Author Archives: immrsf

Letter from The Clerk

Dearest Friends,

At Farmington Scipio Regional Meeting’s Fall Gathering earlier this month, participants were asked to reflect on three queries:

1) What has changed since we wrote our State of the Meeting reports, and what may need to be changed?

2) How do we recognize what is needed? Describe your sense of how Friends are called into community.

3) Are there practical steps you hope Friends will commit to?

Attenders were divided into small groups according to their Monthly Meeting affiliation, with those from smaller Meetings paired with those from larger Meetings. Some of you may have already had a chance to read the report of the discussion that ensued compiled by Melanie-Claire Mallison and posted to the Ithaca Monthly Meeting listserve. The report is included in its entirety below for those of you that have not yet seen it.

For many months now, I have been considering ways to provide a framework for some conversations that are important to the spiritual health of our community. Though interwoven, clarifying our beliefs and practices, re-envisioning our community structures, and weighing our current needs for inreach and outreach are items at the top of this list. The report from Fall Gathering lifted up many of these threads, and, I hope, will offer the larger Meeting means of continuing the conversation together.

At October’s Meeting for Worship with Attention to Business (October 11, 12:30pm via Zoom), Friends will have an opportunity for worship sharing regarding this report. We will set aside 20 minutes to re-read the report together and to offer ministry as to its contents. I highly recommend reading the report and giving it some time to season before joining us next week. Friends are also invited to share thoughts by emailing clerk@ithacamonthlymeeting.org.

In particular, please consider the following queries:

1) Do you feel the report captures the corporate experience of IMM at this time?

2) Where do you see the spirit moving in our Meeting or where have you seen it moving in the past?

3) What is missing from this report?

I look forward to our discussion.

Gina Varrichio, Clerk

Report to FSRM on the Reflections of the IMM Breakout Group


We were most inspired by the second query, “How do we recognize what is needed? Describe your sense of how Friends are called into community.”

In general, it is felt that Ithaca Monthly Meeting has lost its Spiritual foundation and call to work as a community within the Quaker testimony of Corporate Discernment. This is not related to the pandemic, but has been seen as a loss for more than a year. Instead, the Meeting feels like many individuals who come together to support each other’s individual leadings and gifts, and individual work. We long for more community leadings grounded in the Divine Presence, where the Light of each person is seen and acknowledged and loved, but corporate discernment is also honored and the vitality of the Meeting of a whole is addressed.

We have a sense of “dryness” spiritually, of being somehow stuck.

What seems to be missing is the Divine Presence and guidance. We can and DO much in the realm of social activism, but without surrendering to the Presence of God, our work does not come from a corporate foundation of Spirit, Light, and Peace.

An example of how Spirit DOES work within us is the time and intellectual energy put into deciding how outside group might be allowed to use our Meetinghouse and how much we would charge for that use, and when the report was given at Meeting for Business, Spirit moved us to toss out the report and minute that all are welcome to use the Meetinghouse for free.

To further the feeling of individuals gathering, some who are returning to the Meeting or are new to the Meeting find it hard to get to know folks and get to be known. They feel welcomed! But perhaps, not included.

Even so, Ithaca Monthly Meeting feels like a loving and beloved space. Even those who have created some trouble (and you know who you are), still feel loved and listened to and supported.

So our gifts do not always apply to the Meeting as a whole and to the world beyond our meetinghouse steps. Gifts may need to shift and grow, ergo, to rise up to corporate and community needs.

And again, those gifts must seek a Spiritual grounding.  Not just come from a sense of social responsibility or “trending concern” but deepen and seek a Spiritual emphasis and foundation for the work.

We must see and seek with Spiritual eyes.

One gift is our gift of numbers. We are a large meeting, which shows our vitality and community nourishment. Our ability to work together, to meet together, to show up, in large numbers, is a GIFT many Meetings do not have.

But. Big numbers also means lots of concerns and tasks, and we now meet in so many ways due to the pandemic, we are even more separated, so the tasks even more become the focus of the work – bringing us back again to the theme of a longing to once again be spiritually grounded, living from Light and Love.

On the internet: What it means to be a Quaker & covenant community

Friends, in this time away from face-to-face gathering, I’ve discovered some wonderful resources on the internet that have helped me think about what it means to be a Quaker and what it would mean to be a “covenant community.”

Let me share some links and very brief (and incomplete) statements about what they include. There are many more where these came from.

Open for Transformation — what it means to be a Quaker (click for video)
Swarthmore Lecture, Britain Yearly Meeting, 2014
Ben Pink Dandelion
In this prepared ministry, Pink Dandelion outlines the four aspects of being a Quaker:

  1. We can encounter the divine directly
  2. We’ve developed ways to understand that experience and to discern when it is happening (our group process of discernment)
  3. We have forms of worship that nurture that encounter, that sense of the Presence
  4. We live our lives in line with our testimony (he says we do not have a menu of testimonies but our lives are our testimony).

He goes on to talk about the role individualism and secularization in our culture have played in the form our Quakerism now takes. We seem to want to be what will be welcoming and comfortable for everyone. We leave it up to the individual to say what is Quaker and what is not. When asked what Quakers believe, we answer with “This is what I believe.” We have adopted the culture’s shift to individualism and secularism to our detriment. We are a group of Quakers. One isn’t a Quaker without a group surrounding that individual. Based on his title, Pink Dandelion makes the point that being Friends requires that we open ourselves to being transformed. And who we become transforms the world.

Pink Dandelion says that as Quakers we need to retain our processes and change our structures as needed. He has interesting examples of how meetings have dealt with too many committees and not enough people (this section of his talk begins at 48 minutes). He describes cases in which having minimal committees resulted in everyone taking responsibility for what needs to be done.

I find these four aspects of being a Quaker helpful but find the fourth point about living our faith is not specific enough for me. Dunham, in the third resource below, summarizes what we are asked to do as “Attend to what love requires of you.” This guidance speaks to me.

Seeing Beyond Our Differences: Meeting as “Covenant Community (click for PDF)
Paper prepared for a 2008 Lancaster Meeting Retreat
Tom Gates

Gates talks about the difference between a covenant relationship which is open-ended and expansive and includes the transcendent versus a contract relationship which is limited and is often spelled out in explicit detail. He gives the example of marriage as a covenant relationship. Gates says the difference between Friends Meeting and other organizations we belong to is the difference between covenant and contract. He brings together the ideas of many authors to describe what Meeting as a covenant community would be. It is a detailed description.

This paper challenges me to imagine what a deep commitment to Meeting as Beloved Community might require of me. Lots to think about.

What It Means to be a Quaker (click for webpage)
Britain Yearly Meeting, 2012
Geoffrey Dunham

In this prepared ministry, Dunham writes from the point of view of one welcoming newcomers to a Meeting. He has found the statement, “Attend to what love requires of you,” to be a central source of guidance to being a Friend. Love is the essence of what it means to be a Quaker. Some newcomers say, “I’m attracted to you because you aren’t all Christians.” His response is, “No, it’s what we do that matters, not what we don’t do.” He reflects that “A large number [of Quakers] don’t find words like theist, Christian, Buddhist, universalist, nontheist helpful in expressing their most deeply held convictions.” “. . .the discipline of Quakerism [living the Quaker life] has become more of a defining factor in the lives of some of us than allegiance to a specifically Christian or other religious faith.

— Nancy Riffer

Monthly Meeting September 2020

Ithaca Monthly Meeting of the Religious Society of Friends
Meeting for Worship with Attention to Business
September 13, 2020
(The @ signifies that the minute has been read and approved during Meeting. Please note that copies of all annual reports provided during this Meeting are on file with and available from the Clerk or Recording Clerk.)
2020.9.1 Opening Worship
Ithaca Monthly Meeting of the Religious Society of Friends met on-line, using Zoom remote conferencing service, for Monthly Meeting for Worship with Attention to Business on September 13, 2020.At 12:30pm, twelve Friends settled into worship.
Clerk recognized Barbara Chase as holding the Meeting in the Light.
2020.9.2 Ministry & Worship: Continuing In-Person Meeting for Worship

Nancy Riffer of Ministry & Worship Committee read a report that made several observations about our current practice of “hybrid” Meeting for Worship based at the Third Street Meetinghouse. Ministry & Worship recommends the extension of hybrid Meeting for Worship at Third Street until at least October’s Monthly Meeting. Friends shared some thoughts about their experience of hybrid Meeting and expressed a desire to talk with one another about this.

Friends approved the continuation of hybrid meeting at the Third Street Meetinghouse.

The Ministry & Worship Committee further recommends that the Hector Meetinghouse continue to be available for worship on Sundays as long as Friends continue to want to meet there and can abide by the safety guidelines that are in place. @

2020.9.3 Finance: Bookkeeping Error

Marilyn Ray reported that in March 2019, the Ithaca Monthly Meeting bookkeeper at the time mistakenly sent $2,400 to the Friends Center for Racial Justice. It has taken several months to unravel what happened given changes in bookkeepers and in accounting software. After an extended period of consideration, the Finance Committee has decided to write this amount off as a bookkeeping error, given that it was IMM’s mistake.
Friends received the report.

2020.9.4 Clerk’s Report: Transfer of Membership, Karen Reixach

Clerk read aloud a request for the transfer of membership of Karen Reixach from Ithaca Monthly Meeting to the Keene Monthly Meeting in New Hampshire. Karen moved to Keene to be closer to her family. Clerk read a draft letter to the Clerk of Keene Monthly Meeting approving the transfer. Friends approved the request and wish Karen well, even as we will miss her centered presence dearly. @

2020.9.5 COVID Working Group: Opening the Meetinghouse to Teen Day

So that Gina Varrichio, Clerk could withdraw from the consideration of this agenda item in which she has a special interest, Steve Mohlke clerked the discussion on opening the meetinghouse for Teen Day.

Carol Clarke, clerk of the COVID Working Group, read a report proposing that “Teen Day”—a program held once-a-week for homeschooled teenagers—be allowed to reconvene in the Third Street Meetinghouse. Teen Day’s proposal is to use the meetinghouse for half-days on Tuesdays and Thursdays. The COVID working group supports this proposal.

Carol noted that COVID Working Group does not feel ready to open the meetinghouse to other groups more broadly and that the committee carefully weighed the decision to allow the Teen Day group to use the Meetinghouse while not opening the Meetinghouse to others. The rationale for allowing this group and not others include: the Teen Day group’s COVID safety plan was specific and well-thought out; the Teen Day group has been excellent stewards of the space in the past; there is a close and trusting relationship between the Teen Day group and the Quaker Meeting; and the Teen Day Group has explicitly planned for the possibility of shutting down their use of the building should the need arise. The proposal describes that no groups will be allowed to use the building for a three-hour period before and after the group is in the building.

Friends were asked to consider how to help less privileged groups who also want to use our building. Carol indicated that the COVID Working Group is continuing to make plans for a broader use of the building and may return to monthly meeting next week. Friends approved the proposal. @
At 1:35, fifteen Friends settled in worship before adjourning. Our next regularly scheduled Meeting for Worship with Attention to Business will be October 11, 2020.
Respectfully submitted,
Marin Clarkberg

Monthly Meeting August 2020

Ithaca Monthly Meeting of the Religious Society of Friends
Meeting for Worship with Attention to Business
August 9, 2020

Clerk: Gina Varrichio
Recording Clerks: Marin Clarkberg, Blair Jennings

(The @ signifies that the minute has been read and approved during Meeting. Copies of all written reports are on file with and available from the Clerk or Recording Clerk.)

2020.8.1 Opening Worship

Ithaca Monthly Meeting of the Religious Society of Friends met in Monthly Meeting for Worship with Attention to Business on August 9, 2020. At 12:30 P.M., 20 Friends gathered via Zoom and settled into worship. Clerk shared the following reading:

The history of religion through the ages reveals the fact that there have been multitudinous ways of worshipping God, all of them yielding real returns of life and joy and power to large groups of [people]. At its best and truest, however, worship seems to me to be a direct, vital, joyous, personal experience and practice of the presence of God.
– Rufus Jones, The Inner Life (1916)

Clerk recognized Barbra Bleecker who was holding the meeting in the light.

2020.8.2 Peace and Social Justice: Ithaca Sanctuary Alliance (ISA)

On behalf of the Peace and Social Justice Committee, Elizabeth Schneider reported on the genesis and activities of the ISA, highlighting IMM’s participation and support of these efforts. Having become a sanctuary church, First Congregational Church of Ithaca’s (FCC) intent has been to have individual faith communities participate on an ongoing weekly basis in direct volunteer support activities for sanctuary residents. Despite a continued desire to support ISA, the committee is clear that providing volunteers to fulfill the specific coverage & support requirements of individual’s in sanctuary at FCC is not possible at this time. She then read a proposed letter to be sent to ISA informing them of IMM’s inability to participate in a coordinated, volunteer role; the letter reinforces IMM’s continued desire to stay involved via written communication and/or fundraising outreach.
Ministry arose about exactly how IMM structures itself to fulfill its very real desire to do “good work in the world” so that it can be achieved; it was coupled with ministry around how best to identify, manage and honor our human resources and leadings.
Friends approved sending the letter to ISA.@

2020.8.3 Nominating Committee: Laying Down CALM

On behalf of Nominating, Pat Pingle shared the following:
Nominating Committee received a letter from the Committee on Children and the Life of the Meeting (CALM). The letter explains the recent history of CALM’s work in trying to carry out their charge, which includes a broad range of offerings to children and families and engagement of the community as a whole in multi-generational activities. The letter also names several factors which contribute to the insurmountable difficulties they have experienced, and remarks, “We wonder whether there may be better ways to build an all ages IMM community than via CALM.”

In light of this, Nominating Committee brought the following minute to the Meeting for approval:

Following the request of the Committee on Children and the Life of the Meeting (CALM), Nominating Committee recommends that Ithaca Monthly Meeting lay down CALM.

The report concluded that functional next steps are not clear at this time, but the overall task of creating and sustaining an all-ages inclusive meeting will requires a process of discernment with participation of our Meeting as a whole as it is beyond the purview of any one committee.

Clerk indicated that Nominating and the Clerk are currently reviewing the overall manner in which participation of friends in the life of the whole meeting is encouraged, organized and supported. A report on these efforts is forthcoming.

Upon request, CALM’s Charge was read aloud and acknowledged to be both aspirational and ambitious. The contributions of Angela Hopkins to the work of CALM were gratefully acknowledged.

Concern arose about how the meeting will continue to fulfill its duty to provide what is seen by many as an essential service in terms of outreach and growth of the IMM community. Hope was expressed that the whole community will consider and determine together the best way to right-size and therefore fulfill IMM’s desired roles and services in a realistically balanced manner, in other words, discern with joy what we can do together. Difficulties related to the extraordinary, prolonged public health crisis were also acknowledged. All agreed this moment represents but the beginning of a much larger, wide-ranging conversation.

Friends approved Nominating Committee’s recommendation to lay down CALM.@

2020.8.4 COVID Working Group: Reopening the Hector Meeting House

On behalf of the working group, Carol Clarke described a comprehensive plan to reopen Hector Meeting House beginning today and continuing through the usual Hector Meeting House season. The plan was created with input from the Hector Meeting House Committee and regular attenders; the requirements and processes are similar to those approved/adopted for reopening the Third Street Meetinghouse.

Those who regularly attend Meeting for Worship at the Hector Meeting House are planning to actively support social distancing and other requirements as articulated in the plan. Because of the generally low number of attenders, there is no requirement that attenders sign up in advance. COVID Pods (also known as COVID Bubbles) of people will be allowed to sit together in order to help maintain proper spacing.

Friends approved the reopening plan as presented in the report.@

2020.8.5 NYYM Witness Coordinating Committee: Revision of the 13th Amendment

On behalf of the NYYM Witness Coordinating Committee, Cai Quirk reported on the inspiration, origination and history of this effort. As of now, New York Yearly Meeting has endorsed a minute brought to the Yearly Meeting by Fifteenth Street Monthly Meeting of the Religious Society of Friends. The minute asks for an amendment to the United States Constitution that revises the 13th Amendment. The minute is seeking to remove the exception clause that allows the institution of slavery to continue in the United States through imprisoning people.
They read the minute that follows:
“Minute 2020.6.3. Fifteenth Street Monthly Meeting Friends considered a statement regarding the United States Constitution. Section 1 of the 13th Amendment that states: Neither slavery nor involuntary servitude, except as a punishment for crime whereof the party shall have been duly convicted, shall exist within the United States, or any place subject to their jurisdiction.
We propose a new amendment to the constitution that amends Section 1 to state the following: Neither slavery nor involuntary servitude shall exist within the United States, or any place subject to their jurisdiction.”
Additionally, they read a letter (the entirety of which can be found in the committee report) that Friends have been asked to send to our congressional representatives on behalf of Ithaca Monthly Meeting. (Friends are also invited to send a version of this letter as individuals.)
They clarified the process by which this amendment is being brought before Congress.
Questions, concerns and clarifications were shared. Specifically, the language of the proposed amendment and letter in the context of the US Constitution proved particularly challenging for its broad applicability and potentially unintended consequences in practice. Particularly a concern arose that the proposed amendment is not clear on the impact this amendment might have on the status of the prison and jail system. Additionally, it does not address issues of privilege, equitable distribution of appropriately-applied punishment and more.
Friends agreed the language of the proposed amendment as well as the letter needs clarification and/or revision and determined a process by which to achieve this. Liam Murphy, Cai Quirk, Gina Varrichio and Pat Sewell will consider this language and bring it before Meeting for Worship with Attention to Business at a later time. Interested friends are encouraged and invited to join them in this effort.

Friends agreed to continue this conversation to reach clarity and unity on the language and process related to both the minute and the letter.@

2020.8.6 Treasurer’s Report

In light of the lengthy discussion around agenda items, this report has been held over until September’s Meeting for Worship with Attention to Business. Pat Sewell, Treasurer encouraged friends with any questions or concerns in the meantime to please contact him directly.

2020.8.7 Closing Worship
12 Friends settled into silent worship at 3:07 P.M. before adjourning. Our next regular Meeting for Worship with Attention to Business will be held at 12:30 P.M. on September 13, 2020.
Respectfully submitted,
Blair Jennings

Monthly Meeting July 2020

Ithaca Monthly Meeting of the Religious Society of Friends
Meeting for Worship with Attention to Business
July 12, 2020

Clerk: Gina Varrichio
Recording Clerks: Marin Clarkberg, Blair Jennings

(The @ signifies that the minute has been read and approved during Meeting. Copies of all written reports are on file with and available from the Clerk or Recording Clerk.)

2020.7.1 Opening Worship

Ithaca Monthly Meeting of the Religious Society of Friends met in Monthly Meeting for Worship with Attention to Business on July 12, 2020. At 12:30 P.M., 17 Friends gathered via Zoom and settled into worship.

Clerk recognized Ellie Rosenberg who was holding the meeting in the light.

2020.7.2 Naming Committee Report: Nominating Committee Members

On behalf of the Nominating Committee, Pat Sewell reported the following:
The Naming Committee nominates Cai Quirk (September 2020 and possibly beyond), Dreia Spies (2022), David Horton (2022), and Stephen Paisley (2022) to fill current and anticipated openings on the Nominating Committee. Additionally, Nancy Gabriel has resigned from Nominating.

Friends approved the nominations.@

2020.7.3 Ministry & Worship: In-Person Meeting for Worship

On behalf of Ministry & Worship, Nancy Riffer presented a detailed and deeply discerned multi-dimensional re-entry plan for the Third Street Meetinghouse. This comprehensive plan considers a variety of logistical and emotional concerns and queries, procedural necessities and potential strategies for use, restriction of use and potential re-closure – based on recommendations or requirements of governing bodies and/or IMM’s assessment of local COVID19 transmission risk – of the building.

While the committee reached clarity around the many steps required to begin using the building again, committee members were unable to come to unity on exactly how to proceed at this time.

Gratitude for this work was uniformly expressed. Questions, outside experiences with other entities’ re-entry scenarios were shared and suggestions arose – ex. a sign-in sheet for potential contact tracing, chairs outside for overflow attendees, resources for families with small children, disposable masks to distribute, etc. Discussion centered on the concept of balance between individual needs, fears and spiritual experience of in-person Meeting for Worship vs. digital. Friends raised concerns related to logistics around cleaning, universal adherence to safety procedures and willingness to commit to the work required by this plan. Additionally, offers of support for helping develop/enhance individual safety were expressed.

Friends agreed that delineating a plan to safely re-enter the building is desirable.@

Friends approved the re-entry plan as presented in the report with trust that 1. a COVID Working Group is gathered, 2. revisions to the reported plan may be made by the COVID Working Group as they consider suggestions and discern necessities moving forward and 3. the COVID Working Group reports said revisions at subsequent Meetings for Worship with Attention to Business.@

2020.7.4 Ministry & Worship: COVID Working Group

On behalf of Ministry and Worship, Kris Altucher described the committee’s proposal for the formation of a new working group to make recommendations for and oversee safely and compliantly reopening our meetinghouses. The working group would create and update guidelines needed to open the building and monitor their fulfillment. This includes populating task-specific work groups (ex. cleaning) with willing participants. The COVID Working Group would continue for a temporary but indefinite period. It would include one member from TSMC, one from M&W, and at least two members from the meeting at large.

Just as a concern arose around who will be responsible for assuring the committee is populated, the committee was populated within the context of this Meeting for Worship with Attention to Business as follows: M & W will be represented on a rotational basis by the current members of the committee; TSMC will be represented by Carol Clarke; the members-at-large will be Ellie Rosenberg and Melissa Blake. Additional members are more than welcome. Interested Friends should contact Carol Clarke.

Friends approved the creation of a new COVID working group.@

2020.7.5 Resignation of Membership: Fell Cadwallader

The Ithaca Monthly Meeting clerk received a letter from Fell Cadwallader in June 2020 asking to resign his membership to IMM. Fell is clear that his personal spiritual path and the path of IMM have diverged, though he would like to be clear that he still considers himself a Friend.
In recent years, the loss of Fell’s inspirational presence, loving spirit, and willingness to challenge Friends’ complacency has been felt by many of us in the IMM community. The clerk has been in contact with Fell since his decision, and, though she laments it, affirms his choice has been well discerned. Fell is released from membership.
Questions and expressions of appreciation were shared.
Friends received the report. @

2020.7.6 Other Concerns

A Friend raised a concern about the language related to the Finance Committee Report originally scheduled for consideration during this month’s Meeting for Worship with Attention to Business, but unanimously held over to August in light of time constraints. Several of those present also expressed concern and a desire to continue the discussion between now and August’s Meeting for Worship with Attention to Business.

2020.7.7 Closing Worship
14 Friends settled into silent worship at 2:39 P.M. before adjourning. Our next regular Meeting for Worship with Attention to Business will be held at 12:30 P.M. on August 9, 2020.
Respectfully submitted,
Blair Jennings

Monthly Meeting June 2020

Ithaca Monthly Meeting of the Religious Society of Friends
Meeting for Worship with Attention to Business

June 7, 2020

(The @ signifies that the minute has been read and approved during Meeting. Please note that copies of all annual reports provided during this Meeting are on file with and available from the Clerk or Recording Clerk.)

2020.6.1 Opening Worship

Ithaca Monthly Meeting of the Religious Society of Friends met on-line, using Zoom remote conferencing service, for Monthly Meeting for Worship with Attention to Business on June 7, 2020.At 12:35pm, eighteen Friends settled into worship.

Clerk indicated that written reports were shared on Thursday, but that some Friends did not receive them until Saturday (due a technical glitch). She indicated that she would use the “share screen” feature of Zoom to display these reports as they are also being read during our gathering today.

Clerk recognized Nancy Gabriel as holding the Meeting in the Light.

2020.6.2 Memorial Minute for Ann Rhodin

Antonia Saxon read a Memorial Minute for Ann Rhodin who died July 5, 2019. Friends remembered Ann as well as appreciated new insights about our longtime Friend from this minute. Friends approved the Memorial Minute.

2020.6.3 Ministry & Worship: Meeting in the COVID-19 Pandemic

Nancy Riffer from Ministry & Worship read a report with three proposals.

First, M&W proposes extending the practice of remote Meeting for Worship through July 12th, (our next monthly meeting date). As approved last month, Zoom-based worship would run from 10:30 to 11:15, and IMM-related announcements would be conveyed by the clerk. (Friends who have announcements they would like to have read should alert the clerk by phone or email no later than Saturday evening.)

Second, Ministry & Worship proposes an outdoor Meeting for Worship on Wednesday evenings from 5pm to 6pm, beginning June 10th. With the removal of New York State restrictions around small religious gatherings, this option provides a low risk way to support in-person worship.

Third, Ministry & Worship proposes that the enclosed courtyard at the Third Street Meetinghouse could be used for IMM committee meetings that do not exceed twelve people. To facilitate this option, tape marks will be placed on the ground to help place chairs at a safe distance. A bin with gloves, spray cleaner and paper towels will be placed under the stairs to the backdoor, and Friends are asked to wipe down chairs and tables after using them.

Regarding the first proposal, Friends asked questions related to the timing of four phases of reopening in New York State. We are currently in “phase two,” and this week the governor approved indoor religious services at 25% of their seating capacity. Friends heard there are some practical things that need to be done to re-open the Meetinghouse, such as the legally-required inspection of the elevette and a plan for systematic cleaning of the space as it used, and these may require a bit of time for planning. Friends expressed a wish to continue having Zoom as an option on Sundays even after some Friends return to the Third Street Meetinghouse for worship.

Friends approved the first proposal.

On the second proposal, Friends spoke about a group of Friends who have been Meeting outdoors in Stewart Park on Sunday afternoons. Friends raised questions about the 5pm time posing a challenge to those who work standard business hours and to the timing of dinner.

Friends approved an outdoor Meeting for Worship at 6pm outside of the Hector Meetinghouse on Perry City Road. Those who attend this week could discuss the meeting time and propose an a different time if so led.

Regarding the third proposal, Friends approved opening the patio at the Third Street Meetinghouse for use by Ithaca Monthly Meeting committees. @

2020.6.4 Clerks’ Report: Letters related to Black Lives Matter

The Recording Clerk read two letters that have been circulated among local religious leaders regarding police brutality against black and brown people. The first letter is from an evangelical pastors’ group, and the second is authored by Mother Megan Castellan of St. John’s Episcopal Church. Friends have been invited to sign both letters.

Friends spoke to the value of uniting with other congregations around this issue while acknowledging that there were elements of both letters—but especially the first letter—that troubled some Friends.

Friends were in unity with signing the letter authored by Mother Megan Castellan. Friends could not unite with the full content of the letter from the evangelical pastors, while deeply appreciating its genesis and its conclusion.

Friends are seeking ways to effectively address systematic racism as a Quaker community. Margaret McCasland offered to coordinate an FCNL approach for engaging with law enforcement regarding tactical training. Asha Sanaker offered to be a point person for Ithaca Monthly Meeting in thinking through structural racism and our response to it as a Meeting. Asha’s proposal is referred to Ministry & Worship for further consideration and discussion. @

The Clerk noted the time. After some reflections from Friends regarding their stamina and availability for additional meeting, Friends opted to hold over the agenda item regarding the laying down of CALM.

2020.6.6 Nominations

On behalf of Nominating Committee, Pat Pingel brough forth the following recommendation: Barbara Barry be appointed to replace a vacancy on Ministry & Worship created when Dreia Spies resigned. Barbara asked to be released from Nominating Committee in order to serve on M&W, and the Naming Committee will seek to find a replacement for Nominating.

2020.6.7 Third Street Meetinghouse Committee

Carol Clarke shared a list from the Third Street Meetinghouse Committee of major Meetinghouse improvements for 2020, including: 1) refinishing the wood floors with a water-based polyurethane, 2) removing a small dead tree on Madison and a large box elder next to the building in the children’s play area, and 3) rebuilding the ramp at the main entrance to address structural issues and bring it more in line with building codes. Friends received the report from the TSMC. @

At 3pm, thirteen Friends settled in worship before adjourning. Our next regularly scheduled Meeting for Worship with Attention to Business will be July 12, 2020.

Respectfully submitted,

Marin Clarkberg

Amy Grace Mekeel

Earlier I have written about Friends from the past who had prominent roles in the founding and early history of IMM.  Additional Friends participated actively in the early years of IMM, but the last of these that I would highlight is Amy Grace Mekeel (1885-1976).  Amy Grace attended Westtown School and later received her BA in 1910 from Cornell University. After graduation, she taught at the Friends Boarding School, Barnesville, Ohio. She subsequently earned Masters and PhD degrees from Cornell and taught zoology at Cornell from 1917-1951.

Like the Woods and Olivers whom I wrote about previously, Amy Grace was a birthright member of the Hector Monthly Meeting; her ancestors founded that Meeting and she grew up in it.  But she later became active in the Ithaca Meeting, became its first treasurer, 1926-1934, and served as clerk from 1947-1950. Positions she held in IMM included Recording Clerk, Elder, Overseer, and serving on Nominating and Literature committees.

After retiring from Cornell, Amy Grace gave several local presentations on the history of the Hector Monthly Meeting and the founding of IMM, the splits that occurred among Quakers that affected Meetings in central New York, and descriptions of Quarterly Meetings held in this region.  She was the primary source for an article in the Ithaca Journal on July 19, 1958 by Lois O’Connor on these topics that also included photos of the Hector Meeting House and the original stove that was inside it. She was also a source for Quaker information on several internet sites.

Amy Grace did not marry. She lived much of her adult life with her sister, Mary Mekeel.  The Mekeel family homestead is located on Mekeel Road, which parallels the Perry City Road one north of where the Hector Meetinghouse is located.  Amy Grace, her sister Mary, and several other members of the Mekeel family are buried in the cemetery behind the Hector Meeting House.  

— Tom Brown, Meeting Historian

Monthly Meeting May 2020

Ithaca Monthly Meeting of the Religious Society of Friends
Meeting for Worship with Attention to Business

May 3, 2020

Clerk: Gina Varrichio

Recording Clerks: Marin Clarkberg, Blair Jennings

(The @ signifies that the minute has been read and approved during Meeting. Copies of all written reports are on file with and available from the Clerk or Recording Clerk.)

2020.5.1 Opening Worship

Ithaca Monthly Meeting of the Religious Society of Friends met in Monthly Meeting for Worship with Attention to Business on May 3, 2020. At 12:31 P.M., 18 Friends gathered via Zoom and settled into worship.

Clerk recognized Karen Reixach who was holding the meeting in the light.

2020.5.2 Memorial Minute for Carol Kimball

Bronwyn Mohlke read the memorial minute written for Carol Kimball by her daughter, Erica Weiss along withPeggy Walbridge and Carolyn Kenyon.

Clerk invited Friends to share a few minutes of silent worship. Friends shared reflections out of the silence.

Friends approved the minute.@

2020.5.3 Ministry & Worship

Extending Suspension of In-Person Meeting for Worship The Sequel

At April’s Meeting for Worship with Attention to Business, IMM approved the following minute:

            Friends approved extending the suspension of in-person Meeting for Worship in the          Third Street Meetinghouse and the continued closure of the Third Street Meetinghouse to         all groups through Sunday, May 3, 2020.

Reporting on behalf of the committee, Nancy Riffer shared the following recommendation:

Ministry & Worship, with the support of the Third Street Meetinghouse Committee, recommends that we extend this same suspension through our next Meeting for Worship with Attention to Business, June 7, 2020. The following reasons impact the recommendation:

  • NYS Pause extension until May 15th
  • Planning considerations for returning to the Third Street Meetinghouse (fire inspection, cleaning, etc.)
  • Lack of clarity among all stakeholders about what exactly the “right time” is.
  • Faith that waiting for clearness on all of the above will indeed yield the right decision

Clerk invited Friends to enter into silent worship and share ministry out of this silence as led.

Friends approved the continuation of the current suspension. @

2020.5.4 Ministry & Worship

Meeting for Worship Online in May

On behalf of Ministry & Worship, Asha Sanaker shared the committee’s report and following recommendation:

In order to combat what many are now referring to as “Zoom-fatigue”, Ministry & Worship proposes that we make two changes in our First Day format for the month of May.

  1. Shortening our official online worship time to 45 minutes. Meeting for Worship will begin at 10:30 AM and end at 11:15 AM. For Friends who desire a more extended worship time, the Zoom worship space will be available starting at 10:15 AM each

      First Day.

  • Eliminating community announcements at the end of worship. Announcements concerning IMM will be made by Gina Varrichio, Clerk in a single, succinct list after worship.

Friends shared appreciation for the various committees that support IMM and participate in ongoing discernment of Meeting for Worship best practices during this pandemic, as well as their takeaways from this morning’s trial run of the newly suggested framework.

Clerk asked all who have suggestions related to matters of start/end time, length of break between Meeting for Worship & Meeting for Worship with Attention to Business, etc. discerned during our experience with the new format over the next five weeks be sent directly to the Clerk for consideration by Ministry & Worship.

Friends approved the changes to our Meeting for Worship format for May. @

2020.5.5 Treasurer’s Report

Treasurer, Pat Sewell shared a year-to-date report run on 29th April 2020. The document presents a different way to “look” at IMM’s financial health by comparing actual expenditures with budgeted amounts and noting the percentage variance between the two. Based on those percentages, treasurer reports that everything looks on track at this time.  

Questions about current costs and potential savings related to the Meetinghouse shut down were asked and answered as treasurer was able.

A Friend suggested the addition of a balance sheet that lists current amounts in IMM’s various funds would be helpful moving forward.

Treasurer will consider all requests and suggestions and report back.

Friends received the report. @

2020.5.6 Ministry & Worship

Mutual Support Fund

A member of meeting approached IMM’s Clerk with a desire to use an unexpected windfall to help meet any emergency needs that arise for other community members due to the pandemic. Clerk brought this request to Ministry & Worship for consideration of how to appropriately move forward with this gift.

On behalf of Ministry & Worship, Nancy Riffer shared that the committee has been led to recommend the establishment of a Mutual Support Fund.

The Mutual Support Fund is specifically for offering support to members of the IMM community, as opposed to the wider community, and therefore is separate from the Special Needs Fund.

In order to keep the activities of the Mutual Support Fund separate, Ministry & Worship will be working with the Finance Committee to set up a discrete line in the Meeting’s Chart of Accounts.

Requests for assistance will be received by the Clerk, and then disbursement decisions will be made by members of Ministry & Worship and Finance Committee. A monthly report on the total money spent and the balance in the Fund, omitting all confidential details of recipients, will be made to Ithaca Monthly Meeting at Meeting for Worship with Attention to Business.

Ministry & Worship wishes to keep this fund active as proposed until the end of the calendar year, at which time the Fund may be laid down or the Meeting may decide to include the Mutual Support Fund in its budget for 2021, with any changes to the Fund’s oversight proposed and approved as part of that annual process.

A question about the tax deductibility of these funds will be addressed by a legal professional so IMM can assure it does what is both legal and appropriate.

Friends approved the creation of a Mutual Support Fund. @

2020.5.7 Ministry & Worship

State of the Meeting (Second Draft)

On behalf of Ministry & Worship, Kris Altucher read the State of the Meeting Report.

Clerk invited all to enter into a few minutes of silent worship and share ministry out of the silence as led.

Friends approved this as the final draft of the report to be sent to New York Yearly Meeting. @

2020.5.8 Closing Worship

15 Friends settled into silent worship at 2:05 P.M. before adjourning. Our next regular Meeting for Worship with Attention to Business will be held via Zoom at 12:30 P.M. on June 7, 2020.

Respectfully submitted,

Blair Jennings

Which listserv do I use?

For many years, Ithaca Monthly Meeting has had a listserv, hosted through Cornell. There also has been an email distribution list, managed by Marilyn Ray, commonly called “Marilyn’s List” used for content relating to peace and social justice. 

As a Meeting, we sometimes struggle with wanting to share information with our Meeting community while not inundating people with unwanted emails. When the Communications Committee was first formed, we heard from many Friends that one topic or tool they would like to see us work to improve is our listserv. Some of the frustrations with the old listserv are technical (messages sent from some types of email addresses don’t go through; unless you saved a message in your own email, there’s no way to find it again). Other concerns are about content. There is uncertainty regarding what types of messages are okay to send via the listserv. 

Right now, the Cornell listserv remains active, but the Communications Committee has been working on plans to transition from our old, Cornell-based listserv to a new listserv using a service called “groups.io”.

The groups.io listservs work much in the same way as we’re used to. Anyone who is a subscribed member of the listserv can send an email to one specific email address and that message then shows up in the email inbox of everyone else who is subscribed to the listserv. A feature of the new listserv that we really like is that the messages are also available to be read on a website, so there’s an easily accessible record of what’s been sent and a person can go back and search for a topic or message. 

Because some Friends only want to receive the bare minimum of email about the Meeting (just official events please!) while others want to share much more (from party invitations to poetry), we have set up three different lists in our groups.io account.  Each person can choose whether or not to receive email from each of the sub-lists.

The main, foundational list is Announcements (announcements@IMMRSF.groups.io). This list is used to communicate about the official events of Ithaca Monthly Meeting and associated Quaker bodies (e.g. FSRM, NYYM, and FGC). Then there are two sub-groups:  Witness (witness@IMMRSF.groups.io) and Community (community@IMMRSF.groups.io). Everyone who joins any of the IMMRSF.groups.io lists is automatically a member of the Announcements list; it is the core or main group.  

How are the three lists to be used?

  • Announcements is only for news and events of Ithaca Monthly Meeting or wider Quaker bodies. Since this is the core list, we want to keep the focus narrow and specific. (This list most closely mirrors how we have used the Cornell listserv in the past.).
  • Witness is for messages related to Quaker testimonies or witness. This is where we can share information about social justice, peace witness, or Earthcare events, activities, or information.
  • Community is for sharing more general information, notices, questions, and happenings we want to share with our Meeting community. The purpose of the Community list is to build social connections among the members and attenders of IMM.

So which list do I use for what?

You may be thinking, “in theory this all sounds great, but I’m still confused. Where do I send my messages?” Here are some examples of the types of messages we tend to share over email, and which listserv would be most appropriate to use:

  • Meeting for Worship with Attention to Business will happen soon, and the Clerk is asking for agenda items. Use the Announcements list.
  • I just read a beautiful poem or an inspirational essay and I think others would appreciate it. Use the Community list.
  • What if the essay I want to share is about how to be a conscientious objector? Use the Witness list.
  • There is some important legislation pending and we need Friends to contact our representatives and encourage them to do something. Use the Witness list.
  • I want to share an interesting article about recycling, or sanctuary, or prison reform. Use the Witness list.
  • Our IMM committee is hosting a program or workshop about recycling, sanctuary or prison reform. If the program or workshop is specifically a Quaker event, use the Announcements list. If the program is for the community at large, Witness is more appropriate.
  • We need Friends to help with Spring Gathering. Use the Announcements list.
  • I’m having a garage sale, participating in a fundraiser, or looking to borrow an item. Use the Community list.
  • FCNL (Friends Committee on National Legislation) is hosting a program online about prison conditions. Since there is a specific event, and FCNL is a Quaker organization, use the Announcement list. 
  • We’re inviting everyone in Meeting to a Super Bowl party at our house! Use the Community list.
  • The latest issue of InfoShare is available online. Since Infoshare is a publication of New York Yearly Meeting (NYYM), the Announcements list is appropriate.

We hope Friends can discern the most appropriate destinations for their emails, and try to refrain from emailing more than one list in hopes of getting a larger audience. 

Getting too much email?

One of the nice things about the groups.io service is that it is easy to control the frequency of email delivery, even to the point where you get none at all. That is, a subscriber to the listserv can always visit the groups.io website to read the messages… even if they have chosen not to receive email delivery from the list!

We will cover more of the how-to about the groups.io listserv in a future newsletter.

What about the old list?

For now, the old listserv (IMMRSF-L@cornell) is still functioning. The Communications Committee hopes to move everyone to our new listserv (announcements@IMMRSF.groups.io) within the next few months. We plan to bring a report about this to Meeting for Worship with Attention to Business in June.

What other email addresses are related to Meeting?

Friends might see references to ithacamonthlymeeting@gmail.com. That is the email for reserving space in the Third Street Meetinghouse. Messages sent to that email are only seen by the TSM scheduler. 

Email to the Clerk, Gina Varrichio, can be sent to clerk@ithacamonthlymeeting.org. Gina also tends to use this email to send official Meeting updates or info (such as agenda and reports for Business Meeting).

Advices (from Faith and Practice)

  1. From the beginnings of our Society, we have considered it necessary to assemble frequently for the purpose of public worship held in expectant waiting for divine guidance, thereby manifesting our belief in and dependence upon our creator. Meeting for worship is fundamental for us, and we should be diligent and punctual in our attendance. We seek, through communion with God, the strengthening influence of the Holy Spirit to enable us to discharge with fidelity the services we owe to God, to each other, and to all people.
  2. Friends are advised to read frequently the Scriptures and such other books as will inspire and instruct, and to encourage the practice by their families and others.
  3. Friends are advised to be mindful of their conduct and conversation and to observe the testimonies of simplicity and moderation.
  4. Friends are advised to observe our Christian testimony for a faithful ministry of the gospel under the influence of the Holy Spirit. Members are reminded that all have a responsibility in ministry.
  5. Remembering the tenderness of Jesus for children, we recommend that parents and those who have the important charge of educating youth exercise a loving and watchful care over them. Meetings are urged to help parents and children share religious experiences at home and in the meeting for worship and to give them an understanding of the principles and practices of Friends.
  6. Parents and older Friends are advised to be sensitive to the insights of younger people and to keep a close and sympathetic contact with them. Children are urged to love and respect their parents that all may be led together to the Light Within.
  7. Friends are advised to work toward removing the causes of misery and suffering. They are urged to support efforts to overcome racial, social, economic, and educational discrimination; to bear testimony against all forms of oppression; to exert influence for such treatment of prisoners as may help reconstruct their lives; and to work for the abolition of the death penalty.
  8. Friends are earnestly advised to refrain from practices that are detrimental to the body or the mind, for example, the use of intoxicants and tobacco, and the misuse of drugs.
  9. Care should be taken that all of our members avoid participation in lotteries, gambling, and betting, including such schemes of chance that appeal as benevolences. Friends should refrain from hazardous speculation and are cautioned against engaging in business that may be questionable. They are responsible for the manner of acquiring, using, and disposing of their possessions.
  10. Friends are advised to observe integrity in their living and to inspect frequently the state of their temporal affairs. In their dealings with everyone they should endeavor to maintain a truly Christian character, ever bearing in mind the Golden Rule, “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.”
  11. In the contemplation of marriage, Friends should seek divine guidance. Marriage is a life-long union of spiritual as well as temporal concerns and presents considerations of vital importance. When two persons are united in their religious faith, they are likely to find not only a firmer bond of union but also greater strength in fulfilling all of life’s undertakings. Therefore, Friends contemplating marriage should early acquaint their families and meetings with their intentions, seeking their approval, that they may avoid the far-reaching consequences of hasty and ill-considered action. It is tenderly recommended that Friends keep to the simple and solemn form of our marriage ceremony.
  12. The attention of Friends is called to the propriety of conducting funerals and memorial meetings in a sincere spirit of worship. They are advised to avoid the display of floral decorations and the wearing of mourning and to adhere to our simple ceremony.
  13. It is recommended that Friends take the opportunity, on occasions when special statements or oaths are required, to advance the cause of truth by simple affirmation, thus emphasizing that their statement is only a part of their usual integrity of speech.
  14. Friends are earnestly cautioned against the taking of arms against any person, since “all outward wars and strife and fightings with outward weapons” are contrary to our Christian testimony. Friends should beware of supporting preparations for war even indirectly, and should examine in this light such matters as non-combatant military service, cooperation with conscription, employment or investment in war industries, and voluntary payment of war taxes. When their actions are carefully considered, Friends must be prepared to accept the consequences of their convictions. Friends are advised to maintain our testimony against war by endeavoring to exert an influence in favor of peaceful principles and the settlement of all differences by peaceful methods. They should lend support to all that strengthens international friendship and understanding and give active help to movements that substitute cooperation and justice for force and intimidation.
  15. All are especially cautioned against any harshness of tone or manner when administering counsel or reproof, either privately or in meetings. Friends should speak truth with love, remembering that if they would do God’s work, they must abide in God’s love. Even a seeming harshness may check the beginnings of true repentance, and a lack of sympathy may cause harm where only good was intended.
  16. Friends’ business meetings are meetings for worship with a concern for business. When there seems to be disagreement, a free expression of all opinions should be encouraged. Those who speak in meetings for business are advised not to be unduly persistent in advocacy or opposition, but, after having fully expressed their views, to recognize the generally expressed sense of the meeting. A deep and seeking silence can help to reconcile seemingly opposing points of view. Meetings should be conducted in the spirit of wisdom, forbearance, and love.
  17. Friends are advised to acknowledge and celebrate our interconnectedness with the natural world, and to share with our children and others our love for God’s creation. We are encouraged to live lives that nurture both ourselves and the Earth. We are urged to pay attention to such concerns as population growth, climate change, sustainable energy policies, and right sharing of natural resources.