Spark, November 2013


15 Rutherford Place
New York, NY 10003
New York Yearly Meeting News
Volume 44
Number 5
The Religious Society of Friends (Quakers) November 2013
Editor, Steven Davison    


Spring Sessions, April 4-6, 2014, Rochester, NY, Save the Date!

Theme Features: Keeping Faith: Answering That of God in All Creation

Yearly Meeting News

Other Articles

Quaker Resources



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Around Our Yearly Meeting

Upcoming Events

Conflict Transformation workshops to be offered at FWCC consultations

Purchase Meeting Annual Harvest Dinner, November 23

More Quakers speak at Queens Historical Socity exhibition

Coming up on November 24: Sabrina Jones (Fifteenth Street) will speak at QHS on Social Justice According to the Gospels.

Meeting for Discernment: March 1, 2014, Purchase Meeting

Spring Sessions 2014

Butternuts Quarterly Meeting explores permaculture here for BiomimicryClick here for Fingerlakes PermacultureClick here for Alchemical Nursery.


Joseph Olejak sentenced for tax resistance


Support for Syrian humanitarian relief and resolution to the conflict

Junior Yearly Meeting seeks volunteers

NYYM Stevens Fund assists retired pastors and others

Gifts for Meeting Libraries

Violance in Syria

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Keeping Faith: Answering That of God in All Creation

I’d like to blame it on the weather, the change of season, the prevalence of germs, bacteria, and viruses that propagate this time of year. But I know it is I who is to blame. I get run down, I ask too much of myself, I ignore my own wellness warning signs, and I become stressed. My immune system uses its only remaining recourse, and kicks me into bed.

I have lost sight of that of God in myself. If I truly could live into the reality that God dwells in all of creation—including me—I would not put myself through this inevitable cycle of idealized plans for service, stressful and unrealistic expectations for myself, and full-body shut down. If I honored my own body as if God dwelled there, not just my own ego, maybe I would do things differently.

Caring for those around us—in the many ways that we do—is a big way in which we work to answer that of God in creation. I see this clearly in my Quaker community. We define ourselves by how we serve each other. It is a radical departure from the worldly way of defining ourselves by what (or how much) we have. But it still sets us up to fail. I can say for myself that my faith falters when I fail to accept my own limitations of body and spirit in the caregiving service by which I define myself. And I worry about my Friends doing the same. How do I find the faith to define myself simply as the modest and fallible creation where God dwells?

What if this year, I asked for some help? Would I let the people I care for and myself down if I spent the season (or even some part of it) in contemplative reflection rather than reactive caring service? If I said a loving and honest “no” to even half of my anticipated holiday activities, would anyone but me notice the difference? How am I called to answer that of God in myself this year? How can I find the courage to just be the person I actually am, and not the person I think I should be?
~ Callie Janoff

Your ARCH staff:
Anita Paul [email protected]
Barbara Spring [email protected]
Callie Janoff [email protected]

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New Members



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Quaker Resources

Quaker books related to "Interspirituality"

Interfaith Dialogue at the Grass Roots, edited by Rebecca Kratz Mays.

Patterns and Examples: Experiencing the Spirit of Other Faiths, edited by Peter Jarman.

Quakerism and The Interfaith Movement: A Handbook for Peacemakers, edited by Anthony Manousos.

I Have Always Wanted to be Jewish: And Now, Thanks to the Religious Society of Friends, I Am, by Claire Gorfinkel; Pendle Hill Pamphlet #350.

Quakers and Jews, by Allan Kohrman.

Islam from a Quaker Perspective (Updated 2008 with Friends and The Interfaith Movement), by Anthony Manousos.

The Mindful Quaker: A Brief Introduction to Buddhist Wisdom for Friends, by Valerie Brown; Pendle Hill Pamphlet.

A Quaker in the Zendo, by Steve Smith; Pendle Hill Pamphlet #370.

Editor's note: Most of these resources more directly address "interfaith" concerns than they do "interspirituality," which, for the author of "Interspirituality," is a deeper matter.

Resources — That of God in Creation

Earthcare for Friends: A Study Guide for Individuals and Faith Communities, edited by Louis Cox, Ingrid Fabianson, Sandra Moon Farley, Ruah Swennerfelt (Quaker Earthcare Witness)

Arrowhead to Hand Axe: In Search of Ecological Guidance, by Keith Helmuth; $4.

Be Ye Perfect: The Quaker Call to Wholeness Together with Returning to Right Relationship: Where on Earth Are We?, by Lisa Lofland-Gould; $4.

Beyond the Growth Dilemma: Toward an Ecologically Integrated Economy, by Ed Dreby and Judy Lumb; $10.

Caring for Creation: Reflections on the Biblical Basis of Earthcare, by Lisa Lofland-Gould; $8.50.

Climate Change: A Spiritual Challenge & Becoming Again a Witnessing Body: Two Letters to New England Friends, by Brian Drayton; $5.

A Conservationist Manifesto, by Scott Russell Sanders; $19.95.

Earth Works: Selected Essays, by Scott Russell Sanders; $25.

Earthlight: Spiritual Wisdom for An Ecological Age, edited by Anthony Manousos and Cindy Spring; $20.

God’s Spirit in Nature, by Judith Brown; Pendle Hill Pamphlet #336; $6.50.

Goatwalking: A Guide to Wildland Living, by Jim Corbett; $4.47.

Living Downstream: An Ecologist’s Personal Investigation of Cancer and the Environment, by Sandra Steingraber; $16.95.

Genetically Modified Crops: Promises, Perils, and the Need for Public Policy, by Anne Mitchell, Pinayur Rajagopal, and Susan Holtz (Quaker Institute for the Future); $10.

Healing Ourselves and the Earth, by Elizabeth Watson (Quaker Earthcare Witness); $4.

How on Earth Do We Live Now? Natural Capital, Deep Ecology, and the Commons, by David Ciscel, Barbara Day, Keith Helmuth, Sandra Lewis, and Judy Lumb (Quaker Institute for the Future); $10.

In the Love of Nature, by Steve Smith; Southeastern YM 2008 Michener Lecture; $5.

Integrity, Ecology, and Community: The Motion of Love, by Jennie Ratcliffe; Pendle Hill Pamphlet #403; $6.50.

Population Is People: A Friends Perspective, edited by StanBecker, Louis Cox, Lisa Gould (Friends Committee on Unity with Nature—FCUN); $10.50.

Population Resources Exercise: Instructions for Facilitators, by Stan Becker (FCUN); $1.50.

Right Relationship: Building a Whole Earth Economy, by Peter Brown and Geoffrey Garver (Quaker Institute for the Future); $16.95.

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  • Friends World Committee for Consultation's Section of the Americas has invited the NYYM Committee on Conflict Transformation to facilitate full-day workshops at the 2014 Section Consultations in Sacramento, CA, and High Point, NC. The gathering dates are March 14–16 and April 11–13 respectively.
    Among other topics, the workshops will touch on:
    • Conflict transformation best practices within our communities.
    • Understanding the perpetrators and victims of conflicts.
    • How to defuse something before it ruptures a meeting.
    • Conflict as a necessary step for transformation.
  • More information is available from
    If you feel that your meeting could benefit from this work, please contact the clerk of the committee, Peter Phillips, at [email protected]. Purchase Meeting puts on a great dinner, and live music with dessert. The Meeting has traditionally donated the first $1,000 in profits to the NYYM Sharing Fund. Details are on their website, Liz di Giorgio of Flushing Meeting gave a talk on October 13 as part of the Queens Historical Society (QHS) exhibition, "Practicing Equality: Quakers in Queens." Called "Stillness and Light," the talk was about the evolution of Liz’s work as an artist and its connection with Quaker beliefs. You can find out more at: You can read a short essay by di Giorgio about her work at Of the work she has in the exhibition, she says: "Each painting on exhibit at the Queens Historical Society is embedded with deeply held personal and spiritual beliefs." The exhibition is on view through May 2014. Meetings for Discernment are a day-long opportunity to settle into deep worship around some queries. We spend time in fellowship as well, as we share a light breakfast and a lunch. At the end of the day those who are interested are invited to join the steering committee and elders for a time of reflection on the day.
    The queries and registration form will be available in the January Spark, as well as in InfoShare and on Meanwhile, if you have offers of help or specific questions, please contact Brian Doherty at [email protected]. For more general questions, please contact Lucinda Antrim, Clerk, Meetings for Discernment Steering Committee, at [email protected] or 914-473-2981. We very much look forward to seeing you there. Farmington-Scipio Regional Meeting looks forward to hosting NYYM Spring Sessions on April 4-6, 2014 (bad weather makeup date is April 12). Friday evening and Sunday morning will be at the Rochester Meetinghouse, and Saturday will be at Colgate Rochester Crozer Divinity School. Nearby Friends will offer hospitality and there are hotels in the area. Bronwyn Mohlke (Ithaca Meeting) is the registrar and Rima Segal (Rochester Meeting) is coordinating home hospitality. For more information, please write to [email protected] and look for details in the March Spark. Bonnie Gale (Hamilton Meeting) gave a presentation on permaculture at the Butternuts Quarterly Meeting held on May 18, 2013 at the Rogers Environmental Education Center in Sherburne, New York. About fifteen people attended.
    A permaculturist since the 1970s, Bonnie started her presentation by asking the audience about their relationship with nature, one of the questions being: “Are you a Dominator or Cooperator?” She followed up with a discussion about biomimicry. Begun in the 1970s by several Australians led by Bill Mollison, permaculture was defined as a method of sustainable ecological land design that provides for balanced human needs and the long-term health of the land and of those living on it. The presentation ended with a showing of the short but extraordinary movie Greening the Desert by Geoff Lawton. Bonnie teaches permaculture and holds degrees in Planning and Landscape Architecture. She can be contacted via at [email protected] and her main web site. .
    Some resources on permaculture:

    Joseph Olejak, an attender at Old Chatham Meeting, was sentenced by Judge Thomas McAvoy, a federal judge for the US District Court, Northern District of New York, on October 17 for conscientious tax resistance. The sentence included five years’ probation, 26 weekends in the Columbia County jail, payment of all back taxes due, without penalties and interest on the amount, and 200 hours of community service. Jens Braun, who attended the sentencing, said, “The judge seemed impressed with Joseph’s sincerity, and expressed the desire to not have an adverse effect on Joseph’s work or ability to parent his girls." Fifteenth Street Meeting is wrestling with what constructive forms our concern for the escalating violence in Syria and our country’s potential part in it could take, and invites Friends throughout the Yearly Meeting to consider how we might unite around a visible positive alternative. They have reached out to the American Friends Service Committee (AFSC) and AFSC responded with news about their efforts. AFSC has been supporting a network of Syrians in Syria who are doing what they can to support local peace initiatives and is discussing with Quaker United Nations Office (QUNO) ways in which AFSC can support those states that are calling for a diplomatic process to stop the war. They are working hard to develop a more detailed strategy that Friends could unite around. AFSC has also joined with FCNL in a strong appeal for the US to refrain from military intervention. Andrew Tomlinson, Director of QUNO New York, is available to speak to meetings on these issues . The Junior Yearly Meeting (JYM) coordinators, Melanie-Claire Mallison and Dawn Pozzi, are seeking volunteers for our 2014 NYYM Summer Sessions, being held July 20-26 at Silver Bay on Lake George in the Adirondacks. We are especially interested in f/Friendly adults who would enjoy working with our young Friends of every age. Being a JYM volunteer is a wonderful way to serve the Yearly Meeting and get to know our young people! Perhaps there is someone in your meeting who has the gift of working with children or teens and would welcome this opportunity. If so, please have them contact Melanie-Claire or Dawn (our contact information is in the Yearbook). We ask that meetings consider providing financial assistance for persons from their meeting who serve our children at Summer Sessions. Volunteers may also ask JYM to cover part of their Summer Sessions costs. Please contact us for all the information on this opportunity to work with our youth! The Stevens Fund is administered by the NYYM Trustees in consultation with Ministry & Pastoral Care Committee (M&PC) and Ministry Coordinating Committee. The fund consists of two bequests, from the estates of Seneca Stevens and Lindley Stevens, to the former “Orthodox” NYYM. Terms of the bequest were for “the aid of superannuated ministers, missionaries, or other outstanding Christian workers among the Orthodox Friends, aged or otherwise incapacitated.” . . . "to be applied towards supplying the necessities of life, such as food, clothing, shelter, and care to worthy ministers, missionaries or other members of NYYM who through age, or other disability, may be in need of any or all of these things.”
    Funds are disbursed twice a year by the NYYM Trustees upon the recommendation of Ministry Coordinating Committee and Ministry & Pastoral Care Committee. Recipients who meet these guidelines may be identified by their monthly meeting and/or by concerned Friends. Interested Friends should contact the coordinator of the Stevens Fund/M&PC, Alice Houghtaling, [email protected]. Friends Historical Library of Swarthmore College has a very large accumulation of historical Quaker books. Over the years we have been the recipient of the contents of many older libraries, meeting libraries, and the collections of individual Friends.
    We have a large collection of duplicates that we try to give away to Quaker libraries absolutely free. The Friends Historical Library will also pay the shipping.
    We don't have everything and sometimes our extra copy is an extra because the cover is beginning to fall off, but we can supply a meeting with a pretty good historical library. New books you have to acquire on your own. Basically, if the books are going to a meeting library, no matter how small, we are delighted to assist.
    There is no point in keeping books unless they are read or might be read or otherwise valuable for scholarship. I would rather see the 1722 edition of Sewel's History of the Quakers read until it falls apart than have it sit at Friends Historical Library in a stack of volumes of the same edition.
    Despite saying that books are meant to be read, if a meeting simply wants to have a few select old books to show, that's okay too.
    Please contact me if you have any interest or any questions.
    Christopher Densmore, Curator [email protected] Friends Historical Library Swarthmore College, 500 College Ave., Swarthmore, PA 19081.
    610-328-8496 (general number) Many of us are concerned about the continuing violence in Syria. The Friends Committee on National Legislation offers a thoughtful analysis of the current situation and proposes peaceful alternatives. Visit The Holidays approach. The season of giving, and of light in dark places is upon me. Every year I find myself focusing outward, on my family, on those around me in need of care, and on my dreams for equity and justice in our world. And with alarming regularity, I get sick. Some years it is just a nasty cold, sometimes I end up with full-blown bronchitis, or a cough that keeps my whole household up all night. All my plans for gracious hospitality, for thoughtful giving, and for family bonding time wind up in a crumpled heap of used tissues next to my bed.

    • Elizabeth Blake – Brooklyn
      Rolland Blake – Brooklyn
      Emily Foppert – Saranac Lake
      John Foppert – Saranac Lake
      Brian Gregory – Poplar Ridge
      Jack Gregory – Poplar Ridge
    • Heather Cook, to Central Finger Lakes from Charham-Summit
    • Helen Armour, member of Unadilla, on July 28, 2013
      Patricia Hakes, member of Unadilla, on October 14, 2013