Monthly Meeting January 2021

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

January 10, 2021

(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.)

2021.1.1 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 January 10, 2021. At 12:35pm, thirty Friends settled into worship.

Clerk shared the agenda and reviewed that the annual meeting of the corporation would precede the regular, monthly Meeting for Worship with Attention to Business.

2021.1.2 Annual Meeting of the IMMRSF Corporation

Present for the annual meeting: Tom Brown, Barbara Chase, Marin Clarkberg, Carol Clarke, Chris Dunham, Melissa Dunham, James Finlay, Nancy Gabriel, Jim Grant, Angela Hopkins, Dave Horton, Carolyn Kenyon, Elizabeth Keokosky, Judith Knight, John Lewis, Melanie-Claire Mallison, Jill Marie, Margaret McCasland, Bronwyn Mohlke, Steve Mohlke, Elsa Mohlke, Liam Murphy, Pat Pingel, Cai Quirk, Nancy Riffer, Ellie Rosenberg, Antonia Saxon, Elizabeth Schneider, Patrick Sewell, Mike Simkin, Gail Steinhart, Gina Varrichio, and Ruth Yarrow.

Tom Brown, Recording Clerk of Trustees and Secretary of the Corporation convened the Annual Meeting of IMMRSF, Inc., and read the President’s Annual Report to Membership followed by the Secretary’s Report to Membership. The President’s report noted the following changes in the membership of trustees: Gina Varrichio, as the Clerk of the Meeting, and Pat Sewell, as the Treasurer of the Meeting, both joined trustees in 2020. Marin Clarkberg was appointed to Trustees beginning January of 2021.

The Secretary’s report reminded friends that trustees approve contracts for expenses exceeding $3000. In 2020, the trustees approved such an expenditure for the floor refinishing.

Pat Sewell, Treasurer of the Meeting and of the Corporation, gave the end of the fiscal year budget report. The annual budget request to membership was nearly $80,000, but donations fell substantially below that number at approximately $69,000. Our actual expenses were also far short of anticipated, however, at closer to $57,000. Thus, our net income was roughly $13,000. Mike Simkin, a prior treasurer, noted that our net income is generally applied to our reserve fund.

Liam Murphy, trustee, noted that Trustees met on January 8, 2021 and nominated Marin Clarkberg and Liam Murphy, as co-conveners of Trustees and co-Presidents of the corporation, and Antonia Saxon, Recording Clerk of Trustees and Secretary of the Corporation. Pat Sewell, Treasurer, serves as Treasurer of the corporation. Other members include Gina Varrichio, in her capacity of the Clerk of the Meeting, and Carolyn Kenyon. Friends approved the officers.

Gina Varrichio adjourned the Annual Meeting of IMMRSF, Inc.

Clerk reviewed the agenda for Monthly Meeting for Worship with Attention to Business and recognized Kris Altucher for holding the Meeting in the Light today.

2021.1.3 Worship Sharing: Reflections on Brokenness, Part II

Clerk read reflections shared at December’s monthly meeting and posed three queries:

  • What impact, positive or negative, has this time of brokenness/openness had on our Meeting?
  • What pieces of our Meeting should be put back together?
  • What pieces should not be?

Friends shared from the Spirit on inclusion, “othering” those with whom we have a lot in common but not everything in common, listening to one another with a sense of curiosity, guilt as a barrier to connecting to Spirit, and the possibility for “radical extroversion” after the pandemic.

2021.1.4 Ministry & Worship Committee

Barbara Chase of M&W shared that M&W proposes:

  1. In-person Meeting for Worship at the Hector Meetinghouse at 10am on First Days will continue through January. Those most intimately involved with making this available in coordination with Ministry & Worship will make decisions about worship at Hector on a month-by-month basis.
  2. There will continue to be no in-person worship at TSMH through March 14th. M&W will bring a recommendation to March’s monthly meeting regarding the resumption of in-person worship.
  3. Zoom worship at 10:30 on First Days will continue for the foreseeable future.

Friends approved these recommendations. @

2021.1.5 Finance Committee: 2021 Budget

Pat Sewell, Treasurer, provided an overview of the 2021 budget, noting that our expenses in 2020 and projected for 2021 reflect the impact of the pandemic. Accordingly, the overall budget request for 2021 of $76,000 is down from nearly $80,000 last year.

Notable changes in the 2021 budget as compared to 2020 pertain to a reduction in expenses associated with in-person activities, reduced income associated with others’ use of our properties, and new technological expenses to support remote activities.

Friends approved the budget for 2021 with gratitude to the Treasurer and the Finance Committee.

2021.1.6 Naming Committee

The Naming Committee brought forward the name of Carolyn Kenyon for the Nominating Committee. Further, the Naming Committee suggested that this iteration of Naming Committee be laid down. Friends approved Carolyn Kenyon’s nomination and the laying down of this iteration of Naming Committee. @

2021.1.7 Annual Reports

Friends presented annual reports and answered questions for committees as follows:

Pat Pingel read the report of Third Street Meetinghouse Committee. Friends asked questions about the TSMC’s intentions for the sound system and intentions relating to the currently gas range.  

Jim Finlay read the Hector Meetinghouse Committee. A Friend appreciated the opportunities afforded through the Hector Meetinghouse.

Melanie-Claire Mallison read the report from the New York Yearly Meeting Representative. Friends appreciated Melanie-Claire’s enthusiastic representation and reflected on the observations stemming from New York Yearly Meeting.

Friends received these three reports.@

At 2:55, twenty-eight Friends settled in worship before adjourning. Our next regularly scheduled Meeting for Worship with Attention to Business will be February 14, 2021.

Respectfully submitted,

Marin Clarkberg

UN: Nuclear Weapons Illegal as well as Immoral

— Garry Thomas

At his sentencing on October 15, in Federal Court in Brunswick, Georgia, Kings Bay Plowshares activist Patrick O’Neill told Judge Lisa Godbey Wood: “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.”

Just days later, on October 24, Honduras became the 50th nation to sign the UN Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons, this the threshold that was required in order for the treaty to become international law. The law requires signatories never “to develop, test, produce, manufacture or otherwise acquire, possess or stockpile nuclear weapons or other nuclear explosive devices.” It is important that the treaty calls for the prohibition of nuclear weapons rather than merely their non-proliferation. Plowshares activists, who have long felt the United States’ possession of a nuclear arsenal to be illegal as well as immoral, will soon have the backing of the United Nations.  The treaty goes into effect on January 22, 2021.

The International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons (ICAN) was awarded the 2017 Nobel Peace Prize for its “ground-breaking efforts” to achieve this very treaty to prohibit such weapons. Local Back from the Brink activists brought Dr. Ira Helfand, a member of ICAN’s International Steering Committee and co-chair of the International Physicians for Social Responsibility to Ithaca in March 2019. He ended his presentation at St John’s Episcopal Church saying, “It is not helpful to think, as a large percentage of the US population does, ‘In my heart I don’t believe it can happen here,’ and then go about our daily lives. That is what happened during the Holocaust ‘when it did happen here’.” Since his Ithaca visit, Helfand has added his name to the global petition to drop the charges against the Kings Bay Plowshares 7 alongside more than 100 other notables.

Ira Helfand commended Back from the Brink as the type of initiative that is required, saying “It is parallel to the Green New Deal in importance.” Four states and 50 cities and towns in the US, including the City of Ithaca (2018) and the Town of Lansing (2019), have adopted resolutions supporting Back from the Brink’s policy solutions: renounce first use; end sole authority of the president to order a nuclear attack; end hair-trigger alert; cancel enhanced weapons’ development; and press more nations to sign the UN Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons.

Significantly, none of the countries possessing nuclear weapons – the US, Russia, UK, China, France, India, Pakistan, North Korea and Israel – have signed the treaty. However, in a statement following Honduras’ becoming a signatory, ICAN said: “States that haven’t joined the treaty will feel its power too – we can expect companies to stop producing nuclear weapons and financial institutions to stop investing in nuclear weapon-producing companies.”

Our work is not done.

This article was first published in the Winter 2020 issue of The Magnificat, the Ithaca Catholic Worker community newsletter.

Friends Center for Racial Justice in 2020

Elizabeth Schneider

I asked Angela to sit down with me and share what the Friends Center for Racial Justice (FCRJ) has been doing this year, so it could be shared with our Meeting.  I wanted to do this because I observe that Angela does not compartmentalize the work of FCRJ and racial justice.  That work is part of her day-to-day life, wherever she goes.  Below is a quick review of what she was up to in this past year.

The start of 2020 seems far in the past.  It was before covid-19 when travel was safe.  For Angela it meant a chance to go to Florida for a visit with family, and also experience the warm sun.  While she was there, the Southeast Regional Gathering of the Friends World Committee on Consultation (FWCC) was meeting in Miami, and she took the opportunity to join them.  Part of the gathering was conducted in a Spanish-speaking Friends Church.  Angela found it comforting—it reminded her of the many languages and cultures which make up the Religious Society of Friends (RSF).   Participants were from programmed and unprogrammed Meetings, and it provided an opportunity to talk with those having problems with racism.

In January 2020 FCRJ was a cosponsor of the film that Carolyn Kenyon, as part of the Finger Lakes for New York Health, brought to Cinemapolis about how Medicare was used to mount a coordinated effort that desegregated thousands of hospitals across the country.  The film was well attended and followed by an informative panel discussion.

In February Angela started her drive back to Ithaca.  She stopped to meet with the Southern Appalachian Yearly Meeting and Association (SAYMA) in North Carolina.  In 2019 FCRJ had been invited to help resolve a racial justice concern through a listening project.  This was her second in-person visit with SAYMA.  In 2019 and 2020 there were also phone meetings where Angela was accompanied by a member of FCRJ’s Coordinating Committee to continue the listening project to address this concern.   Time was given, in hopes that both parties could hear each other, understand the root of the problem, and clarify the Quaker concerns that are rising.

At the end of February 2020, the first workshop/event of the spring was held at FCRJ’s home base:  Corporate Apologies/Corporate Forgiveness: Steps toward Building an Equitable Religious Society of Friends.  Participants looked at what constitutes an apology.  There are historical realities of broken treaties and broken promises.  What makes our words and actions now different from the past?  Participants left carrying that query.

Then, boom, COVID-19 arrived, and the remaining planned workshops were cancelled.  But the work of FCRJ continued.  The solidity of FCRJ may come from the fact that all the members of NYYM’s Task Group on Racism are part of the FCRJ Coordinating Committee—Friends who are used to working with each other on racism within the RSF.  The visiting program of that Task Group lead to the formation of FCRJ.  And Angela has a habit of bringing the concern of racial justice with her wherever she goes.

Angela’s and FCRJ’s involvement in the Meetings and Committees below is about addressing the issue of racial discrimination in the RSF. Addressing issues of equity needs to be part of every aspect of committee work, not just that of the Black Concerns Committee.  We all need to have concern for how we handle our finances, who gets heard, and who is represented.   Angela’s and FCRJ’s involvements include many aspects of Quaker life:

  • The Northeast Region of FWCC met in the summer.  FWCC-NE is composed of Canadian Yearly Meeting, New England Yearly Meeting, Philadelphia Yearly Meeting, and New York Yearly Meeting.  Angela is the Clerk of NYYM-FWCC.  Each Yearly Meeting addressed concerns on climate justice and racial justice, the gathering showed the warmth and richness in the diversity of Friends who attended.
  • NYYM’s Ministry Coordinating Council.
  • NYYM’s Steering Committee of the Meeting for Discernment.
  • Co-Clerk of Farmington Scipio Regional Meeting with Antonia Saxon.
  • Rochester Friends Meeting:  Frequent visits prior to covid-19.
  • Ithaca Monthly Meeting: Children and the Life of the Meeting, and the Library Committee.

Interestingly, Angela notes that this period of COVID-19 is having some positive effects:  our virtual Meetings for Worship, committee meetings, and social gatherings can include Friends at a distance, caregivers for the young and the old, shut-ins, and young people (who are very comfortable on Zoom!).

The new year brings opportunities.  You will be hearing from FCRJ about “Table for Ten”—small, focused working groups.  The gatherings can be virtual or in-person (once COVID-19 has fled). 

I hope this brief article gives you a sense of the ongoing work of FCRJ that I have gotten a chance to hear about when I visit with Angela weekly, either in person or on the phone.  Hope to see you (or hear you) at a Table for Ten.

Monthly Meeting December 2020

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

December 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.)

2020.12.1 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 December 13, 2020.At 12:30pm, twenty-one Friends settled into worship.

Clerk recognized Steve Mohlke as holding the Meeting in the Light.

2020.12.2 Worship Sharing: Reflections on Brokenness

Clerk read a reflection on brokenness that began with lyrics from Leonard Cohen:

Ring the bells that still can ring
Forget your perfect offering
There is a crack in everything
That’s how the light gets in

Clerk reflected that amidst the pain of being broken, there is a promise: you have some say in how the pieces get put back together or if they get put back it all. Clerk posed these queries:

  • Where have you experienced the spirit speaking to or through you this year?
  • What new life have you seen take hold in your own crevasses?

Friends shared from the spirit on brokenness, healing, racism, pain, numbness, love, trust, and openness to Spirit.

2020.12.3 Nominating Committee

On behalf of the Nominating Committee, Ellie Rosenberg read the slate of Nominations for 2021. With one correction to the report, Friends approved the Nominations. The committee will ensure that full list of committee members is updated on the website. @

2020.12.4 Earthcare Committee: 2020 Donations

Elizabeth Keokosky from the Earthcare Committee reminded Friends that IMM budgets $1000 for this committee to make donations. Half of this amount requires meeting approval (MA in the list below) and the other half may be given from the committee’s discretionary funds (DF in the list below). The donations were presented in categories of: local, in another state, and national or outside the country. All donations were in the amount of $100 except for the Florida Rights Restoration Coalition for $200, an organization that pays fines for former felons in order to clear the path to voting.

Local:

  • Project Abundance (MA), an organization supporting community gardens in Ithaca on land owned by religious organizations.
  • Project Growing Hope Community Garden (MA), the community garden near us across Route 13 that acts as a food hub for the Friendship Donations Network, an organization that serves in excess of 2100 people weekly.
  • Groundswell Center for Local Food and Farming (MA)
  • Ithaca Children’s Garden (DF)
  • Cayuga Lake Watershed (DF)

In other states:

  • Florida Rights Restoration Coalition (DF)

National or outside the country:

  • La Via Campesina (MA), an organization that promotes food sovereignty and farmers’ rights to use, develop, and reproduce their own seeds.
  • Indigenous Environmental Network (MA)
  • Earthjustice (DF)

Following a consideration of the words we use to describe others, Friends approved these donations with gratitude to the work of Earthcare in identifying and bringing our attention to these important organizations. @

2020.12.5 Ministry & Worship: Meetings for Worship December 20 – January 10

Nancy Riffer from Ministry & Worship read a report regarding in-person Meeting for Worship recommending the following:

  1. The Hector Meetinghouse will remain open for worship each First Day in December at 10am. Those most intimately involved in making that worship possible, in concert with M&W, will determine on a month-by-month basis whether Meetings for Worship will be continued.
  2. In-person Meeting for Worship at the Third Street Meetinghouse will not occur December 20, 2020 – January 10, 2021. M&W will bring a recommendation to January’s Meeting for Worship with Attention to Business recommending whether this hiatus be extended or if in-person worship at TSMH should resume.
  3. Zoom worship at 10:30am will continue for the foreseeable future. We also want to acknowledge the faithful efforts of Friends to clean, clerk, host, notify, firebuild, troubleshoot, and technicalize in support of our desire for corporate worship, without whom we would not even have these choices to make.

A Friend asked about the legal limits for in-person worship indoors. Clerk reminded us that we had adopted the limit of fifteen for the Hector Meetinghouse, well below the New York State limit. Friends approved the recommendations of Ministry & Worship with gratitude to the COVID Working Group.

2020.12.6 Finance Committee: Year End Report and 2021 Budget

Patrick Sewell, Treasurer, provided a financial summary for 2020. He noted that we spent less money on activities related to in-person activities such as childcare. On the other hand, we spent more money on technology and supporting our remote worship activities. Highlights of the budget include the following.

We spent $2700 at the Burtt House to remove a tree and rebuild a retaining wall.

We spent just over $6000 on refinishing the floors and $2160 on removing a tree at the Third Street property.

The Treasurer also noted that have something called the “Special Needs Fund” that can support individuals and families in times of need. It currently contains $2831 and has not been drawn upon recently.

In a similar vein, the Mutual Support Fund was set up to help Friends with issues related to the COVID-19 pandemic. That fund has not been used at this point.

Friends received the report.

2020.12.7 Finance Committee: 2021 Budget

The Treasurer moved on to the subject of the 2021 IMM Budget, highlighting some of the changes. First, he highlighted that income relating to building usage is projected to be down. Second, he noted that the budget for “AVP – Local Area” that is associated with workshops in Elmira and Cayuga correctional facilities is reduced since the in-person workshops were stopped due to the pandemic. (There are two other AVP budget lines: AVP New York and AVP International.) Third, he noted that the Communications Committee has requested a budget of $1000, largely for technology (e.g. software and hardware associated with our emerging needs).

Friends came to the realization that the budget had not been shared prior to our gathering today, but the link was shared through the “Chat” window.

Treasurer scrolled through the budget noting that many individual budget lines remain the same in 2021 as they were in 2020. However, there are many changes to the “Nurture” budget category, including reductions to Child Care, Greeters, Hospitality, and First Day School.

The net result is the budget request is 4% less for 2021 than it was for 2020.

Friends asked questions about the expenses related to the COVID Working Group and the finances associated with the Library committee.

Due to the late reveal of the detail, the approval of the budget will be held over for to the January 10th Monthly Meeting for Worship with Attention to Business. @

2020.12.8 Ithaca Area Clergy Request

Nancy Gabriel described a bit about the informal group Ithaca Area Clergy. This group has proposed taking out a newspaper ad that would appear on or around December 20-21 (the shortest day of the year) and that would read:

As the longest of nights gives way to ever-lengthening days, remember … things will get better!

A message of hope from the following faith organizations whose (virtual) doors remain open to all desiring support and hope as we weather these difficult times:

[Signed, perhaps twenty to thirty area congregations]

Friends noted that improvement comes from action rather than from assurances. While we yearn to stand with other progressive congregations and to articulate a message in the public sphere, Friends we were not fully united behind this expression. To offer hope without help falls short, especially during these very difficult times. We observe that this is not the first time we have wrestled with the issue of singing onto a statement written by another congregation or group of congregations. Friends should seek ways to name our concerns when we work with other groups and to share our Quaker values within diverse religious communities. @

At 3:11, twelve Friends settled in worship before adjourning. Our next regularly scheduled Meeting for Worship with Attention to Business will be January 10, 2021.

Respectfully submitted,Marin Clarkberg

Monthly Meeting November 2020

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

November 8, 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.)

2020.11.1 Opening Worship
Ithaca Monthly Meeting of the Religious Society of Friends met in Monthly Meeting for Worship with Attention to Business on November 8, 2020. At 12:34 P.M., 19 Friends gathered via Zoom and settled into worship.

2020.11.2 Worship Sharing: WHAT IS THE “IMM COMMUNITY?”

Clerk shared her rationale for asking those gathered to participate in Worship Sharing around queries related to the concept and content of IMM Community. Clerk asked all to consider and share out of the silence about the following:
1) Who and what is the IMM Community?
2) Are there differences between a spiritual/religious community and other kinds of communities? Do they matter?
3) What are you doing that strengthens the IMM Community? What are you doing that diminishes the IMM Community?
4) What is the IMM Community doing that strengthens you. What is the IMM Community doing that diminishes you?
Clerk provided space and invited responses to each query. Much was shared with love, honesty and consideration.@

2020.11.3 Peace & Social Justice Donations Approval

IMM allocates $2,000 each year to the Peace and Social Justice Committee to give to organizations, and sometimes individuals, who are working for peace and justice in the world. Of these funds, $1,000 is discretionary, that is, the Committee can decide where those funds are donated. The additional $1,000 requires Meeting approval. On behalf of the committee, Garry Thomas reported Peace & Social Justice’s priorities and process, as well as specific details about how each of the proposed recipients of these non-discretionary donations connect to the spirit of IMM. The proposed recipients and amounts are as follows:

  • Opportunities, Alternatives and Resources/OAR – $200
  • College Initiative Upstate (under the umbrella of OAR) – $200
  • National Religious Campaign Against Torture – $100
  • Arte y Esperanza – $100
  • Afghan Women’s Fund – $100
  • Plowshares – $300

Friends approved the allocation of funds as presented in the report.@

2020.11.4 Nominating Committee: 2021 Nominations

On behalf of Nominating Committee, Cai Quirk read the full report. It included details about both recent history and the context under which the Committee Roster was considered, adjusted and populated – specifically, in light of ongoing COVID realities and opportunities in terms of efficient, effective use of resources and leadings. Nominating presented a draft of proposed Nominations for 2021 for Friends’ thoughtful consideration and reflection.

Nominating will return in December seeking approval to this document-in-progress.
Comments, questions and specific adjustments were raised and acknowledged. Joy and gratitude for individuals’ service was also shared. Friends who notice additional edits are asked to reach out to the Nominating Committee directly between now and December. Friends received the report.@

Cai further shared a list of interim nominations to address immediate needs of committees (such as those created by resignations) for IMM approval as follows:

  • Barbara Chase for Ministry & Worship
  • John Lewis for Third Street Meetinghouse
  • Michelle Brimage for Third Street Meetinghouse

Friends approved the nominations.@

2020.11.5 Closing Worship

11 Friends settled into silent worship at 2:23 P.M. before adjourning. Our next regular Meeting for Worship with Attention to Business will be held at 12:30 P.M. on December 13, 2020.

Respectfully submitted,

Blair Jennings

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