Featured post

In-Person Worship at Third Street

Third Street Meetinghouse, early July 2020

We have room for 22 socially distanced people to worship in person 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).

Monthly Meeting October 2020

Ithaca Monthly Meeting of the Religious Society of Friends

Meeting for Worship with Attention to Business

October 11, 2020

Clerk: Gina Varrichio

Standing in for the Recording Clerks: Ellie Rosenberg, Melissa Travis Dunham, Gina Varrichio

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

Nineteen Friends were present at 12:45pm at the start of Meeting for Worship with Attention to Business.

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

Clerk read the following passage from Thomas of Celano in The Remembrance of the Desire of a Soul (2000), a reflection on the life of St. Francis of Assisi:

He learned by revelation the meaning of many things, but when he was conversing among others he put the opinions of others ahead of his own. He considered the opinions of his companions safer than his own. He would say that a man had not yet given up everything for God as long as he held on to the moneybag of his own opinions. 

2020.10.1 Worship Sharing: Report to FSRM on the Reflections of the IMM Breakout Group

We began with worship sharing around a report written at Farmington Scipio Regional Meeting’s Fall Gathering regarding the experience of Ithaca Monthly Meeting Friends. The report was read by Melanie-Claire Mallison. Those gathered were ask to 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?

Friends shared ministry. Some of the themes that arose during this time were recognition of the unwillingness and/or discomfort around talking about religion/our spiritual lives/God; a feeling that IMM focuses on the testimony of community, sometimes to the exclusion of all other testimonies; concern about the message that “if you’re not doing X, you’re not really a Quaker;” the desire to refocus on the “we” rather than the “I;” and a deep love and appreciation for IMM and each other. Informal notes were taken, and these will be used to inform further discussions around these themes. TBD.

NOTE: This is a brief accounting by the clerk and not a minute approved by the body, as we neglected to write one.

2020.10.2 Covid Working Group: Wedding And Memorial Gatherings 

The COVID Working Group proposes that the Third Street Meetinghouse be made available for members or attenders who would like to hold a wedding or memorial gathering.The covid working group will change some of the wording to speak to unmasking during wedding vows and kisses and wording around “bubbles.” @

2020.10.3 Covid Working Group: Building Use By Outside Groups 

COVID Working Group recommended opening the Third Street Meetinghouse to outside groups for their events. The proposal to open the Third Street Meetinghouse to outside groups following our covid guidelines was approved. @

2020.10.4 Covid Working Group: Use Of The Kitchen By Teen Day 

The COVID Working Group proposes that Teen Day be granted access to the kitchen and any appliances it needs for teaching purposes, with the understanding that no food will be prepared or consumed in the meetinghouse. @

2020.10.5 Ministry And Worship: Hybrid Meeting For Worship 

M&W recommends the extension of hybrid Meeting for Worship in the Third Street Meetinghouse until Meeting for Worship with Attention to Business in December. @

2020.10.6 Treasurer’s Report

We were reminded that Kitchen Cupboard still needs our donations and are figuring out the best way to make this happen. Questions were asked and answered about the budgeting sheet. New camera, microphone, projector, disinfectant, etc. is under operations and maintenance for the Third Street Meetinghouse for now. There may be a way to have a COVID-related line as well. Finance Committee is discussing this. @

2020.10.7 Other

A request was made to open the Meetinghouse for a day of prayer on election day.

Swords into Plowshares: “Nuclear Weapons, Illegal, Immoral”

By Garry Thomas

In the dark of night on April 4, 2018, seven anti-nuclear activists entered the Kings Bay Naval Submarine Base in St. Marys, Georgia, home to six Trident submarines to carry out a long-planned Plowshare’s action. It was the 50th anniversary of the assassination of Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. Ithaca’s Clare Grady, a person of conscience and committed Catholic Worker like the others involved in the action, was one of the seven. She and the others cut their way through an anchor chain fence, poured their blood on an administration building, spray painted religious messages, and partially dismantled a monument to the Trident missile. And then awaited their arrest.

The protestors, which included Liz McAlister (80), widow of Phil Berrigan, and Martha Hennessy (64), granddaughter of Catholic Worker founder Dorothy Day, called themselves the Kings Bay Plowshares 7. They took their name from the words of the prophet Isaiah (2:4), who called upon “nations to beat their swords into plowshares and neither shall they learn war anymore.” These were “sacramental actions,” they said, necessitated by the “omnicidal nature” of the nuclear weapons stored at the naval base. The Trident nuclear submarines at the base carry missiles capable of delivering the equivalent of 3,600 Hiroshima-sized nuclear bombs. They wanted to put both the Tridents and nuclear weapons on trial.

Just days before the trial began in October 2019, US District Judge Lisa Godbey Wood instructed the defendants that they would be able to discuss neither their religious beliefs nor the nuclear weapons stored at the base. Taking its direction from the judge, the prosecution said quite simply, “this is a case of what the defendants did, not why they did it.” A non-violent, faith-based action was basically reduced to a charge of trespass and vandalism. A jury, arguably not of their peers, found them all guilty as charged.

Sentencing had been scheduled for this past January, but has been delayed again and again primarily because of COVID. As of this writing, three have been sentenced over these past few months, two (including Liz McAlister, 17 months) essentially to time already served in jail, and Patrick O’Neill to a prison term of 14 months. Clare and the other three are presently scheduled to be sentenced to prison on November 12-13.

Interestingly, while the Kings Bay Plowshares activists were unable call on the likes of Daniel Ellsberg (The Doomsday Machine: Confessions of a Nuclear War Planner, 2017) to speak in their defense, during sentencing Judge Wood has allowed those who have been sentenced thus far to present character witnesses and speak at length to their motivation, deeply rooted in their pacifism and Christian beliefs.

At his October 16 court appearance (which we could listen in on by phone), Patrick O’Neill, 64, the father of eight and grandfather to two, spoke with incredible feeling:

“It is simply indisputable that Trident is part of a system of U.S. war making that, if deployed, would spell death for millions, perhaps billions of people. Humanity will never abolish war if we live in such deep denial of what we have done, and what we might do to God´s Creation because of Trident. This court, by its refusal to consider the lawlessness of weapons of mass destruction, is essentially declaring the end of the world to be acceptable. If the Trident D-5 missiles are ever launched and millions of people die, one fact will remain clear: No laws were broken.” (Patrick O’Neill’s full sentencing statement deserves a full reading: https://kingsbayplowshares7.org/2020/10/patrick-oneills-sentencing-statement/)

Over the years, Ithaca Monthly Meeting has been very supportive of the Ithaca Catholic Worker community, the Catholic Worker house on South Plain Street, the Peter De Mott Peace Trot and the Grady family. At the November business meeting, the Peace & Social Justice Committee will be recommending that $300 of its non-discretionary funds be donated this year to support the Kings Bay Plowshares 7. The financial contributions, past and present, are meant to support Clare for costs incurred during her many months of house arrest and for her and others’ travel to Georgia. We also want our contribution to be seen as an expression of Friends’ support for the courageous action taken that day – and as an homage to our historic peace testimony and an affirmation in our belief in non-violence.

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

Hiroshima and Nagasaki Remembrance


Sunday, August 9, 2020 at 6:00 pm (EDT)

  • Around the Peace Pole in front of the Friends Center for Racial Justice (FCRJ), 227 North Willard Way (please wear a mask and social distance)

There has been a tradition of Friends and others to take time to remember the dropping of the first atomic bombs in 1945 on Hiroshima (August 6) and on Nagasaki Japan (August 9) with a silent vigil around the Peace Pole in front of the Friends Center for Racial Justice (FCRJ). This year marks the 75th anniversary of these bombings. This is a vigil of mindfulness and remembrance of the thousands of persons who were killed 75 years ago at the instant of the blasts, those who later died from their injuries, and those who suffered from their injuries. 

We are proceeding with plans to vigil together in a blended manner. Some Friends will meet in person around the Peace Pole at the FCRJ and socially distance so that those in attendance can feel safe while being apart and wearing a mask.  Some Friends will join via Zoom (link below). If you plan on attending this Vigil in person, please e-mail Elizabeth Schneider to reserve a seat.

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