Monthly Meeting June 2020

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

June 7, 2020

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

2020.6.1 Opening Worship

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

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

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

2020.6.2 Memorial Minute for Ann Rhodin

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Friends approved the first proposal.

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

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

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

2020.6.4 Clerks’ Report: Letters related to Black Lives Matter

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

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

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

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

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

2020.6.6 Nominations

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

2020.6.7 Third Street Meetinghouse Committee

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

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

Respectfully submitted,

Marin Clarkberg

Amy Grace Mekeel

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

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

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

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

— Tom Brown, Meeting Historian

Monthly Meeting May 2020

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

May 3, 2020

Clerk: Gina Varrichio

Recording Clerks: Marin Clarkberg, Blair Jennings

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

2020.5.1 Opening Worship

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

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

2020.5.2 Memorial Minute for Carol Kimball

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

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

Friends approved the minute.@

2020.5.3 Ministry & Worship

Extending Suspension of In-Person Meeting for Worship The Sequel

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

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

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

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

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

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

Friends approved the continuation of the current suspension. @

2020.5.4 Ministry & Worship

Meeting for Worship Online in May

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

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

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

      First Day.

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

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

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

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

2020.5.5 Treasurer’s Report

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

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

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

Treasurer will consider all requests and suggestions and report back.

Friends received the report. @

2020.5.6 Ministry & Worship

Mutual Support Fund

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Friends approved the creation of a Mutual Support Fund. @

2020.5.7 Ministry & Worship

State of the Meeting (Second Draft)

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

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

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

2020.5.8 Closing Worship

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

Respectfully submitted,

Blair Jennings

Which listserv do I use?

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

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

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

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

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

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

How are the three lists to be used?

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

So which list do I use for what?

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

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

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

Getting too much email?

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

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

What about the old list?

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

What other email addresses are related to Meeting?

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

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

Advices (from Faith and Practice)

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

Queries (from Faith and Practice)

  1. Are meetings for worship and business held in expectant waiting for divine guidance? Are we regular and punctual in attendance? Are we willing and faithful in the service of our meeting and in financial support of its activities?
  2. Do we make opportunity in our daily lives for communion with God and the opening of our hearts to an awareness of the Christ Within? Are we thankful for each day as an opportunity for a new adventure of life with God?
  3. Are we careful that our ministry is under the leading of the Holy Spirit? Are we concerned to take time for the study of Scripture and other writings of spiritual value? Are we concerned for the spiritual growth of one another?
  4. Are love and unity fostered among us? If differences arise, do we endeavor to reconcile them in a spirit of love and truth? Are we careful not to manipulate and exploit one another? Do we avoid talebearing, and are we careful of the reputation of others?
  5. Do we keep to moderation and simplicity in our daily lives? Have we allowed the acquisition of possessions to interfere with God’s purpose for us? Are our homes places where the presence of God is felt by those who live there and those who visit there? Do we choose such recreations as are wholesome and consistent with Christian character? Are we careful in our choice of ways to use our time and energy?
  6. Do our children receive the loving care of the meeting? Does the influence of the meeting promote their religious life and give them an understanding of the principles and practices of Friends? Do we offer our young people opportunities for fellowship, for service, for religious instruction, and for participation in the life of the meeting?
  7. Do our vocations provide constructive and beneficial service? Do we observe integrity in our business transactions? Do we avoid involving ourselves beyond our ability to manage? Are we careful to conduct our affairs punctually, justly, and honorably? Do we avoid participation in lotteries, betting, and gambling?
  8. Have we confronted our own decisions about our use of alcohol, tobacco, and other drugs, and do we encourage others to do likewise? Have we considered the cost in human suffering that might result from such use?
  9. Do we participate actively and intelligently in the political life of our country? Are we conscientious in fulfilling all obligations of state and society that are not contrary to the leading of God? Do we do all in our power to secure civil rights for all? Do we emphasize the single standard of truth, and are we free from the use of oaths?
  10. Do we support measures to avoid pollution of air and water? Do we support measures to establish the conservation and right use of natural resources?
  11. Do we foster reverence for life? Do we strive to find, to understand, and to remove causes of misery and suffering? Do we, in loving concern, extend assistance to those who require it?
  12. Do we acknowledge the oneness of humanity and foster a loving spirit toward all people? Do we honor Friends’ traditional testimony that men and women are equal? How do we work to make these ideals a reality?
  13. Do we maintain Friends’ testimony against war? Do we “live in the virtue of that life and power which takes away the occasion of all wars”? Are we exerting our influence in favor of settlement of all differences by truly nonviolent methods? Do we strive to transmit to everyone an understanding of the basis of our peace testimony?
  14. Do we make ourselves available in a tender and caring way when we sense a need for assistance in time of trouble? Do we trust each other enough to make our needs known to someone in our meeting?
  15. Do we partake of the joy of the love of God and make our lives a celebration of the sharing of this love? Do our daily lives so demonstrate Friends’ testimonies as to commend them to others?
  16. Are we engaged in nurturing and deepening our relationship with all creation? Do we make time to open to the Spirit through contact with nature? Do we strive to live in harmony with the Earth? How can we transform our lives in witness to our right relationship with the Earth, and join with others in active stewardship, realizing that we share one planet, now and in the future?

Clerk’s Message, May 2020

Dearest Friends,


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

Dearest Friends,

…it begins.

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

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

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

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

But, now, I fear our ship is becalmed.

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

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

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

XOXO,

Gina

Joshua and Edith Cope

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

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

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

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

– Tom Brown, Meeting Historian

Spring Gathering and Summer Sessions to be on-line

Dear New York Yearly Meeting community,

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

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

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

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

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

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

And here’s the announcement from FSRM:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Monthly Meeting April 11, 2020

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

April 11, 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.)

2020.4.1 Opening Worship

Ithaca Monthly Meeting of the Religious Society of Friends met on-line, using Zoom remote conferencing service, for Monthly Meeting for Worship with Attention to Business on April 11, 2020.  At 12:30pm, twenty Friends settled into worship.

Clerk described how to use Zoom to “raise your hand” to signal your desire to be recognized by the Clerk and encouraged Friends to use the “mute” function when not speaking. The Clerk encouraged us to be gentle with one another as we navigate the ways in which technology facilitates our Quaker processes. Clerk further acknowledged that this has been a difficult week for many of us marked by considerable uncertainty for the future.

Clerk read from an epistle in New York Yearly Meeting’s Faith and Practice written on the occasion of the reunification of New York Yearly Meeting on August 4, 1955:

Dear Friends,

This is the message of our love.

[…] We wish to share with you our joy that the way to unity has been found.

We shall continue to share our differences, which serve a useful purpose. God does not ask us for conformity, but calls us to unity, in obedience to the leadings of the spirit.

We seek to recapture the radiance of simple, uncomplicated love… such love as will resist evil without violence, without hatred of the wrongdoer, and without compromise.

[…] To the lonely seekers in this hurried and soul-hiding world, we would say, “Dear Friends, we are walking beside you… seekers, too.”

Have lovingkindness toward one another. Have faith in the Lord, and he will help you.

Clerk recognized Nancy Gabriel who was holding Meeting in the Light.

2020.4.2 Memorial Minute for Marion DaGrossa

Garry Thomas read a Memorial Minute for Marion DaGrossa who died October 19, 2019. The minute described Marion’s lifelong commitment to the concept of that of God in every one. Friends spoke of their memories of Marion and appreciated that the Minute was faithful in portraying Marion’s life. Friends approved the Minute. @

2020.4.3 Extending Suspension of In-Person Meeting for Worship

Kris Altucher from Ministry & Worship read a report that began by reminding us that at a Called Meeting on March 15, IMMRSF had agreed to suspend in-person Meeting for Worship at the Third Street Meetinghouse and until at least our April Monthly Meeting. Since that time, Meeting for Worship has occurred remotely, using Zoom remote conferencing.

Kris reported that Ministry & Worship proposed extending the suspension of in-person Meeting for Worship in the Third Street Meetinghouse through our next Monthly Meeting on Sunday, May 3, 2020. The M&W report acknowledged that using remote conferencing is not a fully satisfactory replacement for in-person worship, but further described that the continued suspension of in-person activities has the best chance of supporting the health and safety of our of our whole community.

Friends expressed concerns about those who have had technological hurdles and spoke about the ways those hurdles have been addressed and might continue to be addressed, such as through phone calls and postal mail.

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

As a further step, Ministry & Worship also proposes that the Hector Meetinghouse be closed to gatherings for this period.

Friends spoke of differences of opinion regarding safe interactions, the safety of outdoor gatherings, and the best ways to care for one another in this difficult time. We acknowledge that some Friends continue to gather in worship, in-person and outdoors, without this being an officially sanctioned IMM activity. Friends observed that we are not in unity about the specific boundaries around safe practices and that we have different opinions about the advisability of outdoor Meeting for Worship in particular.

Even as we recognized our differences on these matters, it was the sense of the meeting that we close both our Meetinghouses through May 3rd. @

2020.4.4 Paying IMM Contractors

Pat Sewell from the Finance Committee noted that before New York State issued its shelter-in-place order, IMM has been regularly paying two contract employees: one for the work of cleaning the meetinghouse and one for childcare during Meeting for Worship. CALM brought this to the attention of the Finance Committee. Subsequently, Finance and Third Street Meetinghouse Committee conferred and have come to the shared conclusion that IMM should continue to pay its contract employees their usual fees while the Meetinghouse is closed and IMM is not meeting in person. Indeed, they took this action before bringing this to Monthly Meeting for approval. With gratitude for the decision of the respective committees, Friends approved the following minute: IMM will continue to pay contract employees during the period that Meeting for Worship is not being held in the Third Street Meetinghouse due to the COVID-19 pandemic. @

2020.4.5 Ad hoc Care Committee

Nancy Riffer reported that the Ministry and Worship committee proposes the formation of ad hoc Care Committee to coordinate meals and errands for individuals and families in the IMM community. Bronwyn Mohlke and Antonia Saxon are assembling requests for care and offers of help. Requests can be directed to clerk@ithacamonthlymeeting.org.  A budget may be established at later time, and the continuation of the committee will be considered at the end of August 2020. Friends approved the creation of this committee. @

At 2:30pm, twenty-one Friends settled in worship before adjourning.

Respectfully submitted,

Marin Clarkberg