Always Coming Home

Dear Friends,

A Friend once told me a story. It went something like this:

Long ago, the swallows that now journey across the globe didn’t migrate with the changing seasons. The swift and graceful birds wandered aimlessly from place to place, without guidance or direction for their flight.

One bright clear day, they came to a small farm, where a farmer was working in her garden. With delight, she greeted the flight of swallows as they—first one, then another, then in numbers uncountable—found their way into the barn her hands had made.

The farmer was filled with joy at the presence of the swallows, and cherished their beauty, energy, and life.

But the farmer knew that this joy would be short-lived. A winter beyond what the swallows had experienced was coming, and she knew that if the swallows stayed, they would die in the cold.

She tried to explain in every way she could—in all the languages she knew—but saw the swallows didn’t understand her. Her heart was breaking at the recognition that the swallows didn’t belong in the barn—they belonged in the ever-changing air, riding the thermals, freed and lifted by the rushing wind, rejoicing in the sunlight and the infinite sky.

The farmer loved the swallows more than they could ever know. And so the farmer transformed herself into a swallow, to help guide them home.

She swooped into the barn, dancing with the swallows she so deeply loved. They recognized her as one of their own, and with a great movement, all at once, they leapt from the shadows of the barn and into the bright autumn air, returning to the sky.

The farmer-who-became-a-swallow led them for some time, as the light grew warmer and the wind more gentle. She led them over valleys and rivers, over deserts and seas. They delighted in the journey, in the beauty, and in their love for this newfound Friend who it seemed they’d known for so long. The farmer-who-became-a-swallow shared in this joy.

And yet, even as they settled in a new land, the farmer-who-became-a-swallow was troubled in her heart. She knew, as the other swallows did not yet know, that the seasons would change again, and they would need to find their way to other lands. She also knew that she couldn’t stay with them forever.

Because she knew the swallows so well, she understood how easily they could be distracted, how inclined they were to become fascinated with other things, to forget who they were born to be, and to lead each other astray. She knew that her time as a swallow would be all too brief, and that over many miles and the passing of time they would forget, and wander, and get lost. When new challenges arose, they would find themselves without guidance, in danger, separated, scattered, and alone.

And so the farmer-who-became-a-swallow transformed herself into a song, so that they could sing her love to one another. And as they sang, and as they journeyed together, she would live in their hearts forever, always available to guide them home.

And so it was. Each time the song was sung, it passed from one bird to another, ever-changing, ever-new, and yet always carrying the infinite love of the farmer, who became a swallow, who became a song.

There are many now who wonder if there ever was a farmer, who became a swallow. You might wonder, too. And yet with every changing season, the song that lives in every swallow lifts their hearts; it calls them back to the exultation, adventure, and wonder of the ever-changing sky. Each time the song is sung or heard, they are drawn by the memory of the flight for which they were born.

Now the swallows live their lives in pilgrimage, over the fragile, blessed earth. And wherever the flights of swallows are found, they carry the song within them, singing love and belonging and courage into the world. Wherever they go, whatever strange seasons they encounter, they know they can turn to the resilient song that waits within them.

Their journey home isn’t measured in many thousands of miles spanning continents—it’s measured in each new beginning, every turning within, with each new flight toward faith. Again and again, the song’s unity gathers their hearts.

They sing to one another the ever-new sound that leads them back to their truest selves, inviting them to risk, to love, to take wing—always returning, always coming home.

I believe this song can live in our hearts as well. And my experience is that this song—this guidance, this power for liberation, this deep belonging, what Friends for generations have called gospel—can guide us in our living.

As with our swallow-kin in the story, the song in our hearts calls us to joy, to courage, to leap into lives lived in pilgrimage. It calls us to remember and to make manifest who we were born to be. In each new place, in every new moment, it takes fresh forms.

This year, let’s listen together for new harmonies, for the particular expressions of this Love—here, now, in you, in me. May it gather us all in a new “we”, as we discover a new “how” for our journey home.

In faith and service,

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

Friends Decision-Making and Clerking, 2019

Are you interested in learning more about Friends practice of discernment?  Are you a clerk who would like additional guidance and support in your service? Are you considering service as a clerk, but feeling ill-equipped?  The upcoming workshops in New York and New England might be for you.

February 1–3, Powell House in upstate New York is offering a weekend workshop for everyone who wants to deepen their understanding of Quaker decision-making. Visit the Powell House website to learn more and to register.

More details on the workshop being planned here in New England on April 13 will be shared soon.

Nurturing Faithfulness: An Informational Webinar

Please join Nurturing Faithfulness co-teachers, Hilary Burgin (Beacon Hill, MA, Friends Meeting) and Marcelle Martin (Swarthmore Monthly Meeting, PhYM) on January 22, 7:30 p.m., to hear more about the Nurturing Faithfulness program co-sponsored by Woolman Hill and New England Yearly Meeting.

Nurturing Faithfulness is a 9-month exploration of Quaker faith and leadership, designed to support individuals in faithfulness and sharing faithfulness with their Friends communities. Participants attend three residencies between August 2019 and May 2020, monthly webinars, and have a variety of small group nurture experiences. Curious? Join us for our webinar! Email friendmarcelle@aol.com if you would like to RSVP and get a reminder email, or simply join the link below on January 22nd.

Join Zoom Meeting online:  https://zoom.us/j/192119140

One tap mobile:  16465588656,,192119140# US

Dial in: 1 646 558 8656 US

Meeting ID: 192 119 140

Training on “Noticing Patterns”

In 2018 the Yearly Meeting in Sessions charged Ministry & Counsel with creating a process to name people to help us see when and how we are enacting patterns of oppression. The Noticing Patterns Working Group is 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 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, whether you are new to social justice work or have been doing it for a long time, young Friends and adults. Please consider encouraging others from your meeting to attend. To register, click this link.

Other events coming soon

Upcoming Quarterly Meetings

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Speakers Announced for August Sessions

The Bible Half-Hour speaker at Annual Sessions this summer will be Colin Saxton, now a Stewardship Consultant working for Everence, a faith-based financial services company. Prior to that he served as a Quaker pastor, superintendent of Northwest Yearly Meeting of Friends, and general secretary of Friends United Meeting. Many New England Friends who have heard Colin speak know him as a gifted, engaging, passionate and joyful minister who will bring true gifts to New England.
Lisa Graustein (Beacon Hill, MA, Friends Meeting), will facilitate a plenary (whole group) session designed to “ground ourselves in the decisions that have led us to this point, … call in the wisdom of our ancestors, create art and prayer together, and envision a future beyond ourselves …[to] learn, interact, engage, pray, and imagine together, bringing that sense of community, hope and creativity into the rest of our week … [seeking] understanding of where and how we have been the Beloved Community and where we have failed to live up to God’s vision.

In preparation for this summer, Lisa is inviting New England Friends—whether we plan to attend Annual Sessions or not—into an experiment with a “virtual plenary.”

Listen to Lisa’s invitation here or watch the video below.

Read more about Colin and Lisa.

Virtual Plenary: An Invitation from Lisa Graustein

Watch a video with Lisa’s invitation to deeper engagement with our theme and related minutes of New England Yearly Meeting

Legacy Gift Fall Awards Announced

The Yearly Meeting Legacy Gift Committee has announced the grantees for the fall round of grants. The grantees include individuals, monthly meetings, and programs. Read the complete list here.

Application Deadlines

Legacy Gift Committee’s next deadline is March 1, 2019. The Committee will be accepting applications for both the NEYM Future Fund and the NEYM Witness and Ministry Fund. Guidelines and application information are available here.

If you have questions about any part of the Legacy grant program, please contact the co-clerks.

Time-Sensitive Requests

Beginning in January 2019 and continuing through September 30, 2019, the Legacy Gift Committee will consider funding requests for time-sensitive projects that take place outside of regular deadlines (March 1 and October 1). The Committee will consider time-sensitive applications on a rolling basis, with a minimum of a month’s notice.

This process is intended to enable timely support for participation in or provision of trainings, conferences or other time-sensitive events or projects that fit Legacy funding criteria (including support, oversight and reporting). The maximum grant is $1,000.  Applicants should follow the Legacy guidelines and application procedures.

Love Knows No Borders

Diane Dicranian, front row, left.
Diane Dicranian (Winthrop Center, ME, Friends Church) was among hundreds of people of faith who gathered at the U.S.-Mexico border the week of December 10. Read more about Diane’s experience here.

Portland Friends Host Families Experiencing Homelessness

For more than a year, Portland (ME) Friends Meeting has been a host congregation partnering with Greater Portland Family Promise.

Read about this effort and how it has changed Portland Friends here.

Confronting the Past with Faith

Martin Rumscheidt (Dover, NH, Friends Meeting) has written a new book, In Search of a Theology Capable of Mourning. In this 42-minute video, Tom Jackson (Dover Friends) interviews Martin about the book, coming to terms with German history—including Christian support for Nazism and the Holocaust—and Martin’s relationship with his father, who worked in German munitions during the Second World War.

Epistle from “At the Well” Gathering

Photo credit: Jennie Isbell Shinn

Quaker women and genderqueer people with a call to ministry gathered for renewal at Stony Point Center, New York, in December, and published an epistle to share their experiences and lessons learned.

Read the epistle here.

What Canst Thou Tweet?

Image: Kathleen Wooten

Kathleen Wooten (Fresh Pond, MA, Friends Meeting) is a called to a ministry of connection, both in-person and digitally. She shares her thoughts about the advantages—and warns of pitfalls—of using digital technology for outreach and inreach in this article.

Click here or the image above to watch the livestream recording.
Repairers of the Breach, the Kairos Center, and the North Carolina Poor People’s Campaign held a national Watch Night Service, New Year’s Eve, bringing together people of faith and conscience and recommit ourselves to the fight against systemic racism, poverty, the war economy and ecological devastation.

The first Watch Night Service took place in 1862 when both enslaved and free Black people came together in churches and homes across the nation while they waited for the news of the passage of the Emancipation Proclamation. More than 150 years later, we continue this tradition with all those who, despite the challenges that arise every day, believe and are working towards a more just and equitable society today.

View a recording of this year’s Watch Night Service in Raleigh, NC, and hear directly from Rev. Dr. Barber, Rev. Dr. Theoharis and others, and hear powerful music that will inspire the heart.

New England Yearly Meeting of Friends is an endorsing partner of the Poor People’s Campaign. 

Celebrating the Light

Image: Friends in Belfast Area (ME) Friends Meeting welcomed the winter season with candlelit, contemplative time and a “solstice spiral.”

Finding the Path

Photo credit: Eric Muhr

Rebecca Leuchak (Providence, RI, Friends Meeting) uses hiking on trails not clearly marked—setting off into the uncertain distance—as a metaphor for the spiritual journey. Read Rebecca’s essay here.

Nurturing Faithful Ministry

Brian Drayton (Souhegan, NH, Friends Meeting) has been writing a blog “Amor Vincat” (“May love have the victory!”) for many years. In this essay, he writes about Quaker traditions to help nurture gospel ministry among Friends.

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

Maine Quakers Speak Out Against Skowhegan Mascot

Diane Oltarzewski (Belfast, ME, Area Friends Meeting), Mark Raines (Farmington, ME, Friends Meeting), and Shirley Hager (Winthrop Center, ME, Friends Church) were among many who spoke at a public hearing about the Skowhegan High School mascot, the “Indian.”

Skowhegan High School is the only school in the state that still has a Native American mascot. The hearing is posted here on YouTube; Shirley appears at 47:57, Diane appears at 1:28:22, and Mark at 2:39:48. Read the statements given by Diane and Shirley here.

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

Yearly Meeting Consultation on Climate Change

Dear Friends,
At last year’s Annual Sessions, New England Yearly Meeting affirmed a Divine call to the witness of addressing climate change, and encouraged all local meetings to consider how they might further respond.IMG_1063

On April 22 Friends will gather at Friends Meeting at Cambridge (MA) for a Yearly Meeting Consultation on Climate Change. This will be an opportunity to connect with other Friends, share news, and offer input on next steps for the Yearly Meeting.

From 9:30 to 12 we will gather in worship and then share how each of our meetings has been responding to the call. We will have lunch together, and then from 1 to 3:30 we will discern together about possible future directions for NEYM around this concern. Feel free to come for the whole day, or just the morning or afternoon.

We are expecting a small gathering, but we think there may be people coming who haven’t yet registered. It’s not too late! Click here for more information on the consultation and to register.
If you are not able to come on Saturday, and you want to share your news or thoughts, please email witness@neym.org.
For more information, contact Katherine Fisher: kath.fisher@gmail.com.

Faithfully,

Sara Hubner

“What Would It Look Like…?”

…to come more fully alive, together?
…for our faith communities to be filled with the power of the Spirit?
…to heal the wounds of racism and ecological destruction?
…to nurture a world of love and hope?

In my service among Friends across New England, I’m blessed to glimpse the many ways we are living into the promise of all that is possible when we open ourselves to the Light—step by faithful step.

As summer turns to fall, I’m writing to share news and joy from Annual Sessions, to lift up clear voices of New England Friends, and to highlight resources supporting faithfulness in our Quaker communities.

Read on for a preview of the upcoming Living Faith gathering, ways to engage in the work of racial justice and other opportunities to connect with the rich and thriving web of New England Friends of which you are an essential part.

In faith and service,


Noah Merrill
Secretary
New England Yearly Meeting of Friends

News and Joy from Annual Sessions


Friends gathered for the 356th Annual Sessions of New England Yearly Meeting turned our attention toward the spiritual imperatives our communities and our world face, committing to action in the areas of racial justice, climate change and support for LGBT people.

From August 6-11, more than 600 New England Friends joined by many guests considered together how we are led by the Spirit to help nourish the Quaker movement throughout our region in this important time.

Read a summary of news and key decisions here.

Download a printer-friendly set of Talking Points to post on a bulletin board, distribute, or share in your local meeting for business. 

Resources for Dismantling Racism

Friends sing at the World Conference of FriendsFriends across New England are deepening our engagement in work for racial justice and addressing systemic racism.

At Annual Sessions, our Yearly Meeting committed to take concrete steps to address the toxic effects of white supremacy and its effects on us as individuals and as a community of faith.

Many local meetings are already doing this important spiritual work and discovering its potential to help all of us grow in wholeness and Love.

Wherever you are in this process, know that you are part of a wider community of Friends seeking to be faithful in this journey toward healing, love and transformation.

Click here for a brief collection of resources that you and your meeting may find helpful.

Exploring Travel in the Ministry: New Pamphlet

Debbie Humphries of Hartford (CT) Friends Meeting shares her personal experience of this vital Quaker practice in New England and beyond in a recent Pendle Hill pamphlet.

Here’s a review by Brent Bill in Friends Journal. Learn more and order the pamphlet here.

Debbie serves as Clerk of Ministry & Counsel of New England Yearly Meeting. She can be reached at mc-clerk@neym.org

Living Faith Gathering: November 5

image of joined hands and poster for living faith event
The first-ever Living Faith gathering will be held on Saturday, November 5 in Portland, Maine—will you be there?

Join Friends from across New England for a day dedicated to Nurturing Spirituality, Fostering Community and Strengthening Witness.

Workshops will explore themes including:

  • Quakers and social media
  • Supporting your local meeting to address climate change
  • Quaker parenting
  • Spirituality through poetry and art
  • Discernment and testing leadings
  • Daily spiritual practice & guided meditation
  • Working together for racial justice

Join us for shared worship, multigenerational time, a dynamic children’s program, nourishing and delicious food and time for fellowship and connection. Parents with young children welcome!

Online registration and more info will be posted soon at neym.org/livingfaith, shared in this newsletter and with all local meetings.
Click here to download a flyer with more information

Questions? Interested in volunteering to help out with this event? 

Email the Living Faith planning committee at livingfaith@neym.org to find out what’s needed.

Strengthening Our Response to the Climate Crisis

At Annual Sessions in August, New England Friends for the first time formally recognized the urgency of the climate crisis as a spiritual imperative and committed to strengthening our response as a web of faith communities.

Read the 2016 Minute on Climate Change here. More on concrete actions coming soon.

World Quaker Day 2016 is October 2.

Continuing the role New England Friends are increasingly playing in encouraging wider collaboration across the Quaker world, this year NEYM Religious Education and Outreach Coordinator Beth Collea helped produce a Community of Practice Resource Guide to accompany the QuakerSpeak video linked below, developed in partnership with Friends World Committee for Consultation and the Quaker Religious Education Collaborative.

Click here to view the guide to using this video in your meeting’s Religious Education program. For First Day School, here’s a resource and accompanying materials especially for the first Sunday in October—World Quaker Day.

New Video: On Spiritual Hospitality

Listening in Tongues: Being Bilingual as a Quaker Practice
Robin Mohr from Friends World Committee for Consultation describes a powerful practice of welcoming – and what she’s learned from being bilingual.

Don’t forget: World Quaker Day is October 2 – is your meeting celebrating?

Watch for more voices and videos of New England Friends coming soon through our partnership with QuakerSpeak.

Quaker Events

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A Last Word

Being the Hands of God: A Call to Radical Faithfulness

The theme of the 356th Annual Sessions was ”Being the Hands of God: A Call to Radical Faithfulness.” Doug Gwyn, pastor of Durham Friends Meeting in Maine, offered the Bible half hours each morning. Through stories of early Friends reclaiming the power they encountered in the Scriptures to build a world-changing movement in their time, we heard a call to take up the work of listening for and living in the guidance of that same Life and Power as we seek to be faithful now.New England Yearly Meeting of Friends (Quakers)

Nearly 600 Friends attended Annual Sessions in Castleton, Vermont. 83 of them–nearly 14%–were attending for the first time, a significant increase from last year. Youth attendance also continues to grow. We celebrated strong representation from each of the New England states, with the largest increase being Friends from Rhode Island. We were also joined by 48 visitors from beyond our Yearly Meeting, including Quakers from Kenya, Cuba and several other yearly meetings within the United States, as well as ecumenical representatives.

Here’s a summary of important news from the week:

We committed to action in the areas of work for racial justice, responding to the climate crisis and support for LGBT people in Uganda.

1.     Support for Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender (LGBT) people: Continuing work brought to us from the quarterly meetings, New England Yearly Meeting publically endorsed the work of the Friends Ugandan Safe Transport Fund, which supports Ugandans in providing safe passage to other Ugandans fleeing persecution due to sexual or gender identity.

2.     Climate Change: Reflecting years of faithful work in our local meetings and the ongoing ministry of many New England Friends, Sessions approved a minute which begins:

“Friends…have heard a Divine call to the witness of addressing climate change. We affirm the overwhelming scientific consensus that greenhouse gases released by human activity are causing climate change, that these changes threaten life on our planet as we know it, and that we have a responsibility to address the very real threats that will impact both rich and poor. Those on earth who have contributed least to this crisis are likely to suffer most from it…”

Responding to a call from Quakers worldwide who gathered at the Friends World Committee for Consultation World Plenary of Friends held in Peru in 2016, we corporately committed to take three concrete actions in the coming year: 

a.     Support a working group of New England Friends led to participate in bold and prophetic nonviolent direct action consistent with the urgency of the global climate crisis

b.     Encourage all local meetings to prayerfully consider how they might further respond to the climate crisis, and to share news with the Yearly Meeting office to enable better communication and support for our collective witness

c.     Organize a consultation for New England Friends on our witness for sustainability and our response to the climate crisis in the spring of 2017

3.     Racial Justice: Recognizing the urgency of work for racial justice and the ways in which white supremacy affects and is present in our Quaker faith communities, in the coming months the Yearly Meeting will explore concrete steps New England Friends can take to help us more fully realize God’s vision of the Beloved Community. To begin and inform this work going forward, we asked the Permanent Board of NEYM to explore an external audit of our cultural competency. We see that the work of change and recovery from the spiritual disease of systemic racism needs to happen in each of our hearts, within our organizational structures, and in each of our local meetings. Expect to hear more soon about opportunities for your meeting to engage in this work, and please share ways you are already learning, healing and acting for racial justice.

Supporting this work more widely, we further committed to raise funds in support of the efforts of Friends General Conference—a North American association of Yearly Meetings in which we hold membership—to also undergo a cultural competency audit. 

Legacy Gift Committee: With joy, Friends heard reports from the first year of grants distributed from the Legacy Gift funds. Grantees—including local meetings and individuals across New England—updated us on the fruits of their work through displays and small group conversations. For a complete list of recipients and the ministries being supported, and for more information, visit neym.org/legacy-giftThe next deadline for applications to the NEYM Future Fund is November 1. Please send questions and inquiries to legacy@neym.org.

Public Statements: Friends reviewed the public statements made on behalf of New England Friends in the past year, and offered guidance to the presiding clerk and secretary for how to approach this work in the coming year. We heard strong support for continuing to lift up a clear and timely witness on issues of concern for Friends in these times. Monthly and Quarterly Meetings will be notified whenever such statements are made. Meetings are encouraged to share their news and work with the Yearly Meeting office in order to help us all stay connected and increase the visibility of Friends witness in the world. A summary of all statements is available on page 11 of the 2016 Sessions Advance Documents.

Living Faith Gatherings: Responding to calls for more opportunities for nurturing spirituality, fostering community and strengthening witness, New England Yearly Meeting is planning two daylong Saturday gatherings over the next year. Friends from across our region are invited to gather on November 5 at the Friends School of Portland, Maine; and on April 8 at Moses Brown School in Providence, Rhode Island. To learn more, get involved with planning or share your gifts at this event, contact livingfaith@neym.org or visit neym.org/livingfaith.

Archives: We heard that the NEYM Archives have been successfully relocated to the W.E.B. Dubois Library at the University of Massachusetts, Amherst. Attention will now turn to gathering records from local meetings and making the Archives more fully available both on site and online.

Budget: Sessions approved the fiscal year 2017 budget for the Yearly Meeting as an organization. This budget continues progress toward financial sustainability while eliminating reliance upon subsidy from Legacy Gift funds. We are not yet clear how new federal rules ensuring more equitable pay will impact our budget, but look forward to aligning our finances with our commitment to fair employment practices for Yearly Meeting staff. In the coming year, the Ad Hoc Long Term Financial Planning Committee will support development of multi-year budgeting and planning.

Friends Camp:  We celebrated the 12-year tenure of Nat Shed at Friends Camp, and approved the appointment of Anna Hopkins as the new Director. We gave thanks for the completion of a review of governance and administration at Friends Camp, renewed our commitment to diversity and inclusion at the Camp, and heard hopes for even more integration of Friends Camp with the other vibrant youth ministries of New England Friends.

Working Paper on Membership: The Committee revising the book of Faith and Practice of New England Yearly Meeting presented a working paper on membership in the Religious Society of Friends for consideration and feedback from local meetings and individuals. The document reflects significant progress in our conversation about commitment and what it means to be a part of our Quaker faith community. The working paper on membership can be downloaded at neym.org/sessions/addocs16.

Further details, video & audio recordings and minutes will be posted soon at neym.org/sessions. To receive news and updates on the life and ministry of Friends across New England, subscribe to the new monthly email newsletter at neym.org/mc-signup.

In Faith & Friendship,
Fritz Weiss
Presiding Clerk

Don’t Forget

Dear Friends,

Are you interested in…

  • a summary of public statements and actions taken in the past year to make more visible the witness of New England Friends
  • news from the staff and committees of New England Yearly Meeting on the work they have done on our behalf in the past year
  • a proposed budget for how we plan to use the resources in our care to support the Quaker movement in New England
  • knowing more about steps New England Friends are considering as we:
    • respond to climate change
    • engage with White Privilege
    • support those persecuted because of sexual or gender identity
    • explore new initiatives for supporting ministry in our local meetings

These subjects and more are addressed in the Advance Documents for the 356th Annual Sessions of New England Yearly Meeting of Friends…

…which are now posted online. 

Download the Advance Documents

Don’t Forget

If you are available and would like to participate in worship, discernment, fellowship and spiritual nurture, we invite you to join Friends from across New England at Annual Sessions in Castleton, Vermont from August 6-11, 2016. Please register today.

Register for Annual Sessions 2016
Volunteering is an essential part of serving our Quaker community. If you’re attending Sessions, please complete the brief survey below.
Sign up to volunteer 

Can I still be involved if I’m not attending?

Yes! If you aren’t able to attend Annual Sessions for whatever reason, please know you are still a vital part of our community of faith and practice. We hope your local meeting will send at least one representative so that your important perspective can be included in the discernment.

During Sessions, news and information will be posted at neym.org/sessions. You can follow events and join the conversation on social media using #NEYM16.

Bible half-hour talks and plenary presentations will be video recorded and shared online as they’re available.

A Prayer in response to the shootings at Pulse in Orlando

New England Yearly Meeting of Friends (Quakers)

“How deeply we are connected.”

A Prayer in response to the shootings at Pulse in Orlando.

Friends believe there is that of God in all people. To intentionally harm another—with our actions, our words, or our policies—is to separate ourselves from God. We are here to love one another and to be loved as God loves us, and as Jesus teaches. We are not whole without each other.

To those who are gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender, intersex, asexual and queer, whose place of safety has again been targeted and attacked, we stand with you in love. We pray for love big enough to hold us all.

We seek to create a world in which all people are unconditionally loved and cared for, as God unconditionally loves and cares for each of us.

We call on people of all faiths, and no faith, to recommit to the work of ending homophobia and transphobia within our faith communities, our neighborhoods, and our nation. The rhetoric of exclusion, of separateness, and of hate creates a culture that gives rise to acts of terror. We know the power of God’s love is great and that we are called to make manifest that love in the face of hate. We believe that God never calls any person, communion or community to hate or to engage in violence.

We know God’s love extends fully and unconditionally to all who are GLBTIAQ, to all who are Latinx, to all who are Muslim, to all who some in our culture would denigrate or deny full humanity.

We stand with all those who call for this moment in our nation to be a catalyst for greater love, stronger community, and a justice that heals and unites. Hate cannot drive out hate; only love can do that (Martin Luther King).

Fritz Weiss,  Presiding Clerk

Sarah Gant, Clerk of Permanent Board

Now the Work of Christmas Begins

Logo
BlackLivesMatter_NH 2
      Dover (NH) Friends join with their neighbors to witness for racial justice. photo: David Holt

When the song of the angels is stilled,
when the star in the sky is gone,
when the kings and princes are home,
when the shepherds are back with their flocks,
the work of Christmas begins. 

To find the lost,
to heal the broken,
to feed the hungry,
to release the prisoner,
to rebuild the nations,
to bring peace among the people,
to make music in the heart.

– Howard Thurman

Dear Friends,

As we approach the New Year, my thoughts turn to you as living threads in the web of Love that is my wider New England Quaker faith community.

In the poem above, civil rights activist and theologian Howard Thurman reminds me that this holiday season isn’t an end unto itself; it’s a time for remembering what matters most as we prepare to live more fully in the Light in the year to come.

As Friends, we’re invited to a universal ministry – each gift we bring to the table helps support and strengthen the web of Quaker communities as we embrace the world with Love.

To me, this ministry of Love is what Thurman describes as “the work of Christmas” – and I believe this work is needed every day.

In 2016, Friends throughout our region will seek through the Spirit’s help to:

  • Lift up clear voices and strengthen the public witness of New England Friends, especially in responding to racial injustice and climate disruption
  • Awaken children and adults to the Light within them through youth programs, support for local religious education for all ages, and dynamic workshops & retreats
  • Strengthen Quaker practice in our local meetings through opportunities to gather, learn and share with seasoned Friends and newcomers
  • Help our meetings more deeply engage with elders, young adults and young families as we grow towards a wider welcome
  • Connect New England Friends with people and communities living their Quaker faith around the world

The programs, resources, staffing and connections we offer together through New England Yearly Meeting of Friends will make possible this deeply needed work. 

As the year turns, will you join me to support our shared ministry with an end-of-year gift? 

In Love and Light,

Sara Smith
Concord (NH) Friends Meeting
Clerk, Development Committee
New England Yearly Meeting of Friends

P.S. – For all the ways you share your gifts in the world, including any prior financial contributions this year, we offer our deep thanks. 

P.P.S. – Don’t forget to regularly visit the NEYM online calendar and follow New England Quakers on social media for news, events and resources for living as Friends! Share your calendar submissions at neym@neym.org.

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“Choosing Love in a Season of Fear”: New England Quakers Respond to the Paris Attacks

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Quaker youth leaders worship in song / Image by Noah Baker Merrill

Nov 16, 2015

The recent violence in Paris again shakes us awake to the horror and chaos that is the routine reality for people across the Middle East, and in so many corners of our world. Growing millions seek safe haven from escalating suffering caused by war, injustice and climate change. We know God loves each of us, even when we are terrified, even when we hate. We know God loves us always, even when we struggle to love each other.

Our hearts are breaking for the peoples of Syria & Iraq; the peoples of Lebanon, Turkey, and France. We mourn the loss of life and livelihood, the shattered hopes of peoples and nations, the brokenness of relationships. We yearn for a world where all people are recognized as beloved children of God.

The Quaker faith communities in the six New England states share in this season of fear, confusion, anger and grief for our world. In our own country, the unrelenting litany of killings of African Americans and our nation’s entanglement with the sins of racism present a convicting challenge to our consciences. Our hearts are also with those struggling for justice and recognition in our own country; our prayers are with all who suffer and are in fear. We grieve that even in our own faith communities we often struggle to speak and work with integrity toward racial justice and healing.

We have no easy answers. New England Quakers recognize that we share in the privilege, separation and inaction that are the potent seeds and sustenance of racism, violence and hatred in our world. Too often we are afraid to do the necessary healing work to confront the prejudice and privilege that corrupts our country. We must renew our commitment to love and to share the Light of God’s Love. We find meaning in the season of Advent, a time when Christians await the birth of new Life in a suffering world. As darkness in our region deepens and the nights grow long and cold, Advent calls us to trust and participate anew in the coming of the Light.

Facing the horrors of war, racism and hatred, the One who is Love calls us to love. A naive hope falls lifeless in the shallow soil of fear, anger and chaos; but we can help each other unearth a different kind of hope – a deep and living hope beyond despair. We can choose to live in the recognition that the wholeness and peace God dreams for our world is already present with us, and is still on its way. Moment by moment, concrete acts done with patience set us free to live in courageous love. As we choose this path, we help release each other from the captivity of hopelessness and fear. This is how the Light is born anew among us; this is how Love triumphs.

In this way, we can be God’s hands in our world.

In this season:

  • We encourage each other and all of our neighbors – especially our fellow Christians and people of faith – to act with simple courage to welcome and accompany immigrants, refugees and the most vulnerable in whatever ways are available to us.
  • We commit ourselves and call on others – especially religious leaders – to counter racist, anti-immigrant and Islamophobic speech, policies and acts with words and deeds that strengthen relationship, understanding and partnership in our communities. When we encounter fear and anxiety in our workplaces, our homes and our schools – with every person we meet – each of us can choose to respond with that love that casts out fear.
  • We commit ourselves and encourage others to sustained and increasing advocacy to oppose further violence and military action by our own country in the name of security, and to pursue effective peaceful means to bring an end to suffering and to address injustice. The current chaos and deepening tragedy across the Middle East arises from the undeniable failure of war and violence to bring lasting peace. We encourage Quakers and others to support the work of the Friends Committee on National Legislation (fcnl.org(link is external)) and the American Friends Service Committee (afsc.org(link is external)) toward creating shared security.
  • We urge our federal, state and local governments as well as humanitarian aid organizations to significantly increase efforts to aid and accompany refugees and immigrants in our communities, and to offer sanctuary to those fleeing war and chaos. We have a responsibility to support those with such desperate needs at this time, even as many public voices call for increasing isolation and distrust in the name of security, building walls and acting out of fear.
  • We call on public officials and candidates for public office – especially all candidates for the office of President of the United States – to search their hearts and consciences for ways their voices can bring people of diverse faiths and backgrounds together, rather than dividing and isolating communities from one another. When we sow the wind with fear, we reap the whirlwind of insecurity, suffering and chaos. Our world needs a harvest of hope.

In this season, may we remember that the choices we make between love and fear truly matter.

Fritz Weiss, Presiding Clerk
Noah Baker Merrill, Yearly Meeting Secretary

New England Yearly Meeting of Friends (Quakers)

NEYM Sessions 2015 Talking Points

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Image by Kristina Keefe-Perry

Friends,

More than 600 Friends attended NEYM Sessions. 58 of those were first-time attenders, and 120 of them were youth. Together we came to unity on:

Legacy Gift Committee:   The New England Yearly Meeting Future Fund and the NEYM Released Ministry Fund are now named and established. Application guidelines will soon be posted online. The first application deadline will be December 1, 2015 with disbursements to begin in February 2016.

Public Statements:  Hearing a hunger for Quaker public witness, Sessions approved a mechanism for the Yearly Meeting Clerk and Secretary to issue statements and take actions that align with Friends testimony and minutes. Monthly and Quarterly Meetings will be notified when any such statements are made, and meetings are encouraged to develop their own means to speak in a timely way.

Long-Term Financial Planning Committee:Sessions approved the core organizational purpose and priorities recommended by the Committee. The Committee begins its implementation phase.  See “We Need a Plan” for detailed information and for important background. LTFPC will now begin its implementation phase.

Archives:  Sessions approved moving the NEYM archives to a permanent home at the W.E.B. Dubois Library at the University of Massachusetts, Amherst.

Structural Review Committee:  The Committee recommended increasing support for local meetings, providing more opportunities for Friends to gather and connect for worship and fellowship, and streamlining and making more accessible our committee structure and work. Permanent Board will carry forward this work.

Student Loan Committee:   After careful discernment, the committee has been laid down, its work now done. A sub-committee of Permanent Board will distribute remaining funds as grants.

Budget:   Sessions approved the fiscal year 2016 budget, projecting a reduced deficit over last year

Friends Camp:  Director Nat Shed reports that this summer’s campers were the most racially integrated in Friends Camp history.

Images of Covenant Community, a large- format picture display, is available to lend to monthly meetings. Contact Beth Collea, recoord@neym.org(link sends e-mail).

Details/recordings/minutes will be posted at neym.org/sessions

For where your treasure is…

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“For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.”

– Matthew 6:21

Dear Friends,

I’m writing to share an exciting invitation: 

Two New England Friends are challenging us to join them in financially supporting the new life that is growing in our Quaker communities.
Will you consider a new or increased gift today?

Do you see what they are seeing in New England Yearly Meeting…

Engagement and emerging leadership among younger Friends ~ Active participation by Friends from all generations ~ Thoughtful attention to structure and finances ~ Preparedness to make needed changes ~ Growing interest in Outreach, Welcome, and Inclusion ~ Less fear, more Faith?

Do you want to see, as they want to see…

More people finding a spiritual home in our Beloved Community ~ New England Quakers having a greater impact in our world ~ Our faith and practices passed on to our children ~ Financial integrity as the Yearly Meeting builds a better future ~ Greater faith in each other and in our Society?

Here’s how you can help make it happen:

If – and only if – we are able to raise $10,000 in new and increased gifts to the yearly meeting’s annual fund by September 30, 2015, the challenge donors will match amounts in the following ways:

  • For increased donations by Friends who already support NEYM, the challenge donors will match the amount of the increases dollar-for-dollar (100%). (So if you gave $100 last year and give $150 this year, they will match $50—your increased gift.)
  • For new donations, they will match the donation $1.50 per dollar (150%). (So if you have not given in the last 3 years and give $500, they will give an additional $750.)
  • Give Monthly increases will be matched at twelve times the monthly amount. If you pledge a new or increased monthly amount they will match it 12 times the increase (at 100%) or new amount (at 150%). (So a $25/month amount increase equals $300 in matching funds. A new $25/month pledge equals $450 in matching funds.)
But remember:

We only have until September 30, 2015 to meet our goal of $10,000 in new or increased gifts in order to receive the match.

Will you join me by giving your gift today?
Click here to donate securely online

sara smith  signature
Sara Smith
Member, Concord (NH) Friends Meeting
Clerk, Development Committee
New England Yearly Meeting of Friends
P.S.- Good news! If you’re planning to attend NEYM Annual Sessionsthis year your new or increased contribution at the time of registration will count toward the challenge matchso feel free to simply give as part of your online or paper registration. (This applies to an increased donation including your giving to Equalization, but not to the amount you choose to pay for your attendance at Sessions.) 

P.P.S.- Interested in sharing this invitation more widely? Here’s a link to a PDF flyer you can distribute at your meeting or share with Friends, and a link to the information on neym.orgThe challenge donors believe we can meet this goal together – and so do I. And thank you!

 

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