Invitation to the 2019 Annual Sessions Plenary

Invitation to the 2019 Annual Sessions Plenary

Jan 4, 2019
Lisa Graustein, Beacon Hill (MA) Friends Meeting

At Annual Sessions in August 2019, Lisa Graustein (Beacon Hill, MA, Friends Meeting) will facilitate a plenary (whole group) session designed to “ground ourselves in the decisions that have led us to this point, … call in the wisdom of our ancestors, create art and prayer together, and envision a future beyond ourselves …[to] learn, interact, engage, pray, and imagine together, bringing that sense of community, hope and creativity into the rest of our week … [seeking] understanding of where and how we have been the Beloved Community and where we have failed to live up to God’s vision.

In preparation for this summer, Lisa is inviting New England Friends—whether we plan to attend Annual Sessions or not—into an experiment with a “virtual plenary.”

See the video below.

Lisa will have more recordings in the coming weeks.

A Prayer for Racial Justice

A Prayer for Racial Justice

Apr 19, 2018
Callid Keefe-Perry

Callid Keefe-Perry of Fresh Pond Monthly Meeting is excited to report the publication of United Against Racism: Churches for Change, a book put out by the National Council of Churches and just released. Callid was invited to contribute a prayer to the volume and recommends the text as a useful resource for Friends searching for connections between a Christian faith and the work toward racial justice. The book is available online in print and e-book formats, and Callid’s included prayer is below–ed.

A Prayer of Reminder and Turning

O Holy Power,

We labor under the weight of the knowledge that our systems and structures
are built on the backs of those who have struggled most.

We know and name that those very same systems and structures remain pressing down
on the shoulders and souls of those who still toil the most.

And so today, God, we ask that you soften our hearts,
bend down our necks, and give us sight.

To those of us with power who believe we have done all that we can, grant a reminder of humility. Allow us to see how our words and solidarity are but shadows of the family we can be; of the family we already are in your sight. We ask for the evil in us to be weakened and the good raised up.

To those of us who suffer under power and turn at times to despair, grant a reminder that there is strength to resist. Allow us to see there are moments in every day in which we can push back and press on with a fierce love. We ask to know a full measure of Grace, experiencing that compassion and encouragement in the flesh.

To those who struggle daily to seek out some way when there seems no way, grant that we find one another, are humble as needed, and bold when required. Allow us to know one another in that which is eternal, to strengthen one another, and to lift one another up with tenderness. We ask for connection and the courage to use our lives in service to the dismantling of white supremacy, wickedness in high places, and the building up of that which we find in your peaceable reign.

In all days, keep us from idols, from thinking our way is the way, and that our path is the most holy. We know we will be tempted to think ourselves better than others and so we ask to remember that the steps needed only end in you. What we call “good” now is only a glimmer of what can be built and is to come in Christ. We say “justice” but know little of its depth. We say “equality” but struggle to see how much needs to change. We are like thieves; we take good words for our use and for our pride, but we know little of what they can be.

God, give us an opening to change, turn us from our idols of politeness and properness, guide us from certainty to confession, and in that space convict us and bring us through. We are yours in service on this day and for all days. And so we pray that we might have the courage to serve. Amen.


“Little children, keep yourselves from idols.” 1 John 5:21 (NRSV)

Our Anti-Racism Work

Apr 24, 2018

Will Taber

In June of 2015 concerns about  racism, white privilege, and injustice in our society appeared in the vocal ministry at Fresh Pond Meeting. At the same time, in business meeting we were considering a minute in response to racial violence and a slate of other minutes concerning a variety of social justice issues. We were not clear to adopt any of these minutes as speaking for the whole body, but this sparked conversation about what it means for the meeting, rather than individuals in the meeting, to hold a concern. Later, an ad hoc committee began to look at how Fresh Pond Meeting might be more welcoming to visitors and people new to Quakerism. One consideration was how we might be welcoming to people of color. So, the ground was already being prepared within Fresh Pond Meeting when the Yearly Meeting approved the minute on White Supremacy at 2016 Sessions.

In September 2016 our Spiritual Growth Committee decided to hold an open-ended series to explore racism and white supremacy, how it functions and ways in which we are complicit with it. In January Bruce Neumann spoke about a course in racism and white supremacy that he and Holly Baldwin had taken at the Louis D. Brown Peace Institute in Dorchester. Other sessions included watching and discussing “Allegories or Race and Racism,” a TED talk by Camara Jones exploring the differences between multiculturalism and interculturalism. At our final session in May 2017, Lisa Graustein led us in an exploration both of the ways that Quakerism exhibits the hallmarks of white supremacy and also antidotes that also exist in our tradition. We also held a well-attended series to watch Race, the Power of an Illusion. We shared a potluck meal and watched an episode of the video, and then discussed our reactions to what we had seen.

In September of 2017 we held a threshing session to explore next steps. It was clear that combating racism and white supremacy was still a major concern of the meeting, but it was not clear how that concern would be held in the meeting. The Spiritual Growth Committee felt that it could address issues of racism in its programming, but could not hold the entire concern along with its other work. Someone asked what our vision for the meeting was, and in February we held a mini-retreat that used collage, weaving and worship-sharing to begin developing that vision.

The meeting put off deciding what to do with its gift from Rachel Carey-Harper until we had completed the series on racism, so that we could respond if something concrete arose from that exploration. An idea arose to provide bystander training so that members would feel empowered to deal with racist incidents in public places. Another idea was to have marshal training so that the meeting could provide trained marshals for protests and demonstrations. We finally decided to raise funds for the trainings and to use the gift from Rachel to support the Metrowest Workers Center. We would never have had the discussion of what to do without that gift. The realization that we could do more with our own resources was itself a gift.

Fresh Pond Meeting is still feeling exercised by a concern for fighting racism and white privilege, but is still unsure how to proceed. We are continuing to take the steps that are clear and seeing what emerges from this for our next step. We are grateful for the many resources we are able to draw on in the Boston area, the Yearly Meeting, and elsewhere. We are also grateful for the resources available within our meeting, since we have people who have been working on these issues for a long time.

We have found that we don’t have to be experts to do this work. There are many books and videos that can provide a starting place for meaningful discussions. All that is required is an open heart and a willingness to face the reality of our world.