Putney Friends Meeting has long sought divine wisdom around the often contentious issue of marriage equality for loving and committed gay and lesbian couples. Before the laws of the State of Vermont changed for the better, we agreed to take “illegal,” but spiritually-sound, gay and lesbian weddings and marriages under the care of our Meeting. After taking this first step toward greater faithfulness, we also began lobbying and speaking up for full marriage equality under Vermont state law. With that accomplished, we are now supporting the passage of the proposed federal Uniting American Families Act, which would stop the federal government from deporting foreign members of lesbian and gay binational marriages and relationships.

There is nothing abstract about our concern. Two beloved participants of our meeting are currently under threat from the US government. As Rachel Tiven wrote on the Immigration Equality’s blog, on December 13, “CNN broke the news that the Obama Administration has denied a green card for Frances Herbert’s spouse, Takako Ueda. In denying their request, the Administration has informed Takako that, “You are required to depart the United States within thirty (30) days from the date of this decision, or be subject to removal proceedings.” This would not happen if Frances and Takako were a heterosexual couple married under the laws of Vermont. It is now time to push for marriage equality at the federal level.

Our Meeting is thus asking for the help of all people of conscience who support equal rights and committed, loving relations. The first thing we ask is for people to urge the Obama Administration to stop the threats to deport Takako to Japan and fulfill her Green card request immediately. This would enable Frances and Takako to remain in the Vermont community they have made home in together for over ten years. So, please take a few minutes and call President Obama at (202) 456-1111. When the White House answers, tell them: “I am asking President Obama to keep Frances Herbert and her spouse, Takako Ueda, together. I’ve also learned that the Administration has denied their request for a green card. I support allowing lesbian and gay couples to stay together. Stop the separations, and stop denying green cards filed by lesbian and gay couples.”

Second, given that Frances and Takako are among thousands of binational lesbian and gay couples who are currently threatened with separation due to the discriminatory policies of the United States, we ask you to lobby for the passage of the Uniting American Families Act. One way to move this goal forward is to contact your US Senators and Representatives and ask them ask to support the Uniting American Families Act.

Please help us by also spreading the word by emailing this blog post to your friends, or using the share button below to post this request on Twitter or Facebook. Also, please have your workplaces, community groups, and religious congregations consider endorsing the Immigration Equality campaign. When you talk to people in the organizations you are a part of, you may also want to share with them this online FAQ sheet on the Uniting American Families Act.

Let’s make equality law in the New Year.

Here is an open invitation to a New Year’s Eve party to remember–and one that builds on PFM’s recent minute about nuclear power and the closing of Vermont Yankee!

Just 82 days before the scheduled closure of the Vermont Yankee plant, the New Hampshire-based Nuke Free Monadnock affinity group, co-founded by PFM member Steve Chase, is going to throw a one-hour, afternoon, New Year’s Eve bash at the gates of Vermont Yankee (546 Governor Hunt Road, Vernon, VT 05354). The party will take place from 1:30 to 2:30 pm on December 31st and is part of the SAGE Alliance‘s daily Countdown to Closure vigils at the plant.

At this afternoon New Year’s Eve party, we will have music, sing-alongs, kazoos and funny hats, a sparkling cider and dixie cup toast to the State of Vermont for standing up to the Entergy Corporation on behalf of the people of this region, and a New Year’s style ball drop to ring in a nuke free new year with hope for more green collar jobs and renewable energy to come. We will also take time to share New Year’s Resolutions for what each us will do to create a safe and green energy future in New Hampshire, Massachusetts, and Vermont in the coming year. The event is even being filmed by Robbie Leppzer, the maker of Seabrook 77, as part of his new documentary on the citizens movement to close VY and move toward a safe and green energy future in the region.

We would love to have people from Putney Friends Meeting join us for this party. So, please bring your friends and neighbors to Vernon, VT, next Saturday afternoon at 1:30 pm as we celebrate the scheduled March 21, 2012 shut down of this aging and unreliable nuclear plant, which has the same design as the leaking reactors in Japan.

Parking for this unusual holiday bash is available at the municipal building just down the road from VY by the Vernon town offices and library. BTW, parking is not allowed at the elementary school across the street, so please do not park in that lot. Also, please carpool if you can Remember we want to transition to low-carbon, as well as nuke-free, future!

For more information, please contact PFM member Steve Chase.

P.S. Anyone who attends this party agrees to the following guidelines for being a “good guest.”

Nonviolent Action Code of Conduct

Our attitude will be one of openness and respect toward all we encounter in our actions.
We will use no violence, verbal or physical, toward any person.
We will not harm anyone, and we will not retaliate in reaction to violence.
We will not carry weapons.
We will neither be under the influence nor bring any non-prescribed drugs or alcohol.
We will neither bring dogs nor other animals, except for service animals.
During a demonstration we will not run nor make threatening motions.
While affirming that people’s lives and safety are more important than property, we will not destroy or damage property.

Befriending Creation newsletter announces that New ‘Quakers in Transition’ Website Puts Friends In Solidarity With International Movement

The Befriending Creation article below by Steve Chase, a member of Putney Friends Meeting, talks about Quakers In Transition, a new online project sponsored by the Earthcare Ministries Committee of the New England Yearly Meeting of the Religious Society of Friends. This article will also be reprinted in the January issue of Quaker Life. Please check out both Befriending Creation and Quakers In Transition.

We yearn for community that is intimately dependent on the earth, on our neighbors, and our own self-reliance to provide our basic needs, and allows us to see the consequences of our use of creation.

–From a Young Adult Friends gathering at Mount Toby (Mass.) Friends Meeting in 2011

This yearning is not new. Back in the mid-1600s, the early Quaker movement in England felt called by the Spirit of God to transform their world. Rejecting the imperial values of their day—which worshiped power, profits, prestige, and plundering above all—the Quaker Movement put forth an alternative vision of Beloved Community that was simple, just, peaceful, and sustainable. This vision was anchored in what George Fox described as Judaism’s and Christianity’s three great loves: 1) loving God with all one’s heart, soul, and strength; 2) loving our neighbors as ourselves; and 3) loving God’s good Earth by acting in “unity with Creation.”

Today, Quakers are still called–along with millions of other people around the globe–to foster a more spiritually fulfilling, socially just, and ecologically sustainable human presence on our planet. The urgency of this spiritual vocation is even growing stronger now as the world faces the unprecedented challenges of peak oil, climate change, and an increasingly dysfunctional global economy—concerns that groups like Quaker Earthcare Witness have been raising for over 20 years.

More and more of us are now awake and listening, and we want to do something positive and creative about all of this with our neighbors. We are increasingly focused on aiding a rapid and responsible transition from oil dependency to local resilience in our own communities—in solidarity with communities all around the world. This is leading more of us to become active participants in the global Transition movement where we live, work, or worship.

At the 2011 New England Yearly Meeting Annual Sessions, NEYM’s Earthcare Ministries Committee put forward an invitation for all Friends to join the global Transition Movement and engage with their neighbors in positive local efforts to:

* Dramatically reduce our overall energy use.

* Shift from unsafe and declining fossil fuel resources to safe and renewable energy sources.

*Enhance the heart and soul of what we love most about our communities—even as we face the end of the age of cheap and abundant oil.

* Relocalize our economies so our communities can increase the number of green-collar jobs and be better able to produce the vital goods and services we need to survive and thrive in the years ahead.

If you are a Friend who supports this agenda, go to <http://quakersintransition.wordpress.com>, a website offering resources, blog posts, and networking tools designed to help equip Quakers to join, organize, or develop local Transition Town initiatives.

Happily, we are not alone. Thousands of communities in countries all across the planet have started formal or informal local Transition efforts. Hundreds of these local transition initiatives have also begun connecting in larger national and international networks to learn from each other and inspire more experimentation and innovation. For a look at several of these networked transition communities in the United Kingdom and beyond, check out the 50-minute online video, “In Transition 1.0,” on the Introduction page of Quakers In Transition

For questions and comments, contact: Steve Chase or Ruah Swennerfelt”

At its business meeting on Sunday, November 13, Putney Friends Meeting approved the following minute on closing Vermont Yankee and asked our Social Justice and Peace committee to contact Kendra Ulrich of Safe and Green about setting up a meeting at the Meeting House for for exploring the creation of a PFM Affinity Group as part of the regional nonviolent direct action movement working to close VY by the State of Vermont’s deadline of March 21, 2012. The minute reads:

As members of the Religious Society of Friends, we believe we are called to be good stewards of the earth.

Whether through weaponization, accident or mismanagement, the destruction of life and the degradation of nature has been, and continues to be, an ongoing consequence of the use of nuclear technology.

As a result of these concerns, Putney Friends Meeting firmly supports the Vermont state government’s efforts to close the Vermont Yankee nuclear power plant by March 21, 2012. We call on all our members and attenders to consider joining the citizen’s movement working to enforce the people’s will on this matter, up to and including nonviolent protest and civil disobedience.

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 accomplish our goals.

As we did last year, Putney Friends will once again be part of a community effort to provide meals for people sleeping at the Overflow Shelter (at the Baptist Church in Brattleboro). Tentatively, Putney Friends will be responsible for preparing and serving meals the 2nd and 4th Thursdays of each month. Cooks and servers are not responsible for paying for the food, just for preparing and/or serving it!

We are now looking for volunteers who would be willing to cook and/or serve between once and twice per month from December through April. If you are interested in helping out with this, please contact coordinator Sora Friedman in person, via e-mail, by phone (802-254-4782), or sign up on the soon-to-be-posted sign-up sheet at the Meeting House. Sora will be in touch with folks in the new directory to confirm details. Thank you so much!


Dear Friends,

We hope you will come to the Thanksgiving Potluck at Putney Meeting on Sunday, November 20, 2011 to occur soon after the rise of our later Meeting for Worship–probably around 11:45 or so. Good friends, good fellowship, good food.

Putney Friends Meeting’s Fellowship Committee

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.