Spark, September 2023 - News and Ideas
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Share your meeting’s news, announcements, and upcoming events with the rest of the yearly meeting by sending them to [email protected]. News items will appear in Spark, our printed newsletter, and our weekly email newsletter. Want to get Spark in the mail? Email [email protected], or call 212-673-5750. Want to receive the weekly update emails? Sign up at [email protected].
Welcome to Spark Online
The online edition of New York Yearly Meeting's print newsletter
This is the Online Edition of the September 2023 issue of Spark, which you can also as a pdf file.
News and Ideas
- Why Am I a Quaker? Why Are You?, by Ted Bongiovanni, Brooklyn Meeting
- An Open Letter to NYYM: An Explanation, An Invitation, by Renee Fogarty, Amawalk Meeting
- Friends Participate in Vigils for Peace
- Universal Quaker Doctrines?, by Jeffrey Aaron, New Brunswick Meeting
- Meet the New Clerk of NYYM, Gloria Thompson
- Confessions of a Mind-Body-Spirit Evangelist:, by Carl Blumenthal, Brooklyn Meeting
- A Celebration of Freedom, by Renee Fogarty, Amawalk Meeting
Notes from Summer Sessions
- Note of Thanks to NYYM, by Chad Cianfrani, Head, Oakwood Friends School
- Epistle from Young Adult Friends
- Minute from the Junior Yearly Meeting (JYM) Teen Group
- Friends Reflect on Summer Sessions, Adapted from an article for Poughkeepsie Meeting's website by Amy Solis & Renelda Walker, Poughkeepsie Meeting
- Experiences of Summer Sessions, Friends responded to an open request to share their experiences of Summer Sessions.
- ONLINE-ONLY: A Summer Sessions Poem, by Cai Quirk, Ithaca Meeting, and ChatGPT, Artificial Intelligence Chatbot
Around Our Yearly Meeting
- Editor's Note
- Highlights & Action Items from Summer Sessions Minutes
- Friends Wore Orange for Gun Violence Awareness
- Friends Marched in the NYC Gay Pride Parade
- Upcoming Events
- Online Worship
I'm grateful to those who chose to attend Summer Sessions 2023 at Oakwood Friends School, a new location for NYYM after over 70 years at Silver Bay YMCA. I am still sad about the change of location from Silver Bay, one of my favorite places on earth. They aren't choosing to accommodate our group any more, at least for now, and that hurts. Some aspects of meeting at Oakwood are better: being the only group on campus; the housing clusters for teens, young adults, and families with children; the good food and welcoming staff; and the lack of competing activities, leading to a remarkable sense of unity. Silver Bay can still be visited. I hope those who love Silver Bay will consider vacationing there at a different time next summer, and will give Summer Sessions 2024 at Oakwood a try.
Spark accepts article submissions of 400-600 words, artwork, photos, poetry, shorter news items and announcements, and letters to the editor.
Upcoming Spark themes:
November 2023: Perspectives on the Peace Testimony. Guest edited by Susan Weisfeld. While the Peace Testimony has given Quakerism its distinctive spiritual character, and many feel they subscribe to it—how exactly do you define or understand it? Is it personal, or corporate, or both? Is it comfortable or difficult for you? Have you been disturbed by its lack of flexibility, or can it be flexible and/or subscribed to on a segmented basis? Submissions are due by October 1 to [email protected].
Sarah Way, NYYM
- Mariah Esposito—Fifteenth Street
- Pamela Mackey—Binghamton Community Friends
- Laureen Park—Brooklyn
- Carol Condon, member of Rahway-Plainfield, on April 9, 2023.
- Sue Ellin, member of Brooklyn, on March 8, 2023.
- Viola Hale Hathaway, member of Poughkeepsie, on June 3, 2023
- Don Kissil, member of Chatham-Summit, on May 18, 2023.
- Bruce Pacho Lane, member of Rochester, on June 9, 2023.
- Thamby Ninan, member of Collins, on July 29, 2023.
- Valentine Titus, member of Westbury, on April 19, 2023.
Highlights & Action Items from Summer Sessions Minutes
The minutes from Summer Sessions 2023 are available online at nyym.org/content/minutes-summer-sessions-2023 or in print if a request is made to the NYYM office. Some highlights and action items:
The recommendations from the Task Group on Financial Sustainability were approved by the body (see minute 2023-07-32). The new Budget Development Committee will develop a multi-year budget for NYYM with input from Friends and meetings. Friends are invited to consider service on a new Task Group on Priorities and Connections that will “recommend ways in which the yearly meeting can identify how the Spirit is moving among Friends and faithfully support and further that movement.” Contact the convener, Fred Dettmer ([email protected]), to volunteer.
Friends are asked to consider a statement on racism and inclusion brought by Angela Hopkins and Adria Gulizia as part of the report from Friends World Committee for Consultation (minute 2023-07-24). An excerpt: “Regardless of our good intentions, the facts of racism, white supremacy and white privilege continue to influence our behaviors and impede us from achieving the Beloved Community to which we aspire.”
A minute on Protecting the Rights, Safety, and Human Dignity of Trans People was brought by New York Quarterly Meeting and NYYM's Witness Coordinating Committee (see minute 2023-07-27). Friends were asked to take this minute back to their meetings for further discernment.
Friends Wore Orange for Gun Violence Awareness
New York Yearly Meeting (NYYM) Friends marked Gun Violence Awareness Weekend, June 2-4, 2023, by wearing orange in solidarity with victims and survivors in their communities and nationwide. "Wear Orange" started in Chicago 7 years ago to memorialize the shooting death of 16 year old Hadiya Pendleton; see WearOrange.org. NYYM Gun Violence Prevention Coordinator Peter Murchison is pictured in DC with Friends Committee on National Legislation leadership. Also pictured are Friends in Poughkeepsie, Purchase, Morningside, and Fifteenth Street Meetings. A Gun Violence Prevention Task Group has been formed in NYYM to work on the issue of gun violence. Contact Peter at [email protected] to join.
Friends Marched in the NYC Gay Pride Parade
A group of Quakers marched in the NYC Pride Parade on June 25, 2023, as they have every year since the parade began. The photo shows Robert Renwick and Karl Karma (the dog), Morningside MM. Participant Solange Muller said, “It was my first pride parade. I had no idea what to expect and I felt the leading to be there in honor of my daughter. The Quakers marched at the very end. As we waited our turn, we watched the amazing floats and groups. 5th Avenue was lined with people, and we felt joy instantly as we marched. We waved and exclaimed: ‘Happy Pride Day’ to those who cheered us on. Robert and I felt tremendous love as the Quakers wowed New York with our commitment to peace, justice, equality and respect for all. A communal experience of belonging.” Photograph and poster: Solange Muller, Bulls-Head Owego MM
REQUEST RESOURCES on Voices for the Next Generation: Insights from a Listening Tour with Quaker Children, Teens and Families in New York Yearly Meeting
In 2021 and 2022, Mattie Johnson conducted a listening tour throughout New York Yearly Meeting to learn about the needs of children and families, what is working, and what changes we dream about. Fill out the brief form at bit.ly/2023ListeningTourReport to receive the full report, slides about suggested best practices for integrating families into the meeting, and an invitation to a discussion of the tour's findings.
Welcome Kevin Lovelady as ARCH Director
After a nine month-interim period and an arduous search, Kevin Lovelady has accepted the position of Aging Resources, Consultation, and Help (ARCH) Director. Kevin has served as an interfaith chaplain at Albany Medical Center and as a New York State certified Peer Specialist serving adults experiencing mental health crises, and has been an ARCH Regional Coordinator since early 2020. He was trained in ARCH by Callie Janoff and Yana Landowne and accompanied ARCH co-founder Barbara Spring on ARCH visits. Kevin is in the final units of his Master of Divinity (MDiv) at Earlham School of Religion, anticipating graduation in May 2024. You can email Kevin at [email protected].
NYYM's Weekly Update Email
An email newsletter is sent to NYYM Friends each Friday. Past editions are available at nyym.org/weekly-updates. To subscribe, fill out the brief form at nyym.org/subscribe. If you've subscribed but haven't received any emails, please check your spam folder.
Save the Date(s) for Sessions
The next gathering of New York Yearly Meeting will be Fall Sessions, held online December 1-3, 2023.
Spring Sessions 2024 will be held April 5-7, 2024, at Oakwood School and online.
Summer Sessions 2024 will be held at Oakwood School and online, Friday July 26 or Saturday July 27 through Wednesday July 31, possibly to Thursday or Friday. Final dates will be announced ASAP.
Powell House Workshops
Powell House is the retreat and conference center for NYYM. Visit powellhouse.org/event-list/ to register or call 518-794-8811.
CRAFTING SACRED CONNECTIONS: THE ART OF HYBRID WORSHIP
October 6-8, 2023
with David Coletta
When we hold our meeting for worship in both our meetinghouse and on Zoom, it allows a whole new level of accessibility for people who can’t come to the meetinghouse. It’s God calling us to make space in new ways. We call it “hybrid” or “blended” worship, and we call the work of holding these spaces together “tech host,” or “Zoom host.” But the work is really care of worship with attention to connection. The work is challenging, pushing us out of our comfort zone whether that comfort zone is the tech part or the worship part. It takes a team of people who can support each other when it gets hard, teach each other the tips and tricks, and pray for each other to be faithful. This workshop is for tech teams (including teams of one who want to grow larger) to come together, teach each other about how to hold that connection, share what works and what doesn’t, and bring home new energy and inspiration for supporting hybrid worship.
FALL WORK-WEEKEND 2023
October 27-29, 2023
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 & yummy food for us. We have plenty of work projects, both inside and outside our buildings.
Celebrate World Quaker Day
World Quaker Day — October 1, 2023 — will be an opportunity to learn, reflect, and act in preparation for Friends World Committee on Consultation's 2024 World Plenary Meeting in South Africa and online. The theme of the meeting is Living the Spirit of Ubuntu: Responding with Hope to God’s Call to Cherish Creation and one-another. For more on ubuntu and World Quaker Day, visit fwcc.world/worldquakerday
Deepening at the Root
An extended workshop at Pendle Hill, October 5-9, 2023 (Thursday evening through Monday lunch)
Facilitated by Christopher Sammond
Through experiential exercises, small group sharing, large group processing, and worship, we will create a community of deep trust and openness, taking off the armor shielding our hearts and opening us into deeper communion with each other and the Divine Source. We will spend time exploring how that deeper communion enhances each of our experiences of worship, listening for vocal ministry, and listening for and discerning individual leadings for action. Visit pendlehill.org/events/deepening-at-the-root/
Friends' Decision-Making & Clerking: Participating in Meetings for Business with Joy and Confidence
A Conference at Pendle Hill
November 17-19, 2023
This on-campus workshop with Steve Mohlke and ,O is an opportunity for both new and experienced clerks of Friends' meetings and committees to meet and think together about the role of presiding clerk in the spiritual practice of meeting for business. For more, click on the Learn tab on pendlehill.org and look in Upcoming Events.
For Young Adults
Children, Youth and Young Adult Community Director Beth Kelly maintains a list of upcoming YAF events at nyym.org/yaf-events
A Powell House Conference
for young adults 18+
October 6-8, 2023
A good meal nourishes you and lifts your spirit. Intentionally choosing ingredients and cooking them together is a powerful act of creation. At this conference, we will partake in the spirit-filled acts of cooking, baking, and eating. We will focus on simple, delicious recipes that will ideally be helpful in your own kitchen. We will also play games and talk about food and its role in our life.
For Children & Teens
Powell House Youth Conferences
Visit powellhouse.org/event-list/ to register or call 518-794-8811.
CLANTASTIC! for 4th-6th Grade
October 20-22, 2023
Pillow fort building is a common activity at Powell House. Entire worlds form within cushiony structures. Economy and trade flourish. Sometimes, feelings are hurt and justice is needed. At this conference, we will explore what it takes to form a society where peace and justice prevail. We will form clans and develop rules and customs. What happens when clans come together? Let’s find out!
BEYOND PINK AND BLUE for 7th-10th Grade
November 3-5, 2023
We live in a world that tries to divide people and identities and put them in narrow boxes, when in truth we form a wide spectrum of possibilities of every kind. We are a rainbow. We are many rainbows! Come explore your colors together, the nuances and unique aspects of yourself that make you you! Let’s dance along these rainbows until we find the pot of gold where they all come together and we can truly welcome and cherish each other for who we truly are.
DIY CABARET for 6th-8th Grade
November 17-19, 2023
On Saturday night of every youth conference at Powell House, we have Cabaret—a time to share creative acts that range from beautiful songs to laugh-out-loud improv games. At this conference, you will get to craft instruments and props yourself for a DIY (do-it-yourself) Cabaret. We will have lots of time for designing materials and have an extra creative (and potentially quite long) Cabaret! We will also sprinkle in games and discussions during the weekend to help us explore different aspects of crafting and performance.
SAVE THE DATE (and register!) for these future PoHo conferences:
SPICES: INTEGRITY for 11th-12th Grade and Young Adults, December 1-3, 2023
WINTERSONG 2023 for 7th-12th Grade, December 15-17, 2023
Many of the local meetings in New York Yearly Meeting are holding online or hybrid online-and-in-person meetings for worship every week. Visit nyym.org/online-worship-opportunities for the most up-to-date information.
These Quaker organizations often have job openings. Check their websites for current opportunities:
Friends General Conference: www.fgcquaker.org/work-at-fgc/
American Friends Service Committee: afsc.org/careers
Friends Committee on National Legislation: www.fcnl.org/about/work-fcnl
NYYM Grants for Earthcare and Climate Justice Projects
NYYM Friends and meetings are invited to apply for grants of $50 to $500 from NYYM’s Earthcare Fund to support their projects related to Earthcare and Climate Justice.
Visit nyym.org/content/nyym-financial-resources-individuals-and-meetings#earthcare to find out more and to apply.