Monthly Meeting December 2020

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

December 13, 2020

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

2020.12.1 Opening Worship

Ithaca Monthly Meeting of the Religious Society of Friends met on-line, using Zoom remote conferencing service, for Monthly Meeting for Worship with Attention to Business on December 13, 2020.At 12:30pm, twenty-one Friends settled into worship.

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

2020.12.2 Worship Sharing: Reflections on Brokenness

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

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

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

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

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

2020.12.3 Nominating Committee

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

2020.12.4 Earthcare Committee: 2020 Donations

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


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

In other states:

  • Florida Rights Restoration Coalition (DF)

National or outside the country:

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

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

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

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

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

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

2020.12.6 Finance Committee: Year End Report and 2021 Budget

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

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

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

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

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

Friends received the report.

2020.12.7 Finance Committee: 2021 Budget

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

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

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

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

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

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

2020.12.8 Ithaca Area Clergy Request

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

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

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

[Signed, perhaps twenty to thirty area congregations]

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

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

Respectfully submitted,Marin Clarkberg

Monthly Meeting November 2020

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

November 8, 2020
Clerk: Gina Varrichio
Recording Clerks: Marin Clarkberg, Blair Jennings
(The @ signifies that the minute has been read and approved during Meeting. Copies of all written reports are on file with and available from the Clerk or Recording Clerk.)

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

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

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

2020.11.3 Peace & Social Justice Donations Approval

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

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

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

2020.11.4 Nominating Committee: 2021 Nominations

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

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

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

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

Friends approved the nominations.@

2020.11.5 Closing Worship

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

Respectfully submitted,

Blair Jennings

Monthly Meeting October 2020

Ithaca Monthly Meeting of the Religious Society of Friends

Meeting for Worship with Attention to Business

October 11, 2020

Clerk: Gina Varrichio

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

1) Do you feel the report captures the corporate experience of IMM at this time?

2) Where do you see the spirit moving in our Meeting or where have you seen it moving in the past?

3) What is missing from this report?

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

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

2020.10.2 Covid Working Group: Wedding And Memorial Gatherings 

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

2020.10.3 Covid Working Group: Building Use By Outside Groups 

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

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

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

2020.10.5 Ministry And Worship: Hybrid Meeting For Worship 

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

2020.10.6 Treasurer’s Report

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

2020.10.7 Other

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

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

By Garry Thomas

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Letter from The Clerk

Dearest Friends,

At Farmington Scipio Regional Meeting’s Fall Gathering earlier this month, participants were asked to reflect on three queries:

1) What has changed since we wrote our State of the Meeting reports, and what may need to be changed?

2) How do we recognize what is needed? Describe your sense of how Friends are called into community.

3) Are there practical steps you hope Friends will commit to?

Attenders were divided into small groups according to their Monthly Meeting affiliation, with those from smaller Meetings paired with those from larger Meetings. Some of you may have already had a chance to read the report of the discussion that ensued compiled by Melanie-Claire Mallison and posted to the Ithaca Monthly Meeting listserve. The report is included in its entirety below for those of you that have not yet seen it.

For many months now, I have been considering ways to provide a framework for some conversations that are important to the spiritual health of our community. Though interwoven, clarifying our beliefs and practices, re-envisioning our community structures, and weighing our current needs for inreach and outreach are items at the top of this list. The report from Fall Gathering lifted up many of these threads, and, I hope, will offer the larger Meeting means of continuing the conversation together.

At October’s Meeting for Worship with Attention to Business (October 11, 12:30pm via Zoom), Friends will have an opportunity for worship sharing regarding this report. We will set aside 20 minutes to re-read the report together and to offer ministry as to its contents. I highly recommend reading the report and giving it some time to season before joining us next week. Friends are also invited to share thoughts by emailing

In particular, please consider the following queries:

1) Do you feel the report captures the corporate experience of IMM at this time?

2) Where do you see the spirit moving in our Meeting or where have you seen it moving in the past?

3) What is missing from this report?

I look forward to our discussion.

Gina Varrichio, Clerk

Report to FSRM on the Reflections of the IMM Breakout Group

We were most inspired by the second query, “How do we recognize what is needed? Describe your sense of how Friends are called into community.”

In general, it is felt that Ithaca Monthly Meeting has lost its Spiritual foundation and call to work as a community within the Quaker testimony of Corporate Discernment. This is not related to the pandemic, but has been seen as a loss for more than a year. Instead, the Meeting feels like many individuals who come together to support each other’s individual leadings and gifts, and individual work. We long for more community leadings grounded in the Divine Presence, where the Light of each person is seen and acknowledged and loved, but corporate discernment is also honored and the vitality of the Meeting of a whole is addressed.

We have a sense of “dryness” spiritually, of being somehow stuck.

What seems to be missing is the Divine Presence and guidance. We can and DO much in the realm of social activism, but without surrendering to the Presence of God, our work does not come from a corporate foundation of Spirit, Light, and Peace.

An example of how Spirit DOES work within us is the time and intellectual energy put into deciding how outside group might be allowed to use our Meetinghouse and how much we would charge for that use, and when the report was given at Meeting for Business, Spirit moved us to toss out the report and minute that all are welcome to use the Meetinghouse for free.

To further the feeling of individuals gathering, some who are returning to the Meeting or are new to the Meeting find it hard to get to know folks and get to be known. They feel welcomed! But perhaps, not included.

Even so, Ithaca Monthly Meeting feels like a loving and beloved space. Even those who have created some trouble (and you know who you are), still feel loved and listened to and supported.

So our gifts do not always apply to the Meeting as a whole and to the world beyond our meetinghouse steps. Gifts may need to shift and grow, ergo, to rise up to corporate and community needs.

And again, those gifts must seek a Spiritual grounding.  Not just come from a sense of social responsibility or “trending concern” but deepen and seek a Spiritual emphasis and foundation for the work.

We must see and seek with Spiritual eyes.

One gift is our gift of numbers. We are a large meeting, which shows our vitality and community nourishment. Our ability to work together, to meet together, to show up, in large numbers, is a GIFT many Meetings do not have.

But. Big numbers also means lots of concerns and tasks, and we now meet in so many ways due to the pandemic, we are even more separated, so the tasks even more become the focus of the work – bringing us back again to the theme of a longing to once again be spiritually grounded, living from Light and Love.

On the internet: What it means to be a Quaker & covenant community

Friends, in this time away from face-to-face gathering, I’ve discovered some wonderful resources on the internet that have helped me think about what it means to be a Quaker and what it would mean to be a “covenant community.”

Let me share some links and very brief (and incomplete) statements about what they include. There are many more where these came from.

Open for Transformation — what it means to be a Quaker (click for video)
Swarthmore Lecture, Britain Yearly Meeting, 2014
Ben Pink Dandelion
In this prepared ministry, Pink Dandelion outlines the four aspects of being a Quaker:

  1. We can encounter the divine directly
  2. We’ve developed ways to understand that experience and to discern when it is happening (our group process of discernment)
  3. We have forms of worship that nurture that encounter, that sense of the Presence
  4. We live our lives in line with our testimony (he says we do not have a menu of testimonies but our lives are our testimony).

He goes on to talk about the role individualism and secularization in our culture have played in the form our Quakerism now takes. We seem to want to be what will be welcoming and comfortable for everyone. We leave it up to the individual to say what is Quaker and what is not. When asked what Quakers believe, we answer with “This is what I believe.” We have adopted the culture’s shift to individualism and secularism to our detriment. We are a group of Quakers. One isn’t a Quaker without a group surrounding that individual. Based on his title, Pink Dandelion makes the point that being Friends requires that we open ourselves to being transformed. And who we become transforms the world.

Pink Dandelion says that as Quakers we need to retain our processes and change our structures as needed. He has interesting examples of how meetings have dealt with too many committees and not enough people (this section of his talk begins at 48 minutes). He describes cases in which having minimal committees resulted in everyone taking responsibility for what needs to be done.

I find these four aspects of being a Quaker helpful but find the fourth point about living our faith is not specific enough for me. Dunham, in the third resource below, summarizes what we are asked to do as “Attend to what love requires of you.” This guidance speaks to me.

Seeing Beyond Our Differences: Meeting as “Covenant Community (click for PDF)
Paper prepared for a 2008 Lancaster Meeting Retreat
Tom Gates

Gates talks about the difference between a covenant relationship which is open-ended and expansive and includes the transcendent versus a contract relationship which is limited and is often spelled out in explicit detail. He gives the example of marriage as a covenant relationship. Gates says the difference between Friends Meeting and other organizations we belong to is the difference between covenant and contract. He brings together the ideas of many authors to describe what Meeting as a covenant community would be. It is a detailed description.

This paper challenges me to imagine what a deep commitment to Meeting as Beloved Community might require of me. Lots to think about.

What It Means to be a Quaker (click for webpage)
Britain Yearly Meeting, 2012
Geoffrey Dunham

In this prepared ministry, Dunham writes from the point of view of one welcoming newcomers to a Meeting. He has found the statement, “Attend to what love requires of you,” to be a central source of guidance to being a Friend. Love is the essence of what it means to be a Quaker. Some newcomers say, “I’m attracted to you because you aren’t all Christians.” His response is, “No, it’s what we do that matters, not what we don’t do.” He reflects that “A large number [of Quakers] don’t find words like theist, Christian, Buddhist, universalist, nontheist helpful in expressing their most deeply held convictions.” “. . .the discipline of Quakerism [living the Quaker life] has become more of a defining factor in the lives of some of us than allegiance to a specifically Christian or other religious faith.

— Nancy Riffer

Monthly Meeting September 2020

Ithaca Monthly Meeting of the Religious Society of Friends
Meeting for Worship with Attention to Business
September 13, 2020
(The @ signifies that the minute has been read and approved during Meeting. Please note that copies of all annual reports provided during this Meeting are on file with and available from the Clerk or Recording Clerk.)
2020.9.1 Opening Worship
Ithaca Monthly Meeting of the Religious Society of Friends met on-line, using Zoom remote conferencing service, for Monthly Meeting for Worship with Attention to Business on September 13, 2020.At 12:30pm, twelve Friends settled into worship.
Clerk recognized Barbara Chase as holding the Meeting in the Light.
2020.9.2 Ministry & Worship: Continuing In-Person Meeting for Worship

Nancy Riffer of Ministry & Worship Committee read a report that made several observations about our current practice of “hybrid” Meeting for Worship based at the Third Street Meetinghouse. Ministry & Worship recommends the extension of hybrid Meeting for Worship at Third Street until at least October’s Monthly Meeting. Friends shared some thoughts about their experience of hybrid Meeting and expressed a desire to talk with one another about this.

Friends approved the continuation of hybrid meeting at the Third Street Meetinghouse.

The Ministry & Worship Committee further recommends that the Hector Meetinghouse continue to be available for worship on Sundays as long as Friends continue to want to meet there and can abide by the safety guidelines that are in place. @

2020.9.3 Finance: Bookkeeping Error

Marilyn Ray reported that in March 2019, the Ithaca Monthly Meeting bookkeeper at the time mistakenly sent $2,400 to the Friends Center for Racial Justice. It has taken several months to unravel what happened given changes in bookkeepers and in accounting software. After an extended period of consideration, the Finance Committee has decided to write this amount off as a bookkeeping error, given that it was IMM’s mistake.
Friends received the report.

2020.9.4 Clerk’s Report: Transfer of Membership, Karen Reixach

Clerk read aloud a request for the transfer of membership of Karen Reixach from Ithaca Monthly Meeting to the Keene Monthly Meeting in New Hampshire. Karen moved to Keene to be closer to her family. Clerk read a draft letter to the Clerk of Keene Monthly Meeting approving the transfer. Friends approved the request and wish Karen well, even as we will miss her centered presence dearly. @

2020.9.5 COVID Working Group: Opening the Meetinghouse to Teen Day

So that Gina Varrichio, Clerk could withdraw from the consideration of this agenda item in which she has a special interest, Steve Mohlke clerked the discussion on opening the meetinghouse for Teen Day.

Carol Clarke, clerk of the COVID Working Group, read a report proposing that “Teen Day”—a program held once-a-week for homeschooled teenagers—be allowed to reconvene in the Third Street Meetinghouse. Teen Day’s proposal is to use the meetinghouse for half-days on Tuesdays and Thursdays. The COVID working group supports this proposal.

Carol noted that COVID Working Group does not feel ready to open the meetinghouse to other groups more broadly and that the committee carefully weighed the decision to allow the Teen Day group to use the Meetinghouse while not opening the Meetinghouse to others. The rationale for allowing this group and not others include: the Teen Day group’s COVID safety plan was specific and well-thought out; the Teen Day group has been excellent stewards of the space in the past; there is a close and trusting relationship between the Teen Day group and the Quaker Meeting; and the Teen Day Group has explicitly planned for the possibility of shutting down their use of the building should the need arise. The proposal describes that no groups will be allowed to use the building for a three-hour period before and after the group is in the building.

Friends were asked to consider how to help less privileged groups who also want to use our building. Carol indicated that the COVID Working Group is continuing to make plans for a broader use of the building and may return to monthly meeting next week. Friends approved the proposal. @
At 1:35, fifteen Friends settled in worship before adjourning. Our next regularly scheduled Meeting for Worship with Attention to Business will be October 11, 2020.
Respectfully submitted,
Marin Clarkberg

Monthly Meeting August 2020

Ithaca Monthly Meeting of the Religious Society of Friends
Meeting for Worship with Attention to Business
August 9, 2020

Clerk: Gina Varrichio
Recording Clerks: Marin Clarkberg, Blair Jennings

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

2020.8.1 Opening Worship

Ithaca Monthly Meeting of the Religious Society of Friends met in Monthly Meeting for Worship with Attention to Business on August 9, 2020. At 12:30 P.M., 20 Friends gathered via Zoom and settled into worship. Clerk shared the following reading:

The history of religion through the ages reveals the fact that there have been multitudinous ways of worshipping God, all of them yielding real returns of life and joy and power to large groups of [people]. At its best and truest, however, worship seems to me to be a direct, vital, joyous, personal experience and practice of the presence of God.
– Rufus Jones, The Inner Life (1916)

Clerk recognized Barbra Bleecker who was holding the meeting in the light.

2020.8.2 Peace and Social Justice: Ithaca Sanctuary Alliance (ISA)

On behalf of the Peace and Social Justice Committee, Elizabeth Schneider reported on the genesis and activities of the ISA, highlighting IMM’s participation and support of these efforts. Having become a sanctuary church, First Congregational Church of Ithaca’s (FCC) intent has been to have individual faith communities participate on an ongoing weekly basis in direct volunteer support activities for sanctuary residents. Despite a continued desire to support ISA, the committee is clear that providing volunteers to fulfill the specific coverage & support requirements of individual’s in sanctuary at FCC is not possible at this time. She then read a proposed letter to be sent to ISA informing them of IMM’s inability to participate in a coordinated, volunteer role; the letter reinforces IMM’s continued desire to stay involved via written communication and/or fundraising outreach.
Ministry arose about exactly how IMM structures itself to fulfill its very real desire to do “good work in the world” so that it can be achieved; it was coupled with ministry around how best to identify, manage and honor our human resources and leadings.
Friends approved sending the letter to ISA.@

2020.8.3 Nominating Committee: Laying Down CALM

On behalf of Nominating, Pat Pingle shared the following:
Nominating Committee received a letter from the Committee on Children and the Life of the Meeting (CALM). The letter explains the recent history of CALM’s work in trying to carry out their charge, which includes a broad range of offerings to children and families and engagement of the community as a whole in multi-generational activities. The letter also names several factors which contribute to the insurmountable difficulties they have experienced, and remarks, “We wonder whether there may be better ways to build an all ages IMM community than via CALM.”

In light of this, Nominating Committee brought the following minute to the Meeting for approval:

Following the request of the Committee on Children and the Life of the Meeting (CALM), Nominating Committee recommends that Ithaca Monthly Meeting lay down CALM.

The report concluded that functional next steps are not clear at this time, but the overall task of creating and sustaining an all-ages inclusive meeting will requires a process of discernment with participation of our Meeting as a whole as it is beyond the purview of any one committee.

Clerk indicated that Nominating and the Clerk are currently reviewing the overall manner in which participation of friends in the life of the whole meeting is encouraged, organized and supported. A report on these efforts is forthcoming.

Upon request, CALM’s Charge was read aloud and acknowledged to be both aspirational and ambitious. The contributions of Angela Hopkins to the work of CALM were gratefully acknowledged.

Concern arose about how the meeting will continue to fulfill its duty to provide what is seen by many as an essential service in terms of outreach and growth of the IMM community. Hope was expressed that the whole community will consider and determine together the best way to right-size and therefore fulfill IMM’s desired roles and services in a realistically balanced manner, in other words, discern with joy what we can do together. Difficulties related to the extraordinary, prolonged public health crisis were also acknowledged. All agreed this moment represents but the beginning of a much larger, wide-ranging conversation.

Friends approved Nominating Committee’s recommendation to lay down CALM.@

2020.8.4 COVID Working Group: Reopening the Hector Meeting House

On behalf of the working group, Carol Clarke described a comprehensive plan to reopen Hector Meeting House beginning today and continuing through the usual Hector Meeting House season. The plan was created with input from the Hector Meeting House Committee and regular attenders; the requirements and processes are similar to those approved/adopted for reopening the Third Street Meetinghouse.

Those who regularly attend Meeting for Worship at the Hector Meeting House are planning to actively support social distancing and other requirements as articulated in the plan. Because of the generally low number of attenders, there is no requirement that attenders sign up in advance. COVID Pods (also known as COVID Bubbles) of people will be allowed to sit together in order to help maintain proper spacing.

Friends approved the reopening plan as presented in the report.@

2020.8.5 NYYM Witness Coordinating Committee: Revision of the 13th Amendment

On behalf of the NYYM Witness Coordinating Committee, Cai Quirk reported on the inspiration, origination and history of this effort. As of now, New York Yearly Meeting has endorsed a minute brought to the Yearly Meeting by Fifteenth Street Monthly Meeting of the Religious Society of Friends. The minute asks for an amendment to the United States Constitution that revises the 13th Amendment. The minute is seeking to remove the exception clause that allows the institution of slavery to continue in the United States through imprisoning people.
They read the minute that follows:
“Minute 2020.6.3. Fifteenth Street Monthly Meeting Friends considered a statement regarding the United States Constitution. Section 1 of the 13th Amendment that states: Neither slavery nor involuntary servitude, except as a punishment for crime whereof the party shall have been duly convicted, shall exist within the United States, or any place subject to their jurisdiction.
We propose a new amendment to the constitution that amends Section 1 to state the following: Neither slavery nor involuntary servitude shall exist within the United States, or any place subject to their jurisdiction.”
Additionally, they read a letter (the entirety of which can be found in the committee report) that Friends have been asked to send to our congressional representatives on behalf of Ithaca Monthly Meeting. (Friends are also invited to send a version of this letter as individuals.)
They clarified the process by which this amendment is being brought before Congress.
Questions, concerns and clarifications were shared. Specifically, the language of the proposed amendment and letter in the context of the US Constitution proved particularly challenging for its broad applicability and potentially unintended consequences in practice. Particularly a concern arose that the proposed amendment is not clear on the impact this amendment might have on the status of the prison and jail system. Additionally, it does not address issues of privilege, equitable distribution of appropriately-applied punishment and more.
Friends agreed the language of the proposed amendment as well as the letter needs clarification and/or revision and determined a process by which to achieve this. Liam Murphy, Cai Quirk, Gina Varrichio and Pat Sewell will consider this language and bring it before Meeting for Worship with Attention to Business at a later time. Interested friends are encouraged and invited to join them in this effort.

Friends agreed to continue this conversation to reach clarity and unity on the language and process related to both the minute and the letter.@

2020.8.6 Treasurer’s Report

In light of the lengthy discussion around agenda items, this report has been held over until September’s Meeting for Worship with Attention to Business. Pat Sewell, Treasurer encouraged friends with any questions or concerns in the meantime to please contact him directly.

2020.8.7 Closing Worship
12 Friends settled into silent worship at 3:07 P.M. before adjourning. Our next regular Meeting for Worship with Attention to Business will be held at 12:30 P.M. on September 13, 2020.
Respectfully submitted,
Blair Jennings

Hiroshima and Nagasaki Remembrance

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

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

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

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

In-Person Worship at Third Street

Third Street Meetinghouse, early July 2020

At Meeting for Worship with Attention to Business in March 2021, Ithaca Monthly Meeting agreed to re-open our Third Street Meetinghouse for hybrid Meeting for Worship. Revised guidelines for in-person worship were accepted.

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

  1. Agree to wear a mask the whole time you are in the Meetinghouse and enter through the kitchen (unless you need to use the ramp).
  2. Email Carol Clarke ( and to let her know you’d like to come – we need to know in advance who is coming.
  3. Enter through the kitchen door and fill out a COVID screening form as you enter (on a table on the right as you enter or a greeter will hand you one).
  4. Wash your hands or use hand sanitizer after filling out the COVID screening form (there is a hand sanitizer dispenser mounted on the wall by the entrance to the library).
  5. Enter the Meetingroom from the Library and exit the Meetingroom from the other door into the entry hall.
  6. If you use the bathroom, please sanitize the surfaces there before you leave.
  7. Maintain social distance from others as you arrive and as you leave and not to approach anyone at any time in the building – please take conversations outside.

In addition, people may bring a closed container with liquid into the meetinghouse but no food will be consumed there. Only the downstairs of the meetinghouse will be used. During Meeting for Worship, or any other IMM event in the meetinghouse, if there are fewer than 10 people in the meetinghouse, we will open the windows if the temperature is above 50 degrees. If there are 10-20 people in the meetinghouse, we will open the windows if the temperature is above 40 degrees. Otherwise, the windows will remain closed. Our intent is to use common sense while not making Friends uncomfortable unnecessarily.