To All Friends Everywhere,
Friends of New England Yearly Meeting, of the Religious Society
of Friends, send our loving greetings from the campus of
The wolf will live with the lamb, the leopard will lie down with the goat, the calf and the lion and the yearling together; and a little child will lead them. The cow will feed with the bear, their young will lie down together, and the lion will eat straw like the ox. The infant will play near the hole of the cobra, and the young child put his hand into the viper’s nest. They will neither harm nor destroy on all my holy mountain, for the earth will be full of the knowledge of the Lord as the waters cover the sea. (NIV)
In her keynote address, “Persevering for Peace: Centering and
Sustaining our Peace Witness,” Mary Lord reminded us that God calls us to the
task of peacemaking, and the world expects it of Friends, particularly in time
of war. Five New England Friends, Gordon Browne, Betsy Cazden,
Brian Drayton, Will Taber, and Jan Hoffman, addressed concerns close to home in
a panel on Quakers and Conflict. These Friends also blessed our gathering by
presenting our daily Bible Half Hours, since the
We discovered common themes throughout our sessions. In the midst of tumult and fear, whether from world events or interpersonal conflict, we are called first to be still. By waiting on God, we can discern the actions we are called to take. By shedding those burdens which are not ours to carry, we may find a singleness of purpose that allows us to overcome fear and to follow leadings of the spirit. Our speakers suggested that in situations of conflict, we must wait, and sink beneath the emotions of the moment to a place of stillness, knowing that God is our refuge—“Be still and know that I am God.” Confidence that God is there to be relied upon allows us to speak our truth out of love, knowing that healing is available. We recognize that God alone is the source of transformation and we are only the instruments.
Conduct of business provided opportunities to practice the counsel of the panel on conflict. We did not always stay with our differences long enough to reach a deeper place.
This year, we carried out a bold new experiment in our approach to business. Committees did not present oral reports; information was available before each session. We began by holding each committee and its work in prayer. From a place of worship, Friends then raised concerns, queries, or prayers for the work of each committee. While this change in procedure provided additional space for wonderful worship, predictably it generated stress.
Our financial reports emphasized that as we have been intentionally depleting surplus funds through deficit budgets, next year our budget will not be covered unless members and monthly meetings rise to the occasion. Having heard the meeting's enthusiasm for ministry to youth, and its commitment to support this ministry, the Finance and Youth Programs Committees labored together, sharing deeply. In worship, they set aside anxieties about financial risk, resulting in a new budget with more funding for youth activities.
Young Friends chose to join the adult business sessions during the consideration of a minute on racism, and their valuable input illuminated our discussions. We approved that minute and one in opposition to increasingly coercive practices around Selective Service registration. We hungered to hear more of the spirit of love in a minute opposing repressive laws, such as that known as the USA PATRIOT Act. We approved the minute when it came back, modified. During sessions, we learned that Philadelphia Yearly Meeting had been fined by the IRS for its support of an employee’s war tax resistance. We sent a minute of support to Philadelphia Yearly Meeting and re-affirmed our own 1998 minute concerning our employees and war tax resistance.
Deep worship following the memorial minutes of several beloved Friends nourished us, as did their lives. We pray to be faithful. In these difficult times, we need to pay particular heed to how we are called to participate in building God’s peaceable world.
Art thou in the Darkness? Mind it not, for if thou dost it will fill thee more, but stand still and act not, and wait in patience till Light arises out of Darkness to lead thee. -James Nayler