Supporting Federal Recognition for the Traditional Gayogoho:no Community

At IMM’s Peace and Social Justice Committee meeting on Sunday, August 15, we discussed a recent article from the Finger Lakes Times about Gayogoho:no (Cayuga*) people again living on their traditional lands around Cayuga Lake, and their interactions with the Seneca County Board of Supervisors (link below). We are deeply concerned about violence instigated by the federally-recognized Cayuga chief, Clint Halftown, against traditional Gayogoho:no living in Seneca Falls. However the article describes an inspiring development at the August 10 meeting of the Seneca County Board of Supervisors.

*Cayuga is the English spelling of Gayogoho:no, the Nation’s name in the Gayogoho:no language. Like the Finger Lakes Times, this article uses Gayogoho:no to refer to the traditional community and governance, and “Cayuga Nation” to refer to the organization headed by Clint Halftown, recognized as the sole chief by the federal Bureau of Indian Affairs (BIA), but not by the Haudenosaunee Confederacy’s Council of Chiefs. Each of the Haudenosaunee nations has multiple clan chiefs, or sachems, who are selected and guided by the clan mothers.

For many months, Clint Halftown had not been willing to meet with the Board of Supervisors to discuss the destruction and violence Halftown ordered in February of 2020 against the Gayogoho:no community. (More recently, he has been threatening eviction of Gayogoho:no families renting homes owned by the Cayuga government.)

In spite of being frustrated by Halftown’s lack of cooperation, the Board of Supervisors had not reached out to the Gayogoho:no community, on the assumption that they could only interact with the BIA-approved chief. However Bear Clan Sachem Sam George and a group of traditional Gayogoho:no people showed up at the August 10 meeting, and respectfully asked to be able to speak. Sachem Sam George explained how their governance works both within each Haudenosaunee nation and among all Six Nations via the Haudenosaunee Confederacy Council of Chiefs; the commitment to peaceful cooperation between the Haudenosaunee and European Americans embodied by the Two Row Wampum belt; and thus why traditional Gayogoho:no leaders are more appropriate for the BIA and the Seneca County Board of Supervisors to be working with. 

The Board of Supervisors decided to write a letter to Deb Haaland, the US Secretary of the Interior, which administers the BIA, and to two key BIA staff. From the Finger Lakes TImes: “While Seneca County explained that they would not ‘pick and choose’ who they believe rightfully represents the Nation, supervisors insist it’s clear that the Gayogo̱hó꞉nǫʼ leadership’s commitment to fairness and cultural values ‘offers our communities a better path forward to understanding and a positive model for the future.’”  

The Peace and Social Justice Committee concluded that Friends wanting to support the non-violent traditional leadership could write postcards or letters to Secretary of the Interior Debra Ann Haaland and to key BIA staff in support of recognizing traditional Gayogoho:no sovereignty rather than Clint Halfown. 

Debra Anne Haaland, Secretary of the Interior
United States Department of the Interior, 1849 C Street, N.W. Washington, D.C. 20240

Darryl LaCounte, Director, Bureau of Indian Affairs
MS-4606, 1849 C Street, N.W., Washington, D.C. 202

Kimberly Bouchard, Eastern Regional Office
Bureau of Indian Affairs, 545 Marriott Drive Suite 700, Nashville, Tennessee 37214

Since our meeting, an on-line petition by a group of allies has also been started:

Because this article has not been reviewed or approved by any Gayogoho:no people, any errors, inaccuracies or omissions are mine alone. I wrote it based on coverage from the Finger Lakes Times and email updates by allies working with the Gayogoho:no community. For more general background, I am learning from programs given by Gayogoho:no and Onondaga elders and educators offered by NOON (Neighbors of the Onondaga Nation, a group of allies associated with the Syracuse Peace Council) and by the Skä•noñh Great Law of Peace Center in Liverpool. –Margaret McCasland


Finger Lakes Times stories:

–Story about Sachem Sam George’s presentation to the Seneca County Board of Supervisors:

–Update on the letter written by the Seneca County Board of Supervisors to Sec. of the Interior Deb Haaland, which includes an overview of events since the February 2020 destruction of Gayogoho:no community buildings:

–Background on the February 2020 destruction of buildings built by traditional Cayugas and the aftermath:

Background on the Haudenosaunee:

Because of the genocide and disruption caused by European and then United States governments, bands from each of the six Haudenosaunee Nations are based in Canada as well as in various parts of the US.

The Onondaga Nation, which lost much of their land but is still based on part of their original territory, remain the home of the Confederacy’s “central fire.”   

The Skä•noñh – Great Law of Peace Center is a Haudenosaunee (Iroquois) Heritage Center focused on telling the story of the native peoples of central New York. The history is told through the lens of the Onondaga Nation and covers topics such as Creation, European Contact, The Great Law of Peace, and more. The Onondagas, or People of the Hills, are the keepers of the Central Fire and are the spiritual and political center of the Haudenosaunee. Skä•noñh is an Onondaga welcoming greeting meaning “Peace and Wellness.”


Cayuga SHARE (not currently active except as a listserve): To sign up for the listserv, please contact the list manager, Karen Edelstein, at

Monthly Meeting July 2021

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

July 11, 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.)

2021.7.1 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 July 11, 2021. At 12:40pm and after a technological hiccup, sixteen Friends settled into worship.

Gina Varrichio, Clerk, began by reviewing the agenda. Carolyn Kenyon was recognized for holding the Meeting in the Light.

2021.7.2 Worship Sharing: Preparation and opening to the Spirit

Clerk read:

“I had shown up for Meeting for Worship with an ideal image, an agenda of sorts. I had decided that I wanted Meeting for Worship to have a certain tempo, a certain fragrance, a certain flavor. I wanted a hyacinth, and I got a rose. And I spent the entire hour with my nose out of joint, telling God I was right about how things should be unfolding.”

—Elliott Robertson, in Preparing for Intimacy with God, Friends Journal, April 1, 2017

Friends were asked to consider:

  • Are our Meetings for Worship and Business held in expectant waiting for divine guidance?
  • How can we “keep our noses in joint” when things don’t unfold as we might wish them to? When worship doesn’t look/sound/feel the way we might wish it to?

Friends spoke with gratitude of how Meeting hears the spirit through our many ears. To keep our noses “in joint,” we must come with the expectation not that we will get what we want, but that we will hear from the Spirit. Using the metaphor from the quotation: sometimes we must let go of our own desire for a “hyacinth,” and welcome the “rose” that comes from a place that is larger than us as individuals.

2021.7.3 COVID Working Group: Proposed changes to COVID protocols

Carol Clarke read a brief report from the COVID Working Group that proposed moving some chairs more closely together to increase the seating capacity. The COVID Working Group does not want to move more quickly than the speed of trust. Friends acknowledged that we have different needs and have made different choices, even as some of those choices might not sit well with us. Friends approved moving chairs on one side of the room to 2-3 feet apart while maintaining a 6-foot distance between chairs on the other side of the room to accommodate those who desire the greater space. Friends expressed a preference that the chairs be set ahead of MfW time rather than moved on an as-needed basis when the room fills to capacity. Masking requirements will remain in place, and members from the same household are welcome to move chairs closer together. @

2021.7.4 Nominating Committee proposal for a pastoral care committee

Cai Quirk read a report from the Nominating Committee that grew out of a threshing session and Nominating’s extended reflection on the multifaceted pastoral care needs of the meeting. Nominating Committee observes that IMM is not doing all it could provide pastoral care, but that the breadth of pastoral care activities—ranging from spiritual nurture to transportation to assistance in navigating social support agencies—is a challenge for a single committee to manage.

To address this, Nominating Committee proposes creating a system of “Pastoral Care buddies” overseen by “IMMPACCT”—the Ithaca Monthly Meeting Pastoral Care Coordinating Team.

Pastoral buddy relationships are conceived as flexible. Buddy relationships could be reciprocal, or not. They could encompass a variety of needs—spiritual nurture and transportation—or be more specialized. Buddies might also mobilize a support team for buddies in crisis and/or with long-term needs.

IMMPACCT, in turn, would help Friends find buddies and help define the scope of these relationships. IMMPACCT would periodically check in with buddies and assist with the support they need as care providers.

Friends noted this as a somewhat new and untested idea. Concern was expressed that this might not actually meet our obligation to pastoral care; Friends are asked if they are individually willing to participate in this buddy system.

With the agreement that IMMPACCT report on its progress to Monthly Meeting after a six-month trial period, Friends approved the creation of IMMPACCT as a pastoral care committee.

Nominating asks Friends to consider how they are led in serving Ithaca Monthly Meeting, and shared a list of nominations as a starting place for this committee. The nominees are all people who have given the topic of pastoral care considerable thought and who hae given richly of their time in support of the Meeting and of individual Friends. A Friend raised a concern that committee members will be drawn into the administrative tasks of IMMPACCT and thus drawn away from actual tasks of pastoral care that have served the Meeting so well.

Friends approved the nomination of Bronwyn Mohlke, Antonia Saxon, Karen Friedeborn, and Dreia Spies to serve on IMMPACCT. @

2021.7.5 Sound system for the Third Street Meetinghouse

Melissa Travis Dunham read a report jointly prepared by the Third Street Meetinghouse Committee (TSMC) and the Communications Committee (Comm Comm) relating to a sound system for the meetinghouse.

On several occasions this spring, TSMC and the Comm Comm met conjointly to explore whether an appropriate technological solution could be identified that would achieve two goals: make hybrid Meeting for Worship easier to support and support hearing assistance for those who are hard of hearing.

The report briefly described: the recent history of the search for assistive hearing technology in the meetingroom; the current, the low-cost technology that has supported our hybrid Meeting for Worship experience during COVID; and conversations that have taken place with others in and beyond IMM.

The report describes that “the myriad of options can be overwhelming and each one produces more questions.” The group was unclear whether they should be focused on improving hybrid worship or assistive listening or both.

The report states that work on this issue will go forward only if there is a clear directive from the Meeting.

Friends who have provided technical support on Sundays during the pandemic shared some frustration over recurring problems with the current set up.

Friends spoke of technology as an enabler and noted that sound can be an accessibility issue.

Friends received the report.

2021.7.6 Ministry & Worship: Suspending Hybrid Worship and New Midweek Meeting Online

Nancy Riffer from Ministry & Worship read a report recommending two changes to our Meetings for Worship. First, a suspension of hybrid worship through the month of August and, second, the addition of an on-line-only midweek Meeting for Worship.

While hybrid meeting for worship has allowed us some flexibility in providing for a changing COVID situation, hybrid worship is not without drawbacks. Of special note, it has been a stressor to make our cobbled together system operate effectively each week. A break in hybrid worship will provide some respite from technical support issues and may allow us some time to consider other solutions.

The report asks meeting to reflect: “During this time period, it will be important for us to consider what place technology—whether streaming events, hybrid worship or religious education programs, online committee meetings—has in Ithaca Monthly Meeting. How do we take the lessons, opportunities, and failures of the past year and use them to move more consciously toward a plan for the future? How do we hold on to the core of our past practices while embracing some change?”

Friends expressed a need to better understand Friends’ needs and expectations for Meeting for Worship.

Friends received the report. @

2021.7.7 Closing

At 3:15, fifteen Friends settled in worship before adjourning. Our next regularly scheduled Meeting for Worship with Attention to Business will be August 8, 2021.

Respectfully submitted,

Marin Clarkberg

Monthly Meeting April 2021

Ithaca Monthly Meeting of the Religious Society of Friends

Meeting for Worship with Attention to Business

April 11, 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.)

2021.4.1 Opening Worship

Ithaca Monthly Meeting of the Religious Society of Friends met on-line, via Zoom remote for Monthly Meeting for Worship with Attention to Business on April 11, 2021.

Clerk reviewed the agenda for Monthly Meeting for Worship with Attention to Business and recognized Nancy Riffer for holding the Meeting in the Light.

At 12:37 PM, 23 Friends settled into worship.

2021.4.2 Worship Sharing: Listening as a Community

As we return to shared worship spaces differences among the community regarding COVID-19 best practices and perspectives have resurfaced. How we navigate these conflicts together will provide an opportunity to actively “listen across differences” and to practice these skills among F/friends. To facilitate this exercise, clerk posed three queries:

·       In what ways is listening different than simply not saying anything?

·       Is it possible to listen deeply when you have already settled on your opinion?

·       Is the goal of “listening across differences” coming to a shared viewpoint, or embracing different viewpoints as true, even when in conflict with one another?

Friends offered reflections and ministry out of the silence. 

2021.4.3 Earthcare Committee Annual Report

On behalf of Earthcare, Betsy Keokosky, Miguel Piery and Margaret McCasland shared reading this report and answered questions.

Issues of racism, authenticity, intention, impact and respectful interaction were shared. A question was raised whether members of color were directly requested to participate in the drafting of the letter mentioned. In future, when letters addressing issues of racism are written, a friend offered an invitation to ask for help directly from her, a black woman and provided an example of how that can be done with respect. Another friend suggested we not rely solely on the “only two people of color” we may know, but rather we’ll know we’ve evolved when we no longer have to be reminded to ask at all. Appreciation for honesty, eldership, comfort in discomfort and the fortuitous nature of spirit was shared.

A suggestion for Nominating Committee to consider asking friends of color to fill important committee vacancies was made.

Invitations to participate in specific IMM activities and committees were offered.   

Friends received the report. @

 2021.4.4 Finance Committee: Solar Panel Gift

 Prior to reading this report, clerk held silence with attention to the contributions and loss of Chuck Mohler, its author. On behalf of Finance, Mike Simkin reported the offer of RENOVUS solar panels from Olivia White (wife of long-time IMM member Will White). He reviewed details, including the projected positive impact 21 panels would have on IMM’s budget. A F(f)riend from the Earthcare Committee provided further background on Chuck’s contribution to the process. Another F(f)riend requested the Third Street Meetinghouse Committee be apprised of any further requirements in terms of communication and/or next steps. Finance is empowered to address logistics. A letter from IMM will be sent to Olivia White to communicate the meeting’s appreciation.

Friends approved the gift, contingent on its review by IMM’s Trustees. @

2021.4.5 Finance Committee: Quarterly Report

 On behalf of Finance, Pat Sewell, treasurer shared that the reported total for 2020 donations has been updated from $49,965 to $74,677 for the following reasons: a large donation (stock gains) was dated for the wrong year; a batch of checks (including many year-end donations) that was misplaced by the bookkeeper has been discovered and deposited; and holiday postal delays resulted in several donations (dated 2020) arriving after business meeting. This means that instead of being $5,741 short of expenditures, we received $18,971 more than we spent. This is excellent news and means that our actual donations from 2020 are very close to how we budgeted for 2021. This oversight has been corrected and measures have been taken to assure it does not happen again.

Treasurer also reported on the committee’s consideration of options for long-term financial planning and reviewed several.

Lastly, treasurer shared and reviewed IMM’s balance sheets, highlighting both form/function as well as specific lines/funds of interest. F(f)riends can access each of these documents via live links in the report, itself or by emailing the clerk.

Friends received the report. @

2021.4.6 Ministry and Worship: Donation to QuakerSpeak

On behalf of Ministry and Worship, Barbara Barry described the history, work and financial difficulties of QuakerSpeak, as well as its use to enhance the life of the meeting. Ministry and Worship recommends a $1000 donation from the General Fund be made to help sustain QuakerSpeak. If the donation is sent by April 16, the amount will be matched by another donor. Ministry and Worship would like to join other Meetings in supporting this unique form of Quaker education and encourages individuals to make donations to QuakerSpeak, as they are able.

Friends approved the donation. @

2021.4.7 Ministry and Worship: State of the Meeting Report (Second Reading)  

On behalf of Ministry and Worship, Barbara Chase read the report. Clerk recognized the contributions of those who helped to compile the report and appreciation was expressed. Once approved, it will be shared with both Farmington-Scipio Regional Meeting and New York Yearly Meeting.

Friends approved the report. @

2021.4.8 Closing Worship

At 2:46, 12 Friends settled into worship before adjourning. Our next regularly scheduled Meeting for Worship with Attention to Business will be May 9, 2021.

Respectfully submitted,Blair Jenings

Project Abundance Germinates

Raised garden beds at the corner of Third and Madison Streets

If you’ve attended Meeting for Worship in person at our Third Street Meetinghouse, or just been past there recently you probably noticed several raised garden beds installed on the tree lawn and along the fence. What you’re seeing is the beginning of Project Abundance. Thanks in part to a mini-grant from Sustainable Tompkins, Ithaca Monthly Meeting’s Earthcare Committee has launched Project Abundance to “make real the sense of abundance nature offers us – and incorporate the sacredness of nature and the miracle of growth more within neighborhood communities and within our own congregations” (from the grant application). Food and flowers growing in the raised beds will be available for anyone in the neighborhood to pick and use for free.

The originating purpose of Project Abundance, which Earthcare discussed in fall of 2020, was to get past the narrowing and diminishing mindset of the Trump presidency and the pandemic.  When they began researching how to implement the idea they discovered an already existing network of neighborhood raised garden beds in the Northside neighborhood, ranging from a park near the Science Center, to Conley Park, to a permaculture park near the Cascadilla Creek. Leading this effort was Josh Dolan of Cornell Cooperative Extension, and Solidarity Gardens, a network of area gardeners.   Earthcare looked for ways to plug into this network and expand on their vision.  

Members of the Earthcare Committee reached out to the Northside Neighborhood via their listserv and solicited thoughts on what to grow in these raised garden beds. Suggestions included greens (kale, collard greens, chard, lettuce), herbs (thyme, basil, parsley) and flowers (calendulas, zinnias, lavender). The aim of the project is to encourage a sense of abundance and delight in growing food and flowers. In addition, Earthcare wants to see if we can create a model that other religious organizations can adopt.

Earthcare Committee hopes this physical and practical example will expand love of nature and a concern with the human destruction of nature within Ithaca Meeting.  They also hope to create a further connection between Ithaca Meeting and members of the Earthcare Committee, and the Northside neighborhood. The committee hopes this project will blur those boundaries between our Meeting and the neighborhood, and enhance Quaker ideas of the Spirit in everyone and everything.

The project is led by Betsy Keokosky and involves the work of several Friends in our Meeting, including Margaret McCasland, Jim Grant, Miguel Piery, Steve Soblick. If you would like to help with this project, get in touch with Betsy.

Monthly Meeting March 2021

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

March 14, 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.)

2021.3.1 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 March 14, 2021. At 12:30pm, sixteen Friends settled into worship.

Gina Varrichio, Clerk, began by reviewing the agenda. John Lewis was recognized for holding the Meeting in the Light.

2021.3.2 Worship Sharing: Continuing Revelation

Clerk asked Friends to consider the following queries:

  • How can we remain open to our own continuing revelation, even that which we find unwelcome or uncomfortable?
  • How can we respond faithfully when these revelations result in the need for change to ourselves, our Monthly Meeting, and/or the Society of Friends?

Friends shared from the Spirit about the work we do within ourselves and within our communities, the challenges of leaning, the shame that can come with unlearning, what it means to be open and inclusive, and enhancing our sense of connection to the universe.

2021.3.3 Ministry & Worship Committee: In-Person Meeting for Worship

Nancy Riffer shared that the Ministry and Worship committee proposes:

  1. Reopening the Third Street Meetinghouse on April 4 (Easter Sunday) for hybrid worship (in-person combined with Zoom worship) at 10:30am and continuing in this manner on Sundays for the foreseeable future.
  2. Resuming worship at the Hector Meetinghouse on April 4 (Easter Sunday) with an in-person sunrise service at 6am. Beginning April 11, worship will be at 10am through at least the month of April, with future worship opportunities communicated via the IMM listserv and the newsletter.

Friends noted the ongoing uncertainty that surrounds the pandemic and the possibility of having to adjust. Friends approved the resumption of hybrid worship at Third Street and of in-person worship at Hector Meetinghouse. @

2021.3.4 NYYM Witness Coordinating Committee

On behalf of the NYYM Witness Coordinating Committee, Cai Quirk reported New York Yearly Meeting minuted support of a new amendment to the US Constitution that would modify the 13th amendment to no longer allow any exceptions in the abolishment of slavery. NYYM also approved sending a letter to congressional representatives, calling them to act on this matter, and asked that individuals and monthly meetings consider doing the same.

Meeting is asked to approve the minute of 15th Street Meeting that has been adopted by the NY Quarter and New York Yearly Meeting. It reads:

Friends considered a statement regarding the 13th Amendment to the Constitution Section 1 of the 13th amendment of the US constitution states: ​Neither slavery nor involuntary servitude, except as a punishment for crime whereof the party shall have been duly convicted, shall exist within the United States, or any place subject to their jurisdiction. ​We propose a new amendment to the constitution that amends section 1 to state the following: ​Neither slavery nor involuntary servitude shall exist within the United States, or any place subject to their jurisdiction.

Friends approved the minute.

Cai also read a proposed letter to be sent from Ithaca Monthly Meeting to be individually addressed to U.S. Senators for New York Chuck Schumer and Kirsten Gillibrand and to Congressman Tom Reed. Friends raised issues pertaining to particular phrases in the letter. Friends approved asking the Clerk to send the letter without the first sentence. @

2021.3.5 Travel Minute for Cai Quirk

Barbara Chase from Ministry and Worship read a proposed travel minute for Cai Quirk. This letter invites other meetings to welcome Cai into their community, and notes that Cai’s photography, storytelling, music, vocal ministry, and writing opens doors to fresh perspectives and ways of seeing the world and each other. Friends shared thoughts about how the letter may be stewarded and approved the travel minute. @

2021.3.6 State of the Meeting Report (first reading)

Clerk noted that this is the first reading of the Ithaca Monthly Meeting State of the Meeting report. A revised version will be shared in April, and the finalized report will be sent to New York Yearly Meeting where it is shared more widely.

Shirley Way read the draft report, and the clerk invited Friends’ ministry as well as direct feedback. Friends offered some reflections and comments. Friends received the report.

2021.3.7 Annual Reports

Jim Grant read the annual report from Area Congregations Together. Friends explored questions around how the various religious communities relate with one another.

Tom Brown read the report from the Burtt House Committee. A suggestion was made to add Majesty Hopkins’s name to the list of people addressing maintenance. Friends received these two reports.

The annual report for Earthcare Committee is held over until April. @

At 3:05, nineteen Friends settled in worship before adjourning. Our next regularly scheduled Meeting for Worship with Attention to Business will be April 11, 2021.

Respectfully submitted,

Marin Clarkberg

Monthly Meeting February 2020

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

February 14, 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.)

2021.2.1 Opening Worship

Ithaca Monthly Meeting of the Religious Society of Friends met on-line, via Zoom remote for Monthly Meeting for Worship with Attention to Business on February 14, 2021. Clerk reviewed the agenda for Monthly Meeting for Worship with Attention to Business and recognized  Asha Sanaker for holding the Meeting in the Light.

At 12:34 PM, 21 Friends settled into worship.

2021.2.2 Worship Sharing: Reflections on Brokenness, Part III

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

  • Are there unexpected joys and/or sorrows about our Meetings for Worship or the IMM community that have risen for you this year?
  • How have you experienced the quality and faithfulness of corporate worship in the past year?
  • Where have you heard God’s voice this year? How can you be sure to hear what is being said?

Friends shared out of the silence on the mixed sorrow & joy of meeting remotely – a lack of face-to-face interaction balanced with the increase in accessibility of friends to our meeting; missing unstructured conversation time & its connecting quality; the joys of breakout rooms, Friendly Fives and “lighter” in terms of work committee meetings; gratitude for the work of the Communications Committee to help people use & connect via technology; experiencing God in corporate worship at Meeting for Worship faraway with Friends from around the world – and bringing back the experiences to share with IMM; the perseverance of Friends to make Zoom meetings connected, deep & meaningful. 

2021.2.3 Ministry & Worship: Recommendation for Membership of Nichole Nettleton

On behalf of Ministry & Worship, Barbara Barry read the following:

The clerk received a letter in January 2021 from Nichole Nettleton requesting membership. A clearness committee, consisting of Gina Varrichio, Antonia Saxon, Barbara Barry, and Mike Simkin, met to consider the request. Nichole was forthright, thoughtful, and open throughout the clearness committee process and expressed a desire to become more deeply involved in the life of the Meeting. Her clearness committee enthusiastically recommends Nichole for membership in IMMRSF.

Friends approved this recommendation & welcome Nichole Nettleton into membership. @

2021.2.4 Annual Reports

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

Cai Quirk read the report of the Nominating Committee. Friends suggested the following:

1. To continue IMM’s discernment of right sizing emphasis on pastoral care,

2. To seek meaningful ways to engage young children in Quaker practice.

Garry Thomas read the report of the Ad Hoc Working Group for Immigrant Support aka The Working Group. A Friend acknowledged how working on this committee highlights the challenge of being new to the US & expressed gratitude for IMM’s ability to offer much-needed support. Another Friend let folks know about an ongoing Meal Train for Ambroise Lumanikio Nganyinoko’s family.

Barbara Barry read the report from the Ministry & Worship Committee. Friends expressed both admiration and deep gratitude for the profound work, spirit and impact of this group.

Marin Clarkberg read the report from the Communications Committee. Friends expressed gratitude for the hard & unexpected work of this committee, especially in terms of maintaining connection among & between each other. Clerk acknowledged that this committee together with M & W collectively served as Assistant Clerk for 2020.

Clerk, Gina Varrichio read the report from the IMM Historians and clarified the extent to which historian, Tom Brown has been meticulously cataloging IMM policy minutes.

Friends received these five reports.@

2021.2.5 Closing Worship

At 2:10, 17 Friends settled into worship before adjourning. Our next regularly scheduled Meeting for Worship with Attention to Business will be March 14, 2021.

Respectfully submitted,

Blair Jennings

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.