Spark, January 2020 - What's Happening Now

Start Spreading The News!

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 InfoShare, our monthly email newsletter. Don’t get Spark or InfoShare? Email [email protected] or call 212-673-5750 to get yourself added to our mailing list.

Welcome to Spark Online

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

Download a pdf file of the January 2020 Spark



Articles: What's Happening Now

Online Articles

Around Our Yearly Meeting

Around Our Yearly Meeting


Editor's Note

Welcome to the January Spark. This issue is un-themed and is full of news from around the yearly meeting. Read about Quaker Family Suppers, epistles from Powell House youth conferences, and a report from the World Ministries Committee. 


The winter Meeting for Discernment is on February 8 at Ithaca Meeting. See more details in the “Around Our Yearly Meeting” section.


Summer Sessions registration opens on February 1! This earlier and longer registration period helps the NYYM office, which now handles all aspects of registration and payment. Turn to page 6 for more information about Summer Sessions, happening July 19-25, 2020, at Silver Bay YMCA. Sessions will again be “Pay as Led” in 2020, which means Friends can choose their level of payment. Some Friends will pay more so that other Friends can pay less, making Sessions more accessible to everyone. The registration deadline is June 1. After that, Pay as Led rates lower than standard may not be available, and room choices may be limited.


Friends are invited to write an article for Spark. Please limit yourself to 400-600 words. Please send article submissions and meeting news to [email protected] by the 1st week of the month prior to the month of publication.


Upcoming Spark themes:

March: Guest-edited by Indian Affairs Committee. If you’d like to write an article or have artwork related to Indian Affairs, please contact the committee clerks: Buffy Curtis ([email protected]) and Liseli Haines ([email protected]) by Feb. 1.


Email your meeting’s news to [email protected] so I can include them in InfoShare, NYYM’s monthly e-newsletter. 

NYYM is on social media:


Manage your NYYM email lists at

Happy New Year! —Sarah Way



Welcome! You are invited to join New York Yearly Meeting Friends at Summer Sessions! 


Welcome to Summer Sessions 2020, New York Yearly Meeting’s 325th annual gathering, and to the second year of the Pay as Led experiment, designed to encourage as much participation as possible. Not all of those 325 years were at the beautiful Silver Bay YMCA facilities on Lake George, but we are their longest returning organization, having met there for more than a half century. (Are there any among us who remember summer gatherings before Silver Bay?)


This year’s theme is Embracing our Past, Envisioning our Future. We are a yearly meeting in transition, and we are facing many different changes, as is the rest of the world. Change can be difficult, but our Quaker process, rooted in deep listening to all voices, helps us move forward in the Light with love for each other and for our community. As a community, we have much to offer to each other and to the wider world. The summer schedule is chock full of opportunities to gather, as it always is, but each of us can participate to the extent we are led. What is your favorite part of the day? Morning worship sharing? Group singing on the front porch of the Inn? Bible Study? Interest groups? Intergenerational activities, planned or unplanned? Maybe even the good work we accomplish when we labor together in committees and in business sessions? Come for the spiritual re-charge that a week in a beautiful setting with hundreds of Friends can be. 


Last summer, Pay as Led was a wonderful success. It helped bring more Friends to Summer Sessions, some new or coming back after a long absence, and led to an increase in youth and young adults. We look forward to more of the same this year. Read below for more details. All Friends are welcome to attend this year’s historic 325th gathering of New York Yearly Meeting!  


—Jeffrey Aaron, NYYM Clerk


Check the Summer Sessions 2020 page for further information, updates, and more!



How Does God Call Us to Act?

FWCC Sustainability: An Online Conference with Friends Worldwide
February 22, 2020


‘‘Be on guard. Stand firm in the faith. Be courageous. Be strong.’’
1 Corinthians 16:13

The Friends of FWCC (Friends’ World Committee for Consultation) have recognized the need to respond to sustainability. In 2016, at our last world gathering, we generated the Pisac Sustainability Minute. This has led to exploring the work Quakers are doing on sustainability across the world, and asking Friends and yearly meetings to take action to promote sustainability at all levels, including the global level.

But now, almost four years on, we recognize the need to gather, to share, and to understand where we are as a family sharing this urgent concern.

This online conference will create space to hear from one another around the world on matters relating to sustainability and to understand how as Quakers we are being called to act. How do we feel called to act? How does our radical faith speak to us?

On Saturday February 22, 2020, there will be an online conference spanning 11 hours. You will be able to join one of three start times, for a duration of three hours. All of the worship sharing will be in English, but if you need French, you will be able to join in the second start time, and if you need Spanish, you will be able to join the third start time. We will be using the platform Zoom to host this call.

For the full breakdown of details, including technical requirements and a link to registration, see

If you have any questions, please email [email protected]



Consider 2020 FGC Gathering!

An Invitation by Christine Japely, 15th Street Meeting

June 28-July 4, 2020
Radford, Virginia


We of NYYM are lucky to be able to look forward to Summer Sessions on Lake George. For Friends who cannot make it that week, or who want to extend their Quaker experience, there is the annual Friends General Conference Gathering. The Gathering is similar in many ways to Summer Sessions in that you are with many Quakers for a summer week away, enmeshed in a Quakerly tapestry of activities and renewal.


And of course election year 2020 will be frenetic; a summer escape for rest and replenishment will be an excellent tonic if we wish to maintain a healthy emotional balance.


I have attended FGC Gathering a number of times over the years. One of the attractions is that it always moves to a new geographic location within the USA (on verdant out-in-the-country college campuses mostly). This year the Gathering is at Radford University in Radford, VA (June 28-July 4, 2020). The theme is “Way Will Open.” The location is a small town of under 20,000 residents near the scenic Blue Ridge Mountains of Southwestern Virginia. It’s close to Blacksburg and Claytor Lake State Park, and about an hour from the Blue Ridge Parkway, among many other attractions.


I am offering one of the many morning workshops given that week; it’s called Quiet and Creative Spirit: Way Gently Opens. What does that mean? Well, here’s what I have been led to offer: 


We live in difficult and demanding times, and Friends need sustenance to continue “fighting the good fight.” This workshop is designed to heal and strengthen friends through sustained meditation (worship) in a variety of nurturing, enriching, and gentle forms.

From 9–11 a.m. every morning, friends will greet each other in an opening circle of five or ten minutes, and then gently move into silence. In a meditative and creative spirit, and without spoken conversation, we will make art, listen to beautiful music, spiritual texts, nature sounds, and go on walking meditations. Simple art projects involving dried flowers, watercolor, and paper will be offered. Napping, handwork, and personal reading are allowed and encouraged. We will conclude the morning with worship sharing.  


This workshop is just one of scores of possibilities. Please consider FGC Gathering for that week touching on July 4th (the traditional week when FGC Gathering is held) this year! It is always an enriching and life-enhancing experience. You meet new friends and bump into folks you may not have seen for years. Visit the Gathering website at                       




New Members

  • Ami Corleto-Bales — Mohawk Valley
  • Samuel Corleto-Bales — Mohawk Valley
  • Scott Blumenthal — Morningside
  • Samuel Hartman — Manasquan
  • Robert Schwab —Morningside
  • Daniel Won — Manasquan


  • Annie Bancroft, from Butternuts to Poughkeepsie. 
  • Sarah Faith Dickinson, from Butternuts to Poughkeepsie. 


  • David Obermayer, member of Binghamton, to Marie Sager, on October 18, 2019.


  • Jeff Hinkle, member of Albany, on November 5, 2019.




New NYYM Witness Video Series!

“Witness in the World” is a new series of videos about Friends in NYYM who are active in Witness activities. The series is produced by Leo Quirk, co-clerk of the Witness Coordinating Committee, and stars NYYM Friends like you. View the videos on the NYYM YouTube channel—go to and search for “NYYM Videos.”


Who is My Neighbor?

Eleven NYYM Friends attended a seminar titled “Who is My Neighbor?” on October 22 at Pace University Law School. The event was sponsored by the New York State Council of Churches (NYSCOC), of which NYYM is a member. More seminars will be held around NY state in the coming months, in Manhasset, Saratoga Springs, and Syracuse. Visit for more information.

 For a NYYM Friend’s experience of the seminar, read the article “Our Responsibilities as Neighbors,” by Sunfire, in this issue.



Upcoming Events

Coordinating Committee Weekend

Jan. 24-26, 2020, Powell House

Coordinating committees (CCs)coordinate the work of NYYM committees with a related purpose or focus; there is a Witness, Ministry, and General Services CC. This weekend is an opportunity for CCs to get their work done and to share that work with others, and is open both to those serving on NYYM committees and those interested in the work of NYYM committees. Please register at ASAP.


Winter Meeting for Discernment

Feb. 8, 2020 (snow date: Feb. 15)

Ithaca Meeting 

Meetings for Discernment are periods of extended, waiting worship designed to discern leadings and strengthen connections in our yearly meeting. Worship will begin at 9 a.m. and will continue into the afternoon with a break for lunch in the middle. The following topic and queries are offered as focal points for worship: 

Seeing and being seen in community: reflections on Friends’ experiences of power and authority.

When have unequal power dynamics gotten in the way of your/our best spiritual discernment?

When have you felt powerful? When have you felt powerless?

Please register at or call the registrar, Bronwyn Mohlke: 607-220-3219. Meeting for Discernment will be followed by a retreat for young adults; see “Upcoming Programs for Young Adults.”


Powell House is for you!

Powell House is NYYM’s conference and retreat center in Old Chatham, NY. Visit or call 518-794-8811. Upcoming events:

Friends Decision-making and Clerking: Participating in Meetings for Business with Joy and Confidence with Arthur M. Larrabee and Steve Mohlke, Jan. 31–Feb. 2, 2020. This workshop is for everyone who wants to deepen their understanding of Quaker decision-making—an opportunity to get better grounded in what Quaker decision-making is all about.


Brent Bill: Beauty, Truth, Life, and Love — A Pilgrimage on Positive Spirituality, Feb. 7–9, 2020. Join us for this journey away from duty and obligation and into Brent’s latest book: Beauty, Truth, Life, and Love: Four Essentials for the Abundant Life.


Upcoming youth conferences:

Freeze! — 6th–8th Grade, Jan. 31–Feb 2. January is like this in Old Chatham: Freeze. Thaw. Freeze.

So that is what we will do—play Freeze! Through improv games and other creative activities we’ll try on different ways of being and connecting in the world. Then we’ll thaw with relaxation activities and warm nourishing treats. 


Stars & Space — 9th–12th Grade, February 21–23

“Light comes from a time already gone.” It is a new moon this weekend, so the stars will shine brighter. The far-away stars will spark our close-to-the-heart discussions around energy and light and feeding our souls. 


Upcoming Programs for YOUNG ADULTS

Retreat: Discovering and Living into my Spiritual Gifts, Feb. 8–9, 2020, (6:00 p.m. Sat.–4:00 p.m. Sun.)

(begins with Meeting for Discernment on Feb. 8), at Ithaca Meeting


Workshop: Giving Vocal Ministry and Lifting my Quaker Voice,  March 14, 9:30 a.m.–4:30 p.m., at Manasquan Meeting (NJ)

For registration: youngadultfriendactivities/


Anti-Racism Workshop

The Center for the Study of White American Culture’s next workshop is “Why Color Matters” — a three-part online webinar that examines racial colorblindness and considers the alternative of color consciousness as a pathway to achieving racial justice and equity. The webinar meets February 1, 8, & 15, 2020, at 5-7 p.m. EST. Visit for more information.                   




Junior Yearly Meeting (JYM) Volunteers Needed!

Do you or someone you know have a gift and a leading for working with children? It’s not too early to start thinking about volunteering with Junior Yearly Meeting at Summer Sessions 2020. The time you give to our young Friends at Summer Sessions has a great impact on their lives. For many of our youngsters, that week at Silver Bay is the highlight of their year.


Registration for Summer Sessions (July 19-25, 2020) will open on February 1. If you’re interested in volunteering with JYM, please contact us before you register, as being a JYM volunteer includes financial support for attending Summer Sessions.


JYM volunteers will meet together at the JYM Planning Weekend held at Powell House on June 5-7. The weekend will give us a chance to get to know each other, both as the whole JYM volunteer crew and within each of the groups. Before the end of the weekend, we want to enable you to have fully fleshed out plans for Summer Sessions and have letters written to your group. We want time to play games together, both old and new; to learn from each other; and to have fun together.


Please contact the JYM coordinators, Dawn and Ellie, with any questions as soon as you know whether you are led to volunteer in 2020. We hope to hear from you by February 15.         


— The Coordinators:
Dawn Pozzi
Ellie Rosenberg