Spark, September 2019 - The Spirit is Moving

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The online edition of New York Yearly Meeting's print newsletter.

Download a pdf file of the September 2019 Spark


Articles: The Spirit is Moving

Quakers Worldwide


Around Our Yearly Meeting

Around Our Yearly Meeting


Editor's Note


Welcome to an issue that reflects the Spirit moving at Summer Sessions, the same Spirit that continues to move in Friends around the world. Articles in Spark are written by Friends like you, and are considered a kind of written ministry. Aim for 400-600 words and include your full name and meeting with your submission. Please email articles, photos, poems, and news from your meeting to [email protected].


The theme for the November issue of Spark is Light Behind the Walls: Quaker Worship in Prison, guest-edited by Jill McLellan and the Prisons Committee. Submissions deadline is October 1.


Please send meeting news to [email protected] to be shared in NYYM’s monthly emailed newsletter, InfoShare. Sign up to receive InfoShare or other NYYM communications at


NYYM is on social media:




Thank you!                   —Sarah Way


Read the Report on Young Adult Spiritual Nurture Series

At the beginning of 2019 Summer Sessions the yearly meeting received a report on the Young Adult Spiritual Nurture Series, a series of retreats and workshops held for young adults over the past year. The report includes 8 needs of young adult Friends, as discerned at a gathering held immediately before Sessions:


  • Sustainable infrastructure to support, encourage, and nurture them at the yearly meeting level
  • Access to meaningful opportunities to connect and be in community beyond monthly meetings and yearly meeting sessions
  • Mentoring, eldership, and spiritual accompaniment
  • Investment and resources to build their capacity as Quaker leaders, ministers, elders, and community builders
  • Quaker spaces to be safe for all, but especially for those people who are not in positions of power and/or privilege
  • Attention to be paid to accessibility in all its forms
  • Quaker spaces to center joy and authenticity, and allow for fluidity, creativity, curiosity, spontaneity, and play
  • Our yearly meeting to be open to continuing revelation and to trust that young adults are grounded and Spirit-led


The full report is available online at Friends are invited to read the report and consider its recommendations.


Announcement of Actions Being Taken to Nurture Young Adult Friends

Written by Yana Landowne, Leo Quirk, and Holly White,
on behalf of several NYYM committees, on the Friday of Summer Sessions, 2019

Throughout this week, many concerns have been raised related to the nurturing of our youth and young adult Friends.


We hear you.


We are taking active steps to support you.


Several concrete action items rose out of conversations today. Spiritual Nurture Working Group, in partnership with Youth Committee and Aging Concerns Committee, is creating a spiritual mentorship program serving young adults and new Friends. They are also developing a mentorship workshop at Powell House. A working group formed to look deeper into the money and job description needed for a Youth and Young Adult Field Secretary. Ministry Coordinating Committee committed to addressing the 8 concerns raised in the report from Young Adult Friends, one concern at each of their meetings this year. Another group is contacting youth to ask them to state their needs in their own voices. Many other committees discussed concrete ways to nurture the gifts and leadership of young adults and learning Friends. Monthly and quarterly meetings are also encouraged to further this discussion. We can all take a part in nourishing our Quaker community.


Invitation to Fall Sessions

November 1-3


Fifty years ago, then NYYM Clerk Miriam Brush quoted Ralph Waldo Emerson on the front page of the first Spark, March 1970:

Religion … is not form. It is a life. It is the order and soundness of a [person]. It is not something else to be got, to be added, but is a new life of those faculties you have. It is to do right. It is to love, it is to serve, it is to think, it is to be humble.


At Summer Sessions 2019, our first pay-as-led session, we welcomed more first timers and Friends previously long absent than possibly ever before. And there was a strong sense of this new life that Emerson spoke of. As a result, we expect to hear reports and proposals at Fall Sessions at our own beloved Powell House on how to move forward with confidence into our future, addressing our needs and concerns.


Although the agenda is very much a work in progress as I write, we—New York Yearly Meeting Friends—are hoping to hear of ways to address concerns that are important to all of us, including efforts to address the needs of the young adults in our community, new concepts of membership, ways to live better into our ideals of true diversity of all kinds, and creative ways to address the financial constraints that we face.


Although we all hear frightening reports every day from the world at large, among Friends we work together as a beloved community to find constructive answers for our community’s needs. Welcome to Fall Sessions. Bring your ideas and your loving presence. Know that you will be welcome; that your presence will make us more complete!


Jeffrey Aaron

Clerk, New York Yearly Meeting


Excerpts from the NYYM Epistle of Summer Sessions 2019

As always our gathering was very rich and diverse in experience—with visitors, interest groups, exhibits, play, Bible Study—but everywhere we felt informed by the fresh breath of promise that growth and change in our body offered. When we come together in Silver Bay, the power of our gathered love, amidst the grandeur of our natural setting, fills us with a sense of awe and promise, even amidst dire threats to peace, security, and our beloved earth, here and around the world, and fears for the fragile future of our Society. We gather in wonder at the power of God’s love to transform us inwardly and unite us in pursuit of a more compassionate world.




New Members

  • Sylvia Skaggs McTague — Chatham-Summit
  • Susan Niculescu — Chatham-Summit
  • Gail & John Russo — Westbury


  • Horst Berger, member of Purchase, on May 5, 2019
  • Elizabeth (Liza) Trent Savory, member of Dover-Randolph, on July 12, 2019.
  • Nancy Sunshine Seroff, member of Flushing, on March 27, 2019.


Peacemaker Awards

Veterans for Peace and the Binghamton Community Friends Meeting (Quaker) presented $350 Stu Naismith Peacemaker Awards to four graduating high school seniors, two at Chenango Valley and two at Chenango Forks High Schools. Kayla Ferris, Breanen Rought, Lindsey Russell, and Samuel Forker received the awards, which are given annually in memory of Stu Naismith (1927-2011), who served in the Navy in World War II, taught in both school districts, and was a founder of the local chapter of Veterans for Peace. The students earned the awards by working for peace in everyday life, preparing for further education, and writing an essay on peacemaking.

World Quaker Day is October 6!

Join the Quaker family around the world in worship and celebration! This year’s theme is Sustainability: Planting seeds of renewal for the world we love. Across our churches, meetings, countries, and sections of the Friends World Committee for Consultation, we feel the power of God connecting us into a faithful family. We celebrate all expressions of Quaker worship! Visit for ideas on how to get involved.


Upcoming Events

Save the Date for the Nightingales weekend!

Please mark your calendars for October 11-13, for a Nightingales weekend in Ithaca, NY. This is a weekend for everyone who loves to sing. If you know of other Friends who would like to receive messages about upcoming Nightingales weekends, or if you would like to be added to the email list, please send email addresses to Bronwyn Mohlke, [email protected].

NYYM Fall Sessions

NYYM Fall Sessions is Nov. 1–3!
Click here for details!


Powell House Conferences

Powell House is NYYM’s retreat and conference center in Old Chatham, NY. Upcoming adult and family conferences include:

Fall Work, Contradance, and Storytelling

October 25–27

Enjoy learning new skills? Like to work among 57 acres of God’s creation in Columbia County, NY? Bring your favorite tools, old clothes and hearty appetites. Our cooks will have lots of good, nutritious, and yummy food for us. We have plenty of work projects, both inside and outside our buildings.

Peace Witness: Turning Quaker Testimony into Action

November 15-17

There are many ways to foster the harmonious world we seek, and this conference will explore ways that we, as Quakers and non-Quakers, can be for peace and bring about peace through both upstream work and direct action. This conference is for anyone who is ready to develop, deepen, and share their peace witness with the world.

Quaker 12-Step Weekend

November 22–24

Led by facilitator Juliet Wright, the weekend will include many 12-step activities including 12-stepping a problem, the patterns of codependency and characteristics of recovery, meeting in a bucket, gratitude boxes, individual sharing, writing and sharing on program literature from your 12-step program, singing and more!

Upcoming youth conferences:

FUTURE SCAPE - for 9th-12th grade.

September 27–29

In these middle-teen years of your life, people start asking you about the future—like you have answers, right? A Quaker practice is to ask queries rather than give answers to seekers. So we’ll practice that practice and start to focus our visions for our future selves.

Tag, Not Tag - for 4th-5th grade.

Tag games can be fun, but they can also turn “not fun” pretty quick. Small groups will invent and teach a new tag game to the rest of us. How will we settle disputes? How will we adapt to the needs of the other players? How do we win, yet not have losers? Come find out!

Falling Up -for 6th–8th grade.

November 15–17

Falling down is seldom fun, so what if we could choose to fall up instead? How far would you fall up? How would it feel? We will practice some ways to keep our bodies safe even when we are unstable and trip, as well as ways to help our minds and spirits fall up instead of down in times of trouble or turmoil.

Visit for more!


Spiritual Deepening E-Retreats

Friends General Conference offers spiritual deepening e-retreats, opportunities for sustained, grounded exploration of a particular topic through Internet interactions on your schedule at home. “Understanding and Healing White Supremacy” will run from September 22 – October 18, and “Weaving a Wider Welcome” is scheduled for October 27 – November 22. For additional information, visit:




ARCH Local Coordinator

ARCH (Aging Resources, Consultation, and Help) is hiring! Do you have a heart for older Friends in your area? Do you like to visit with Friends and make personal connections? Please consider this opportunity. New York Yearly Meeting’s ARCH program for older Friends seeks two ARCH Local Coordinators to serve any of the areas of Butternuts Quarterly Meeting, Long Island Quarterly Meeting, Nine Partners Quarterly Meeting, Northeastern Regional Meeting, and NYYM’s Prison Worship Groups. Friends from these geographic areas, or with an interest in ministry related to aging while incarcerated, are encouraged to apply. This is a part time position with an expectation of approximately 10-15 hours a month.

Friends with the following gifts are sought: ministry of presence, gifts in facilitating and organizing others, spiritual listening and accompaniment, recognizing and investing in the gifts of others, and traveling among Friends. For the job description, email [email protected].


Friends Meeting House Fund

Friends General Conference provides both grants and loans for meetinghouse-related financial needs. Find more information about those options here: