Montclair Quakers to host “QuED Talks”

On Saturday, September 16, Montclair Friends Meeting will host a morning of “QuED Talks”. QuED (Quaker Education and Discourse) is a free series for Young Adult Friends (Quakers). Each QuED Day includes food, worship, speakers, conversations, and more. All are welcome.

The slate of speakers for Montclair’s QuED day includes Pamela Boyce Simms, Hye Sung Francis Gehring and (tentatively) Charley Flint.
pamelaboycePamela Boyce Simms, “21st Century Inside-Out Quaker Activism,” is an evolutionary culture designer and a veteran of local, regional, and national resilience-building with the Transition environmental movement. She currently works with international Quaker, Buddhist, and African Diaspora Earthcare networks.
Boyce Simms holds degrees from Georgetown University, the L’Université de Dakar, in Sénégal, West Africa, and is certified as a Leadership Coach and Neurolinguistics Master Practitioner. She is an author at the Grassroots Economic Organizing (GEO) Editorial Collective, and at, a project of The Post Carbon Institute. A Buddhist-Quaker, Pamela is a Scholar in Residence at the Pendle Hill Quaker Center for Study and Contemplation and a Buddhist Meditation Instructor.

Hye SungHye Sung Francis Gehring is a young adult Friend living in Philadelphia. He spends most of his time at the Japanese garden where he works, and dreaming of an apocalyptic Quakerism. He also writes (fairly) frequently about Quakerism, charismatic spirituality, and activism at

charleyflintCharley Flint is a Professor of Sociology at William Paterson University. She teaches Criminology, Sociology of Corrections, Senior Seminar in Criminal Justice, Internship in Criminal Justice, Gender, Crime and Society and serves as Criminal Justice Coordinator. Her current research interests are on interracial families, women (especially mothers) in corrections, and assessing community-based corrections as an alternative to incarceration.

Register at so we can feed you!

9am – Breakfast
10am – Worship
10:30am – Speakers, followed by Q&A
12:15pm (ish) – Lunch
After lunch, the afternoon is deliberately unscheduled. Those gathered are given the opportunity to connect in whatever way feels natural. Sometimes there’s worship, sometimes conversation, sometimes walks or games or singing, whatever. We finish no later than 4pm.

Montclair Quaker Meeting is at 289 Park Street, Upper Montclair, New Jersey 07043


On hatred, racism, and violence

As a community, we are deeply saddened by the tragedy of the past weekend and appalled by the raw hatred, racism, and violence that were on shameless display by the Supremacists and other alt-right groups. As Quakers, we believe deeply in the equality of all people, who all have “that of God” in them, and we abjure ( totally reject) any violence against others. We will not give way to despair, but will renew our commitment to all the non-violent ways there are to work against these rampant forces of hate, injustice, and inequality. As a community, we will strive to support each other in our individual ways of responding, such as prayer, actions for social justice, or simply efforts to make our daily lives reflect our beliefs in kindness, equality, and respect for all. We will lean on our faith in divine goodness, for we believe that Light can overcome darkness.
– written by Margaret White and endorsed by the Ministry and Oversight of Montclair Monthly Meeting of the Religious Society of Friends


Training session at Montclair Meeting, June 17

Emily Wirzba

The Friends’ Committee on National Legislation (FCNL) is sending staff member Emily Wirzba to Montclair Meeting on Saturday, June 17, from 1-4 PM to train all those interested in “Engaging N.J Legislators in bipartisan Dialogue about Climate Change, “ This is a training we requested, on the Quaker way of lobbying, and while our local representative (R) Rodney Frelinghuysen may be one focal point, and climate change is the focal topic for the training, the principles taught and skills learned will be applicable to all of our legislators, and other topic of concern.

FCNL seeks, through sustained engagement on the local and national level, to shape policy outcomes to better reflect the values of Friends around the country.

Here are some of the questions that this workshop hopes to answer:

  • How do we shape public narratives about climate change at a time of extreme political division?
  • What is transformational about relationship building for policy change?
  • Why is persistent citizen lobbying from a place of faith so important, despite the lack of action on climate change?

Come to this workshop to learn:

  • How to effectively lobby!
  • How to build a coalition and set up a meeting with your elected officials.
  • Why the NJ Representatives are critical for bipartisan climate action.

Montclair Meeting is located at 289 Park St., Upper Montclair, NJ 07043. For questions or to let us know you plan to come, call Margaret at 973-744-5025 or email

Learn about solitary confinement with Five Mualimm-ak


Learn about solitary confinement with Five Mualimm-ak

Friday, February 19 – Saturday, February 20, 2016 at Montclair Friends Meeting (Quakers)

Friday night program for youth to join Five in building a replica of a solitary cell inside Montclair Meetinghouse. Saturday program with a morning session focussing on the experience and effects of being confined in solitary and an afternoon session focussing on what can be done to end solitary confinement being used as punishment.

Mr Five Mualimm-ak is a formerly incarcerated person who has been directly affected by solitary confinement. He is now Founder and CEO of Incarcerated Nation Corp and is engaged in activism to prevent the torture of prolonged isolation in our prisons.

Contact Mary Pugh Clark for more information:


Lucretia Mott Helps Us Celebrate the Ramp!

On June 13 of this year, Lucretia Mott came to help the Meeting celebrate the completion of a new entrance ramp to the Meetinghouse, making the Meeting wheel-chair accessible for the first time. (Not to mention stroller-accessible and creaky-legs accessible!) Photos by Rosemary Stillman.

Holding the Ribbon
Holding the Ribbon


Lucretia and the Ribbon
Lucretia and the Ribbon
The Other End of the Ribbon
The Other End of the Ribbon
I takes a Meeting
I takes a Meeting
Rosemary and Barbra
Rosemary and Barbra
Wise Women
Wise Women

Summer Sessions 2015 Reflection for Montclair Monthly Meeting

September 1, 2015

Abigail Burford

Thanks to the financial support of NY Yearly Meeting and of Montclair Monthly Meeting, my son Roman and I were able to attend NY Yearly Meeting Summer Sessions at Silver Bay, which was held July 19 -25 this year. It was my fifth consecutive year of attending Summer Sessions. The week at Silver Bay is such a spiritually rich experience, it sustains and nourishes me for an entire year.

I was a JYM (Junior Yearly Meeting) Volunteer, a resource person, and a Healing Center volunteer. I can give a description of these experiences.

I can’t give a description of Roman’s experience as a 10th grader in JYM, because it was independent of me. I can, however, report that his experience was so rewarding and exciting, he signed up to be one of the alternate Clerks of JYM. As a JYM Clerk, Roman will attend planning and clerking events at Powell House during the coming year, in preparation for Summer Sessions 2016.

My role as a JYM Volunteer was as a caregiver in PM Childcare. During the times when Friends need to attend Meeting for Worship with Attention to Business, committee meetings, or the Plenary Speech, PM Childcare offers a pleasant, secure place for infants and children up to the age of 10… and older, because, once they realize how much fun it is, the older siblings want to come, too. Morse Hall is so spacious, there’s room for many different activities: playing with blocks, working a puzzle, taking a nap. This year we made sure we had soul or folk for the CD player, and age-appropriate movies for the DVD player. We were happy to have some teenage volunteers who engaged the young children in games, also. The ministry of PM Childcare comes in the teachable moments when two young children want the same toy at the same time, or in the drop-off moments when parents say good-bye to their children. I feel that the Quaker principles of peace and community are at work in PM Childcare.

As a resource person for the morning JYM programs, I brought my Meditation Workshop to whichever group wanted this activity. I had first developed my Meditation Workshop in 2013 as a follow-up activity for the Godly Play presentation “Listening for God” with Matt Giampoala at Montclair MM. I expanded it for use with the teenagers who joined the overnight program at NYYM Fall Sessions 2013.

The idea of my Meditation Workshop is to coach young Friends in the process of centering down, or to provide step-by-step, sensory-based guidance in listening for God. Although I borrow props from other faith traditions, the objective is to more clearly understand/experience what happens in Meeting for Worship. Children and teenagers find the props engaging; the sounds of the rattle, the chimes, and the trance-inducing music, the smell of the essential oils, the weight of the rice-filled eye-pillows, and the feel of prayer stones all help them to achieve a state of relaxed body, empty mind, and open heart. In the period of deep relaxation, when there is only music and no speaking, young Friends are encouraged to listen with their hearts and see with their hearts. At the conclusion of the workshop, when the group has re-assembled in a circle, young Friends are encouraged to share what they heard or saw during the period of deep relaxation. It is always acceptable to pass, because no-one likes to feel forced or compelled to share.

I brought the Meditation Workshop to the 1st and 2nd graders Monday morning. I felt it was prudent to focus on the concrete and specific with this age group, so we each held up a fist, to visualize the size of our hearts, and we tapped our chests, to locate our hearts. Their abundance of youthful energy dictated a fairly short time of lying “still” on the floor, but, even so, the children were able to listen with their hearts and see with their hearts. Here are some of the messages these young Friends shared:

  • I heard a bird singing a beautiful song.
  • I saw a rainbow.
  • I was in a place where I could be anything I wanted to be. Nobody was the boss of me.
  • I smelled green beans.

I encouraged these young Friends to treasure these messages. One of my goals in presenting this Meditation Workshop is let young Friends experience the process of going to a place of inner calm, and receiving what feels like a genuine message from the authentic self, otherwise known as that of God. For a 6-year-old, that message could be the smell of green beans; for a 26-year-old, that message could be the spiritual soundness of sustainable farming practices; for a 46-year-old, that message could be more effective public policy on agriculture. People hear God in age-appropriate ways.

I brought the Meditation Workshop to the 5th and 6th graders Wednesday morning. I felt it would help engage them in the process if I passed around the props first. I encouraged them to experiment with the rattle and chimes, and to smell the rosemary essential oil. They were enthusiastic about lying down, and were able to stay in meditation for 20 minutes. Here are some of the messages these young Friends shared:

  • I saw my grandmother [who died some years ago].
  • I was playing with my cousins.
  • I was back home [in another country].
  • The rosemary made me think of Thanksgiving.

Again, I encouraged these young Friends to hold their messages with respect and patience. I had the sense that, for this age group in their everyday world, there may not be adequate calm for noticing, let alone feeling, delicate emotions of love, family attachment, and nostalgia. I had the sense that they used the meditation as a time to let their authentic selves recognize their emotions.

I brought the Meditation Workshop to the 7th-9th graders Friday morning. I felt this age group would appreciate the idea of establishing sacred space before the meditation, and asked for volunteers to sit in the four directions of the compass. (Some hilarity ensued.) The four volunteers each found satisfaction in the particular role of their chosen direction: north, the wisdom of the ancestors; east, the vision of the eagle; south, the fire of creativity; west, the healing water of emotion. This group chose various relaxation poses: on the floor, across three chairs, on one chair, or upside down. They were able to stay in meditation for 25 minutes. Some even fell into a deep sleep and had dreams. There was a sense of a gathered meeting when the group re-assembled in a circle to share. They used the rattle as a “talking stick,” passing it carefully around the circle, and shared these messages:

  • I was floating on the ocean.
  • I saw a doorway. There was a person I’ve never met, who peered through the doorway.
  • It was a little frightening. I saw a person in a cloak who had to tell me something. But I had to chase him.
  • I climbed a waterfall at dawn. The clouds were really beautiful.

I had the sense that this group used the meditation as a time to explore inner realms. I was struck by their courage. They were willing to try their best to experience a relaxed body, an empty mind, and an open heart. They were willing to see with their hearts and listen with their hearts, even if what they saw and heard was confusing. They felt safe enough in their community of Friends to do this. In a follow-up conversation with one of the (adult) JYM volunteers of this group, I heard that the Meditation Workshop was a spiritual high-point of the week for this group.

As a Healing Center volunteer, I spent most afternoons at Sproul Pavilion, holding the space in silent prayer, or offering reiki and other forms of energy work. I was happy to work with Buffy Curtis and Kathy Slattery, the Friends who brought the idea of a Healing Center to NYYM, and continue to be the facilitators. Just walking into the space is relaxing. Everyone leaves their shoes at the door. Calming music plays on the CD player. Some Friends sit in prayer in the chairs around the edge of the room; some Friends lie on the massage tables; some Friends are laying on hands; some Friends are talking quietly on the porch. The windows on three sides are open to the breeze and the Silver Bay sounds: boats at the dock, tennis games, and bird song.

I’m looking forward to doing it all again next summer.

Lucretia Mott to Visit Montclair Meeting

At a time when tlecretiahere is much talk about the growing inequality in American society it is a happy event when the pursuit of equality can be celebrated.  On June 13 we Friends (Quakers) are gathering to mark the completion of our new access ramp into our Meetinghouse.  Our new entrance is equally available to all.  This is a testimony to the Quaker belief that there is that of the Divine in every person.  Over the centuries most Quakers have worked to remove discriminatory barriers and stand by their belief in equality.

As part of the celebration Montclair Friends have invited the 19th century Quaker minister Lucretia Mott to share her wisdom about equality.  Kim Hanley of the American Historical Theater is traveling from Philadelphia to bring Mott to life.

Lucretia Mott, 1793-1880, was a tireless worker for the abolition of slavery.  In addition after facing blatant anti-woman discrimination at the 1840 World Anti-Slavery Convention in London, Mott became a leader in the movement for women’s rights that culminated in the Seneca Falls Convention in 1848.

Faced with injustices today many become cynical about whether change is possible.  Lucretia stands out as a person who had a spiritual approach to championing equality. She believed she was discerning God’s truth when she preached.  She was the embodiment of the sentiment “speak truth to power” in her day.

The public is invited to join in our celebration of our access ramp.  We hope you will come and hear what Lucretia has to say.  The event begins at 1 pm at the Quaker Meetinghouse, 289 Park Street, Montclair.

We Quakers believe Lucretia has a message for us in the 21st century.  ramp

Reflections on a Sacred Journey

Pitt Hall from the Compost Trail

by Abigail Burford

Feb. 10, 2015

I’ve just returned from an amazing weekend at Powell House, the retreat center of NY Yearly Meeting. I want to share with Friends the particular message of this conference (that you can read your life as a parable) as well as the unique essence of Powell House conferences (equal parts quest, holiday, and labor).

This conference, “Sacred Journey,” was the first in the Spiritual Nurture series. The facilitator was Mary Kay Glazer, who brought her considerable training in spiritual formation, plus her infectious enthusiasm, to the task of guiding our weekend activities. The elder was Steve Molke, who silently ministered to the gathering by gently holding us in the Light as we labored. The director of Powell House, Ann Davidson, brought her abiding wisdom and humor to the task of keeping us safe and warm.

The twenty-three participants stayed in the cozy rooms of Pitt Hall, a converted but still elegant, turn-of-the-century farm-house. The windows provided views of serene, snow-covered woods and brightly colored birds at the feeder, all framed by the long, glistening icicles hanging from the eaves. In the beating heart of Pitt Hall, the restaurant-sized kitchen, Chris the Cook created delicious comfort food. The tantalizing smell of garlic-chicken and roasted potatoes called us before the dinner gong did!

Our quest this weekend took a number of different shapes: directed activity in a whole group, whole-group circle for silent worship, one-to-one speaking and listening, individual art activity, one-to-one sharing of our art, and directed activity in small groups. The deep inquiry and sharing was intense. However, Mary Kay alternated forms of quest with forms of holiday. A circle of Friendly back massage, a hymn-sing around the piano, and a Spirit-led dance party helped lighten us up. During free time we discovered other forms of holiday: sharing with our room-mates, playing a raucous game of Apples to Apples in the library, huddling in the dining room and talking in whispers late at night because we just couldn’t tear ourselves away from a hilarious conversation about – of all things – betrayal.

The theme of the conference was the story of our spiritual life. But Mary Kay had phrased it as “sacred journey” to underscore the seriousness of the story. Each one of us has a unique story about the way Spirit has worked through us and through our life-conditions. But this story is not only for the individual; it is for the community. For example, as I discover my authentic self, and as I gain awareness of the Divine Presence in my life, I am empowered to live as a witness to Divine Presence. I can bring that clarity to my faith community. I can reflect back to my home meeting the importance of fellowship. The patience and compassionate listening of others allows an individual to be authentic. The encouragement of others creates a safe space, even a sacred space, for an individual to be authentic. An individual who is living authentically, in turn, enriches the community.

A thread running through many of the conference activities was our Cloud of Witnesses, or our spiritual guides, living and dead, who have helped shape our understanding of the Divine Presence. Each of us has spiritual guides who accompany us on our sacred journey. Therefore, as I gain awareness of my sacred journey, I would do well to see it in the context of community.

Mary Kay encouraged us to read the story of our spiritual life, the story of our sacred journey, as a parable. Just as Jesus used parables to explain the mystery of the Divine Presence, so we can use the parable of our own life. For Friends who find meaning in the Christian sacred texts, the Paschal mystery of death and resurrection may be a fruitful consideration. For example, the episodes of suffering in my own life take on new significance if I read them as part of a parable of death and resurrection, or as a prelude to transformation.

One of the highlights of the conference was an activity called Repeating Question. It was surprisingly evocative. We paired up, and first one (for 5 minutes) and then the other (for 5 minutes) asked this question, repeatedly, with reverence and deep attention to the answer each time: “Why are you here this weekend?” Like layers of an onion, the answers were one beneath the other. When it was my turn to answer the question, as if I were indeed handling an onion, I started crying. In the sacred space created by the conference, I was able to be authentic.

Mary Kay taught us a form of prayer – Body Prayer — that was the perfect exercise in being our authentic selves together, as a community. She had us stand in a wide circle. Then, while she described four simple postures and the prayer each represented, we let our bodies express the prayer. The first posture was hands forward, palms up: we were waiting without expectation for what Spirit would bring us. The second posture was arms up: we were receiving the blessings that Spirit would pour down on us.  The third posture was hands over heart: we were feeling the blessings of Spirit within us. The fourth posture was arms stretched wide: we were remaining open to Spirit and present in Spirit while going out into the World. I gazed at the circle of Friends in Body Prayer. Each Friend’s unique personality was reflected in his or her style. I thought how easily we could share this prayer when there were no words, no contentious doctrine, to complicate our sharing. Each Friend’s prayer was unique and authentic, but we had no difficulty praying together.

Other highlights of the conference for me were my favorite chores. I am fond of scrubbing pots, but Chris the Cook made it a truly awesome, steamy-sink experience by playing Cab Calloway tunes. We were swingin’ in the kitchen! I claim the compost chore every time, but this weekend it was truly magic. I carried the bucket out to the bin in the woods by walking a trail that had been plowed in the deep snow. I could see the tracks of rabbits, deer, and coyote. One little junco was caught in the compost bin; I tilted the cover and watched a blur of slate-colored feathers streak up into the trees.

On Sunday morning, even as Friends were thinking about leaving Powell House, and driving home in the approaching snow storm, silent Meeting for Worship was a rich experience. For a gorgeous, brief moment, it was a palpably gathered meeting, and Friends radiated the Light of their newly affirmed authentic selves.

History of Montclair Meeting

Montclair, New Jersey, Friends Meeting is a young Meeting as Meetings go, but it is historic. Only a dream in the spring of 1925, it was incorporated in 1926 and accepted into membership of both New York Yearly Meetings in 1928. Montclair Monthly Meeting was the first independent, united Meeting to be so recognized. This action by the two New York Yearly Meetings in commonly recognizing Montclair Meeting as a member was, we believe, the first step on the road which ultimately led to their union. We believe, too, that Montclair furnished the inspiration for many other groups to form independent, united Meetings which later sought or are seeking recognition.

Montclair Meeting has counted among its members many who have found it necessary to move to other sections of the country. These transplanted members have carried the message of unity to many places, and have been instrumental in the establishment of several Monthly Meetings. We proudly cite former members who have been most active in the founding of Lehigh Valley Meeting in Pennsylvania (Helen Bissell Hammarstrom), Missoula in Montana (Archer and LaVerne Taylor), Lake Forest in Illinois (David Stickney), and Atlanta in Georgia (James Russell). Montclair “children” have thus helped to bring these new united meetings into being. Montclair is indeed an historic Meeting.

Members of the Meeting have, over the years compiled a history, which now takes the form of an ebook.