Interchange – Fall 2010

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The Advancement and Outreach Committee would like to encourage all Meetings to consider doing a Quaker Quest program at their Meeting. Quaker Quest is an exciting movement of the Spirit happening across the country and across Baltimore Yearly Meeting! Quaker Quest is a dynamic and transformative inreach and outreach process based on the experience that the Quaker way is a spiritual path for our time that is simple, radical, and contemporary. It was developed by twelve British Friends in 2002, who asked Friends General Conference (FGC) in 2007 to shepherd it in the US and Canada.

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Quaker singer/songwriter Carrie Newcomer on Interfaith Voices

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Listen to Quaker singer/songwriter Carrie Newcomer on Interfaith Voices.  Her piece begins at 36 minutes into this podcast.  Great outreach!!  (Her name even sings “outreach!”)

The Muslim American Experience | Interfaith Voices.

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Interchange – Summer 2008 – Williamsburg

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Williamsburg Friends Meeting hosted approximately 60 people for BYM’s Interim Meeting on March 29th. Because we are a small meeting and quite far away from the central office, we were grateful for the presence of these visiting Friends and glad to feel embedded in the larger Quaker community. We enjoyed planning the meals and some of us felt that we’d come away from the weekend with not only a deeper understanding of Quaker process but also the possibility of some new friends.

In February we held an all day retreat on spirituality and creativity, which was enjoyed by all. Our ongoing food and clothing drives provide us with links to the greater Williamsburg community.

We continue to nurture and support our clerk who is gravely ill, and yet another Williamsburg Friend has a parent who is close to death. In spite of these losses, we feel Spirit working among us and are thankful for our small and close-knit community.

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Interchange – Summer 2008 – Patuxent

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Friends had a rich and rewarding experience supporting the final week of the new Safe Nights of Calvert County program, a community-based initiative dedicated to providing temporary shelter to the homeless during the cold winter months. During the last week of March, Friends joined with two local churches to provide food and shelter from the cold. A nightly average of eight participants, men and women, from infant to 70 years of age benefited from the generosity of a diverse community partnership. Friends provided meals and other support in cooperation with other churches in our county. One lady’s eyes welled with tears as she read a small placard that said “These cookies were baked for you by the children of Patuxent Friends Meeting.” The lady picked out a brightly colored, worm-shaped cookie but wanted to save it, so she asked to take another to eat. Those of us who were organizing and serving were deeply touched. Unfortunately, the program is now over, and participants worried about where they would sleep in coming nights. Safe Nights will return for a longer period in the fall of 2008, beginning in November.

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Interchange – Summer 2008 – Gunpowder

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Last winter, Gunpowder Friends engaged in an extended conversation about the meaning of membership in a Quaker Meeting. We reflected and commented on the proposed voices, advices, and queries by the BYM Faith and Practice Revision Committee; we held a pot-luck supper and forum on the subject of membership; we approved a new name for our “Care and Oversight” committee and commended their careful work in attending to the needs of our members and attenders. One result of our focus on membership has been requests for (and approvals of) membership from three of our families with young children. Our spiritual center continues to be nurtured by these families, and we are deeply grateful for their presence.Other diverse activities continue to sustain the spiritual vitality of the Meeting: we have a large and engaged Spiritual Formation program, with nearly twenty Friends from Gunpowder, Homewood and Stony Run Meetings participating monthly; quiet retreat days continue on the second Saturday of each month; Bible Study and Quakerism study groups meet monthly; this winter, twelve of us gathered for a ten-week workshop on writing our spiritual autobiography; currently another group is meeting weekly to focus on how we are called to live the testimony of simplicity.As we come to know one another through these opportunities for sharing, we learn how God is at work in all of our lives and build the trust necessary to deal with all opportunities and issues that require our loving attention. We have labored carefully and lovingly over the relationship between BYM and FUM and continue to hold the entire Yearly Meeting in the light as we seek God’s guidance on this issue.

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Interchange – Summer 2008 – Deer Creek

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Our adult first day school gatherings were enriched this winter and early spring by a variety of visitors and discussions. In January Sam Trueblood came from his home in Pennsylvania to give his annual and always anticipated series of Bible studies for four Sundays, this time centering on the parables. In February participants in the Walk for a New Spring, a 40-day peace walk from Massachusetts to Washington, spent the night at the Deer Creek Meeting and one of the participants, Buddhist Sister Clare, stayed over on Sunday speak at our first day school. On intermittent Sundays we had a study series by way of DVDs from The Teaching Company on “Jesus and the Gospels” taught by Dr. Luke Timothy Johnson of Emory University. On Easter Sunday an lntergenerational program led by Sarah Buchanan-Wollaston was especially effective.

In connection with the recent fifth anniversary of the Iraq war, the Peace Committee led a discussion on March 30 based on the message that continues to be distributed by Quakers, “War is Not the Answer,” using some of the excellent and informative material researched and prepared by the Friends Committee on National Legislation. The Deer Creek Peace Committee has been especially active this year, meeting monthly for pot luck suppers in members’ homes, participating in local peace vigils and communicating with their district congressman.

Through the initiative of one of the committee’s members, Jill Sostrin, a group of Friends and friends of Friends joined together on Thursday evenings from January through March for eight sessions of a discussion course on Voluntary Simplicity with material from the Northwest Earth Institute. The group plans to continue meeting this spring and early summer, beginning in April with a discussion of the book, Animal, Vegetable and Miracle, in which Barbara Kingsolver and her husband, environmental scientist Steven Hopp describe their year of eating only home grown or locally grown food and promoting diversified farming.

Ladies Luncheons once a month are an occasion to explore local restaurants, get to know each other better, and especially to enjoy being with Margaret Pickard, a much loved member who is now in a nearby nursing home and is always included. A revival of 3 Friendly $’s, was begun on March 29 and was another highly successful opportunity for old and new members to know each other.

The children’s Sunday school collected 71 food items in February for the Mason-Dixon Food Pantry. Teenagers selected a rug and bean bag chairs for their “special place” for Sunday School and hosted the annual Easter Egg hunt for the younger children.

The Meeting gave a special social hour and send off in January for Betsy Wollaston, a long-time and active member also well known as a regular participant in Yearly Meetings. Betsy is now living in Sandy Spring. She will be missed for her dedication and vocal ministry over many years.

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Interchange – Summer 2008 – Annapolis

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Annapolis Friends continue to meet regularly to develop a peace and justice center. A group met with the local Boys and Girls Club and we hope to bring the Help Increase the Peace Program to them next summer with the help of a Young Friend who has been trained as a leader. We are exploring sister city relationships between Annapolis and both Ramallah (West Bank, Palestine), and Teverya (on the Israeli coast). We are learning about water rights issues, which are a major issue between Israel and Palestine, and we are exploring bringing Palestinian and Israeli youth to Annapolis this summer.

Our Young Friend Martin Krafft traveled to Paraguay last year as part of Amigos dc las Americas program, He has made a number of slide presentations to Friends about his experiences and hopes to travel to either Panama or Mexico in the future.

We held a contra and square dance with live music and caller in March to benefit construction of a new facility for a local homeless shelter.

We hosted Chesapeake Quarterly Meeting on Sunday, March 9. Several Friends talked about how we have gotten our Peace and Justice Center started. Friend Will Candler reviewed his new book, Global Warming, The Answer, and Ted Weber discussed Maryland state initiatives and action options on environmental concerns.

Adult education sessions have examined Quaker history, what we believe and our way of worship, the testimonies, and Quaker organizations.

We set aside every fifth First Day before worship for an informal gathering around the concern of membership, aimed especially at people who might be considering membership. With many members excited about the upcoming presidential elections, we have been reviewing the law with regard to ministers (all of us) touching on political issues at Meeting and its implication for our tax-exempt status.

This year, Outreach Committee is sponsoring two Visitors’ Sundays. These are opportunities to invite family and friends to learn about Quakers prior to attending a meeting for worship.

Outreach has begun a “Friendly Connections” program, matching newcomers with more seasoned Friends who can guide them through the maze of acronyms, committees, and Quaker ways.

On Easter, we held a Sunrise service at 7:00 a.m. followed by a walking meditation on our property and breakfast.

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Interchange – Spring 2008 – York

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Our Meeting has been blessed with several gifts from members and attenders.

Pat Long has answered the call from the Peace and Social Concerns Committee of BYM in writing letters, often in the name of the Meeting, to our Congressional representatives, Senators, and to the local newspaper concerning nonviolence and peace in the Middle East. Pat is our representative to FCNL, freely gives out “War is Not the Answer” signs, and stands with the Vigil for Peace on the square in York every Friday at 4:30 pm as people are driving home from work.

We have the gift of children attending Meeting, which has created a need for a First Day School. A gift of lumber from Steve Stankowicz has made it possible for us to dream of a First Day School building. A First Day School Building Committee has been formed and we look forward to undertaking such a big project.

Ed and Fran Norton offered their gift of flute and harpsichord music at the Meeting House on New Years Eve as part of York’s First Night celebration. A CD of their music is available for $15, $5 of which is being donated to the First Day School Building Fund.

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Interchange – Spring 2008 – Valley

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Valley Friends celebrated the planting of our peace pole, with a community reception that included children’s activities, reading of peace prayers by representatives of those whose language was included on the pole, music, food and fellowship. It was truly uplifting to be part of such a diverse group all sharing the same longing for peace and enjoying each others company. This event was well covered in our local paper.

Our coffee house-style talent show gave us opportunity to see different facets of Meeting personalities and provided a great intergenerational activity for all to enjoy.

On Memorial Day weekend we joined with the local chapter of Veterans for Peace, Trinity Presbyterian Church and the JMU Gandhi Center to bring the Virginia section of the “Eyes Wide Open” exhibit to Harrisonburg. This three day event was well publicized by local media and visited by many. Our thanks to Friends at Charlottesville for their help with the project. This collaborative effort to produce an event that both honored and informed was rewarding to all who participated and gave added strength to the exhibit’s message.

We enjoyed sharing worship and getting to know the two recipients, from Africa, of our scholarships to Eastern Mennonite University’s Summer Peace Building Institute. As they shared their experiences they reinforced our commitment to this program. We encourage other Friends to consider helping us build this scholarship fund which is used to help people who are connected with Friends learn methods of spreading peace in their home country.

We enjoyed hosting the Blue Ridge Gathering of Friends in November and would like to see this group continue as it provides Friends of the valley an opportunity for wider Quaker fellowship.

Helping to protect the environment has become a Meeting concern. Environmentally friendly cleaning products are now available for purchase at the Meeting. We are considering how we can participate with other congregations in the area in providing a warm bed and a simple meal for homeless people during the winter months.

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Interchange – 2008 – Peace Call – Richmond

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The peacemaking activities of the Peace and Social Concerns Committee of Richmond Friends Meeting bear witness to a range of local, regional, and national concerns. On the second Saturday of every month, we lead a silent “Take a Second for Peace” vigil and walk along our busy city Boulevard. The committee purchased “War is Not the Answer” yard signs and distributes them at no charge to Friends.

Members of the Committee have been an “informed presence” at several high schools career fairs with brochures and guidance about alternatives to military recruitment. With the Richmond Peace Education Center, we have improved the visibility and accessibility of the Opt Out form in the Richmond Public Schools information packets for parents and students, so that they can elect not to be contacted by military recruiters. Members of our Meeting have provided financial and volunteer leadership support for Quaker House in Fayetteville, NC.

Richmond Friends, along with the Peace Center and Midlothian Friends Meeting, provides ongoing oversight of Virginia’s “Eyes Wide Open” display, coordinating storage, maintenance and updating of the boots and signs for Virginia venues.

Our Meeting agreed on a minute opposing military action in Iran, and notified elected officials and the media of our position. The Committee organized two FCNL-related letter writing campaigns. Annually, our Meeting sponsors of the ecumenical and inter-religious International Day of Peace Vigil on September 21, with a silent vigil and candlelight walk that draws participants from area churches, synagogues, mosques, and temples. And finally, last summer we hosted a forum for the Christian Peacemakers Team (Maurice Trimmer, Maury River Friends) and Alternatives to Violence coordinator, Hezron Masitsa from Kenya.

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