Spark, September 2013


15 Rutherford Place
New York, NY 10003
New York Yearly Meeting News
Volume 44
Number 4
The Religious Society of Friends (Quakers) September 2013
Editor, Steven Davison    


Fall Sessions

  • Click here to go to the Web pages for Fall Sessions
  • Theme Features: Patriotism II

    Yearly Meeting News

    Upcoming Issue Themes

    • November 2013: Keeping Faith: That of God in Creation — based on the theme for Summer Sessions 2013
    • January 2014: Religious Education
    • We invite your contributions on these themes. Contact Steven Davison ([email protected]) for deadlines.


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    Around Our Yearly Meeting

    Meeting News

    Practicing Equality: Quakers in Queens

    Cheshire Frager (Flushing) and Helen Garay Toppins (Morningside) spoke at the opening of an exhibit at the Queens Historical Society on September 22, after meeting for worship at Flushing Meeting and a potluck lunch. Entitled “Practicing Equality: Quakers in Queens,” the exhibition highlights the influence of Quakers upon the ideals that helped establish the United States of America. Queens was the first place in colonial America where Quakers were contested and accepted; it was here that the Quakers put their principles into action and were persecuted for these beliefs. This exhibition depicts a journey toward practicing equality that has been marked by daring and by bumps along the road. The exhibit runs until May 2014 at the Kings Land Homestead, 143-35 37th Ave., Flushing. The Flushing-Main Street exit of the No. 7 subway will put you within 13 minutes of the exhibit. Flushing Meeting invites Friends to worship with them Sundays at 11 am before viewing the exhibition. For information about Flushing Meeting, visit Click here for Web site.

    "Faith, Hope, and Peace"—lecture at Poughkeepsie Meeting

    On Sunday, September 29, 2013, Don Badgley gave a public address at the Poughkeepsie Friends Meeting House. Don shared the truths that have been revealed to him in his lifelong Quaker journey, and what the Quaker Way has to offer spiritual seekers today.
    Don is the clerk of Poughkeepsie Monthly Meeting and the co-clerk of the Yearly Meeting’s Advancement Committee. For a number of years he has been carrying a concern that Friends need to actively share their faith with the wider world. He has given public talks for the Justice for All Speaker’s Forum in the Mid-Hudson Valley and for World Peace Day at the Hudson Valley Peace Center in Wassaic, NY. In these appearances, he focused his talk on the historic peace testimony of Friends. This talk will focus on Faith, Hope and Peace.
    The event is named in honor of former member of Poughkeepsie Meeting Anna O. Buchholz, who died in 2007. Anna served as Supervisor of the Town of Poughkeepsie for several terms and was well respected for her years of public service in Poughkeepsie.
    It is hoped that Friends from around the region will attend and support this gathering. There will be time allowed for questions and discussion after the talk and refreshments will be served.

    Ridgewood Meeting holds memorial meeting for Paul Hamell

    Paul Hamell of Ridgewood Meeting died peacefully at home on July 7, 2013, aged 58, surrounded by his family. Ridgewood Meeting held a memorial meeting at the meetinghouse on September 28. Friend Hamell published a blog titled Something Entirely Different that Friends can still visit (

    Brooklyn Meeting hosts atomic bomb survivors

    On the evening of April 29, 2013, three Hibakusha (atomic bomb survivors) spoke movingly of their experiences of the bombings to members of Brooklyn Meeting and the general public. Joining them for the discussion was President Truman’s grandson Clifton Truman Daniel and Dr. Cynthia Miller, whose father was a chief engineer of the Manhattan project. One of the Hibakusha, Shigeko Sasamori, was a Hiroshima Maiden, one of 28 Hibakusha sponsored by Quakers for reconstructive surgery at Mt. Sinai Hospital in NYC. Shigeko spoke of her strong and continuing feeling of belonging among Friends. Another, Lee Jong-keun, spoke of his experience as a Korean indentured servant and the lack of rights and personal discrimination he and his family suffered in Japan, which continued after the war. The group ended with a strong plea for peace and abolition of atomic weapons. Earlier the same day, the group gave a presentation and discussion with students at Brooklyn Friends School and presented the school with 1,000 paper cranes as a symbol of peace.

    Long Island Quarter hears speaker on injustice in the legal and penal systems

    Jed Morey, publisher of the Long Island Press and graduate of Friends Academy, spoke to Long Island Quarterly Meeting, hosted by Matinecock Meeting in April. Jed Morey is an active leader of the group “Hang the Jury” (, which works to bring greater awareness of how America’s “War on Drugs” has led to the mass incarceration of African-Americans in the United States over the past three decades. The group’s work is inspired by Michelle Alexander’s book The New Jim Crow. Both informative and provocative, Jed talked about the results of the privatization of prison operations, how the private prison operators seek to keep the prison population at “full occupancy,” and about the unfair application of drug laws and policies like “stop and frisk.” As explained on the group’s website, “Blacks comprise 13% of the U.S. population and use drugs at similar rates to whites. Yet blacks comprise roughly 45% of those incarcerated for drug law violations. It’s time for citizens to set right what our government has gotten so wrong.” The group proposes that jurors refuse to convict if they believe that the law is unjust or being unjustly applied, especially if the case is for a relatively minor drug offense. Citing case law supporting a citizen’s right to this action, known as “jury nullification,” Jed Morey urged us to educate ourselves about the unequal effects of the war on drugs and about how we can be advocates for policy change and justice.

    15th Street Meeting and New York Quarter approve minute on drone warfare

    This minute originated at Orange Grove Meeting of California. Both meetings hope that other meetings will take up this cause. Friends are also encouraged to read Medea Benjamin’s book Drone Warfare: Killing by Remote Control and to study how to address this concern.

    Minute of Concern Regarding Drone Warfare:
    As Friends (Quakers) who believe there is "that of God" in everyone and therefore every life is sacred, we are deeply concerned about the proliferation of lethal unmanned aerial vehicles, commonly known as drones. The United States is leading the way in this new form of warfare where pilots on US bases kill people, by remote control, thousands of miles away. Drones have become the preferred weapons to conduct war due to the lack of direct risk to the lives of U.S. soldiers, but these drone strikes have led to the death of hundreds of innocent civilians (including American citizens) in countries where we are not at war, including Pakistan, Yemen, and Somalia. We urge our government to put an end to this secretive, remote-controlled killing and instead promote foreign policies that are consistent with the values of a democratic and humane society. We call on the United Nations to regulate the international use of lethal drones in a fashion that promotes a just and peaceful world community, based on the rule of law, with full dignity and freedom for every human being.

    Butternuts Quarterly Meeting explores permaculture

    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. Click here for her web site.
    Some resources on permaculture:
    Click here for Biomimicry;
    Click here for Fingerlakes Permaculture;
    Click here for Alchemical Nursery.

    NY Gay Pride Parade

    New York City's gay pride parade is one of the largest in the nation and the city's Quakers have participated every year since the Stonewall Rebellion. In this, our 44th march, we combined our support for LGBTQ rights with an effort at community outreach. We added to the theme of this year's parade with some of our own themes and reached out, quite literally, to the community.
    Edd Fenner of Morningside Meeting designed our decorations and props. The organizers' theme for this year's parade was, "Rain to Rainbows." Edd designed T-shirts that read “Quakers” on the front, and to the theme on the back, added "In The Light." He also designed umbrellas for us to carry, 22 white ones with glass chandelier crystals hung from the edges. Between the T-shirts and umbrellas, our decorated car, and our colorful banner, we had a clear presence.
    We also incorporated the motto, "Equality in Faith and Practice," on our signage, in an ad we took in a local paper, and on colorful pendant tags we attached to about 900 strands of Mardi Gras beads that we handed out to bystanders along the way. We also included the web address for FGC's Quaker Finder, so people could find their local meeting no matter where they were from. Some two million people are said to come watch the parade every year, many of them tourists.

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    Letter to the Editor

    Dear Editor:

    I read the letter on verbal ministry eldering and related topics in May 2013's Spark written by Barry DeSaw [see], and I was intrigued by the refreshingly "in your face" honesty of his letter describing his experiences regarding verbal ministry and eldering that are, I think, along with patriotism, tricky and often hot-button topics among Friends. I have been a member of my meeting for approximately one year and I value and respect his two decades at meeting. My experience with "eldering" in life, be it decades ago with much younger bosses at work or 19-year-old second lieutenants just out of Officer Candidate School in the National Guard back in my draft-dodging days, was that I learned much from these folks and that my experience sadly oftentimes belies the myth that age alone does not confer wisdom or common sense.

    I know Barry and he is indeed a highly intelligent (Ivy Leaguer) sensitive, perceptive, analytical fellow with the courage to point out unpopular things that are both factually accurate and legitimate concerns. However, I see vocal ministry from a vastly different angle than Barry described in his letter, I think. So far I see verbal ministry as "in its infancy" on Long Island. I don't mean that it hasn't been going on for 300 years or more—just that it is evolving and transforming—and in a stage of "fragile germination" now, like an infant or small tree emerging from a seed and sending its small branches tentatively towards the Light. Why this is the way it is I do not know. But having and raising children with my wife Karin, we have learned the hard way that children and vocal ministry share many similarities: "they don't come with instructions," "they come with lots of potential strength and faults," and just having children—or participating in verbal ministry—"is an incredible leap of faith." Who knows if the child will be healthy or viable—but we and many others do it anyway. And in so doing we assimilate the knowledge of the Bob Dylan song of recent times, "Everything is Broken," that as Friends we are "broken" people spiritually in one way or another­—and that we ought to be "tender and broken" towards one another, to paraphrase William Penn and John Woolman.

    So I see it with vocal ministry. Barry has done us all a valuable service in shining a harsh light on its shortcomings. But this ought not to be our focus in my view. A better place to start is the shared LOVE I think Friends all have for that holy hour of silence on Sunday that helps many of us recharge our somewhat depleted spiritual batteries in our chaotic and troubled world, where change is certain and growth is optional.

    Furthermore, silence is strong enough to stand on its own. It is indeed a holy gift and by itself is good.

    Vocal ministry is the sprinkles/organic fruit atop the ice cream-yogurt dish. To strengthen and nurture our budding vocal ministry—there OUGHT to be classes that are convenient to where most Friends live and affordable to whatever 90% of Friends budgets are (and I know it's too easy to come up with ideas without the needed money or time and energy to fulfill them); classes that are a helpful and instructive and maybe transforming activity on the how, why, and what of vocal ministry. Lots of Barry's valid points and the uncertainties and awkwardness of Friends can begin to be addressed in such classes. Have we ever done this before? If so, what were the outcomes? I am a realist/pessimist by nature, yet I see this as an eminently fixable set of concerns.

    My personal vocal ministry has been something that is within my spirit and keeps bubbling out of me for at least two meetings. I tamp it down within myself in an attempt to discern if this is a legitimate leading or just ego-intellectualizing. If this feeling persists, if it just demands to be said, if I "cover it up" and it becomes like covering a fire with a paper bag, and becomes futile—at some point—it bursts forth like lava from a somewhat gentle volcano. These ministries should be discerned in my view by the individual Friend to have no ego—not witty, charming, bright, or pithy—not what you heard on NPR/FOX News today. It should be edifying to friends and be "Quakerly" in being steeped in brokenness, compassion, humility. We Quakers are at heart mystics—and is what I've described easy? Not at all—but worthwhile, essential, and doable goals in my estimation.

    Richard Morgan, Conscience Bay Meeting

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    New Members

    • Christine Barnaby – Binghamton
      Anne Cralle – Rahway-Plainfield
      Lisa Edstrom – Hudson
      Curt Fey – Rochester
      Sarah Fitts-Romig – Rochester
      Karen Friedeborn – Ithaca
      Lynne James – Poughkeepsie
      David Kuffler – Rahway-Plainfield
      Luis Kuffler Cralle – Rahway-Plainfield
      Mitch McEwen – Brooklyn
      David Munro — Rahway-Plainfield
      Charlene Ray – Morningside
      Aidan Pi Serviente – Ithaca
      Mary Williams – Croton Valley




    • Elizabeth Horstmann, to Morningside from Beacon Hill (NEYM)
      Fenna C. Mandolang, to Buffalo from Alfred
      Wallace Watson, to Ithaca from Pittsburgh (Lake Erie YM)


    • Robin Ann Bebel, member of Manasquan, on April 21, 2013
      Julia Cadbury, member of Albany, on August 12, 2013
      Grete Sorter Carpenter, member of Poughkeepsie, on May 9, 2013
      Robert C. Conway, member of Unadilla, on May 4, 2013
      Paul Hamell, member of Ridgewood, on July 7, 2013
      Irene Main, member of Poplar Ridge, on June 14, 2013
      Elizabeth H. Moger, member of Hanover (NH-NEYM), on June 3, 2013
      Sheila Okin, member of Peconic Bay, on June 27, 2013
      Stephen J. Quimby, member of Unadilla, on April 21, 2013
      Ed Schmitt, member of Purchase, on August 17, 2013

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