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As Way Opens

 A Christmas Carmen; John Greenleaf Whittier

Sound over all waters, reach out from all lands,
The chorus of voices, the clasping of hands;
Sing hymns that were sung by the stars of the morn,
Sing songs of the angels when Jesus was born.


Blow, bugles of battle, the marches of peace;
East, west, north, and south,

let the long quarrel cease;
O sing ye the song that the angels began,
Sing glory to God, and goodwill unto man!


With glad jubilations, bring hope to the nations,
The dark night is ending, and dawn has begun;
Rise, hope of the ages, arise like the sun;
All speech flow to music, all hearts beat as one!


John Greenleaf Whittier [1807-1892] the American Quaker poet, was born at Haverhill, Massachusetts, Dec. 17, 1807. He began life as a farm-boy and shoemaker, and subsequently became a successful journalist, editor and poet. In 1828 he became editor of the American Manufacturer (Boston), in 1830 of the New England Review, and an 1836 (on becoming Secretary to the American Anti-Slavery Society) of the Pennsylvania Freeman. He was also for some time, beginning with 1847, the corresponding editor of the National Era. In 1840 he removed to Amesbury, Massachusetts, where most of his later works have been written. At the present time [1890] he lives alternately at Amesbury and Boston. His first poetical piece was printed in the Newburyport Free Press in 1824. Since then his publications have been numerous, including: Voices of Freedom, 1833; Songs of Labour, and other Poems, 1850; &c. ‘Dear Lord and Father of Mankind’ is a particularly well known hymn text of Whittier’s.


A Christmas Query:  From whence comes the custom of putting laurel, box, holly, etc in churches and houses for Christmas; and what is the signification thereof?  When the Son of God (according to the Prophecy of Zachary) made his public entry into Jerusalem, the people strewed the way before him with evergreen palm branches, in token of the perpetuity and triumph of his kingdom: hence arose the custom, and this the signification of adorning our houses and churches at Christmastime.

From:Gale’s Cabinet of Knowledge or Miscellaneous Recreations, London. MDCCC


Joys & Concerns


Please remember Bob Hadley in your prayers.  Bob has recently been diagnosed with cancer.  Thank you for your remembrances of him, his wife Nancy, and their family in your thoughts and prayers.  Bob was raised in our Meeting, and has served our Meeting in almost every way possible.  Let us join together in lifting him up for strength and endurance. 


Jerry, Beth and Greg Henricks continue to struggle with the challenge of Alzheimer’s Disease.  Please hold Jerry in your prayers, and Beth and Greg as they care for his needs and their own, especially during this holiday season.


Pastor Ruthie will be joining Jon in Seattle, traveling on Christmas Day to visit their son Matt and his wife Rebecca for the week.   She will return in time to celebrate the New Year.  If you need spiritual guidance, assistance or care, please contact any one of our Ministry and Counsel members.  Beth Henricks will be available as well.


No Monthly Meeting was scheduled for December. We will resume our regular schedule come the New Year in January.  Please join us on Sunday, January 17th.


The Meeting Office will be closed December 25, 26, 28 and January 1st.  (It is customarily closed on Fridays.)


A big thank you from Paula Gallagher for the generosity of First Friends in providing some Christmas gifts this past week.  She feels great affection for the Meeting and is so appreciative of our support and continuing connection to her.

There are not enough words to say ‘thank you’ to all of you who do so many things throughout the year to make First Friends Meeting such a vibrant place of ministry and meaning.  Ushers, greeters, musicians, teachers, cooks, clean-up crews, gardeners, painters, photographers, drivers, costume designers… from the smallest touch to the largest enterprise you have all been a part of making the Spirit of God real to many.  Just by coming, you minister to those who worship with you.  When people attend a Quaker meeting they expect something different, and that’s what they find at First Friends… a unique and special experience, where people care deeply and intentionally about the way God lives in and with each person.  Thank you all, near and far, for being a part of this Meeting.  May God bless you all with a very happy Christmas.


Christmas Blessings from the Staff at First Friends Meeting!

Jose and Rocio Camacho – Custodians

Dan Mitchell – Maintenance

Shawn Porter – Organist & Choir Director

Hayley Adams – Youth Pastor/ Office Assistant

Beth Henricks – Christian Education and Family Ministries Director

Ruthie Tippin - Pastor




Announcements, Reports, & Opportunities


Please join us this Thursday Evening at 5:30

December 24th for our Christmas Eve Service


A simple, lovely expression of welcoming the Christ Child

Carols, Waiting Worship, Children’s Choir, Flute Solo,

The Christmas Story


Family and Friends are All Welcome to Come!


 Help Close the Giving Gap – Thank you so much!

            December is the biggest shopping month of the year.  For many retailers this month represents their entire "bottom line" for the whole year.  You probably already knew "Black Friday" means the day retailers go out of the "Red Ink" and into the "Black".  Perhaps a little more heart-warming at Christmas time... It's also the biggest giving month of the year.  For most not-for-profit organizations it's the month they close the gap between expenses and donations.  

            First Friends is no exception.  Each year we come into December counting on the "Faith Factor" to close the gap in our budget.  This year we need to bring in $56,000 in the month of December to close our budget gap.  It's a large number, but it also nearly the same number we came through with last year.  This is the money we use to pay our staff, heat our building, remove the snow from our parking lots, and all the regular needs of our meeting.  Your giving is what keeps First Friends running.

            I hope that First Friends has been a big part of your Christmas celebration and helped to keep you connected to the best of Christmas - family, friends, and Christ's love in your life.  I hope our Meeting has helped close any gaps for you this season and you can remember our Meeting with some extra generosity this month.

Your friend,

Eric Tinsley

Finance Committee Clerk

We have been receiving many generous and gracious gifts from Friends far and wide.  Thank you for your concern and care regarding the ministries of First Friends Meeting!


Worship with us this Sunday, December 27th

            Amy Perry will lead worship this coming Sunday as we hold our traditional hymn and carol sing.  Eric Baker will play piano.  Beth Henricks will lead the children in a Children’s Message and their time of worship.  An extended time of waiting worship is planned.  You are all welcome

 Thanks to everyone for helping with the United Christmas Service project.  Several of us delivered the gifts after Meeting this past Sunday and were greeted by the families with much warmth and thanks.  I’m certain that they will appreciate the gifts.  Carol and I also dropped off several gifts to Paula Gallagher last Wednesday, along with food from the Mid North Food Pantry.  Kathy Farris has collected and handed out many toys to folks who come to Mid North Food Pantry.  I’m so happy and proud that folks from Witness & Service and First Friends have made Christmas a very special occasion for so many folks in the Indianapolis area.  Hope everyone has a very Merry Christmas.  Jim Donahue, Clerk of Witness and Service


Oak Leaf:  Meeting for Reading ~  Ann Panah is preparing dinner on Tuesday, December 29th at 7 pm in her home for our year end discussion of  I am Malala by Malala Yousafzai.   Please RSVP to Ann at or if you need directions.  If you are interested in being on the Oak Leaf email list please contact the office or Kathy Rhyne at  

Mark your calendar for upcoming 2016 titles:

January 26 - All The Light We Cannot See by Anthony Doerr                                                        

February 23 - Soldier Girls by Helen Thorpe

March 29 -  Being Mortal by Atul Gawande

April 26 -  Song of Myselfby Walt Whitman

May 31 - Still Alice by Lisa Genova

June 28 - Beloved by Toni Morrison

July 26 - Lila by Marilynne Robinson 

August 30 - Olive Kitteridge by Elizabeth Strout

September 27 - The Elegance of the Hedgehog by Muriel Barbery

October 25 - All Fall Down by Jennifer Weiner

November 29 - The Friendly Persuasion by Jessamyn West

December 27 - The Lowland by Jhumpa Lahiri


Notes from Ministry and Counsel, Ed Morris~ Clerk

Marriage Equality: On November 15th Monthly Meeting approved an amended version of the proposal put forth by Ministry and Counsel on marriage equality. It states that “Monthly Meeting approves process equality for all Marriages under the care of the meeting, which means that the standards for being married under the care of the meeting should apply equally to all marriage candidates.

The Vitality of the Meeting: The recent discernment of marriage equality and the resulting minute on the subject was achieved with almost total input and participation from the entire meeting. There were over sixty people present at the November monthly meeting. Although that meeting and the preceding discussions were intense and often emotional, it is a testimony to our aliveness and vitality as a meeting that we engaged the subject fully, if not entirely fearlessly, with significant participation.

We are growing and ever more diverse as time goes on. We continue to engage each other and the community we live in, in a spirit filled and dynamic way. Ministry and Counsel urges members and attenders to continue to participate actively in the spiritual and practical matters of the meeting by attending monthly meetings and sharing whatever gifts you have with the meeting.

Over $325 was raised for Right Sharing of World Resources through your generous donations for soup and cookies in a jar.  Thank you for supporting this ministry.  The kids really enjoy “hosting” the table.  John Noble and Sylvia Andrews raised $262 for the Belize school through pies and pottery.  These two Quaker organizations appreciate your support.

  Quaker Affirmation Class for Adults will begin during Sunday School hour (9:00 a.m.) on January 10th in the parlor.  The curriculum that our young people experienced will be used with some revisions for our adult group.  We plan to offer this through 3 months and encourage anyone that would like to go deeper into our history, testimonies, theology, structure, worship and organizations to join us.  Beth Henricks and others will lead the class.

Join us in Meeting for Worship January 3rd as Ruthie speaks about God’s faithfulness in the past and the blessings yet to come in the future.


January 10th, we will welcome David Dawson, President of Earlham College as our Guest Speaker.  We will have just hosted the Earlham College Choir that weekend, and look forward to hearing what Dr. Dawson has to share with us.


January 17th brings Dr. David Carlson from Franklin College, speaking to us on Martin Luther King Jr. Weekend. Professor of Philosophy and Religion, Dr. Carlson will speak to us about the threat of ISIS, not only to the United States and the world as a whole, but also to the collective perception of the religion of Islam, especially in the west.   


Quaker Life magazine is being offered to us for renewal at a group rate of $20.00 per year.  Published by Friends United Meeting, you will receive six issues a year, that will “inspire, inform and teach you.”  The journal is normally priced at $35.00 annually.  We keep one copy in our Library.  Please let the office know if you would like to add your name to the list of subscribers.  Thank you!



Befriending Creation:

As you’ve no doubt heard by now, COP21 (conference of the parties) in Paris is over and resulted in an agreement worth celebrating.  We realize that the agreement is only a starting point, but it’s an encouraging move toward unity in action, with the hope that the world is finally taking seriously the great risk to our planet.  We will continue acting, praying, leading, and educating for spirit-led actions that lead to right relationship with all life. Thanks. Sylvia Andrews Noble.


There will be no Friend to Friend next week December 30th.


Bookcases Needed!  24 Linear Feet of bookcases are needed for our growing number of library books.  If anyone knows of an office that’s closing, or a space that’s being changed and a donation of 6’ tall matching bookcases that could fill a space up to 24 feet, please let our Office know. Thank you.


“Friends of Nature Kids” ~ Natural Tunes: Think about a mountain and then sing as many songs as you can remember that have the word ‘mountain’ in them.  (Hint: “Go, Tell It on the Mountain”) When you’ve exhausted mountains, try songs about the sun.  And there are always rivers, blue skies, the moon…  Have fun!  From 52 Nature Activities by Lynn Gordon, Chronicle Books, San Francisco.