Member News: Chloe Learey

VTDigger Report

Chloe Learey: Strategies to increase child care slots

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

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

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

Challenge #1: There are not enough early educators.

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

Strategy 1: Invest in workforce development.

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

Strategy 2: Subsidize post-secondary education.

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

Challenge #2: There are not enough slots.

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

Strategy: Provide funds to increase infrastructure.

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

Challenge #3: Child care is too expensive.

Strategy: Increase scholarships and subsidies for families.

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

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

New England Yearly Meeting 2018 State of Society Report

Dear Friends,

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

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

In the abundant Love that holds us all,

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

2018 State of Society Report

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Ministry and Counsel Committee

New England Yearly Meeting

A Deeper Hope

SEPTEMBER 2018

A Deeper Hope

Dear Friends,

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“We need a deeper Hope,” she said.

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

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

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

In faith and service,

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

Photo: Friends Couple Enrichment

Couple Enrichment with John and Debbie Humphries

September 21–23, 2018
Powell House
Chatham, NY

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

Other events coming soon

Upcoming Quarterly Meetings

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Highlights from 2018 Annual Sessions

Photo: Diane Weinholtz

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

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

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

Lost and Found at Sessions

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

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

Image: Hartford Friends

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

Witnessing for Immigrants

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

Concern for Palestinians in Gaza

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

Making the Experience of Palestinians Visible

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

Living Faith: Fresh Changes This Fall

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

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

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

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

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

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

Ministry in Mongolia

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

New Video: Becoming a Quaker Minister

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

Upcoming Grant Application Opportunities

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

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

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

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

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

What is a “Living Epistle”?

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

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

Quakers in Print

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

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

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

Celebrate Friends Everywhere

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

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

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

Help Design Our New Website!

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

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

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

Take the survey

Got Images?

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

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

Thanks in advance!

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

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

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Quaker Youth Opportunities

Dear local meetings & worship groups of New England,

Hello! My name is Nia Thomas and I serve as NEYM’s Young Friends Coordinator.

In my role, I strive to make as many teens and families as possible aware of the Young Friends retreat program. Did you know that we offer six retreats a year for high school age Quaker youth? We also maintain an email list for youth, parents, and others interested in regular updates about retreat registration as well as  other opportunities for Quaker teens. If someone you know would like to subscribe to this list, they can do so here.

The purpose of Young Friends retreats is not to duplicate the efforts of local meetings but rather to compliment them by creating joyous youth-centered Quaker spaces where participants can experience community and connect with a wider group of Quaker peers. You can learn about upcoming retreats on the Young Friends section of the NEYM website.

Beyond encouraging youth to attend retreats, I also love to hear about what is going on at your meeting that engages youth. If you are a Quaker teen or you work with the teens in your meeting, I’d love to talk with you and hear what’s alive for you in your meeting.

With excitement and gratitude,



Nia Thomas
Young Friends Coordinator
New England Yearly Meeting of Friends

Upcoming Young Friends Events
September 14-16–Young Friends Leadership & Learning Weekend–Framingham
September 15–New Young Friends Welcome Dinner–Framingham, MA 6-8PM
October 12-14–Young Friends Retreat–Mt Toby (Leverett, MA)

Want to make sure YF retreats are on your calendar? More retreat dates are listed here.  Registration opens about a month before a given retreat (we’ll send a reminder out on this list).

Register for Retreats
To contact the Young Friends Coordinator: 

yf.yafcoord@neym.org

Orchard Hill Quakers Opening Worship

Orchard Hill Quakers
Orchard Hill Quakers

Friends! I am so pleased to share that there is a new Quaker worship group forming – under the care of Putney Meeting – at the Orchard School Community Center in Alstead, NH. We will begin meeting at 10AM on Sundays beginning August 12th. Childcare will be provided at our first gathering. If you are interested in visiting, curious about Quaker worship and practice, or just excited that this is happening, feel free to connect!

Warmly, Emily Mason

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/ohquakers

Email: ohquakers@gmail.com

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.
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  • 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. 

Donate

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
Secretary
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

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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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