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As Way Opens

Last week was an intense week at First Friends.  We learned of the death of several dear members of our Meeting and experienced being Shipwrecked and rescued by Jesus during our Vacation Bible School program each evening.  In the midst of busyness and emotions, I saw this person on the corner of Kessler and Keystone on my way to Meeting one morning.  It appeared that he built a special bike and while I sat at the light, he was clearly listening to music that moved him, and he danced more on that bike than most will dance on any dance floor.  I looked over at the other cars stopped for the light and we were all smiling and enjoying his expression of joy.

It made me think about the joy our kids expressed each evening at VBS.  Their ability to sing, dance, participate in all kinds of activities and to not care about what is proper, what others think, or how to protect a perceived identity broke my heart open in joy.  This is why I see God so often in our kids.  It seems like as we age and mature we close our hearts, our vulnerability, our expressions of bliss and become self-conscious and worried about our status and standing in the world.  I watched this man on the bike for 60 seconds and seeing him embrace a musical and physical spirit brought me to a place of seeing God in his expressions.  We need to open ourselves up to being silly, laughing, dancing, singing and stepping outside of our comfort zone.  We are co-creators with God and we are individual expressions of Christ. The Sufi mystic Rumi says:

The wick with its knotted neck broken

tells you the same. A candle as it diminishes explains,

Gathering more and more is not the way,

Burn, become light and heat and help.  Melt.

May we melt some of our candle this week in joyful expression of God.


Joys & Concerns


What a great night learning about seeing, interpreting, and engaging the Divine through the intersection of art and spirituality with Pastor Bob Henry and our friends from the Shalom Zone churches.


Announcements, Reports, & Opportunities

Community Soup Notice ~ Please note, we will not have Community Soup on August 3rd due to Ann P’s memorial service.


Need a Boy Scout Shirt? The Steve & Ann R. have an almost new Adult size Large Class A Boy Scout shirt that they no longer need. If there is a Scout or Scouter in the Meeting that would like to have this shirt, they would like to give it away at no cost. They're normally about $40, so this could be helpful to someone on a budget! If you are interested in the shirt, please contact the office.


WYM and FUM 2018 Summer Mission Projects ~ Western Yearly Meeting and Friends United Meeting have announced their mission projects for 2018.

The FUM project is “Rebuilding a Friendly Place.”  In the early 1900s, a school was started in the Cuban town of Puerto Padre by Quakers from Wilmington Yearly Meeting.  In 1961, all private schools in Cuba were nationalized.  The school subsequently fell into ruin.  In 2014, the Cuban government agreed to return control of the school to Cuba Yearly Meeting.  Although it’s in disrepair, it can be refurbished. For more information, visit http://www.friendsunitedmeeting.org/assets/2018-smp-cuba_4pg.pdf


The WYM project is to assist Tanzania Yearly Meeting continue to grow and develop as a yearly meeting.  In 2009, the yearly meeting had only seven Quaker meetings in Tanzania, all in the Mara region along the Kenyan border.  Today, Tanzania Yearly Meeting covers eight regions and includes 26 meetings...and continues to grow.  Monies will be used to train Kenyans interested in mission work in Tanzania, scholarships for one year for 4 students in a pastoral ministry program at Friends Theological College, Kenyan mission outreach in Tanzania, and regional workshops in Tanzania in discipleship and Quakerism.  These are the major Quaker missionary projects for 2018. For more information, visit the WYM website at https://www.westernyearlymeeting.org/missionsandprojects/   

Please prayerfully consider how you are able to help our fellow Quakers who are trying to establish and reestablish themselves in Tanzania and Cuba.  Checks can be made payable to First Friends with a notation for the WYM and/or FUM 2018 projects.  Additional information about these projects is under the Witness & Service section of the bulletin board.


Birds of the Meditational Woods:

Red-eyed Vireo - “Preacher Bird”


This little fellow is common in Indiana forests, and although a singing male visited our woods several times in the spring and early summer, it decided to nest in the neighborhood to the east. As the pair needed to feed the nestlings, red-eyed vireos came back here from time-to-time looking for insects and spiders on the bark of the trees of the Meditational Woods.

Yes, this vireo does have a red iris, which can be seen from close up and in good light. The bird gets its nickname “preacher bird” from its song, which consists of phrases of two and three syllables. It sounds like, “Don’t sin, be good, go to church, Sundays. Don’t sin, be good, do good deeds, every day. (and so on)” The males will sing all day long, so that, on a hot summer afternoon, when all other birds are silent and napping, one can hear the red-eyed vireo still “preaching” from the shade of the canopy of the big sugar maple.  I hesitate to use the terms “monotonous” or “seemingly never-ending” as some bird guide books do. In fact, this is in no way intended to be a criticism of the fine messages one hears at First Friends on a First-Day morning.

Perhaps because of the possible unintended slight, some bird guides now use other descriptions for the red-eyed vireo song. To me, however, it will always be the “preacher bird.”

-Brad J


Join us this summer on August 7th for the Dave Ramsey Financial Peace University class! Want to learn how to better handle your money, invest and plan for the future, and dump debt? This class is an amazing tool and can meet anyone in any walk of life. Sam R, facilitator, says: "I took this class twice and it has helped me be in charge and organized with my money. It has also helped me pay off $30,000 in student loans and avoid debt forever! Click on the link to sign up https://www.financialpeace.com/classes/1065256/registration.  The 9-week class will meet every week at HoiTea ToiTea in Broad Ripple. The class costs $100 and is worth every penny! Also there is no requirement that you get a beverage or food item at the venue. Disclaimer: My sister and I host this class completely voluntarily. We do not make any money doing this. We share our time and stories because we are so passionate about this stuff!" If you have any questions please reach out to the office.


Rise Up Singalong! Enjoy an evening of fun and songs old and new. Experience the retro delight of making music together. This month’s singalong will be held on Friday, August 10th instead of the usual third Friday. We hope you will join us at 7:00pm in the parlor. Those who have Rise Up Singing and Rise Again songbooks, please bring them. We are planning a song list ahead of time and will have enlarged copies of the selections for those who lack books. Those who want to purchase books may get them directly from riseupandsing.org. Or, if you must, through Amazon. You may save a few dollars from Amazon, but you support the authors more by going directly. Learn more about the books on the website. Contact the office if you have questions.


Indy Winds Flute Choir Concert ~ All are invited to an upcoming flute choir concert involving two First Friends members. Both Carl B and Lynda S are participating in the Indy Winds Flute Choir. They have three concerts per year, and their next one is Sunday, August 12th at 3:00 at Roberts Park United Methodist Church downtown. There are 20-25 musicians including flutes, piccolos, alto flutes, bass flutes, and sometimes even a contrabass flute.  This concert will feature mostly movie music. For more information, please visit https://www.facebook.com/IndyWindsFluteChoir/


Join ESR for 2018 Leadership Conference ~ Earlham School of Religion will host their annual Leadership Conference August 17-19, 2018, Playing with Fire: The Experience of Ministry as an Entrepreneur. How does one move from leading toward action? How does the Divine participate in the process? Can entrepreneurship and ministry be yoked without losing the integrity of either? This year’s conference features eight entrepreneurial ministers who have lived with these questions and more as they completed ESR’s Entrepreneurial Ministry Certificate Program. Head over to the ESR website for more information and to register online at http://esr.earlham.edu/news-events/events/leaders18. We hope you can join us!


Ann P and the Community Garden’s Hope Plot

The loss of our beloved Ann P is felt by all of us, including the gardeners. The Hope Plot, #3, began as an inspiration for and in honor of Ann.

Ann was an avid gardener. She participated in the Community Garden. She loved growing fruits, vegetables, herbs and colorful flowers. Her dedicated and joyful spirit nurtured her garden’s growth. It is said that plants grow better when a person speaks to them. Like people, plants respond to attention. Like people, plants can wilt or thrive depending on their environment, the weather and numerous variables.

Ann worked gently and lovingly on her patch of earth. She was faithful in her care and then waited expectantly. She was pleased when her efforts were rewarded with strong, healthy plants. Tending them was exciting and healing to her.

Seeing Ann gardening happily was inspiring. However, growing plants was not the end game for Ann. She shared her plants with others. She also took them home. She extended an open invitation to pick them. When she could no longer work in the garden she passed on her space to others. Her generosity was not a surprise. Neither was her sadness at having to let go of something she loved. We were witnesses to her bravery and kindness and the many ways she encouraged others, despite her own painful losses.

Many plants die after harvest. Some, like chives, return in the spring (Some of the chives in the Community Garden are part of what Ann started in her plot). Others begin anew from seeds left behind. Some come up on their own as volunteers. Others need a helping hand to collect and sow their seeds when the conditions are right. Most need pollinators. People, like plants, have relationships and life cycles.

Ann’s work on her garden showcased persistence, commitment and endurance. She gave her energy to the earth and that lowly dirt reared up with life as a blessing to Ann. In this process Ann herself embodied hope. She became a living presence of hope through her example. We hoped with her and learned from her. She was a gift living among us.

The Hope Plot was started when Gardener Ann could no longer tend her own plot. It was started as a tribute and ray of hope for Ann. Its location may change from year to year, but the Hope Plot will remain. Dan selected a simple piece of limestone and carved “hope” on it. He did a beautiful job. It is a permanent sign for the Hope Plot. If we move the space we can move the stone.

You are invited to work on the Hope Plot, to view it and to take away some of its produce and beauty with your eyes or hands.

Friend Ann, we are sad to let you go, but your legacy of grace and love lives on in our hearts. Hope springs eternal in the simple Hope Plot as it embraces the continuity of life and celebrates your memory and the lives of our loved ones—past, present and future. Thank you, Ann, for channeling God’s love to us. We caught it!



Giving Voices to Ghosts - Quakerspeisung Quaker Relief in Germany Post WWI and II

New Collection Page with Translations and Background from Nichole M

This Project--Giving Voices to Ghosts--has been over 13 years in the making.  Many hands helped shape the collection to this point, and it is my hope many more will help ensure it inspires and intrigues teachers, students and scholars for years to come.  I was presented these materials around 2005 with the hope that, as a German teacher, I would be able to do something with them. What I found was an astounding collection of letters, telegrams and artwork, all jumbled in an artist’s portfolio.  

This spanned from post WWI through the end of WWII. These materials were documentation of aid given throughout Europe by the American Friends Service Committee, a Quaker relief organization. In 2000, the traveling exhibit: Quiet Helpers - Quaker Service in Post War Germany - an exhibit from the German Historical Museum in Berlin, opened in the United States at the First Friends Meeting House in Indianapolis.  The Exhibit had been traveling throughout major German cities for three years. The German Consul attended as well as other representatives. The materials here in this collection were left to First Friends Meeting by this group.

Stan Banker, First Friends Pastor at the time, contacted the American Friends Service Committee to see about returning the artifacts to them. It is my understanding that he was told that First Friends should keep them.  There are 62 different artifacts in the collection. Most of the children’s artwork was bound together in string. In order to be able to fully show and study the children’s work, they were separated.

Click to read more about this project: https://goo.gl/SDUxZ3 

Click to go to the main page to look through the different artifacts and translations: https://goo.gl/mkkdza  


First Friends is Going to the Ballpark! Please join us for a family outing to the Indianapolis Indians game on Sunday August 26th.  Game time is 1:30. Tickets will be provided by the Meeting and kids 14 and under will get a free hot dog, chips and bottle of water.  Please let the office  know if you will be able to attend.

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