“Narrative is radical, creating us at the very moment it is being created. For our sake and yours forget your name in the street; tell us what the world has been to you in the dark places and in the light. Don’t tell us what to believe, what to fear. Show us belief’s wide skirt and the stitch that unravels fear’s caul.”  
-Toni Morrison

“Hush little baby, a story I’ll tell…”  – from The Great Storm is Over, by Bob Franke

Dear Friends,

Stories have power—to shape us, to bind us, and to free us. They can carry us and guide us. And they can make us bearers of hope in the midst of the unbearable. 

In The Storytelling Animal, Jonathan Gottschall integrates insights from neuroscience, psychology, and evolutionary biology to explore the science of narrative in human experience.

Gottschall shows that our minds are “addicted” to stories, so much so that in the absence of a cohesive narrative, and in the presence of only extremely limited information, our brains inevitably respond to that painful dissonance by creating a story to explain what’s happening and to guide our response.

Once this has happened, it’s very difficult for our minds to change, a process which takes much greater effort than the almost effortless—but powerful—crafting of the (often false) story in the first place. So it matters what stories we allow to take root in our hearts.

We also have a potent capacity to transmit stories. When we “catch” a story, it transports our minds from our present contexts to inhabit a profoundly different reality. And when we share stories, they can spread like wildfire.

It seems we’re hardwired for stories. But what kinds of stories? Stories about difficult things, it turns out.

Studies (and streaming video data) show that humans demonstrate a tendency to gravitate toward those stories that include the greatest degree of—or potential for—conflict, pain, and danger.

Hearing this, I recognize my own tendency to become captivated by experiences of strife, suffering, and risk. And I know this is not limited to the stories I watch or read; I have this tendency in my life and actions as well. Focusing on the possibility for future harm keeps me wrapped in fear, and spreads that fear. 

Despite my best intentions, I know how easily I can be drawn into a story—and so into actions—focused on conflict, intensity, and harm. And despite the loneliness that results from letting these toxic stories find a home in me, I know I’m not alone in this. We could almost say that something in us seems to need a story that includes pain, fear, despair, and death.

And is this really so very strange? These qualities are inextricably part of the condition of the world. We can’t domesticate the wildness of our existence. We need stories that speak to the whole of our lives and potentials, not just the more comfortable or sanitized sides of humanity. A story that does not address suffering and risk has no power to hold us. 

But just because a story contains these elements doesn’t make all such stories the same. Where the story takes us matters.

Does it lead to liberation, or into deeper captivity? Does it open us to Love, or close us to relationship? The stories we tell matter, because the stories that make a home in us—that we tell and rehearse and tell again—become the stories we live.

Within and through every story, a fundamental question is waiting to be answered: In the presence of pain, struggle, and loss, how shall we live?

There are choices for us here. It seems it’s not enough to root out the death-dealing stories in our hearts. We must replace them with stories that lead to Love.

This is why I need you.

One of the essential purposes of our faith community is to cultivate and to carry an alternative story. As we practice our faith, our lives speak. And our lives—even more than our most beautiful words—are telling a story. As action after action shapes our lives, we could say that in some real sense, we’re made of stories.

The stories we tell together carry us, even as they enable us to make one another’s burdens light. As we discover new ways to share them once again, they create us anew—as beloved parts of a whole. If we who seek to live our faith in the Quaker tradition today are a People gathered, we are a People of the Story.

In this shared storytelling, we cultivate what we could call a narrative resilience—a capacity to sustain a living witness in the face of disruption. I will stumble again. You may grow tired. Many of us might even give up. But the communal story goes on.

So what is the story our lives are telling? 

Empire—a name for the manifestation of domination, separation, selfishness, and fear—tells us a story that sustains and makes possible the systems of exploitation, oppression, denial, and death that are plunging our world toward oblivion. This is a one-way, dead-end story, a story whose direction is the end of all of us. This is a story that captivates us with ease, deprivation, ignorance, excess, loneliness, and scarcity. When we’re in the grip of it, we transmit it unconsciously with every step.

But there’s another story—one about deep hope on the other side of despair, about a brighter shore beyond the darkening horizon, about a Love that conquers death. It’s a story that is wholeness, that calls forth right relationship, that treasures the fundamental interdependence of creation. It sustains the enduring Truth of experienced Life that shatters lies. It calls chain-makers to become chain-breakers, and turns the hearts of exiles toward home—no matter how long the journey still to go. It’s a story of a profound, tender, self-giving wildness that seeks to be born anew, as early Quaker Isaac Penington writes, to “grow…and be…and breathe…and act” in every heart.

When we let our lives speak from within that Story, we’re not relying on some promise of release in a far-off future—we’re participating in a new creation, here and now.

This is the Story I need your help to remember. This is the Story I need your help to share. It’s the Love we’re invited to bear witness to—with how we live and serve and walk today.

I hear stories are contagious.

in faith and service,

Noah Merrill
New England Yearly Meeting of Friends (Quakers)

P.S.—The newsletter is later this month than usual, so we’re doing an edition bridging months. Please continue to send news items and submissions.

We’ve been working on a new online home for New England Quakers that we hope will help us cultivate, connect, and share the stories of Friends’ life and ministry in even more meaningful ways. We’d love to hear your experiences and insights about how it’s working for you, and how we might continue to grow.

And we hope the stories, news, and resources shared below will be an encouragement to you and your local meeting in the coming days.

Events coming soon

Upcoming Quarterly Meetings

View More Events

A Challenge from Bolivia

(Photo: Emma Condori)

The mountain in the background (above) was for many years snow-covered.

Bolivian Friend Emma Condori made a profound impression as she spoke about the climate crisis in her home country during a visit with Plainfield (VT) Friends Meeting. Rachel Walker Cogbill (Plainfield) shares what she heard about the crisis and steps to deal with it, on neym.org.

From Ramallah: A Reflection on Sessions 2019

Adrian Moody, head of Ramallah Friends School, visited a yearly meeting for the first time, in August—ours! He shares affirming words about his experience at our Annual Sessionsin the School’s newsletter.

Yearly Meeting Seeks Outreach Archivist

New England Yearly Meeting (NEYM) is seeking a part-time contracted Outreach Archivist, supporting Friends and Friends meetings to better steward our living history. We are looking for an individual who is a Quaker or someone with strong familiarity with New England Yearly Meeting, and who is experienced and/or trained as an archivist. The Outreach Archivist will confer with the Yearly Meeting, quarterly meetings and monthly meetings on best practices for creating, gathering and transferring permanent records to the Yearly Meeting Archives at SCUA (UMass Special Collections and University Archives) in Amherst.

This contractor will collaborate with the NEYM Archives Committee as well as the staff at SCUA. The work will include contacting meetings who have not yet sent records to the Archives as well as offering workshops and trainings to meetings and other groups within Yearly Meeting.

The position is expected to range from 150 to 200 hours per year. If you are interested or know someone who might be, please contact Carol Forsythe, clerk of the Archives Committee, at archives@neym.org.

Smith Neck Friends Support
Quaker Records Project

The Smith Neck (MA) Friends Meeting presented the Dartmouth Historical & Arts Society with a $10,000 donation at Town Hall on Oct. 10 to help kick off the Quaker Friends Records Project, with all Dartmouth Meeting of Friends records dating back to 1699 to be transcribed, indexed, and made available to historical researchers on the DHAS website. Digital images of more than 6,000 pages of the Dartmouth Meeting records are already on the society website.

Racism: Let’s Talk About It

Susan Davies (Vassalboro, ME, Friends Meeting) writes about what it was like for her meeting to start talking about racism and white privilege, and offers some ideas for starting the conversation in your meeting in this article on neym.org.

Susan is co-clerk of the Challenging White Supremacy work group of the Yearly Meeting Permanent Board. The work group is available to assist; contact Susan or Fran Brokaw (Hanover, NH, Friends Meeting).

QuakerSpeak: Faith and Art

Maggie Nelson, Portland (ME) Friends and Yearly Meeting Young Friends Events Organizer, talks about how her faith informs her art in this QuakerSpeak video.

Missing Anything?

A number of items remained at Lost and Found at the end of Sessions in August—umbrellas, travel mugs, sunglasses, a guitar capo, and clothing, including a child’s sweatshirt. If you believe any of these items might be yours, please email the Office Manager. Items still unclaimed on December 1st will be donated to charity.

Photographing Worship as Ministry

Jean Schnell (Framingham, MA, Friends Meeting) has a new collection of photographs, “Meeting for Worship,” which you can view on her website. She also has written a blog about the project.

Friends Camp: Developing Leadership

Photo: Friends Camp

Friends Camp Director Anna Hopkins reports on the inaugural session of Rising Leaders, counselors-in-training. Living in the cabins with campers and a mentor counselor, Leaders became an integral part in the creation of the small cabin-family communities that are the building blocks of the Friends Camp experience. Read more on the Friends Camp website.

Growing Relationships Lead to
Restoration Project

Photo: Goodwin Church
Mt. Toby (MA) Friends visiting Black churches in the Amherst area discovered that Goodwin Church needed help. Goodwin Church is the oldest Black church in America, and its 1910 building requires major repair and rehabilitation. Mt. Toby Friends brought this to a meeting committee and then to business meeting, and approved a minute to co-sponsor fundraising for repairs.

A recent local benefit raised funds for the rebuilding; the work continues.

Rediscovering A.J. Muste

Friends at Annual Sessions 2019 may have seen a video about A.J. Muste (who once pastored Friends in Providence, RI), a leader in of the American peace movement from 1941 until his death in 1967. Bayard Rustin said that while he was an advisor to Martin Luther King, he never made a difficult decision without first talking about it with Muste.
See “A. J. Muste: Radical for Peace/Finding True North” by clicking on this link and entering the password Peter. For more information about this continuing project, contact the filmmaker, David Schock.

Video: Friends and Climate Witness

Eden Grace (Beacon Hill, MA, Friends Meeting) gave this year’s Swarthmore Lecture at the Woodbrooke Quaker Conference Centre In Birmingham England, this summer. Her subject was “On Earth as it is in Heaven: The Kingdom of God and the Yearning of Creation,” reflecting on the theological, spiritual and biblical grounding of Friend’s witness on the climate crisis and the Quaker response.

Video: This is Friends Camp!

Get a taste of life at Friends Camp in this video compiling one second of every day of summer 2019.

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

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

Image: Eric Muhr


Don’t say, don’t say there is no water
to solace the dryness at our hearts.
I have seen

the fountain springing out of the rock wall
and you drinking there. And I too
before your eyes

found footholds and climbed
to drink the cool water.

The woman of that place, shading her eyes,
frowned as she watched—but not because
she grudged the water,

only because she was waiting
to see we drank our fill and were

Don’t say, don’t say there is no water.
That fountain is there among its scalloped
green and gray stones,

it is still there and always there
with its quiet song and strange power
to spring in us,

up and out through the rock.

–The Fountain, by Denise Levertov

Dear Friends,

When I get tired or discouraged in my work supporting the life and ministry of Friends, I return to our local meetings, to the solace of worship, to courageous conversations with people seeking to be faithful in these times. And despite my sometimes-lack-of-faith, again and again I find—fresh and clear as ever—the springs of living water that I first discovered as a child in meeting for worship, and that have kept me coming home to our faith communities again and again as an adult.

In what feel like times of “dryness,” this poem—which first came to me through a Quaker traveling minister years ago—becomes a daily affirmation, a walking practice, a pilgrim’s prayer.

This month I’ve been blessed to share with Friends in conversations that I think get to the heart of the challenge and invitation before us. I was recently reminded that sharing the places where we see Life helps that Life to grow.

So here are some places where I’ve tasted this water in the past few weeks:

  • In an impromptu conversation—after a nourishing Living Faith gathering—with several Friends from across our Yearly Meeting finding joy in the new life emerging in the Quaker movement, and discovering how Friends called to deeper risks in ministry can support, encourage, and journey with one another;
  • Accompanying a local meeting exploring its yearnings, its history, its stumbling blocks and growing edges, and its relationship with money and power, as together they seek Guidance for the future of their meeting and its presence and witness in their context and their wider community;
  • In a weekend with more than 30 Friends from New York and New England Yearly Meetings, who gathered to encourage one another in supporting the life of our whole meetings, and exploring how naming and nurturing spiritual gifts can awaken us to the Spirit’s invitations through our communities of faith;
  • In the release of the first few episodes of On Carrying a Concern, a podcast hosted by Callid and Kristina Keefe-Perry of Fresh Pond (MA) Meeting, supported in part by a Legacy Grant from New England Yearly Meeting. I hope you’ll take the time to listen with the ear of your heart to even one of these deeply personal interviews with Friends testifying to their experience of carrying a concern for spiritual service;
  • In James Cone’s book The Cross and the Lynching Tree, speaking so powerfully to African American Christians’ unearthing in the story of Jesus’ crucifixion a prophetic, liberatory critique and upending of the brutal legacy of lynching—this particularly American incarnation of white supremacy, injustice, and trauma. As we mourn Cone’s passing this past week, his call to the healing—and reckoning—still needed for our society and our spiritual communities is more timely than ever, a challenge to live the radical hope that, as Cone writes, “our beauty is more enduring than our brutality.”

So I wonder, Friends:

  • Where have you found living water in a dry place this month?
  • Where have you been surprised by newness, quickened by a moment of “coming home,” encouraged by a companion on the journey?
  • Where can you sense this enlivening waiting to emerge in your meeting, or in your own heart?
  • How might you be led to share what you have found?
Still there, and always there. What strange power, indeed.
In faith and service,
Noah Merrill
New England Yearly Meeting of Friends (Quakers)
In This Issue:

Our Common Life New England Yearly Meeting of Friends (Quakers)

One of the most enlivening aspects of my work is visiting local meetings across New England, connecting with Friends and encouraging the Life of the Spirit in the Quaker Movement.

In my travels in recent years—in meetings small and large, pastoral and unprogrammed, urban and rural, with meetinghouses and without—I’ve noticed similarities that seem to underlie our diversity. Though we organize and express our common life as Friends in myriad ways, at the root of our life together are several ways of being and doing that to me seem essential.

I’ve been searching for ways to describe these qualities, and want to ask for your experience and perspective.

In our meetings, when we’re thriving, I see us:

  • worshipping together
  • learning to love one another
  • engaging and exploring Friends’ tradition and how it’s relevant today
  • supporting one another to live our faith in our daily lives
  • making decisions together—with Divine guidance—and acting on those decisions
I’d love to hear about your experience of these aspects of our common life as together we continue to share, learn, nourish and encourage the thriving of our local meetings, which are the heart of the Quaker Movement.

You can email me here; I look forward to hearing from you.

In this issue, you’ll find news of how Friends are doing this work throughout our region. I hope you find these stories and opportunities enlivening.

In faith and service,

Noah Merrill
New England Yearly Meeting of Friends (Quakers)

In This Issue:

Margaret Fell, mother of the Quaker Movement, welcomes traveling ministers to Friends’ headquarters at Swarthmoor Hall. Created by First Day School of Middlebury (VT) Friends Meeting. 

Dear Friends,

As we send this February newsletter, I’m reflecting on hospitality.

This past month, as some in power have called for walls and bans—and many more have raised voices and hands to oppose them—our faith’s commitment to welcoming the sacred through welcoming the stranger feels more important than ever. In my home meeting in Putney, Vermont Friends often recall the deep commitment of our departed Friend Hattie Reeves-Forsythe: hospitality is the basis of spirituality.

Participating in the women’s marches, supporting Islamic prayers in Copley Square in Boston, reaching out to refugees locally and participating in demonstrations at airports across our region, our wider community of faith has been living this truth, affirming life-giving relationship in the face of fear and all that would divide us as Children of Earth.

When we affirm relationships with our neighbors, our ways of seeing and acting change. We come to feel the harm done to even those who might seem far removed from us affecting us more profoundly as well. We come to see a little more clearly the ways we are all connected—not just in principle, but in the particularity of practice. The reality of the divine Life present in each one ministers to us, and is transmitted through us. Many of us know from experience how this can lead us to act for justice and healing in courageous and concrete ways, and sustain us for the path ahead.

This month’s issue of the email newsletter makes visible some of the ways the Spirit is leading Friends to share this core truth.

In November, I was blessed to join a group of six New England Friends who were welcomed as guests at the water protector camps on the Missouri River in North Dakota. Standing at the sacred fire; carrying a banner, minutes and letters from New England; we spoke about how paying attention to the faithful witness of one community can stir the conscience and the hearts of another. I believe the spiritual power expressed by the Native communities leading the nonviolent resistance at Standing Rock and beyond offers to teach us as Quakers something profound about aligning our lives with the imperatives of justice and wholeness at this time in history.

In these tumultuous days, may we continue to turn toward our neighbors, toward one another, and so toward God. May our faith be renewed through radical acts of spiritual hospitality. May we challenge one another daily to open our hearts, our meeting communities, and our lives to embrace a wider welcome for all, even as we are welcomed home by the Spirit against which walls and bans will never ultimately stand. May we stay humble, love fiercely, and keep our hearts teachable.

Please keep sharing your news of how Truth prospers among us.

In faith and service,

Noah Merrill
New England Yearly Meeting of Friends

P.S.: Speaking of Friends serving Love through opening ourselves to deeper relationship, here’s a late-breaking report from one traveling Friend on last weekend’s Vassalboro Quarterly Meeting in Maine.

In This Issue

Faith Communities Oppose the Muslim Ban

Faith leaders from across Massachusetts gathering in opposition to the Muslim Ban (photo: Kathleen Wooten)
On behalf of Friends in New England, our Presiding Clerk and Secretary have joined with leaders of sixteen other denominations in Massachusetts to sign this letter opposing President Trump’s January 27, 2017, Executive Order “Protecting the Nation from Foreign Terrorist Entry into the United States.”
Read the letter from the Massachusetts Council of Churches
The Maine Council of Churches, in which New England Quakers hold membership, has also issued a statement condemning the Executive Order on immigration.

Read the letter from the Maine Council of Churches
Reflecting our wider global Quaker family’s engagement, here’s a statement opposing racism and injustice from British Friends’ equivalent of our NEYM Permanent Board.

New England Friends at the Women’s Marches

On January 21, 2017, Friends from throughout New England traveled to Washington, DC, and gathered across our region to participate in demonstrations supporting the rights and voices of women.
Read reflections from Friends who participated in the events

“Say the Wrong Thing” at Woolman Hill

Maureen Lopes of New Haven (CT) Friends participated in a January Woolman Hill workshop led by author, performer and educator Amanda Kemp of Lancaster (PA) Friends, and writes this reflection:

“We built a level of trust that allowed us to go deep into roots of feelings and fears around interactions between people of different ideas and beliefs around racial justice. We used readings from Amanda’s new book, Say the Wrong Thing: Stories and Strategies for Racial Justice and Authentic Community.”

Read the rest of Maureen’s reflection from the workshop

Order the book

Report & Resources from
Quaker Organizing and Preparation Day

In January, responding to a call from two Friends from Beacon Hill (MA) Meeting, a group of Friends and allies gathered to share stories and experience and to explore ways we might support our meetings in work and witness in these times.
Coming out of this gathering, they shared with us some resources developed by participants for local meetings. We’ve posted an initial collection of these materials on neym.org. If you are aware of other resources you think might be helpful to Friends, please email office@neym.org to let us know.
Read a Report from the Day
View Resources

A Friend’s Message:
The shadow, the substance and the lamb

Recently Susan Davies of Vassalboro (ME) Friends Meeting, which is unprogrammed, was invited to bring a message at Durham (ME) Friends, where worship is semi-programmed.

At the request of several Friends, we share an excerpt of the message she offered here:

“I find it’s hard to escape a creeping feeling of despair in this fall’s climate of political polarization where one group of people assembles their observations, compares notes, formulates their opinions and comes to one conclusion about what it all means, and another group does the same thing and comes to an opposite conclusion. I try to imagine that each group is acting out of some underlying positive intent. But I often fail.”

Read the rest of Susan’s message here

Friends Camp Seeks Resident Fellows

Friends Camp recently received a Legacy Grant to support four Resident Fellows visiting Friends Camp in the summer of 2017.

Each Fellow will live at camp for two weeks and share their special interests or talents with the community. Residents could be but are not limited to Quaker artists, climate activists, or musicians!

Stipend and travel funds provided.

Click here to download the job description.

Do you know someone who would be a good fit? Are YOU a great fit?

Email Anna Hopkins at director@friendscamp.org for more information.

New UMass Exhibit Features
Friends Archives

From a recent press release from the University of Massachusetts, Amherst:

“The UMass Amherst Libraries are hosting an exhibit “All That Dwell in the Light: 350 Years of Quakers in New England,” from January 23 through August 18, 2017, in the W.E.B. Du Bois Library, both on the Lower Level and in Special Collections and University Archives (SCUA), on Floor 25.

The exhibit will examine the history of Quakers and Quakerism in New England drawing upon the extraordinary records of the New England Yearly Meeting of the Society of Friends (NEYM).”

Read more about the exhibit

New Spiritual Nurture Program
Welcoming New England Friends

A collaboration between Woolman Hill Retreat Center,
New England Yearly Meeting of Friends and core teacher Marcelle Martin

Nurturing Worship, Faith, and Faithfulness (NWFF) is a multi-generational faith and leadership program to help Friends in New England explore ways to meet God more deeply, hone methods of discernment, reach for fuller faithfulness, and ultimately bring these gifts and strengthened abilities home to their local meetings and beyond. The program is structured to set in place support, encouragement, and accountability.The class members will become a “community of practice” in order to support each other, providing and receiving spiritual nurture to and from local meetings in lasting ways.

Image: Core teacher Marcelle Martin, Chestnut Hill (PA) Meeting
Learn More about the Program

Update: Spring Living Faith Gathering 

The April 8th Living Faith Gathering will focus on how Friends are living—and might more fully live—our faith in the world, helping us to make more real the Beloved Community to which all are invited. Through worship, workshops, small groups and more, we will increase our capacity for fostering relationships of healing and justice.

The daylong gathering will include:

  • Multigenerational community-building and get-to-know-you activities
  • Programmed and unprogrammed worship
  • Singing
  • Experiential workshops on spirituality & activism
  • Youth programming and child care
  • Fellowship and great food

We are planning workshops on topics such as:

  • War tax resistance
  • Avoiding burnout
  • Supporting the Quaker Initiative to End Torture
  • Faith & work
  • Immigrant justice
  • Visioning new strategies for Peace & Social Concerns committees
  • and more!

Online registration will open in early March.

Questions? Email the planning team at livingfaith@neym.org

Updates on Yearly Meeting Commitments

  • Last week the Treasurer, Accounts Manager and Secretary completed the steps necessary for New England Yearly Meeting of Friends to fully divest from TD Bank, which is a major funder of the controversial Dakota Access Pipeline that threatens life and indigenous sovereignty in North Dakota. This reflects continuing work in response to the Call for Prayer and Support for Standing Rock from November 2016.
  • Thanks to the support of Friends across our region, we’ve also met our Yearly Meeting’s minuted commitment to raise funds to support a cultural competency audit for Friends General Conference, a North American Quaker association of which our Yearly Meeting is a member. This action is another small step in our work as New England Friends to address the impact of white supremacy in our society and in our faith communities, in response to the Minute on White Supremacy approved by Annual Sessions in 2016.As directed by Sessions, the approximately $1000 surplus raised will be used under the guidance of the Permanent Board to continue this important work in our own Yearly Meeting.More news about how we—Friends across New England and the organization of the Yearly Meeting— are continuing to respond to our minuted discernment will be shared in future newsletters.

    As always, if you have questions about ongoing work of Sessions or the Permanent Board, email Presiding Clerk Fritz Weiss at clerk@neym.org or Clerk of Permanent Board Sarah Gant at pbclerk@neym.org.  

Friends in the News

rss iconHere are two stories we’ve seen this month of New England Quakers sharing and acting from their faith:

Are you aware of Friends or Friends Meetings featured in the media for their Quaker ministry and witness? Email us at neym@neym.org.

Service Opportunities

Seeking Key Position for 2016 Annual Sessions
image of hand

  • Childcare Coordinator
    • View the position description here

Interested in exploring service in this role for New England Yearly Meeting’s Annual Sessions this summer?

Contact Events Coordinator Kathleen Wooten at events@neym.org for more information.

Other Annual Sessions position postings coming soon.

View More Service Opportunities

Quaker Events

Coming Soon

Upcoming Quarterly Meetings

Save the Date

  • March 18, 2017, Winthrop, ME: “DayTreat” with Ministry & Counsel. A day of mutual support, resource-sharing and connection for those caring for the spiritual lives of their local meetings. Sponsored by Ministry & Counsel Committee of New England Yearly Meeting.

  • April 8, 2017, Providence, RI: Living Faith Gathering. Join Friends from throughout New England for a daylong event to nourish our faith, grow our communities, and strengthen our witness.

  • April 22, 2017, Cambridge MA. Earth Day. Consultation on Corporate Climate Witness for New England Yearly Meeting of Friends. For more information, read the Minutes of Annual Sessions 2016 committing to this work.

View More Events 

A Last Word

When I visited Friends in Vassalboro, Maine last month, I was blessed to have dinner with Paul and Elizabeth Cates at their home on the family’s flower farm just down the road from the Vassalboro meetinghouse. We had seen each other briefly at the Living Faith gathering at the Friends School of Portland a week before, and it was wonderful to have more time with them.

Over dinner, our conversation turned to the climate surrounding the recent presidential election, about Elizabeth’s life in Germany in the shadow of authoritarianism, and the fears so many who knew fascism first-hand have been feeling in recent months.  Her family was part of the Confessing Church, the Christian movement in opposition to fascism; Paul and Elizabeth first met as he carried messages between East and West Berlin after the war, connecting the churches in that divided city.

I shared my sense, strengthened in prayer, that this is a time that calls for Friends to speak clearly, now more than ever.

“To speak, yes”, she said. “And—to help.”

In worship in the Vassalboro meetinghouse, just up the hill from the edge of China Lake, bounded by the beautiful burial ground where so many generations of Friends are laid to rest, I felt the close presence of New England Friend Rufus Jones, whose ministry and tireless service reshaped the Quaker movement in the early twentieth century. There, praying on the shores of the lake where Rufus grew up, I was drawn to remember a story Rufus told—a story I grew up with—about a delegation of American Friends sent to Germany to seek Nazi permission to provide aid and safe passage for Jews being persecuted under fascism.

The story goes that in the days following Kristallnacht—the “Night of Broken Glass”—when hundreds of Jews were killed, thousands were arrested, and thousands of Jewish homes, businesses and synagogues were destroyed on November 9-10, 1938, the American Friends Service Committee asked Rufus and two other Friends to travel to Germany to see what American Quakers could do in the face of such violence and suffering.

Their mission led them to petition the Gestapo—the Nazi secret police—directly. After they had presented their initial request, they were asked to wait for a decision. There in a small room deep in the headquarters of the fearsome secret police in Berlin, they entered into a time of silent, waiting worship.

After who knows how long, they were told that the permission they were seeking had been granted; they would be able to work (for the time being) for the relief and safe passage of Jews who were suffering so greatly in Germany.

Since I visited Vassalboro, in daily prayer and in worship in meeting, I’ve found my thoughts turning again to that worship, there on the threshold of the Gestapo. I’ve wondered: In the midst of such fear, in the heart of such institutional evil, surrounded by worldly power, what assurance might they have felt in that worship? What was their experience, waiting there in the stillness, on the threshold of fascism? Where did they find the courage to make room for worship together at such a time, in such a place? What risk of faith must it have taken, in the face of all the voices and pressures telling them that “power” came through violence, oppression and fear, to again entrust their lives to the motion of Love?

Imagining those moments of worship, the witness of Friends in that generation, and the Love that flowed through them, I find myself amazed. And I’ve come to realize that’s exactly where I need to be.

Thomas Merton, in an essay in his “Raids on the Unspeakable”, reminds us that in the story of Christmas, the Christ-child is born when there is no space available—in a “time of no room,” a time such as this. The radical discipline of Advent, this season when so many of our wider Christian siblings celebrate the preparation for the coming birth of Jesus, is a time of waiting, of absence, of preparing room in our hearts and in our lives for the inbreaking of new Life and Light in the midst of the darkness of the winter, in the midst of the suffering, fear, anxiety, busyness, distraction, division, rage and hopelessness of our world.

In the Christmas story, when this Life and Light come through, there is amazement. Suddenly, everything is seen in its true perspective, and the forces of death and empire lose their dominion over our hearts.

It just may be that the challenge for our faith today is fundamentally the same as the one before those Friends in Berlin in 1938. We stand on the threshold of a new year, on the threshold of a new presidency, in a time when so much is passing away, when the institutions of church, economy and society that once seemed eternal are profoundly changed or breaking down, when the present terrors of white supremacy, authoritarianism and ecological collapse are deeply felt.

Though fear and uncertainty surround us, though we can’t predict tomorrow, though for so many of us looking into the future feels like staring into the abyss, I believe we are invited—challenged—to walk in fearsome places in simple obedience to the tender, unshakeable Love of God, and to make room for amazement. Our Friends practices and our meeting communities can help us to open ourselves to the Power we can encounter in worship together, the Love and Life of God, the quickening Spirit that waits to be born anew today—in our own hearts, in us as a faith community, and in our world.

In the risk of faith,

Noah Merrill
New England Yearly Meeting of Friends

Epistle from Travelers to Standing Rock

Pictured, from left: Christa Frintner and Kim West (Friends Meeting at Cambridge, MA); Honor Woodrow (Framingham, MA); Jay O’Hara and Meg Klepack (West Falmouth Preparative, MA); Noah Merrill (Putney, VT).
Read the Epistle from Standing Rock
In late November, six New England Quakers traveled to the water protector camp of the Oceti Sakowin (Seven Fires Council) in North Dakota.Jay O’Hara of West Falmouth (MA) Meeting, who helped organize the delegation in November, initially visited the encampment in September and wrote this reflection.

This month’s Friends Journal features a story from Shelley Tanenbaum of Quaker Earthcare Witness, one of several other Friends who have visited Standing Rock in recent months.

Note: Due to weather and changing conditions at Standing Rock, all Friends interested in supporting the continuing prayerful witness of the water protectors and join them in advocacy are encouraged to consult www.ocetisakowincamp.org and sacredstonecamp.org for current news and guidance, and to read this December 8 coalition statement from the Dakota Access Pipeline resistance camps.

Image: Panorama of Oceti Sakowin Camp. Photo: New England Yearly Meeting of Friends.

News from the Permanent Board

Sarah Gant of Beacon Hill (MA) Meeting, who serves as clerk of the Permanent Board of New England Yearly Meeting, has for the last year written periodic letters to Friends throughout New England.These reports offer important updates on the work of the Permanent Board which stewards our shared work and carries the governance responsibilities of the Yearly Meeting between Annual Sessions.

Read Sarah’s most recent letter here.

Ruby Sales to address Annual Sessions 2017

Photo of Ruby Sales
One highlight – Sarah shares the breaking news that civil rights activist and public theologian Ruby Sales has agreed to be our keynote speaker at Annual Sessions this August.

Click here to listen to a recent podcast interview with Ruby Sales (pictured left) with Krista Tippett of OnBeing. More information on Ruby’s time with us—and how we hope it might support New England Friends’ commitment to address and heal from the spiritual contagion of white supremacy—coming soon.

Further efforts to address systemic oppression and foster organizational change

In early January, please hold in the Light Friends Camp Director Anna Hopkins and Yearly Meeting Secretary Noah Merrill—the two managerial staff of the Yearly Meeting—as they participate in a five-day intensive offering of Beyond Diversity 101, a program developed and led by Niyonu Spann of Chester (PA) Friends Meeting in Philadelphia Yearly Meeting, and co-led by Lisa Graustein of Beacon Hill (MA) Friends Meeting.

From the workshop description:

“An intensive skill-development workshop for individuals focused on creating a more whole society by transforming systems of oppression. This special January offering will be a modified BD101 COR (Creating Organization Readiness). We will work with community or organization teams to clarify the purpose of equity initiatives, build skills for analysis and intervention, and strengthen the internal capacity to maintain progress throughout a transformative process.”

New Collection of Clerking Resources Available

This fall and winter have seen an abundance of workshops in New England supporting the spiritual work of clerking and participating in Friends process of corporate discernment in meeting for business.If you couldn’t make one of those events—or just want resources to share with your meeting—we’ve collected several resources on clerking in the Quaker tradition.

Coming soon: Video of a recent presentation by Jackie Stillwell of Monadnock (NH) and Jan Hoffman of Mt. Toby (MA) at Burlington (VT) Meeting.

View the Clerking Resources page
Have great clerking resources of your own to share? Please email us. We’d love to consider how we might share them more widely.

New Youth Ministries Child Safety Policy Approved

Each year, hundreds of young people participate in the Youth Ministries of New England Friends.

Through the retreat programs of Junior Yearly MeetingJunior High Yearly MeetingYoung Friends and the summer sessions of Friends Camp, youth participants and skillful, gifted staff together search for and discover essential truths about what matters most in life, build lifelong relationships and practice following inner guidance with the support of a loving community.

This fall, the Permanent Board of New England Yearly Meeting approved final revisions to a new Child Safety Policy for the Youth Ministries under our care, continuing our deep commitment to responsible and faithful stewardship of these important ministries on behalf of New England Friends.

Read the new policy

While this policy covers only the programs under direct oversight of New England Yearly Meeting as an organization, we encourage all local meetings to consider how your meeting fosters an environment of safety, accountability and loving care for each of the precious children in our faith communities across New England. Where possible, we hope this policy might serve as a template to inform local meetings’ discernment.

Is your local meeting…

Seeking further support in developing child safety policies and practice?

Looking for ways to ensure youth workers are background-checked?

  • New England Yearly Meeting also offers confidential criminal background screenings for youth workers and volunteers in local meetings. Contact Office Manager Sara Hubner for more information.

New Video: Ministry and Meetings

In this third video in the partnership between New England Friends and QuakerSpeak, we asked about the relationship between those serving in public ministry and the Friends meetings that support them. 

Legacy Grants: Upcoming Deadline

The Legacy Grants of New England Yearly Meeting support the life and ministry of Quakers and Friends communities in our region.

The next deadline for submissions is March 1, 2017. Click here for more information on the funds overall, and click here for information on applying.

Invitation to a Day of
Quaker Organizing and Preparation

In recent weeks, we’ve heard from many New England Friends and Friends Meetings who have been praying and preparing in recognition of a worsening social and political environment in our country—especially for immigrants, Muslims, People of Color and LGBTQ+ people. Many of us are gathering for worship and discernment about how we are called to live our faith in this time of division, violence and fear.

On January 15 in Boston, Lisa Graustein and Greg Williams of Beacon Hill (MA) Friends Meeting are hosting an event to support Friends in organizing and preparation for deepened work and witness.

Learn More About This Event
  • Are you or Friends from your meeting planning to participate in the Women’s March on Washington on January 21? Friends Meeting of Washington (DC) is offering limited hospitality.
  • Are Friends in your area bringing people together to pray, strengthen relationships, foster dialogue, or share how you might be led to witness today? Please let us know so that we can help spread the word.

“To New England’s Meetings”: A Letter

Brian Drayton of Souhegan (NH) Meeting recently wrote a letter urging Friends to welcome those led to travel in the ministry.Here’s an excerpt:

“Many of us are feeling under the weight of grief, fear, and anger in the face of national and world events. Many of us are digging deep, to feel where a prophetic response may be: Is there a word from the Lord that Friends are to carry at this time, in deed or in word? Is our spiritual condition healthy, alert, and clear enough to hear and receive such a word?”

Read the Full Letter

New England Friends Commit to Protect Civil Rights,
Offer Sanctuary

Needham and Wellesley, Massachusetts

Several local congregations have issued a proactive statement making clear that they will offer sanctuary to immigrants and refugees who may be in need of support and protection in the coming months and years.

Wellesley (MA) Friends Meeting is one of the signatories.

Read the letter


Quakers from several parts of the state have been actively working with religious and community groups throughout their region on a public pledge to protect the civil rights of immigrants in their communities.

Following requests by several Maine Friends, the Presiding Clerk and Yearly Meeting Secretary signed the pledge on behalf of New England Yearly Meeting of Friends.

Read the pledge

Ecumenical Witness

New England Yearly Meeting of Friends is a denominational member of the Massachusetts Council of Churches.

Executive Director Laura Everett recently spoke to an interfaith event at the Islamic Society of Boston in Wayland, MA, expressing our support of and commitment to our Muslim brothers and sisters.

Read the text of the address

Quaker Events

Coming Soon

Upcoming Quarterly Meetings

Save the Date

  • March 18, 2017, Winthrop, ME: “DayTreat” with Ministry & Counsel. A day of mutual support, resource-sharing and connection for those caring for the spiritual lives of their local meetings. Sponsored by Ministry & Counsel Committee of New England Yearly Meeting.

  • April 8, 2017, Providence, RI: Living Faith Gathering. Join Friends from throughout New England for a daylong event to nourish our faith, grow our communities, and strengthen our witness.

  • April 22, 2017, Earth Day. Consultation on Corporate Climate Witness for New England Yearly Meeting of Friends. Location and details to be determined. For more information, read the Minutes of Annual Sessions 2016 committing to this work.

View More Events 

A Last Word


New England Yearly Meeting of Friends (Quakers)

November 9, 2016

Dear Friends throughout New England,

As we gathered for our weekly worship this morning, we held all of you in prayer. From that worship, we feel led to write to you with a message of love, encouragement and support.

In the aftermath of this week’s election, many who are grieving, angry, fearful and isolated are likely to seek refuge and solace in Friends meetings across our region, this Sunday and in the coming weeks. While Friends can’t offer all the answers to those who join us in worship, we can offer them spiritual hospitality—a place where they can experience listening, connection, accompaniment and love. This is a simple and powerful action we can all take in the coming days to lift up a witness to the Light.

Below are some suggestions we hope you’ll consider as you prepare for worship this Sunday:

In our meetings for worship
Many of us who worship together often are also in need of refuge. We respond to stress differently; some may be more able to serve in this way right now than others. Let’s take care of one another, even as we offer hospitality to new visitors. It may help for those who share the care of worship to communicate in advance to ensure that some Friends who are more able to be available are ready to close worship, speak with visitors, or be open to pastoral care needs.

At the rise of meeting, even a simple invitation for those attending to turn to their neighbor and share briefly what is on their heart might be profoundly helpful. Parents of young children may particularly benefit from connecting with one another as they support their kids. Consider whether newcomers who express an interest might be invited to connect with groups in the meeting working to address racism, strengthen interfaith relationships, or address community needs. This can be an important way of helping them continue to find support, purpose and nourishment.

In our surrounding communities
Remember that because of the climate of fear and hostility fed by this election, many who have been explicitly targeted in the campaign—including People of Color, LGBTQ+ people, Muslims, immigrants and people with disabilities—may feel particularly unsafe, excluded or afraid.

More than ever, we encourage Friends to look for opportunities to publicly identify our meetings as places of refuge and sanctuary for our neighbors who might feel under threat. Posting and publicizing commitments to oppose racism, homophobia, Islamophobia and gender-based violence will be more important than ever. Look for opportunities for Friends to partner with and accompany marginalized communities. Participate in ecumenical, interfaith and community events promoting unity, connection, dialogue and mutual respect, and opposing hate and division.

Stay connected with your wider Quaker network
Please share information about upcoming events, as well as news, images, reflections and ideas from your worship, witness and community-building efforts by emailing events@neym.org. Your work will encourage and enliven the work of others.

We are publishing information about local activities on the Events Calendar at neym.org/events, and sharing news and updates on Facebook at www.facebook.com/NEYMOF, and through the monthly email newsletter. If you or your meeting is seeking additional support or connections in responding to the challenges of this time, please let us know—we’ll do all we can to connect you with resources, either in our wider Quaker networks or beyond. You can reach us at office@neym.org, or by phone at 508-754-6760.

Remember that we and many others are holding you in prayer, and that you are not alone.

In the Love that binds us together as a community of faith and witness,

Anna, Beth, Frederick, Gretchen, Hilary, Kathleen, Nia, Sara and Noah

Your New England Yearly Meeting of Friends Staff

Dear Friends,

Last week I served in the role of spiritual elder, accompanying and supporting Lisa Graustein of Beacon Hill (MA) Friends Meeting as she led a daylong workshop in New Haven, Connecticut for educators, students and other civic leaders focusing on how our systems of education might be transformed to foster racial justice and healing of multi-generational harm as an alternative to the devastating effects of current realities.

Often working in partnership with Niyonu Spann, a Friend with deep New England roots who shared powerful ministry at Annual Sessions in 2014, Lisa’s ministry in the wider world is to me a pattern and example of how New England Friends are living their faith in ways that matter, within our own spiritual communities and beyond the walls of our meetinghouses and events.

Throughout the day, I felt joy and a renewed sense of hope to be part of such an energized and committed group of attenders, diverse in age, race, background and profession as we envisioned a world transformed.

It was also powerful to be there alongside several Friends from New Haven (CT) Meeting, as well as visiting Friends from Vermont and Massachusetts. Last Thursday, we were modeling the ways I hope New England Quakers will more and more support each other in carrying the spiritual treasures of our tradition into our wider communities, sharing with humility and boldness what we have to share and learning alongside others who like us are called to seek and to nurture the Beloved Community, here and now.

On the long way home that night, it struck me that this experience was a foretaste and a glimpse of the vision for our common life that is also reflected in the Epistle from Annual Sessions this year.

In the best tradition of Friends spiritual writing, this year’s Epistle is not simply a description of what happened at a weeklong Quaker conference. It offers a spiritual invitation and encouragement for faithful living, and a testimony to how together we might more deeply embrace and express the Power available to us – the Life to which our living tradition bears witness.

If you haven’t yet read the Epistle and shared it with your local meeting, I encourage you to do so.

We’re living out this invitation in many ways. The image to the left is of another group of New England Friends – this time in Boston – taking part on September 12 in an interfaith witness as part of the Moral Revival events across the country.

This fall is full of opportunities to connect with our wider Quaker community for spiritual nurture, discernment and witness on shared concerns.

Read on for brief news of just some ways the Spirit is at work among Friends in New England. I hope to see you at one of these events, or in worship at meeting soon.
In faith and service,

Noah Merrill
New England Yearly Meeting of Friends

P.S. – And please – send your events, news and suggestions for upcoming issues! How does the Spirit prosper in your meeting, or in the wider witness and work of Friends in your part of New England and beyond?

Images above: (right) Friends in New Haven for Lisa Graustein’s forum; (left) Friends from Salem Quarter at the Massachusetts Statehouse for the Moral Revival Day of Action.

*A quotation from Robin Mohr, Executive Secretary of Friends World Committee for Consultation, Section of the Americas.

Racial Justice: Steps Toward Healing and Wholeness

Friends communities across New England are engaged in work for racial justice – and we have much work to do to live into God’s vision of wholeness and healing.

In this brief reflection, Clarence Burley of Worcester (MA) Friends Meeting offers a glimpse of an interfaith service in which Worcester Friends participated, witnessing for a new season of justice and healing for their city.

This August, the Annual Sessions of New England Yearly Meeting approved a minute committing to work for racial justice and toward overcoming white supremacy.

Image: Putney (VT) Friends meeting.

Watch: New England Friends on Outreach and Welcoming

Click the image above to watch the first video in this year’s partnership between QuakerSpeak and New England Yearly Meeting of Friends, answering the question:
“How do Quaker Meetings Do Outreach and Welcome Newcomers?”
Find out what Friends throughout New England had to say.

News from Friends Camp

New England Yearly Meeting of Friends joyfully welcomes Anna Hopkins as our new Friends Camp Director.
With support from our longtime former director Nat Shed – who is staying on as a senior consultant this year – Anna is already deeply engaged in preparing for next year’s camp season, and helping us to lift up a shared vision for the future of our beloved Friends Camp as an ever more vibrant youth ministry of New England Friends.

Read a welcome letter from Anna

News and Images from World Quaker Day 2016

Did your meeting participate in World Quaker Day this year?Several meetings across New England have already shared their photos and reflections.

View a gallery of images from Friends around the world – including several local meetings in New England.

Please hold in the Light the Executive Committee for Friends World Committee in the Americas, as they gather in New England this weekend clerked by Benigno Sanchez-Eppler of Northampton (MA) Friends, with Dorothy Grannell of Portland (ME) Friends serving as recording clerk.

Register Now for Living Faith: Spaces Filling Up Fast

The first Living Faith gathering will be held November 5 at Friends School of Portland in Portland, Maine – and spaces are filling up fast.

While we’ve set aside spaces to ensure enough room for Friends from local meetings in Maine, the initial strong response means you’ll need to register as soon as possible to confirm a place if you plan to attend.

For more information, visit the Living Faith pages on neym.org.

Can’t make this one? A second Living Faith event will be held in Providence, Rhode Island on April 8, 2017.

Register Now for the November 5 Living Faith Gathering 

Climate Witness: Progress to Celebrate

Cambridge (MA) Friends witness to stop the Spectra pipeline in West Roxbury, MALast spring, Portland (ME) Friends Becky Steele and Doug McCown – serving as Friends in Washington with Friends Committee on National Legislation – contacted New England Yearly Meeting to ask us to join an interfaith effort to protect an environmental treasure of biodiversity in the northwest Atlantic Ocean near New England.

Utilizing our policy on time-sensitive statements, New England Yearly Meeting of Friends joined faith groups from throughout our region to sign on to a letter asking the President for permanent protection of recently-discovered canyons and seamounts off the New England coast.

Last month, President Obama responded, creating the first marine national monument in the Atlantic Ocean.

Here’s a White House video of the announcement, and a response to the decision from the advocacy organization Earthjustice.

And if you haven’t seen it, the Minute from Annual Sessions committing to corporate action to support climate witness is here.

Image: Friends from Friends Meeting at Cambridge (MA) witness against construction of the Spectra natural gas pipeline in West Roxbury, MA.

Upcoming Quaker Events

Save the Date

  • April 22, 2017, Earth Day. Consultation on Corporate Climate Witness for New England Yearly Meeting of Friends. Location and details to be determined. For more information, read the Minutes of Annual Sessions 2016 committing to this work.

In Closing

As many Friends are aware, for more than twenty years New England Friends have been building a Bridge of Love with Quakers in Cuba. In the wake of Hurricane Matthew’s passage over Cuba, here is an update from the Presiding Clerk of Cuba Yearly Meeting that we wanted to share.

Please continue to hold Cuban Friends, the people of Cuba, Jamaica, Haiti, the Bahamas and all in the path of the hurricane in the Light.

Copyright © 2016 New England Yearly Meeting of Friends (Quakers), All rights reserved.

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

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