Spark, May 2019 - Quaker Commonality: What Do All Quakers Have in Common

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Welcome to Spark Online

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

Download a pdf file of the May 2019 Spark


Articles: Quaker Commonality: What Do All Quakers Have in Common


Around Our Yearly Meeting

Around Our Yearly Meeting


Editor's Note


Welcome to the May issue of the printed NYYM newsletter, Spark. What do all Quakers have in common? What unites us? Articles in this issue examine the bedrock upon which our faith rests.


Summer Sessions is coming up soon! This is NYYM’s annual, fabulous, week-long, multi-generational, Quaker happening at the beautiful Silver Bay on Lake George. Come and spend a spirit-led week with Friendly people. It’s a rejuvenating, deepening, and inspiring experience. More information is on pages 6-8 and online at Register before May 15 if possible—if that date has passed, please register ASAP!


Spark will be evolving soon. Printed Spark will probably become shorter and less frequent to free up time for more immediate and responsive communications via email and the web. Details are to-be-discerned.


For now, the next issues of Spark are in September and November. If you like to write, you are invited to write an article for Spark. Articles are a form of verbal ministry. Please limit yourself to 400-600 words. 


Upcoming Spark themes:

September: post-Summer Sessions/open theme 

November: Light Behind the Walls. On prison worship. Guest edited by Jill McLellan and the Prisons Committee.


Send articles and meeting news to [email protected] by the 1st week of the month prior to the month of publication. 

InfoShare, NYYM’s e-newsletter, is now MONTHLY. Please send me news and events to share by emailing them to
[email protected].


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Happy Spring!                   —Sarah Way


NYYM Summer Sessions - For full details visit the Summer Sessions 2019 page

First Time Attenders

Sessions Committee has added a special opportunity for First Time Attenders to get all their questions answered and start the week off well informed. Come to the Auditorium at 2:30 p.m. on Sunday for orientation! Even if you’ve attended Summer Sessions many times, join us! Share your wisdom and perhaps learn something new.


Young Adult Friends

Friends who are young adults (ages 18-35ish), or Friends led to be in spiritual community with young adults, are invited to participate in community building and spiritual exploration activities throughout the week, including worship sharing, meet-ups, customized programs, and shared meals. For those interested, we will also help coordinate group attendance at business sessions and provide opportunities for one-on-one Spiritual Nurture. Look for details on our program to arrive in your email inbox in early July.

Friends are invited to a special celebration at Powell House immediately preceding Summer Sessions (July 20) focused on the query: What do young adults need? The event will culminate with a joyful caravan to Silver Bay on July 21.


For Seasoned Friends

Are you a NYYM committee clerk? If you’d like to meet during Summer Sessions, email [email protected] to reserve a space.

Do you have an agenda item? If you’d like to add an item to the business agenda, please contact the appropriate coordinating committee clerk. [email protected] can help.

Would you like some display space? If you’d like to put up a display for your organization, contact Martha Gurvich.


Letter to New Zealand Friends

NYYM has directed the clerk and general secretary to act as the public voice for the yearly meeting when urgent and appropriate. The letter below was written and sent to Christchurch, New Zealand Friends after the mosque shootings there in March.


March 17, 2019

Michael Winter, Clerk

Christchurch Monthly Meeting

Christchurch, New Zealand


Dear Friends in New Zealand,


When any among us is injured or killed, we all suffer. And so we know that Friends in New Zealand are suffering now, and our hearts go out to you. Know that, just as when Friends from around the world prayed for us after the attacks of 9/11/2001 and at other times, our prayers and the prayers of Friends around the world are being offered for the healing of your nation and your people.


We send you our deepest condolences on the tragic incident of blind hatred in Christchurch. We pray for the full recovery of your community’s injured and for the emotional recovery of those who lost friends and family, and for your entire community. We pray that the felt presence of the Divine Spirit, so palpable to so many Friends and others, can be found once again, knowing that the Ocean of Love can overcome the Ocean of Darkness.


We wish you peace and we send you our love.

Jeffrey Aaron, Clerk

Steve Mohlke, General Secretary

New York Yearly Meeting    


Larry White Honored

Larry White was awarded the International Gramsci prize for Theatre in Prison in Italy last December. Due to health restrictions, he was not able to travel to receive the award. Ron Jenkins went to Italy and received the plaque in Larry’s name. On March 22, the American Friends Service Committee presented the plaque to Larry in their office. From the award program: “The International Gramsci Prize for Theatre in Prison was awarded to the 82-year-old African-American Larry White. He spent 32 years in a prison in the United States and wrote a survival manual for men and women condemned to life sentences. The manual, Hope Lives for Lifers, is based on the principles described by Paolo Freire in Pedagogy of the Oppressed, which inspired Augusto Boal’s Theatre of the Oppressed. Larry White is considered a hero by every US prisoner thanks to his commitment for a prison reform. He spent his time advocating for other people’s freedom, and even though he is now a free man, he often goes back to prison to give inmates hope.”


Online Meeting for Worship with Buffalo Friends

7:30 p.m., May 22, June 12 & 26

All are invited to the Buffalo Friends Meeting Online Mid-Week Meeting for Worship, held the 2nd and 4th Wednesdays of the month. The meeting starts at 7:30 p.m. with a welcome message from the Outreach Committee, followed by worship for about 30 minutes. Afterwards, there is time for check-in/follow-up amongst the participants. The meeting ends about 8:15 p.m. This virtual meeting is held using Zoom, a free video conferencing service. You can join the meeting via computer or phone!

For instructions to the meeting, please contact Buffalo Meeting


Bayard Rustin Honored

NYYM Administrative Associate Walter Naegle, the surviving partner of civil rights activist Bayard Rustin, attended two recent events at which places were renamed in Bayard Rustin’s honor. On April 7, a ribbon cutting ceremony for the Anita May Rosenstein Campus of the Los Angeles LGBT Center was held. The campus includes a plaza named for Bayard Rustin (see photo). And on April 11, the Bradbury-Sullivan LGBTQ Community Center in Allentown, PA, hosted a street renaming dedication for Bayard Rustin Way.


Last Chance to Match! Commit to a Recurring Gift Before Summer Sessions

An enthusiastic supporter is offering a match to encourage us all to make sustaining contributions to New York Yearly Meeting. $50,000 is available to match new and increased recurring gifts offered before Summer Sessions 2019. For your contribution to be eligible, all you have to do is indicate that your gift is recurring (monthly, yearly, etc.). Your gifts help support all of the work of NYYM, work that strengthens our communities and helps us continue to bring our Quaker faith to the world. Donate online by clicking the “Donate” button on and selecting the General Fund. You can also donate by calling 212-673-5750.


Letter to the Editor

Submit letters of under 250 words to [email protected] or mail them to the NYYM office. 

Settling into my chair this morning, in preparation for an appointment later today, it occurred to me to reflect on this past weekend’s Spring Session to glean what I had gained from the experience.

       1.        What is important versus what is interesting.

       2.        How listening to all of the voices at Meeting for Business can be a form of worship as we hear and speak to that of God in others.

       3.        How little we really listen to others sometimes.

       4.        How much we need others to listen to us.

       5.        Why listening to others cannot be deemed a cost but rather an investment.

       6.        Why the “why” behind an idea must come first and the “how” second. God will help with the how if we speak the why.

       7.        How easy it is to let others lead us astray.

       8.        How hard it is to pay attention to self, others, and Spirit.

       9.        How important it is to say no.

       10.      How good it is to be alive.

Be well and shine your light for others to see.                                

— Roy Allen



New Members

  • Pamela Eckstut — Rockland
  • Gail Merian — Hamilton
  • Sigrid Mortensen — Poplar Ridge


  • Brandy, Carter, & Miles Witthoft, to Syracuse from Alexandria (VA) Monthly Meeting. 


  • Katherine Shine and Louis Kelley, on April 6, 2019, under the care of Wilton Meeting.  


  • William Bortree, member of Scarsdale, on April 26, 2019. (Memorial Meeting: June 2, 3pm, at Scarsdale Meeting.)
  • Ty Dewhurst, member of Chatham-Summit, on April 16, 2019.
  • Mary Elizabeth Gulamerian, member of Rahway-Plainfield, on April 1, 2019.
  • Robert E. Newman, member of Syracuse, on March 18, 2019.


Upcoming Events

Stoking the Fire: Stirring Up the Embers

June 7–10, 2019, at Quaker Hill Conference Center, Richmond, IN 

Friends United Meeting invites you to an annual retreat for individuals who are “on fire” with the Holy Spirit and are seeking deeper faith and bolder witness. Music at Stoking the Fire will be led by Cathy Harris and Nikki Holland. Speakers will include Mary Glazer, Doug Gwyn, Bob Henry, Kelly Kellum, Richard Sitati, and Katie Ubry-Terrell. Registration Deadline is May 31. For more information, visit and click on Programs.

Young Adult Spiritual Nurture Series:

Why Am I? An Exploration of Authenticity, Integrity, and Courage

A one-day mini retreat for young adults on June 8, 2019, at Farmington Friends Meeting, Farmington, NY. This workshop will be focused on finding and illuminating your heart’s Truth. Together, we will explore our Faith journeys and make active connections between our inner and outer selves, considering the intersections and gaps between our Faith, our dreams, and our realities. Through worship, fellowship, learning sessions, and games, we will dig deep into the big questions of why we are here and what we are being called to do. Join us to explore these questions and what it means to live out our visions, callings, gifts, and ministry with authenticity, integrity, and courage. Register here:

What do Young Adults Need?

A Residential Closing Celebration, July 20-21 (Before Summer Sessions—car pool/caravan to Silver Bay to follow) at Powell House, Old Chatham, NY 

The grand finale! As we consider the year together and our experiences as Friends, join us to discuss what Young Adults need to be full participants in Quaker communities and what it will take to meet these needs. Help us draft an epistle that captures our experiences over the year that we can bring with us to Summer Sessions. Then join us in a joyful caravan to Summer Sessions at Silver Bay, NY! Attendance at Summer Sessions is not required but encouraged, especially because, for the first time, Summer Sessions is Pay as Led (see page 6). Register at

Powell House is for you!

Powell House is the conference and retreat center for NYYM and hosts adult, youth, and intergenerational programs. Some upcoming events:

Earthsong ­— for 7-12th graders

May 31–June 2, 2019

Join us for the year-end celebration of our community and of our going-out-into-the-world seniors.There will be workshops, festive foods, large group games, a dress-up dinner plus a fabulous cabaret.

Forgiveness as Spiritual Practice — with Sue Regen

June 14-16, 2019

Life brings to each of us, experiences of anger, fear, hurt, and pain. What we do with these is up to each individual. Choosing to practice forgiveness can bring healing and inner peace. Forgiveness work helps us reconnect with ourselves and others in more loving ways.  Research shows that it’s great for our physical health, too! Come, join with others who are willing to take some steps along this spiritual path. Focus is on tools and techniques, not on therapy. 

Nonviolent Communication: A Spiritual Practice and Act of Social Change 

June 21-23, 2019

Faciliated by Dian Killian 

During this weekend-long intensive training in compassionate Nonviolent Communication, we will learn practical skills to put Quaker principles into action: self-managing our own reactions, empathizing with others, and finding solutions that restore harmony, are in integrity with our values, and hold everyone’s needs with care.

Creating Generous Congregations

Aug. 16-18, 2019

Facilitated by Colin Saxton

This interactive and practical workshop is focused on inspiring and equipping meetings toward generosity and faithful, financial stewardship.


The Friends General Conference Gathering—Peace in our Hearts, Justice in the World

Registration is OPEN!

June 30-July 6, 2019, at Grinnell College, Grinnell, Iowa
The Friends General Conference (FGC) Gathering is an amazing opportunity to immerse yourself in Quaker spirituality and to enjoy yourself among new and familiar F/friends. This year there are deep discounts for children, teens, and young adults—including no program fees for children and teens! Bring your family and come this year! Visit 


NYYM Summer Sessions

July 21-27, 2019, at Silver Bay YMCA Conference and Family Retreat Center, Silver Bay, NY. This, our annual weekly gathering, is now “Pay as Led.” Please register soon—registration deadline is May 15. See our Summer Sessions page.



Stevens Fund Applications Open

The Stevens Fund is a small fund held by NYYM Trustees in order to assist retired or disabled Friends who are in need; often, but not exclusively, pastors and ministers. The next list of distributions will be decided by the Ministry and Pastoral Care committee at Summer Sessions, July 21–27, 2019.

If Friends or meetings know someone who would benefit from the Stevens Fund, please encourage them to apply. Friends may note that the fund currently has more recipients than fund income permits, and we have had to receive assistance through an added budget line of Ministry Coordinating Committee. The Stevens Fund committee and Ministry & Pastoral Care Committee are currently discerning solutions to this budget gap. For now, contributions from individual Friends and meetings would be most welcome. Please send checks to NYYM with memo: Stevens Fund.

Those who would like to apply please request an application from the NYYM Office: [email protected], or call (212) 673 - 5750. Applications are due by July 1, 2019. 


NYYM Meeting Houses & Properties Fund

The Trustees would like to remind all about the Meeting Houses and Properties Fund. From the New York Yearly Meeting Trust Fund Descriptions, August 2018 Version:

“This fund was established in 2017 at the direction of the Trustees. The proceeds from the sale of the Plattekill Meeting House was deposited in this fund. The income is directed to the Meeting Houses and Properties designated use fund. The income from the Brinkerhoff fund is also directed to the Meeting Houses and Properties Fund.”

Per the Trustees minutes of May 23, 2017, “…the approved uses of that Fund are expanded to include maintenance, repair and new construction of meetinghouses and properties.”

The Trustees will be reviewing all applications to this fund at the end of May, so it is our request that you submit any requests prior to that time. Visit this webpage to find an application form: