Category Archives: Newsletter articles

Plans for In-Person Worship at Third Street

August 2 the Third St. Meetinghouse will once again have in-person worship!

Third Street Meetinghouse, early July 2020

We have room for 22 socially distanced people in worshipping at our Third Street Meetinghouse. We feel led to make sure that as a welcoming community we leave some seats for those who may just show up. We are making plans for 18 people who have signed up ahead of time.

If you would like to join us, here’s what you need to do:

  1. Email Carol Clarke (firetendercarol@yahoo.com) and to let her know you’d like to come – we need to know in advance who is coming.
  2. Agree to wear a mask the whole time you are in the Meetinghouse and enter through the kitchen (unless you need to use the ramp).
  3. Agree to wash your hands or use hand sanitizer and fill out a simple COVID screening form as you arrive (please bring your own pen or pencil to do this).
  4. Agree to bring your own cushion if you want a cushion and disinfect the chair you sit in at the end of Worship (we’ll provide materials), or bring a sheet or towel to place on the chair you sit in.  The upholstered chairs will not be available for the time being.
  5. Agree to maintain social distance from others as you arrive and as you leave and not to approach anyone at any time in the building – please take conversations outside.

We will also ask everyone as they arrive if they will volunteer to help disinfect surfaces on common areas at the close of Worship (probably no more than 10 minutes of more disinfecting).

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

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).

Clerk’s Message, May 2020

Dearest Friends,


I am called to write you a love letter. Like the best love letters, it is budding with affection, sloppy, flattering, unexpected, and filled with prickly and necessary truths. Because I’m the one writing it, I’d like you to picture it in a tiny pink envelope, completely unlabelled, with lip prints where the seal folds down (barely visible, of course, because they’d have to be done with chapstick). Inside is a white card, not a folded piece of paper, but pricey card stock covered in my oversized print.

Dearest Friends,

…it begins.

Never in my time worshiping with Ithaca Monthly Meeting, or in my time among Quakers, or, let’s face it, in much of my time with anyone, have I felt so enmeshed in a person or people. The language we often use of  being a part of  “the body” of Friends has never been so visceral to me as it is right now. In the course of my interactions the last few months, it is sometimes hard for me to tell whether I am the arm or the leg or the backbone, where my experience begins and someone else’s subsides.

I’ll skip over this next section. There is a rambling list of all your finest attributes. I say something about Light falling on my face when I’m in your Presence. It borders on an eccentric trope, but, hey, it’ so sweet.

But then things take a bit of a turn.
It isn’t the same I claim.

The richness of those first few weeks of this storm have faded. For a time, those who could, drew together to salvage the pieces of our lives together, and those who couldn’t had faith that others would. We wore our fear and our sadness on our faces in a way we rarely allow ourselves. We reached out to each other for support. Many of us lashed ourselves to the mast of this Meeting, and, for many, it kept us afloat.

But, now, I fear our ship is becalmed.

The surprising depth of our initial online worship has waned. The spirit is every bit as available via Zoom as on a mountainside or in a cathedral. But we seem to be moving through a transition, from the immediacy of the past month to the trudge of what still looks like a long time coming. I was recently confronted with a biblical quote, “I have seen the travail, which God hath given to [us] to be exercised in it.” We have been heavily exercised as of late, Friends.

By doing our best to duplicate the Meeting life that was suddenly unavailable to us, were we too focused on the limitations of our circumstances rather then their possibilities? We are different now than we were before all this. Heck, we’re different than we were two weeks ago. How do we reflect those differences in our current choices as a Meeting, both online and off? I am cautioning us against empty forms, Friends. It is the classic “it’s not you, it’s me” cliche.

It gets a little philosophical in this end portion, but I would summarize by saying: In the coming weeks, the head, heart and hands of this body are going to need to continue to reinvent what we’re doing. Tell us what you need. Tell us what isn’t working. Mourn with us the things we’ve lost and ruminate on the things we’re just discovering.

XOXO,

Gina

Joshua and Edith Cope

Joshua and Edith Cope were among the active founders of IMM.  Joshua (1887-1950) was born in Hatsboro, PA, attended the Westtown School, obtained a B.S. from Haverford College in 1912 (Phi Beta Kappa), and an M.F. from the Yale School of Forestry in 1914.  He worked for the U.S. Forest Service in Montana from 1915-16 and then returned to teach at the Westtown School in 1916-17.  He worked as the assistant state forester for the state of Maryland from 1918-1924 before accepting a faculty position in forestry extension in the Conservation Department at Cornell University, a position that he held until his death.

Joshua was Clerk of IMM from 1930-1933 and from 1942-1947.  In 1938, the Copes moved their membership from Baltimore MM to IMM and thus became the first members of the new Ithaca Monthly Meeting.  Joshua also served several years on IMM’s program committee, budget committee, and as Young Friends advisor.  He operated a Christmas tree farm called Spruce Top in the Town of Caroline and gave Young Friends the opportunity to earn spending money by cutting and selling the trees.  The property also served as a 4-H Forestry camp.  Another strong interest of Joshua’s was getting our Meeting involved with residents of the Civilian Public Service camp in Big Flats.  Through his leadership and encouragement, Ithaca Friends visited the camp frequently on weekends and also hosted several members of the camp each week.  IMM minutes mention a good time that was held by all one weekend evening at a square dance in Fernow Hall, where Joshua worked. Joshua was also a scoutmaster and was active in scouting for many years.

Joshua was sponsored by the AFSC to do a sabbatical in Finland in 1949-50, where he worked with Finnish foresters and also taught at the University of Helsinki.  He died quite suddenly of a heart attack in August, 1950 while at Spruce Top.

Edith Cary Cope (1888-1971) was born in New York State and graduated from Mt. Holyoke College before coming to Ithaca.  She was active in IMM, serving on the Program and Nominating Committees, as an Elder, as IMM representative to the Church Women’s Council, and she was active in the group who did sewing for AFSC projects in Europe during and following World War II.  She was elected to the CURW Board of Control, was president of the Mt. Holyoke Alumni Association, and was active in the Women’s International League for Peace and Freedom.  Edith and Joshua frequently opened their home in Ithaca to IMM gatherings. In 1952, two years after Joshua died, Edith moved to Richmond, IN to be with her two sons who were employed by Earlham College.  She died there in 1971.

– Tom Brown, Meeting Historian

Spring Gathering and Summer Sessions to be on-line

Dear New York Yearly Meeting community,

It has become clear to the Liaison Committee (composed of the yearly meeting clerk, assistant clerk, and the clerks of the General Services, Ministry, and Witness Coordinating Committees) and to the clerks of Sessions and Trustees that NYYM will not be able to gather in person for Summer Sessions 2020. A task group is being assembled to consider alternatives for each of the many valuable experiences that we share at our summer gathering. If anyone would like to offer their expertise or experience in creating virtual or other alternatives to an in-person gathering, as a possible member of the task group or as a resource person, please contact Elaine Learnard, the convener of the task group.

Registrations for our 325th annual gathering at Silver Bay will no longer be accepted. Those who have registered already will be contacted regarding the cancellation. This decision, as difficult as it was, was unavoidable. It is unlikely to be safe to gather in large groups by the end of July, and we don’t want to create a space for the virus to spread within our community or at Silver Bay. This is a painful decision, because, as Friends in Great Britain wrote in 1668: “We did conclude among ourselves to settle a meeting, to see one another’s faces, and open our hearts one to another in the Truth of God once a year, as formerly it used to be.” (Quaker Faith and Practice, Britain Yearly Meeting, 1995, section 6.02) Gathering in the Spirit has always been an important part of our year. It will be missed. We are fortunate to have technology to help us through the change in plans that has been thrust upon us.

A group of us met with Silver Bay personnel to confirm the cancellation and to inquire about their situation. They are currently legally closed as a non-essential business until at least April 29, though their facilities may later be used by the region for hospitalization of non-COVID-19 patients in order to relieve the load on small local hospitals. They made the gracious offer to host any individual Friends from NYYM during our Summer Sessions week (July 19-25) at our conference rates, if the pandemic is over and they have re-opened. All you would need to do is call Silver Bay YMCA and register for a room, advising them that you are affiliated with NYYM.

As Jeffrey wrote to you when inviting Friends to register, “This year’s theme is Embracing our Past, Envisioning our Future. We are a yearly meeting in transition, and we are facing many different changes, as is the rest of the world. Change can be difficult, but our Quaker process, rooted in deep listening to all voices, helps us move forward in the Light with love for each other and for our community. As a community, we have much to offer to each other and to the wider world.”  

This all remains true, and even more so as we negotiate how to move forward in a stressful time. We have added a new line to our theme: Living into our Present. Let us find creative ways to keep hope alive, to see one another’s faces even if not in person, and to support those in need, both within our beloved community and throughout our one world. 

Jeffrey Aaron, Clerk, NYYM 
Elaine Learnard, Assistant Clerk, NYYM
Melanie-Claire Mallison, Clerk, NYYM Sessions Committee
Steve Mohlke, NYYM General Secretary
Roseann Press, Clerk, NYYM Trustees

And here’s the announcement from FSRM:

Join us at the
FREE! VIRTUAL & SMALL GROUP!
Farmington-Scipio Spring Gathering
May 15-17th, 2020!

Loving One Another and the Earth:
Living into the Future as Friends

Something new! Yes, Spring Gathering is still happening May 15-17″, but not as we expected, and not at Watson Homestead!

In Friends’ tradition of experimentation, testimony and continued revelation, this year we will experiment in living more lightly on the earth and caring for one another during times of suffering by holding Spring Gathering virtually and in small groups, rather than as one large group at Watson Homestead.

Friends planning adult, young adult, teen and youth programs are excited about the possibilities for gathering together, even as we are also holding a concern for including those for whom participating may be a challenge. Plans are in the works for 

  • · Friday evening intergenerational community building
  • · Saturday youth, young adult and intergenerational activities
  • · Saturday morning plenary
  • · Saturday afternoon interest groups
  • · Saturday evening intergenerational talent sharing
  • · Sunday morning intergenerational worship
  • · Sunday Meeting for Worship with a concern for business

Friends are invited to consider creative ways of participating in Spring Gathering, from being part of an online plenary panel reflecting on how our theme has been working in your life, sharing your talents virtually, presenting an online workshop or interest group, offering an online Bible study or children’s message during worship, or something we haven’t thought of yet!

For now, please keep May 15-17th on your calendar and look for registration materials soon!

Please contact the Spring Gathering planning committee via Lu Harper (luharper@gmail.com) or Suzanne Blackburn (kandsblackburn@gmail.com) to share your thoughts and suggestions.