Spark, January 2017


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

This Issue: Witness and Faith

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Theme Articles

Other Articles

Around Our Yearly Meeting

Other Articles

Summer Sessions News

From Your Sessions Committee

“Bringing the Peaceable Kingdom to a Turbulent World” is the theme selected by your Sessions Committee for our 2017 Summer Sessions, July 23-29. It is in keeping with the fifth priority in the Statement of Leadings and Priorities adopted in 2014: “We Envision A Yearly Meeting That Supports and Amplifies Our Witness.” Having identified a theme, we are now working on a schedule for summer through which we may be inspired by God and our vision of the highest good for all. We recognize that all areas of witness are interrelated, as are all areas in which our committees work. Our grounded spirituality and ministry improve our witness; we nurture each other that we may be better witnesses; even the decisions we make about finances and other areas under the General Services Coordinating Committee have implications related to our witness in the world.

For the 2017 NYYM Summer Sessions, we will focus primarily on three areas: eco-justice, social justice, and peace. Our work for eco-justice reflects the injunction in the Epistle from 2016 Friends World Committee for Consultation World Plenary: “We call on Friends everywhere to take practical actions to sustain life on Earth.” Our work for social justice is reflected in the more than one hundred NYYM Friends who attended the 2016 White Privilege Conference, but social justice goes beyond antiracism to include fighting unjust discrimination wherever it occurs and taking positive steps to affirm our fellowship with all people. And our peace testimony, which has been central to our faith from its beginnings in the seventeenth century, will be reflected in our Summer Sessions coming about four months after the 2017 Section Meeting of the Americas (March 23-27 in Pittsburgh, PA). This meeting has the theme of “Vivir La Paz—Living Peace.”

We cannot create the summer program alone. We look to the yearly meeting committees and working groups to create vital workshops and seminars that further the theme of “Bringing the Peaceable Kingdom to a Turbulent World.” We will be in contact with the clerks of the Coordinating Committees to ascertain what programs the groups under them want to include in summer sessions. We also hope that the leaders of Junior Yearly Meeting will create age-appropriate activities that focus on our theme and our witness in the world.

Sessions to be a success we need to have as wide a participation asFor Summer possible. We have been looking at ideas for broadening our outreach to Friends in all of our local meetings. The possibility of a different venue and having a pay-as-led policy are being considered, but these explorations will not bear fruit until after 2017. For this year, we are depending on our current, successful process for financial assistance—the Equalization Fund (EQ). Our normal practice is to ask for donations to the EQ only three times a year on each of our sessions’ registration forms and on those same registration forms we make the EQ available to those in need. Now, we are expanding our request for donations (which are tax-deductible!). They can be made to the Fund at any time via the online “Donate to NYYM” link at—in the “This payment is for:” box, simply note you are making a donation to the Equalization Fund. Five monthly donations (February through June) of $122.40 would cover room and board for someone staying in Hebron or Paine Hall (the largest block of rooms we reserve at Silver Bay). Please consider this as you reflect on what you are led to give to support our yearly meeting. As an aside, we will also list the Summer Sessions registration fees and room rates in the February InfoShare, so that folks have more time to plan their budgets.

Our work together, as we gather at Silver Bay, as much as our other work, defines us as a Yearly Meeting. At the end of Summer Sessions 2014, we came to unity on a Statement of Leadings and Priorities. We left with a feeling that our God of Love had been in our midst. We went home with a clearer vision of who we were as New York Yearly Meeting. Our hope is that at the end of Summer Sessions 2017, everyone attending will have an increased understanding of what it means to be a witnessing Quaker.

Opportunities for Families to Connect

Quaker Parent Meetups: Fellowship and Fun

The kick-off for these gatherings was held on Saturday, December 3, and included parents and children from six Monthly Meetings in four Quarters. The format of Meetups is welcoming and relaxed: we create space for worship sharing with parents and lots of time for fellowship. Child care and refreshments are provided. It is an opportunity to connect around joys and challenges we face as Quaker parents. A participant at the December gathering lifted up how nurturing it was to hear one another’s stories. And the kids had a wonderful time in the care of teen and young adult caregivers!

We’re planning 2017 Meetups! A series of four events in New York Quarter will begin with March 18 and June 3—details of location and time will be announced shortly. Contact Melinda Wenner Bradley at [email protected] to organize a Quaker Parent Meetup in your Quarter, Region, or Half YM.

NYYM Families on Facebook: Did you know that there’s a page for NYYM Families on Facebook? You’ll find news about events for families and articles of interest for parents and youth.

Celebrating 100 Years of the American Friends Service Committee

American Friends Service Committee was founded in 1917 in response to WWI, with the goal of both relieving the suffering of war and providing alternatives to military service. AFSC knows that miracles can happen when we build the capacity for peace person-by-person, community-by-community. As our 100th anniversary approaches, we want to share powerful lessons from our history and remember the connections AFSC has built across the world. We’ve developed a traveling museum exhibition about AFSC and will be hosting a peace and justice summit conference in Philadelphia to share and learn with you.

“Waging Peace: 100 Years of Action” is an interactive exhibition opening in January 2017 at the African American Museum in Philadelphia. The exhibit demonstrates the effectiveness of nonviolence to build justice, overcome oppression and prevent violence, using the provocative stories of those who struggled against injustice during the last century. The exhibit is built around five issue areas AFSC continues to engage with today: building peace, ending discrimination, addressing prisons, just economies, and immigrant rights. A call to action, inspiring visitors to engage in justice work beyond the museum, is the capstone of the museum experience.

AFSC has also created a condensed version of the exhibit for use at Quaker meetings and churches. If your meeting/church would like to host the condensed exhibit, visit to fill out a short reservation form. We will provide a guide with promotion and event ideas to meetings displaying the exhibit.

Another part of our 100th anniversary celebration is an AFSC-sponsored summit April 20-23, 2017 in Philadelphia. With the summit, we will articulate a vision forward for peace and justice by joining movements that are making the connection between militarism, racism, and materialism. The summit consists of an academic symposium and a variety of workshops, culminating in a day of action to “let our lives speak”. Everyone is welcome to participate in the summit, but pre-registration is required to attend the workshops. Visit the AFSC Centennial website,, for details.

We know that after 100 years, AFSC has many deep and poignant connections within the Quaker community. If you have had a meaningful experience with AFSC, as a participant, staff member, supporter, or donor, we invite you to share your story for our “Peace works” series on the AFSC website, A First Day School curriculum will also be available in 2017 for meetings, including an intergenerational session on gathering Peace Works stories. Let us continue this powerful work together for the next century!

Meeting for Discernment

The next gathering of the Meetings for Discernment will take place at the Poplar Ridge meetinghouse on Saturday, March 11, 2017 from 9:30am to 3:30pm, hosted by Poplar Ridge Meeting. (Alternate date in case of bad weather: Saturday, March 18, same time and place.) Friends are invited to arrive between 8:30 and 9:15 (coffee, tea, and snacks will be provided), with the Meeting for Discernment to begin at 9:30. Lunch will be provided between sessions.

Meetings for Discernment are a time when the yearly meeting gathers for extended worship without the weight of an agenda for business. Because Meetings for Discernment offer an occasion for the yearly meeting community to hear what is rising up among us, monthly meetings and worship groups are asked to appoint at least one person to attend. Appointees are not asked to bring prepared messages, but rather to speak as moved in the moment by Spirit, by God, by the Inner Christ. By meeting this way in the fullness of our community, we hear that which might not be heard in the midst of committees and attending to business.

God is present in our relationships with one another, animating our interactions with extended families, meeting members, friends, and neighbors. All of these relationships are part of God’s covenant with us, written in our hearts.
—NYYM Faith and Practice, p. 37

The Meeting for Discernment will focus on the following queries and also the theme for Summer Sessions 2017: Bringing the Peaceable Kingdom to a Turbulent World.

How do our meetings nourish the Light within the meeting, the Light within those in the meeting, and the Light in others?

How do I nourish the light within myself? How do I stay centered, ready to be open to new insights and experiences? How can I become ready to listen for Spirit in those people with different opinions and beliefs? How do I face my fears? How do our meetings help with this?

Your prompt registration will facilitate our planning. To register for day attendance, possible pick-up from the airport or train station, and for hospitality and/or childcare, please complete the online registration form at (link available at by March 3, earlier if possible, especially if you want hospitality. A good will donation of $10 per person, paid on-site, will help defray the cost of childcare, a simple lunch, and other necessities. For information regarding financial assistance for travel expenses, contact Jeffrey Aaron: (732) 247-9430 or [email protected]. For those planning overnight stays at nearby hotels, there are various options in Aurora, Auburn, and Ithaca.

The Poplar Ridge meetinghouse is at 1868 Poplar Ridge Rd, in the hamlet of Poplar Ridge, Aurora, NY. It is about 100 yards east of the intersection of Poplar Ridge Rd. and State Route 34b. Note that some online maps erroneously place the meetinghouse west of State Route 34b. Winter weather advisory: If the weather seems questionable, please check your e-mail on Friday, March 10 (if you have provided us with your email address), or call the NYYM office at (212) 673-5750. For information about local arrangements, you may reach Andrew Simkin, clerk of Poplar Ridge Meeting, by cell phone at (206) 390-4286 or by email at [email protected].

Tending the Garden

Retreats that come to you and your meeting

Many topics are available, including:

Sacred Journeys

Around Our Yearly Meeting

Meeting News

FCNL Workshop in Buffalo

Buffalo Monthly Meeting recently held a workshop with an FCNL intern currently attending Houghton College. The workshop was designed to teach how to lobby an elected official. Within a few weeks of the workshop, 3 people went to a Congressman’s office to talk with him about federal sentencing reform. Currently, we are working with a Toronto Friend to revamp and develop our website which we hope to launch within a few months.

Wilton Meeting Updates

We are remodeling two of our buildings to improve our space for both Connecticut Friends School and Wilton Meeting. We are holding discussions on Waking Up White by Debby Irving as a first step in ongoing work on white privilege. We are launching our Lifelines to Solitary ministry in support of reforming our justice system. We are participating in the NYYM Quaker Outreach Practitioners’ Circle and the Monthly Meeting Partner Project in an effort to grow our meeting.

Rochester Art Show

Rochester Meeting held an art show and sale of items donated by Friends. The money raised was given to needy families in Rochester to make their Christmas a little brighter.

News from Poughkeepsie Meeting

This fall we held donation drives to collect coats and blankets for the protesters at Standing Rock and winter clothes for needy students at the Krieger Elementary School, our neighbor across the street.
Volunteers from the meeting continue to visit the Quaker worship group at Green Haven state prison. During summer and fall we conducted a weekly vigil at a local farmers market opposing excessive solitary confinement.

At the meeting house we have mounted an art exhibit of work by five meeting members in order to make our foyer welcoming. We now have a book club meeting on the first Monday of each month. We are excited to have rented what was once our parsonage to the Pirandello Institute, a nonprofit organization that conducts Italian language and cooking classes and cultural events. Our Christmas Program was joyfully expanded to include members of Gabriel’s House, a congregation that uses our building, including their children’s step dance group, followed by an abundant potluck supper.

Future plans include a film series, beginning with a documentary about Susan B. Anthony and Elizabeth Cady Stanton. In February we will host the Nine Partners quarterly meeting.

Outreach in New Brunswick

New Brunswick Monthly Meeting has recently created a Student Outreach Group to plan events for outreach to the Rutgers University and New Brunswick communities. The Outreach Group has recently begun a series of “Quakespeare” Community Reading nights where friends gather for a live reading of a Shakespeare play. The first Quakespeare night was a success with a December 15th reading of Twelfth Night. Friends who are interested in information about future readings may contact Kristin Catena at [email protected]

Rahway-Plainfield held a book study of the book Our Life is Love by Marcelle Martin in September and October.

Upcoming Events

Worship. Explore. Feast.
Introducing QuED Days: A free series for Young Adult Friends

Each QuED (Quaker Exploration and Discourse) Day includes breakfast, worship, speakers, lunch, and opportunities for conversations, spiritual direction, games, and more. For additional information, visit or find us (NYYM QuED) on Facebook.

  • January 14: Chatham-Summit, 158 Southern Blvd., Chatham, NJ
    Speakers: Jeff Hitchcock on Quakers and Race; Carol Holmes; and Adria Gulizia on Why Conviction Matters Now More Than Ever
  • February 11: Fifteenth Street, 15 Rutherford Pl., New York, NY
    Speakers: Christine Ashley; Angie York Crane

Meeting for Discernment

The next Meeting for Discernment is at Poplar Ridge on March 11! Please see here for more details.

Continuing Revolution:
Pendle Hill’s young adult Friends Conference, focusing on PEACE and Justice
    June 2-7, 2017

Pendle Hill’s Continuing Revolution six-day conference orchestrates a profoundly impactful training-oriented conference of 40-45 young adults (ages 18-35). Each year, we design programming around one of the Quaker Testimonies that energizes, inspires, and connects Friends with an interest in social action and justice. Continuing Revolution is a uniquely positioned conference at the intersection of faith and activism.

Our intensive program focuses on deepening participants’ relationship with the Religious Society of Friends, nourishes their own faith and practice, and invigorates their identities as social change agents. The world needs radical systemic change, and each year Pendle Hill serves as a gathering, training ground for f/Friends on this path.

For more information, please contact [email protected] (Katrina McQuail) or [email protected] (Amy Greulich). You can find us on FB and Twitter, @Cont_R_v_lution.

Coordinating Committees Weekend

All Friends are Welcome at Coordinating Committees Weekend, January 27 and 28 at Powell House, which will come just one week after the US presidential inauguration. This weekend is an opportunity for Friends to gather and discern how we are led as a body to respond to the changes happening in our country. Friday evening and late Saturday afternoon there will be small and large group sharing to share concerns and leadings around our responses to perceived changes.

This weekend will primarily be a time for our coordinating committees to meet and to do their work, and just as at our sessions, all are welcome to participate in those meetings, whether or not they are on a coordinating committee. The coordinating committees—Ministry, Witness, Nurture, and General Services—will meet Saturday morning and afternoon. Any NYYM Friend who is interested in observing or participating in the functioning of any of those bodies is welcome to do so.

We will gather in the face of nationwide and worldwide turbulence. The theme chosen by Sessions Committee for Summer Sessions, in awareness of the significant changes after the recent painful and divisive election season, is Bringing the Peaceable Kingdom to a Turbulent World. We hope that by bookending our work as committees with times of sharing and discernment that we might be able to better ground our work in the Spirit and seek ways in which our ongoing work might need to shift in response to current events. That group process appeared to be welcomed and helpful at our recent Fall Sessions, so we are bringing it back to this weekend together. The weekend is scheduled to end at dinner on Saturday, except for Sessions Committee, which will meet through lunch on Sunday. Those who wish may join Sessions Committee, or stay into Sunday on your own accord.

If you are moved to take part, you must make your reservation at Powell House,, or 518-794-8811, ASAP.

Racial Justice Workshop

Friday, April 21 to Sunday, April 23. Save the date!

The Friends Center for Racial Justice in Ithaca, NY, will be offering a workshop, "Growth Opportunities for White Allies." Jeff Hitchcock, Judy Meikle, Steve Mohlke and Pamela Wood will be facilitating. More information to follow.

The new Friends Center for Racial Justice is beginning to live into its mission of providing a physical space where Friends can come together to work on racism within the Religious Society of Friends. It will promote racial healing, raise awareness of white privilege, and work to increase an appreciation of racial diversity. An additional objective of the Center will be to facilitate connecting Friends with individuals and organizations in their local communities working on racial justice.



New Members

Ruth Helen Detjen — Pouhgkeepsie
Ted Lochwyn – Staten Island
Eric Nelson – Cornwall
Cherry Myers Rahn – Central Finger Lakes
Emily Sandusky – Brooklyn
David Sinclair – Manhasset


Robin Mallison Alpern, from Scarsdale to Amawalk
Abigail Burford, from Montclair to Chatham-
James Darragh, from Westbury to Brooklyn
Nathan Kennedy, from Binghamton to Ithaca
Tobias Kennedy, from Binghamton to Ithaca
Ruth Matthews, from Chappaqua to New Paltz
Maureen McGovern, from 15th Street to Brooklyn
Mary Owen, from Staten Island to Brooklyn
Magnolia Sampson, from North Branch (PA) to
Nedelya Simeonovia, from North Branch (PA) to


Betsy Morse, member of Shrewsbury, on January 3, 2017
John Ruch, member of Dover-Randolph, on November 4, 2016.
Joseph Rutledge, member of Chappaqua, on October 13, 2016.