Spark, March 2023 - Quakers and the Arts

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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 March 2023 issue of Spark, which you can also as a pdf file.


Quakers and the Arts



Articles on the Theme: Quakers and the Arts

Other Articles from Friends


Around Our Yearly Meeting



Editor's Note

Many thanks to the Friends who sent in artwork to share for this issue. I hope you find this issue inspiring. I'm thinking I might restart my practice of drawing during meeting for worship, as long as others don't find it distracting.

At press time, the NYYM staff and Sessions Committee were finalizing details for Spring Sessions, being held online and at Oakwood School; see

Upcoming Spark themes:

May 2023: How Do We Talk About God? Friends in our yearly meeting use a lot of different words to mean “God” — Spirit, the divine, Jesus Christ, the Light, etc. Does this language divide us? Is the division fundamental or superficial? Let’s talk about it. Submissions due April 1.

Spark accepts article submissions of 400-600 words, artwork, poetry, shorter news items and announcements, and letters to the editor. Please share your gifts with the rest of NYYM. Deadline for the May issue is April 1. Email submissions to

Please send in your meeting’s news so it can to be shared in the next NYYM weekly email update or in Spark. If you'd like to join NYYM's weekly email list visit

To join the email list, visit To join the mailing list, email [email protected] or call 212-673-5750.

NYYM is on Facebook (NewYorkYearlyMeeting), Twitter (NYYMTweets), and Insta (newyorkyearlymeeting).

Sarah Way, NYYM
Communications Director
[email protected]




New Members

  • Marie C. Brown — Amawalk
  • Vivian Shelton — Matinecock


  • Elizabeth Brown Johnson, to Poplar Ridge from Saratoga
  • Rachel Ruth, to Ithaca from Poughkeepsie


  • Linda Clarke, member of Brooklyn, on March 1, 2023
  • Heloise Rathbone, member of Brooklyn, on January 28, 2023

Correction to a typo in Jan. 2023 Notices: the new member of Westbury is Kaitlyn Pawlukojc.




State of Society Query

The 2022 State of Society query is intended to speak to a range of meetings, worship groups, and at-large members of the yearly meeting. We encourage you to engage with the query as it speaks to you and your Quaker community.

The State of Society Committee is seeking Quaker simplicity in this year’s query and is hopeful that you will find avenues of engagement as individuals and within your membership group. This is the query for 2022:


For help we refer you to Faith & Practice —State of Meeting Reports (p. 126 in the 2020 edition.)

Meetings and individuals are asked to return their responses by April 17, 2023, to [email protected].


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Upcoming Events

Spring Sessions 2023

April 14-16, Hybrid: Online and at Oakwood Friends School

Please see for more details.


Summer Sessions 2023

July 22-27 (Sat. lunch to Thurs. morning), Hybrid: Online and at Oakwood Friends School

Summer Sessions 2023 will also be at Oakwood Friends School (NOT at Silver Bay) and online from lunch on Saturday, July 22 to the morning of Thursday, July 27. Visit for details.


Powell House Workshops

Powell House is the retreat and conference center for NYYM. Visit to see the full list of upcoming events and to register.

HOSPITALITY, the final session of the Testimonies to Mercy Series

June 2-4, 2023, in person

Our keynote speaker is Rhiannon Grant, who will be joining us online from the UK. Her remarks will be about moving, in our communal homes, beyond more chairs and a bigger table to a new menu: embracing deep hospitality and exploring our changing Quaker community as we welcome different forms of theological and social diversity.

Susan Wilson will join Windy Cooler as the co-leader for this retreat, exploring this message in embodied, curious ways. Expect this to be a time of discernment and exploration. Visit


Save the Date: Young Peacemakers Week, August 14-18

Young Peacemakers Week will again take place in 2023, from August 14-18, 1:30 to 6:30 in the afternoon, at the Albany Friends Meetinghouse. Our goal is to bear witness to the Quaker Peace Testimony, and all our activities and events are infused with that purpose. We welcome children going into grades 2 to grades 8. We are also actively looking for volunteers, paid interns, and paid teachers, who can also apply online. Interns are generally high school age and assist the teachers, who are college age and up. Persons applying should be committed to building a peaceful community within ourselves, our families, our communities, our environment, and on a global level. We include families at a simple meal for three out of our five days, and host a field trip to a local nature preserve or farm to emphasize peace within our environment. Other activities include arts and crafts, non-competitive games, music, dance, dramatic play, and cooking. For more information, please visit our website,, or contact Anita Stanley at 518-441-7722 or [email protected].

For Young Adults

Children, Youth and Young Adult Community Director Beth Kelly maintains a list of upcoming YAF events at

Does it Nurture Myself?
A Young Adult Conference (older than high school age) at Powell House
June 9-11, 2023

Care for oneself can take on many forms. While one person may unwind with a bubble bath, another may prefer a wilderness hike. Others may find it difficult to make time for self-care at all. Join us as we discuss different ways to give ourselves care as well as challenges that can stand in the way of good self-care. We will play games and make art to help us navigate this tricky and important topic. Visit


Continuing Revolution 2023: Nurturing Experiments in Spiritually Grounded Abolition
June 2-6, 2023, on-campus at Pendle Hill and online via Zoom

Continuing Revolution, Pendle Hill’s annual conference for young adults (ages 18-35), is a space of collective exploration and learning for the spiritually curious who are striving to live in ways that reflect their values. Join other young adult Friends and seekers exploring abolition of police and policing. Building on themes and feedback from 2022's Experiments in Spiritually Grounded Abolition, we will focus this year on the relationship between individual and structural transformation. Visit


For Children & Teens

Upcoming Powell House Youth Conferences— visit

PLAYFULLY RIGHTEOUS for 9th-12th Grade
April 28-30, 2023
At this conference we will play lots of games and think about games in the context of social justice. This mix of games and justice is sure to be a fun and fulfilling time.

EARTHSONG 2023 for 7th-12th Grade
May 27-29, 2023
Join us for our annual celebration of our loving, strong community.


Online Worship

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 for the most up-to-date information.




Pastor Position at Farmington Friends Meeting, Farmington, NY

The position is for full-time pastoral ministry that is both Christ-centered and rooted in Quaker tradition and practice. Our ideal candidate has a Master of Divinity degree or its equivalent, is recorded in Quaker ministry, and is available January, 2024. We seek someone who can thrive in a rural setting while being enthusiastic about outreach and diversity. Expertise in technology and social media is an asset. Salary, health benefits, housing, vacation, and retirement packages are negotiable.

Please direct inquiries to Search Committee at [email protected] by March 31, 2023.


Letter to the Editor


On Richard Nixon

Joseph Olejak
Old Chatham Meeting


Regarding "Richard Nixon’s Quaker Witness," (Spark, Nov. 2022): Yes, he was a member of the East Whittier Quaker Meeting, but rarely attended and he certainly did not put the testimonies into action in either his life or his public work. In his memoir of 600+ pages Nixon devoted a mere 3 paragraphs to his religion; a sad commentary on his "Quaker Witness."


The Vietnam conflict is mentioned in the article's list of his "colossal accomplishments" but it is not mentioned that he presided over the bombing of Laos. The US incursion into Laos created the conditions for Pol Pot to murder 2 million people in what is now considered a Cambodian genocide. His so called "getting the US out of Vietnam" occurred because of events like Kent State. Americans were fed up and there would soon be rioting in the streets if he failed to act. If not for American activism he would have gladly continued to pour money and bodies into that pointless war. He even went so far as to call students "bums blowing up college campuses."


Nixon is cited in the article as a "steward of the health of millions of Americans." I'd like to remind readers that the Drug Abuse Prevention and Control Act of 1970 was a racist act designed to put black people in jail. In the book The New Jim Crow, Michelle Alexander details how the war on drugs was really just a war on black people.


On opening up China and Japan: this was not to bring about world peace and a brotherhood of mankind. It was a race to the bottom economically. Looking back at history these two decisions hollowed out American manufacturing and shipped millions of jobs overseas to workers who got paid a fraction of what American workers were being paid.


One bright spot was the environmental laws, but the Nixon tapes reveal that he was disgusted by "tree huggers." He passed the environmental acts begrudgingly because he feared the environmentalists had organized political power. It was Rachel Carson and her book Silent Spring that created a hue and cry about the destruction of the natural world; Nixon merely took advantage of that rising tide as a political operator.


Lastly, would a Quaker use the IRS to attack his political enemies? I think not, and that is exactly what Nixon did. Last time I looked revenge was not a part of the SPICES. As a man Nixon lacked decency and integrity, a core Quaker value.