As Way Opens

Thank you to Dan Lee, who wrote this week’s ‘As Way Opens.’

Major Taylor – A Champion for the Ages

Our nation’s recent expressions of racial hate got me thinking about a personal hero of mine, Marshall “Major” Taylor, an African American cycling champion of more than a century ago. Born in 1878 in Indianapolis, Taylor picked up the nickname “Major” performing cycling stunts outside a Pennsylvania Street bike shop. When he was 16, Taylor won a 75-mile race against older white riders. By 1898, he held seven world records. In 1899, he became a world champion.

Taylor did all this facing overt and unrelenting racism. On numerous occasions he was excluded or, when racing, was choked, blocked, or knocked off his bike. He responded with a non-violent determination inspired by his Christian faith. “Life is too short for a man to hold bitterness in his heart,” Taylor said.

News reports of the day tell of Taylor reading his Bible between races. He was a faithful member of John Street Baptist Church in his adopted hometown of Worcester, Mass. Taylor was generous to other African-American riders, paying for one to attend the 1908 London Olympics. Taylor also helped white riders, encouraging Hoosier Frank Kramer to turn pro. Yet racism wore him down, mentally and physically. He became estranged from his wife and his health deteriorated in middle age. He wrote an autobiography, expressing empathy for young African-Americans: “I can hardly express in words my deep feeling and sympathy for them, knowing as I do, the many serious handicaps and obstacles that will confront them in almost every walk of life.”

Yet he always encouraged a higher response to hatred. In the final words of his autobiography, Taylor lists “a Dozen Don’ts” that read like a Ten Commandments for young athletes:

Don't try to "gyp."

Don't be a pie biter*

Don't keep late hours.

Don't use intoxicants.

Don't be a big bluffer.

Don't eat cheap candies.

Don't get a swelled head.

Don't use tobacco in any form.

Don't fail to live a clean life.

Don't forget to play the game fair.

Don't take an unfair advantage of an opponent.

Don't forget the practice of good sportsmanship.

(* riders who collude to box in a stronger rider in exchange for a share of the winner’s purse)


In 1932, Taylor died in the charity ward of a Chicago hospital and was buried in an unmarked grave. In 1948, ex-racers had his body moved to a more prominent spot with a marker reading, “World champion bicycle racer who came up the hard way without hatred in his heart.”

Today is dedicated to recognizing sportsmanship, promoting nonviolence and caring for those less fortunate.

Dan Lee

Announcements, Reports, & Opportunities

Follow us on Instagram! First Friends is now on Instagram! Follow indyfirstfriends to keep up to date with all the exciting things happening at First Friends. View our posts for updates, inspiration, and more!


Spiritual Growth Small Groups ~ We are excited to offer spiritual growth small groups this fall starting Oct 2nd and continuing for a 6 week period.  We will be studying the book by Joyce Rupp called The Cup of Our Life that examines the rich symbol of a cup in all its many forms to our everyday life. The groups will meet on either Sunday after Meeting for Worship, Monday evening, Tuesday evening, Wednesday afternoon and Friday evening and will last 90 minutes each time.  Please start thinking about your participation in this deepening spiritual time together and watch for sign up soon.  Childcare will be provided for the gathering on Sunday.

The Thornburgs in Belize ~ The Thornburgs are nearing their goal for their Belize fundraiser! We at First Friends are honored to have the Thornburgs (Aaron, Michelle, Kwali, and Meshach), feeling led by God to go to Belize and help with the facility renovation and provide other assistance to the Friends school. The Thornburgs will need your financial assistance in order to make their Belize leading a reality. If you can, please donate to this cause and help the Thornburgs reach their goal!


Casseroles for the Henry family ~ During this time of great transition for the Henry family, it would be most appreciated if anyone could donate a casserole to the family. We need a few casseroles delivered each week, for the next few weeks, until the Henrys have moved into their new house. We ask that the casseroles be delivered in disposable containers, so that the Henrys do not have to return dishes. Also, please avoid pineapple, as Bob is allergic. If you can bring a dish, please let the office know. We are still in need of dishes!! Thank you!


Sunday School Kick-Off! Our Sunday School kick off will be on September 10th.  We will start the morning with breakfast for everyone in fellowship hall at 8:30. We encourage everyone to come in their pajama's! Our classes will begin at 9:00 a.m. as follows:

PreK - 2nd grade in our large children’s room

3rd - 5th grade in the far northeast room

6th - 12th grade in the basement

We will use a curriculum from Church of the Brethen Press called SHINE that will focus this fall On Being God’s People

The following adult/multigenerational classes will be offered:

Christ and Quakers - Held in the parlor and led by Dan L. This class will explore various viewpoints on Christ from George Fox, John Woolman, Lucretia Mott, Rufus Jones, Elton Trueblood and others.

Seeking Friends - Bob Henry will lead the group through the Brian McLaren book, We Make the Road by Walking. This study will give us an overview of the Bible and guide the group through rich study, interactive learning, and personal growth. Each week will include reading scripture together, study time, and queries to ponder throughout the week.

Wired Word (in Coffee Circle classroom) - will be led by Harold M. to talk about current events from a spiritual perspective.

Choir - will be meeting in the old children’s library.  Anyone that has a heart for singing is welcome to join.

Nursery care will be available during Sunday School. Please mark your calendars!


Indians Ball Game with Friends! Join First Friends on Sunday, August 27th at 1:30 PM to see the Indianapolis Indians! This is a time of fun for anyone to join in from First Friends and ticket costs will be free! Friends are encouraged to carpool with each other to save on parking, and we will all meet at the ballpark. It’s also the last home game of the season and kids 14 and under eat free! We have 4 tickets left! Contact the office if you're interested. Please RSVP as soon as possible—first come, first served!


Valley Mills Friends invites you to a Quaker Concert with Annie and Peter Blood Patterson TOMORROW, Thursday, August 24 at 7pm. If you know the songbook "Rise Up Singing" that has been used at many fun Quaker sing-alongs, you might know of Annie Patterson and Peter Blood-Patterson who compiled it. They are released Friends who travel in Quaker circles bringing their ministry of community-building through singing together. Committed to fostering Hope, they are coming to Indiana in August. This is a fundraiser for Valley Mills Friends and the Blood-Pattersons' with a suggested donation at the door and opportunity to buy songbooks and CD's. The concert & singalong will take place in the meeting room of Valley Mills Friends, 6739 W Thompson Rd, Indianapolis, IN 46241.  Refreshment to follow. For more information, see the flyer here:, or visit


Oak Leaf: Meeting for Reading:  The Husband's Secret by Liane Moriarty book discussion will be held Tuesday, August 29th at 7 pm in the Parlor. All are welcome! Ruth K will be leading the group.  If you're interested in reading ahead for next month, the September 26th title will be: My Beloved World by Sonia Sotomayor.


Beneath it all some children go bare.
Those kids need some underwear!
So go and shop because Quakers care.
Briefs and bras, undershirts and camisoles,
socks for the feet, new things without holes.

Underneath It All – First Friends ninth annual underwear drive has begun and goes on until August 31st! We are asking for donations of new underwear, as well as socks, t-shirts, bras, etc, from toddler to adult sizes! We are collecting for the John H. Boner Center on east 10th Street. Cash or checks are also accepted and may be made out to First Friends and placed in offertory plates if labeled as donations to the Underwear Drive. Contact Linda Lee if you have questions.


Labor of Love ~ In response to the atrocities currently taking place in our country, we invite everyone to a peaceful gathering of neighbors and Friends on Sunday, September 3rd in our Meditational Woods. We will gather in solidarity with our community and nation to express our desire for peace, equality, unity and love. The event will include responses and opportunities for awareness through story, song, and art, as well as, a message from guest speaker, Malkah Bird, from American Friends Service Committee of Indianapolis and music by Eric Baker. Also, a special time of waiting worship in the manner of Friends will be offered allowing participants to speak out their responses to these difficult times. To conclude we are planning a special sending and call to action to take place around our peace pole.


New Library Books Ready for Checkout! Here are brief descriptions of three more new additions to our library.  To borrow a book, please sign it out on the clipboard in the library. The library is particularly helpful to newer attenders seeking to learn more about the Quaker faith, values, and history.

A Family of Friends: Friends Church Membership Course by Jack Willcuts
Written in 1977, updated in 1995, this is a ten-week course in Quakerism of the programmed variety. Topics include plain speech, history, the sacraments, worship, ministry, war and peace, stewardship, basic Christian beliefs, and church membership.

Levi Coffin, Quaker: Breaking the Bonds of Slavery in Ohio and Indiana, by Mary Ann Yannessa
An excellent book to read before visiting the Levi Coffin home where more than 1,000 escaped slaves were safely sheltered while traveling on the underground railroad by Levi and his wife Catherine. The author raises questions for today. And if you have already visited the home in Fountain City, Indiana, it is still worth reading of the desperate and heroic struggles of those times.

The Rich Heritage of Quakerism by Walter R. Williams an edited reprint with epilogue by Paul Anderson
From George Fox and the widespread growth of Quakerism, through quietism and divisions among Quakers, to the many sub-organizations such as American Friends Service Committee and Friends World Committee on Consultation this is a comprehensive account of Quakerism in its many aspects.



SERVING THE LORD WITH GLADNESS - USFW Women’s Fall Retreat ~ All women are invited to participate in the 46th Annual Fall Retreat of the Wester Yearly Meeting USFW and Indiana USFW, September 11-12th at Quaker Haven Camp (111 EMS D16C Lane, Syracuse, IN 46567). The theme this year is ‘Serving the Lord with Gladness.’ Ruthie Tippin will be the Keynote Speaker! Deadline for reservations is August 29th. Please contact Liz Nielander to make your reservations and requests: call 765-513-7439, e-mail or write to 1503 S. Union, Kokomo, IN 46902. The cost is $70 and your check should be made out to WYM-USFW. This includes a night's lodging and 3 meals (please bring your own bedding and towels.) We hope to see you there!