Embraced by the Mystery

Dear Friends,NEYM-web
Have you ever had the experience of being in meeting for worship, wondering whether a message that’s rising within you in the stillness is for you to speak, and then hearing the same message—maybe in different words—given through the voice of another Friend?

I had an experience like that this week, and I wanted to share that message with you, in the words in which I heard it expressed.

This ministry comes to us through the Puente de Amigos, our yearly meeting’s decades-long “Bridge of Love” between Friends in New England and Cuba.

In the past year, the denial by the U.S. government of visas for religious visitation has barred Cuban Friends from being able to attend New England Yearly Meeting Annual Sessions. In the current political climate of anti-immigrant sentiment, hatred, and fear, this is just one glimpse of the ways that so many members of our human family are disconnected from one another and denied full recognition of their worth and dignity as children of God. I’m mindful that many of you receiving this message have your own very personal stories to share, either of your own experience with this disconnection and denial, or in accompanying those most vulnerable in these times. May the “single star of Hope” this message carries shine for all of us.

Cuban Friend and pastoral minister Kirenia Criado of Havana Friends Meeting—whom many Friends may remember from her visit and message to Annual Sessions—offers a prayer for this season in our world (English translation follows the original Spanish).

As Friends in both our yearly meetings seek ways to re-open the doors of visitation between us, and as our presiding clerk Fritz Weiss (Hanover [NH] Meeting) and several other New England Friends prepare to travel to Cuba Yearly Meeting in February, I am grateful that the ministry of this Cuban Friend reaches out to us in spirit, though we cannot be together in person.

Y pensar que en Tus brazos soy así como vuelves: criatura frágil y expuesta, abrazada por el misterio de un Amor inexplicable.

Y pensar que en Tu mundo también me le asemejo: vivir de cara al vacío inmenso prendiendo la esperanza de una solita estrella es, sin dudas, mi signo.

Y pensar que a pesar de toda esta precariedad que somos, de tanto mundo roto e incompleto, no nos faltas…

regresas cada vez al vulnerable espacio de esta Vida, renaces para hacernos creer que sí es posible que el Amor aparezca, se haga carne y presencia, por ese Amor que das y eres Tú mismo.

Que el Misterio de la Vida que renace en los lugares más inesperados nos inunde de bien…
Abrazo a cada quien, en la Esperanza…

– Kirenia


And to think that in Your arms I am as you are when you return to us: a fragile and vulnerable child, embraced by the mystery of an inexplicable Love.

And to think that in Your world I also resemble You: facing the immense emptiness by lighting a single star of Hope, which is, without doubt, my sign.

And to think that in spite of all the precariousness of our broken and incomplete world, you never fail us …

You return each time to this Life, you are reborn to make us believe that, yes, it is possible for Love to appear, to become flesh and presence, because of your great Love for us, you who are Love itself.

May the Mystery of Life that is reborn in the most unexpected places fill us with good.

I embrace you all, in Hope…


In that same Hope,

Noah Merrill
New England Yearly Meeting of Friends (Quakers)

In This Issue:

We affirm that peace is possible

Dear Northwest Quarter of New England Yearly Meeting:

As many of you know, in 2013 an interfaith group of religious leaders, including the Clerk of the Burlington Friends Meeting, asked the City of Burlington to oppose the basing of the F-35 fighter/bomber at Burlington International Airport, scheduled for 2020. Since that time, the noise of other military aircraft has forced the demolition of 200 owner-occupied homes around the runway and the new plane will place 3,000 additional homes in jeopardy due to noise and heightened crash risk. This at a time when rents are rising beyond the means of those with minimum wages and the homeless increasingly camp in the wooded areas of Chittenden County.iu-1.jpeg

Why is opposition to the basing of the F-35 of significance to Quakers? Through FCNL we have long sought a reduction in military spending and a shift of funds to meet our great social needs in education, healthcare, infrastructure, job development, and environmental stewardship. At $1.4 trillion over 40 years, this war machine represents a considerable portion of the defense budget, $700 for the coming year, and will continue to do so in future years making social priorities impossible to achieve. Furthermore, our 2016 NEYM Minute on Climate Change affirmed that fossil fuel use threatened life as we know it on earth, https://neym.org/news/2016-yearly-meeting-climate-change. The F-35 is not only a huge user of fossil fuel, its deployment in the Middle East has been in defense of our unfettered access to petroleum.

The F-35 is now deployed to Japan and is being used to provoke and intimidate North Korea, a nuclear power, thus risking catastrophic war. Yet NEYM’s Faith and Practice states, “Because of the incomparable evil presented by the threat of nuclear war, we are moved to bear a passionate witness for life and peace.”
Burlington residents, including many Quakers, are trying to place the question of basing the F-35 near Vermont’s largest population center on the city ballot for Town Meeting Day, March 6, 2018. We have have created this video for Media and Democracy, our public access channel, to explain our reasoning.

We affirm that preparation for war before all other social goals isungodly. We affirm that peace is possible.

Charles Simpson, Co-clerk, Burlington Monthly Meeting

Gunsense VT Update

Putney Friends Meeting — GunsenseVT

GunSense VT’s founder and fiercest gun violence prevention warrior, Ann Braden, has announced that she will be stepping back from the organization to pursue two incredible opportunities: writing and running for public office. A prolific and talented author, Ann has had her middle grade novel accepted for publication by Sky Pony Press. It is due out in Fall, 2018. Additionally, Ann has been accepted into the Emerge Vermont program which trains Democratic women candidates, and is planning to run for office in her home district of Windham County.

“I’m proud of what I’ve accomplished with GunSense VT, and I’m humbled by the passion and energy of its supporters. From simply gathering names on a petition to bringing gun violence prevention legislation to the Governor’s desk, we’ve grown by leaps and bounds over the past five years,” states Ann. “I know that GunSense is well-positioned to continue the fight for common sense gun legislation in Vermont.”

The Board of GunSense VT and all of Vermont’s citizens owe Ann a debt of gratitude for opening the door to conversations and legislation that will ultimately improve public safety for all Vermonters.

As GunSense VT looks to the future, we will be growing our capacity and making improvements to our communications to continue the fight for universal background checks. Seasoned gun violence prevention activist and farmer Clai Lasher-Sommers is taking the helm as Acting Executive Director. Born in Vermont, and now living just over the border in New Hampshire, she is a survivor of gun violence, knows the issue inside and out on the personal level and national stage, and brings a fearless commitment to the cause.  The GunSense VT Board will be holding a day-long retreat in January to identify priorities as we enter the 2018 legislative session.

Clai will be happy to hear from you @ clai@gunsensevt.org

“My heart breaks for Sutherland Springs. Just like it still does for Las Vegas. And Orlando. And Charleston. And Aurora. And Blacksburg. And Newtown. Just like it does every night for Chicago. And New Orleans. And Baltimore. And Bridgeport. The terrifying fact is that no one is safe so long as Congress chooses to do absolutely nothing in the face of this epidemic. The time is now for Congress to shed its cowardly cover and do something.”

– Senator Chris Murphy, (D) Connecticut

We were outraged by the news out of Sutherland Springs, Texas.  On Sunday a man armed with a Ruger AR-556 assault rifle ended 27 lives, and shattered countless others, at a place of worship. Once again, we are faced with massacres happening in places that are supposed to be safe. No one should feel apprehension while worshipping, going to school, going to the movies, shopping, or doing any of the other things that we do in our daily lives.

The NRA and the politicians whom they own will spout the same senseless sentiment: “It’s not the time to talk about guns.” We know differently.It is way past time to talk about guns. And for the 27 people killed in Texas and the 13,254* other people killed by guns this year, it is too late. Your voice has the power to effect change. Keep calling. Keep writing. Keep demanding action on gun safety legislation.

Take one of these actions today. Once you take one action it becomes easier to do two, or do three. Whatever you can do will make a difference.

1. Call Senators Sanders and Leahy and tell them that you support universal background checks, and you expect them to as well. Tell them to stand up with Chris Murphy and make this a bipartisan issue. Gun violence affects all Americans. It will take all of our representatives working together to make a change.

Senator Bernie Sanders: 800-339-9834

Senator Patrick Leahy: 800-642-3193

2. Call Governor Phil Scott and tell him Vermont’s lack of gun laws are shameful. Right now, there’s nothing preventing someone with a history of violence from buying a gun in Vermont without a background check from a private seller. Tell the Governor that Vermonters deserve better!

Governor Phil Scott: 802-828-3333

3.  Please make a donation to GunSense VT, which is at the forefront of fighting for universal background checks in Vermont. Your donation today will help us  continue our work for gun safe legislation in Vermont.

4. Make sure to follow @GunSenseVT on Twitter, and GunSense on Facebook and share our posts. When we raise our voices, even in the virtual world, it encourages others to raise theirs.

5. Make sure you know who your state legislators are and find out where they stand on gun violence prevention. Visit legislature.vermont.gov to find your legislators and see their voting records.

6. Remember that a significant majority of deaths by firearm are suicides. Visit the website of the Vermont Suicide Prevention Center for information and resources. Familiarize yourself with the risk factors, which can include depression, substance abuse, family violence, and feelings of isolation (especially among older Vermonters), and having firearms in the home.

7. Most importantly, look out for one another. Get to know your neighbors. Spend a few more minutes in conversation. Meet someone in person for coffee. We all need more human connection, especially now.

*The Gun Violence Archive:  www.gunviolencearchive.org

Newtown Vigils: Help shine a light on gun violence in December

This December 14 marks the five-year anniversary of one of the most heartbreaking tragedies this nation has ever known: the murder of 20 young children and 6 educators at the Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown. Since that horrific day, we have also known the pain of other high-profile mass shootings. Charleston. San Bernardino. Orlando. Las Vegas. Texas. The list goes on.

This December, we invite you to recall all victims and survivors of gun violence: those who have died, those still living, and those who still live with the pain of loss. Those who have been threatened with guns and traumatized by violent acts, Those who still live with abuse and threats in homes where there are guns.

Vigils to remember victims of gun violence are being held statewide. Please consider organizing one in your community!

Organizing a vigil need not be stressful or time consuming. It can be as large or as small, as simple or as complicated as you want to make it. You can organize a group to stand silently with candles in front of your town hall, or you can organize speakers in your local library or house of worship. It’s up to you, and GunSense is here to help.

Please contact Elissa at elissa@gunsensevt.org if you are holding a vigil or if you would like to organize one.

We have resources to share, and we want to help you publicize your event (and make sure that you are counted nationally). Connect with GunSense today!

All the Best,

Elissa Pine, GunSenseVT

GunSenseVT · PO Box 2533, Brattleboro, VT 05303, United States

This is not normal. This is not okay.  


GunsenseVT“Our attention this morning is focused on Sandy Hook…”

“Our attention this morning is focused on Orlando…”

“Our attention this morning is focused on Las Vegas…”

Who among us doesn’t hold his or her breath when

turning on the TV or radio and hearing a story that leads with those words? Tragically, Monday morning was such a morning.

To people who lost loved ones in the Las Vegas massacre, to witnesses traumatized by the violence, to first responders who had to deal with unimaginable scenes, to the injured whose wounds may never fully heal, we are sending strength.

To the politicians who stand by, shooting after shooting, doing nothing to effect change, we are sending the message:

We should not have to live in fear every time we or our loved ones leave the house for school, for a concert, for a movie, for work.

Even if our US Senators and Representatives are supportive of gun violence prevention measures, they still need to hear from you.

Please contact your elected officials today with the message:

“Thoughts and prayers are not enough. We are counting on you to address this public health crisis and keep guns out of the wrong hands.”

Vermont’s Governor Phil Scott has long held that Vermont’s extremely lax gun laws are adequate. We urge Vermont residents to contact Governor Scott with the message:

“Vermont is not an island. We are part of a nation that is experiencing an unprecedented public health crisis in the form of gun violence. We must do our part by passing universal background check legislation in Vermont now.”

Please also consider writing a letter to the editor of your local newspaper. A simple letter summarizing your reaction to this tragedy and encouraging legislative action can send a powerful message to lawmakers and fellow Vermonters.

It is easy at times like this to feel utterly defeated, but we owe it to all those who suffer to keep fighting for common sense gun legislation. GunSense Vermont continues to champion the much needed goal of background checks for every gun sold in our state.

Thank you for joining us in the fight.

-Your GunSense VT Leadership Team

p.s.–If you are looking for a way to directly support those impacted by the violence in Las Vegas, we suggest:

The National Compassion Fund (directly distributes donations from the public to victims of mass crime)

Elissa Pine, GunSenseVT

Vigil for Las Vegas

Local faith communities are calling for a vigil to remember and mourn the lives lost and affected by the Las Vegas tragedy.  Tens of lives were lost, hundreds were injured and thousands of lives were affected forever by the loss of loved ones.  The nation mourns this tragedy and again questions the whys of this tragedy and seeks answers– but for tonight, Wednesday, October 4, this will be an opportunity to come together and mourn, to hear words of solace and to commit ourselves to building communities and nurturing children so that this is less likely to happen again.  Centre Congregational Church on Main Street, Brattleboro will host the 7PM Vigil. Clergy from many local faith communities will take part and Andy Davis will lead accompany music for the evening.   Everyone is welcome.

Love is Sanctuary

Join the webinar

Photo: AFSC/Pedro Rios

“Love is sanctuary, a safehaven and place to rest.” – Theodore Volgoff

What does “sanctuary” mean to you? When do you feel as though your heart can rest, as though you are in the place where the tensions and furor of the world is released, the place where you feel you can be your whole and most clear self?

For me this comes in meeting for worship, in the company of certain loved ones, when I walk near a creek or river. I had a conversation recently with an anti-racist activist I admire and felt the whole conversation offered sanctuary.

But for too many, sanctuary is elusive—for undocumented immigrants, for Black people targeted by the police, for Muslims, for queer and trans folks. Walking down the street can feel perilous as the systems of state-sanctioned violence, white supremacy, homophobia, xenophobia render so many vulnerable.

In response to the rising tide of hate and oppression, AFSC and community members across the country are coming together to create a sense of Sanctuary Everywhere—working as activists and people of faith to create the sense of fairness and sacred space for all people. We long to create Sanctuary Everywhere so that refuge from oppression isn’t needed anywhere.

Starting this month, AFSC will offer a series of free webinars to share what we’ve learned about how to support and work for Sanctuary Everywhere in local communities.

You can sign up today to join our first webinar.

These interactive sessions will help you create Sanctuary Everywhere in a range of ways—from learning how to intervene when you witness public instances of racist and other forms of oppressive violence and harassment to working for sanctuary policies in your school or community.

Our first webinar will take place on Sept. 21, from 8:30 p.m. EDT// 7:30 p.m. CDT // 6:30 p.m.  MDT// 5 p.m. PDT.

This will be an interactive introduction to Quaker Social Change Ministry, a model for congregations and others to work for social justice in small groups using spiritual practices and focusing on accompanying organizations and people most impacted by injustice. I will be leading this session with Gabriela Flora, AFSC immigrant rights organizer in Denver.

Find out more and register here.

I hope you will join us for skill-building and learning in the months ahead, so that all of us can work to create Sanctuary Everywhere.

In Peace,

Lucy Duncan
AFSC Director of Friends Relations

Register Here

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

AFSC Against DACA Termination

Quaker org speaks out against DACA termination


Photo: AFSC

WASHINGTON, DC (September 5, 2017) Today, the Trump administration announced that they would rescind Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA), a program that has provided temporary deportation relief to almost 800,000 people who came to the U.S. as children. The American Friends Service Committee (AFSC) – a Quaker organization that has worked for immigrant and refugee rights for almost 100 years – condemned the decision.

“The decision to rescind DACA is an inhumane attack on young people, their families, and our communities,” said Kristin Kumpf, AFSC’s Human Migration and Mobility Director. “This decision puts thousands of young people at risk of deportation, and a six-month delay does nothing to mitigate that. We support DACA because we strongly believe that no one should be deported.”

Since the DACA program was announced by executive order in 2012, AFSC has been involved in helping people sign up for the program, providing know-your-rights information,  advocating for DACA expansion (which was effectively blocked by the Supreme Court in 2016), and mobilizing constituents to contact their congress people in support of the program.

“DACA has created opportunities for young immigrants to work, pursue educational opportunities, and support themselves and their families,” said Chia-Chia Wang, Organizing and Advocacy Director in AFSC’s Newark office. “In the absence of just and humane immigration policies, the program provided some necessary relief for thousands of people. These protections should be expanded, not rescinded.”

Many DACA recipients have also spoken out about how DACA has impacted them and why future programs or legislation need to be expanded. “As an undocumented student, I was able to benefit from DACA. This enabled me to continue my education, get a job with AFSC, and pursue a master’s degree,” said Jesús Palafox, Regional Administrative Associate in AFSC’s Chicago office. “DACA has been very helpful to me, but I am just part of a tiny minority of millions of people living in this country who need to be able to adjust their status. We need solutions that include everyone.”

Despite the setback, AFSC and immigrant rights groups across the country say this movement for immigrant rights, family reunification and social justice is not over. “We will continue our work – in the courts, in our communities, and in the streets – until everyone has access to legal status,” said Kumpf.

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The American Friends Service Committee is a Quaker organization that promotes lasting peace with justice, as a practical expression of faith in action. Drawing on continuing spiritual insights and working with people of many backgrounds, we nurture the seeds of change and respect for human life that transform social systems.