Monthly Potluck & Called Meeting to Consider An Item for Approval

Posted by admin on Feb 27, 2010 in Uncategorized

Dear Friends,

After rise of worship this week, there will be a called meeting for the
conduct of one item of business. As many of you undoubtedly have heard, there is a movement afoot in the City of Asheville to extend health care benefits to same-gendered partners of City employees. Below is a statement being circulated among various welcoming denominations in Asheville that our clerk has requested that we consider and see if we are led to unite with.

Also, this being fourth Sunday, we will have our monthly Sandwich Sunday potluck. Friends are invited to bring a wholesome homemade dish, but welcome even if all you bring is your appetite. Please be mindful of those among us who have special diets and/or food sensitivities, and label your ingredients. Our table conversations this month will center on “FCNL Priorities”. Kitti Reynolds will provide more information when we gather.

Here then is the statement we will be considering during our called
meeting for business:

*Faith Leaders’ Personal Appreciation for*
*Asheville City Council’s leadership on *
*Domestic Partner Benefits for Asheville City Employees*
February 4, 2010
We, the leaders of a number of faith communities in Asheville, express our personal appreciation for the leadership and foresight of the Asheville City Council in proposing and moving toward a positive vote for Domestic Partner Benefits for City employees who are in same-gender relationships. As clergy, we are aware that the passage of this measure is significant to many members of our congregations, regardless of sexual orientation.
We conclude that despite varying religious views about homosexuality, a civil society should work toward fairness and equitable compensation for everyone in the community, including public workers. Providing Domestic Partner Benefits for City employees who are in same-gender committed relationships contributes toward this goal and creates a stronger, family-supporting community, of which we are proud to be a part.


First Congregational UCC performance and call to artists

Posted by admin on Feb 22, 2010 in Local Social Action, Other Events, Peace & Justice

The First Congregational United Church of Christ in downtown Asheville at20 Oak Street is pleased to invite you to Execute Art Not People on Monday, March 1, from 7 to 9pm, a free event featuring visual and performance art to commemorate Amnesty International’s Death Penalty Awareness Week. The exhibit has also issued a call for art from local artists, students and activists — all proceeds from work offered for sale will go directly to the artists. Please forward this invitation to others who may be interested in attending or contributing art. The exhibit features a quilt made by the families of murder victims and death row inmates in western North Carolina, work by Asheville artists John Mac Kah, Anna Jensen and Linda Larsen as well as by death row inmate Wiley Dobbs. The program includes poetry by former North Carolina death row inmate Edward Chapman, music by Asheville musician James Richards, City Council member Cecil Bothwell and prison chaplain Rev. Mark Siler, as well as a presentation by mediator and restorative justice advocate Melanie Snyder, author of Grace Goes to Prison, entitled Restorative Justice in a Tough-on-Crime World. Event co-sponsors include the UNC-Asheville student chapter of Amnesty International as well as Amnesty USA, the Asheville-Buncombe League of Women Voters, Asheville Friends Meeting, People of Faith Against the Death Penalty, the Unitarian Universalist Church of Asheville Human Rights Team, the WNC Chapter of the American Civil Liberties Union and the WNC Ethical Society. Additional co-sponsors are also welcome. Please contact Alex Cury at (828)253-5088 or acury@ncmoratorium.org for more information.

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First Congregational UCC presenting play to benefit homeless

Posted by admin on Feb 22, 2010 in Community Support and Outreach, Local Social Action, Other Events

Our Friends Meeting has been more and more involved with homelessness in Asheville over recent weeks and months, including helping feed some 150 homeless Asheville citizens in Pritchard Park last Sunday morning….
Over the past few months a group called Homeward Bound has
prepared a musical/theatrical experience which is currently running
each weekend at First Congregational Church, downtown, near the traffic circle at the County Building. Both Mountain Xpress and the
Citizen-Crimes have given this show a LOT of press and there are many moving testimonials to the value of experiencing it, first hand.
The following came in tonight from a VERY discerning source, one whom many of you will know and respect. I hope you’ll all read this and consider attending “Always Expect Miracles”, Thursday, Friday and Saturday nights (and Saturday afternoons) through March 8th.
Jim Cavener

Last weekend, my family was blown away by this play. We didn’t
realize what powerful social justice stories and messages would be
presented, including a transgender woman’s powerful monologue about finally being free to be herself. Stump town, desegregation, and more. You’ll laugh. You’ll cry. You’ll think. You’ll feel the power of song and dance …and even motorcycles! Beaucatcher Mountain has been constructed right there in the high sanctuary along with an amazing set that comes to life with 50 local actors of all ages.
So enjoy great stories about Asheville….and benefit Homeward
Bound which works on housing and homeless issues in the City.
You’ll have a great time!! You’ll leave uplifted!! See
details below provided by the play:

Monroe Gilmour
Coalition for Equality

Homeward Bound’s Community Performance Project, Just Home in the Mountains, continues its performances of “Always Expect Miracles”

Written by award winning playwright Jules Corrierre, and based on stories gathered from Asheville residents.

The performances will take place at the First Congregational United Church of Christ, 20 Oak Street in Asheville 28801
(next to Health Dept & across Oak St from 1st Baptist)

All proceeds from ticket sales will benefit Homeward Bound of Asheville.

Always Expect Miracles is a mixture of stories gathered from residents of WNC and artfully woven into a compelling chronicle.

Over 50 actors, from every segment of our community, will bring to life these true tales of colorful characters, civil rights leaders, famous ghosts, new neighbors and old timers. Don’t miss this ground breaking community event!

“Always Expect Miracles”
First Congregational United Church of Christ, 20 Oak Street, Asheville
Thursday through Saturday, Feb. 18 until March 6 – 7:30 p.m.
Saturday matinees- 2:30 p.m.

Buy Tickets at the Door OR
Advanced tickets can be purchased through Pack Place- 2 South Pack
Square, Asheville.
Mon-Sat- 10- 5, Sunday 1-5 or call 828-257-4500

For More Information Contact:
Rebecca Williams, Project Director – Homeward Bound’s, Just Home in the
828-768-2456, bbinfo@hbofa.org
or visit www.justhome.org

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Meeting for Business Agenda 2/14/10

Posted by admin on Feb 11, 2010 in Meeting Events

AGENDA 2/14/10

Opening worship

~Approval of minutes for First Month

~Proposed budget

~Response to SAYMA’s Faith and Practice Committee

~Nominating Committee

~State of the Meeting – Discussion


Closing worship


Proposed Comments on SAYMA Faith and Practice Revision

Posted by admin on Feb 11, 2010 in documents, Meeting News

Dear Friends,

Shortly after our 01/2010 meeting for business, the SAYMA Faith and Practice Revision Committee asked our Meeting to review their proposed changes to the “Marriage” section. Given the very short time frame between their request (about two weeks ago) and their next meeting (about two weeks hence), there was not sufficient time for Asheville Friends to engage in a good seasoning process, with an ad hoc committee meeting to determine what recommendations to propose, which could then be reviewed by the Meeting, further seasoned, and finally approved.

Instead, our clerk invited any Friend who felt led to consider the work of the Revision Committee to take a written copy of their proposals and submit their comments to her in advance of the business meeting. Five Friends took up the invitation and two Friends have written responses. The Meeting is being asked to review their recommendations to see if we can unite with them. Whichever of these recommendations we can unite with can then be submitted on behalf of our Meeting. If there are any of these recommendations that a Friend does not feel comfortable with, then those recommendations will not be submitted on behalf of our Meeting.

Our clerk asks that each of us take the time in advance of the business meeting to read over the proposed section as well as the recommendations being submitted, so that the time we have available to spend on this in business meeting can be devoted to discussion and discernment. The two Friends’ recommendations are attached to this email in a single pdf document. The proposed section on marriage can be found at the SAYMA website, at this link:

Marriage section, proposed revisions

Best wishes,

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Peterson Toscano, visiting Performance Activist at WWC

Posted by admin on Feb 7, 2010 in Other Events, Visiting Friends

This First Day, February 7, we had in our company Peterson Toscano, a Friend from Selinsgrove, PA, a Gay Activist and Performance Artist, who is currently an Activist-in-Residence at Warren Wilson College. Peterson will be doing the following presentations while he’s in the area:
Homo No Mo?!? Orientation, Gender & the Ex-Gay Movement, on Feb. 9th at Canon Lounge, on the WWC campus, 7:30 – 9:30 PM
Doin Time with Peterson Toscano on Feb. 15 at Canon Lounge, on the WWC campus, 8 PM This presentation will consist of excerpts from original plays by Peterson including “The Re-Education of George W. Bush”, “Queer 101-Now I Know My gAy,B,Cs”, and “Doin Time in the Homo No Mo Halfway House”.
Transfigurations: Transgressing Gender in the Bible on Feb. 19 at Jubilee, 7:30 PM
More info on these presentations and performances available @ http://www.petersontoscano.com/
Peterson’s bio can be read here:

He plans to join us at various times during his stay as he is able.
Welcome, Peterson!


Asheville Friend on Front Page of ACT Mountain Section

Posted by admin on Feb 7, 2010 in Our Friends

Our Bob Smith (executive director of the Asheville-Buncombe Community Relations Council) is pictured (and quoted) on the front of the “Mountains” Section of the AC-T (Friday, February 5) in a feature story regarding the legacy of slavery in Western North Carolina.
VANCE SITE LOOKS AT WNC’s SLAVERY HISTORY — AC-T — February 5, 2010, page B1

WEAVERVILLE — Slavery in Western North Carolina isn’t the most
comfortable topic to talk about, but Tammy Walsh doesn’t think people should avoid it.

And to get the conversation started, Walsh is giving people a glimpse behind the big house on the hill every Saturday in February at the Vance Birthplace Historic Site, home to North Carolina’s Civil War Gov. Zebulon Vance. She hopes the program, “Behind the Big House,” brings the issue of slavery in WNC out into the open so people can have a frank discussion about a history that is often neglected or ignored.

People’s breathing changes at the mere thought of slavery, said Bob Smith, executive director of Asheville-Buncombe Council of Community Relations, a group that strives to develop mutual respect with a focus on ending discrimination.

But, Smith said, in order to move beyond “the elephant in the room,” people need to acknowledge slaves were “chattel” and “property.”

Accomplishments by African-Americans have been a part of WNC’s history since the 1700s, yet there is little acknowledgement on any of the historic markers or sites, according to Deborah Miles, executive director of the Center for Diversity Education in Asheville.

Miles said the setting is notable because the National Park Service didn’t talk about slavery at any of its Civil War sites until 1995. A program like this at a state site on an important historical figure raises the question in public, making it less likely to be dismissed.

And programs like “Behind the Big House” can make people question therole of ancestors as slaves or slave owners and elected leaders, Miles said. This may lead to uncomfortable questions of “how ‘unearned privilege’ might still exist in a merit-based society.”

“I believe that the more we understand about the past, the more tools we have to shape the future,” she said.

Day to day

Slaves made up 15 percent of the population of Buncombe County in the late 18th Century.

Farms in the region were relatively small in scale so the hierarchy of domestic workers and field workers was not as developed as in the plantation system, according to Walsh. There were fewer numbers of slaves to specialize in particular jobs, so they may have worked both in the fields on the farm and at other jobs in town, depending on the time of year.

But slaves in North Carolina generally had more interaction with slaves on other farms, often looking there to find a spouse, and could travel to different farms to court or visit during their limited free time.

The story becomes tangible when visitors tour the historic site in Weaverville. The modest two-story, five-room home David Vance Sr., the governor’s grandfather had built on the hill is misleading. It’s not a McMansion by today’s standards, instead it’s a modest home. But, according to Walsh, documents indicate the family was wealthy enough to own up to 19 slaves at one point, which wasn’t typical in the region.

The two-room slave quarters, a building originally owned by Robert Patton and relocated from its original location in Swannanoa Valley, had a fireplace, wooden floorboards, two windows with no panes and two doors. If people wanted light, the windows and doors had to remain open, even in winter.

There were three cabins with at least eight people per one-room dwelling the size of a medium-sized car.

Making history real

Occasionally, Walsh takes her show on the road to schools at teachers’ requests.

One request came from Sandy Tarintino, a fourth-grade teacher at Francine Delany New School. She said the most important thing about the “Behind the Big House” outreach program her students saw were the documents that let them to connect the dots in a factual manner.

Tarintino said her students’ reaction to the program was largely horror.

“It makes the abstract concrete,” Tarintino said. “You start to picture families. You start to picture a grandmother. When you make content like that place-based and put that in the context of where a child learns and where a child lives, it makes it more relevant.”

The program is based on information culled from primary source documents like court records, wills, letters and diaries, among other sources. And, Walsh said, this makes the program real and indisputable because it puts a face and a name to the people affected by slavery.

Going forward;

The legacy of slavery and the Civil War still have lingering impacts in the region, in the statistics on income, positions of power and authority, housing and education trends, Miles said.

But Smith said African-Americans cannot continue to use slavery as an excuse.

“A lot of empires were built on free labor. Subjugating people, exploiting people,” Smith said. But, since African-Americans overcame slavery, “We can overcome anything.”

Instead, African-Americans should use it as inspiration and to demonstrate that they have learned something so they may “never be slaves again, particularly in our own mind, which is where we have to free slaves from.”

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A Talk on Palestinian/Israeli Relations @ WWC

Posted by admin on Feb 3, 2010 in Other Events, Peace & Justice

Dear Supporters of Peace and Justice Studies at WWC,
You’re invited to the following SPECIAL EVENT:

Current Events in Palestine and Israel: An On-the Ground Perspective
with Veronica Grant

Thursday, Feb. 4, 2010; 6:30PM – 8:00 PM
Canon Lounge (Gladfelter Bldg WWC Campus)

A native of Asheville, in the past year, Veronica has lived in Jerusalem, Damascus, and Ramallah. Her interest in the Middle East began at a Peace Camp in Egypt in 2003. In 2004, Veronica left Asheville to attend the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, to pursue her interests in the Middle East. She majored in International Studies and Social and Economic Justice and studied both Hebrew and Arabic. On campus, she was actively involved in UNC’s Jewish community, promoting Jewish-Muslim-Arab relations, and transforming the Israel/Palestine debate to that of a progressive one, particularly within the Jewish community. After graduating from UNC in 2008, she moved to Jerusalem to pursue a Master’s in Islamic and Middle Eastern Studies at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem. Last year, in addition to her studies, Veronica taught yoga to an Israeli-Palestinian women’s weight loss group, as featured in Oprah Magazine, June ’09. In summer ’09, Veronica lived with a Syrian family while studying Arabic at the University of Damascus. She is also proud to say that she has couch surfed and hitch hiked, motorcycles included, throughout Lebanon and Syria, and is still here to tell us about it. Currently, she lives in Ramallah, interns with B’tselem, the Israeli Information Center for Human Rights in the Occupied Territories, and is beginning work on her thesis on the Israel-Palestine debate on American campuses.
Free to the public. Sponsored by the Peace & Justice Studies Program WWC

Prof. Paul J. Magnarella. Ph.D., J.D.
Director, Peace and Justice Studies
Warren Wilson College, CPO 6282
Asheville, NC 28815-9000


We Missed Meeting, But…

Posted by admin on Feb 1, 2010 in Uncategorized

…… we can still share Quaker community-building despite the storm and inability to physically ‘cluster’ as we usually do, Thanks to local print media we have opportunity to ‘hear’ (well. read!) messages from, and about, two of our Asheville Friends Meeting regulars:
1] The current Mountain Xpress (Jan 27 — Feb 2, bottom of page 7) has a fine letter from Susan Oehler, decrying the on-going war efforts of our nation, particularly in the Middle East (could access to petroleum be behind all this calculated mahem?) .
2] The Asheville Citizen-Times (Thursday, Jan 28 — page A6) has a page-long single column commentary on our Laura Maynard and her seven-year journey as a ‘Big Sister” to a young woman in our community.
Well written, and a lovely tribute to Friend Laura.
Stay warm and dry, Jim

(The Citizen-Times’ tribute to Laura MAY be on the website, but I can’t locate it, The Mountain Xpress letter from Susan is re-printed, below)


Xpress Letter by Susan Oehler

Posted by admin on Feb 1, 2010 in Uncategorized

Wanting more than “war, war and more war”
by Susan Oehler

I am often distressed at how our country and elected officials keep making war, war and more war. It is a failed and unproductive policy that will bankrupt us financially and spiritually, and has destroyed the lives of millions of innocent people. And there is no end in sight.

Remember “shock and awe”? That bombing campaign was supposed to get Saddam and his imaginary WMDs, but it only killed innocent people who lived in Iraq. That was well over six years ago, and today the Iraqi people are seeing extraordinary increases in birth defects and cancer rates. Millions of them fled the country of their birth and they are not going to return. It is a hideous, murderous crime we fostered on them.

And now it appears we will be doing the same thing to Afghanistan under a different president. Afghanistan currently has one of the most corrupt governments in the world. President Karzai was recently “elected” for the next five years in a fraud-filled election. We are fighting over there to preserve a very corrupt government that the native population does not support.

Mr. Obama somehow managed to get a “peace prize” while running two occupations and bombing a third country, Pakistan. Hundreds of civilians have been killed by drone bombings in Pakistan, and in just one year, the Obama administration has killed more civilians there than the Bush administration ever did. …

I really don’t think the CIA knows what they are doing. They are sure killing people though, and those deaths are inspiring protests in Pakistan, just like the Afghan deaths are inspiring protests in Afghanistan. I would bet they are inspiring more than protests.

Just last month, I heard that the U.S. was behind some bombings in Yemen that killed almost two dozen children. If this turns out to be true, we will be occupying two countries and bombing two more. Who knows? Maybe there are even more countries we are bombing.

We are spending more on our military, wars, bombings and occupations of foreign countries than we are spending on infrastructure here at home. “A nation that continues year after year to spend more money on military defense than on programs of social uplift is approaching spiritual doom.” This is a quote from Martin Luther King Jr., and I agree with him.

— Susan Oehler, Asheville

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