At the invitation of the American Friends Service Committee, PFM member Noah Baker Merrill has written an article on the growing Occupy Together movement. This thoughtful piece was recently posted on the AFSC website and is called “Occupy Together: We Are All Moses.”

Here are just the first two paragraphs:

On what was perhaps the worst night of violence against peaceful demonstrators during the occupation of Cairo’s Tahrir Square, I searched reports and images shared on Facebook and Twitter, blogs and news sites, poring over messages from friends in the Middle East. I tried like so many others to piece together a clearer sense of the movement that had come this far, of where it might be headed, and what it might mean for the world. The power of those hours, the waiting, watching, and praying of those weeks, and the jubilation felt by and for the people of the Arab world, remains closely with me. A deep turning, long in coming and with so much farther still to go, was breaking through.

Now, as the Occupy Together movement emerges across the United States, I have a similar sense of this turning beginning to happen among us in a new way. It’s a time to listen carefully, a time to seek understanding, and a time to respond.

Come join us on two Thursday evenings, October 20 and November 10, at 6 p.m. for a short simple potluck followed by sharing on our spiritual journey’s 6:30-8:30 in the worship room.

Quaker minister Bill Taber once observed that our contemporary Quaker communities sometime lack a “shared vocabulary for the inward landscape,” a way to help encourage one another in our journey together as Friends. In response, Putney Friends and their guests are invited to these two evening gatherings “around the fire” for worship and sharing to help us know one another more deeply in that which is eternal. Perhaps we’ll discern some common threads in our individual experiences and in the Quaker tradition upon which we can build our understanding together.

This invitation comes to you from the Ministry Oversight Committee for Noah Baker Merrill, who in tandem with members of the committee will be anchoring these two times for deep reflection on our journeys.

Questions? Contact Noah at 802-451-6931, or email noah.merrill@gmail.com. We hope you will consider joining us.

Brian Willson is a Vietnam veteran and trained lawyer whose wartime experiences transformed him into a nonviolent revolutionary activist. Brian first gained renown as a participant in a prominent 1986 veterans fast on the steps of the US Capitol in Washington, DC. The fast was in response to Congressional funding of Reagan’s Contra wars against the people of Central America.

One year later, on September 1, 1987, he was again thrust into the public eye when he was run over and nearly killed by a US Navy Munitions train while engaging in a nonviolent blockade in protest of weapons shipments to El Salvador. Since the 1980s he has continued efforts to educate the public about the realities of continued US imperialism while striving to “walk his talk” (on two prosthetic legs and a three-wheeled handcycle) by creating a model of right livelihood including a simpler lifestyle.

On Friday, October 21, from 7 to 9 pm, Brian will be speaking at Putney Friends Meeting about his new book, Blood on the Tracks: The Life and Times of S. Brian Willson. Please help spread the word and come join us for Brian’s important talk about activism for peace, justice, and earthcare today. All are welcome.

At the last Northwest Quarterly Meeting, Burlington Friends Meeting presented their meeting’s minute on closing Vermont Yankee, asking if Quarterly Meeting might adopt or adapt it as a collective statement from Quarterly Meeting that will be shared with Vermont legislators as well as all local meetings in Northwest Quarter. The recent Quarterly Meeting has now asked us and other meetings in the Quarter to reflect on the Burlington Meetings minute and share our collective response. We will be discussing PFM’s response to Quarterly meeting during our November business meeting. Please read the BFM Minute on Closing Vermont Yankee.

Burlington Friends Meeting Minute

As members of the Religious Society of Friends, we believe we are called to be good stewards of the earth. In recent times, we have been overwhelmed and even numbed by the growing confluence of natural disasters with man-made catastrophes. Again and again, the fail-safe systems of human engineering are swept aside by the power of a living and restless planet: levees in New Orleans, well-plugs in the Gulf of Mexico, tsunami seawalls in Japan. The persistent arrogance of our belief in the ability of science to understand, manipulate, and ultimately control the forces of Creation is nowhere more evident than in our use of nuclear fission to build bombs and boil water.

After Hiroshima, after Chernobyl, after Fukushima, we must say “No.” We have seen entire cities destroyed in a flash; seen wind-borne poisons circumnavigating the globe; and seen radioactive waste material created that will bring death to living things for thousands of years.

To say “No” to nuclear fission here in Vermont is to say “Yes” to being a different people: to overcome our fear of powerlessness and become hopeful and courageous. It is to become radically more simple in our patterns of living, consuming far less energy and material things. If we choose to be a different people it will become much clearer what we, as Friends, must do:

● Join with those called to public witness, including non-violent civil disobedience, to shut down our own nuclear power plant, Vermont Yankee, and continue to speak to public officials on this matter;
● Have Monthly Meetings establish Committees of Concern and other traditional Quaker structures to challenge and assist one another in making the profound changes in consumption that we must achieve to heal the Earth; and
● Corporately model simplicity and good stewardship of our meeting houses and grounds through such projects as insulation, solar panels, wind generators, vegetable gardens and fruit trees.

We are made to be an integral part of this wondrous Creation. Let us choose now to take up our stewardship commitment, fully accepting our responsibilities to care for our planet and its peoples. Let us choose now to join with other Friends, and all people of good will and understanding, to move forward through worship and through witness to reach our goals.

Approved at Burlington Monthly Meeting, 5/15/2011, and Approved to forward to Northwest Quarterly Meeting.

This announcement of November events just in from Carol Forsythe, the Clerk of Putney Friends Meeting:

Nov. 6 – Annual Fall Meeting Clean-up and Workday, from 9:30 – 10:30 and at 11:30 – 12:30, followed by a potluck.

Nov. 13 – A Quaker Men’s Group gathering, at 6pm in the Meeting House. A few of us Quaker men are putting together a potluck, open to all men of the meeting for food, fellowship and fun.

Nov.20 – Annual Meeting Thanksgiving Potluck at rise of late meeting (somewhere around 11:45 am).

We invite anyone of any age interested in singing simple songs from the Quaker Hymnal, Rise Up Singing songs, Taize chants, songs that can be learned by ear, to come together this coming Sunday, Oct 16, in the meeting room.

We’ll begin a little after 9:30 as soon as the 8:30 meeting for worship rises and leaves the meeting room. We’ll sing until about 10:20 to give people time to get ready and settle in for the 10:30 meeting for worship if they like. Rise Up Sing books will be available. We were a dozen last time.

Is there interest in singing regularly? Does third Sunday’s of the month work? Let Noah or El know.

At the 2010 Friends General Conference Gathering in Bowling Green, Ohio, PFM’s Noah Baker-Merrill read a piece that was recently published in the young adult Quaker anthology called Spirit Rising. Here is a video of Noah reading his piece, which is entitled “Dispatches From The Lamb’s War.”

PFM member Sadie Forsythe also has a piece in the anthology, as does her husband Chris Pifer. Sadie’s piece is entitled “Tokenism” and Chris’ piece is called “A Gathering Storm.” To order this book, with over 200 contributions by young adult Friends from around the world, go to Quaker Books.