As Way Opens

Well, we made it! The crystal ball of light dropped in Times Square amidst frigid temperatures, the clock struck twelve midnight, and in one literal second we transitioned from 2017 to 2018. For the most part, it was the same thing we experience each and every year.  Yet, as I was watching Dick Clark’s Rockin’ New Year’s Eve this year, I noticed something a bit different. You could call it a theme.

It was clear the producers intentionally aimed for a theme of “Unity,” which seemed appropriate with the clearly divided country that 2017 presented us. Everything from Planet Fitness honoring two actresses who modeled non-judgmental, inclusive, and accepting attributes with “Be Free” awards, to host Jenny McCarthy sensing a moment of unity in giving singer Mariah Carey a second chance after last year’s technical debacle. All this had me asking a query of myself and our country,

Are we awakening to an important lesson about unity?

As Quakers we talk a great deal about unity. Sometimes we refer to it as the “sense of the meeting.”  Either way, something I think we can all agree on is that unity does not come easily - nor can it be just a theme. Unity is a process and takes time. Maybe all the division in our nation is affording us the time to come together to give each other a second chance and see each other as equals. Think about it, a year ago, people were not even willing to consider a second chance for Mariah Carey, expecting the network to give her the “boot.”  Yet, time has allowed us to reconsider Mariah. It has also allowed us to take a closer look at the quality of all people and how our diversity should bring us together more than separate us.

Unity is not instant or magic. Rather it is learned and achieved over time by experiencing real life - the division, the failure, and the needed changes and decisions that too often come through difficult times. Barry Morley shed some light on this in his book, “Beyond Consensus,” where he shares his belief that we can foster skills that help us to seek unity. Things like sharing our experiences with each other, listening attentively, encouraging one another, reflecting on spiritual matters, and utilizing silence throughout! These are the things, I believe, First Friends should be committed to in 2018.  

Let’s make “unity” more than a theme for 2018 - let’s make it a reality!  

Happy New Year,
Pastor Bob

Announcements, Reports, & Opportunities

Please note that Sunday School classes will resume this Sunday, January 7th. We hope to see you then!


Coats, Scarves, Hats, Gloves, Mittens ~ Please donate your unwanted warm clothing to meeting for Boner Center to give to those who need them. There is a box on the stage. Dan M took a large bag and items from the box to the Boner Center this week.


We are in need of volunteers next month for the Mid North Food Pantry! ~ Due to the holidays, several of the “regulars” will not be able to volunteer at the food pantry on Wednesday January 17.  If you are in town and available during any of these dates, please consider volunteering. Let the office know if you are interested or have questions. Thank you for your assistance!


Oak Leaf Book Group 2018 ~ Be sure to mark your calendars for 2018 Oak Leaf Meeting for Reading dates:

January 30 ~ Gilead by Marilynne Robinson

February 27 ~ The Warmth of Other Suns by Isabel Wilkerson

March 27 ~ Turtles All the Way Down by John Green

April 24 ~ A Full Life: Reflections at Ninety by Jimmy Carter

May 29 ~ Truevine by Beth Macy

June 26 ~ In the Garden of Beasts by Erik Larson

July 31 ~ Testimony by Scott Turow

August 28 ~ American Heart by Laura Moriarty

September 25 ~ Sourdough by Robin Sloan

October 30 ~ The Hour of Land by Terry Tempest Williams

November 27 ~ The Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood

The group meets at 7pm in the Parlor. All are invited!


A Good Month for Reading First Friends Library Books

In the cold short days and long nights of January take time to read some of the fine books in our library. Here are more of the newly purchased selections from the library committee. As always, you are invited to borrow books from our library.


Drawn by the Light

Autobiographical Reflections of Arthur O. Roberts

Quoting from the book jacket, " Arthur Roberts—poet, pastor, philosopher, professor, and sometimes prophet—uses words to open us to the scent of sagebrush, the sea's salt spray, the movements of the heart.

As Roberts discloses God at work in his life, her sheds light on all our lives."


With a Tender hand: A resource book for eldership and oversight

Zelie Gross

Here are answers to the question of how Spirit can thrive in our meeting, how to help people feel included and cared for, and how outward ministry may be nourished. The author taught at Woodbrooke Quaker Study Center. She draws on the experience of many Quaker meetings in Great Britain.

This is a very interesting, useful book, in the opinion of your commentator.


Early Quaker Encounters With the Bible

T. Vail Palmer, Jr.

You couldn't find anyone more qualified to reconcile Bible passages that say women ought to be silent in church, that advocate the destruction of entire groups of people, suggest that we require the submission of slaves and to show the way Quakers quoted and were inspired by the Bible to take pioneering positions of war, justice, women's ministry, for example. For them the heart of the Bible is in personal narratives.

Palmer's has been recorded as a pastor in FUM, FGC and Evangelical Friends Church International.


IFCL news ~ As today starts the 2018 General Assembly, IFCL is working on a core issue that they’ve focused on over the last several years- Redistricting Reform. Sen. John Ruckelshaus (District 30-R) has filed his final version of the bill (SB159) and we expect it to be sent to the Senate Elections Committee for a possible hearing. (The final version of the bill can be found here: It is also never too early to write, call or email your lawmakers asking for their support for Redistricting Reform. Please ask them to commit to making passage of SB159 a legislative priority of theirs this session. Find Your Legislator here: Thank you for your support!