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Since 1996, the Academy of American Poets has set aside April to salute poetry’s “integral role in our culture” and to assert that “poetry matters.” The Academy celebrates poetry’s central artistic and cultural role by issuing a unique annual commemorative poster based on an image and a quotation by an American poet. This year’s poster recognizes “raising the boats” by African American poet Louise Clifton (1936-2010). It depicts a young African American girl sailing through the air on a dive into the water by Jack Wong, an award-winning children’s illustrator. The poster quotes Clifton’s words, “May you in your innocence/sail through this to that.” It is inspiring. Our column this month features an original piece by Westerly Multicultural Committee member David Madden, a resident, retired teacher, community volunteer, member of the Religious Society of Friends (Quakers), husband, father, grandfather, and published poet. Continue Reading / David’s Poem 

April Action – Share your meeting’s or church’s minute on the war in Gaza to Quakers@fcnl.org and read what other Friends are saying Read More

In Quaker meetings and churches, meeting minutes represent the wording of a decision or an agreed upon action to be taken by the meeting or church. FCNL recognizes the importance of meeting minutes both as advocacy tools and as a means of communicating to members of Congress how their constituents are thinking and acting on a particular issue. If your organization, church, or meeting has approved a minute, statement, or resource on the war in Gaza, please email it to Quakers@fcnl.org to include it in this collection. The Quaker Engagement team will follow up with you to offer support in sharing your minute or statement with your members of Congress as another way to change public policy through faith-in-action.

Westerly Monthly Meeting –  Discernment on where to focus work with the US Congress 2025-2026

Thank you for your input into FCNL’s priorities process. Your insights are valuable as we discern where to focus our work with the 119th Congress (2025-2026). – For your records: Report submitted by:  David Madden

Priority A:  INTERNATIONAL PEACE BUILDING by supporting nation partners to resolve conflicts peacefully. Hold governments accountable for human rights violations. Strengthen diplomatic efforts by providing technical and financial support.

Priority B:  VOTING AND ELECTIONS Accessible voting for all US citizens is fundamental to democracy. In 2023, numerous states enacted restrictive voting laws threatening our democratic form of government.

Priority C: JUSTICE REFORM AND GUN VIOLENCE PREVENTION As the number of mass shootings and resulting deaths continue to rise, federal legislation needs to enacted banning of military weapons and requiring gun licensing.

Priority D: SUSTAINABLE ENERGY AND ENVIRONMENT Climate change is an existential threat, without sound energy programs everything else becomes meaningless

Priority E: HEALTHCARE AND AFFORDABLE HOUSING Many American lack safe affordable housing, access to public transportation, grocery stores and public services and these challenges are directly linked to poor health outcomes.

364th Annual Sessions of New England Yearly Meeting of Friends, August 2–7. at Castleton University. All of us are looking forward to welcoming Friends, new-comers and oft-comers, adults, children, youth, and their families.

Our theme for this year’s Sessions is “Let us faithfully tend the seed.” Rich with imagery, our theme both calls us to act in the world in ways that give voice to the Inner Light and also to let go of our individual truth and listen for the voice of God in others.  

Lloyd Lee Wilson will be our Sunday afternoon plenary speaker. Lloyd Lee has been active in the public ministry since his youth on the Eastern Shore of Maryland, becoming a Methodist Certified Lay Speaker at age 14. He has been a recorded minister of the Gospel in four different monthly meetings and has written a great deal on Quaker faith and practice. He and his wife Susan presently live near Greensboro, North Carolina.

Genna Ulrich will present the Bible half hours. Genna (they/them), a member of Portland Friends Meeting, has a complicated relationship to the Bible. For a long time they didn’t touch it, but then they got curious about being in conversation with other people witnessing to God, including far back in time. Genna has found stories in the Bible which challenge and inspire them, stories which speak to Genna’s own condition and to our collective condition today. 

Toussaint Liberator will lead an all-ages drumming circle event on Monday night filled with performances, audience participation, and dancing.  


Brown University’s Costs of War Project found, “investments in infrastructure, healthcare, education, and emergency preparedness … have all suffered as military spending and industry have crowded them out.” 

As a consequence, they warn that soaring military spending is undermining “meaningful human security rooted in good health, good living conditions, and a productive and well-educated society.” Military spending makes up a dominant share of discretionary spending in the United States; military personnel make up the majority of U.S. government manpower; and military industry is a leading force in the U.S. economy. This report finds that as a result, other elements and capacities of the U.S. government and civilian economy have been weakened, and military industries have gained political power. Decades of high levels of military spending have changed U.S. government and society — strengthening its ability to fight wars, while weakening its capacities to perform other core functions. Investments in infrastructure, healthcare, education, and emergency preparedness, for instance, have all suffered as military spending and industry have crowded them out. Increased resources channeled to the military further increase the political power of military industries, ensuring that the cycle of economic dependence continues — militarized sectors of the economy see perpetual increases in funding and manpower while other human needs go unmet. Costs of War Project

Patricia Stout Turner – May 12, 1948 ~ March 6, 2024 (age 75)

Patricia Stout Turner passed away on March 6th after a short but determined fight against pancreatic cancer. There will be a memorial service at 11am on March 8 at the North Stonington Congregational Church followed by interment at the Old Plains cemetery for family members. A memorial reception will follow in Hewitt Hall. Donations in memory of Patricia may be made to the North Stonington Congregational Church. For online condolences, please visit www.buckler-johnston.com. Continue Reading

France has become the first country in the world to put the right to abortion in its constitution.

Parliamentarians voted to revise the country’s 1958 constitution to enshrine women’s “guaranteed freedom” to abort. It becomes the 25th amendment to modern France’s founding document, and the first since 2008. Polls show around 85% of the public supported the reform. BBC News

New England Yearly Meeting – Newsletter March 2024

Friends Journal – March 2024

As Gaza Death Toll Mounts, the Peace Lobby Fights for Influence in Washington – Kate Kelly – New York Times, Feb 16, 2024

The Friends Committee, a Quaker lobbying group, has been pushing in Washington for a cease-fire, going up against more powerful and better-funded groups backing Israel.

Movie Review: A village in Bhutan learns about democracy and teaches us, too, in ‘Monk and the Gun’ – by Jocelyn NOVECK

Writing Opportunity: 400th Anniversary of George Fox’s Birth – Friends Journal

What does George Fox mean to you? What parts of his life or writings have inspired and buoyed your own spiritual path? But we don’t just want a figurehead: we also want to understand the context of Fox’s life—his flaws, his evolutions, the things that make him not a saint but a fellow traveler. Give us the nuance. How did a movement coalesce around him? What lessons does his life provide for those of us wanting to bring together today’s seekers? What pieces of his legacy have we been overlooking? Continue Reading

New England Yearly Meeting – Newsletter February 2024

Friends Journal – February 2024

Friends Committee on National Legislation (FCNL) approved a policy on abortion and other reproductive issues at its November 2023 annual meeting. The move came after a year of discernment by Quakers at FCNL and in monthly meetings across the country. 

Quakers recognize that human life is sacred, and that Spirit can guide us individually and collectively. Based on these beliefs, members of the Religious Society of Friends have come to different conclusions regarding abortion. FCNL supports individual discernment in a spirit of love and truth in making reproductive healthcare decisions, as we do in other areas of conscientious moral choice. Government must ensure that people have the legal right to make these decisions. We oppose the criminalization of people seeking, undergoing, or involved in abortion services. We support equitable access to abortion services. FCNL also supports policies that reduce unwanted pregnancies by ensuring equitable access to contraception, sex education, family planning, fertility and adoption services, and support for all who decide to have children. Friends Journal

Memorial Minute: Jane Ortel – May 20, 1932 to October 13, 2023

When one imagines a life well-lived, it is likely that they imagine a life quite like the one lived by our dear Friend Jane Ortel. Her life was marked by intellectual curiosity, deep companionship, music, laughter, adventure, and lasting love. Continue Reading

Memorial Minute: Shelia Anne Lyons – May 22, 1931 to June 29, 2023

For many years, Sheila would attend our Meeting, and her life actions spoke to our testimonies. She was always seeking and questioning among Buddhists and Episcopalians, as well. She was a mother of six, widowed at age 48, who successfully raised them all to seek and question as well. Read More

Rustin – New Documentary By Netflix

Activist Bayard Rustin faces racism and homophobia as he helps change the course of Civil Rights history by orchestrating the 1963 March on Washington. Rustin, advisor to Martin Luther King Jr., dedicates his life to the quest for racial equality, human rights and worldwide democracy. However, as an openly gay Black man, he is all but erased from the civil rights movement he helped build. Movie Trailer

Quaker Contacts Newsletter

“This is a human crisis, and one thing is very clear: no one will win if this war continues to escalate… As an Israeli who also cares about Palestinian lives, [urging support for a ceasefire] is a meaningful, effective way you can take action to bring us closer to an end to this nightmare.” ~ Odeliya Matter, FCNL Program Assistant on Middle East PolicyFCNL – Quaker Contacts Newsletter

Friends Camp – Dear Friends Camp Community,

Happy fall! Registration opens in one month, and we are already excited thinking about another summer full of new friends, new skills, and new experiences. Registration will open at noon on Saturday, November 4th. Use the “Login/ Registration” button on the top right of the www.friendscamp.org home page.

Evelyn Kirby — Acting Camp Director; Anna Hopkins Buller — Camp Director (on maternity leave until February, 2024)
(207) 877-4302 – director@friendscamp.org

The Peace and Social Justice Committee

Dear Friends, At our last meeting of the Peace and Social Justice Committee, we agreed to forward this link for the video “I Am Not Yet Turned Indian” to the Meeting. This talk was presented by the Center for the Study of Slavery and Justice on March 1, 2023. A few years after his official banishment from Plymouth and Massachusetts Bay, Roger Williams wrote to John Winthrop, assuring the governor that he had “not yet turned Indian.” At first, it may appear that the statement constituted banter between friends and was written in jest. But Williams was making no joke because his “turning” Indian was not just a possibility; it was expected. This talk traces the interactions between the Narragansett and the English colonists who resided within their community and appraises how conflicting interpretations about the parameters of tenancy within the Narragansett Country informed the discord that created Rhode Island. At the present time, the committee has no plans to follow up on this presentation, but we hope to have a discussion based on it sometime in the late fall or winter. 

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