Virginia Beach Friends Meeting

May Newsletter




Dear Friends:

Thank you for all who contributed.

Please respond to vbfm.emailer@gmail.com with ideas for future Newsletter Articles and suggestions for improvements.

Thank you,
VBFM Communications committee
vbfriends.org


Contents:



Meeting for Worship with Attention to Business

Minutes from our May business meeting are posted at this link…

Query #11 / Social Justice and Equality: Do we reverence that of God in every human being with concern for the needs of each individual? Are we seeking to rectify existing social injustice and racial discrimination in our local communities and in the world at large?

Response: This query reminds us that action begins within by listening and being led. Our school and Meeting have a long history of promoting justice. Our social structures often contribute to injustice. Although we often struggle, respecting that of God in everyone is at the heart of our actions both within and beyond our community


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Yearly Meeting

Yearly Meeting will be held July 12-15 at Guilford College. It is an exciting opportunity to be on the campus of a Quaker college and meet with other Quakers of all ages and experience. The Planning Committee for the annual gathering described some interesting speakers and programs.

Important Yearly Meeting Links:


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Report To Interim Body, North Carolina Yearly Meeting (Conservative) Concerning Promotion Of Racial Justice By Virginia Beach Friends Meeting And Members/attenders Thereof (April 2018)

Our NCYMC Clerk has written us as follows: “I invite you or a designee from your meeting to contact me in the coming weeks if you have information your meeting feels might be useful to communicate to others in our yearly meeting -- either about actions or reflections that your own meeting has done relating to racial justice or if your meeting has particular resources to recommend.” From the Minutes of the 10th Month Interim Body Meeting:

Greenville Monthly Meeting asks that the Yearly Meeting take up the question of what it can do to promote racial justice. We are aware of some of the valuable work being done at the local level by all the Monthly Meetings. We feel it would be helpful for the Yearly Meeting to examine what is being done and what more can be done to hold this work up as models and examples to provide encouragement to others wishing to do more.

Members and attenders of our Virginia Beach Friends Meeting unite with our colleagues in the Greenville Friends Meeting and other NCYMC meetings in feeling that our times require us to continue lifting up racial justice and the ending of unconscious bias as a practical and spiritual concern in our private lives and in the priorities of our Meeting.

As a historical note, over the past six decades members of our Meeting have been led to challenge systems of oppression and to bring the races together in our community. The late Louise and Bob Wilson’s leadership in the community as founders of Virginia Beach Friends Meeting and School and as social visionaries during the racially tense years of the late 1950s led to Louise’s being named the First Citizen of Virginia Beach in 1960. Louise’s close personal friendship with the late Dr. Howard Thurman, former Dean of the Chapel at Boston University and founder of the Church for the Fellowship of All Peoples in San Francisco, with whom Louise carried on twenty years of regular visits and voluminous correspondence, led to Thurman being the first African - American to address the Ministerial Association of Virginia Beach, of which Louise was the first woman member, and other local civic groups.

That concern for racial justice continues to this day to drive the individual and collective witness of our Meeting. During the past three months, our Committee on Peace & Social Justice exhaustively surveyed members and attenders of our Meeting in response to the biennial priority setting process of the Friends Committee on National Legislation. This survey revealed that the top three legislative priorities of Virginia Beach Quakers are these:

  1. Promote policies that reduce economic inequality and poverty; encourage fair compensation for workers and health care for all;
  2. Advance equitable criminal justice systems that eliminate mass incarceration and support law-enforcement that is community-oriented and demilitarized; and
  3. Pursue policies that promote and respect the rights, safety, and dignity of all immigrants, refugees, and migrants.

Those three priorities are nuanced articulations of issues that have a clear racial component in our Hampton Roads region and in the Commonwealth of Virginia – issues in which members of our Meeting, individually and collectively, have been engaged for many years.

Our Meeting has always had a large representation of individuals who have chosen to work professionally across the racial divide, as health care workers, social workers, psychiatric counselors, and professional educators who have taught and occupied leadership positions in local schools, colleges and universities, including the historically black institutions in our city and in the Commonwealth of Virginia, and have worked as educators, therapists, and legal advisors to inmates in our federal and state prisons. Several families in our Meeting have made lifelong commitments to interracial understanding through their marriages and adoptions of children.

At present our Meeting contains members who:

  • moved to Virginia Beach in the 1960s specifically to help teach students when the public schools were deliberately shut down when the Commonwealth was faced by federal court order to end segregation,
  • helped to found low income interracial housing cooperatives in Philadelphia and Virginia Beach,
  • participated in civil rights marches in the United States in the 1950s and 1960s, including the Selma to Montgomery March for Voters Rights in 1965, and have continued to join Black Lives Matter and End Gun Violence rallies in more recent times,
  • were active in anti-apartheid political and social action and monitored elections in South Africa in the 1990s,
  • served in the Peace Corps in Africa and Southeast Asia and have been active as citizen diplomats in Asia, Africa, Latin America, Eastern Europe and the Middle East,
  • have worked on interfaith cooperation among Moslems, Jews and Christians on the West Bank in the Middle East, in our federal and state prisons, and in our local communities,
  • have worked resolutely to lead the push for Medicare funding in the state legislature of the Commonwealth of Virginia, have joined with members of Pax Christi and the Baha’i community of Hampton Roads in picnics and marches for racial justice and in events to support Latino members of our community,
  • have actively participated in Atlanta Friends Meeting’s End New Jim Crow rallies in Georgia, William Barber’s Moral Mondays and Forward Together in North Carolina, supported legal actions of Bryan Stevenson’s Equal Justice Initiative, and spoken in Martin Luther King Jr. Day programs in Georgia, North Carolina and Virginia, and
  • continue to assist and advocate for and provide pro bono legal assistance for immigrants and refugees in our community,

Our meeting has long been a partner in Empower Hampton Roads, a coalition of churches focused on economic issues of concern to the communities of Hampton Roads, including economic justice, fair housing, education, and access to healthcare.

Members of our Meeting have been leaders in collaborative legislative coalitions to bring about full Medicare funding of uninsured Virginians. Members of our Meeting are active in the lobbying efforts of the Virginia Interfaith Coalition for Public Policy, participate in the annual Day for All People in Richmond, and regularly lobby our state representatives in issues of full funding of Medicare, wage justice, criminal justice reform, ending gun violence, and gerrymandering, among others.

Four members of our Meeting drove to Washington DC last June to participate in the 24-hour Interfaith Medicaid Vigil on Capitol Hill, where they rallied with the Reverend William Barber and other faith leaders in an event that helped to delay a Senate Vote to defund Medicaid.

A member of our meeting, who is a retired U.S. Navy officer, has led workshops on unconscious racial bias over the past several years for the Philadelphia Yearly Meeting, for the Healthcare Administrators of Tidewater, and for various command units of the U.S. Navy, and has been the keynote speaker for the National Guard Bureau before the top generals and senior enlisted advisors from each state of the Union, concerning Millennials and the urgency of creating inclusive organizational cultures. Her preferred teaching format is inspired by the “Three Circles Workshop” pioneered by Pendle Hill’s Niyonu Spann, with whom our member has taught.

Another member of the Meeting has spoken frequently over the years about racial justice to audiences in Georgia, North Carolina and Virginia, including to church groups and the U.S. Navy’s and was named a “pro bono champion” by the American Immigration Lawyers Association (AILA).

One Love Festival, which annually, for the past dozen years, has brought together a large interfaith, interracial coalition of artists, poets, and activists for weekend festivals and workshops on the Virginia Wesleyan College campus. The One Love Festival in 2017 was dedicated to a member of our Meeting, Dr. Bob Young, and was focused on the themes of “Overcoming Bias: Building Relationships across Race, Religion, Gender Identity, and other Differences” and “Waging Peace: Beyond Extremism to Our Muslim, American Neighbors.”

Interracial understanding in community is a prominent value in the work of our Friends School, whose leadership is racially and ethnically diverse. Our meeting continues to support participation by students at our school at Quaker Leadership Conferences and FCNL Spring Lobby Weekends that highlight issues of racial justice.


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Inner Light Yoga

April Mitchell is a Certified Yoga Therapist (C-IAYT) and an ERYT-500. She has a private practice, teaching individuals and groups. She is trained in yin and restorative yoga, Ayurveda, fascial anatomy, and postural biomechanics. April believes it is profound work to discover our own habits and patterns in a compassionate way in order to unravel them, moving toward Wholeness. Her greatest passion and purpose is to teach and share methods which promote good health, awareness, empowerment, healing, connection and calm abiding.

In this month's Newsletter April continues the series, Inner Light Yoga.

For printing, the PDF version of this article can be accessed by clicking here...



Tending Our Lamps

By the time I was ten, I had exhausted most of the books of my favorite historical subjects at the public library. Later, I moved to Israel and studied Biblical archeology and history in its physical setting in college. I learned a little Hebrew in order to study original texts in more depth. Then I came home to work as high school history teacher for ten years at a Jewish Orthodox girls’ school. All that to simply say, I love history and research and connections and digging out the truth of my subject matter then translating it into something that is a meaningful teaching for the Present.

Recently, I’ve been thinking about lamps. Not our modern ones, although the metaphor would still work, but lamps found in Biblical-era Middle East. Lamps are mentioned constantly throughout the Hebrew Bible and the Christian New Testament. Physical light was crucial to survival in times before electricity. The analogies of light and lamps were much more profound in a world where light and darkness were so starkly juxtaposed-unlike our world of electric light and grey dark bleeding together.

The work of Descartes, the seventeenth-century French philosopher, has had as one outcome the disconnection of Western civilization’s mind, body and spirit to create the illusion that bodies are separate from who we are. This in turn, has relegated physical bodies to a secondary and often vilified role in our lives. We still beat them into submission and get angry when they cause us pain or discomfort. Perhaps the analogy of the lamp may help us kindly mend this misunderstanding.

The lamp in Matthew 25:1-13 is used in the parable of ten women waiting to be in a wedding processional. Five were tending their lamps and were aware of what was happening, but the five who did not tend their lamps were late and got shut out of the party. Parables are powerful because they are wisdom prisms and timeless if we take the time to understand their context.

A lamp was portable and needed a lot of attention. The clay container was the foundation for the entire mechanism towards obtaining light. If it was broken or cracked, it was useless. Olive oil was used as the fuel and its conduit was a flax wick. There are any number of scenarios where the container, the fuel and the conduit might stop working together and the light dims or goes out.

Our container is our physical body and because of western cultural core beliefs, often unexamined ones, of a fragmented Self, we are not taught to care for our containers as a crucial part of letting our own inner light shine. We often greatly attend to the mind or spirit, grooving into this myth of separation. Perhaps in an imprecise analogy, the mind is the olive oil and the spirit is the flax wick and perhaps our essence is the light itself. If we overfill the container, the wick drowns. If we have too long a wick, its access to the fuel is compromised. And if we have a cracked, leaky container, the whole thing literally falls apart.

Tending our container is of primary importance, so the Light of awareness and Divine Presence, God, doesn’t shut us out of the party! We may see the obvious things and trust God to get through to us but why not delight in the Fullness-all the deepness and richness of Presence-instead of just passively waiting around to get “struck?”

In our container, posture matters. If the clay lamp was shaped so oil spilled out, it was unusable. My mom and her mother before her used to say-“hold your shoulders back!” We all thought that meant good posture. The implication is that posture is so easy. But it’s not. It takes years and indeed, a lifetime of attending to our container exactly where it is with gentle goodheartedness. We discover proprioceptive awareness, an understanding of our entire body as a whole organism in space, and how our patterns shape us. Where our feet are matters to how our necks rest upon our shoulders. Where our hip points are facing and how our low backs are curved matters to our spines.

In our studio, our maven, Angela Phillips, talks about the four noble acts: sitting well, standing well, walking well and lying well. I love this languaging as a powerful tool towards attending to our containers. These “noble acts” take a lot of practice, but we work steadily and good-naturedly because, without being dramatic, it matters how we sit, stand, walk and lie. Balanced posture sets off a domino effect of physical health-allowing room for the breath, unbinding the diaphragm, allowing less constriction in lymphatic and circulatory systems and decompressing digestive organs to name only a few. And these are simply the physical benefits. Attending to and working with our posture allows us to find a deeper sense of easefulness when sitting in Worship or listening to our Friends, and in keeping Presence throughout our days because we are less distracted.

We can make a precise commitment to work with our own individual bodies exactly as they are. All containers age and crack and we do our best with that in a generous, goodhearted way. Our first step is opening to physical awareness. I was working with many of my students recently on knees, on balancing them and understanding how to use them with less pain. One student asked me-“Is it weird if I can feel my knee? It doesn’t hurt or anything, I can just really feel it.” I laughed and answered-“Ding, ding ding!! Folks, we have a winner!” That is exactly the point. We are fragmented and our journey requires we accept that and lovingly work towards Wholeness. Doing this in the physical body is such a powerful start.

A Harvard study recently showed that a high percentage of older people fall because they can’t feel the bottoms of their feet. There was nothing “wrong” with them other than the fact they didn’t have awareness of their feet. That is dissociation. We employ it as a survival mechanism to get through extreme pain. But this mechanism works a little too well and as we age, when asked to take stock, we may be shocked that a lot of our body doesn’t link with our brain, not to mention awareness of subtler things such as emotions or feelings. This is where proprioceptive awareness is powerful spatial medicine.

We can find this awareness and healthier posture through working with longer-held poses as we allow all sensations to wash over us. We can give ourselves permission to be here now, in this experience, in this human vessel. We begin to loosen our constricted fascia (connective tissue-see my last Article-Outer Body, Inner Light), balance muscles, stack our bones, and straighten our spines. No matter our physical challenges, we can create an intention to attend to our marvelous, mysterious, and delightful containers through curiosity and Presence, moving away from shutting down so we don’t miss the party!


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Meet The Head - Welcome Mike Barclay to Friends Meeting

At rise of Meeting on Sunday June 24, the Friends Meeting community will welcome Mike Barclay and Mike's family with a luncheon/celebration.

Mike, along with his wife, Kristin, and children, daughter, Chase (13), and son, Greer (11), are thrilled to be joining Virginia Beach Friends School and its extended community. Mike brings 20 plus years of administrative and teaching experience to his role as VBFS' next Head of School. For the last seven years, Mike has worked at Quest Montessori School in Narragansett, Rhode Island. At Quest, Mike spent three years as Assistant Head of School and the last four as Head of School. During Mike's tenure at Quest, he was instrumental in tripling enrollment over a three year period and in doing so, solidified Quest as a well sought after independent school in Rhode Island. Before Quest, Mike spent six years as the Dean of Students at Moses Brown School in Providence, and prior to Moses Brown, he was part of the founding faculty at Stuart Hall High School, Schools of the Sacred Heart in San Francisco for five years, where he was the school’s first admissions director overseeing the school’s growth from the first class of 44 students to a fully enrolled student body. He has also worked at New York University as an Associate Admissions Counselor, taught English at Montgomery Blair High School in Silver Spring, MD, and worked at Georgetown Preparatory in Bethesda, Maryland. Mike holds a Master of Arts in Teaching from American University in Washington, DC and holds a BA in English and Communications from Muhlenberg College in Allentown, PA.


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Local Organizing Meeting to Begin a Campaign to Promote the Treaty on the Abolition of Nuclear Weapons

On Monday May 14, Tom Bertrand and Whit Peace attended a Local Organizing Meeting for a campaign to promote the Treaty on the Abolition of Nuclear Weapons and to spread the news about the Kings Bay Plowshares.

The meeting was organized by Steve and Kim Baggarly and was held at the Norfolk Catholic worker. The meeting was well attended.

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The Kings Bay Plowshares are part of a broader "Plowshares Movement". The group, seven Catholic peace activists, entered the Kings Bay Naval Submarine Base in Georgia to protest nuclear weapons.

The protesters were “carrying hammers and baby bottles of their own blood” when they entered the base, according to a statement from fellow activists. “They also brought an indictment charging the U.S. government for crimes against peace,” it said.

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When we met Monday, Steve had just returned from Brooklyn where he met with fifty other Campaigners from across the US to launch a national campaign in support of the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons.

This Treaty, which prohibits the development, testing, production, deployment, use and threat of use of nuclear weapons, and requires environmental remediation and assistance to victims of the nuclear age, was adopted by 122 countries at the UN on 7 July 2017. The US, its nuclear allies, and other nuclear weapon possessor states boycotted the negotiations and have been pressuring other countries not to sign the Treaty.

Campaigners in the US want cities and states – as well as businesses, universities, faith communities, and individuals – to comply with the treaty nevertheless; to defy the US government on this issue and show their solidarity with the rest of the world, much as cities, states, businesses, and others have come out in support of the Paris Climate Accord despite the US government’s decision to pull the US out of that agreement.

More information can be found at www.nuclearban.us and www.icanw.org.

Our May 14 meeting was to begin discussion on forming a group in Hampton Roads to support this effort.

There was strong support from those gathered to meet again soon to continue the discussion about how best we can work together to promote the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons in Hampton Roads, and to explore other areas of common interest.


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12MAY Love Your Mother Lynnhaven River Now Waterway Cleanup

On March 12 several Virginia Beach Quakers gathered with over 60 other good souls for the annual Lynnhaven River Now Love Your Mother Waterway Cleanup.

This year's Love Your Mother Waterway Cleanup took place right down Laskin Road from our Meetinghouse, at Beach Garden Park. Richard Taylor's boys, Calvert and Fitz got the prize for the most unusual find - a big orange traffic barrier that was almost as big as the canoe they were working from!


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STRAWS - A Documentary For A Sea Of Change

On Sunday May 20, our Peace and Social Justice committee sponsored a Meeting For Eating, and invited Christina Trapani to show the film, STRAWS - A Documentary For A Sea Of Change.

The documentary aims to show plastic straw litter’s enormous contribution to coastal and marine pollution, promote policy change and demonstrate the impact community awareness initiatives are having on plastic straw use here in the U.S. and abroad. The film will be used to educate consumers and lawmakers, encourage sustainable business practices and motivate activism with youth and conservation organizations.

Christina reported about local progress with the STRAWS effort and suggested specific ideas that we can work on to help with this effort.

Christina is the owner of Eco Maniac Company - www.ecomaniaccompany.com - a one-stop shopping place for all of the reusable, eco-friendly, sustainable products you need.

 


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About The Temporary Protective Status

Dear Friends of Virginia Beach Friends Meeting:

May Friendship Month is an important time of the year to remember and honor the collective energy and power of the men and women who are on Temporary Protective Status in our country.

TPS, also known as Employment Authorization Document, gives temporary rights to work in the US to people from Nepal, Sudan, Liberia, Nicaragua, Haiti, and other Countries ravaged by internal conflicts or natural disasters. These people get to work here earning below minimum wages for a three to six months period. Yet they are a very important and integral part of our society and economy.

On a recent visit to D.C. and in Texas, I have met and spoken to many of them, while they were doing their job with dignity, humbleness, and diligence.

They clean office buildings, hotel rooms, restaurants, airports, trains and railroad station bathrooms; they are dishwashers, and hospital and nursing home cleaners, doing jobs we do not do.

But families are being split, children born here must be left behind with others, and when their time is up, their protection is not being extended, and they must leave.

Please take a few minutes of your time, and call, write, and petition our legislators to extend protection on their stay, and to help secure the future of these broken up families.

Please do this in the name of the Divine.

All you need to say when you call is: Extend the Temporary Protective Status.

Our legislators know exactly what that is, but this Bill is being ignored.

Thank you. Liana Fleming


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Community Notes

Tom Bertrand

Tom Bertrand was Guest Speaker at The Cape Henry Rotary Club in Virginia Beach. Tom's talk centered on his life as an Educator, and his work on Peace and Social Justice. In the picture below is Kathy Jeffries, current Rotary President, Tom, and Liana Fleming, Club Historian.




Meetinghouse Recital

For years Martha Giles has taught our community youth the love of music. Martha holds her recitals in our Meetinghoue - and along with parent and students, Martha very much appreciates this setting. Martha Giles' thank-you included this picture of her student recital held in our Meetinghouse last Sunday afternoon. It must have been a very happy occasion. For a number of years, it’s been our pleasure to have Martha and her students enjoy our space for their special work.


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Quick Links


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Next Meeting for Business Query - #12 / Outreach:

Do we welcome newcomers and non-members to our meetings? Are they encouraged to share in Meeting activities and to consider membership when they are in agreement with the principles and practices of Friends? Are our younger members appointed to committees and encouraged to share in other responsibilities of the Meeting? Do we visit one another frequently, remembering those who may be lonely? Does this visitation and caring extend beyond the members of our own Meeting?


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