The Purpose of Wings

Dear Friends,
Two weeks ago, I had the opportunity to gather with Friends from across New England and New York Yearly Meetings to explore the ways we “hold the whole” of our spiritual communities.

Hearing from people  about their experiences, I was moved by this reflection from Kathleen Wooten of Fresh Pond (MA) Friends Meeting, and wanted to share it with you. Kathleen’s message resonates with conversations I’ve heard happening in many Friends communities, across our region and beyond.


In these conversations, I hear a rising invitation to reorient our hearts toward spiritual abundance, toward welcoming the diverse gifts we’ve been given for the good of the whole community. This is challenging work. For some of us, it may call us to re-examine how we understand the economics of grace.

In our wider society, we’re often accustomed to seeing what benefits one as a loss to another. As Quakers, even in our meeting communities, we can fall into the sense that giving “too much” attention or care to some diminishes others. It’s almost as if we’re concerned that if we help our neighbor to spread her wings and take flight, we might be left behind.

But it doesn’t have to be this way. In celebrating, we just might be given more to celebrate. In giving, we might receive. In helping each other grow in particular service, even more of us might come alive to how we are called to serve, becoming more and more fully the channels of Love we were born to be. We serve, each in our own way.

Becoming a spiritual community that helps everyone to find their place at the table—and to set the table for others—might take us all. In these days, when the fabric of our society is torn by anxiety, isolation, and fear, Friends tradition invites us to a different path. When we help each other come alive, we come alive to serve.

And what, after all, is the purpose of wings?

Here’s Kathleen:When penguins swim, they are one of the fastest animals and most effective hunters on the planet.  They dive deeply, speed around catching fish, and are generally obviously made for what they are doing in that moment. With wings. In water. Hmmmmm.

The times when I am able to come most fully alive, to live into the piece of God’s kin-dom I am meant to shepherd and serve, is when I am simply able to feel direct nudges of the Spirit, and experiment with what works best for the tools I possess. I need to be able to take risks, to fall down safely, and to be encouraged to keep going.

Read more of Kathleen’s blog here.

Whether we fly or swim, our wings—the gifts we’ve been given to carry—aren’t for us alone. They’re for the building up of the whole community, given to be a blessing for the whole world. This month, with each other’s help, may we come to more fully know, embrace, and express the particular qualities we were born to share. With the love, care, and encouragement of our Friends, may we reach out to those around us, with the gift of all we are.

in faith and service,

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

Explore Quaker Discernment & Decision-Making

NEYM Presiding Clerk Fritz Weiss (Hanover, NH, Friends Meeting) and former Presiding Clerk Jackie Stillwell (Monadnock, NH, Friends Meeting) will lead a two-part workshop to explore clerking basics on April 13 at Beacon Hill Friends House.

The morning session is designed for Friends with little or no experience with clerking; the afternoon session will provide experience in facilitating Quaker decision-making process. Friends may choose to attend one or both sessions.

Click here for more details.

Exploring Prayer and Meditation

On May 24-27, Marcelle Martin will lead this three-day weekend exploring numerous approaches to prayer and meditation, including thanksgiving, petition, intercession, healing prayer, Examen, Lectio Divina, mindfulness meditation, walking meditation, Centering Prayer, Grand Silence, extended meeting for worship, and prayer with scripture, images, music, and the body.

This workshop is also a chance to experience a taste of the Nurturing Faithfulness nine-month course, to be offered at Woolman Hill August 2019–May 2020, in partnership with New England Yearly Meeting of Friends.

Register for Exploring Prayer and Meditation at the Woolman Hill website.

Events coming soon

Upcoming Quarterly Meetings

View More Events

Join the Virtual Plenary Experiment

In the February and March newsletters we shared videos by Lisa Graustein (Beacon Hill, MA, Friends Meeting) for  a “Virtual Plenary” to deepen engagement with the theme for 2019 Annual Sessions, “Provoke One Another to Love.” This is an opportunity for meetings and individual Friends—whether or not they are planning to attend Annual Sessions—to take part in exploring these important issues that we face as Friends today. All of the videos and related resources are posted here.

This month we are sharing two of three videos about Climate Change. (Part 3 will be posted on the website as soon as it’s available, and included in next month’s newsletter.)

These videos were designed to be viewed on your own and can also be used to shape an adult religious education session, using the reflection questions for discussion. If you want support or ideas for how to use them in First Day School or for adult programming, contact Lisa.

Virtual Plenary—Climate Change, Part 1 of 3: The Minutes
Virtual Plenary—Climate Change, Part 2 of 3: Patterns of Diversity

Sharing—And Celebrating—New Shapes of Service

From Yearly Meeting Secretary Noah Merrill:

With joy, I’m writing to share some exciting shifts in the focus of work of two Friends serving New England Quakers as staff.

Maggie Nelson

Maggie Nelson (Portland, ME, Friends Meeting; pictured right) has previously served as part of the Friends Camp staff; as the founder of Art Camp, a weeklong camping program for adults exploring art as an expression of spirituality (now a program of Friends Camp); in an interim role coordinating the Young Friends (high-school-aged) program last year; and since the fall in an exploratory short-term role. I’m grateful to announce that Maggie will be moving into the new—and ongoing—staff role of Young Friends Events Organizer.

Maggie will have primary responsibility for Young Friends programming and events. She will work closely with Gretchen Baker-Smith (Westport, MA, Friends Meeting) to nurture connections with the Junior High Yearly Meeting program, and to strengthen transitions and continuity of relationship between these vibrant ministries of New England Friends.

Nia Thomas

Maggie will serve with support from—and in collaboration with—Nia Thomas (Northampton, MA, Friends Meeting; pictured right with baby Llewelyn), who has nurtured Young Friends for many years and will continue to be involved in many aspects of youth ministry with teens, families, and meetings.

In turn, Nia’s focus will shift to more fully include work with Friends of all ages in the new role of Quaker Practice and Leadership Facilitator, helping New England Quakers deepen our engagement with spiritual formation, training in Quaker practice, and the nurture of leadership. In this role, Nia will be working to help network and convene those active in these areas of ministry, curate resources, and connect many more people with opportunities that nourish their gifts and help the Quaker movement to thrive.

Responding to Continuing Revelation

While these new titles and staff roles are being formalized this spring, in reality they reflect an unfolding of this work that has been in process organically for some time. This change in orientation builds on learning from a three-year grant funded project, supported by the Shoemaker Fund, to learn about fostering vibrant multigenerational spiritual communities. It reflects a continuation—and an evolution—of some of the groundbreaking experiments in outreach and religious education led until last fall by Beth Collea (Wellesley, MA, Friends Meeting). And this transition responds to the wider discernment of Friends throughout New England in recent years on the need to focus more intentionally on nurturing the web of local Friends meetings and the wider ecology of the Quaker movement across our region.

We hope you’ll experience the fruits these changes will bear in the life of Quakers in New England in the coming months. In the meantime, you can reach Maggie at maggie@neym.org, and Nia at nia@neym.org. As always, I’d also be happy to hear from you at ymsec@neym.org.

I’m grateful for each of the many, many Friends who have helped with vision, discernment, questions, expertise, prayers, and ongoing financial support to make these transitions possible.

I hope you’ll join me in celebrating these changes, congratulating Maggie and Nia, and looking forward to new growth and possibilities as this work unfolds!

in the Love that makes us Friends,

Noah Merrill (Putney, VT Friends Meeting)
Secretary
New England Yearly Meeting of Friends

Supporting Our Muslim Neighbors

Friends from around New England took part in prayer vigils in response to the mosque shootings in Christchurch New Zealand, including Friends from Wellesley (MA), New Haven (CT), Concord (NH), and western MassachusettsCanadian Friends circulated a minuteexpressing their sorrow and prayers for both the victims and the perpetrators of violence.

Maine Friends Support Maine Native Tribes

Leslie Manning (Durham, ME, Friends Meeting) spoke on behalf of the Friends Committee on Maine Public Policy in support of funding for the Maine Indian Tribal State Commission on March 19. You can read her testimony here.

Support for Our Immigrant Neighbors

South Starksboro (VT) Friends Meeting has passed a minute in support of immigrant families and asylum-seekers. Read the minute here.

Called to Nurturing Faithfulness?

Might you be led to participate in a multi-generational faith and leadership program designed to help Friends explore ways to meet God more deeply, deepen discernment, reach for fuller faithfulness, and share these gifts and skills with your local meetings and beyond?

Consider joining the Nurturing Faithfulness program beginning in August 2019 co-led by Hilary Burgin (Beacon Hill, MA, Friends Meeting) and Marcelle Martin.

Click here for more information, and decide if this is the program for you or someone you know.

Got Office Skills?

Work behind the scenes with staff and volunteers in the Yearly Meeting office during Annual Sessions in August. You will be supporting the Office Manager during the two weeks that the office is on site at Castleton University in Vermont. It’s busy, sometimes chaotic, but also fun. Read the job description and if you’re interested, email Office Manager Sara Hubner.

Speaking Out Against the Death Penalty

On March 26, the New Hampshire Senate Judiciary Committee heard testimony on HB 455, a bill to repeal the state’s death penalty. Among those who spoke in favor of the bill were Marian Baker (Weare, NH, Friends Meeting and a representative to the N.H. Council of Churches), Margaret Hawthorn (Monadnock, NH, Friends Meeting), Bess Klassen-Landis (Hanover, NH, Friends Meeting), and Arnie Alpert from the American Friends Service Committee New Hampshire office.

Read Margaret Hawthorn’s testimony here.

Marion Baker testifies in opposition to the death penalty in New Hampshire

Friends Camp Has Adopted Art Camp!

With two years under its belt as a grant-funded independent ministry, Art Camp is becoming a program under the care of Friends Camp. Maggie Nelson (Portland, ME Friends) will continue to coordinate, with support from Friends Camp Director Anna Hopkins. You can read more about this change here.

Watch for more details about this year’s Art Camp, both here in this newsletter and on neym.org!

Quilts for Beauty and Comfort

A building renovation leads to a quilt-making project—which leads to another quilt-making project! On neym.org, read how and why Mt. Toby Friends are making quilts.

Preserving Your Meeting’s History

The present life of your meeting will be history before you know it! Preserve important records by submitting them to the Yearly Meeting Archives at UMass Amherst. Wondering what to send? How to send it? Click here for answers to frequently asked questions or contact the Archives Committee.

Friends Celebrating Pete Seeger

Image by David Mark from Pixabay

Friends from nine meetings across New England are organizing singalong concerts in their area to celebrate the 100th anniversary of Pete Seeger’s birth—and the many groups carrying on his lifetime of work on behalf of peace, justice and the earth. You can find more details here.

Annie Patterson & Peter Blood of Mt. Toby (MA) Meeting will lead Friends in a singalong concert of Pete’s songs on Tuesday evening of Annual Sessions in August.

Apply for a Prejudice & Poverty Grant

The Working Party of the Yearly Meeting Racial Social Economic Justice Committee (RSEJ) seeks applications for grants from the Prejudice and Poverty Fund. We urge “organizations who work to alleviate the suffering of segments of the U.S. population” to apply immediately.

Read details about application and submit your request for consideration this month.

Emily Savin on PBS

Emily Savin (Northampton, MA, Friends Meeting) discovers her inner rebel and breaks one of her mom’s sacred rules in this episode of “Curveball,” which you can watch here (Emily’s story begins at 17:57).

News of New England Friends sharing and acting from their faith:

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

The Yet-Unknowable Shore

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MARCH 2019

The Yet-Unknowable Shore

La Loma de La Cruz, Holguin, Cuba. Photo: Noah Merrill
“But you cannot see my face, for no one shall see me and live.” And the LORD continued, “See there is a place by me where you shall stand on the rock; and while my glory passes by I will put you in a cleft of the rock, and I will cover you with my hand until I have passed by; then I will take away my hand, and you shall see my back; but my face shall not be seen.”

– Exodus 33:20-23

Dear Friends,

We stood at the top of the mountain, and we looked back.

My dear Friend and I had made the long climb, countless steps up the steep hillside, reflecting on our lives in the past seven years since we’d last been together there. Only when we reached the top did we turn to consider the Cuban city of Holguin spreading out in the sunlit valley below.

The last time we climbed that mountain, with several other Friends, it was the summer of 2012. Since then, both of our lives have changed dramatically. We’ve each had our share of suffering and loss. And yet, there has been great joy. We’ve wrestled with being called to ministry, with seeking to be faithful, each in our own context. We’ve grown through this service, and we’ve learned to trust that while we can’t always see where the path before us leads, we’re never—in the deepest sense—alone. We’ve encouraged each other in lonely places, and reminded each other of what is most true.

Seven years ago, we couldn’t have imagined how our journeys would intertwine, how our seeking to be faithful would bind us together, across the Americas. We couldn’t have known, and that was a gift. Had we been able to see what was coming then—the blessings and the struggles—we might not have had the courage to take the first step.

In our conversation, we reflected on stories from the Bible that have been meaningful to us, finding in them—as Friends have for generations—a language for the inward landscape of our lives in the Spirit. The passage above from Exodus is still with me as I return home. In the story as it’s told here, the prophet Moses has climbed a mountain to pray, to bring down guidance for how the people might live in a new way—practicing justice, staying free, and serving as a blessing for the whole world. There, in the presence of God, Moses asks to see the fullness of God’s power. The response he receives is that he can be there in the Presence, but it’s only as God is passing away that he will be able to see God—to understand the fullness of God directly in the moment would be more than he could bear.

As I return to this old story, I feel it resonating with my own experience. It’s not possible for me to be fully aware of the consequence and potential that is present in each moment of my life, of every life. We can understand what our experiences have meant, and the fruits they have borne in the world, only as we look back.

And yet, that potential is always with us. The choices we make in the present are part of a sacred continuity, carried forward on the cresting wave of time. Often faithfulness means acting without seeing fully, trusting that even this step can be part of Love’s unfolding. With each step we take today, we set off toward a yet-unknowable shore.

Standing on the mountain with my Friend, my heart was filled with thanks for the journey, and for this companionship in that which is Eternal. And then, together, we turned to take the next step down the mountain, into a future beyond knowing.

My own experience of this friendship is only possible because of the faithful step–and all the steps since—taken by Friends who came before us to imagine a yet-unknowable future of relationship, a bridge of Love between our divided societies. In Cuba and New England, countless Friends can testify to lives changed, faith stretched and strengthened, hearts opened through the power of the Spirit moving between us.

A Cuban Friend has created a new expression of this testimony—and Friends in his meeting have asked me to share it with you.

For those among us who don’t understand Spanish, this song tells the “birth story” of the Puente de Amigos (Bridge of Friends), and the calling to continue to build—and to be—bridges in a world where so many are building walls. It testifies to the lived experience of so many in our two yearly meetings that when people are bound together by this Love, nothing—not governments, nor oceans, nor walls, nor embargos, nor the threat of war, nor hatred, nor fear—can separate us.

In 1991, when the Puente de Amigos was born, Friends couldn’t have known that saying “Yes!” to the invitation that they heard to be in relationship would bear such life-changing fruit. Looking back with gratitude for the example of those Friends, and for the transformative power of that “Yes!” in my own life, I wonder:

What invitation might I—might we—be called to accept in this moment, not knowing what fruit it might bear?

What next step might we be called to take toward that yet-unknowable shore? 

In possibility,

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

Register Now for Living Faith

Photo: Lisa Graustein
Living Faith is a day-long gathering of Friends from across New England, a chance for Friends to worship together, get to know each other, share the different ways we experience and live our faith, and build community. The next Living Faith Gathering will be in North Dartmouth, Massachusetts, on April 6, 2019.

The day will consist of worship, conversation, lunch, and workshops. A schedule of the daycan be found on the NEYM website and the registration form is also now available. In keeping with our commitment to removing barriers to participation for Friends regardless of financial means, the Living Faith Gatherings will continue our practice of the Pay-As-Led approach to event fees.

Please share the word among your Friends and meeting, especially with Friends who may not have participated in an event beyond their local meeting before. One of our primary goals for the Living Faith Gatherings is that we create a warm, welcoming space to help grow and strengthen our vibrant regional Quaker community—with a particular focus on welcoming new Friends.

After the close of Living Faith there will be additional opportunities to gather with Friends: a 4:30 p.m. walking tour of the historic “Abolition Row” neighborhood near the New Bedford meetinghouse and a 5:30 p.m. potluck at the meetinghouse hosted in collaboration with Friends across Sandwich Quarter and young adult Friends participating in an NEYM-sponsored retreat coinciding with Living Faith.

We hope you will join us on April 6!

Money & Spirit: Integrating Faith and Finances

Treasurers, meeting clerks, finance committee members, and other interested Friends will gather at Gonic (NH) Friends Meeting on March 30 for a day of conversation about local meeting finances, best practices and challenges, and a presentation by Lyle Miller from Everence (a faith-based financial services and mutual aid organization that is partnering with NEYM) on practical ways to support faithful financial stewardship in our meetings.

Find out more about how Friends from your meeting can benefit from this event here.

Waking up White

Debby Irving, author of Waking Up White, will speak on the issues of racism and white privilege explored in her books at the First Unitarian Church, 90 Main St, Worcester, MA, on March 31, 2019. Sponsored by Worcester Friends Meeting (MA), the event is free and open to all.

Diane Randall Speaks on Vital Quaker Witness

Diane Randall (Hartford, CT, Friends Meeting) Executive Secretary of Friends Committee on National Legislation, will address the need for Quaker voices to be raised in witness in her 2019 Stephen G. Cary Memorial Lecture, “Turmoil, Tumult, and Truth—Vital Quaker Witness Today,” April 1, 2019, 7:30 to 9:00 p.m. at Pendle Hill.

Register now for livestreaming of this event.

Explore Quaker Discernment & Decision-Making

NEYM Presiding Clerk Fritz Weiss (Hanover, NH, Friends Meeting) and former Presiding Clerk Jackie Stillwell (Monadnock, NH, Friends Meeting) will lead a two-part workshop to explore clerking basics on April 13 at Beacon Hill Friends House. The morning session is designed for Friends with little or no experience with clerking; the afternoon session will provide experience in facilitating Quaker decision-making process. Friends may choose to attend one or both sessions.

Click here for more details.

Events coming soon

Upcoming Quarterly Meetings

View More Events

Join the Virtual Plenary Experiment

In the February newsletter we shared three videos by Lisa Graustein (Beacon Hill, MA, Friends Meeting) for  a “Virtual Plenary” to deepen engagement with the theme for 2019 Annual Sessions, “Provoke One Another to Love.” This is an opportunity for meetings and individual Friends—whether or not they are planning to attend Annual Sessions—to take part in exploring these important issues that we face as Friends today.

The videos were designed to be viewed on your own and can also be used to shape an adult religious education session, using the reflection questions for discussion. If you want support or ideas for how to use them in First Day School or for adult programming, contact Lisa Graustein.

Click here or on the images below to watch.

Video 1 – Exploring New England Yearly Meeting’s Minute on Challenging White Supremacy
Video 2 – Noticing and Understanding Patterns of White Supremacy
Video 3 – Challenging White Supremacy: Spiritual Practice

Noticing Patterns of Oppression & Faithfulness: A Report

Fifty Friends from around the Yearly Meeting, and from several generations, gathered in Wellesley, MA, for a day-long workshop on “Noticing Patterns of Oppression & Faithfulness.” A working group of the Yearly Meeting Ministry & Counsel committee organized the workshop in response to concerns minuted at Sessions 2018.

Read a summary of the day and responses from Friends who attended here.

The New Yearly Meeting Directory is Here!

The 2019 NEYM Directory, which includes contact and statistical information about local Friends meetings in New England, Yearly Meeting Committee rosters, and other useful information, is in transition. The Office is not printing and mailing the Directory this year, but you can download your copy on the Yearly Meeting website.

Eden Grace Speaks to Southeastern Yearly Meeting

Photo: Jared Silvia
Eden Grace (Beacon Hill, MA, Friends Meeting) spoke from her long experience in Quaker mission work and ministry to Friends gathered at the Orlando, FL, Friends meetinghouse for the 2019 Michener Lecture and Seminar. Her talk acknowledged the complicated history of Quaker missions and included the characteristics of distinctive Quaker missions and the spiritual practices necessary to Spirit-led work. Her published lecture will be available for purchase soon.

Nurturing Faithfulness

Informational video about the upcoming Nurturing Faithfulness Program at Woolman Hill Retreat Center (Deerfield, MA)
Might you be led to participate in a multi-generational faith and leadership program designed to help Friends explore ways to meet God more deeply, hone methods of discernment, reach for fuller faithfulness, and ultimately bring these gifts and strengthened abilities home to your local meetings and beyond?

Consider joining the Nurturing Faithfulness program beginning in August 2019 co-led by Hilary Burgin (Beacon Hill, MA, Friends Meeting) and Marcelle Martin.

Click here for more information, and decide if this is the program for you or someone you know.

Preserving Friends History in Cuba

Image: Puerto Padre Friends Meeting, Cuba

Gina Nortonsmith and Macci Schmidt (Northampton, MA, Friends Meeting) traveled to Cuba in January to help Friends churches in our sister yearly meeting curate and preserve important records. Read more about their trip.

Preserving History for Your Own Meeting

The present life of your meeting will be history before you know it! Preserve important records by submitting them to the Yearly Meeting Archives at UMass Amherst. Wondering what to send? How to send it? Click here for answers to frequently asked questions or contact the Archives Committee.

¡Vamos a Cuba!

Image: Holguin Friends Meeting, Cuba

The Yearly Meeting Puente de Amigos Committee is gathering ideas and interest for intervisitation to Cuba over the next two years. We want to hear from you! Do you sense a leading to travel to Cuba, perhaps with other members of your monthly meeting? Are you interested in a delegation focused on Friends’ ministry with Alternatives to Violence? Perhaps an intergenerational delegation or a Young Adult Friends delegation?

Our visits to Cuba are as important as ever for nurturing and sustaining our bridge of love with Cuban Friends, especially as in recent years they have been unable to travel to the U.S.

Please give this some thought, and send your ideas and questions to Maggie Fogarty or Em McManamy, co-clerks of the Puente de Amigos Committee.

Supporting Immigrants

Judy Goldberger (Beacon Hill, MA, Friends Meeting) will be among those giving workshops at the Friend World Committee for Consultation (FWCC) Section of the Americas meeting, which begins March 21. Judy carries a concern for immigrant justice. Together with Karla Moran de Jay, a Friend who is a Guatemalan immigrant, Judy will lead a workshop on how Friends can “welcome the stranger.”

Mini-Grants for Earthcare

Quaker Earthcare Witness (QEW) has grants available for Quaker projects that have the primary purpose of benefiting the environment and/or promoting environmental awareness and education. All ideas that support QEW values will be considered, but we especially encourage projects that directly address climate change, especially those that engage and include young people. Click here for more information.

Why Work at Friends Camp?

Looking for a summer job? Wondering if you should apply to Friends Camp? Read last year’s staff members top 10 reasons to serve and click here to apply.

You’re Invited to the Atlantic Friends Gathering!

The new Atlantic (Canada) Half-Yearly Meeting is gathering May 17 to 20, 2019 at a seaside camp, Camp Geddie, near Merigomish, Nova Scotia, right on the Northumberland Strait. Friends from New England are invited to attend.

The Theme of the Gathering is: “That of God in Everyone and Every Thing: A Call to Quakers for Environmental Action.”

We have an exciting program, including speakers on Ecology, Nature and sustainable Food.  As well, we have sessions on Fun Activities, and in the evenings a Family and Friends night and a Meeting for Readings.

More information and the registration fees may be found at the Atlantic Friends website.

Friends Peace Teams: Building Cultures of Peace

Photo: Friends Peace Teams
Friends Peace Teams (FPT) works around the world to help create programs for peace-building, healing, and reconciliation in communities in conflict. Nancy Shippen (Fresh Pond, MA, Friends Meeting) is our Yearly Meeting representative to FPT and would love to tell your meeting more about this inspiring work. Contact Nancy and click here for more information about Friends Peace Teams.

Friends on Community Television

Cheryl Mitchell (Middlebury, VT, Friends Meeting) interviews people who are making a difference in the community in a show on Middblebury Community TV called “Grounded Leadership.” In this episode she talks with Erin Ruble and Barbara Clearbridge (both also from Middlebury Friends Meeting) about Restorative Justice.

News of New England Friends sharing and acting from their faith:

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

For The People Act (H.R. 1) FCNL Briefing

View online ›
Friends Committee on National Legislation
Dear Friends,

Exciting news! The House just passed the most sweeping election integrity bill that we’ve seen in nearly two decades. Join me on Tuesday, March 12 for an online briefing on the bill, state of play, and future of reform.

The For The People Act (H.R. 1) contains sweeping reforms to our campaign finance, voting, and ethics rules. The Senate must now act on what the House has passed. Components of H.R. 1 could form a package of provisions on which Democrats and Republicans can agree. We need you to ensure that the Senate takes meaningful steps to address the serious flaws with the integrity of our elections.

Join Jim Cason, FCNL’s associate executive secretary for strategic advocacy, and me for an online briefing on March 12 at 7:00 p.m.

Register
Jose Santos Woss Sincerely,

José Santos Woss

Legislative Manager
Criminal Justice and Election Integrity

P.S. You can start reaching out to your Senators now. Email them so they know election integrity matters to you.

Get involved locally! Register to attend the upcoming FCNL Advocacy Team Workshop at Orchard Hill.

ADVOCACY FOR THE LONG HAUL
Orchard Hill Quakers-Putney Friends Meeting FCNL Advocacy Teams Launch

Saturday, March 30, 2019                   1:00-4:00 PM

Orchard School Community Center,114 Old Settlers Road, Alstead NH

Register Here!http://act.fcnl.org/event/advocacy-teams_attend/689

 

Friends Committee on National LegislationWe are Quakers and friends changing public policy.

Find Events | Make a Donation | More About FCNL

Follow us on: Twitter Facebook Instagram YouTube

Friends General Conference

Spiritual Deepening eRetreats:

Living into Wholeness

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The Living into Wholeness eRetreat invites you to explore and practice what it means to live into Beloved Community, the ways we are called to recognize patterns of marginalization and exclusion and to act toward justice, and tools for transforming and vitalizing our meetings and communities.  

Week 1: Living into Wholeness

Week 2: Community Calls Us to Justice

Week 3: Patterns of Exclusion and Marginalization

Week 4: Tools for Transformation & Vitality

This eRetreat has been previously offered under the name Beloved Community.

Offered March 18 – April 12, 2019 (four weeks, $35 pay-as-led participation fee)    Weekly Community Building Calls (optional)

    More information and Registration at www.fgcquaker.org

 

Living Faith Spring 2019

Dear Friends,

Registration is now open for the next Living Faith gathering, to be held Saturday, April 6, in North Dartmouth, Massachusetts!

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

We hope to see you there.

In the Light,

The Living Faith Spring 2019 Planning Team

Hannah Zwirner Forsythe, (Clerk), Elizabeth Hacala (Events Coordinator), Sarah Cushman, Lisa Graustein, Jay O’Hara, Noah Merrill, Jennifer Higgins Newman, Heidi Nortonsmith, Newell Isbell Shinn, NiaDwynwen Thomas

Register Now
You can learn more about Living Faith Gatherings, including links to the Welcome, FAQ, and workshop descriptions here

Putney Hosts Quarterly Meeting

Putney Friends Meeting and Orchard Hill Quaker Worship Group is pleased to invite North West Quarter Friends to the Quarterly Meeting on March 3rd, 2019.

Quarterly Session Schedule of activities

  • 8:30am – 9:30am Program Discussions
  • 8:30am – 9:30am Early Meeting for Worship
  • 8:30am – 9:30am Program Discussions
  • 9:30am–10:30  Tea, coffee, muffins in the Community Room
  • 10:30am – 11:30am Late Meeting for Worship, First Day School
  • 11:45am – 1:00pmLunch Potluck
  • 1:00pm – 3:00pm Quarterly Meeting for Business

Program Discussions

Social Justice Service

Putney Friends has three active groups under our Social Justice Service Committee. They are focused on immigration issues, specifically supporting people who are in the process of seeking asylum; racism with a focus on understanding our own racism; and outreach in the form of serving meals at the local shelter. Representatives of these groups are looking forward to sharing with Friends and learning about similar work within other Northwest Quarter meetings.

 

FCNL Advocacy Workshop

The Orchard Hill Worship Group, in collaboration with Putney Friends Meeting, will be hosting an FCNL advocacy workshop on March 30th at the Orchard School and Community Center. Each year, in addition to their on-going work, FCNL takes up specific campaigns that they believe they can achieve movement on. This year, FCNL is working on a campaign to repeal the 2001 and 2002 Authorizations for Use of Military Force (AUMF) and will be providing advocacy training in the manner of Friends. We look forward to discussing this work, welcoming Friends who would like to participate, and learning of existing chapters or like initiatives in our Quarter.

 

Reflections from a new worship group

Friends from the newly formed Orchard Hill Worship Group in East Alstead, NH will speak on their formative experience. Where did this leading come from? Who are we? What lights us up?

We look forward to introducing ourselves and extending our warm greetings to our Quarter.

Northwest Quarterly Meeting Registration

 

Putney Friends Meeting and Orchard Hill Quaker Worship Group is pleased to invite North West Quarter Friends to the Quarterly Meeting on March 3rd, 2019.

Please register by Wednesday February 27th, 2019.

When registering, please send the following information to Clerk, Roger Vincent Jasaitis. Email; clerk@putneyfriendsmeeting

Name (each attendee): ________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________

Putney Friends Meeting and Orchard Hill Worship Group will provide potluck options.

Dietary:                     _____omnivorous   _______vegetarian __________vegan

Allergies/intolerances (we will do our best to accommodate these, but suggest that those with multiple or unusual limitations should bring fallback items. ____________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________

Childcare:

Children who will attend and need childcare (name and age of children)

____________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________

Address of Meeting House:

17 Bellows Falls Rd

Putney, Vermont

Driving Directions can be found at: putneyfriendsmeeting.org

Putney Friends Meeting is handicap accessible.    Wi-Fi is available.

The Thinking Heart

At night as I lay on my plank bed surrounded by women and girls … who often told me during the day, “we don’t want to think, we don’t want to feel, otherwise we are sure to go out of our minds,” I was sometimes filled with an infinite tenderness, and lay awake for hours … and I prayed,
“Let me be the thinking heart of these barracks.”
—from the diary of Etty Hillesum

Dear Friends,

This week marks the presidential order in 1942 that led to the internment of Japanese Americans. It’s the one-year anniversary of the killings of high school students in Parkland, Florida. In a season of “emergencies” both real and imagined, of walls and separation, of hatred and division, we mourn the suffering and loss of so many to violence, injustice, and the lack of moral imagination. I know I’m not alone in struggling to live faithfully in the face of it all.

Through the gift of a friend, I’ve found guidance and encouragement in A Life Transformed, a biography including the diaries and letters of Etty Hillesum. A radiant and challenging voice, Etty was born in a secular Dutch Jewish family, growing up in her twenties in Amsterdam during the Second World War.

Living a self-described life of personal chaos, insecurity and disorder, on the precipice of the Holocaust Etty had a powerful experience of convincement and transformation. Without any formal religious background, she learned to pray through direct spiritual experience. Etty was driven to her knees in prayer on the rough floor of an untidy bathroom. This moment reordered her life toward the ground of reality she discovered within her, a presence she came to call “God.” She came to volunteer as a caregiver—and to bear witness—in a transit camp from which thousands of Jews and those deemed “other” were loaded onto trains for Auschwitz. In time, her whole family was forced to board one of those trains—including Etty.

In the face of terror and dehumanization, Etty chose to cultivate an inward freedom. She dedicated herself to safeguarding deep within the resilient hope beyond despair, grounded in Love. Faced with lies, oppression, and evil, she chose to live as if the Truth is true. She found refuge in that knowing, in the active practice of what she calls the “thinking heart” of God. Her witness calls me to consider how I—how we—might live in ways that more fully bear witness to the truth of Love she discovered and trusted until death and beyond.

In a moment of shattering recognition, she prayed:

Dear God, these are anxious times. … We must help You and defend Your dwelling place inside us to the last. There are, it is true, some who, even at this late stage, are putting their vacuum cleaners and silver forks and spoons in safekeeping instead of guarding You, dear God. And there are those who want to put their bodies in safekeeping but who are nothing more now than a shelter for a thousand fears and bitter feelings. And they say, “I shan’t let them get me into their clutches.” But they forget that no one is in their clutches who is in Your arms.

I’m increasingly convinced that one of the greatest gifts we can offer to the condition of our world today is the quality of grounded love that we cultivate and bring into relationship. We can love and feel and hope for those who are unable as yet to love and feel and hope—and we can do this for each other when we’re the ones unable to love and feel and hope. We can strive to protect our cherishing of divine presence within each person—and in ourselves—in the face of the countless voices that would close the ears of our hearts to Grace.

The growing resonance of that loving and feeling and hoping can open the way for new breakthroughs, fresh possibilities, bold emergences in our communities, cultures, and institutions. In Etty’s words: “Somewhere deep inside me is a workshop, in which Titans are forging a new world.”

Etty’s presence and practice as the “thinking heart” of the transit camp barracks calls me me to question my own capacity and commitment to Love. Her testimony challenges me to renew my participation in relationship with fresh intention and initiative. I hear the echo of Etty’s midnight prayer: to be an instrument of presence, to bring forth this radical, witnessing, self-aware, resilient loving even in the midst of unimaginable suffering—and I’m drawn to imagine how that resonance might be more fully expressed in my own life, and in our corporate life as Friends.

Might we find the courage to be thinking hearts of the voyage on which our own desperate, divided society is sailing? Might we discipline ourselves to be the thinking heart of a demonstration; of a workplace, of a family crisis; of a chance encounter on our daily commute; an intervention with an addicted friend, neighbor or stranger; a vigil at a detention center or a bedside? Through patience and dedication, might we be the thinking heart in the worship of our local meeting, radiating love and witnessing presence to all who surround us?

I give thanks for all the ways members of our Quaker communities are working alongside so many others in this powerful practice of presence, and I give thanks for the Spirit provoking us to deeper Love. Wherever we might encounter God in ourselves and one another—may we remember Etty, and her witness to the power of the thinking heart. And may we, like her, be filled and freed by the infinite tenderness that is stronger than death.

In faith and service,

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

P.S.: Again this year, New England Friends are partnering with New York Yearly Meeting for a weekend retreat, March 29-31. It’s an opportunity to gather with Friends from across the northeastern United States who are called to nurture the wholeness of the local meeting community, cultivating this resonance of resilient love.

If it sounds like this opportunity might be right for you or someone in your local meeting, contact Honor Woodrow, clerk of NEYM Ministry & Counsel, to explore participating, or speak to your local meeting’s Ministry & Counsel/Worship, who have received more information.

P.P.S.: I hope you had a chance last month to watch the invitation to the “video plenary” series from Lisa Graustein. This month—with links later in this newsletter—Lisa offers three more short videos with different ways of engaging with New England Quakers’ repudiation of the Doctrine of Discovery.

Whether you plan to attend Annual Sessions this August or not, these videos are intended to help us all engage with the ways the Spirit is working among Quakers in New England, inviting us to grow in Love and carry that Love into the world. 

Transforming Racism and White Supremacy

Noticing Patterns of Oppression—and Faithfulness

In 2018 the Yearly Meeting in Sessions charged the NEYM Committee on Ministry & Counsel (M&C) with creating a process to name people to help New England Friends see when and how we are enacting patterns of oppression. As the work unfolds, it has become clear that we need time together to build the skills of noticing and sharing awareness of these patterns in ways that invite people in, build community, and help us become more God-centered and just.

The Working Group under the care of M&C will host a day-long workshop on Saturday, March 9th at Wellesley (MA) Friends Meeting. We hope you can join us! The workshop will be a chance to learn about and experiment with the practice the Working Group has developed, gain skills for talking about patterns of oppression, and connect with other Friends who want to help move our shared work forward.

All Friends are welcome, young Friends and adults, whether you are new to social justice work or have been doing it for a long time. Please consider encouraging others from your meeting to attend.

To register, click here.

Waking Up White

Debby Irving, author of Waking Up White, will speak on the issues of racism and white privilege explored in her books at the First Unitarian Church, 90 Main St, Worcester, MA, on March 31, 2019. Sponsored by Worcester Friends Meeting, the event is free and open to all.

Other events coming soon

Upcoming Quarterly Meetings

View More Events

Join the Virtual Plenary Experiment

In the January newsletter we shared an invitation from Lisa Graustein (Beacon Hill, MA, Friends Meeting) for Friends to participate in a “Virtual Plenary” to deepen engagement with the theme for 2019 Annual Sessions, “Provoke One Another to Love.” This is an opportunity for meetings and individual Friends—whether or not they are planning to attend Annual Sessions—to take part in exploring these important issues that we face as Friends today.

The three videos this month include some reflection-and-discussion questions at the end. The videos were designed to be viewed on your own and can also be used to shape an adult religious education session, using the reflection questions for discussion. If you want support or ideas for how to use them in First Day School or for adult programming, contact Lisa Graustein.

Click here or on the images below to watch

Video 1- Exploring New England Yearly Meeting’s Minute repudiating the Doctrine of Discovery
Video 2- Noticing and understanding patterns related to the Doctrine of Discovery
Video 3- Spiritual practices to support our work related to the Doctrine of Discovery

Legacy Grant Application Deadline:
March 1, 2019

Do you or someone you know have a ministry that could use some financial support? The deadline is fast approaching to apply for grants from the Yearly Meeting Witness and Ministry Fund and the Future Fund.

Ministries which already have an oversight committee and the support of their meeting will be given preference. Click here for details.

Nurturing Faithfulness

Informational video about the upcoming Nurturing Faithfulness Program at Woolman Hill Retreat Center (Deerfield, MA)
Might you be led to participate in a multi-generational faith and leadership program designed to help Friends explore ways to meet God more deeply, hone methods of discernment, reach for fuller faithfulness, and ultimately bring these gifts and strengthened abilities home to your local meetings and beyond?

Consider joining the Nurturing Faithfulness program beginning in August 2019 co-led by Hilary Burgin (Beacon Hill, MA, Friends Meeting) and Marcelle Martin.

Click here for more information, and decide if this is the program for you or someone you know.

Join the NH Council of Churches in opposition of the death penalty

In 2012, New England Quakers joined fellow member churches on the NH Council of Churches in approving a statement opposing the death penalty. New Hampshire again has a death penalty repeal bill in the 2019 legislative session. That bill has just been made public as HB 455. The Council encourages congregations to join them in preaching, praying, teaching and acting for the repeal of the death penalty in the state of New Hampshire on February 24 as part of “Death Penalty Repeal Sunday”.

Click here for more information and resources

Accompanying Migrants in Tijuana

Em McManamy (Amesbury, MA, Friends Meeting) and members of her family spent a week in Tijuana, accompanying migrants waiting to present their cases for asylum in the U.S. Read about Em’s experience here.

Friends Camp: Lasting Impacts

“Going to camp is a challenge. You are living in (quite close) community with many other young people. You have to leave your cell phone at home. You might not have a good friend you already know at camp. Facing this challenge and having an amazing time at camp can make a camper more willing to take on the next challenge that comes their way, whether it is starting at a new school, trying out a new sport, or even going off to college.”

This is just one of the impacts that Friends Camp Director Anna Hopkins writes about in her most recent blog post about the lifetime effects of attending Friends Camp.  Read more from Anna’s blog here.

Opportunities to Serve

There are many employment, and service opportunities listed on the New England Yearly Meeting website. Click here for details.

Work with the Friends Committee on National Legislation

If you are under 35 or work with young adults, come to Washington, DC on March 23-26, 2019 to lobby on immigration issues at Spring Lobby Weekend.

Registration is open!

If you are about to graduate college, apply for the Young Fellows program. Deadline is February 18, 2019.

If you are looking for an internship this summer, apply for the Summer Internship program. Deadline is March 29, 2019.

Quaker Center Continues Search for Directors

The Ben Lomond Quaker Center (Ben Lomond, CA) is now accepting applications for a Director to begin work during the summer of 2019.  The Director provides spiritual leadership, develops workshops; manages staff, finances and facilities; fundraising; and works closely with the Board in support of the mission of Quaker Center. The Center is also accepting applications for an Associate Director.

Click here for more details.

Discounts for Friends General Conference  Gathering

Thanks to a generous donation, FGC is offering discounts for the 2019 Gathering!

  • Children and teen’s program fees are waived
  • 50% of children and teen’s meals are covered
  • More scholarships are available to families and teens
  • The fee for young adult Friends is reduced

Click here to find out more about the 2019 FGC Gathering in Grinnell, Iowa.

Friends General Conference is a North American association of Quaker groups of which New England Yearly Meeting of Friends is a member. 

Come and See! Friends World Committee for Consultation

Friends World Committee on Consultation Section of the Amercas (FWCC-SOA) will gather in Kansas City, MO, March 21–24, 2018, with the theme ¡Come and See! (John 1:46). There will be daily worship, Bible study, and workshops including:

  • “Come and See: An Examination of Earthkeeping Through the Lens of Quaker Conviction” with Adrian Halverstadt, Director, Evangelical Friends Church – North America; Shelley Tanenbaum, General Secretary, Quaker Earthcare Witness; and Cherice Bock, co-clerk, Sierra-Cascades Yearly Meeting of Friends
  • “Who is my neighbor? Welcoming the stranger, being a Friend” with Judy Goldberger (Beacon Hill, MA, Friends Meeting)

Find out more about the gathering here.

Howard Thurman on PBS

PBS is offering an hour-long documentary about the life of activist, mystic and theologian Howard Thurman in Backs Against The Wall: The Howard Thurman Story, which you can view online. Friends who have benefitted from reading his work may appreciate the chance to learn more about his story. You can see a collection of his work here in the Friends United Press bookstore or in their print catalog.

Updated Quaker Resources for Newcomers

Are you looking to update your meeting’s printed materials about Quakers? Do you wonder what to include in welcome packets for new attenders? The Friends United Meeting (FUM) Communications Department is in the process of updating their pamphlet series. Three titles have been updated so far: The Gospel According to FriendsGeorge Fox and the Early Quakers, and A Quaker View of Ministry. Each one gives, in a quick and readable style, an introduction to one aspect of the Quaker faith. Perhaps one will be right for your meeting.

News of New England Friends sharing and acting from their faith:

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

Friends Committee on National Legislation (FCNL) Advocacy Team Workshop for Orchard Hill Quakers and Putney Friends Meeting

ADVOCACY FOR THE LONG HAUL
Orchard Hill Quakers-Putney Friends Meeting FCNL Advocacy Teams Launch

Saturday, March 30, 2019                   1:00-4:00 PM

Orchard School Community Center,114 Old Settlers Road, Alstead NH

Register Here!http://act.fcnl.org/event/advocacy-teams_attend/689

 

People across the country are asking the same question: “What can I do to change what’s happening in the world?”

Our 75 years on Capitol Hill have shown that your voice can make an important impact on federal policy. In-person meetings with your members of Congress are the most effective wayto influence policy decisions.

Change in Washington starts with you.

Please join FCNL for an advocacy workshop:

  • Influence your members of Congress and their staff through face-to-face conversations
  • Drive the media coverage you want to see
  • Build a strategic team in your community that lobbies as part of a powerful national advocacy network
  • Join our 2019 Advocacy Team campaign to stop endless wars by urging Congress to reassert its constitutional authority. We are supporting legislation to repeal the AUMF and encourage public debate on all issues of war and peace.

Learn More: fcnl.org/advocacyteams