of the Religious Society of Friends (Quakers)
Everyone Invited to Representative MeetingNine Partners Quarter welcomes everyone to Representative Meeting at Oakwood Friends School, April 2–3, 2005.
Saturday Evening ProgramIn these challenging times, we especially want to uphold the vital ministry and witness Quaker schools are providing young people and their families. So with April Representative Meeting being held at Oakwood School, on Saturday evening it seems good to have a panel of representatives from Friends' schools in New York Yearly Meeting to share how they understand and are carrying out their ministry and witness to the world through the education of young people in these times. They will be asked to speak to Friends' principles and testimonies, provide examples of success, challenges, etc.
We expect representatives will want to speak of their individual sense of call to this work, the call or mission of the school, how Friends' principles and testimonies are lived out, current challenges, successes, "moments of grace." We see this as a time when one may speak more than the usual "report"; rather, we hope it will be a time when participants will be led to speak out of the silence.
Our host, Oakwood Friends School in Nine Partners Quarter, will be represented by Peter Baily. Herb Lape will speak for Friends Academy in Long Island Quarter. From New York quarter, Friends Seminary will be represented by Ben Frisch and Brooklyn Friends School will send a spokesperson. Janice Ninan will speak for Blossom Garden Friends School in Farmington-Scipio region. Cheshire Frager will moderate. Attending Friends will also be invited to share from the silence after the schools' presentations.
MealsMeals and snacks will be provided by Oakwood Friends. Coffee and munchies will be available each morning. Saturday and Sunday lunches will cost $7 for adults; Saturday dinner will be $9 for adults. All meals for children 4–12 will be $4.
Hospitality—three choicesNine Partners Quarter will be arranging hospitality with local Friends. First come, first served. We need to receive requests for hospitality by March 15.
Because Oakwood Friends has fewer boarding students than formerly, there is an empty dorm which we can use. The building is not wheelchair accessible; there is one step up to get into the building, and no elevator to the second floor. There are 10 double rooms, 2 single rooms, and one triple. The rooms are simple and functional with no attempt at decor. Pillows, sheets, blankets, and towels are not supplied. As is customary in dormitories, there is a shared bath. Showers have 2 or 3 shower heads in one space. There is a kitchen with refrigerator, stove, and microwave. At one end of the ground floor is a fair-sized lounge. The cost is $25 per adult per night. There is no charge for children.
For Friends who prefer to stay in a motel, 10 rooms have been blocked at the Econo Lodge, 2625 South Road (about 1 mile from Oakwood campus). Telephone number 845-452-6600. The rate is $64.95 per room for 1 or 2 adults; (total $72.91 with tax). Extra adults are $10 each. Children under 16 are free. Some rooms have 2 double beds, some have 1 king-size bed. Mention NYYM when you call for reservations. This rate is only available for reservations made by March 24. Reservations can be canceled without penalty until March 29th. Other (somewhat more expensive) motels are also nearby. If you need information about them, contact Karen Snare (see below).
Please send your registration form indicating your needs, with your check (made out to New York Yearly Meeting) for meals, Oakwood dorm rooms if you choose that option, and registration fee, to Lois Pan, 4 Pavinchal Place, Poughkeepsie NY 12603.
Requests for committee meetings and display space should be directed to Viola Hathaway. Please send your requests by March 15.
Childcare will be available during Representative Meeting sessions only if it is requested in advance. Please indicate your needs on the registration form.
In case Representative Meeting has to be canceled at the last minute because of severe weather, we have asked for cell phone numbers.
For questions about the location, housing, or transportation contact Karen Snare. Karen will also be cell phone contact in case you get lost. 845-242-1709.
Directions to Oakwood Friends SchoolFrom Manhattan: Take West Side Highway (12th Ave.) to Henry Hudson Pkwy., to Saw Mill Pkwy. North, to Taconic Pkwy. North. Take exit for Interstate 84 West (Newburgh), get off at Exit 13 – Rt. 9 North, travel for 8 or 9 miles (move to the right lane when you pass Poughkeepsie Ford on the right) to "Spackenkill Rd. – Rte 113 East" and take that exit. The ramp will put you onto Spackenkill Rd., The entrance to Oakwood Friends is 500 feet on the right.
From Brooklyn, Queens, Bronx: Take Whitestone Expressway across the Whitestone Bridge – Rt. 678; this becomes the Hutchison Pkwy. Take exit 13 to the Cross County Pkwy West., to the Saw Mill Pkwy, then North to Taconic Pkwy. North on Taconic Pkwy to Interstate 84 West, and follow directions above. From New Jersey: Take the Garden State Pkwy. to NYS Thruway (I-87) north. Take Exit 17 (Newburgh) to I-84 East, cross the Newburgh Beacon bridge (toll), continue east to Exit 13 - Rt. 9 North, and follow directions above. From Upstate New York: Take NYS Thruway South to exit 18 (New Paltz), go east on 299 to Rt. 9W south, and follow to the Mid-Hudson Bridge (toll) toward Poughkeepsie. Cross bridge, staying to the right, and exit immediately onto Rt. 9 South (Wappingers Falls). Follow Route 9 south for 3.5 miles to "Spackenkill Rd. – Rte 113 East" and take that exit. The ramp will put you onto Spackenkill Rd., The entrance to Oakwood Friends is about 1000 feet on the right.
Seeking LightThe idea of a policy on child safety might be taken to mean just the development of a set of guidelines for adults who work with children, possibly driven by the requirements of insurance companies. But the Child Safety Task Group has been working to formulate a broader vision that embraces child safety as an opportunity for us to grow in the Spirit.
We have been looking well beyond what changes we might need to make in order to satisfy the requirements of our liability insurance carrier, or to protect us from possible litigation in the unfortunate possibility of one of our children being harmed by abuse. We have been looking at what changes might be necessary to really minimize the possibility of such a tragedy, changes that would entail more than the education and training of our children and the adults who work with them, but would also encompass an increased awareness and ongoing involvement of the entire community.
We believe that true safety will arise out of our open and honest discussion of the disturbing realities of child sexual abuse, and how we want to balance these risks with our needs to be an open, loving, intergenerational community. We believe that being a safe community means being concerned not only for our children, but also for the adults who work with them. We believe that it means being a safe place for survivors of abuse, and even for former perpetrators of abuse. We cannot create a safe environment for some and not be attentive to it for others as well. All must be included.
The mix that we are moving toward will probably incorporate many of the now standard policies and procedures that most communities working with children and youth are embracing. But if we did only this, it would allow the issue of child sexual abuse, and what it says about our human condition, to stay way on the periphery of our vision as a community. We could mistakenly feel secure that we have effectively dealt with the problem and could therefore comfortably lose sight of it again. This will not serve us well.
It is our sense that to maximize genuine safety, we need to engage the entire Yearly Meeting in an increased awareness of this painful aspect of life. We need to live with the questions of how to create and maintain a community that treats the unfortunate reality of sexual abuse with candor and honesty, without losing what makes us want to be a community in the first place. These are painful waters to enter. But in not entering, we have more to lose than just putting our children at risk. In our unwillingness to see all of life clearly, we would be choosing to stay numb to a part of it, and that will keep us somewhat spiritually deadened.
So we see the work ahead as an opportunity, a spiritual opportunity, to be more alive, and more alive in the Spirit. It will necessitate becoming more aware of the hard reality already in our midst—though we do not have a current incident of abuse to point to, we do have members of our community who are survivors, and we have had at least one known perpetrator struggle to be a part of one of our monthly meetings. It is quite a challenge to live with eyes and hearts "wide open" in the midst of something so frightening and so harsh. But we believe the challenge to be well worth it.
Christopher Sammond, NYYM general secretary
Children Becoming PeacemakersThe Nurture Coordinating Committee of New York Yearly Meeting is distributing a kit that includes various materials designed to help the Yearly Meeting begin a discussion around the question: How can we support our children in becoming peacemakers in a violent society?
In choosing the materials in the kit, an effort was made to put ourselves in the child's place. We realized that there is a wide spectrum of concerns and influences in the lives of our children regarding violent behavior—from the bully in the playground or the blaming tone the parent uses, to the violent images coming through media. Some children are faced with physical violence and the presence of guns in the neighborhood.
Here are the contents of the kit:
Creative Response to Conflict, Inc. has contributed materials on bullying and the catalogue of the workshops they offer.
Research material and articles relating to attention, consumerism, and violence.
From Lion and Lamb Project:
Again, these items are meant to stimulate the exchange of information and ideas in your meetings, bringing the wealth of our religious experience and the depth of our concern for our children to the forefront. Unfortunately, we cannot just assume that our children are absorbing our Quaker values: not in the face of a multibillion-dollar media industry that, even if it does not invade our individual home, is the atmosphere in which most of our children spend their days; not in the face of a political climate that honors violence over peace; and not when the most basic pastimes of our youth are fraught with violence.
We hope you find these materials useful, and we may be sending additional materials as we find items we think pertain to the discussion. Feel free to contact Mary Rothschild, creator of this packet, or myself if you need more information:
Melanie-Claire Mallison, clerk,
Nurture Coordinating Committee Retreat
Nurture Coordinating Committee has arranged for a mini-retreat at Oakwood Friends School the day before April Representative Meeting, Friday, April 1st, from 7–9 PM. The topic will be the recommendations from the Committee on Committees (ConC) specific to the Nurture Section (see below).
Ad Hoc Committee on Committees
The functions of the Nurture Section can be adequately performed within the three other coordinating committees.
If you have ever felt like this (or even if you haven't!) or know someone who has, I have an excellent solution. Lend your hand to the Sessions Committee! Join us in ensuring the smooth running of our time at Silver Bay. We need you!
Here are just some of the jobs that Sessions Committee does at Silver Bay. If you see one you think you can contribute to, let us know!
It is really true that you meet lots of interesting and fun people while helping out at Silver Bay. It may be the fastest way to acquire a sense of belonging. Plus we will be so grateful! And that will really make you feel good. So give me a call at 518-758-8236 or e-mail me at email@example.com. Thanks!
Dee Duckworth, Sessions Committee
|Adapted from a reflection delivered at an interfaith worship service, St. Paul's Episcopal Church, Poughkeepsie, N.Y., November 1, 2004|
Peace is not everybody agreeing with each other. And so I have decided to say something challenging, something you may not agree with, and something that even my fellow-Quakers may not all agree with.
There is a movement afoot around the world to spread a simple, attractive message, "May peace prevail on Earth." You can order note cards, a tote bag, a bumper sticker, a T-shirt, a button, a hat, an apron, and a Bic pen, all emblazoned with this message. You can spend anywhere from one hundred seventy-five to fourteen hundred dollars to have the message printed in eight languages on an eight-foot pole for planting in a park, a garden, or your church's front lawn. Two hundred thousand of these poles have already been planted. "May peace prevail on Earth." Sounds good. Very peaceful. Let's plant it!
But. . . I would like to tell you why I think that is the wrong message. I would classify it as a pious platitude, one that everyone, or almost everyone, would agree with. Indeed, it is selling very well. It is a prayer, a prayer of the kind that we can so easily say without doing anything about it. We can give lip service to it, and leave the rest vaguely to God. George W. Bush, just before invading Iraq, could have uttered that prayer, and he probably did. He doubtless thought he was advancing the cause of peace, sweeping away some of those bad people out there who were preventing peace.
In 1917 Woodrow Wilson, praying that peace might prevail on Earth, took us into the greatest war humankind had yet seen, saying that it was a war to end all war. And you know what: the chief result of that war was the emergence of communism and fascism. Then we had an even greater war to defeat fascism, and two more wars, in Korea and Vietnam, to try to hold back the rising tide of communism. War, as always, produced war after war. Let's look at the New Testament. It says, "Whatever a man sows, that he will also reap." If we sow violence we will reap violence.
People argue about what helped most to turn back the tide of communism. I think the crucial factor was the heroism of Lech Walesa and the Solidarity movement in Poland that defied communism, but did it with nonviolent resistance. And in the Soviet Union the thing that tipped the balance was the heroism of Boris Yeltsin, who stood on top of a tank in Moscow and dared the Soviet army to push him off. These people did not utter pious platitudes. They took big personal risks, nonviolent risks, and they made peace prevail.
The Quaker message is that peace begins with an individual, an individual in communion with the Holy Spirit, an individual living peace, and exemplifying it at all costs. In 1651 George Fox, the founder of the Quaker movement, was offered a commission in the Puritan army. He refused it. Then he went home and wrote in his journal, "I told them I lived in the virtue of that life and power that takes away the occasion of all wars." Peace must be inward before it can become outward. Then you have to do something about it. For instance, you have to feed the hungry. That's why the American Friends Service Committee, a peace organization, spends a lot of its time and money feeding the hungry. Hungry people are ripe for war and revolution. And then look at those incredible words of St. Paul, "If thine enemy hunger, feed him." He was following the injunction of Jesus to exemplify love unconditionally, even if you die for it, as Jesus in fact did.
Quakers in 1660 sent a message to king Charles II, saying, "We utterly deny all outward wars and fightings with outward weapons, for any end, or under any pretence whatsoever; and this is our testimony to the whole world. The spirit of Christ, by which we are guided, is not changeable, so as once to command us from a thing as evil and again to move unto it…" That is not a pious prayer. It has consequences. And it did. George Fox and hundreds if not thousands of Quakers spent years in cold, filthy prisons for daring to hold to their unconventional beliefs; for daring to worship without a paid, professional, authorized ministry; for daring to witness against the cruelty and rigidity of an absolutist society. It was an example of nonviolent protest, standing up for Truth, just as early Christians had done in defying the Roman empire and all its bloodthirsty power.
Luckily the Quaker triumph came faster. It came in 1689, when Great Britain adopted the Toleration Act. The most precious civil liberties we have, freedom of speech and freedom of religion, can be traced to that same sublime moment in 1689 when peace prevailed in England and its colonies. It prevailed not because of platitudes but because some people had suffered for Truth nonviolently and others had had enough, enough of religious wars and religious persecution.
Jesus said, "You will know them by their fruits. Are grapes gathered from thorns, or figs from thistles?" If you sow peace, you will reap peace. If you sow violence, you will reap violence. We need to learn this lesson. It is the lesson that we need to be guided by tomorrow as we go to the polls. It is the great lesson of what is happening in Iraq. It is the lesson of what will continue to happen if we don't learn to live, to live in that life and power that takes away the occasion of all wars.
Richard Hathaway, Poughkeepsie Meeting
Morning. We enter a daily rhythm of Quaker practice. First worship in the library. Then breakfast. In the silence we maintain at all our meals, tasting food in a new way, drawing a different nourishment from it, a nourishment as much for the soul as for the body.
Outside, crisp brightness of winter snow, perhaps a walk to the nearby bird sanctuary, to Dorson's Rock, a height from which to look across long valleys to distant mountains. Inside, the warmth of the fire, of soul companions met just yesterday. Later, sharing in work for Powell House, still no sound, except for the jarring dissonance and harmonious resolution of the piano being tuned.
Afternoon. Time for reflection, time to speak. What has the silence brought thus far? Reflecting one another, upholding one another, drinking together the deep upwellings of the Spirit.
Evening. Active silence. In our communal space, each brings one's own work: writing, needlepoint, reading, drawing, whatever we are called to do. The time shared in silence, individual yet together, somehow strengthens our sense that we are a community.
First-Day morning. Worship as a community in the Anna Curtis youth center. A great fire greets us in the open hearth, radiating its warmth across the chilly air. And our spirits bask in the glow of the youth who have worshiped there. The love they share so often in that room seems to infuse us, as we hear and uphold one another in the messages we are given to offer.
Our final morning. Again, early worship and a silent breakfast. The embers seemed dying, but with care the fire blazes up once more. Ending the silence, we share what we have received, what we have given, the ways in which each of us is moving toward the Light.
A final meal shared, no longer in silence. Dispersing, we remain united in that moment, which with care can be even this present moment.
A silent retreat, January 2005, under the care of Powell House and the School of the Spirit.
Tom Rothschild, Brooklyn Meeting
After reading the books ourselves, we spent a good two years considering alternatives for just the right home for them. At Powell House the collection will be available to all of NYYM and still be somewhat centrally located. In order not to overburden the staff, please note that it will operate like a small reference library. We welcome people reading the books during their stay, but returning them to the shelf before leaving to travel home. If someone discovers they like a particular book, he/she could then borrow it from their own local library, even using interlibrary loan.
Where can you find these books? They are shelved together in a designated place in the Pitt Hall library. Please make a point to look for them. You will recognize them by the piece of green tape on each book spine. Inside is a note saying FOR REFERENCE ONLY, and on many of the notes it says who donated the book to us.
Where did these books come from? It actually began with a very generous donation from Lynn Vlaskamp. Others were given by Anne Wright of AFSC, Helen Garay Toppins, Margaret M. Currie, Mary Foster Cadbury, and Sue Wolf. We would like to see the collection expanding. If you have a book you would like to donate, please contact Sybil Perry.
Sybil Perry, Indian Affairs Committee
The charge of the Coordinating Committee for Ministry and Counsel (CCMC) is to care for the spiritual life of NYYM. CCMC consists of about 25 members who are appointed by the Yearly Meeting, or are representatives from NYYM's regions or from the committees in the M&C section (Conflict Transformation, Sufferings, Faith and Practice, Epistle), and representatives to the Yearly Meeting on Ministry and Counsel (YMMC). YMMC is a group of representatives from monthly meetings that meets twice a year to share joys and concerns, successes and needs that inform the work of CCMC.
Each year in Spark, CCMC highlights some of the things the section is involved in. This year, we are sharing individual reflections on ministry, spiritual growth, and opportunities that show that the depth and breadth of care for the spiritual life of the YM come from the activities of Friends at every level. We hope all Friends, whether in committees, workshops, meetings, or regions, see themselves as part of this work of discerning and upholding God's care and direction for us in the Yearly Meeting.
My primary corporate experience among Friends has been among pastoral Friends, so for me this ministry has given me an opportunity to learn from and appreciate the unprogrammed tradition. I'm growing to appreciate the discipline of silent worship, which has ministered to my own restless and sometimes impatient spirit! Each meeting I have visited has its own particular "flavor" and adds its own special "seasoning" to the Quaker "stew." Sometimes, though, I think we keep our own particular Light under a bushel, and I see our visitation as one way that we can encourage Friends to share their stories, both individual and corporate, with the wider body of NYYM.
Living in community is a challenge that requires both discipline and commitment. Yet whatever our particular "flavor" of Friends, it seems to me that we share in a common search to know and be true to who we are, while striving to be faithful and open to new truths the Spirit may reveal to us. Are we encouraging and lifting up both the nurturers and the prophets among us? When differences arise, are we dealing with them honestly and lovingly? We are bound together in love, and Love will find a way.
David A. Herendeen, Farmington Meeting
The discussion focused on a list of 24 gifts that Jan had identified, many of which are in Jesus' teachings. Each was followed by a description that gave an idea of how to recognize whether or not we have the gift. All shared stories from our own lives that illustrated the ways we have used these gifts.
Jan drew a distinction between gifts and talents or abilities. She emphasized that we have a cluster of gifts, not just one. As we develop the gifts, we sharpen our talents and abilities. Because none of us has all the gifts needed to form a spiritual community, we also need to identify complementary gifts that we need in our life together.
Jan said that her meeting is organized around the community's spiritual gifts rather than the usual committee structure. Everyone in the meeting had the opportunity to go through a gifts discovery process by participating in Meetings for Learning and weekend retreats. At the beginning, organizing in this way meant that they had some painful gaps in their program. However, they have continued this process, and find that it works for them.
If you would like to find out more about spiritual giftedness, you may want to contact Jan at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Deborah B. Wood, Purchase Meeting
It takes great strength and spiritual courage to keep a very small meeting or worship group going. When only two, four, or six regularly attend, the Light that each Friend brings is much more important than in a larger group. It is less possible to come spiritually empty, in hopes that the group will fill you up, when you are a large fraction of the group!
I have been impressed and inspired by the Friends I have met in our smaller meetings and worship groups. They bring a depth of commitment and vibrancy to their faith and practice that I find humbling to witness. I have felt deeply nurtured and welcomed in my visits to such groups.
At the same time, I have sensed that my visits have made an important difference. Friends have told me how important it is to them to know they are connected to a wider body. Several times when I have visited, the group has mentioned the visit of another Friend that happened many months ago. I hear how visits nurture and enliven them, how their worship is enriched, how they are strengthened in the Spirit.
I would invite all Friends to consider whether they feel led to visit others in their quarter or region, once a month or every other month. My guess is that you would find it a rich blessing, and an opportunity to deepen your own faith and practice.
Christopher Sammond, NYYM general secretary
Since then I have been able to attend the extended worship three times. In the weeks and days leading up to each session, I find myself leaning forward, as though reaching for a quenching drink from a spring. The worship is rich and deep, and I come away feeling nourished. I find that at my regular First Day hour of worship for weeks after, I am more able to center down quickly and to hear the still, quiet voice.
Sponsored by Philadelphia Yearly Meeting, the extended worship program meets three times a year, hosted each time by a different meeting. Marcelle Martin wrote a Pendle Hill pamphlet about the extended worship called "Invitation to a Deeper Communion" (PHP #366). The next scheduled gathering is Saturday, May 7, at Princeton Meeting.
When will NYYM be ready for our own program of extended worship?
Heather Cook, Summit Meeting
Rachel opened with some thoughts on how we all have physical landmarks—perhaps the Statue of Liberty or a special place near where we grew up—that have immediate personal meaning and resonance for us. We went on to explore how we can identify and develop similar spiritual landmarks—such as particular passages from scripture, sacred places, Quaker testimonies, etc.—that we can return to in our hearts and minds when we need help to retrieve the sense of the Light in the midst of our often harried and distracted daily lives. We listed some of the things that cause us to feel stressed and then we considered some of the things that sustain and uplift us.
Rachel offered several approaches to help us identify and develop "anchors" we can use to reconnect with the Spirit when minor annoyances or major issues distress us. We talked in the group and in pairs, responded to questions that helped us talk about how we experience the Light and why we sometimes find it hard to do so, drew pictures, shared lunch, and spent some time in worship together. For some, the day itself may prove a spiritual landmark.
Elaine Learnard, Bethpage Meeting
The weekend, cosponsored by NYYM Advancement Committee and Powell House, and supported in part by a grant from the Advancement Committee, is designed to provide Friends with the opportunity to experience fully the joy of the Spirit of God, always present and available in us and in the world but all too often not made manifest in our busy, distracted lives.
Nettie West, Bulls Head-Oswego Metting
I discovered that being a "spiritual adviser" meant everything about being a friend, a fellow human, a listener, and did not involve (thankfully, for me) a great knowledge of biblical passages or counseling skills. I instead found I was the recipient of wisdom and love. I discovered that a gathered meeting can certainly happen in a prison and that any prolonged separation from the meeting inside is difficult for me as well as for my friends inside. This separation is exacerbated by the volunteer rules that prohibit letters, phone calls, and visits to those incarcerated in the New York prison system.
Other struggles have been with following the rules for volunteers and surviving incidents of harassment by corrections officers just to get in to worship with my friends. I have had to make some choices that called into question my beliefs. Do I sign these rules that prohibit me from writing my friends inside when I don't believe that is the way to treat friends, or do I live with it so I can get to worship with them? Do I sometimes forget that the people employed by the prisons have that of God in them? I am constantly wavering in walking the tightrope of being true to my ideals and staying a volunteer in good standing. It is good struggle, and I feel called to it.
Jill McLellan, Central Finger Lakes Meeting
The fear is gone, but I still feel a kind of revulsion when I enter Green Haven, coupled with anger that we allow such places, put to such vile purposes, to exist. My anger is compounded when I am in the presence of the insiders who attend our meetings. That so much intelligence, so much spirit, so much Light, so much human capital is wasted or destroyed, seems to me a barbarity for which we, as a society, will pay dearly.
And yet, when I leave the prison, after a couple of hours of worship and talk, I am so completely lifted up and enriched by the experience, I feel transformed, renewed. It is as if the Transforming Power that is the faith and practice of AVP is present and palpable in the cruel confines of our prisons, in a way that it is not in the comparative luxury of our lives outside. As I return to "the world" and its busyness and distractions, I think of Thomas Merton's words: "Stay in your cell; your cell will teach you everything."
James O'Barr, Philipstown Worship Group
My answer is pretty simple—because I am following what I believe is God's path for me. Much of Jesus' ministry was in showing people how to treat each other (my bumper sticker reads "Jesus lived for me"). I learn about my ordinariness and get glimpses of God's greatness. Despite all of my education I am always learning from the men as we mutually assist each other in our seeking of the Divine's Will for us. These men are tossed on America's scrapheap without any regard for their intellect or humanity.
Yes, I know I am talking about some of the most violent people in our society. That is not the total of their persons. It is but one piece of them that has overshadowed their goodness—just as our goodness overshadows our baser instincts. By sharing in their process I get to see the magic and beauty of God's handiwork.
From another point of view this is my way of assisting in making goodness come to one of society's most ill-conceived and worst-run institutions—the prison. My tax dollars go there in ways that are not as I wish my money to be spent. This is a way that I can correct this injustice.
Despite my belief in color equality, my world is quite white. Due to how our society works, most of the prisoners are people of color. And, for many of them, I am one of the first white people they are meeting as an equal. Color prejudice, a term I take from Lucretia Mott, is something I have talked about with the men. And we all learn about what it means to be a human being.
I am unique. There is no one in the world like me. Just like everyone else.
In peace, love and harmony,
Steven Taylor-Roth, Albany Meeting
Other sponsoring organizations include: New York Yearly Meeting, Presbyterian Church of Chatham Township, the Unitarian Church in Summit, and United Methodist Church of Chatham.
"An epidemic of incarceration infects our country, with over two million people in our jails," says Merrill Skaggs, clerk of the Summit Monthly Meeting. "It is time we look to see how we are treating these people, and what the impact is on our society."
Larry Hamm, Chair of People's Organization for Progress (POP), will moderate the panel, which consists of speakers who will address conditions in jails, conditions in immigrant detention centers such as the one in Elizabeth, N.J., and what happens when an inmate is released "with a bus ticket and ten dollars."
The speakers include Curtis Knight, also of POP; Breyton Shanley of the Agape Center in Amherst, Mass., former associate of Catholic priest Philip Berrigan; and Bill Westerman of the Interfaith Refuge Action Team, Elizabeth (IRATE) in northern N.J. The congregations hope to spur discussion about how best to utilize prisons for the betterment of society, how to reduce the prison population on a long-term basis, and what steps to take to avoid criminal recidivism. They also hope to "shine a light" on the treatment of immigrants seeking asylum, who often are put into a detention center immediately upon arrival into the U.S., where they may remain for extended periods without legal representation.
For information, and to register, contact Summit Monthly Meeting at 973-635-2161 or email@example.com. Admission is free, and refreshments will be served. Preregistration is recommended to reserve your space.
For more information contact Pendle Hill, 338 Plush Mill Rd. Wallingford, PA 19086; 610-566-4507, 800-742-3150; www.pendlehill.org.
|EDITOR'S NOTE: At the request of the author, the word friends is lowercased in this article to include Quakers and non-Quakers who participate in Quaker-sponsored activities.|
As youth directors at Powell House, Mike and I have an incredible job. We get to know a lot of young friends deeply. We hear their hopes, their fears, their joys, their perceptions of the world and of Spirit. They share their experiences with each other and with us and we share ours with them. We learn from each other. It is sacred work. It is good work.
Recently I had the opportunity to talk with a dozen junior and senior high friends about intergenerational activities and ways of bringing older and younger friends together. It was inspiring to hear their enthusiasm about such a task. It became clear that many young friends truly desire to get to know older friends on a deeper level. And they were excited to be asked what that process might look like.
I'm of the mind that when you ask someone what they would like to see happen it's important to follow up on that. Much of what the young friends shared, Mike and I can incorporate into our activities at Powell House, and their recommendations can be forwarded to Yearly Meeting Sessions Committee and the JYM youth clerks for inclusion in our annual gathering at Silver Bay. But a lot of what they are asking for can easily be done at a monthly meeting level. It is my sense that this is the most important place to focus this work.
What follows is the why, what, and how the young friends see this connecting and sharing happening. If your meeting is already doing these things that is excellent. We'd love to hear about what you have done. If you haven't yet but would like to that is wonderful. If you're not sure about how to go about it, Mike or I would be glad to help. We've had many moving intergenerational experiences. We've learned a lot about structuring sessions to create a safe space that encourages sharing among friends. To share your successes or to ask for assistance, e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org or write to 524 Pitt Hall Rd., Old Chatham NY 12136.
We believe this is important work. Young friends think so too. One of the teens I spoke with is part of a Quaker Teen Chat group trying to figure out why kids stay in or leave their meetings. Many shared that when youth feel loved by all members of their meeting they are more likely to remain involved with Quakers. Here's what else young friends said:
Why young friends want to get to know older friends better:
What young friends would like to talk about with older friends:
How young friends would like to interact:
SEDEPAC and AFSC have developed a long-term project to assist the people of Xilitla, San Luis Potosí, working in partnership with two principal organizations, the Sociedad Cooperativa Agropecuaria la Igualdad de Xilitla (SCAIX) and the Union de Mujeres Campesinas de Xilitla (UMCX). The project starts with orientation and three days of community immersion with participants living with a family. Five groups, consisting of about 10–14 participants each, including two project cofacilitators, then go to five villages, where they engage with the local community in projects of appropriate technology for development, cultural and recreational exchanges, and workshops on various topics important to the local community and the group members.
This is an intensive, challenging experience for mature young persons concerned about justice and creative solutions to the challenges of building sustainable communities in the midst of an economic and ecological crisis. Participants are 18–26 years old and able to converse comfortably in Spanish, the language of the project at all times. They have interest in service and advocacy, and interest in political, social and cultural issues in Mexico, Latin America, and the Caribbean, as well as their own communities. Participants should be willing and prepared to live intensively in remote areas with basic and simple living conditions, with a small group of peers.
Participants pay the project fee of $1,250, which covers food, lodging, and project materials. Participants are also responsible for travel to and from Mexico City, incidental expenses, and travel to and from Xilitla ($20). A nonrefundable registration fee of $150 is due upon acceptance and the remainder by May 16, 2005. Scholarships are available for low-income applicants through the Dewitt Wallace Youth Travel Enrichment Fund of the New York Community Trust. Please make sure to fill out a scholarship request form with your application if you would like to be considered for a scholarship. A pre-project physical exam is required of all participants.
Application deadline for regular applicants: March 18, 2005. Notice will be given by April 8, 2005. We will create a waiting list for the participants who did not make the first cut, and they will be contacted as space becomes available.
For additional information and an application please visit our Web site at www.afsc.org/latinamerica/int/mexicosummer.htm or contact Christina Repoley, recruitment coordinator, AFSC Mexico Summer Project, 1501 Cherry St., Philadelphia PA 19102; 215-241-7295, fax 251-241-7026; email@example.com.
Friday, March 18, at 7 P.M., there will be a town hall–style discussion: Exploring the Path from 9/11 to Iraq, with American Friends Service Committee and 9/11 Families for Peaceful Tomorrows.
Thursday, April 7, there will be a book reading and signing of Bound for Canaan: The Underground Railroad and the War for the Soul of America, written and read by Fergus M. Bordewich. The program is to be introduced by Bob Baldridge, with comments by Christopher Sammond, NYYM general secretary, and others to be announced.
Friday, April 8, films made by students on peace and other subjects from past Bridges Film Festival entries: a variety of films by children grades 6–12 for Friends schools around the world. Andy Cohen, program director of the festival, and Bob Baldridge invite all for a fun family night of films and discussion .
All these events will take place at the 15th Street meetinghouse, 15 Rutherford Pl., in Manhattan. They begin at 7 P.M. Doors open at 6 P.M. Suggested donation: $8 at the door, $5 in advance with check to 15th Street Monthly Meeting, with memo to Quaker Arts Committee. For information contact QuakerTV/RadioProject 48-18 Vernon Blvd, Long Island City NY 11101; www.quakerarts.org or call 212-388-7999.
While we have been individually active in challenging racism for many years, our collective acknowledgement of our shared concern among Friends began in 2001 at Silver Bay where a workshop was held for white Friends regarding racism. We have remained in touch since then. Following similar workshops at Silver Bay in 2002 and 2003, we assembled in a spirit-led group to support each other in working to end racism. We have met several times over one and one-half years to examine our intentions, discern our leading, and clarify our purpose. In January 2005, we gathered to consider how to make our collective presence and concern known to the wider body of Friends. The Yearly Meeting needs committed, ongoing witness and action on the part of white Friends. We dedicate ourselves to end racism.
Our group has drafted the following mission statement and goals:
Mission: "Out of our concern for human love and justice, we join in the mission of putting a stop to racism. As prime beneficiaries of a system that has oppressed people of color for over half a millennium, we take it as our central and core responsibility to stop racism. As members of the Religious Society of Friends, we must be faithful to our two testimonies of Peace and Equality that demand we discern where racism exists in ourselves and our society, and that we bring it to an end." Goals:
We have named ourselves "White Friends Working to End Racism." Not everyone understands that white people need, at times, to gather amongst themselves to carry forward the work against racism. This strikes some Friends as a racist practice in itself. There are many good reasons for this occasional separation, a few of which are listed below. The crucial difference between our actions and racist segregation is our commitment to building connections with all people, not building walls of separation.
Some of the reasons for working together as white people are:
We have considered at length how to structure our group, and how to position it within the NYYM community. We are arranging for a committee of Friends of color to provide clearness and accountability. As an informal spirit-led group, we do not seek, at this time, to be recognized as a committee or task group.
If you are a white Friend in NYYM working on your own racism and feel led to join us in this concern, please contact any one of us.
Sarah Faith Dickinson
Affiliated yearly meetings in North, Central, and South America send representatives to this meeting. It is open to all interested Friends. Bilingual (English/Spanish) interpretation is provided for all sessions and events. Register online at www.fwccamericas.org or by contacting the FWCC office at 1506 Race St., Philadelphia PA 19102; firstname.lastname@example.org; 215-241-7250. Pre-registration required.
associate secretary, FWCC/SOA
This year, Spring Gathering will be held May 20–22, 2005, at Long Point, the Salvation Army's camp on Seneca Lake. This decision came after several meetings with the camp director in which Friends addressed directly our concerns about the Salvation Army's published stance on homosexuality and how that would impact gay and lesbian F/friends attending the camp for our Spring Gathering. Assurances were given, and those in attendance at the meeting (including gay and lesbian F/friends) felt clear that we could hold our Spring Gathering at Long Point.
I am grateful to those who chose to witness tenderly to the leadership of the camp rather than to assume that our inclusiveness would not be welcome there. We look forward to being among F/friends this spring. Friends are reminded that Farmington-Scipio welcomes all F/friends from NYYM to Spring Gathering. If you wish to have information about Spring Gathering sent to you, and you are not in the Farmington-Scipio region, please e-mail the region at Fsregion@aol.com.
Sue Tannehill, clerk, Farmington-Scipio Region
Creative Writing, Creative Listening—Jr High (7–9 gr.), March 11–13
Creative writing is the art of finding the right words to express what you mean. Creative listening is the art of hearing the meaning behind the words.
Chasing the Blahs Away—4–6 gr., March 18–20
Gray skies, leafless trees, brutally cold air. We're in the middle of those long winter months looking for a little warmth and good cheer. We'll rediscover that play is peace work and spiritual practice and just plain essential to goodly living.
A Journey Shared—An Intergenerational Men's Gathering—Jr./Sr. High & Adult, April 8–10
We may each walk an individual path on our journey through life, but we have a great deal to share and learn from each other. The weekend is open to all males from 7th grade up through as old as we get. Jonathon Snipes, currently farming in Pennsylvania, will be facilitating with Mike.
Sex and Religion—Sr. High, April 22–24
So what does religion have to say about sex? Is the purpose of sex just to make more of us? Or is it a chance to connect with the Divine? Is it just for fun? Or just plain scary? Bring your questions and your ideas and we'll talk.
Imagine That—4–6 gr., April 29– May 1
The house you live in, the car that you ride in, the rice that you eat for supper all started out as a seed in someone's imagination. Pretty powerful stuff. We'll exercise our imaginations this weekend and see what awesome things we can create to help our sweet, wonderful world unfold.
Conferences begin with registration at 6:15 P.M. on Friday evening with dinner is at 7:15 P.M. and end after lunch at 1:15 P.M. on Sunday.
For further information contact Powell House at 524 Pitt Hall Road, Old Chatham, NY 12136-3410; 518-794-8811.
This column is prepared from information about membership received from the local meeting recorders.
Sarah Michelle Cutler – Saranac Lake
Stacie Faraone – Albany
Polly Pratt Goodwin – Croton Valley
Paul R. Hamell – Ridgewood
Ella Holmes – Fifteenth Street
Leelah Holmes – Fifteenth Street
Olivia Holmes – Fifteenth Street
Aldona Januszkiewicz – Fifteenth Street
Dolly Lewis – Manhasset
Laurel Maury – Morningside
Greg R. McGhee – Ridgewood
Gabriel Obermayer – Binghamton
Margaret Obermayer – Binghamton
Samuel Obermayer – Binghamton
James Schultz – Conscience Bay
Stella Schultz – Conscience Bay
Elizabeth Wise – Fifteenth Street
Derek Polzer, to Summit from Montclair
Annette Axtmann, member of Fifteenth Street, on November 24, 2004
Frances French, member of Unadilla, on February 2, 2005
Ann Lowen, member of Fifteenth Street, on January 20, 2005
Barbara Rotundo, member of Schenectady, on December 24, 2004
Helen B. Mullin and Mary Pagurelias, members of Brooklyn, on October 23, 2004, under the care of Brooklyn Monthly Meeting.
Nora Sylvia Pollack and Tim M. Silverman, attenders of Flushing, on October 9, 2004, under the care of Flushing Monthly Meeting.
Rose Helen Fleischer-Black, on January 2, 2005, to Jessica Fleischer-Black, member of Brooklyn, and Matthew Fleischer-Black.
Lukas Salone Magee, on January 19, 2005, to Patricia Salone, member of New Paltz.