As Way Opens

John 11: 33-35 ‘When Jesus saw her weeping, and the Jews who came with her also weeping, he was greatly disturbed in spirit and deeply moved.  He said, “Where have you laid him?”  They said to him, “Lord, come and see."  Jesus began to weep.’  


I am sure this passage of scripture is familiar to many of you, as it describes Jesus reaction to the news that Lazarus is dead.  As a kid I knew verse 35 by heart as the shortest verse in the Bible and would quote it frequently to show off my knowledge of the Bible, yet never comprehending the depth of these two words.  This past Sunday I was substitute teaching Sunday School for the junior high class and we watched a video by the pastor Rob Bell (he has a series of videos for young people called Nooma).   Rob shared a powerful story about losing a close friend at 27 years old and the devastation, heartbreak and anger he felt at that time.  And then he read this passage.   I sat in the basement and was swept away with this idea of Jesus weeping with me.  I don’t know why I have never felt the full force of this scripture in my life.  Jesus weeps!  My Harper Collins Study Bible describes the word weeps as not just tears, but wailing and lamentation.  When we have a loss of a family member or friend, Jesus weeps with us.  When we lose a relationship or a job, Jesus weeps with us.  When we experience deep disappointment, Jesus weeps with us.   What a sense of comfort I have in feeling the emotional impact to my life that God through Jesus cares that much about me.  The losses we all experience in this journey of life can turn us bitter as we sometimes just don’t understand why some of these things happen.  Yet the God of the universe, of all creation, the giver of life, weeps with me.  This God weeps with you!  I rejoice today in this knowledge and pray that you will feel this sense of love and intimacy with God.


Considering the Query:  Are your meetings for church affairs held in a spirit of worship and in dependence on the guidance of God? Remember that we do not seek a majority decision nor even consensus.  As we wait patiently for divine guidance our experience is that the right way will open and we shall be led into unity. From: Advices and queries; Britain Yearly Meeting Faith and Practice, 5th edition, @ 1995-2015 Quaker Faith and Practice


Joys & Concerns

Erroll T. Elliott served as Pastor of First Friends twice… from 1936-1942, and 1957-1965.  His daughter, Harriet Elliott Combs (80), passed away Thursday, December 17th and her Memorial Service was given by another former pastor of First Friends, Stan Banker.  Harriet was a member of Irvington Friends Church.  Memorial contributions may be made to the National Parkinson’s Foundation.!/Obituary


Grace and blessings are sent to the Doninger family at the passing of Clarence Doninger’s stepmother, Roberta Doninger, 98, who died Sunday evening, January 3rd.  Clarence’s mother died when he was young, and Roberta had been married to Mr. Doninger for almost 50 years.  She was an elementary school teacher in Evansville for 45 years and had no children of her own.  She died peacefully in her home with hospice care and 2 wonderful caregivers. Her funeral will be held Saturday. 


Dear Friends, It has been good working with you as a great friend and for all these years you have been a support to my ministry. The year 2015 was very challenging to our family but we appreciate your support through prayers in Jesus name.   The year began with challenges of sickness where my wife was diagnosed with breast cancer level 2, but we thank God it was contained and she is doing well. We give glory to God. The same year has ended with the loss of Rose's father. The Bible says count it joy when you experience such challenges. We rejoice in the Lord for the many things he has done in our lives.   I would like to take this gracious opportunity to wish you A HAPPY, PROSPEROUS, BLESSED AND EVER FULFILLING NEW YEAR 2016. You have been a great friend and we look forward to our continued relationship.    Blessings and more blessings, John Afanda Muhanji, Director, Africa Ministries Office, Friends United Mtg.  E-mail:

John Muhanji is a great friend of First Friends Meeting, and spoke here in August of 2013.



Announcements, Reports, & Opportunities


Earlham College Choir Performance

at First Friends

Friday, January 8th

at 7:30 pm

Featuring Earlham College’s Concert Choir, Women’s Chorus and Madrigal Ensembles, the concert will include pieces from Latvian, French and American composers.  Everyone is welcome!



Bagged Salads and Sleepovers!  Help is Needed!  First Friends is hosting the Earlham Choir, with a spaghetti dinner and an overnight stay in homes provided by alumni and volunteer hosts from the Meeting.  Please contact Mindy Sommer if you can bring a bagged salad, dressing, or dessert to share. 


Please contact Carolyn Tinsley if you can provide housing for an overnight guest Friday evening.  (FFM is hosting ten students.)  Guests need to be returned to the Meetinghouse by 7:30 am on Saturday so they can leave by 8:00. Thank you!



January 10th, we will welcome David Dawson, President of Earlham College as our Guest Speaker.  David began his tenure at Earlham in July 2011.  Driven by a vision that holds together the classic liberal arts and the vocational and professional preparation of its students, Dawson helped the College develop new branding under the proclamation that “Becoming Fully Present is the Best Way to Move the World Forward,” linking Earlham’s emphasis on personal self-discovery and value formation with the College’s desire to foster social responsibility and enable students to make a transformative impact on the world.  We look forward to hearing what Dr. Dawson has to share with us.



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.



First Friends is Growing!  More and more families are coming, and that means more children! Beginning Sunday, January 10th, our kids will be divided into three groups for Children’s Worship: Pre-Kindergarten through Kindergarten,

First and Second Grade, and Third through Fifth Grade.  Teachers are ready, classroom space is prepared, and we are excited to share God’s love and light with the children of our Meeting.  Remember, all children are excused from Meeting for Worship after a Children’s Message each Sunday for their own time of worship, suited for their age and interest level.


YFYF – Young Friends Youth Fellowship Meets this Sunday!  11:30… Don’t miss it!


Are you interested in Interfaith Connections?  Dialogue? Celebrations? Fun? Festival of Faiths might be just for you!  This years’ fest will be celebrated Sunday, September 18th in downtown Indianapolis.  A planning meeting is set for Tuesday, January 12th from 4:00 to 5:30 at the Indiana Interchurch Center with Ben Leslie and the Center for Interfaith Cooperation.  Please let Ruthie know if you’d like to go!



‘Find Comfort with Comfort Food’ at the Seasoned Friends Luncheon!

Once during each season of the year, retirees gather for fun and fellowship, and a fabulous lunch together.  Every one of you are welcome to come on Wednesday, January 13th at 11:30 for our Winter Luncheon.  You’ll be treated to Meatloaf Sandwiches, Hot Soup, and Macaroni and Cheese.  Stick around for Cribbage, Card Games, Board Games, Euchre… It’s lots of fun! And so are you!



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!



Brent Bill, Quaker Author, will share stories from his new book “Life Lessons from a Bad Quaker – a Humble Stumble Toward Simplicity and Grace”, a presentation hosted by Indiana Friends Committee on Legislation.

When: Friday, January 15 from 7:00 to 8:30

Where: First Friends Meeting

For more information, contact IFCL Clerk Bill Capman.  A freewill offering will be taken to support the advocacy work of IFCL.  IFCL exists as an instrument in the search of God’s will for Quakers who are wrestling with the issues of our day.  IFCL attempts to relate our Quaker faith and Quaker testimonies to the shaping of responsible policy making by our Indiana government legislators.



Sunday, January 17th brings Dr. David Carlson, Professor of Philosophy and Religion, from Franklin College, speaking to us on Martin Luther King Jr. Weekend. Religious studies is not only his job, but also a significant part of his life. Carlson said he was first interested in making religious studies a career when he “realized that religious studies was more about questions than pat answers.” Carlson has been teaching at Franklin College for 36 years. Among his honors as a professor are the Faculty Teaching Award and the Dietz Faculty Excellence Award. “Teaching allows me to see students be transformed, not just informed, by what they are learning,” he said. In 2013, Carlson presented a paper on Christian-Muslim relations at Nazareth College in New York and was one of the speakers at the Earlham School of Religion Writer’s Conference. In 2011, Carlson published ‘Peace Be with You: Monastic Wisdom for a Terror-Filled World’, which received a starred review from both Publisher’s Weekly and Library Journal. The book was selected as one of the Ten Best Books in 2011 in the category of “Spiritual Living” by Library Journal. Carlson holds a bachelor’s degree in political science from Wheaton College; a bachelor’s degree in biblical studies from the American Baptist Seminary of the West, California; and his doctorate degree in New Testament from the University of Aberdeen, Scotland. In addition, he has conducted post-doctoral studies at Duke University on a National Endowment for the Humanities grant and at Indiana University.  Carlson said his current passion is writing about the future of interfaith relations in America.

Brrr!  It’s Cold Outside! Please continue to bring donations of winter clothing for the Boner Center. The box is in Fellowship Hall on the stage in front of the curtain. They appreciate what we are doing to help the homeless and others in need of clothing. 



“Friends of Nature Kids” ~ Questions: On a piece of paper, make a list of ten questions you have about nature.  For example, do ducks fly?  Or can any fish live in a stream if it becomes polluted?  Find out the answers by asking adults you know or by visiting the library and looking in books with the help of a reference librarian. 

From 52 Nature Activities by Lynn Gordon, Chronicle Books, San Francisco.