Spark, September 2022 - The Life Cycle of Meetings
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Welcome to Spark Online
The online edition of New York Yearly Meeting's print newsletter.
This is the Online Edition of the September 2022 issue of Spark, which you can also view as a pdf file, or a letter-size PDF booklet with just the articles
The Life Cycle of Meetings
Guest-edited by Emily Provance
Articles on the Theme: Messages from NYYM Friends
- Stamford-Greenwich Friends Meeting: The End of a Good Life, by Esmé Ingledew, Chappaqua Meeting & Janet Hough Cobscook Meeting, NEYM
- Facing Hard Truths, by Robin Mohr, Executive Secretary, Friends World Committee for Consultation, Section of the Americas
- Queries for Meetings in Transition, by Anne Pomeroy, New Paltz Meeting
- Selling Poughkeepsie Meetinghouse, by Don Badgley, Poughkeepsie Meeting
- Laying Down Central Finger Lakes Meeting - An Interview with Astuti Bijlefeld, by Callie Janoff, Brooklyn Meeting
- Joining a Combined Meeting, by Michael Booth, Westminster (UK) Meeting
- Growing Our Quaker Community, by Margery Post Abbott, Carl Abbott, Chris Cradler, & Larry Ferguson, Multnomah (Ore.) & Bridge City (Ore.) Meetings
- A New Meeting House in Devon: Ashburton Quaker Meeting, by Pip Harris, Ashburton (UK) Meeting
- Three Growing Stories, by Nikki Holland (Belize Friends Church), John Moru (South Sudan), and Nicolas Otieno (Tanzania)
- Grief Stages and Change Theory When Considering the Life of a Meeting, by Helen Mullin, Brooklyn Meeting
- Grief, Not Shame, by Emily Provance, 15th Street Meeting
- A Good Friday Blessing for You, by The Good Friday Collaborative
- Gathering Wisdom Beyond Friends
Around Our Yearly Meeting
- Editor's Note
- Videos from Summer Sessions
- Upcoming Events
- Online Worship
When I travel in ministry, I hear stories. I also hear the kinds of worries that Friends are hesitant to bring up under ordinary circumstances. Here’s one that Friends often whisper to me privately: “I’m not sure that our meeting will survive.”
It’s funny that Friends say that quietly. There’s often no hesitation to proclaim that “Quakers are dying,” but the end of a particular local meeting seems harder to face.
In August 2021, I gathered a group of Friends on Zoom who had all expressed interest in the concern of faithfully laying down meetings. We’re a motley group, from four different countries and at least a dozen different Quaker institutions. Some of us are staff members; others are clerks or former clerks. Still others bring particular expertise to the conversation, such as a history with hospice care. We’ve worshiped, exchanged information, studied recent meeting closures, and interviewed ecumenical experts, and in doing so, we’ve learned that local faith communities have a life cycle. They are born, they grow, they go through a variety of struggles and exciting moments, and eventually, they decline and die. The average life of a local faith community is only about a hundred years.
I find this comforting. Of course the meeting will not survive. Ultimately, none of them do. This is normal.
And of course, it’s not true that Quakerism is dying. Quakerism is transforming and being birthed anew. Yes, many local meetings are dying; census analysis shows that 24% fewer Quaker meetings and churches existed in the United States in 2020 than did in 2010. But God’s way is the way of resurrection. When the old goes to rest, it makes space for something different to rise.
In this issue, you’ll read about the whole life cycle of meetings. You’ll read reflections, queries, personal stories, and historical accounts. You’ll read about new meetings, about meetings that grew so fast that they had to make unexpected adjustments, about meetings undergoing significant transitions, and about meetings that are laying themselves down or have been laid down. You’ll read reflections from Friends in North America, Europe, Central America, and Africa, because the life cycle of a meeting is a universal truth. (For this same reason, I anticipate this issue of Spark being shared online outside the circles of New York Yearly Meeting.)
To me, the ultimate question is this: how is our meeting faithful to God’s call for us now?
Wanting to talk more about something you've read in this issue of Spark? Register for an upcoming reflection session: Monday, November 7 at 2 p.m. (Eastern) or Tuesday, November 15 at 8 p.m. (Eastern). Open to Friends everywhere. For more information or to register, visit tinyurl.com/meetinglifecycle
Many thanks to Emily Provance for serving as guest editor for this issue, and to everyone who contributed. Emily has been traveling in the ministry full time since January, 2019, visiting Quakers all over the world, and is a remarkable person. Find more of her writing and subscribe to her weekly newsletter at quakeremily.wordpress.com.
To join the email list and receive the weekly NYYM update, please visit nyym.org/subscribe. To add or revise your mailing address or phone number, please contact email@example.com or call the NYYM office at 212-673-5750.
You— yes, you!—are encouraged to submit your writing or images for future issues of Spark. Please limit articles to 400-600 words.
Upcoming Spark themes:
November: Famous Quakers Submissions due Oct. 1. Many notable journalists, musicians, artists, actors, business owners, and politicians have a Quaker background that isn't widely known. Who is your favorite lesser-known Quaker? Are they admirable (Shirley Chisholm, Judi Dench) or infamous (Richard Nixon)? How did Quakerism help shape their lives? Email submissions to firstname.lastname@example.org.
January: Mindful Eating Guest edited by Rebekah Rice and Margaret McCasland. Submissions due Dec. 1. This theme is inspired by the Mindful Eating minute presented at Spring Sessions 2022. Topics could include: Compassion for Animals; Regenerative Farming; Food and Simplicity; Food and Equality; Food and Climate Change; Food and Truth; and Spirit-led Food Choices. Email articles to Margaret and Rebekah at email@example.com and include "Spark article" in the subject line.
Sarah Way, NYYM
- Rebecca Conklin—Syracuse
- Jennifer Coonce—Brooklyn
- Diane-Ellen McCarron—Poughkeepsie
- Susan Bingham, member of Montclair, on May 30, 2022.
- Emily Boardman, member of Cornwall, on June 14, 2022.
- Karen Graziano, member of Poughkeepsie, on April 9, 2022.
- Raymond Howes, member of Hamilton, on April 5, 2022.
- Jerry Leaphart, member of Wilton, on June 24, 2022.
- Sheila Leeds, member of Brooklyn, in July 28, 2022.
- Richard Lunt, member of Rochester, on May 13, 2022.
- Robert Martin, member of Bulls Head-Oswego, on May 22, 2022.
- Steven Taylor-Roth, member of Albany, on May 2, 2022.
- Genka Tulevech, member of Rockland, on June 24, 2022.
Videos from Summer Sessions
Videos from Summer Sessions, including the State of Society presentation and the video from opening worship, can now be viewed online.
Playing in the Light: Godly Play®/Faith & Play™ Training for Quakers
Hybrid: Online & In-person, September/October 2022
This powerful way of being with children can transform your religious education program for children, and nurture your own spiritual life. Learn and practice skills to help children explore the existential limits of their lives through wonder, play, and core stories from the Bible and Quaker faith and practice.
The training consists of 3 sessions on Zoom, Sept. 18, Oct. 2 & 16, and an in-person weekend at Powell House, October 28-30. Visit poho.org for more details.
Testimonies to Mercy
Sept. 2022-June 2023
“Testimonies to Mercy” is a seven-part traveling series of in-person and virtual events. We are invited to imagine how to reconnect and rebuild our lives together through education, the time to be tender, emotional separateness and openness, equality, truth, lament, and hospitality. These are the pieces of a testimony to mercy.
Each retreat in this series is led by Windy Cooler and a co-presenter from Quaker public ministry. These retreats can either stand alone or Friends may elect to attend multiple sessions in the series. The first session, Education, will be in-person at Ben Lomond Quaker Center and the final session, Hospitality, will be in-person at Powell House. All others in the series will be offered virtually on Zoom.
Visit powellhouse.org/about-testimonies-to-mercy or call Powell House at 518-794-8811.
Budget Saturday is October 29
Budget Saturday is a meeting at which NYYM's draft operating budget for next year is reviewed and changes are suggested and discussed. The yearly meeting treasurer, clerk, members of the Financial Services Committee, and other stakeholders participate, and the meeting is open to anyone who is interested. Meeting treasurers are especially encouraged to attend. Watch the weekly email for the Zoom link (visit nyym.org/subscribe to join the email list.)
Fall Sessions is December 2-4
The next gathering of NYYM will be Fall Sessions, held online December 2-4, 2022. The operating budget for next year will be presented for approval, among other items.
For Young Adults
World Council of Churches Eco-School 2022 on Water, Food and Climate Justice
November 20-26, 2022
Application due September 30 (early applications encouraged)
Stony Point Centre, New York
This is an event explicitly aimed at young adults (18-30 years) affiliated with the World Council of Churches’ member churches (Friends General Conference has been a member since 1948). The aims of the program include:
To explore the nexus between water, food, climate change and health with a justice and rights perspective and review them with the lens of gender and marginalised communities.
Strengthen commitment to work in church and ecumenical context on these issues.
More information about the program can be found at oikoumene.org/events/wcc-eco-school-2022
For Children & Teens
Upcoming In-Person Powell House Youth Conferences
Visit poho.org for all.
LET'S JAM! for 9th-12th Grade
September 30-October 2, 2022
Sweet jam! It tastes great on my toast! Sweet jam! The music sounded great! That's right, we are bringing together delicious jam-making food projects, and fun and boisterous musical jams. Whether you are excited to make jam and other food, or you love playing and listening to music, this is the conference for you! We'll pepper in activities and games to round out the weekend and make sure to provide space for deep conversation. Even if music and cooking aren't exactly your jam, this conference is sure to be a good time.
THE GREAT BEYOND for 6th-8th Grade
October 21-23, 2022
What's out there? Our understanding of outer space and the cosmos is becoming greater each year. And yet there is still so much we don't know. At this conference we will talk about things scientists have learned about space. We will also talk about things we DON'T know and use our imagination to fill in the blanks. Get ready for a weekend full of fun and creativity!
JUNIOR COUNSELOR TRAINING for 9th-12th Grade
November 4-6, 2022
The JC (Junior Counselor) Program is back and we need new JCs! If you enjoy Powell House and want to help bring it to younger kids in the program, this is the conference for you! We will show you the ropes and give you the tools you need to be a JC. You can expect to have fun and connect with each other while learning games and facilitation skills.
OH MY GOURD! for 6th-8th Grade
November 18-20, 2022
Squash! Pumpkins! Cucumbers! Melons! All of these fall under the category of gourds. At this conference we will be doing a variety of food projects involving gourds. Think delicious pumpkin dishes, juicy melon delights, and tasty cooked squash. Apart from making food, we'll talk about the importance of food and cooking. Of course we'll also play games and enjoy each other's company at this good, gourdy conference.
Many of the local meetings in New York Yearly Meeting are holding online or hybrid online-and-in-person meetings for worship every week. Visit nyym.org/online-worship-opportunities for the most up-to-date information.
These Quaker organizations are currently seeking to fill multiple job vacancies. Visit their online job boards for details:
American Friends Service Committee (AFSC): www.afsc.org/job-center
Friends Committee on National Legislation (FCNL): www.fcnl.org/about/work-fcnl
Right Sharing of World Resources (RSWR): rswr.org/careers
Pendle Hill Quaker retreat center: pendlehill.org/explore/employment