SB 613 ~ "Usury is Evil" by Mary B

At our IFCL meeting on Saturday April 6, 2019, we learned that SB 613 was having a hearing in the House Finance Committee.  This the bill that has given Gov. Holcomb “heartburn”, because it would allow out of state lenders to legally offer short term loans above the state’s previously defined loan sharking rate of 76%.  Some of the “products” could have interest rates of 167%.


 IFCL has been working with a coalition of churches and non-profit organizations that has given testimony to our legislators about the negative impact this kind of lending would have on our most economically vulnerable Hoosier citizens. Despite the strong testimony given, SB 613 kept moving through the Senate and had crossed over to the House.

Our coalition partners encouraged IFCL members to attend the hearing and be a presence during the committee hearing.  Our leaders were told that signs would be distributed to silently voice our concerns and that various media would be present.


On Sunday during unprogrammed worship, SB 613 was on my heart.  I thought about what a terrible burden these kind of loans would have on someone who is working a minimum wage job with an emergency spending need. How could they ever repay a loan with that kind of interest rate?  Into my mind came a thought: Usury is evil. Teachings of the early church forbade members to loan money at interest.  I didn’t want to carry a sign; I decided to get a T-shirt that reminded legislators, that usury is wrong and that there are better ways to help people through a crisis.


I consulted Pastor Bob about the wording I was planning to use and I tried to find a vendor who could print on a T-shirt.  No one could give me a one day turn around, so I bought a fabric transfer kit from Staples and put the following on my shirt, front and back: “USURY IS EVIL  Quakers against Payday Lending.” On Tuesday morning, our Quaker contingent traveled to the Statehouse and found the hearing chamber.  Most legislators were not in the room yet, and I felt moved to take a front row seat, where I stood silently as the legislators walked past me to take their seats.  An 11th hour amendment had been added to this very bad bill which legislators had received 45 minutes prior to the hearing. The bill sponsor tried to convince committee members that this was a needed product and that having a high interest rate was justified for serving high risk population and that this would help build credit. Despite some excellent questions asked by committee members, the bill and amendment was passed along party lines.


We felt depressed and defeated that such a bad bill could be approved.  However, several people loved the T-shirt that I was wearing.  They wanted pictures and the news media wanted interviews with me and other members of our group.  We felt that there might be hope and we went to meet with several House members to share our concerns about this bill and that Quakers were against it.   Later we heard that SB 613 was covered in the IndyStar, Channel 59, the Statehouse Files and Indiana Legislative Review.

Today we learned that SB 613 failed to move forward in the House.  The actions of many people helped defeat this terrible bill. A little inspiration during unprogrammed worship and being obedient to the vision certainly helped raise awareness before the public.


~Mary B


Giving Voices to Ghosts


Giving Voices to Ghosts

By Nichole Matthews

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.



Are You a Quaker?

You might be a Quaker and not even know it! Watch this video to find out. Or share the video with friends who may still be on the fence!

Thanks to QuakerSpeak for this video, and many other useful and informative Quaker videos!



Why you should save your letters

Pop Quiz: What do you routinely throw away that could help Quaker organizations assist people around the world? The answer: used stamps!

Right Sharing of World Resources (RSWR) is an organization founded in 1967 and based in Richmond, Indiana. It supports grassroots projects for economic development and offers educational materials for the study of the lives of the poor, the lives of the rich, and the spiritual meaning of both.

Over $70,000 has been raised for Right Sharing of World Resources through the donation of cancelled stamps.  So save stamps from any letters you receive, and donate them!

Here's a helpful page about this program:

Here’s how to do it: Stamps should be cut from envelopes with 1/8” to 1/4” of paper around the stamp. For foreign mail include the envelope as well. There are many dealers who collect foreign envelopes. Save the envelopes of domestic mail postmarked prior to 1946 too. Bring your stamps to the Meetinghouse, or send them to: Earl Walker/Quaker Missions West, 650 Harrison Ave., Claremont, CA 91711.



Lenten Week 7

We enter the last week of Lenten Nourishment.  We have looked at scripture, inspirational writing and different practices that can enhance our life in the Spirit.
Each day this week, mindfully take some time to reflect on those practices that you found most helpful.

Wednesday, March 23

“Lord, help me control my tongue. Help me be careful about what I say.” Psalm 141:3
Choosing our words carefully is one of the most important spiritual disciplines we can practice.  In this, we can choose to be loving and kind to others.

So pause, take a few breaths, before you reply in anger or in fear.  Breathe in God’s love and breathe out tension.  In those pauses, God’s grace can be experienced.

Thursday, March 24

“The divine will is the wholeness, the good and the true in all things. Like God, the universal Being, it is manifest in everything.” Jean-Pierre de Caussade

Take a few moments to become still.  Quiet your breath and feel the cool air enter your nostrils and the warm air flow gently out.  Contemplate the divine will being wholeness and goodness in all things. What is the divine will for you in this moment?

Friday, March 25

“And what precisely is “self surrender”? It involves the faith or trust that acts on conviction that nothing can separate us from the love of Christ.”  Michael Casey

On Good Friday, we experience the ultimate self sacrifice of Jesus.  He spoke out against the corruption of the religious community that was collaborating with an oppressive regime and called the Jewish nation back into a pure, simple relationship with God.  His message was simple, Love God first and love others with that same love.  Take some time to breathe in and think, Love God, and breathe out, Love others.

Saturday, March 26

“A branch will grow from the stump of a tree that was cut down.” Isaiah 11:1   

The coastal redwoods are immense trees.  Many of the seemingly endless forests were cut down for lumber or to clear the land. Where the mighty trees once stood, stumps are all that seems to remain. Often, little trees will sprout from the bases of these fallen giants.  So it was with Jesus and so it is with us.  Events may happen where it feels like we have lost everything, and yet, with time, new shoots of life will emerge.  In your quiet time today, quiet your breath.  Consider how life and new possibilities emerged after a difficult time in your life.

Sunday, March 27

“Praise the Lord! My whole being, praise the Lord…I will sing praises to my God as long as I live.”  Psalm 146:1-2

Lent is now completed.  May you feel nourished by some of the offerings of the past seven weeks.



Lenten Week 6

Lenten Nourishment:  Gratitude

I intended to present reflections on gratitude and thanksgiving; however, as I reflected on that I drifted to grace before meals, a lovely tradition of offering thanks. That led me to the Sermon on the Mount (Matt. 5: 3-10)

Wednesday:  Say, Thank you.

“If the only prayer you ever say in your entire life is ‘thank you,’ it will be enough.” Meister Eckhard

Some might say, that sets the bar way too low; that our goal is to pray constantly, to have an ongoing conversation with the Divine. I’d say, that on those days when all you can muster is “Thanks,” that will do.


Thursday: Mealtime grace

“Saying grace is an ancient and vital tradition the world over: to begin with it provides a space, a moment of stillness… to allow the mind to settle… then as we acknowledge the source of our nourishment, we are filled… gratitude.” Toinette Lippe, One Hundred Graces


 Grace at meals is the loveliest tradition, encouraging quiet to open myself to the Divine and acknowledging the nourishment from God.


Friday: A simple grace

 “Beloved Lord, we greatly thank you for the abundance that is ours.”One Hundred Graces

 It’s a simple, sweet and shows the essence of gratitude. 


 Saturday:  “My name is, ‘I am.’”

 “I was regretting the past and fearing the future. Suddenly God was speaking, “My name is ‘I am.’” I waited. God continued, “When you live I the past, with its mistakes and regrets, it is hard. I am not there. My name is not ‘I was.’ When you live in the future, with its problems and fears, it is hard. I am not there. My name is not ‘I will be.’ When you live in the moment, it is not hard. I am here. My name is ‘I am.’ One Hundred Graces

 It is a challenge to live in this moment to be present. But God is here in the moment.


Sunday:  St. Francis tells the way.

 Lord, make me an instrument of your peace, 
Where there is hatred, let me sow love, 
Where there is injury, pardon,
Where there is doubt, faith,
Where there is darkness, light, 
And where there is sadness, joy.

O Divine Master, grant that I may not
so much seek to be consoled as to console; 
to be understood as to understand: to be loved as to love.

For it is in giving that we receive
It is in pardoning, that we are pardoned, 
and it is in dying that we are born to eternal life.

 This short pray seems to me the outline of how to be a good Christian (or a good Jew, a good Muslim, a good Hindu, maybe even a good pagan). Make me an instrument of compassion in all that I do.


 Monday:  Humility allows space for God

 “Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.” 

 “Poor in spirit,” beggars for the spirit… we are humble. I understand that all my talents and gifts come from God. Thank you, my sweet Lord.


 Tuesday:  My favorite Beatitude

 “Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called the children of God.”

 This is why I am drawn to the Friends Meeting. Peace starts with me. First I must settle any differences within myself. Make peace with my evil twin who can cause such havoc. Ah, but the reward! To be a child of God, to be brother or sister to Christ.



Lenten Week 5

Week Five: Nourishing Ourselves by Giving to Others


Lenten Nurturing: This week is focused on nourishing ourselves by giving cheerfully to others.   Try to blog your thoughts and activities this week here at the meeting’s website.    2 Corinthians 9:7   “Every man according as he purposes in his heart, so let him give; not grudgingly, or of necessity: for God loves a cheerful giver.”  


Wednesday:   Giving Anonymously to Others  

I would love to start a activity with our family this coming Christmas in preparing the manger for baby Jesus during Christmas season: Fill a basket with straw and place it near your nativity set. When family members do something special (anonymously) —things like being kind, sacrificial, generous, and patient—they can leave a piece of straw in the manger. Before the Christmas story is read on Christmas morning, parents can lay the figure of baby Jesus on top of the straw bed that the family has built for Him.  Think of other ways such as this for you or your family to “metaphorically” build the manger throughout the year anonymously.   Blog in “Thoughts from Friends”  what works for you or what has worked for you in the past. Matthew 6:1-4  “Take heed that you do not your alms before men, to be seen of them: otherwise you have no reward of your Father which is in heaven.”

Thursday:   Giving Thanks to Others

Think of some different ways you can show thanks to others like:   Tell them you’re there if they have anything they want to talk about—and let them know they have your full attention.  Give them something of yours that you think they would enjoy, and let them know why you want them to have it.  Invite them to do something you know they’ve always wanted to do.  I challenge you to make every effort to call that person that comes into your heart, no matter how long it’s been since they’ve heard from you.  In your own way, tell them how grateful you are in how they have influenced your life.   Consider blogging in “Thoughts from Friends” how showing thanks makes you feel.  

Friday:  Giving Prayer to Others

“The modern Quaker writer Arthur O. Roberts succinctly outlines the characteristics of silence. Roberts shows silence not as formal worship but as private reflection that nurtures the individual in the recognition of solitude. In his Devotions on Silence, Roberts writes that silence

  1. fosters awe before the Almighty;

  2. indicates submission to God;

  3. provides a posture for worship;

  4. provides freedom from noise and distraction;

  5. condition for tranquility;

  6. sets the stage for prayer;

  7. signifies respect for others;

  8. renews wonder at the world;

  9. provides holy space;

10. prepares for effective social witness.”


Set the stage for prayer.  During silent worship, I like to open my eyes and look at each person in the room, holding each one in God’s love and light, allow that prayer to travel outside the meeting from home to home, county to county, state to state, country to country…God’s love is like wifi, it travels quickly through prayer across the airwaves.  

Saturday:  Giving Love to Others

I was walking up the Monon trailwhen I realized I was isolated with no body around.  I remember feeling very uncomfortable because there were three young men walking the opposite direction.  As they approached me, I began to feel uneasy and panicky, unsure of whether they were troublesome thugs.  I felt very vulnerable.  It came to me in that moment that I needed to look into their eye and see that of God.  As my eyes looked toward them, two never looked up, but the young man in the middle caught my gaze and smiled the biggest, sweetest smile.  I smiled back!  That was God’s greeting to me.  Sometimes it’s easier to love the ones we love, and it is much more challenging to send love out to strangers passing on the road.  I choose love.  Giving love to others is like giving God to others.  

Sunday:  Giving Help to Others

A Friend recently posted, “The strongest people make time to help others, even if they are struggling with their own problems.”  I find sometimes when I am struggling the most, it gives me great joy deep in my heart to reach out and give help to others.  Invite a Friend to lunch this week and make this the topic of discussion.  Blog it. 

Monday:  Giving to your Pastor

“Over 100 years ago as the face of Christianity in the United States was undergoing significant changes, many Friends accepted pastoral ministry as one means of leadership within the local congregation. With that move, a particular type of transformation took root within pastoral meetings. A single individual became responsible for a set of ministerial responsibilities. Over time, excellent preaching, home visitation, teaching abilities, counseling skills, community involvement, and administrative leadership within the congregation have become just a few of the lofty, yet standard, expectations that meetings and churches place upon their pastors.”  (ESR webpage) Our pastor has huge responsibilities placed on her daily.  Each of us have our own methods of giving.    ‘…And so, my fellow Friends - ask not what your pastor can do for you, ask what you can do for your pastor.'

Tuesday:  Giving Encouragement to Others

Roman’s 12:8  “if it is to encourage, then give encouragement; if it is giving, then give generously; if it is to lead,do it diligently; if it is to show mercy, do it cheerfully.”   Ways to encourage:   Go to lunch or dinner together.  Offer praise publicly.  Offer to do a task.  Spend time listening.  Askhow you can help them.  Offer to babysit their children so they can get away for a while.  Call them just to let them know you were thinking of them.  Smile as you pass people. You never know who needs to see a kind face to give them hope.  Write a letter of commendation to their boss.  Share a compliment.  Give an uplifting card.  Give a motivational book.  Give a gift card to a restaurant.  Tell them you will pray for them.  Tell them that you appreciate them.  Blog how you encouraged someone today.  



Lent Week Four

Week Four: Nourishing Ourselves


Lenten Nurturing: This week is focused on expectant waiting for God as we practice silence in our daily living in distinct ways that nourish our bodies, minds and souls. Our fourth week of lenten nourishment begins with loving ourselves, warts and all!  Know that each of us are lovely: Daniel 12:3, “Those who are wise will shine like the brightness of the heavens, and those who lead many to righteousness, like the stars for ever and ever.”


Wednesday:  How do we nourish ourselves in our personal silence?  

Identify at least one aspect a day in our life this week that needs the most nurturing.  Give ourselves permission to focus on that aspect, even in the simplest way. Throughout the week, consider sitting quietly each day in expectant meditation.   Know that each of us are precious: 1 Corinthians  6:20 “You were bought at a price.  Therefore honor God with your bodies.”  


Thursday:  Do we pray or practice stillness before each meal?  

As a child, I have loving memories of my mother requesting a silent prayer before supper.  Consider taking a moment to ask for blessings for the food you eat. This week be aware of the food in front of you.  Try to be mindful of details that you normally might not notice, like the variations of color, the texture, the symmetry of the different parts of each bite of food.  Eat slowly. Take time to consciously chew and swallow your food.  Perhaps, journal your experiences.  Know that each of us were created for a purpose: Jeremiah29:11 “For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.”  


Friday:   Do we focus inward as we stretch before exercise?  

In preparing our bodies for strength building, we attempt to connect with God and draw nourishment from each movement of our daily routine.  Make every effort to reach high for the heavens, bend low to the earth, and stretch your muscles.  Stay centered in your body, and listen for God. Learn your target heart rate for your age and weight and plan to hold it steady for 20-30 minutes during exercise.  Journal your progress.  Know that each of us are strong: Psalm 68:35  “You, God, are awesome in your sanctuary; the God of Israel gives power and strength to his people.  Praise be to God!”


Saturday:  Do we take time each day for peaceful breathing? 

Throughout the day, be aware of how God nourishes you as you take each breath.  Quietly practice being attune to each moment as you inhale life giving air.  Our bodies are perfect systems designed to carry nourishing oxygen which purifies the way to God’s healing grace. At birth, babies take their first breath, it is a fitting start on the journey to God. Know that each of us are beautiful:   Psalm 45:11 “Let the king be enthralled by your beauty; honor him, for he is your Lord.”


Sunday:  Do we have a soft, warm bedtime routine? 

As a parent might nurture their young, we nurture ourselves to prepare for a restful sleep.  A warm bath, soft pajamas, sleepy tea and pleasant lighting can gently help us prepare for a healthy rest.  One night last year, my granddaughter and I were preparing to say our bedtime prayers.  She said, “Let’s pray the real prayer.”  I answered, “Do you mean The Lord’s Prayer?”  She exclaimed, “Silent prayer!”  As you gather your thoughts at the end of the day, take time to be silent with God’s love through Christ.  Consider placing a dream journal next to your bed to write nurturing bedtime thoughts. Know that each of us are unique: Psalm 139:13  “For you created my inmost being; you knit me together in my mother’s womb.” 


Monday:   Do we listen for God in the darkness of the night?  

Mark Twain said, “I've had a lot of worries in my life, most of which never happened.”  When we are awake in the depths of the night, alone or fretful, do we take time to listen and speak to God?  I realize that I often do not think of God in the darkness.  Start by listening for God’s voice.  Even in the darkest hours, I do know this: the sun willeventually rise.  Have faith that God’s nurturing light is eternal.  Use a dream journal to write your hopes and prayers.  Know that each of us are forgiven:  Psalm 103:12 “As far as the East is from the West, so far has he removed our transgressions from us.”


Tuesday:   Do we appreciate each sunrise?  

This week as the sun rises take time in the morning to embrace the day.  Enjoy the morning air as the light of the new day washes over you.  Grow in love through Christ with joy, peace, patience, gentleness, goodness, faith, and self-control.  Make a list of ways we nourished ourselves this week and how we might be grateful for those ways. Know that each of us are a new creation:  2 Corinthians 5:17  “Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come:  The old has gone, the new is here!” 



Lent Week Three

Lenten Nourishment:  Spiritual Alienation

Sometimes we may feel estranged from God and suffering.

Thoughts to help and strengthen follow


  • Wednesday:  Remember to breathe

    • I talk to myself quite a lot, and when things get stressful, I just tell myself to breathe. Maisie Williams

    • Stop, take 5 deep breaths and release each one slowly. At a minimum, you oxygenated your blood. Perhaps you’ve slowed down a bit, too.

  • Thursday: Call on God in times of trial

    • Our Father in heaven… And do not bring us to the time of trial, but rescue us from the evil one. Matthew 6:9-13 The New Interpreter’s Study Bible (Study Bible)

    • The Lord suggested a form. Again, it may help you to return to yourself. (I prefer this translation.)

  • Friday: Jesus knows being in anguish
    • Jesus prays in the garden: He said, “Abba, for you all things are possible; remove this cup from me; yet, not what I want, but what you want.” Matthew 14:36 Study Bible.
    • The Lord is with you in your anguish. He is compassionate since He suffered despair, too.

  • Saturday:  Suffering can be transformed

    • He who learns must suffer. Even in our sleep, pain which cannot forget falls drop by drop upon the heart, until, in our own despair, against our will, comes wisdom through the awful grace of God. Aeschylus

    • In April 1968, Robert Kennedy cane to Indianapolis to campaign for the Democratic presidential nomination. Just as he was to speak, he was told that Martin Luther King had been assassinated. He spoke to the gathered crowd, mostly African-American, from his own pain. His remarks included the quote above. Unlike other cities, Indianapolis did not dissolve into riots. Bobby Kennedy died of an assassin’s bullets some 2 months later.

  • Sunday:  Say but the word and I shall be healed

    • When he entered Capernaum, a centurion came to him, appealing to him and saying, “Lord, my servant is lying at home paralyzed, in terrible distress.” Andy he said to him, “I will come and cure hi,” The centurion answered, “Lord, I am not worthy to have you come under my roof; but only speak the word and my servant will be healed. Matthew 8: 5-8

    • The phrase is part of the Roman Catholic Mass, right before communion. Jesus goes on to recognize the towering of the Roman Centurion


  • Monday:  A clean heart, as soft heart has space for God

    • Create in me a clean heart, O God, and put a new and right spirit within me. Psalm 51:10

    • A clean heart has space for the grace of God. The Quaker testimonies call for simplicity. It starts in our hearts

  • Tuesday:  Your turn

    • So, what’s your favorite quote or prayer?

    • “What for centuries raised man above the beast is not the cudgel but the irresistible power of unarmed truth.” Boris Pasternak. Have you experience the power of unarmed truth? I have. That’s the power or RFK’s speedh in the example above.



Lent Week Two

Lenten Nourishment:  Meeting Ourselves in the Wilderness

This week will be centered around understanding our identities as God’s children

·           Wednesday:  You are loved

o   The Lord appeared to us in the past, saying: “I have loved you with an everlasting love; I have drawn you with unfailing kindness.”  Jer 31:3

o   Some of us come from loving homes, others of us felt that we always fell short.  Take some time in your quiet reflection to allow this concept of God loving you always and drawing you close to the Divine Center with kindness.

·           Thursday: You are special

o   For we are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.  Eph 2:10

o   There is no one else like you in the entire universe!  Your combination of DNA has never occurred before and you are a unique combination of genes, environment and your personal history.  As you walk in nature today, contemplate this concept.  Know that you have a special role to play in the world.  Meet with your friends in community and consider how they are special to you as well.

·           Friday:  You are cared for

o   So that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith.  And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, may have power together with all the Lords’ holy people, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, and to know the love that surpasses knowledge-that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God.  Eph 3:17-19.

o   Do something today that reflects self care:  choose to eat foods that are nourishing and wholesome, or take a bath in Epsom salts and listen to music that fills your self with a feeling of safety and support; spend time with friends that nourish you.  Walk this morning with Friends hosted by Kathy Rhyne.  See Upcoming Eventsfor details. 

·           Saturday:  You are important

o   But you are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, God’s special possession, that you may declare the praises ofhe who called you out of darkness into his wonderful light.  1 Pet 2:9

o   As the population on this remarkable planet continues to increase, we can feel small and insignificant.  That life itself formed on this planet is incredible and a miracle to contemplate.  You are a part of something miraculous.  Take some time during your meditation to consider a time when you helped someone else, offered a helping hand or just were present with another creature who needed you to be there.  Invite them to be with you as you sit with this memory.

·           Sunday:  You are empowered

o   I can do all this through him who gives me strength.  Phil 4:13

o   Have you ever felt that you were at the end of your rope or just didn’t have the resources to continue?  Those are the times that we can lean of God to give us the power to keep going when it seems that we’ve run out of steam.  The next situation that you find very challenging, remember this verse from Paul and trust that the Inner Light will provide the strength and resources that you need.  Have Sunday evening meditation with Friends hosted by Bill Heitman.  See Upcoming Events for details.

·           Monday:  You are family

o   Consequently, you are no longer foreigners and strangers, but fellow citizens with God’s people and also member of his household. Eph 2:19

o   Plan a dinner or social event with a member or members of your spiritual community.  Take time to share your joys and concerns.  Hold each other in the Light and soak in the love within this family that the Spirit has gathered for you.

·           Tuesday:  You are mine

o   But now, this is what the Lord says - he who created you, Jacob, he who formed you, Israel: “Do not fear, for I have redeemed you; I have summoned you by name; you are mine”.  Is 43:1

o   We are coming to the end of the second week of Lent.  The first week was an exploration of moving into the wilderness to seek an encounter with the Divine.  This week’s intent was to consider that we are each unique, loved and valued by God.



Community Spiritual Practices



Throughout the period of Lent, I will be interviewing Friends that attend our meeting about their own Spiritual practices in nurturing their mind, body and spirit.

May we find blessings and community in the spirit of those around us.

~Bill H.

This week:  Kristyn Greenawald

How long have you been attending First Friends? What brought you to us?

In December 2014, I began attending Indy First Friends. I had one Quaker friend for 13 years or so, and appreciated the way his life seemed to be deeply and steadily impacted by his faith practice. As I began to look for a different faith community, I wanted to visit a Quaker congregation. I came one Sunday and loved the service, the silence, and the sunlit meeting room. I felt embraced as a friend even before I thought I might be a Friend. I have appreciated greatly the sense of exploration and affirmation I experience in this community.

Some of our focus on scripture this first week of Lent has been on Jesus venturing into the wilderness to find renewal and quiet. Can you tell us about your experience with nature and wilderness and how it's become an important part of your life?

My love of the outside experience has drawn me deeper into stillness and presence. Watching a sunset uncurl. Feeling a wind pass between a grove of trees. Working to escape gravity's pull up a hill. I would say these things bring me into now, neither ahead nor behind, and I hear the quiet voice of One who made it so, or kicked it off, or sparked the Big Bang.

What kinds of things beyond attending Meeting have you found helpful to find nourishment spiritually?

My faith story has its roots the in Presbyterian tradition and its trunk in United Methodist tradition. About fifteen years ago, I began to feel a shift and a change in my faith life after reading writings from Anne Lamott, Vinita Hampton Wright and Kristin Ohlson. Shortly after this faith shift, I had a body shift, becoming more active in my health and physical engagement with the world.

While these two shifts began, in my mind, as separate experiences, I soon found them leading to each other. Biking and hiking through the physical world broadened and inspired my spiritual life. As I bike, seeing the rhythm of the earth go from untilled, to dense green, to dry stalks gave me a connection to the rhythm of God.



Lent Week One

Lenten Nourishment: Into the Wilderness

Wednesday: What is the meaning of wilderness?

At once, this same Spirit pushed Jesus out into the wild.  For forty wilderness days and nights he was tested by Satan. Wild animals were his companions, and angels took care of him.  Mark 1:12-17
Jesus gives this example of withdrawing to the wilderness to become focused entirely on God.  In a place away from the influences of society, status, popularity and success, we encouraged to enter our wilderness and open ourselves to God’s leading.  Is there something in your life that is a distraction from seeking spiritual, emotional or physical health?
Consider writing your thoughts in a journal each day during Lent.

Thursday: Meeting God in the Wilderness

Moses was shepherding the flock of Jethro, his father-in-law, the priest of Midian. He led the flock to the west end of the wilderness and came to the mountain of God, Horeb.  The angel of God appeared to him in flames of fire blazing out of the middle of a bush. He looked. The bush was blazing away but it didn’t burn up.  Exodus 3: 1-2
Going into the wilderness allows us to get away from distractions and see reality from our own point of view.  Our modern lives are full of distractions, TV, sports, social media, surfing the internet.  What distractions keep you from looking inward?
Consider journaling.  Consider sitting quietly and feel your breath move in and out of your chest.  Just observe and let yourself settle into your chair.

Friday: Finding Nourishment

God-you’re my God! I can’t get enough of you! I’ve worked up such hunger and thirst for God, traveling across dry and weary deserts.  A psalm of David when he was in the Judean Wilderness. Psalm 63:1
What are you hungry for?  You may be hungry for friendship or for better health or to feel loved. Each of us is yearning for something deeper in our lives.
Activities: journaling, practicing relaxed breathing, cooking a simple nourishing meal and eating each bite with gratitude.  Walk with Kathy Rhyne at the Monon Center @ 9:30 AM each Friday.  See Upcoming Events section of website for details.

Saturday:  Following God in the Wilderness

They moved on from Succoth and then camped at Etham at the edge of the wilderness.  God went ahead of them in a Pillar of Cloud during the day to guide them on the way, and at night in a Pillar of Fire to give them light; thus they could travel both day and night.  The Pillar of Cloud by day and the Pillar of Fire by night never left the people. Exodus 13:20-22.
The Israelites didn’t lose their way in the wilderness because God gave them guides for day and night.  We still have sign posts along our way, but we have to develop our vision so they become easier to see or hear.  What ways do you find helpful along the path of life?
Activities: Journaling, relaxed time of breathing, try taking a walk in nature.

Sunday: Getting Away from the Crowds

When Jesus got the news, he slipped away by boat to an out of the way place by himself.  Matthew 14:13
Our world is a noisy place.  It is getting busier and more crowded.  Jesus demonstrates that he needs to step back and be still for a while. Would this time of Lent be a good time for you to limit your use of social media, web surfing and TV watching?  Would it be helpful to create a plan for renewal?  What would that look like?
Small group meditation on Sunday night at Bill Heitman’s office.  See Upcoming Events section of website for details.

Monday:  Practicing Peace with Ourselves

So that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith. And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, may have power, together with all the Lord’s holy people, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, and to know this love that surpasses knowledge-that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God.  Eph 3:17-19
“We can have hearts that are full of love for others and intentions to love that are pure. But the truth is, we will express that love for others by treating them the same way we treat ourselves.  Love lies at the core of nonviolence and begins with our love of self, not a love that is ego-centric but a love that is forgiving and lenient; a love that sees the humor in the imperfections and accepts the fullness of the human expression.”  Deborah Adele.
Today, listen to your inner talk.  How do you treat yourself?  With kindness and understanding or with criticism and judgment?  Observe.   Write down any observations.  Talk to God about what you have noticed.

Tuesday: Finding God Again and Again

“I do not know the course I am to run, all is hidden in mystery, but I try to do right in everything.  Look up to true religion as the very first of blessings, cherish it, nourish and let it flourish and bloom in your heart; it wants to be taken care of, it can be difficult to obtain.  I must not despair or grow skeptical if I do not always feel religious.  I felt God as it were, and I must seek to find Him again.”  Elizabeth Fry, 1798
It is not unusual to feel separated from God. Even great spiritual leaders have times of doubt and longing.  Spend some time in quiet reflection.  Can you remember a time when you felt close to God? Let that memory fill you.  Consider writing that experience in your journal.   What activities this week have brought you closer to God?



The Summer Day

From Beth F. :

This Sunday we heard from professor, author, and former pastor Dan Moseley. He stated that, "Love is paying attention!" I love this statement! One of my favorite poems, by one of my favorite poets, on paying attention:

The Summer Day

Mary Oliver

Who made the world?
Who made the swan, and the black bear?
Who made the grasshopper?
This grasshopper, I mean-
the one who has flung herself out of the grass,
the one who is eating sugar out of my hand,
who is moving her jaws back and forth instead of up and down-
who is gazing around with her enormous and complicated eyes.
Now she lifts her pale forearms and thoroughly washes her face.
Now she snaps her wings open, and floats away.
I don't know exactly what a prayer is.
I do know how to pay attention, how to fall down
into the grass, how to kneel down in the grass,
how to be idle and blessed, how to stroll through the fields,
which is what I have been doing all day.
Tell me, what else should I have done?
Doesn't everything die at last, and too soon?
Tell me, what is it you plan to do
with your one wild and precious life?

from New and Selected Poems, 1992
Beacon Press, Boston, MA

Copyright 1992 by Mary Oliver.
All rights reserved.



Invasive plants

Springtime provides a great opportunity to find and report several invasive species.  Since many of our native trees and shrubs have not yet started to leaf out, invasive species with either early leaf growth of early flowering can be easily found.  

Here are three species that are particularly visible in early spring.

Callery Pear (Pyrus calleryana)

This species, often better known by the name of one of its ornamental varieties, Bradford pear, is starting to be found escaping throughout Illinois.  Because it grows in open areas and flowers much earlier than most other shrubs, it is extremely easliy found at this time of year.  Look for patches of white flowering shrubs or small trees along roadways, in old fields and in other distubed areas across the state.  To learn more about Callery pear, go to or

Lesser Celandine (Ficaria verna or Ranunculus ficaria)
This small spring empheral forb is being found in bottomland woods in northern Illinois and can impact our native wildflowers.  The showy yellow flowers often lead people into thinking this is a desirable native species, but don't let its looks fool you, it is a serious invader that we do not yet have a clear idea of where it is invading in Illinois.  This is a species that we definitely want more information on any infestations you know about.  To learn more about lesser celandine, go to

Garlic Mustard (Alliaria petiolata)
This is no new invader!  Unfortunately garlic mustard is widespread throughout Illinois.  If you do not yet have it on your land, then you need to make every effort to keep it that way!  Scouting your woods in the early spring is the best way to find new infestations of garlic mustard and will allow you to take quick action before new seeds are produced in late spring.  To learn more about garlic mustard, go to or

This information is sourced from

 Submitted by Mary B.




"The Loving Story" at Community Soup on November 7th from Bill Chapman

Please join us November 7th  for “The Loving Story” the next film in our First Friday Community Soup series.

Mildred and Richard Loving were told they were criminals. Their crime was that while being of different races, they chose to spend their lives together. In 1958 Mildred and Richard left their home state of Virginia to marry in Washington D.C. When they returned to Virginia they were arrested for the crime of “co-habitating as a man and wife, against the peace and dignity of the Commonwealth of Virginia”. Little did the state of Virginia know when they convicted the Loving’s  that the power of love between two people can bring down a mountain of intolerance.

As we see dramatic changes in equality happening in our state and nation the “Loving Story” offers valuable lessons for us to think about today. The power of love, the humanity of an activist U.S. Attorney General and the power of a U.S. Supreme Court willing to come together across ideological lines to tackle the issue of whether the state can control who one chooses to love.




Bringing Nature Home      by Mary Blackburn


Bringing Nature Home by Mary Blackburn

Today I worked in the front yard during a beautiful fall day finally attacking the area of myrtle that is threatening to overtake a significant portion of our postage stamp yard in the city.  I grew up loving myrtle- the leaves were shiny and strong and seemed to always look its best regardless of the season, so for years I let it grow.

However, since hearing Dr. Doug Tallamy, professor and chair of Entomology and Wildlife Ecology at the University of Delaware, I realized that I had grown up with misperceptions. Myrtle or periwinkle (vinca minor) is considered an invasive species because it creates a dense system of roots that chokes out the native plants in our area.

I used to think,"That's not so bad, it crowds out the weeds that make the garden so untidy." Now I've learned that the native species are the ones that provide food sources for insects and the birds.  Our native bugs and birds have evolved together with the native plants and trees of our Indiana habitat.  These plants provide nectar for the bees and birds and leaf material for the insects. In particular, native trees are the supermarket for a huge variety of caterpillars.  When  birds are raising their young, many have a main diet of caterpillars and other wriggly creatures.  It is necessary to have pounds of caterpillars each day to fill the young birds with a high protein diet during a crucial growth period.  Without this dietary smorgasbord, the birds will eventually die out.  Often home owners choose trees that easily available and inexpensive, but many trees and shrubs at local nurseries are non-native species that do not provide any food support to the native birds and other animals.

The other day, I walked past some of our plantings around the Meetinghouse.  I noticed that the native flowers that Terry Trierweiler planted in the courtyard were buzzing with activity.  I saw bees and butterflies moving in and out around the flowering plants.  I noticed the same lively activity in our butterfly garden (Forgive the messy appearance, Friends.  we will clean it up in the spring!)   However, the other areas seemed quiet and still.  Nothing was happening.

By considering what we plant in our yards, we can have a huge impact on the biodiversity of our neighborhoods. For instance, oaks, willows and cherry trees can support over 450 species of lepidoptera (moths and butterflies). If everyone in the United States, reduced their lawnsize by 50%, and replaced with native species plantings,  we can restore to native habitat more than all the land dedicated to our national park system.

But today, just take a look at your yard.  Is there one plant that you can substitute with a native plant?  The birds will thank you.


Mary Blackburn


Bringing Nature Home, Doug Tallamy (2014) Timber Press

InPAWS-Indiana Native Plant and Wildlife Society

Keep Indianapolis Beautiful



Ruthie Tippin, August 18, 2014

Our good friend Bob Davis recently told me that ‘thoughts are living things’.  Consider that for a moment.  What we think, lives.  Our thoughts live on throughout a moment, an hour, a day… a lifetime.  They shape who we are, and often, who others are around us.  What do you think?  How do you think?  What do you determine by your thoughts?  The Apostle Paul lived a complicated life – certainly no less complicated than ours, and here is what he gave us for advice regarding thoughts…  ‘And now my friends, all that is true, all that is noble, all that is just and pure, all that is lovable and gracious, whatever is excellent and admirable – fill all your thoughts with these things.'  [Philippians 4:8]