Spark, September 2014


15 Rutherford Place
New York, NY 10003
New York Yearly Meeting News
Volume 45
Number 4
The Religious Society of Friends (Quakers) September 2014
Editor, Steven Davison    

Download this issue of Spark as a pdf file.


Fall Sessions

Theme Features: Stepping into Quaker Religious Education

NYYM Priorities—from Summer Sessions

Around Our Yearly Meeting—Yearly Meeting news

Letter to the Editor



NYYM Priorities
From Summer Sessions 2014

NYYM Priorities—An Introduction

At Summer Sessions this year, the gathered body of the Yearly Meeting adopted the priorities described in the Statement of Leadings & Priorities printed to the left on page four. The Priorities Working Group gleaned these priorities from its visits with all the meetings and worship groups in the Yearly Meeting. These six visionary statements will guide the work of local meetings and Yearly Meeting staff and committees for the next five years.

The Priorities Action Hub

Already under way. Many meetings, Yearly Meeting committees and Yearly Meeting staff have already begun to explore how we will implement the Priorities, and we have created a web page where Friends can add their own stories—the Priorities Action Hub. We invite Friends, committees, and meetings to visit this page to see how this movement is unfolding and to share your own efforts with others in the Yearly Meeting by posting them to the Hub. The page is interactive: just click the link "Add your Actions here" and fill out the brief and easy form on the page that opens.

Read the Statement of Leadings and Priorities approved at Summer Sessions—just click this link.

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Around Our Yearly Meeting

Eric Garner March

On Saturday, August 23, Quakers from three NYC meetings marched with thousands of others to honor Eric Garner and to say No More to NYC police abuses. Garner, an African American, died as a result of a policeman's choke hold while being arrested. A middle-aged black minister came up to us and said, "Thank you for being here. Seeing you here gives me hope. If you weren't here, I would have less hope." He was referring to us as Quakers and also as part of the human rainbow.

One of our group was quoted by Associated Press reporter Jonathan Lemire in a news piece that appeared in many publications. Here are a few lines from his August 23 AP piece: "The crowd included representatives of the United Federation of Teachers and members of the Society of Friends, also known as Quakers.

City Council Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito and Democratic gubernatorial candidate Zephyr Teachout marched, too. Diana Smith-Baker, a white Manhattan resident and Quaker, said it was important for people of all races and religions to bring attention to "the inequities toward black people and Hispanic people by the police department."

Ticonderoga Worship Group laid down

On Sunday, June 8, Old Chatham Meeting minuted the laying down of Ticonderoga Worship Group, at the Worship Group's request. The Worship Group has been struggling with membership for some time.

Quaker E-Resources
QuakerSpeak is a video project of Friends Journal in collaboration with Friends General Conference and Quaker Voluntary Service in which Friends are interviewed on various topics. The videos are entertaining, informative, inspiring, challenging, unifying, and collaborative. Here are some ways your meeting can use the videos from QuakerSpeak:
  • Add it to your website to make your website more dynamic.
  • Watch and discuss videos as part of First-day School or adult RE programs.
  • Share with friends as a way to introduce Quakerism via email, Facebook, etc.

Quaker Cloud
Quaker Cloud is a web toolkit offered by Friends General Conference that provides three kinds of web-based services to local meetings. See The three components are:

  • Hosting and development of your meeting website; easy to build and maintain; great customer service.
  • A minute manager that allows you to archive, search, and share minutes with your meeting . . . and whomever.
  • A secure meeting directory for managing your member information.

Peace Tree Ceremony at Brooklyn Friends School

Brooklyn Friends School Middle School students contemplate the peace testimony every year as they prepare for the Peace Tree Ceremony, held the first Friday of December. Over a period of several weeks students and teachers work together exploring the relationship between the Quaker tenet of “that of God in every person” and the importance of peace in the world. Each advisory group chooses one aspect of peace as a focus, then creates a presentation for the ceremony and ornaments for the evergreen tree. The presentations are always thoughtful and unique, reflecting a wide range of global, national, regional, community, and personal peace concerns. Here are some examples from past years: a skit featuring early Quakers writing the seminal statement of the peace testimony in 1660; a slide show of teens around the world who have started non-profit organizations devoted to peace making; recitations of quotes from famous peace builders; personal wishes for peace; honoring organizations, such as Doctors Without Borders, that work to bring peace in the world.

Nightingales—Come Sing!

Dates: October 3-5, 2014
Place: Quaker Intentional Village, near East Chatham, NY.

If you love to sing, come join with others who love it too! Nightingales is an a cappella singing group that meets twice a year. We will meet the weekend of October 3-5 at the Quaker Intentional Village near East Chatham, New York. That time should offer peak autumn colors, so come sing with us around a campfire in a lovely rural setting. You do not have to be a great, or even a good, singer to participate. We gather not to perform, but to share the joy of fellowship and the love of singing.

You don’t have to come for the whole weekend to participate. There will be opportunities to sing Friday evening, Saturday morning, Saturday late afternoon, and Saturday after dinner. Those that stay overnight Saturday will warm up the Old Chatham meetinghouse with song before worship on Sunday. Some will sleep in tents, there is bed rolling on the farmhouse floor, and there are some beds in nearby homes as well.

Bring a pot-luck offering, a blanket or chair to sit on if you stay for the campfire, a flashlight, and copies of Worship in Song and/or Rise Up Singing.

Shuttle service from the Hudson or Albany Amtrak stations is a possibility. Children are most welcome, though those not wanting to participate in the singing are the responsibility of their parents. Whether you want to camp or stay in a bed, we can accommodate you.

For Registration or more information: Contact Christopher Sammond, [email protected], 917-613-6314

We need to know how many to plan for, who needs a bed, and what food you plan to share!

Suggested fee: $10.

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Letter to the Editor

August 28, 2014

I doubt I am the only Friend who left the Business Sessions at Silver Bay distressed and disappointed. When unity [about the Priorities Working Group's recommendations] was not immediately apparent, many Friends forsook silent worship and contemplative ministry and instead argued, attacked, belittled and accused. During these sessions I experienced a marked absence of kindness, trust and attentiveness to the Spirit. Friends accused other Friends of bad faith, ignorance, and pursuing hidden agendas. I was screamed at (yes, literally SCREAMED AT) by a Friend. When I approached her afterwards, the Friend explained “sometimes you have to yell to be heard.”

That is not our state in my Monthly Meeting and, I hope, it is not our state when we convene at yearly sessions.

So profound have been my past experiences of the beauty, Light, and power of our ministry when we have met as a Yearly Meeting, that I write to remind Friends of our better natures; to invite honest assessment of our recent treatment of each other at Silver Bay; and to remind us of certain fundamental precepts:

  • When we offer ministry, do we do so in order to testify to our portion of the Truth, or do we speak to persuade the body of the rightness of our view?
  • Do we feel entitled? If we are not recognized by the Clerk, do we feel frustrated? Do we recognize the root of that frustration?
  • Do we speak in anger, with the intention to reprimand or rebuke others?
  • Do we speak only when we are sufficiently informed of the topic under consideration? Is our ministry truly seasoned if we have not made the effort seriously to master the facts at issue?
  • Do we speak in order to respond to a prior speaker’s ministry? Or do we speak the Truth as led, offering a gift to the body as a whole?
  • Do we speak even though another Friend has already offered the ministry we were given?
  • Do we listen to other Friends' ministry and allow it to season in our hearts? Do we attend vocal ministry in an effort to find unity among us? Or do we listen guardedly, challenging, seeking to detect perceived error in the speaker's message?
  • Our Book of Discipline (p. 88) expresses the goal that, in Business Sessions, "partisanship and self-interest are subordinated to the authority of God's will." Are we open to such subordination?
  • Having once offered ministry, are we prompted to speak a second time? Do we recognize what that prompting might portend?
  • Having offered ministry, do we still cling to it as ours or do we let it go unencumbered into the prayer of the body?
  • Advice 16 instructs that speakers in business meeting "not be unduly persistent in advocacy and opposition, but, after having fully expressed their views, to recognize the generally expressed sense of the meeting." Even if we harbor lingering misgivings, are we open to the will of the Spirit, as revealed by the corporate discernment of the body, and are we willing to accept it as a member of the body?

Our Book of Discipline (p. 102) teaches that "the yearly meeting exists primarily to worship together." The next time we convene, let each of us make that our central and most important task.

In Friendship,
Peter Phillips, Cornwall Friends Meeting

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New Members

    Carl Blumenthal – Brooklyn
    Aurora Cayer – Genesee Valley
    Kodah J. Cayer – Genesee Valley
    Lilyanna W. E. Cayer – Genesee Valley
    Samuel Burr Eckstut – Morningside
    Carol Anne Ferlauto – Chatham-Summit
    Elizabeth Bronwyn Foulke – Poplar Ridge
    Fiona Cathleen Foulke – Poplar Ridge
    Maeve Beatrix Foulke – Poplar Ridge
    Rhys Owen Foulke – Poplar Ridge
    Teagan Aibhinn Foulke – Poplar Ridge
    Matthew Ganster – Quaker Street
    Caroline Hartling – Brooklyn
    Michele Ann Jaquays – Mohawk Valley
    Owen H. Mayer – Genesee Valley
    Milton B. Merts – Montclair
    Adam Rashid – Brooklyn
    Richard Shadick – Fifteenth Street
    Alive Vaughan – Cornwall

Marriages / Covenant Relationships

    Mary Grace Larsen, – member of Montclair Meeting, to John Mineka, on January 11,2014, under the care of Montclair Meeting
    Connie Frank Williams, – member of Chatham-Summit, to Lee McKean Adams, on July 26, 2014, under the care of Chatham-Summit Meeting
    John F. Mears, IV, – member of Dover-Randolph, to Kimberley Diane Snook, on July 12, 2014
    CORRECTION: Mary Edgerton, – member of Saratoga, to Reva Pallone, on February 14, 2014


    Lucas Labatut Pronto, – born on June 23, 2014, to Jennifer Pronto, member of Adirondack, and Rodrigo Labatut


    George Fisher, – to Conscience Bay from Fifteenth Street


    Thomas Glynn – member of Brooklyn, on May 3, 2014
    Marion Irving, – member of Dover-Randolph, on June 11, 2014
    Katherine Nicklin, – member of Shelter Island, on August 19, 2014
    Frank Oakes, – member of Manasquan, on March 24, 2014
    Woody Schempp, – member of Wilton, on May 21, 2014
    Nicholas Sugar, – member of Chatham-Summit, on August 30, 2014


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