As Way Opens
Last year, our fall focus was on slowing down. If you remember, we explored how to cultivate community in the patient way of Jesus as described in the book, Slow Church. Over the entire year, not only did we teach and learn about what a slow movement could look like for First Friends, we began to implement it into almost every area of ministry. Whether it was offering hospitality around the tables in our homes, getting to know our surrounding community and its history, sensing gratitude for our many assets, or simply slowing the pace of life to embrace the rhythms of sabbath, in each we found an intentionality and presence in our coming together. Also, we spent time introducing ourselves to new attenders and learning more about those who have been around for a while. Through it all, I believe First Friends found itself becoming a faithful presence in Indianapolis. Taking the time to slow down helped us learn a lot about who we are and what we value. Yet, just because we know doesn’t mean that we keep this to ourselves.
I often find myself surrounded at conferences or Quaker gatherings with people whose attitude exude that Quakerism is dead or at least on life support. That is not what I see at First Friends. On numerous occasions I have been approached and asked why I am so passionate about Quakerism and its relevance today. Most of the time, people who ask those probing questions are not expecting my response. I am energized by all the possibilities that Quakerism offers our world. I believe too many Quakers and Christians today have pushed “pause” or “cruise control” on their faith and practice and stopped seeking a better way to live and grow. And this is why I believe it’s time to get moving!
This Sunday I am introducing our fall sermon series, where we will explore what a moving, breathing, and life-giving Quakerism can (and should) look like today. To do this, I will be asking you to be open and join me in exploring, questioning, and possibly making some needed changes. As we approach the end of November, my hope is that we will be discovering a better way to be Quaker, today!
Want to continue the conversation? During this sermon series, we are going to offer a place for further discussion, question, and dialogue after Meeting for Worship. Join those interested in the Seeking Friends room down the hall after the service, where the queries from Meeting for Worship will be provided. (Normally we will meet in the Parlor, but as this is a business meeting day, we will instead hold it instead in Seeking Friends.)
Joys & Concerns
Mid-North Food Pantry ~ It was a record-breaking number of folks who were helped at the Mid North Food Pantry last Wednesday! We served 122 families!!! While we were kept very busy, we had a great crew from First Friends: David B, Ray G, Bill F, Dan H, Mara S, Christie M, Beth F, Linda and Rik L, Tom F, Kathy R, and Carol and Jim D. We needed all of our volunteers to allow things to move fairly smoothly. Thanks to all who help support the food pantry.
In this brand new QuakerSpeak video, our own Eric B speaks candidly about the ethos of First Friends that drew him from being an Evangelical to being a Quaker. His words speak honestly to who we are and why what we are doing is so important in our world, today. Watch the video at https://quakerspeak.com/how-i-came-to-quakers-from-evangelical-christianity/. Thanks, Eric, for your words.
Congratulations to Damian and Taha! Our own Damian was married yesterday, September 10th to Taha. Congratulations to the happy couple!!
Announcements, Reports, & Opportunities
Sunday Morning Unprogrammed Worship ~ As the summer winds down and we return to Sunday School, please be mindful that unprogrammed worship goes on in the Parlor each Sunday morning from 9-10am. As you greet others before the service, please remember to keep noise to a minimum in the hallways. You are more than welcome to greet one another in the foyer, meeting room or Fellowship Hall. Thank you for being respectful!
Rise Up Sing Along! ~ Join us for a night of singing and music! Last month we had a veritable jamboree with guitar, cello and banjo playing! Join the Sing Alongers in the Parlor on the second Friday, September 13 at 7:00pm for another evening of free fun. (Note the date change, due to the women’s retreat.) Please join us!
Shalom Zone invites you to a showing of the film, Paris To Pittsburgh. This eco film shines a light on the many forgotten communities and people who have been affected by climate change in our country, as well as solutions for how we can fight back and reduce our carbon footprint. Join us this Friday, September 13 at 7:00pm at Allisonville Christian Church – 7701 Allisonville Rd, Indianapolis. Watch the trailer: Paris to Pittsburgh. Discussion will follow the film.
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! All registrations must be in by TOMORROW, September 12! 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 http://bit.ly/FFWomensRetreat. Scholarships are available—please contact the office at email@example.com to inquire about scholarships.
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 from 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.
Did you miss the directory photo shoots? It’s not too late to get in the directory! If you’d like to submit your own photo, simply send a copy of the photo file to the office at firstname.lastname@example.org. If the image can fit into an email, go ahead and email it directly. Of course, the higher resolution the better it will print in the book, so if the file’s too large to email, you can use a service to share the file, such Dropbox, iCloud, Google Drive, or OneDrive, or bring the photo physically into the office on a CD or flash drive. If you need assistance sending your photo, please contact the office at email@example.com or 317-255-2485. All photos must be submitted no later than Wednesday, September 18th. We hope you will be a part of our directory!
Men’s Threshing Together ~ If you are interested in gathering with other men who mull over current issues or topics, where all points of view are heard, no decisions are made, and all in a non-threatening atmosphere over a meal, then Threshing Together is for you! Join us for our next meeting on Thursday, September 19 at 7:00pm. See locations here: http://bit.ly/ThreshingFall2019.
The Festival of Faiths is coming again! It will be held September 22, 1:00pm to 5:00pm. Christians, Jews, Muslims, Buddhists, Hindus and more. All together celebrating religious diversity and freedom. If you’d like to come sit in the Quaker booth for a period of time, please contact the office at firstname.lastname@example.org.
SPICES: A Series on Quaker Testimonies as Practiced in Our Community Garden
4. Community ~ In today’s world community really matters. Isolation is not healthy for humans. Shared interests connect us. Community stabilizes and strengthens us when we experience tolerance and respect. We learn about our commonality and our differences when we work and play together. We learn about adaptability and flexibility—sometimes grudgingly. Individuals’ gifts can blossom in a nourishing environment and strength in numbers can lift up everyone.
Sometimes community gardeners work together on a project like building raised beds or rototilling. Other times they work alone or side by side.
There is also diversity. Individuals may prefer growing specific types of crops like tomatoes or sunflowers. Gardeners may want to plant using specialized methods. Someone may wish to plant a Native American style “Three Sisters” plot of squash, corn and beans; another person may want to create an arbor overhead for vines to grow up while plants needing a cooler temperature can bask in the shade below.
By definition, there is some conformity in a community garden. There are certain guidelines to make the work easier for all. Examples might include construction materials and plot sizes for raised beds. Paths may need to be a certain width so mowers can pass.
It is a joint venture or common outcome that draws a community together. Crops. Food. Food pantry offerings. Fresh air. Sunshine. Exercise. Lowering stress. Learning or teaching. Ecological responsibility. Common values.
Experiencing fellowship and a sense of belonging can be an anchor in an unstable world of shifting sands. Sharing is necessary for life to persist. Knowing that interdependence is key to thriving on our fast-paced planet is a lesson from the garden—Mother Nature Herself. What a precious, loving Mother! Let’s work to preserve Her bounty and learn Her lessons as a matter of self-interest and self-preservation.
Our little spaceship Earth is a community of one. The astronauts say it is beautiful, fragile and small—worth saving. That takes all of our best efforts. Just like the effort of that one “smallest of all” Who, JoJo, in Whoville (from Horton Hears a Who by Dr. Suess) who had to add his one last voice to everyone else’s so the population of Whoville, living on a speck of dust, could be heard by animals who didn’t believe persons could be living on a speck of dust. They thought Horton the elephant couldn’t be telling the truth.
“We are here,” the Whoville population screamed as they made all the noise they could, banging and playing instruments. Finally JoJo joined in.
“Yopp!” he shouted as loud as he could so that they were finally heard and saved from annihilation. It was a last ditch (successful) community effort.
Experiment with Light! Friends, all are invited as we start our own program. This is a continuation of the lovely meditation experiment presented by Jaime M in June.
We will be gathering at the Meeting House on the 3rd Tuesday of every month, starting October 15, at 7:00 pm for 90 minutes. To register, please contact the office at 317-255-2485 or email@example.com. Please register by October 8th. If you have any questions, please contact the office. They'll send your questions to one of the facilitators. Facilitators: Jill F, Ed M, Mary Ellen L and Sam R.
For those who expressed interest before, it would be great if you would confirm your interest with the office. That will help us properly set up the room, prepare materials, and so forth.
It's an amazing opportunity to grow both individually and as a community. Hope you join us
This Week’s Queries
How are you a peacemaker in your communities?
Are there people in your life that you need to embrace shalom?
Do we harbor violence in our hearts that prevents the wholeness and completeness of shalom?