A refreshing take

Peterson Toscano is a remarkable Bible scholar, one who frequently opens a passage in a new way to me. Let’s say I quote him a lot. But he’s also, well, as he’s described it, a “quirky, queer, Quaker performing artist and comic” and environmental and social justice activist and a lot more. He adapts readily to any audience, large or small, young or old, indoors or out. Oh, and he is incredibly funny, even when dissecting a Biblical passage. I always find him quite refreshing.

Here he is in the Gonic meetinghouse in Rochester, New Hampshire.

Peterson as himself …

 

… and as Marvin. Some of his characters, though, as so convincing I can’t see Peterson at all.
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Time for Yearly Meeting

Oops! At least it wasn’t the R that fell.

Like many other Yearly Meetings in North America, ours holds its annual sessions in August, these days gathering for nearly a week on a college campus. It’s a powerful time of faithful work on business decisions and administration, worship, Bible study, inspiration, fellowship (often around food), music and dance, and friendships old and new.

The golf carts are a popular way to get from one end of campus to the other, especially when you’re on a tight schedule. The volunteer drivers, I might add, are usually well into celebrating their inner child.

Taftsville Mennonite

Mennonites had a vital influence over the early Quaker movement, largely through their General Baptist connection to England. Like Friends, they maintain a pacifist witness and simplicity.

In fact, the first Mennonite congregation in North America — in Germantown, Pennsylvania — initially worshiped with a Quaker Meeting as one. By tradition, it introduced the first anti-slavery statement among Friends, who were slower to accept its call.

Unlike the mid-Atlantic and Midwest, there are few Mennonites in New England.

Taftsville Mennonite, in a former schoolhouse in eastern Woodstock, Vermont.

Quarterly Meeting

Representatives from neighboring Quaker congregations get together four times a year to check in on each other and events in their home meetings. The practice, called Quarterly Meeting, has its own clerks, treasurer, and other officers, as needed.

In the past, it was a big event. The smaller meetings, in fact, would not have their own worship that Sunday — everyone would be off to wherever the Quarter was gathering. I suspect much of it was a family reunion, one filled with a holiday spirit.

Nowadays is a different matter, especially as we struggle with finding a better fit between our Monthly Meetings (the local groups that worship each week but conduct business once a month) and our much larger Yearly Meetings — in our case, New England Yearly Meeting of Friends.

These photos are from a session of Dover Quarterly Meeting that took place in the newly renovated West Epping meetinghouse.

We came from across much of New Hampshire.
It’s a classic space. Gone, though, is the wood stove, now that propane heating has been installed.

Mary Dyer

Mary Dyer was executed by Puritan authorities who opposed her Quaker witness. She faces Boston Common, where she was hanged in 1660.
Mary Dyer was executed by Puritan authorities who opposed her Quaker witness. She faces Boston Common, where she was hanged in 1660.

This 1959 statue by Sylvia Shaw Judson sits on the grounds of the Massachusetts State House in Boston.

Dyer chose to be faithful to Truth in the face of persecution. Religious tolerance was not her mission, although freedom of expression was.
Dyer chose to be faithful to Truth in the face of persecution. Religious tolerance was not her mission, although freedom of expression was.

East Sandwich

Classic shake siding, weathered gray, is a common Cape Cod theme.
Classic shake siding, weathered gray, is a common Cape Cod theme.

 

The Great Meetinghouse in Sandwich, Massachusetts. is an imposing structure.
The Great Meetinghouse in Sandwich, Massachusetts. is an imposing structure.

 

The horse sheds stretched much further than this in both directions from the meetinghouse.
The horse sheds stretched much further than this in both directions from the meetinghouse.

 

The interior, viewed through a window.
The interior, viewed through a window.

 

Hanover

From the street, the Hanover Friends meetinghouse reflects its origins as a private residence near the Dartmouth College campus.
From the street, the Hanover Friends meetinghouse reflects its origins as a private residence near the Dartmouth College campus.
Friends typically arrive and leave at the back of the house, which includes new additions.
Friends typically arrive and leave at the back of the house, which includes new additions.

Yarmouth

The Yarmouth Quaker meetinghouse on Cape Cod is distinctive in that the traditional women's side, on the left, was much larger than the men's side, on the right. The reason, we're told, is that many of the men were often out to sea.
The Yarmouth Quaker meetinghouse on Cape Cod is distinctive in that the traditional women’s side, on the left, was much larger than the men’s side, on the right. The reason, we’re told, is that many of the men were often out to sea.