As Way Opens

I spent the last 2 weeks in Richmond IN attending an intensive class on the Gospel of Peace offered through the Earlham School of Religion and the Bethany Seminary.  This is part of my journey towards my master’s in divinity.  This class was unusual as we “zoomed in” with students from Nigeria and a professor at the Theological College of Northern Nigeria. We spent 4 hours a day studying and reflecting on scripture with the complicated and nuanced focus of peace, violence and war in the Bible. 

These two weeks were a rich dialogue in cultural differences between the United States and Nigeria, different theological perspectives and real-life experiences shared.  When we in the United States talk about Peace, God’s Shalom and the idea of loving our enemies, we often speak from a place of security and bounty.  It is much easier to speak of peace when we do not experience the potential of violence daily and personally.  The experiences shared by our brothers and sisters in Nigeria were so different - many of them have direct experience of the violence of Boko Haram, the militant Islamic group that has terrorized Nigeria for 18 years.  Our Nigerian friends talked about turning each cheek towards the enemy and having no cheeks left as they have been destroyed.

But every single Nigerian kept coming back to the hope and promise of the Gospel of Peace or Shalom.  The word Shalom is much more than the absence of war.  Shalom means to be whole and complete and that all begins in our hearts.  The violence in our world starts with the violence in our own hearts and the good news of the way of Jesus is all about a heart change.  As difficult as it is to love our enemies and pray for them, this is the way for our own shalom.  Every single one of our Nigeria friends testified to this principle and the way to live. The work of peacemaking is difficult, slow, heart breaking and challenging but it is the key to our wholeness. 


Joys & Concerns

Congratulations to the H Family! Kim and Becki’s H’s son, Aaron, & Kristin W welcomed  Tobias James Heusel into the world on August 19th. He was born at 11:23 am, 19.5 inches long, 6 lb 3 oz. We welcome “Toby” and wish happiness on him, Aaron, and Kristin!

Announcements, Reports, & Opportunities

Village of Merici Invites You: Wednesday Jabbers ~ Sister Noella Poinsette, newly appointed Director of Justice and Peace for the Oldenburg Franciscan Sisters, will discuss her experience with Catholic Charities at the border in Loredo, Texas.  Several Oldenburg Franciscans experienced firsthand the assistance that Catholic Charities provides to those migrants crossing the border into the United States. We are inviting everyone to attend Sister Noella's timely presentation which will begin in the Multi-Purpose Room at Merici Village Apartments today, August 21, 5-6pm. The address is 5707 Lawton Loop E Dr, 46216. For more information or for contact info please visit

A Fair Shot for All Children ~ All are invited to A Fair Shot for All Children: Feeding Children  Creates Productive Citizens. This program was created to generate an urgency to address child hunger in Indiana,  to engage more Hoosiers in creating solutions to end child hunger, and to encourage Senator Young to tackle child hunger as a key aspect of his agenda. Did you know:

  • 1 in 6 Hoosier children are food insecure

  • Indiana ranks 42nd in infant mortality

  • Every public university in Indiana has a food pantry for students

The event will be held tomorrow, Thursday, August 22, 4:15-5:45pm at Noblesville First United Methodist Church, 2051 Monument St, Noblesville, IN 46060. Speakers include experts in pediatrics & nutrition, public educators addressing hunger in our school systems, and Senator Todd Young himself. We are trying to have over 300 folks show up to demonstrate the importance of food insecurity to Senator Young.  We hope that this event will raise awareness and that Senator Young will be motivated to encourage Federal government support for food assistance to those in need.  Will you join us?

Changing Footprints Needs Your Help! ~ Carol D and Witness & Service invite you to a “Changing Footprints and shoe sorting experience” this Sunday, August 25, from 1 – 3 pm.  Changing Footprints, located at 9302 N. Meridian St., is an all-volunteer organization that collects and re-distributes used shoes to many organizations around Indianapolis and around the world.  After Meeting for Worship, grab a bite to eat and then join us in this “sole-saving” experience.  Folks of all ages can help.

Oak Leaf: Meeting for Reading is this coming Tuesday night!  Nancy S will be leading Thank You for Being Late by Thomas L Friedman on the 27th of August at 7 pm in the Parlor.  Click link for the New York Times Review: All are welcome!   

SPICES: A Series on Quaker Testimonies as Practiced in Our Community Garden


1. Simplicity ~ It seems unfathomable that a seed as small as a speck of dust can produce a radish or a mustard plant. The unflinching miracle is that it can, and it does. A simple tiny seed becomes  part of the dinner on your table. A plant grown from a seed is also dinner for insects, birds, animals—the whole food chain. Living in harmony with nature is one way to live simply and to be in tune with the changing seasons. 

“[God’s Kingdom] is like a mustard seed—smaller than any seed on earth,31 yet, when planted, it springs up and grows up to be larger than any plant, producing such large branches that the birds of the air can nest under its shelter. 32” Mark 4:31, 32

The Underneath it All Grand Underwear Donation Blitz ~ We request donations of new underwear for school children from kindergarten up through high school. If it is not convenient for you to shop, you can leave a check made out to First Friends Meeting with a note that it is for Underneath it All. There is a box in Fellowship Hall for your donations. The underwear we donate goes to the John H. Boner Center where social workers pass it out when families come for assistance. We have done this for many years but have never tried to compress it into such a short time. Let’s try to accomplish this by September. Questions? Ask Linda L. Thank you for your generosity!

SUNDAY FUNDAY IS COMING SEPTEMBER 1st!  Earlier this year, our Youth Affirmation Students brought the idea of having our first-ever Sunday Funday to the business meeting. To their excitement, it was well-received and approved.  Sunday Funday is an opportunity for everyone at First Friends to come together and worship through PLAY!  Be sure to bring the kids and the swimsuits, because there will be a bouncy house and a giant slip n’ slide! For those interested, Dan M is preparing a net for a rousing game of volleyball.  In the fellowship hall we will provide board games and puzzles for those wanting to stay out of the sun (feel free to bring your own games as well)!  As most Labor Day Weekends, we will gather at our normal Meeting for Worship time (10:15am) in the meditational woods – starting with some singing, waiting worship, and hearing from our Affirmation Youth about their trip to Philadelphia. As a last hurrah to summer, we will have a PITCH-IN picnic so plan to bring a dish for sharing! (A-L: Salads and sides; M-Z: Desserts). We will provide the main dish, BBQ! Mark your calendar and plan to come and enjoy worshipping through PLAY!


Living Well, Dying Well ~ All are invited to a free event hosted by Epworth United Methodist Church. “Living Well, Dying Well, Once You are Eligible for Medicare” is a free program that helps people plan for matters such as Medicare, wills, funerals, assisted living, and more. It is being held on Saturday, September 7 from 9:00am-noon. Throughout the day there will be different sessions on a variety of topics led by guest speakers and experts. Join us that day at Epworth United Methodist Church, at the corner of 65th St and Allisonville Road, Indianapolis. For more information see the flyer at

Registration Open! First Friends Women’s Retreat ~ All women are invited to join us for our Women’s Retreat on September 20th - 22nd 2019. There are still spots available! The retreat will be held at the Benedict Inn Retreat and Conference Center in Beech Grove. Come join the retreat, full of fellowship, reflection and interaction with each other. For more information and to register, please visit Scholarships are available—please contact to inquire about scholarships.

Sunday School Kickoff – Save the Date! ~ All are encouraged to join us for our Sunday School kickoff which will be Sunday, September 8! Starting at 8:30, we will have coffee and snacks to help you start your morning. Classes & choir practice all begin at 9am. We hope you will join us!


Say "Cheese!" Did you know that First Friends publishes a pictorial directory every 4 years? This is a great way to get to know the names and faces of the members and attenders of our Meeting. It's also a great opportunity for a family portrait. Photographers will be at First Friends September 11-14 for the photoshoots. Schedule your photoshoot now! The photography session is free and you will have a fresh new photo for you and your family for the directory! Along with a free copy of the directory, each family will receive a complementary 8x10” printed photo. To book your photoshoot, please visit If you have any questions, please contact the office at

Helping the Food Pantry Go Green ~ As part of the Women’s Retreat in September we are undertaking the project of making reusable grocery bags for the pantry. They’re made out of tank tops, gathered at the bottom.

To that end we are collecting tank tops. They must be regular tank tops, not racer-back, spaghetti strapped, or have gigantic armholes. There will be a box by the Women’s Retreat sign up table to collect donations. Thank you, in advance, for your donations.


Meditational Woods Bird of the Month: Gray Catbird
Watching the Children Grow Up


From mid-May to mid-August, the Meditational Woods is filled with the sounds of youngsters, quite like summertime in the human world. In the latter, the month of August means the start of school, and for many children, a new school experience: the first day of kindergarten, middle school, high school, or university. So too, there are steps in the life of the avian youngster: hatching, life in the nest, life outside the nest as a juvenile, and, finally, becoming an adult.

This summer, among the 15 or so species that nested on the meetinghouse property, two pairs of Gray Catbirds put on an interesting display, especially once the youngsters were out of the nest, but still being fed by the parents. This is a couple of weeks filled with danger, and the parents were quick to scold me about my presence. The one of the pair that nested in the courtyard called from a cherry tree or the gutter, and both parents of the pair that nested just inside the woods entrance warned me to move along the walk. I circled back and sat on the Zink/Wyne bench (my favorite) so I could blend into the background, and still watch the action. I am happy to report that as of today, at least two babies from each family has survived!!

With catbirds, the genders look alike, with a gray body, black cap, and a rusty undertail covert. The name comes from one of its calls, which sounds like a cat’s “Mew”. ~Brad J

This Week’s Queries

  • What might be revealed or driven out of your “temple," if you asked God to help you clean house, today?

  • Where has your temple become a “marketplace” of attachments, possessions and busyness (chaos)?