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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)

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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

Dear YAF Friends,

14734708055_40a4af8bc9_k1The New England Young Adult Friends (Quaker) Climate Working Group invites

you to join us in a pilgrimage along the route of the proposed

Kinder-Morgan methane pipeline in Massachusetts and New Hampshire.

We begin this invitation with confession; that the reality of climate

change is overwhelming and that we do not know exactly how to respond to

the devastating truth that the world is ending on our watch.

Yet there are things that we can say clearly: That we must reduce

atmospheric CO2 levels below 350 ppm immediately and that to do so requires

an immediate phase out of fossil fuel use. Given this reality, the further

expansion of fossil fuel infrastructure makes no sense. Every dollar

invested in energy must be spent building renewable sources, like Cape

Wind, instead of pipelines and power plants for fracked gas.

Therefore, we are called to witness with our own eyes this pipeline route,

to walk its length and to fathom the changes that must be made. We walk

praying for clarity, determination and boldness to take the necessary next

steps. We walk acknowledging that we do not yet possess the inner resources

to live our lives fully into the reality that our scientific understanding

of the climate crisis calls us to. We walk creating a community of climate

dissidents, understanding that we need each other in these challenging

times. We walk bringing public focus to the immorality of perpetuating the

status quo, and to a genuine hope for a different future.

We invite you to join us to bear witness to the power of God in our lives

to make a way out of no way, to move from what is dead and past to what is

alive and new. This is a time for needed renewal and transformation. This

season is one to roll away the stone and to see what new life may move

among us.

The pilgrimage will be a 12-day walk from Pittsfield, Massachusetts along

the 143 mile proposed pipeline route to Dracut, Massachusetts beginning

April 1st. It will be Quaker-led and open to all, with opportunities for

Worship, for meeting local community members working to stop the pipeline,

and for fellowship.

We hope you will consider joining us. To find out more about the route, to

sign up to walk, or to contact us visit http://www.pipelinepilgrimage.org.

“We dedicate ourselves to let the living waters flow through us – where we

live, regionally, and in wider world fellowship. We dedicate ourselves to

building the peace that passeth all understanding, to the repair of the

world, opening our lives to the Light to guide us in each small step.” –

The Kabarak Call, World Conference of Friends 2012

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Dear Friends,

I can still remember the first time I chose to make a financial contribution to the ministry of our yearly meeting.

As a young adult traveling in the ministry, living with student loans and an uncertain future, my resources were limited. Like many of us, I grew up with a sense of not enough. I told myself I had nothing to give, that I’d give when I was older, that I’d give next year. But as I clicked the “donate” button, I realized I was choosing to align what resources I did control with this spiritual movement that was changing my life.

For me, it started with five dollars.

Those two cups of coffee a month that I was willing to sacrifice opened a new dimension of relationship with our community of Friends. Giving financially has become a spiritual discipline for me, a practice of abundance. Like becoming a member in my local meeting, giving money is another way I join the Quaker movement as together we bear the fruit of Love in the world.

As 2015 approaches, our hearts turn to what’s most important – and hopefully away from email. I’m looking forward to a time of retreat, reflection and prayer as the old year turns to new. My bags are almost packed.

But before I go, I’m going to make an end-of-year gift to help sustain our shared work together in the coming year.

Here’s what this message is really about:

Financial support is just a small part of the many ways we accompany one another on this journey of faithfulness. But it’s an important part.

I believe giving financially is one more way we affirm the sacredness of every aspect and every moment of our lives, as we walk together in the Light.

In this time of global challenge and change, the world needs a way of life that doesn’t draw lines between “spiritual” and “worldly” concerns. We need an integrated approach that invites our whole lives to be filled with and guided by the Spirit. And this is something Friends have tried to practice for a long time.

In this season, I’m reminded that it’s vital to bring all of my life – including my relationship with money – into the Light.

Might this be true for you, too?

If you’ve already given this year, thank you.

If you haven’t given a gift – or haven’t even considered it this year – I hope you’ll join me in making a contribution in any amount by tomorrow night.

In this new year, may our lives and our local meetings be a blessing in our world.

In faith and service,

Noah Baker Merrill
Putney (VT) Friends Meeting
Secretary
New England Yearly Meeting of Friends