New England Yearly Meeting

A community of Quakers and Quaker meetings across New England.

Gretchen Baker-Smith

A little about me:

I staffed my first JYM Retreat with Kevin Lee in 1989. Since that first “yes,” I have staffed hundreds of retreats and coordinated youth programs at NEYM’s annual Sessions. In 2003, I became the coordinator of the Junior High Retreat program, while continuing to staff almost all of the JYM retreats. I have been the coordinator of both JYM and JHYM since September, 2013. I’ve worked in FGC’s Junior Gathering a number of years, and I’ve written curriculum and taught First Day School classes from preschool through high school in my monthly meeting (Westport). 

I have a degree in Rehabilitation Counseling, a background in music and social work, and extensive experience in education and literature, including 8 years as the “children’s person” for a local independent bookstore. Baking bread, singing, playing music and creating art are some of my favorite ways to center and pray. My life is generally full to overflowing, with coveted times on my bicycle, in my garden and kitchen, and with friends and family.

My husband Buddy and I have 3 young adult children — Ben, Katey, and Jeremy — who have taught me volumes about life, humility, gratitude and nurturing. They grew up within Friends and thrived in NEYM’s youth programs. They have always been some of my best supporters and advisors in this work. Buddy is a fabulous youth staffer, and I love having him on retreats. I am grateful to all of them for their patience and generosity.

I believe that I am Called to be a spiritual nurturer of children, teens, and the adults around them, however Way opens, seeing "what love can do." What follows is my credo in ministry:

I believe that God is present every moment of our days and that adults and children alike can and do know this Loving Presence. My role in ministry is as a baker is to bread. The Holy Spirit provides the miraculous leavening as Grace in our midst. I am asked to tend the rising by being fully present, by listening deeply, and by offering simple sustenance for the journey. Gentleness, intentionality, patience, clarity of heart and mind, constant prayer, and humble trust in the Spirit are essential when nurturing the tender hearts and souls of God’s Children. Laughter and joy are as necessary as Silence.

At every age, we can know each other as brothers and sisters in the Stillness of our covered Worship and in safe and loving faith communities. Rooted in this blessed Communion, we can find support for new growth and sheltered rest from the world’s challenges. Creativity and beauty, whether in music, art, words, movement, or nature, all help to nourish and stretch our relationships with God. Appropriate, loving touch and simple acts of kindness and compassion are Love in Motion.

Programs, themes, song lists and supplies are wonderful, but all we really need is God’s registration and attendance. The essence of our ministry is to pay attention and be fully present to the tender hearts of those before us as we go about our work and play in holy fellowship. What an incredible joy and honor it is to be here in God’s Kitchen, witnessing grace and love growing within and amongst us all.

Gretchen Baker-Smith

New England Yearly Meeting of Friends

901 Pleasant Street, Worcester, MA 01602

(508) 754-6760 - [email protected]