Even in the Apostles' days, Christians were too apt to strive after a wrong unity
and uniformity in outward practices and observations, and to judge one another unrighteously
in these matters; and mark, it is not the different practice from one another that breaks the
peace and unity, but the judging of one another because of different practices For this is
the true ground of love and unity, not that such a man walks and does just as I do, but because
I feel the same Spirit and Life in him, and that he walks in his rank, in his own order, in his
proper way and place of subjection to that; and this is far more pleasing to me than if he
walked just in that track wherein I walk. - Isaac Penington, Quaker
In 2009, Brother William and Sister Anne made a Pilgrimage for Peace and Ecumenism to
New England. They visited different
faith communities, monasteries and historic religious locations.
The goal was to learn and understand more about different Christian faith groups and foster
interfaith understanding and Christian brother/sisterhood. Though the Friends had been
visiting several faith groups in Michigan for many years, to encourage ecumenical understanding, this
was the first long distance trip of its kind. The primary
focus in 2009 (though not limited to)
was Orthodox Christianity as the Friends knew so little about Orthodoxy.
The 10 day pilgrimage led the Friends first to the Shaker Village located near Albany International Airport in
NY. Here, they toured the buildings that were open to the public and learned more about the
historical relationship between between Quakers and Shakers.
Like many others, the Shakers traveled to the new world seeking religious freedom.
Their founders were a small group of former Quakers who gathered together in Manchester, England during
the late 1760's. A young textile worker named Anne Lee became the charismatic leader of the group. Lee and her followers
believed that .... living a pure, spiritual life required celibacy, pacifism, communal ownership of goods,
confession of sin, and racial and gender equality.
They were surprised to learn that there had also been a community of
African American Shakers founded by Sister Rebecca Jackson. Sister Rebecca had joined the Albany
Shakers in 1847, and in 1858 she went to Philadelphia to found a community who worked as
domestics. The Philadelphia
community was considered a branch of the Albany Shakers.
The Shakers at Watervliet were
industrious, as noted by the remarkable three and one-half story
West Family broom shop which testifies to the broom-making activity that once took place
there, and there was much to see and read about. This village was the first
Shaker settlement in America.
The people at the museum were
very informative and helpful, explaining details as as tour guides. Their enthusiasm
and dedication to the preservation of Shaker History was touching.
Next visited was the Shaker cemetary where Mother Ann Lee is buried, along with Father William Lee, Mother Lucy Wright
and 442 other Shakers.
A base ball was found by Sister Anne right near Mother Ann Lee's
grave. It seemed like sad irony.
The Friends then traveled to Cambridge, NY, where the next morning they briefly visited
with community members from Common Sense Farm. The exchange was interesting and informative.
It was a community group that
the Friends of Quaker Monastery were completely unfamiliar with.
Then, the Friends made their way to the
Orthodox Monastery of New Skete attending
New Skete's annual pilgrimage. The theme was: "Jesus: The Heart of Renewal".
It was a remarkable event in every way. The Friends of Quaker Monastery had never attended
an Orthodox worship service before, and this day featured a Divine Liturgy.
It was difficult for Sister Anne to fully describe the spiritual contrast between a silent Quaker Meeting and
Liturgy service, but she had this to say:
"The Divine Liturgy was awesome, in the
truest sense of the word - maybe even a little overwhelming for the grandeur of it all.
But the rich ceremonial majesty really honored and
acclaimed God as Almighty, and seemed profoundly worshipful." She said.
"One felt the
Divine presence just as keenly as during an unprogrammed Meeting for Worship with the Religous
Society of Friends,
but with more of an outward
"It certainly felt utterly holy and was visually magnificent and spiritual moving," reflected Brother William.
hymns touched the heart with great emotion, and the incense gave one the sense of mystical
presence as it delicately swirled up into the rays of light that poured down from the
Later, visiting inside the Church of the Transfiguration of our Lord and Saviour
Jesus Christ, the Friends found that the hand painted icons were amazing works of art that held one's attention for long thoughtful, prayerful
moments. During one of the sessions, Brother Stavros gave a wonderful talk about the history of
Orthodox Christianity and brief historical summary about the split between east and west
that seemed to end too soon for the material being so interesting.
As part of the schedule, Brother Christopher and an assistant
gave an excellent dog training demonstration that was marvelously informative.
Sister Anne had an opportunity to get to know an
Orthodox nun from Holy Myrrhbearers Monastery. They shared thoughts and ideas and generally enjoyed the peace of warm mutual respect
Brother David, (pictured to the right of Brother William), spent some time with the Friends briefly explaining
the history and background of Orthodox Christianity in an understandable way, especially given
the limits of time. He was very patient and answered a good many questions. Pictured to the right of
Sister Anne is one of the nuns of New Skete. Among other things, the Nuns of New Skete make exceptionally
delicious cheesecake which can be ordered online from their monastery site. We highly recommend it!
The next day, the Friends traveled to Vermont and visited the sight of the Old First Church. It was the first
church in Vermont.
organized in 1762 and the sanctuary was dedicated in 1806 with seating capacity of 650.
The adjacent cemetary is the location of the grave of Robert Frost - the epitaph on his stone reads,
"I had a lover's quarrel with the world".
Then the Friends journeyed to the state of Maine, first in search of two historical Quaker sites.
They found the first site
in Casco, Maine. The Friends School House which was built in 1849 and closed in 1944. This building was
apparently moved to its current location from its original spot on Quaker Ridge.
Next, they traveled to Quaker Ridge and found the Friends Meeting House there. It was beautifully
preserved and maintained.
The Friends Meeting House was built by Quakers who had come from Windham & had settled on Quaker Ridge.
Meetings were held at the home of Daniel Cook, Jr., before the meetinghouse was constructed in 1814.
The building was regularly used for Quaker meetings until the 1920s. It is still in its original
location on Quaker Ridge.
- - Raymond-Casco Historical Society
The beautiful panoramic view
from Quaker Ridge was just as inspiring as it must have been to the Quakers of days gone-by.
This is the view right next to the Friends Meeting House.
The Friends of Quaker Monastery took their evening rest in peaceful places and had their times of prayer where
they felt closest to the Lord, who always generously provided opportunity for being still in His presence
in the magnificence of natural settings.
Though pilgrims on a journey to new places and
learning experiences very far away from home, the Lord
was always near and they felt His assurance and were comforted by the Holy Spirit.
How insignificant we truly are standing beneath God's creative works.
They made their way next to Sabbathday Lake Shaker Village in New Gloucester, ME. They took the opportunity to
join a tour group to be able to see the featured buildings and examples of Shaker life and the work
the Shakers did many years ago. The Friends even got the opportunity to meet Brother Arnold, one of the last 3
Shakers living at Sabbathday Lake.
There were many valuable insights learned about the history
and culture of the Shaker faith and family, and of community life at Sabbathday Lake.
Now the Friends traveled to Whitefield, Maine to visit the Holy Apostles Orthodox Monastery.
They were met by
Bishop Douglas Wright, Orthodox-Catholic Church of America, who welcomed them warmly and
gave them a tour of the newly built cathedral.
It was a remarkable project still in progress, featuring solar power as their source of
Bishop Douglas was very hospitable, and answered many questions.
Above the sanctuary area of the cathedral were
these words: "Sit down be still and listen. God's presence comes to those who wait.
Those who listen, learn
They had the wonderful opportunity to share a meal together and get to know one another better. Brother
William was absolutely intrigued by the ingenuity of Bishop Douglas for having creating living space that has
such a low impact on the environment. He felt inspired to make improvements at Quaker Monastery based on
the many examples of the Bishop's work.
Then the Friends made a brief stop in Windsor, Maine to visit the Transfiguration Hermitage where
they met Sister Bernadette.
Soon it was time to head to Damariscotta, Maine, for their last stop at Midcoast Meeting of Friends where
they found the Quaker Meeting house in a lovely place. While there, they had made contact with the
by telephone, but unfortunately, a personal visit was not able to be arranged.
The intimate unadorned simplicity of their worship space was peaceful and serene and the rest there
was greatly appreciated. This was
the perfect last stop on a journey that had taken the Friends of Quaker Monastery through several states, meeting people of
different faiths, and learning about the rich diversity of our Christian faith as shared, understood and practiced
by the people they met. They came home with a richer perspective that they hope will help
them to better serve and understand the the pilgrims and visitors of different faiths
who visit Quaker Monastery and Farm.
The Friends of Quaker Monastery would like to thank the many people they met on this trip who received
them so kindly. They regret not having been able to visit Saint Joseph's Abbey in Spencer, MA
the only destination on their itinerary that they were unable to visit for lack of time.
The Friends would also like to thank the many people who made this trip possible, for their hard work in
the care and keeping of Quaker Farm. The effort was appreciated more than words can express, for
this trip was the fount of blessings for a life time - including the memory of the
beautiful ocean side rainbow pictured on the left.
It is the hope of the Friends at Quaker Monastery to be able to make a Peace Pilgrimage
again in the future
visit and learn more about our brothers and sisters of different faith groups. in the hope
that bridges of understanding can continue to be built.
In closing, Sister Anne makes this appeal to one and all; "Extend thy hand in unity and get to know thy
and sisters of other faith expressions for we are united in Christ, even if not uniformly so. Our Lord's command
to love one another should be far reaching, peaceful and all embracing."