Living History

Yesterday after meeting, Evalyn Kellum and Pat Zarowin shared how the North Meadow Circle of Friends meeting was started, almost 40 years ago.

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Eric Hailperin-Lausch, North Meadow clerk,   Evalyn Kellum and Pat Zarowin

They spoke of their families search for a spiritual home, with the familiar story of meeting in rented spaces and peoples’ homes.

Evalyn recalled an incident when guns were discovered in the building the meeting was renting space in, which lead to finding another place to meet.

She and Pat talked about how much work was involved in moving from home to home, especially regarding First Day school supplies.

They also talked about Neighborhood Friends, one of two Friends United Meeting projects, called Volunteer Service Mission (VSM), which was designed to provide space for Friends to engage inner city communities, and to provide ways for conscientious objectVSM jeffors to fulfill their alternative service in meaningful ways (this was in the late 1960’s, early ’70s, during the Vietnam War.  A number of community members were involved, including Julia Carson, who became our U.S. Congresswoman.

I was serving in the other VSM project, this one on the Southwest side of Indianapolis, in a lower income, transient population, associated with Second Friends Church.

They spoke about how Neighborhood Friends was what brought those who eventually formed North Meadow Friends together.

Pat spoke of the experience she and her husband Jerry Barrows had when there were negative (anti-Vietnamese) reactions from the Friends Church they were attending, to a presentation by those who were providing prosthetics for Vietnamese who were wounded by the war that was going on at that time.

The group found a house to buy, but the purchase was delayed because one member strongly objected to the meeting owning property.  After some time, that person moved away, and the house was bought.

The meeting wanted to make sure the house was used as much as possible to support community events, and not just on Sunday.  Various groups continue to meet at the meetinghouse, include the Indianapolis Peace and Justice Center, Socialist Party, 350.org, some AFSC programs and meetings, and, sometimes, Quaker Social Change Ministry.

Although the meeting at one time belonged to Western Yearly Meeting, there was a parting of ways when North Meadow Friends approved a minute supporting marriage equality.  Ron Haldeman spoke of performing one or more same-sex weddings.  North Meadow now belongs to Ohio Valley Yearly Meeting.

Meeting members continue to be involved in a wide range of peace and social justice efforts, including a weekly peace vigil in front of the Federal Building downtown.

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Jeff Kisling, Fred White and Gilbert Kuhn at the weekly peace vigil at the Federal building

One of the recent meeting efforts was to be one of the meetings involved in the pilot year of the new AFSC program, Quaker Social Change Ministry.  This was a natural outgrowth of the meetings involvement with local Black Lives Matter that formed when Michael Brown was killed in Ferguson, Missouri.  Quaker Social Change Ministry is designed to help get more people in Friends meetings involved in social justice work, and to get Friends engaged with impacted communities.

Several people who attend North Meadow Friends have had years long relationships with the people at the Kheprw Institute (KI), a small organization devoted to mentoring Black youth, and to the environment.  KI has a huge aquaponics system, rain barrel production, community garden and composting, and run a food coop.  KI also has a web design and computer programming business, and provides video/technology support for community groups.  We were really glad to have my friend Diop Adisa and Precious from KI at yesterday’s meeting to record it.

Online photo album:  https://1drv.ms/f/s!Avb9bFhezZpPg7loHaXQoLZ2iwXd6g

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