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July 2008 Newsletter

Letter to Friends

 Newsletter of the Santa Fe Monthly Meeting of the Religious Society of Friends

 Seventh Month 2008



“Dost thou reckon thyself only a puny form

When within thee the universe is folded?”

 From The Seven Valleys, in the writings of Baha’u’llah, translated by Marzieh Gail


Calendar of Events

All events take place at the Meetinghouse, 630 Canyon Road, unless otherwise noted. Meeting for Worship is held every Sunday at 9:00 a.m. and 11:00 a.m. Childcare and First Day School are provided during the 11:00 a.m. Meeting. The South Santa Fe Worship Group holds Meeting for Worship every Sunday at 10:30 a.m. at the former International Institute for Oriental Medicine, 4884 La Junta del Alamo, Agua Fria.

 Sunday 7/6/08 10:00 a.m. Singing, First Day School room


12:30 p.m. Potluck


Sunday 7/13/08 9:15 a.m. Ministry and Oversight Committee


10:00 a.m. Singing, First Day School room


Sunday 7/20/08 10:00 a.m. Singing, First Day School room


12.30 p.m. Meeting for Worship for Business


Sunday 7/27/08 10:00 a.m. Singing, First Day School room


If you wish to have an item included in the calendar, please contact the Clerk of Meeting. Thank you.


* * *


Minutes of the 2nd Meeting Called by the Future Planning Committee, 29th Sixth Month, 2008


The meeting occurred between about 10:00 a.m. and 10:55 a.m. Approximately 19 people attended including several members of the Future Planning Comm.  Martha Davis served as Convener, following an introduction by Dave Giltrow.  Dave reviewed the purpose and activities of the Future (previously called Long-Range) Planning Committee and the Meeting’s longer history of discussions about inadequacies of the Canyon Road facilities and alternative proposals. The discussion today was fairly unstructured and followed participants’ comments on three basic topics.


1) Gift of Land


More information on the land being offered was requested. It is adjacent to Guthrie Miller’s home, situated to the south and bordered primarily by Camino Lejo. It is zoned residential, as are the surrounding large lots, and has been already subdivided as a separate lot.  It is in a beautiful location in a very nice neighborhood.


Is it likely that there would be opposition from neighbors to building a Meetinghouse here? Several people felt the past history of the neighborhood involved resisting other projects and could lead to problems and delays through appeals to City Hall and litigation in court. In response, one Friend spoke to the tradition of Quakers to reach out to people in the community and hoped that if the property were accepted, early efforts would be made to meet with the neighbors. Someone else who lives in the neighborhood agreed that such outreach would be necessary and good. It was suggested that, for such outreach, it would be helpful to have clear drawings of the property to share.


Additional conditions or factors related to the gift: the donor is offering the land as a building site for a meetinghouse and not as an asset that could be sold. Since one of the conditions is that the property would be in “joint tenancy” and turned over to the Meeting in a multi-year transfer, and, because time would be needed to raise construction funds, it would take perhaps 5 to 7 years before ground would be broken. The donor has consulted lawyers and believes this is the best scenario so far. It was suggested that the details of a written agreement between the Meeting and the donor be worked out by the Future Planning Committee in the near future.


What is the urgency of coming to a commitment on the land? In order for the transfer to begin by the end of this year, as the donor hopes, an agreement would have to be arrived at by September or October at the latest.  There was a comment that the time constraints and pressures are not in the “Quakerly” tradition.


2)  Status of Olive Rush Property on Canyon Road


A fairly new member of the Meeting asked for information on the current status of the Canyon Road property and whether it could be sold:  the answer is that we still do not know for certain. According to one legal opinion, in the 1980s, the property was donated through Olive’s will to the Meeting making it now the legal owner. However, Olive’s earlier but less official “Agreement” with the Meeting spoke of the property being passed on to the Historic Santa Fe Foundation if the Meeting no longer wished to use it. The Future Planning Committee intends to seek a second legal opinion and would probably have to file a Quit Claim to eliminate the Foundation’s claim to the property.


It was observed that beyond these legal issues is the need to weigh the moral obligation the Meeting may have to Olive Rush to hold on to and maintain the land and buildings. In this regard, one Friend felt that the key issue in resolving questions on the status of the property is to consider “What was Olive’s intent in donating it to Meeting?”  Was it to insure that the buildings and garden would be preserved “as is”?  Was it to provide a home for the Meeting that would allow it to have continuity and grow?  Could she have foreseen the size and needs of the Meeting today?


A long-time member of the Meeting noted that this was at least the third time in the last 30 years that concerns about the future of the Canyon Road property were being discussed.  Because of the energy and emotions around Canyon Road, it needed to be held in the Light separately.  He felt it would be helpful if decisions about the disposition of the current meetinghouse could be separated from discussions of the newer options and proposals.


In contrast, another member saw all the issues and options as part of a whole. She asked: “How can we be a viable Meeting that serves the needs of its youth and young adults and that draws in enough active members to generate energy and support for the projects we believe in?”  She felt that to do this we need to take advantage of the new options being presented to us and that to stay in the current building was to stagnate. To her disappointment, the Meeting over the last 20 years had been unable to provide adequate teaching of Quakerism for Young Friends. In her opinion, the Meeting now needed to move in a timely fashion, but move.


Another Friend spoke of her decision to distance herself from the Santa Fe Meeting because she felt the group “clings” to the building. She spoke of her experience with the Houston Meeting when they went through the 4-5 year process of planning to build a new meetinghouse. Once committed, they were able to work through differences and raise considerable funding to construct a simple but artistic facility with a separate building for their young people. It was suggested that we find out more about what the status of the Houston Meeting is now and what has been the impact of the new facility.


3) South Santa Fe Worship Group’s Building Fund

 An attempt was made to focus attention on the South Santa Fe Worship Group’s desire to receive the Meeting’s in-put on their proposal to rent either one or two condominium units on Luana/Maclovia Street. Per Alison Martinez’s email this week, the South Side Group wishes to move quickly to rent a facility and wants feedback from Friends after the site visit to the property earlier this week.

One Friend felt some uncomfortable pressure to come to consensus and to move as a result of the email, but understood better the urgency expressed by other Friends in this discussion to develop a more useable space for First Day groups and other activities. Nevertheless, she felt concern about the disruption of moving, especially two separate moves to an interim facility and eventually to a built meetinghouse, which might be especially hard on an unprogrammed meeting.


People who visited the proposed site in Maclovia Condominiums described their observations. Some Friends thought the office building was a simple and pleasant facility but had little “charm”. The outdoor space is limited and best accessible from the back unit.  It was clear to most that the single unit of 1300 sq. ft. originally proposed would be too small to create a worship space larger than that at Canyon Road. Two units totaling 2600 sq. ft. would offer plenty of space if several non-bearing walls were taken down to create a larger worship room, leaving several medium to small rooms for youth groups, offices, and meeting rooms. Apparently the current owner would make the alterations required. The facility would share a common wall along its length with the two condo units on the opposite side.


Coincidentally, Howard Shulman realized that his employer, New Mexico Commission on Aging, will be moving into the other half of the building later this summer. He noted that the offices would be used only from 7:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. primarily on week days. In his experience, the building’s owner is flexible and amenable to making adjustments. He recommended that it would be wiser for the South Santa Fe Group to rent the facility since one didn’t know who one’s neighbors in the building will be in the future.



One Friend expressed the feelings of many in the group in speaking of her deep appreciation for the generosity of both the offers before the Santa Fe Meeting and her gratitude for these proposals bringing to the forefront possibilities for new directions for the community.

Prepared by Bettina Raphael, 7/2/08



* * *


Editor’s Note: Until July 2nd no contributions or notices for the newsletter had been received. As there was no general Meeting for Business in Sixth Month, there were no minutes and thus no material at all for a Letter to Friends, so it appeared logical to skip this issue. The minutes of the “called meeting” which appear in this newsletter, followed by the book review, subsequently arrived, which is the reason for “going to press” in the second week of July. The editor asks Friends to consider making greater use of the newsletter. If there are no contributions it is surely not the job of the editor to invent them. Perhaps we should also plan to have a summer recess for the newsletter in future years—in the month following IMYM.


Book Review

 “Jesus for the Non-Religious” by John Shelby Spong

In his two lectures on "How the Synagogue Shaped the Jesus Story" at Temple Beth Shalom in May, Bishop Spong asserted that the three synoptic gospels were not recounting history but rather were using images from the Hebrew scriptures to describe the experience of the early Jesus movement at a time when many followers of Jesus still considered themselves Jews and remained in their synagogues.

Spong believes that the gospel stories interpreted Jesus using images familiar in the synagogues––the pascal lamb, the Son of God, the suffering servant––and were arranged specifically to reflect the liturgy of the synagogue year. “Jesus for the Non-Religious” (available at the Santa Fe Public Library) develops these ideas, especially in the second section.


To prepare the ground for his case that the gospels were carefully constructed out of Old Testament images to portray their experience of Jesus, Spong denies in the first section of his book that the gospels record “what actually happened”. There was no star over Bethlehem, no wise men, no raising the dead, no “miracles”. Although Spong's case is fresh and convincing, if you have already been convinced you could skip this section.


The second section, on how the synagogue shaped the gospel stories, is the most interesting, novel, and distinctive part of the book. Spong draws on the earlier work of a distinguished British biblical scholar, Michael Gould. Gould's ideas about the gospel writers' use of Old Testament images weren't accepted by most mainstream scholars, but they were taken seriously enough to be debated. Spong's use of them provides a refreshing reminder that Jesus was a Jew speaking to other Jews, and his earliest followers considered themselves Jews for at least 40 or 50 years after his death, with many continuing to attend synagogue for worship and biblical education into the third century CE (a practice denounced by orthodox church leaders such as Tertullian).


In the last section, Spong “hopes to build on [Dietrich] Bonhoeffer's idea” of creating a “Religionless Christianity,” leaving behind our received ideas of Jesus and God, and seeing Jesus as the fully realized human being seen by his original followers. Spong characterizes the image of God most of us grew up with (bearded white man up above who punishes the bad and rewards the good) as “Theism”, which is no longer believable or necessary. Spong believes that only by “shattering...the irrelevant theistic language with which we have surrounded” Jesus can we experience him as his disciples did.

Bob Gaines


Messages and Announcements

  • Friends are reminded that M & O maintains a Meeting Calendar. Please contact Ford Robbins (505-466-7665) to schedule use of the Meetinghouse for your event. This will help avoid conflicts and will allow Meeting to maintain security of the premises.

  • Friends who know someone who would like to reserve a stay in the guest apartment are asked to have the potential guest(s) contact the resident, Peg Martin (505-983-7241), directly to make the booking, so that she can know exact dates as early as possible and coordinate reservations. If there is a change in plans, this also should be communicated directly to Peg by the guests.

  • Junk no more!  Your excess calendars, greeting cards, and old magazines can help women prisoners to maintain connections with friends, families and the outside world.  Just call Audrey Miller at 424-1208.  She'll pick up your donations and get them to the women.  Thank you!

  • Friends and attenders are reminded that Michele Chrabot collects brown paper grocery bags for recycling at the Santa Fe Food Bank. They may be given to her after 11 o'clock Meeting for Worship or placed in the designated bag in the Meetinghouse kitchen.


Some Key Meeting Contacts



Santa Fe Meeting Websites:


Ministry and Oversight Committee: (for personal or meeting-wide concerns, and needs for pastoral counseling) Ford Robbins, convener, 466-7665; Joan Spencer, 984-2217; Dimitri Mihalas, 661-7414; Philip Balcombe, 466-2982; Jennifer Wellington, 438-9399; Michael Simon, 989-3817; Roxanne Seagraves, 438-3714


Meeting Clerk: Jennifer Wellington, 438-9399


Meeting Resident: (for guest apartment, or to report building problems, etc.) Peg Martin, 983-7241.


To schedule use of building: Contact Ford Robbins, 466-7665,


Recorder: Beverly Busching, 984-8742


Treasurer: Bob Gaines, 466-1746 Please mail financial contributions to Treasurer, Santa Fe Monthly Meeting of Friends, 630 Canyon Rd, Santa Fe NM 87501, or put in “birdhouse” box. Thank you!


Young Friends (18–40ish) get together often. For information please contact Sarah Cutler, 216-5219


The Peace and Social Concerns Committee welcomes new members. Anne McLaughlin, 995-9655 Meetings as and when announced.


The Committee on Conscientious Objection meets as needed. For information please call Howard Shulman, 984-9908.


South Santa Fe Worship Group contact person is Alison Martinez, 438-0729


For a complete list of committees, see the Meeting Directory. Friends and attenders can request a copy at any time, either 'printed on demand' and mailed to you or sent to you electronically, i.e. as an email attachment. For hard copy please contact Molly Vaux (, 505-454-9352) or to receive by email contact Bob Gaines (, 466-1746). In either case please specify whether you want the local Santa Fe directory or the outside Santa Fe directory, or both.










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