation’s gun laws.

“I want you to know that I have been working for years to find practical solutions that will stop the gun violence that continues to touch every corner of our country.  But I bet that the last thing you want is a list of all the bills I have written or voted for but have not passed.  You want to know how we are going to overcome the well-funded opposition to passage of laws that will reduce gun violence,” Leahy said.

Leahy, who last week joined an unscheduled floor discussion led by Senate Democrats to force a debate and votes on gun safety issues, reiterated his call for action hours before the Senate was poised to consider legislation to close loopholes in the background check system and prevent terrorists from obtaining firearms.

“I hope the votes that I cast on your behalf tonight demonstrate that I hear you and I agree that we must act to prevent the next Orlando,” he said.  “Ella, thank you for doing that – for speaking out and for holding us accountable.”

 

In the wake of the tragic shooting in Newtown, Connecticut, Leahy convened three high profile hearings of the Judiciary Committee on the issue of preventing gun violence.  The committee also reported four common sense bills under Leahy’s leadership including legislation to improve and expand the background check system, ban assault weapons, improve school safety, and combat the practice of straw purchasing and illegal trafficking in firearms.

 

Earlier this year, Leahy reintroduced the bipartisan Stop Illegal Trafficking in Firearms Act to make clear that the straw purchasing and trafficking of firearms are federal crimes.  The legislation strengthens ineffective laws exploited by criminals including the San Bernardino shooters to obtain firearms through a straw purchaser.

 

“In the wake of mass gun violence, whether the victims are members of the LGBT community, African American church parishioners, first graders in an elementary school, college students, military service members or others in our community, we are called as Americans to come together in solidarity,” Leahy said.  “We must come together to enact real solutions that will prevent further acts of senseless violence. 

Senator Leahy’s full remarks are available online.

A Prayer in response to the shootings at Pulse in Orlando

New England Yearly Meeting of Friends (Quakers)

“How deeply we are connected.”

A Prayer in response to the shootings at Pulse in Orlando.

Friends believe there is that of God in all people. To intentionally harm another—with our actions, our words, or our policies—is to separate ourselves from God. We are here to love one another and to be loved as God loves us, and as Jesus teaches. We are not whole without each other.

To those who are gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender, intersex, asexual and queer, whose place of safety has again been targeted and attacked, we stand with you in love. We pray for love big enough to hold us all.

We seek to create a world in which all people are unconditionally loved and cared for, as God unconditionally loves and cares for each of us.

We call on people of all faiths, and no faith, to recommit to the work of ending homophobia and transphobia within our faith communities, our neighborhoods, and our nation. The rhetoric of exclusion, of separateness, and of hate creates a culture that gives rise to acts of terror. We know the power of God’s love is great and that we are called to make manifest that love in the face of hate. We believe that God never calls any person, communion or community to hate or to engage in violence.

We know God’s love extends fully and unconditionally to all who are GLBTIAQ, to all who are Latinx, to all who are Muslim, to all who some in our culture would denigrate or deny full humanity.

We stand with all those who call for this moment in our nation to be a catalyst for greater love, stronger community, and a justice that heals and unites. Hate cannot drive out hate; only love can do that (Martin Luther King).

Fritz Weiss,  Presiding Clerk

Sarah Gant, Clerk of Permanent Board

Supporting the work of Orlando Quakers

Forwarded from the Clerk of NEYM:P1080549.jpg

Friends,

Orlando Quakers invite Friends across the country to have silent worship at a common time, 7 p.m. on Tuesday, June 14th 2016, whether in your homes or in your meetinghouses.

Here are links for additional information about two local LGBTQ+ non-profit community organizations in Orlando that do amazing work: Zebra Foundation (http://zebrayouth.org) and The Center (http://www.thecenterorlando.org/). They are well run (I know folks who work at both places) and are always in need of financial support, if you have the means to offer such material assistance. Both of these are within 1 to 2 miles of our Orlando meetinghouse, and very much a part of our immediate community.

We will need to continue working together to discern way forward as monthly meetings, yearly meetings, and an FLGBTQC community in the coming days, weeks, and months. In the meantime, know that we are so very grateful for the love and light everyone has offered to Orlando Quakers,

In peace,

–Stephanie Preston (scpreston@yahoo.com)

Activating Action, what you can do about Orlando.

If we all take one step, that is a lot of steps…contact your elected officials and tell them how you feel.

A few days ago I woke up thinking about the word activist. What are they activating? Conscience, sympathy, compassion? Or how about outrage, anger, disgust? Activating action? The other names that we use for this activity to promote change (or not) are interesting as well. Protester came to my mind first. Somewhat of a clunker […]

via Activating Action — Roger Vincent Jasaitis

Words and Music

Two local artists are joining forces with words and music for a poetry reading with violin interludes on June 18thSaturday at 1 pm. Violin

Gudrun Weeks, violinist and Lynn Martin, poet, will be reading in Marlboro at 355 Upper Dover Road in the barn of Edie Mas (second place on the left after leaving Higley Hill). Visitors are asked to bring a folding chair if they can or a cushion to sit on the floor.

Gudrun says, “We two met in the West Brattleboro Quaker Worship Group. We had fun together reading Lynn’s poetry and seeing what idea that set off in me for my choice of music and Lynn’s reaction to that. There is no close connection between the two, just enjoying the partnership. We asked a third Quaker, Edie Mas, to host the happening in her barn up in Marlboro. It feels like a supportive, complimentary relationship.”

Gudrun was formerly a Marlboro resident, having built a house on Lucier Road with Larry Gay, teacher at the college and their two children. She taught solfege there under Blanche Moyse and was part of the founding of the Brattleboro Music School. In the seventies she also played in the Vermont Symphony and its quartet, giving school concerts. In the sixties she helped to form the Eugene Symphony and was its concert mistress. Earlier she taught at Putney School and played in the Kansas City Philharmonic after a year in the National Training Orchestra in NYC. While at Sarah Lawrence College she studied under Dorothy DeLay and Robert Koff from Juilliard. Previously she spent a year in Munich at the Conservatory.

Lynn has lived in Brattleboro for many years. You can view her work on poetlynn.com <http://poetlynn.com>. She has three books of poetry: Visible Signs of Defiance, Talking to the Day and Birds of a Feather.

“Lynn comes to poetry from a working class background. Her verse contains a raw truthfulness uncontaminated by privilege. Lynn’s style compliments that of the state of Vermont: sharp lines, a tough backbone, and an aesthetic the quality of moss.” Meg Mott. Marlboro College

“Exploring the Quaker Way”

Our own Steve Chase visited and worshiped with us at Putney Friends Meeting this weekend.   He informed us of this new online learning opportunity offered by him at Pendle Hill.

“The goals of this course are to help seekers, attenders, and interested members of Friends meetings: 1) deepen their understanding of the Quaker movement; 2) better understand the spiritual journey common among early and current Quakers; 3) reflect on their own spiritual journeys within this spiritual tradition; and 4) become more familiar with several key elements of building vibrant and caring Quaker meetings.”

“Exploring the Quaker Way”

 A Pendle Hill Quaker Studies Online Summer Course

June 5 through August 28, 2016http://www.pendlehill.org/learn/quaker-studies-online/exploring-quaker-way-description/#.VztmwmPnfMV-175x200

“Exploring the Quaker Way” is an extended online course for people who want to learn more about the simple, radical, and contemporary spiritual path of Quakers.

Click here for more info and sign up!