Will You Join Us?

Each August, hundreds of Quakers from across New England and beyond join together for worship, fellowship and seeking God’s guidance in meeting for business. Together we find nourishment, connection and encouragement to live our faith in the world.

The 2018 Annual Sessions of New England Yearly Meeting are almost here. This year, we’ll meet August 4-9 in Castleton, Vermont. Our theme will be In fear and trembling be bold in God’s service.”

Here’s why we’re writing:

  • You must register by July 13 to be guaranteed housing. If you have any special needs (such as “no stairs” or air-conditioning), please register by this date so we can best match rooms to peoples’ needs.
  • If you’re already registered, have you considered inviting someone from your meeting to attend for the first time? Just click one of the icons below to share this message.
  • Maybe you’ve never attended Annual Sessions—for all kinds of reasons. Or maybe you’ve been away for while. But could this be the year? Your wider community of Friends would love to welcome you—you and your meeting are a vital part of the Quaker movement across our region!
  • Maybe you’re just running late in registering this year. Remember, the sooner you register, the more it helps us to plan and to be able to accommodate your housing and other needs.

So, may we welcome you to Annual Sessions this year?

Click on the button below to get started—or read on for more details about this year’s gathering.

Register Now

Sessions Programs

Bible Half-Hours: Diane Randall

Diane is the Executive Secretary of Friends Committee on National Legislation and a member of Hartford (CT) Monthly Meeting.

She grew up in the Lutheran church, where she first encountered the Bible. Diane writes: “the teachings of Jesus have always been in my heart. Becoming a Friend helped me see a way of practicing my faith in a holistic way, and I’m continually convinced at how much practice it takes.”

Plenary Speakers: Sarah Walton, Meg Klepack, and Adria Gulizia

A plenary panel of three friends will speak to the theme: Sarah Walton (Vassalboro, ME, Friends Meeting), Meg Klepack (West Falmouth, MA, Preparative Meeting) and Adria Gulizia (New York Yearly Meeting) have each accepted the invitation to serve on this panel.

Sarah has been called to the work of ending racially biased policing and police violence in the U.S. Meg is active in the group called to prophetic action on climate change in New England. Adria Gulizia writes the blog Shadow of Babylon and is a member of the Friends of Jesus Fellowship.

Workshops and Anchor Groups

Anchor Groups will meet daily for reflection, discussion and worship, serving as a “home base” to return to, providing a place for grounding and deeper sharing.

Friends will share their gifts, explore a wide range of topics, and host discussions in workshops on Tuesday and Wednesday.

See the full list of workshops here

Youth Programs

The Youth Ministries of New England Yearly Meeting offer dynamic and grounded spiritual communities of peers for younger Friends, from infants in Childcare to teenagers in Young Friends. There’s also a program supporting and connecting younger adults.

Learn more about youth programs at Sessions.

Building the Beloved Community

Annual Sessions offers many great ways to participate, including:

  • Contradance
  • Intergenerational Worship
  • Shared Meals
  • Memorial Meeting
  • Evening Interest Groups
  • Early Morning Worship
  • Community Coffeehouse
  • Family Neighborhood
FInd Out More About Sessions 2018

Can’t make it to Annual Sessions, but want to support others?

Your financial contribution supports the participation of all Friends regardless of means, and sustains the vital ministries of New England Quakers throughout the year. 


In the Space Between


New England Yearly Meeting of Friends Quakers logo
JUNE 2018

In the Space Between

God speaks to each of us as he makes us,
then walks with us silently out of the night.

These are the words we dimly hear:

You, sent out beyond your recall,
go to the limits of your longing.
Embody me.

Flare up like flame
and make big shadows I can move in.

Let everything happen to you: beauty and terror.
Just keep going. No feeling is final.
Don’t let yourself lose me.

Nearby is the country they call life.
You will know by its seriousness.

Give me your hand.

– Rainer Maria Rilke

Dear Friends,

A few weeks ago I was with a group of Friends sharing insights from our spiritual journeys. One person reflected on exploring the distinction between “believing” and “knowing.” This kindled a spark in me, and it continues to burn.

There are many things I believe–ideas, principles, concepts, values. I try to live in ways consistent with these beliefs. But they’re constantly changing, falling away, proving incomplete, being reshaped. I’ve learned this countless times. And yet I find myself striving for certainty, rightness, resolution, even (sometimes) purity.

And then there are those few, simple things that I know—inevitable as gravity, inescapable as grace. I taste them sometimes, even in this blessed, broken world filled with desperation, despair and distraction. In these moments, it’s as if the Truth of these knowings is living through me. I rediscover my place in God’s vision of right relationship and liberation for us all.

And yet it seems most of the experiences that bring me alive happen somewhere beyond belief, and before knowing. They need my participation. They flare up, moment by moment, on the unmarked, wonder-drenched, fear-filled way home. Finding the Way on this shadowy pilgrimage–and losing and finding the Way again–my faith continues to be born.

For me, faithfulness happens in the space between, where willfulness becomes willingness. May each of us–if we choose–find ourselves more and more in this unknown country, at the limits of our longing. May we find each other there, more fully alive.

Hand in hand,

Noah Merrill
New England Yearly Meeting of Friends (Quakers)

Families enjoying sunshine and conversation at Sessions, August 2017

Annual Sessions is Coming!

August 4–9, 2018
Castleton University
Castleton, Vermont

Register Now
Find out more about Annual Sessions

Other events coming soon

Upcoming Quarterly Meetings

View More Events

Living a Life Centered in Spirit

Fran Brokaw (Hanover, NH) writes about her Quaker faith, following a call, and finding herself in an unexpected place. “God did not just give me a leading, God showed me an opening, and kicked me in the butt to make sure I knew that I was supposed to go that way.” Read Fran’s story.

The Thunder of Silence

Louis Cox (Burlington, VT, Friends Meeting) writes: “…I wasn’t looking for some kind of weekly meditation…to counter the stresses of a busy and noisy world. I was intrigued by the opening silence in Quaker worship…as an important tool in my lifelong quest for wisdom and Truth…”
Read more from Louis’ essay.
Photo: Jean Schell

Your Input Needed:
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.orgthe website of New England Yearly Meeting of Friends.

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

Bringing the Work of Parker Palmer to
New England Friends

Liana Thompson Knight (Durham, ME, Friends Meeting) has been studying with Parker Palmer’s Center for Courage and Renewal and is now a “Facilitator-in-Preparation.” Liana is eager to share her learning with New England Quakers, and invites conversations about how she might help encourage the life of local meetings and other Friends communities. Read her invitation here.

Quaker Religious Education Collaborative:
You’re Invited!

Image: Beth Collea
You’re invited to the Quaker Religious Education Collaborative’s 5th Annual Conference & Retreat, August 17–19, 2018, at Powell House, in Old Chatham, NY. First Day School teachers, Friends working on Adult Religious Education, Quaker parents and others are warmly invited!

Religious Education in Action: Activism, Outreach and Parenting

  • How do we take the lessons of Quaker religious education beyond the meetinghouse?
  • Where do life-long spiritual formation and activism, outreach, and Quaker parenting intersect?
The Yearly Meeting is offering four half-scholarships! Ask your local meeting to invest in the ministry of Quaker religious education by supporting your attendance, too.

Announcing Spring Legacy Grant Awards

The NEYM Legacy Gift Committee has announced the spring round of grant awards for both the Future Fund and the Witness & Ministry Fund. Find out what exciting projects we’re funding in this cycle.

FCNL Advocacy Corps: A Reflection

This month, Steven Whinfield (New Haven, CT, Friends Meeting), NEYM representative to Friends Committee on National Legislation, shares his experience of the gifts of getting to know a member of the FCNL Advocacy Corps from a different generation than his own. Read his story.

Digital Ministry? What’s That?

Sponsored by an NEYM Legacy grant, Kathleen Wooten writes an email newsletter, ePublishers of Truth–with lots of information and resources for Friends meetings. Read the latest issue of Kathleen’s newsletter or contact Kathleen to learn more about her exploration of digital ministry.

Podcast: On Carrying a Concern

If you haven’t heard an episode yet, Callid and Kristina Keefe-Perry (Fresh Pond, MA Friends Meeting) are hosting a regular podcast, On Carrying A Concern, sharing stories of New England Friends in public ministry, funded in part by a Legacy grant from New England Yearly Meeting. New episodes released weekly–listen here.

Video: Supporting Ministry and Ministers

Two dozen Friends met at Mt. Toby Meeting in Leverett, MA on June 2nd to explore supporting ministers and ministry in local meetings.

Couldn’t attend the workshop? Watch video from the day including the plenary panel and discussion on the Yearly Meeting’s YouTube channel, thanks to Kathleen Wooten.

Celebrate, Visit, Worship with Cuban Friends

Image: Friends United Meeting
Friends United Meeting has opened registration for the Living Letters: Cuba Yearly Meeting 118th Anniversary Trip planned for November 10–19, 2018. Every year Cuban Friends celebrate the 1900 arrival of Friends on the island. But remember—registration closes June 13!

Note: This exciting event is distinct from NEYM-sponsored travel. For information about the Puente de Amigos (Bridge of Friends), New England Yearly Meeting’s ongoing ministry of relationship and visitation with Cuba Yearly Meeting, click here.

Got Crafts?

The General Bookstore at Annual Sessions is looking for consignments! The consignment area sells greeting cards, music CDs, handcrafts, clothing, and other items produced by New England Friends. If you have merchandise to sell, please contact the Consignments Coordinator.

Video: Amesbury Friends Meetinghouse

Christine Green (Amesbury, MA, Friends Meeting) produced this short video for the “Amesbury Treasures Tour,” part of Amesbury’s 350th Anniversary celebrations.

Invitation from Baltimore Friends

Baltimore Yearly Meeting has extended a warm invitation to Friends who would like to attend their annual sessions as part of BYM’s Intervisitation Program, July 30–August 5, 2018. Financial assistance is available! Read more details here.
James Varner (Orono, ME, Friends Meeting) at the Poor People’s Campaign rally in Augusta, Maine, on May 14.

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!

Sessions Anchor Group Facilitators Needed

If you’re planning to attend Annual Sessions in August, we need volunteer Anchor Group facilitators. Anchor Groups gather daily for small group conversations about the theme and experience of Sessions. If you have served before, or would like to try—perhaps with a more seasoned co-facilitator—please contact Leslie Manning, Clerk of Sessions Committee, at sessions@neym.org.

There are lots more opportunities to volunteer at Sessions. When you registeryou’ll be asked whether you wish to volunteer and what kinds of jobs you’re available for.

Beacon Hill Friends House Seeks Full-Time
Quaker Action Program Manager

Beacon Hill Friends House seeks a Quaker Action Program Manager to lead the expansion and day-to-day management of our programming to advance social justice and the traditional Quaker values of peace, integrity, faith, community, and social responsibility. Includes residency in a 22-member community, salary, and generous benefits. Details are available here. Applications requested by Friday, June 15!
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Still There and Always There

Image: Eric Muhr


Don’t say, don’t say there is no water
to solace the dryness at our hearts.
I have seen

the fountain springing out of the rock wall
and you drinking there. And I too
before your eyes

found footholds and climbed
to drink the cool water.

The woman of that place, shading her eyes,
frowned as she watched—but not because
she grudged the water,

only because she was waiting
to see we drank our fill and were

Don’t say, don’t say there is no water.
That fountain is there among its scalloped
green and gray stones,

it is still there and always there
with its quiet song and strange power
to spring in us,

up and out through the rock.

–The Fountain, by Denise Levertov

Dear Friends,

When I get tired or discouraged in my work supporting the life and ministry of Friends, I return to our local meetings, to the solace of worship, to courageous conversations with people seeking to be faithful in these times. And despite my sometimes-lack-of-faith, again and again I find—fresh and clear as ever—the springs of living water that I first discovered as a child in meeting for worship, and that have kept me coming home to our faith communities again and again as an adult.

In what feel like times of “dryness,” this poem—which first came to me through a Quaker traveling minister years ago—becomes a daily affirmation, a walking practice, a pilgrim’s prayer.

This month I’ve been blessed to share with Friends in conversations that I think get to the heart of the challenge and invitation before us. I was recently reminded that sharing the places where we see Life helps that Life to grow.

So here are some places where I’ve tasted this water in the past few weeks:

  • In an impromptu conversation—after a nourishing Living Faith gathering—with several Friends from across our Yearly Meeting finding joy in the new life emerging in the Quaker movement, and discovering how Friends called to deeper risks in ministry can support, encourage, and journey with one another;
  • Accompanying a local meeting exploring its yearnings, its history, its stumbling blocks and growing edges, and its relationship with money and power, as together they seek Guidance for the future of their meeting and its presence and witness in their context and their wider community;
  • In a weekend with more than 30 Friends from New York and New England Yearly Meetings, who gathered to encourage one another in supporting the life of our whole meetings, and exploring how naming and nurturing spiritual gifts can awaken us to the Spirit’s invitations through our communities of faith;
  • In the release of the first few episodes of On Carrying a Concern, a podcast hosted by Callid and Kristina Keefe-Perry of Fresh Pond (MA) Meeting, supported in part by a Legacy Grant from New England Yearly Meeting. I hope you’ll take the time to listen with the ear of your heart to even one of these deeply personal interviews with Friends testifying to their experience of carrying a concern for spiritual service;
  • In James Cone’s book The Cross and the Lynching Tree, speaking so powerfully to African American Christians’ unearthing in the story of Jesus’ crucifixion a prophetic, liberatory critique and upending of the brutal legacy of lynching—this particularly American incarnation of white supremacy, injustice, and trauma. As we mourn Cone’s passing this past week, his call to the healing—and reckoning—still needed for our society and our spiritual communities is more timely than ever, a challenge to live the radical hope that, as Cone writes, “our beauty is more enduring than our brutality.”

So I wonder, Friends:

  • Where have you found living water in a dry place this month?
  • Where have you been surprised by newness, quickened by a moment of “coming home,” encouraged by a companion on the journey?
  • Where can you sense this enlivening waiting to emerge in your meeting, or in your own heart?
  • How might you be led to share what you have found?
Still there, and always there. What strange power, indeed.
In faith and service,
Noah Merrill
New England Yearly Meeting of Friends (Quakers)
In This Issue:

Families Torn Apart

American Friends Service Committee

Families Torn Apart

At 19, Jorge Velasquez fled the violence in his country of origin of El Salvador and came to the United States in 1995. Since 2001, he’s been legally able to work and support his wife and three children, thanks to Temporary Protected Status (TPS)—a government program that grants protection from deportation to people from certain countries afflicted by natural disasters, war, or other dangerous conditions. In January 2018, Jorge received shocking news—the Trump Administration cancelled TPS for El Salvador.

There are nearly 200,000 TPS holders like Jorge from El Salvador, who are currently living and building their lives and families in the United States. For the past 17 years, Jorge has created a life for himself in Colorado, away from the violence and insecurity in El Salvador.

The U.S. is his home. “We are contributing to this country,” says Jorge, ”What we want is to work hard and be well. And what we need is to be granted residency.”

Now, Jorge is left with few options. In August of 2019, Jorge’s TPS status— and that of hundreds of thousands of other Salvadorans’—will expire permanently. Without TPS, Jorge can’t legally work and our laws do not allow him a path to apply for residency. His wife is currently in sanctuary, to protect herself from deportation. His extended family—brothers, uncles, and aunts—have also built lives for themselves in Colorado as TPS holders. He has three U.S. citizen children, ages 5 and under. The US is the only country they have ever known.

That’s why AFSC’s Coloradans for Immigrant Rights (CFIR) Program and other programs across the country—in Newark, Miami, Des Moines, and Cambridge—have been working hard on the Residency Now! Campaign, which calls for legal permanent residency and a pathway to citizenship for all TPS recipients. AFSC works directly with TPS holders and their children and provides opportunities for them to share their powerful stories while organizing for change.

Listen and share Jorge’s full story here, and join us as we work to save TPS and advocate for permanent residency.

Kristin Kumpf
Director of Human Migration and Mobility, U.S. Programs
American Friends Service Committee

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

Keeping Vermont Safer

Dear Putney Friends Meeting,

Earlier today, Governor Phil Scott signed into law a trio of bills that will help keep Vermont safer. We are very grateful to the Governor and to the legislative leaders who recognized the risk that gun violence poses to Vermont and championed these bills.


(photo courtesy of Greg Moschetti)


We are also grateful to you and all of our supporters who have shown up time and again over the past five years, marching, petitioning, donating, testifying, and emailing and calling lawmakers again and again. Some of you have done this work and told your stories while reliving your own traumatic histories, and yet you persisted because you understood the cost of staying silent.

Every phone call, every trip to Montpelier, every difficult conversation, and every testimony paid off today.

Thanks to you, Vermont is now a state where…

  • background checks are required for most private gun sales
  • gun buyers must be 21 years old (with some exceptions)
  • bump stocks are banned
  • large-capacity magazines are prohibited
  • law enforcement can temporarily remove guns from the scene of a domestic assault to keep victims safer
  • courts can issue an order to help protect people deemed to be at extreme risk of harming themselves or others by temporarily restricting access to guns

I would be remiss if I didn’t note that the conversation began to change when young people organized and demanded to be heard. Today, their voices and the voices of survivors are taking center stage, as they should, and they are changing this movement. We are privileged to work alongside them and we are grateful for the energy and hopefulness that they bring.

While it is true that the passing of these laws came as a result of passion and dedication, it also has come at the unthinkable cost of far too many lives. I have often said that I wish I could stop doing this work, but I simply can’t as long as so many people are still dying from gun violence and so many more are living as survivors.

I hope, after taking a moment to breathe and appreciate the enormity of what has happened, that you will commit to moving forward with us.

Your donation today will affirm that you will not stop fighting the epidemic of gun violence. We all still have a part to play, here in Vermont and nationally.

Please make a gift to GunSense Vermont so that we can continue to advocate for gun violence prevention stand by those politicians who fought to pass the bills that were signed today.

Thank you for all that you have done to get us here, and thank you for committing to a more compassionate and peaceful future.


Clai Lasher-Sommers
Executive Director

p.s. — As Governor Scott noted in his remarks today, “Knowing that there will always be more work to do, today we chose to try.” We hope that you’ll stand with us as we keep trying–and succeeding–in this difficult and necessary work.