Author Archives: mtravisdunham

Communicating Within IMM

Simplicity may be one of our Quaker testimonies, but sharing or finding information about Ithaca Monthly Meeting (IMM) is complicated! As a Meeting, we use numerous communication methods in an effort to provide information and create community among F/friends. Some of the ways we share information include:

  • Email sent to the IMM listserv
  • Our monthly newsletter
  • Announcements at the rise of Meeting
  • Events listed in the Calendar on our website
  • A detailed announcement or explanation shared in a blog post on our website (Such as what you’re currently reading.)
  • Phone calls from a designated person in Meeting to F/friends
  • A notice is posted in the Meetinghouse (generally only used for the annual meeting of the IMMRSF Corporation)
  • A letter or note mailed to Friends’ homes (This is increasingly less common, though the Finance Committee usually mails a letter near the end of the year asking Friends to consider donating to the Meeting.)
  • If there are documents or files to review (such as agenda, minutes, and reports for Meeting for Worship with Attention to Business), they may be stored in a shared online drive and a link sent via the listserv and included in the newsletter. Sometimes documents are sent as attachments via the listserv.

As we said, many ways to share information! Which methods we use depend on various factors, including how complex the information is, who needs to know, and when they need to know. We tend to use multiple methods to share the same information because we want to be sure everyone has an opportunity to see it. This is helpful because people have different preferences or options for receiving information. It can also be problematic because we risk not being consistent in the information we share (e.g., an email may list the start time of a discussion as 9am, but the calendar says 9:15am). Sharing the same information multiple ways can also add to confusion about how and where to share and receive information.

The first two items in the list of methods – the newsletter and the listserv – may be the most confusing to Friends, mainly because more than one email list is involved and there are additional options within the method.

Newsletter. Our newsletter can be found a few ways: it arrives in your email inbox; a few printed copies are available at the meetinghouses; and online versions are available on the Newsletter page of our IMM website (including an archive of previous newsletters dating back to 2006!) To make sure the IMM newsletter arrives in your email inbox, you need to be subscribed to the IMM Newsletter list (which is separate from the IMM listserv). If you’re subscribed and still don’t receive the newsletter, check your spam folder. You may need to add to your contacts list so your email recognizes our newsletter.

Listserv. We communicate via email frequently, and use listservs as an easy way to get information to a large group of people. The listserv allows anyone who is a subscribed member of the listserv to 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. 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, we have set up three different lists in our account.  Each person can choose whether or not to receive email from each of the sub-lists.

The main, foundational list is Announcements ( 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 ( and Community ( Everyone who joins any of the 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. Some of the recent messages sent to the Announcements list include:

  • A reminder from the Clerk about Meeting for Worship and our monthly potluck lunch
  • Reminders about Talent Night
  • Announcements about our Peace & Social Justice or Earthcare committee meetings, including the links to join the meeting via Zoom
  • Notices of workshops being offered at Powell House (a retreat center associated with New York Yearly Meeting (NYYM).

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. Messages recently sent to the Witness list include:

  • A plea to tell Ithaca Common Council not to pull funding from Southside Community Center
  • An announcement about a panel discussion on fracking (featuring Ithaca Friend Sandra Steingraber)
  • Information about the conflict in Israel and Gaza, including pleas to contact elected officials about specific actions.

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. Recent messages shared to the Community list include:

  • An invitation to a fundraiser
  • An announcement about author Robin Wall Kimmerer speaking at Cornell (this was also shared to the Witness list)
  • An offer of dining room furniture
  • A request for information about potential housing from Quakers who will be moving to Ithaca.

Getting too much email?

One of the nice things about the service is that it is easy to control the frequency of email delivery. Most people in our listserv either receive each message as it’s sent or receive several messages at a time in a digest or summary. You could even opt to receive no email and instead visit the website to read messages.

All the messages sent to our listservs are available to be read on a website, so there’s an easily accessible archive of what’s been sent and you can go back and search for a topic or message. To read messages on the website, you’ll need to create a login and password for that site.

How to decide which communication method to use?

Still not sure how or where to share information with others in Meeting? The easiest and quickest way is to send an email to one of the listservs. Which listserv you use depends on the content of the message. If it’s an announcement about an event hosted by or for Ithaca Monthly Meeting or one of our committees, use the Announcements list. Same guideline applies if it’s for or from a wider Quaker organization. There are also a few emails about organizations that Ithaca Meeting is officially a member of, such as Area Congregations Together (ACT) or Kitchen Cupboard, that are sent to the Announcements listserv.

If it’s not immediately obvious that the content of your message is about Ithaca Meeting or Quakers, send it to either the Community or Witness listserv. If the message is related to one of our Quaker testimonies or areas of concern (such as non-violence, racial justice, anti-racism, or social justice), the Witness list is probably the best choice. All other emails can be sent to the Community listserv. If you’re tempted to send an email to both the Witness and Community listservs, please reconsider. The majority of people on the Witness list are also on the Community list.

My general rule: if in doubt, send it to the Community listserv!

You may also be able to share your information via one of the other communication methods listed at the beginning of this article, especially if it’s about an IMM or Quaker event. Talk to the Clerk of meeting to have something included in announcements at the Rise of Meeting. If you’d like something included in the monthly newsletter or on the website, talk to the Communications Committee.

Report from the March to End Fossil Fuels

by Betsy Keokosky

On Sunday September 17, I was lucky enough to find myself on a chartered bus driving to New York City through very early morning sunlight with people from Extinction Rebellion (the bus organizers) sitting in front of me, and students from Cornell climate action groups in the rows behind me. The March to End Fossil Fuels was one of the most diverse marches I have ever been on. As their website said, it was “a broad-based collaboration among New York grassroots organizations; Black, People of Color, Indigenous and frontline communities living next to oil and gas facilities and infrastructure; youth, elders, workers, people of faith, and people of all backgrounds impacted by fossil fuels and climate disasters across the U.S.” Climate Change is affecting us all now.

Besides the diversity, I was also struck by how this march was connecting environmental protest to spirituality, across all faiths, in a way that I hadn’t seen much before. Many people were there to ask President Biden to declare a climate emergency and stop incentivizing fossil fuels, but I felt we were also there because we were reshaping our religious and ethical beliefs to recognize and engage with the sacredness of life on this planet we share.

I stumbled across a wonderful religious rally before the march started that I later learned was a multi-faith Invocation of Spirit:

Invocation of Spirit

People of many diverse faiths and spiritual communities will gather for an Invocation —inviting the spirit of the divine within our traditions, as well as the spirits of our ancestors, of future generations, of nature, plants, animals, elements, and all the places of the earth affected by what happens in NYC (the UN, Wall Street, etc) to march with us and help us to have the love, strength and courage we need to create a just and thriving world. People of all ages and cultural traditions are invited!

A speaker at the rally

I listened to these religious leaders as, one by one, they took the podium and spoke to the surrounding crowd. It was a moving experience to stare up to the blue sky between NY City skyscrapers and hear people of all faiths acknowledge our dependence on Earth.

This event was organized through two interesting organizations: GreenFaith, a coalition of faith-based grassroots climate justice movements; and The Center for Earth Ethics located in Union Theological Seminary.

The Center defines Earth Ethics as “The discernment of how to live in relationship with the living planet. … [it] reminds us that we are connected to the Earth and that our moral obligations extend across space, time and even species.”

They further elaborate that Earth Ethics:

  • acknowledges that those who are least responsible for pollution and depletion of the natural world are the most harmed by them,
  • extends moral concern to future generations,
  • extends moral concern to nonhuman life, and
  • recognizes the planet as a living whole.

They also noted that “We amplify and engage with Indigenous wisdom to reorient society back toward nature and shape a more eco-centric world.”  (source:

Peace & Social Justice Committee Allies with Ithaca Sanctuary Alliance

Written by Garry Thomas

Ithaca Monthly Meeting has a relatively long history of supporting refugees, some legal, some not, going back at least to when Ned Burtt opened his home to “Esperanza,” a Salvadoran who came to Ithaca through a sanctuary network of social justice organizations. Nancy Gabriel remembers a Meeting “phone tree” of people in the mid-1980s who were willing to go to the Burtt House if called and place themselves between law enforcement and Esperanza and Ned, if needed. It was not.

More recently, the Meeting—under the “umbrella” of the Peace & Social Justice Committee—worked with families from Burma, Iraq, and a young man from the Congo. As we helped find housing, arrange rides, deal with various bureaucracies, and help navigate cultural differences, there often developed strong friendships.

In none of these cases, whether of individuals seeking sanctuary or immigrant families needing support, did the Meeting work alone. We often worked with other organizations, such as Catholic Charities and Amnesty International. Our networks were alliances, however informal or situational.

One religious organization in Ithaca that has worked hard to formalize immigrant support is the First Congregational Church (FCCI). In May 2019, the church membership voted overwhelmingly to become Ithaca’s first “sanctuary church” and create an apartment within the church to house immigrants who were at risk of deportation. The church’s minister stated at the time, “The offering of shelter to the vulnerable is a sacred calling. Serving the immigrant community with hospitality, kindness, compassion, and love is a ministry that connects us to the core spirit of our tradition: Love your neighbor as yourself.” Over the course of the next several months, the FCCI formed the Ithaca Sanctuary Alliance (ISA), which is composed of several supporting congregations. A young Guatemalan mother and her daughter were the first to move into the sanctuary apartment and lived there for more than two years, while their case was being adjudicated.

On September 8, 2023, FCCI welcomed a Peruvian family of four to reside in its sanctuary apartment while their legal request for asylum is in process. At that time, FCCI sent out a request to approximately ten congregations asking whether they would be willing to be “supporting congregations” and serve as members of the Ithaca Sanctuary Alliance and be able to volunteer time and money to support the new family. The First Baptist Church, St. Catherine’s, the First Unitarian Society, the Living Hope Fellowship, Tikkun v’Or, and the Tompkins County Immigrant Rights Coalition have all agreed.

At its September meeting, our Peace & Social Justice Committee (P&SJ) decided that while it is not a “congregation,” it too would like to be identified publicly as being supportive of FCCI and ISA. We also decided to contribute to the sanctuary effort from our committee’s discretionary budget and we sent the names of four committee members who are interested in volunteering.

The committee also decided to take a Minute to the October business meeting asking if our Meeting would be willing to commit to being a “supporting congregation” within ISA. At the same time, P&SJ Committee hopes to interest more people in volunteering.

Three Quaker Earthcare Witness Events During May

by Margaret McCasland

Quaker Earthcare Witness (QEW) is a North American organization that is coordinated by people from all over North America. They have a very small staff (currently 2 people), and much of their work is done by volunteers on their very large (up to 50 people) Steering Committee. I became a member of the QEW Steering Committee last year when New York Yearly Meeting named me as a representative to QEW.

The Steering Committee meets twice a year for 4 days, and we had our most recent gathering the last weekend in April. While I have attended portions of Steering Committee gatherings for quite a few years, this was the first gathering where I attended nearly every session.

QEW asks all Steering Committee people to either be or to recruit a liaison to their Monthly Meeting. I will serve as liaison until I find someone else who is interested in keeping up with what a liaison does. With this newsletter article, I am fulfilling the major duty of MM liaisons: letting you know about events QEW is sponsoring this month. Each month I will also introduce one of the many resources they offer. This month I am going to highlight QEW’s monthly Worship Sharing.

NOTE: Full descriptions of these events (and other events) are available at the QEW website. The text in italics is quoted from the QEW website. The text in regular font is from Margaret.

No Faith in Fossil Fuels: A Climate Finance Summit

with GreenFaith and Quaker Earthcare Witness
May 8 @ 12:30 pm – May 12 @ 1:30 pm EDT

Hurricanes. Excessive Heat. Crop failure. The loss of biodiversity and human life around the world. All of it is horrible – and could have been avoided.

Climate destruction is being bankrolled by large corporations and their executives who choose to act against what is right and good, at the expense of our planet’s future. The climate crisis is a crisis of greed.

From May 8-11, people of faith will gather to learn about how banks and asset managers continue to invest in the fossil fuel industries that are destroying communities in the U.S. and around the world – and then find out how to hold these financial institutions accountable. Together, we can commit to taking the bold steps necessary to effect real change.

This year’s three day summit will amplify the voices of frontline leaders of Turtle Island (what we now call North America) and the Global South, whose communities bear the direct brunt of financial decisions made by Chase Bank, Bank of America, Vanguard, Black Rock, and others who invest in harmful oil and gas extraction.

This summit is for you if you’re just making the connections between faith, finance, and climate, if you’re a money manager rooted in just climate values, or if you are part of a community wrestling with these questions.

We will build on the momentum sparked with the 2022 launch of GreenFaith’s Climate Finance Campaign. This year we have a lot to celebrate, and the work continues! We hope you will join us and a growing number of partner organizations as together we:

  • Root in our faiths for resilience, inspiration, and joy for the journey ahead
  • Learn more about Indigenous-led campaigns in the U.S. and East Africa
  • Find out how to move your money
  • Take action in our closing Action Hour

Click here for more information and/or to register.

A Holistic Approach to Earthcare Along the Blue Ridge

May 8 @ 7:00 pm – 8:00 pm EDT

In the Blue Ridge Mountains of West Virginia, Friends Wilderness Center and the China Folk House Retreat are aspiring toward bridging divides in humanity, building community with nature, and lifting all toward the Light and a brighter future. Join Kimberly Benson and John Flower for a conversation on redefining conservation to include cross-cultural connections and building compassion and respect for all life, and how they’re making this happen on the ground. They write, “Humans have a tremendous ability to rationalize and justify exploiting what we ‘other.’ We need to remove the illusion of separation among people and between people and nature.”

Click here to register.

About the presenters:

  • Kimberly Benson is a scientist, naturalist, climate and environmental activist, member of Annapolis Friends Meeting, and the general manager of Friends Wilderness Center. Learn more by reading Kimberly’s BeFriending Creation article.*
  • John Flower is Director of the Sidwell Friends School Chinese Studies Program. Since 2017, he has worked on rebuilding the “China Folk House Retreat,” to serve as a site for experiential learning, environmental sustainability and people-to-people cultural exchanges focusing on traditional agriculture, folkways and craft. 

*”BeFriending Creation” is QEW’s quarterly newsletter, available in print or digital form. To subscribe, read back issues, or learn how to submit material, click here.

Last but not least, Quaker Earthcare Witness hosts monthly online worship sharing groups: 

May Worship Sharing with Quaker Earthcare Witness

May 23 @ 7:00 pm – 8:00 pm EDT

In worship sharing, we gather in small groups to focus on a particular question (or questions) to explore our own experience and share with each other more deeply than we would in normal conversation. It seeks to draw us into sacred space, where we can take down our usual defenses, and encounter each other in “that which is eternal.” We welcome all to join us!

Together we are creating more opportunities for Friends who care deeply about the Earth and each other to be in spiritual community with one another. We hope you can join us.

I attended my first QEW monthly Worship Sharing this April and found it “spoke to my condition” and was very heartening because of the deep sharing. A new query is offered every month. Here is the info I was sent when I registered for the April Worship Sharing:

This event usually runs about an hour. For those who may be joining this worship sharing for the first time or would like a reminder, our usual structure is: 

  1. Welcome & Introduction
  2. Read Worship Sharing Guidelines, Reading & Queries
  3. Worship Sharing in Breakout Rooms of 5-6 people (45 minutes)
  4. Reflection, closing, announcements

As an example, this was the April query: We’ll be sitting with Mary Annaïse Heglar’s quote, “The thing about climate is that you can either be overwhelmed by the complexity of the problem or fall in love with the creativity of the solutions. If you feel inspired, you can read this article of hers beforehand.

[The link goes to an article that is behind a paywall. If there is interest, I will print out a few copies for our library.]

Monthly Meeting April 2023

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

April 9, 2023 

Clerk: Barbara Chase

Assistant Clerk: Marin Clarkberg

Recording Clerks: Marin Clarkberg, Antonia Saxon

(The @ signifies that the minute has been read and approved during Meeting. Reports shared during this meeting were emailed before the Meeting, and can be viewed on Google Drive.)

2023.4.1 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 April 9, 2023. This was also Easter Sunday. At 12:35pm, fourteen Friends settled into worship.

Clerk recognized Margaret McCasland as holding our gathering in the Light today and Gina Varrichio for providing technical support for Zoom. Clerk reviewed the agenda.

2023.4.2 Clerk’s report

Barbara Chase, Clerk, reminded friends that last month we approved taking the marriage of Cai Quirk and Joshua Quirk under the care of Ithaca Monthly Meeting. We did not, however, approve the full minute documenting the discussion leading up to that approval. Since that time, Clerk worked with the Recording Clerk, the Assistant Clerk, and the Clerk’s support committee on refining the minute. The Clerk now asks for approval of the following minute:

Minute 2023.3.3 Clearness Committee for the Marriage of Cai Quirk and Joshua Quirk Under the Care of Ithaca Monthly Meeting.

Gina Varrichio presented the report of a Clearness Committee for Marriage convened at the request of Cai Quirk and Joshua Quirk. The committee met with the couple by Zoom on February 10th. Cai and Joshua are gender-fluid, queer, and polyamorous. The committee understands their request for marriage invites the meeting to consider aspects of relationship the Meeting hasn’t considered before.

Friends expressed an enduring love and support for Cai who has been a part of our community since their earliest days. We welcome Joshua to our Meeting and celebrate the love and commitment that Cai and Joshua bring to their relationship. Friends raised questions and concerns about polyamory, including and how different relationship structures relate to power, and whether and how other Meetings have addressed this.

For many Friends, a polyamorous marriage is a new concept, and perhaps an uncomfortable one. We are being asked to expand our definition of marriage, perhaps as we did when our Meeting began to marry same-sex couples. A Friend noted that agreeing to take this marriage under the care of our meeting is not the same as saying polyamory is good for everyone, just as taking any marriage under the care of the meeting doesn’t suggest that marriage is good for everyone. Our feelings around polyamory in general do not have to affect the support we offer to Cai and Joshua as a couple.

Cai and Joshua experience the Spirit in this relationship, and they are committed to following Spirit even into places which are uncomfortable. Polyamory is not the relationship’s central truth. The central truth is that this relationship is Spirit-led, and that it is a relationship that they intend will last the length of their lives.

Friends see integrity in Cai and Joshua’s relationship. Love is the heart of all things, and we seek to honor love where we find it. With joy, Friends approved taking the marriage of Cai and Joshua under our care.

Friends approved the minute for March. @

2023.4.3 Nominating Committee.

Nancy Riffer, a member Nominating Committee, shared that several people have stepped off of committees. Friends who have stepped off: Nancy Riffer off of Communications Committee, Miguel Piery off of Ministry and Worship; Drew Varrichio off of TSMH Committee, and Antonia Saxon off of the Pastoral Care Team. In addition, Barbra Bleeker has rotated off being Representative to NYYM Meeting for Discernment (that role remains vacant) and Steve Phelan has replaced Simon St. Laurent as Historian. Friends received the report.

The Nominating Committee brought forth the following names to serve on the Hospitality Committee. Bronwyn Mohlke, Miguel Piery, and Pat Sewell. All three were appointed for terms that run through 2025. Friends approved the nominations. @

2023.4.4 Treasurer’s Report

Pat Sewell, Treasurer, provided a summary of the first three months of 2023. In short, Ithaca Monthly Meeting’s overall fiscal health remains strong. Over the last year few years, our income has either met or slightly exceeded our expenses. It appears that this holds true for 2022 as well.

The 2022 budget request was for $73,400 in donations. We received about 5% less than that, but we also spent signficantly less than we budgeted. Accordingly, we ended 2022 with a net surplus of approximately $3000.

The Finance Committee notes that annual donations have slightly declined, possibly due to the passing of a few key donors. Finance Committee shared that just three donors were responsible for more than 50% of our overall donations in 2022. Our reliance on a handful of individuals may not be sustainable for the long run. Finance Committee has begun the work of long-term financial planning and plans to continue thinking about this issue in 2023.

After three years, Asha Sanaker will be stepping down as the bookkeeper and we are transitioning to LAP accounting services. Pat noted that checks will be deposited later than usual as result.

A Friend with experience in nonprofits relayed that this pattern of giving—where many give a little and a few give a lot—is typical among nonprofits. Another Friend indicated that our pattern of donations used to be more evenly distributed across our community.

In response to Friend’s question, the Treasurer noted that donations stemming from use of the Third Street Meetinghouse in 2022 were higher than 2021. Friends received the report. @

2023.4.5 Ministry and Worship: State of the Meeting Report

Ellie Rosenberg read the second draft of the State of the Meeting Report for 2022. (The first draft was read in March.) This report is shared with our region, Farmington-Scipio Regional Meeting, and with New York Yearly Meeting.

A Friend reflected how different the State of the Meeting Report for 2022 is from the reports from 2020 and 2021 when the Meeting was actively managing its response to the pandemic. A Friend offered to provide a little copy-editing. Friends accepted the offer of editorial support and approved the State of the Meeting Report for 2022. @

2023.4.6 Ministry and Worship: Naming Committee

Nominating Committee needs additional members. Naming Committee serves the Meeting in proposing members for the Nominating Committee. Ministry and Worship brings the names of Marin Clarkberg and Bronwyn Mohlke to serve on Naming with the Clerk and Treasurer.

Friends discussed our historical practice and referenced an IMM Minute of February 12, 1996 which stated that Naming Committee will comprise the Clerk, the Assistant Clerk, the Treasurer, a member of the “Ministry & Oversight Committee” and a representative from Trustees. This practice, however, was not used in the last several years. A Friend observed that a five-member Naming Committee would be larger than many of our standing committees.

A Friend asked whether this issue should be referred to someone for further consideration. The Clerk of Ministry and Worship offered that M&W will discuss.

Friends approved Ministry and Worship’s nominations for this Naming Committee. @

2023.4.7 Ministry and Worship: Return to Pre-pandemic seating plan

Carol Clarke from Ministry and Worship shared a proposal to return to the pre-pandemic chair arrangement in the Meetingroom, effectively increasing the number of chairs and decreasing the space between chairs over our current arrangement. Ministry and Worship has drafted placards that Friends can place on chairs directly adjacent to themselves to create social distance if they so desire. Friends noted that the camera (used for Zoom) may be a consideration in how chairs are placed. Friends expressed appreciation for this creative accommodation of difference. Friends wondered when we might return to the shaking of hands to close worship in a way that is similarly accommodating of different comfort levels. Ministry and Worship will discuss the closing of worship.

Friends received this report. @

At 2:05, fifteen Friends settled in worship before adjourning. Our next regularly scheduled Meeting for Worship with Attention to Business will be May 14, 2023.

Respectfully submitted,

Marin Clarkberg

Monthly Meeting March 2023

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

March 12, 2023 

Clerk: Barbara Chase

Assistant Clerk: Marin Clarkberg

Recording Clerks: Marin Clarkberg, Antonia Saxon

(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.)

2023.3.1 Opening Worship

Ithaca Monthly Meeting of the Religious Society of Friends met online, using Zoom remote conferencing service, for Monthly Meeting for Worship with Attention to Business on March 12, 2023. At 12:36pm, 18 Friends settled into worship.

Clerk recognized Nancy Gabriel, who was holding the meeting in the Light, and Gina Varrichio, who was helping with tech.

Clerk shared ministry about Quaker process and practice during Meeting for Worship with Attention to Business.

2023.3.2 State of the Meeting Report, First Reading

Carol Clarke presented the first reading of Ithaca Monthly Meeting’s State of the Meeting report prepared by the Ministry and Worship Committee. The query from New York Yearly Meeting this year is, How are Friends living their faith?

The report speaks of the way the meeting is mending, rekindling, stirring, and reweaving itself together in the presence of Spirit.

Gratitude was expressed to the committee for the detail and thoroughness of the report. A Friend recommended changes to the text that better reflect Friends’ differing views and abilities. A concern was voiced about the scarcity of children and adolescents in the meeting. Wider Quaker bodies offer support and resources to our families. Another Friend noted that Ithaca Friends are working together with other meetings on how to bring children back to our meetings. A request was made for the meeting’s new assistive listening system be included. Concern was expressed about the use of the word “broken” when so many helped to carry the Meeting through the pandemic. It may be that sundered ties and relationships are now being renewed.

The State of the Meeting Report will go back to Ministry and Worship for changes. The report will come before the body again in April.

2023.3.3 Clearness Committee for the Marriage of Cai Quirk and Joshua Quirk under the care of Ithaca Monthly Meeting

Gina Varrichio presented the report of a Clearness Committee for Marriage convened at the request of Cai Quirk and Joshua Quirk.

[NOTE: The final text of this minute was not approved in the March MfWwAtB. See April 2023 MfWwAtB Minutes for full text of this Minute.]

 With joy, the meeting is clear to take the marriage of Cai Quirk and Joshua Quirk under its care.

2023.3.4 Ministry and Worship: Recommendation to move the date of April MfWwAtB

Ministry and Worship recommends that, in light of the date of Easter this year, April Meeting for Worship with Attention to Business be moved one week later, to the third Sunday, April 16.

A conflict was noted: that is the weekend of New York Yearly Meeting’s Spring Sessions.

The decision is referred to Ministry and Worship.

The remaining items on the agenda – the Treasurer’s Report, and the report from Nominating Committee were laid over until April.

The clerk announced that the Hector Meetinghouse would open for the season with a sunrise Meeting for Worship on Easter Sunday, April 9.

At 3:06, 15 Friends settled in worship before adjourning. No date has been set yet for April’s Meeting for Worship with Attention to Business.

Antonia Saxon, Recording Clerk

Monthly Meeting February 2023

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

February 12, 2023 

Clerk: Barbara Chase

Assistant Clerk: Marin Clarkberg

Recording Clerks: Marin Clarkberg, Antonia Saxon

(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.)

2023.2.1 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 February 12, 2023. At 12:33pm, ten Friends settled into worship.

Clerk recognized Nancy Gabriel, who is holding the meeting in the Light today.

2023.2.2 Ministry and Worship: Lifting the Mask Requirement

In December, after holding two meeting-wide listening sessions, Ministry and Worship proposed changing the IMM requirement to wear masks in the Third Street Meetinghouse. The proposed policy left decisions about mask-wearing up to individual discernment. The Meeting did not come to unity about the proposed wording of the policy. The ministry that followed reflected the difficulty of balancing care for those in the community who are at risk, and care for Friends who cannot or will not wear masks; Friends whom the Meeting hopes can rejoin Meeting for Worship in the Meetinghouse.

This month Ministry and Worship brought a revised policy to the body.

Meeting approved the following statement regarding masks, and will post it at the Meetinghouse and on the Meeting’s website:


  • Some of us are at a higher risk for serious illness, and some disabilities are not visible. Please be considerate of those among us who are trying to avoid illness.
  • Stay home if you have any symptoms of a contagious disease
  • Consider wearing a mask, to protect others (as well as yourself)
  • Consider social-distancing, especially from others wearing masks


Ministry and Worship also expressed support for – and this policy does not preclude – the idea of small groups of Friends requiring masks for activities that they organize; for example, organizing a supplemental meeting for worship where masks are required.

Friends expressed gratitude for Ministry and Worship’s bringing this promptly back to the body.

Friends approved the policy. @

2023.2.3 Ministry and Worship: Transfer of Membership

For Ministry and Worship, Carol Clarke brought a request for transfer of membership for Friend Rachel V. Ruth from the clerk of Poughkeepsie Monthly Meeting.

Meeting approved the transfer and warmly welcomes Rachel Ruth to the Meeting.@

2023.2.4 Ministry and Worship: Process for the State of the Meeting Report

Marin Clarkberg reported that Ministry and Worship is preparing to draft the State of the Meeting report, an annual report that is sent on to Farmington-Scipio Regional Meeting and from there to New York Yearly Meeting. This year, the query given to monthly meetings by New York Yearly Meeting is, “How do you live your Quaker Faith?”

In the past few months, the Meeting has had many opportunities to gather in worship-sharing.

Ministry and Worship invites Friends to reflect on the query and to share their thoughts with the Clerk or with Carol Clarke, the clerk of Ministry and Worship. The committee is not proposing to meet to share worship about the query. The committee will bring a draft of the report to Meeting for Worship with Attention to Business in March.

Friends received the report. @

2023.2.5 Burtt House Working Group: Report on the Second Round of Worship Sharing.

Gina Varrichio presented a report from the Burtt House Working Group on the second round of worship sharing sessions held in January 2023. The queries for those sessions were:

  1. How has the Burtt House contributed to the Meeting’s Quaker life in living out Friends’ testimonies?
  2. How has the Burtt House helped me live out my faith as an individual?
  3. What would it mean to you as a Friend if Ithaca Monthly Meeting released the Burtt House? What would it mean to Ithaca Monthly Meeting as a community to release the Burtt House?

Friends who attended the worship sharing sessions shared memories of ministry connected with the Burtt House, individual and corporate experiences of Quaker life in the house, and a sense that the place of the House in the life of the Meeting had changed since the Meeting moved to the Third Street Meetinghouse. Friends were comfortable with the use of the word “released,” and the concern was voiced that support for the FCRJ continue no matter how the Meeting is led to go forward. The Committee is working on queries for the next round of worship sharing.

Friends received the report. @

2023.2.6 Committee Annual Reports

A share of Meeting’s annual reports for 2022 are to be read this month. For the last few years, we have distributed annual reports across two or three months. Friends presented annual reports and answered questions as follows:

  • Barbara Chase read the annual report of the Greeters. Friends expressed gratitude for the work of the Greeters and joy that the Meeting is coming to life again. Friends received the report.@
  • Pat Sewell read the annual report of the Finance Committee. Friends asked questions and received the report.@
  • Margaret McCasland read the annual report of the Library Committee. Friends expressed gratitude for the work of the committee and received the report.@
  • Jill Marie read the annual report of the Peace and Social Justice Committee and detailed contributions the committee made from their discretionary funds. Friends expressed gratitude for the work of the committee and received the report.@
  • Marin Clarkberg read the annual report of the Communications Committee. Friends expressed gratitude for the work of the committee and received the report. @  

At 2:09, 13 Friends settled in worship before adjourning. Our next regularly scheduled Meeting for Worship with Attention to Business will be March 12, 2023.

Respectfully submitted,

Antonia Saxon

Monthly Meeting January 2023

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

January 8, 2023 

Clerk: Gina Varrichio (outgoing clerk), Barbara Chase (incoming clerk)

Assistant Clerk: Marin Clarkberg

Recording Clerks: Marin Clarkberg, Antonia Saxon

(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.)

2023.1.1 Opening Worship

Ithaca Monthly Meeting of the Religious Society of Friends met on-line, using Zoom remote conferencing service, for the Annual Meeting of the Corporation and for Monthly Meeting for Worship with Attention to Business on January 8, 2023. At 12:35pm, twenty-eight Friends settled into worship.

Gina Varrichio, outgoing Clerk, shared the day’s agenda and reviewed that the Annual Meeting of the Corporation would precede the regular, monthly Meeting for Worship with Attention to Business. Gina recognized that Nancy Gabriel would be holding both of these meetings in the Light today.

2023.1.2 Annual Meeting of the IMMRSF Corporation

Present for the annual meeting of the corporation: Barbara Chase, Marin Clarkberg, Carol Clarke, Chris Dunham, Melissa Travis Dunham, Karen Friedeborn, Nancy Gabriel, Linda Griggs, Fran Helmstadter, Carolyn Kenyon, Betsy Keokosky, Judith Knight, John Lewis, Bronwyn Mohlke, Steve Mohlke, Liam Murphy, Nancy Riffer, Ellie Rosenberg, Rachel Ruth, Antonia Saxon, Elizabeth Schneider, Pat Sewell, Mike Simkin, Connie Thomas, Garry Thomas, Gina Varrichio, Martin Willitts, and Ruth Yarrow. (Given 177 members of the Corporation, the 28 present exceed the 10% in-attendance requirement.)

Marin Clarkberg, co-Convener of Trustees and co-President of the Corporation convened the Annual Meeting of IMMRSF, Inc., and read the President’s Annual Report to Membership. 

The report noted that trustees considered two issues in 2022: the signing of an agreement with the city relating to sidewalk repairs, and the status of the Memorandum of Understanding between IMM and Friends Center for Racial Justice.

Antonia Saxon, Secretary of the Corporation, then delivered the Secretary’s report. Antonia noted that timely and correct notice was given to the membership for the 2022 Annual Meeting of the Corporation (held on January 9, 2022). Twenty-seven members attended, and the reports from the Officers of the Corporation were received and approved at that time.

Antonia noted that at the December 11, 2022 Meeting for Worship with Attention to Business, the membership of the Board of Trustees for 2023 was approved as: Barbara Chase (Clerk of the Meeting), Pat Sewell (Treasurer of the Meeting), Antonia Saxon, Marin Clarkberg, Gina Varrichio, and Steve Mohlke.

Pat Sewell, Treasurer of the Meeting and of the Corporation, gave the Treasurer’s Report for 2022. Pat reported that IMM received $26,191 in donations by the end of November, and our total expense in 2022 was $67,700. As of the end of the year, Ithaca Monthly Meeting held approximately $43,000 in checking, approximately $26,000 in savings and approximately $92,000 in a Friends Fiduciary Account. Pat noted that the Meeting is able to meet all of its financial obligations and that final numbers for 2022 will be provided in March.

Liam Murphy, co-President, reported that in 2023, Marin Clarkberg will serve as President of the corporation (and clerk of Trustees), Antonia Saxon will serve as Secretary of the corporation (and recording clerk of Trustees), and Pat Sewell will serve as Treasurer of the corporation.

Friends received the reports of the corporation. Marin Clarkberg adjourned the Annual Meeting of IMMRSF, Inc.

Gina Varrichio reflected on her time as Clerk and the intensity of clerking during the pandemic. Gina expressed enthusiasm for Barbara Chase as our Meeting’s new Clerk. In turn, Barbara Chase, in-coming Clerk, expressed gratitude for Gina’s work over the last few years. Friends are encouraged to hold Barbara in the Light as she takes on the new role.

2023.1.3 Nominating Committee

Carolyn Kenyon from Nominating Committee brought forth the name of Antonia Saxon to serve as co-Recording Clerk for a one-year term, closing at the end of 2023. Friends approved the nomination.@

2023.1.4 Annual Reports

A share of Meeting’s annual reports are to be read this month. For the last few years, we have distributed annual reports across two or three months. Friends presented annual reports and answered questions as follows:

  • Carol Clarke read the annual report of the Ministry & Worship Committee. Comments included two clarifications. Friends received the report.
  • John Lewis read the annual report of the Third Street Meetinghouse Committee. Friends asked questions and expressed gratitude for the work that was done in 2022. Friends received the report.
  • Karen Friedeborn read the annual report of the Ithaca Monthly Meeting Pastoral Care Coordinating Team (IMMPaCCT). Friends discussed the scope of the “buddy system” and appreciated the availability of pastoral care in our Meeting. Friends received the report.
  • Antonia Saxon read the annual report of the Burtt House Committee. Friends asked questions about the Friends Center for Racial Justice and expressed appreciation for the contributions of the committee to the substantial work of maintaining this old building. Friends received the report.
  • Although not a member of the committee, Gina Varrichio read the annual report of the Hector Meetinghouse Committee. A Friend reflected on the value of worshiping at Hector. Friends received the report. @

2023.1.4 Clerk’s Report: Hybrid Meeting for Worship with Attention to Business (MfWwAtB)

Barbara Chase invited Friends to share their thoughts regarding switching MfWwAtB from an online-only format to a hybrid format (with in-person gathering in the Third Street Meetinghouse in addition to Zoom). Friends commented on the value of the in-person experience. Other Friends spoke on the value of including Friends who cannot join us in the Meetinghouse. Friends noted that there are logistical issues that would need to be addressed to facilitate hybrid Meetings. In particular, the technical support role would need to be filled and those serving in this role may be unable to fully participate in worship. A hybrid format also poses additional challenges to clerking, in part due to the subtle differences in how we communicate and experience one another across the different formats. A Friend observed that the world has changed, and we are challenged to learn new ways of being and new ways of working together.

Clerk encouraged us to continue this discussion. @

At 2:20, twenty-four Friends settled in worship before adjourning. Our next regularly scheduled Meeting for Worship with Attention to Business will be February 12, 2023.

Respectfully submitted,

Marin Clarkberg

Burtt House Discussions

The Burtt House Working Group (BHWG) seeks to build upon the broad sharing that emerged in the gatherings held in the Fall, attended by a large number of Ithaca Friends. The Group is proposing a second round of worship sharing meetings for us to hear Friends’ thoughts, feelings, and reflections as we consider the role of the building in the life of Ithaca Meeting.

Three sessions are planned:

  • Sunday, January 15, 2023 , 12:30-2:00 pmin-person only at the Third Street Meeting House
  • Wednesday, January 18, 6:00-7:30 pm: online only via Zoom. See below for Zoom information
  • Sunday, January 22, 2023, 9:00 am: Hybrid format, in person at the Third Street Meetinghouse and via Zoom. See below for Zoom information

Queries to Focus Our Sharing in these Gatherings:

  1. How has the Burtt House contributed to the Meeting’s Quaker life in living out Friends’ testimonies?
  2. How has the Burtt House helped me live out my faith as an individual?
  3. What would it mean to you as a Friend if Ithaca Monthly Meeting released the Burtt House? What would it mean to Ithaca Monthly Meeting as a community to release the Burtt House?

Friends are invited to address whichever of these queries calls forth a response from your own experience, and to attend as many of the sessions as feasible. Your responses to this are part of the fabric of the Meeting. These stories are our stories.

These gatherings continue to be “Meetings for Listening” without problem-solving or arriving at any decisions. In the first round many of us were able to discern inner movement on distinct layers of our own memory, learning, and connections to our fellow Friends.

One thread through the first round was that some Friends have questions on points of history, e.g., information about the bequest, and past minutes and decisions regarding the property. BHWG is compiling links to available documentation.

Please resolve to attend at least one of the January worship sharing sessions.

Questions and comments are welcome.

Angela Hopkins, Antonia Saxon, Gina Varicchio, Nancy Gabriel, Steve Mohlke.

Zoom Information for the Burtt House Discussions

Click the button below or use the Zoom meeting information listed here to participate in the discussions online on January 18 or January 22.

Meeting ID: 840 1819 9474
Passcode: friends
To join by phone dial 929-205-6099 and enter meeting ID: 840 1819 9474 when prompted.

An Update on the Afghan Women’s Fund

Written by Margaret McCasland

Ithaca Monthly Meeting has had a long and loving relationship with the Afghan Women’s Fund and its director, Fahima Gaheez (formerly Vorgetts). Fahima used to visit Ithaca regularly to update us on their work and to sell rugs and handcrafts to support AWF’s work. Barbara Barry and Fahima were especially close, and they stayed in touch until Barbara’s passing.

The Afghan Women’s Fund currently needs an infusion of funds to launch an innovative program “that could put education in reach of literally tens of thousands of Afghan girls and young women. We can’t share details yet, but we look to 2023 determined to make it work.”

One of the rugs sold by the Afghan Women's Fund

One of the best ways you can support her work is to purchase one of the hand woven rugs from central or western Asia that she sells to raise funds. You can see photos of the rugs here.

The following (lightly edited) letter is from the Fall 2022 issue of the newsletter of the Afghan Women’s Fund. To also see stories and photos from regions around Afghanistan, see the full newsletter.

Dear friends and supporters,
This year, the Afghan people, including AWF volunteers on the ground, faced more severe challenges.

Working in the Taliban’s Afghanistan is very hard, yet the resilience of our volunteers, teachers, and the women, men, young people and elders is unmatched in the face of their harsh situation. Many local efforts have been successful due to their determination and resourcefulness despite the circumstances, although limited by desperate needs for funding.

While it is possible to move supplies and money to support projects, everything must be done very carefully due to poorly functioning infrastructure in many sectors and the harsh and inconsistent rule of the Taliban. For example, many AWF vocational training projects have been on hold because two key volunteers were killed and another jailed and tortured and now is in hiding. In some locations the teachers and volunteers who have run AWF-supported adult literacy and vocational projects just cannot publicly do so at this time.

So this is a time of working as hard as possible where we can, and working delicately and persistently to expand that space. In the past year this has meant a focus on elementary education and supporting dogged local efforts in several provinces to make high school level education available for girls.

Looking Ahead, AWF remains dedicated to women’s rights and empowerment, no matter the circumstances. This year has been trying for the people of Afghanistan and we are honored to work alongside them to find ways around the obstacles.

Recently we began working on a new program that could put education in reach of literally tens of thousands of Afghan girls and young women. We can’t share details yet, but we look to 2023 determined to make it work. And to share it with you.

We are very careful doing our work and always emphasize caution to our volunteers. Many activists, organizers, and average people (including AWF volunteers) have been killed, tortured, or jailed by Taliban in the past year. Others have had their homes confiscated and had to go into hiding to stay safe, only to have family members harassed and even abducted. Many struggle to have enough food and adequate living conditions. But they still do what they can, as we must as well.

Afghans are knocked down over and over again, yet they stand up again each time. And you, who believe in humanity, thank you for being there for them. Your donations and other assistance literally make the difference. Every help – small or large – gives them hope.

Thank you for your trust, love, and support. Please be in touch!

Best wishes in these difficult times,
Fahima Gaheez
Director, Afghan Women’s Fund

Excerpt from the Fall 2022 newsletter of the Afghan Women’s Fund

From their website:

“Since 2002, Afghan Women’s Fund has been dedicated to rebuilding Afghanistan with a focus on empowering women and girls through education, access to healthcare, and vocational opportunities. Over the years, AWF has built and opened new schools for girls, developed literacy and computer skills classes for women, created income-generating projects for widows to help them become self-sufficient, distributed warm clothing and school supplies to refugees and guided numerous other humanitarian and educational projects like digging wells for clean drinking water and irrigation, building and supplying hospitals and clinics, and donating resources to widows.”