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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 early 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.

African American Shaker, Sister Rebecca Jackson 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 very 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.

Shaker Cemetery where Mother Ann Lee is buried.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.

Gravesite of Shaker founder Mother Ann Lee
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.

New Skete Chapel, Cambridge, NY
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 a Divine Liturgy service, but she had this to say:

New Skete, Cambridge, NY"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 sensation."

New Skete, Cambridge, NY "It certainly felt utterly holy and was visually magnificent and spiritual moving," reflected Brother William. "The 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 upper windows."

New Skete icon, Cambridge, NY 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.

Brother Christopher, New Skete dog training demo
As part of the schedule, Brother Christopher and an assistant gave an excellent dog training demonstration that was marvelously informative.

Christian sisters in fellowship
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 and Christian fellowship.

Brothers and Sisters from New Skete and Quaker Monastery 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!

Brothers and Sisters from New Skete and Quaker Monastery
The next day, the Friends traveled to Vermont and visited the sight of the Old First Church. It was the first Protestant church in Vermont.

Old First Church, VT

The congregation organized in 1762 and the sanctuary was dedicated in 1806 with seating capacity of 650.

Brothers and Sisters from New Skete and Quaker Monastery
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. Friends School, Casco, Maine

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.

Friends School, Casco, Maine

Friends Meeting House, 1814

Next, they traveled to Quaker Ridge and found the Friends Meeting House there. It was beautifully preserved and maintained.

Friends Meeting House, 1814, Maine 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

Friends Meeting House, 1814, Maine

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.

God's glowing covenant. - Hosea Ballou

How insignificant we truly are standing beneath God's creative works.

Sabbathdaylake Shaker Village, Maine

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.

Sabbathdaylake, Maine

There were many valuable insights learned about the history and culture of the Shaker faith and family, and of community life at Sabbathday Lake.

, Maine
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.

, Maine

It was a remarkable project still in progress, featuring solar power as their source of green energy. Bishop Douglas was very hospitable, and answered many questions.

, Maine

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 to hear."

, Maine

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.

, Maine Quakers
Then the Friends made a brief stop in Windsor, Maine to visit the Transfiguration Hermitage where they met Sister Bernadette.

, Maine Quakers
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 Friends by telephone, but unfortunately, a personal visit was not able to be arranged.

, Maine Quakers 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.

Quakers under the rainbow 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 which was 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 to 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 Christian brothers 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."

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