FMW Newsletter - November 2020

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Published monthly – Issue #90 – 11
November 2020

  11th Month Query: Education
News & Action
  Action around the Elections
  Reclaim Our Vote
  Food Security in DC
Thinking about Race, November 2020
MINUTES - Meeting for Business, October 2020
Clerks Report
  In Memoriam-Meigs Hodge
  Upcoming Events
  Tenant and Events Updates- Activities at our Meeting House
Major Business
  Young Adult Friends annual report
  Membership - First presentation of Bill Strein
  Report: Letters to the State Attorneys General of DC
  Maryland and Virginia
  Other Business-Event Hosts needed
Young Adult Friends Annual Report, 10/2020
  Draft Letter to State Attorneys General of DC, Maryland and Virginia
  FMW Event and Office Rental Report, September 2020


     Sundays:  9:00 - 10:00 a.m. and 10:30 - 11:30 a.m.
     Tuesdays:  6:00 - 7:00 p.m.
     Fridays:  12:00 noon

     Monthly Meeting for Business:  November 8, 12:15 p.m. (2nd Sunday)

Nearly all meetings for worship are being held via Zoom due to the pandemic.
For more information go to or email

11th Month Query:  Education 

Do you provide religious education, including study of the Bible and of Friends' history and practices, in your Meeting? Do you ensure that schools under the care of Friends exemplify Friends' principles? Do you support and strive to improve the public schools?

Source:  BYM Faith & Practice, Part II The Queries  See also, Education; Science and Religion; The Arts and Religion)

News & Action

Action around the Elections:  

Friends from FMW and other area meetings concerned about threats to our country’s elections, are taking proactive steps to defend democratic process.  The Elections Protection Group, convened by FMW clerk Debby Churchman and FMW’s Committee on Peace & Social Concerns is in the process of researching and planning actions that will allow DC area Quakers to play the most useful role possible, should it be needed, in the weeks following November 3.  Take the Choose Democracy Pledge and Attend a Training

It is a near certainty that the elections outcome will not be settled on November 3.  Engagement and public action will be critical.  Friends are urged to be involved, and invited to join FMW’s Election Protection group.  For more information, contact Debby Churchman,

The Elections Protection group has sent letters to the DC, MD and VA officials responsible for elections oversight.  They are linked here:  DC Attorney General Karl Racine, Board of Elections chair Michael Bennett, Maryland Attorney General Brian Frosh and Secretary of State John Wobensmith, Virginia Attorney General Mark Herring and Board of Elections Commissioner Chris Piper and to U.S. Defense Secretary Mark Esper--affirming support and asking that they commit up front to ensuring proper electoral process including that:  All votes must be counted. Irregularities must be investigated impartially. True election results must be represented

Reclaim Our Vote:  Postcards and Phone Calls to support registration and voting.

FMW members, attenders and friends has sent over 7,000 hand-written postcards to residents of color in eight states with histories of voter suppression.  The NAACP-supported Reclaim Our Vote supplied county-specific voter guidance and messages shaped to comply with state laws and regional norms of courtesy.  

Food Security in DC

With winter and the holidays coming and continued high levels of unemployment, thousands of DC families are facing food insecurity and area nutrition programs are more and more strained.   Here are 2 organizations that welcome food donations and are providing a tremendous amount of food to DC folks in need:

Martha's Table (at The Maycroft Building, 1474 Columbia Rd., NW Washington, DC 20009;  Phone:  202-328-6608    See Martha’s Table website for hours and guidelines: 
Martha's Table also takes clothing & baby item donations, but at their site in SE

Capital Area Food Bank (DC Drop-off:  4900 Puerto Rico Ave, NE, Washington, DC 20017) See Capital Area Food Bank website for hours & guidelines: 
Capital Area Food Bank is also seeking volunteers.

  • Would it be helpful to make FMW a drop-off point?  Ie. If it were possible to drop-off your food donations at FMW, would you be more inclined to give? 
  • Would you be willing to make a once-a-week pick-up of food donations to bring to one of these  organizations?

      Send your thoughts to Barbara at


FCNL “Thursdays with Friends” series every second Thursday, 4:00-4:30 p.m.
On Thursday, Nov 5, join discussion with Election Expert Myrna Perez, director of voting rights and elections democracy at the Brennan Center for Justice at New York University Law School for a special post-Election Day conversation. Register here.  More info Thursdays with Friends series is here.

Next FMW Meeting for Business, Sunday, Nov 8, 12:15 pm
Join us to discuss and decide matters of importance to our Meeting Community.  All are welcome.  For more information contact co-clerks Debby Churchman,  and Rebecca Nelson, RebeccaLeeNelson99@

FCNL Annual Meeting and Quaker Public Policy Institute to focus on Anti-Racism, Nov 14-17 (via Zoom)  In concert with the upswell of protests and calls for justice across the country this year, antiracism will be a major focus of FCNL’s Annual Meeting and lobbying effort this November.  Quakers will gather (virtually) to conduct worshipful business and lobby for the Justice in Policing Act (H.R. 7120/S.3912).  Learn more and register here for FCNL’s Annual Meeting (Nov. 14-17) to act in faith and feel Spirit weave us together as Friends uniting for the world we seek.

Deadline for December’s Newsletter, November 16.  Friends are invited to send submissions to the editor at  

See FMW’s Online Calendar for all meetings and events.

Thinking about Race, November 2020

Claudia Rankine, Just Us 

In “Claudia Rankine’s Quest for Racial Dialogue,” in the October Atlantic magazine, Ismail Muhammad reflects on Claudia Rankine’s new book, Just Us – An American Conversation. 

“Rankine’s intent is not simply to expose or chastise whiteness. She has something more nuanced in mind: using conversation as a way to invite white people to consider how contingent their lives are upon the racial order—every bit as contingent as Black people’s are. ‘I was always aware that my value in our culture’s eyes is determined by my skin color first and foremost,’ she says. The same is true for white people, of course, however unaware of that reality they may be.”

 This may prompt some queries for Quakers:

  • Am I aware that my value is, in our culture’s eyes, determined by my skin color first and foremost?  If so, how, when, or where am I aware of this?
  • Am I aware that the value of a person of a different skin color than mine, is, in our culture’s eyes, determined by that skin color first and foremost? If so, how, when, or where am I aware of this?
  • What (if any) is the difference between these two awarenesses?

This column is prepared by the BYM Working Group on Racism (WGR) and sent to the designated liaison at each local Meeting.  The BYM WGR meets most months on the first Saturday from 10:00 am to 1:00 pm, currently via Zoom.  If you would like to attend, contact clerk David Etheridge, 

[Link to Full October Meeting for Business Minutes (including Zoom Chat)]

MINUTES: FMW Monthly Meeting for Worship with a Concern for Business, October 11, 2020

Anti-Racist Queries

1. How will we provide opportunities for those most likely to be directly affected by the choices we are contemplating to influence the decision making process?   

2. How could the choices we are contemplating affect those who have been harmed by systemic, institutional, interpersonal and/or internal racism?

3. To what degree have privilege, class, stereotypes, assumptions, and our ability to include other perspectives affected this decision making process?

4. How will the choices we are contemplating promote equity, diversity, and inclusiveness? Will they enable us to be more friendly and whole, engaging across racial divisions?

5. How do the choices we are contemplating support the declaration of our Yearly Meeting that we aspire to be an anti-racist faith community?

Query for Worship Sharing:  How are we living into our vision for a world more just?

A friend thought of references to Jehovah in this week’s Meeting for Worship and tied this to the Exodus story and our current journey through the metaphorical desert. 

Clerk’s Report, October 2020

In Memoriam

  • Meigs Hodge, son of Paul Hodge and Avis Fleming, died in a car accident last week.
    His father wrote this obituary, published in the Washington Post on Friday, Oct 9.

Upcoming Events

  • FMW Community Zinner, Thursday, October 15, 7:00 p.m.  Join by Zoom here. By phone dial: (929) 436-2866. Enter Meeting ID 82579539796# on prompt. For more information contact:
  • Elections & Defending Democracy: plans to resist an illegitimate power grab, Sat, Oct 17, 10 a.m.  For more information contact Debby Churchman,

  • Peace & Social Concerns Climate Webinar:  Speeding DC Transition Off Gas--Quakers & Faith Community have an important role to play, Sunday, October 25 at 12:30 p.m.  Via Zoom. Join by phone: (301) 715-8592. Enter meeting ID: 979505413#  on prompt.  Details to come.  For more information contact Barbara Briggs,
  • FCNL Annual Meeting and Quaker Public Policy Institute to focus on Anti-Racism, Nov 14-17 (via Zoom) In concert with the upswell of protests and calls for justice across the country this year, antiracism will be a major focus of FCNL’s Annual Meeting and lobbying effort this November.  Quakers will gather (virtually) to conduct worshipful business and lobby for the Justice in Policing Act (H.R. 7120/S.3912).  Learn more and register here for FCNL’s Annual Meeting (Nov. 14-17) to act in faith and feel Spirit weave us together as Friends uniting for the world we seek.

FMW Community Highlights & Kudos

  • So Others May Eat (SOME) needs a new coordinator to recruit and organize volunteers to prepare a once-a-month breakfast for food-insecure DC neighbors.
  • The Meeting for Worship originally held on First Day at Black Lives Matter Plaza has now moved to the Supreme Court. The first week, they had 25 participants.
  • ​Young Adult Friends held their first on-site Dinner in the garden, each bringing their own food and socially distancing. It went well.
  • We have written over 7,000 postcards to voters of color in high-voter suppression states.

Tenant and Events Updates- Activities at our Meeting House

  • See report, below. (There is room for cautious optimism.)
  • ​Friends Meeting of Washington is now listed on an AirBnB style website called Peerspace which has driven many inquiries and events.
  • Friends Meeting of Washington now has nine office tenants and one office currently available.

Major Business

Young Adult Friends annual report (see below) - Joe D’Antonio

  • The main challenge YAFs have dealt with has been COVID-19. YAFs have held a unique burden with the economic impact and difficulties visiting their homes and parents who live far away. 
  • YAFs have held weekly Zoom dinners (“Zinners”) and other events online. This has had an unexpected advantage of allowing YAFs who have moved away to return to our community.
  • There have been issues with FMW YAF and BYM YAF, specifically on age ranges. FMW YAFs are waiting for a leading for future action and resolution.
  • The YAF handbook was updated to include statements of affirmation for marginalized groups within and outside of the YAF community. 
  • A Friend asked what support the YAFs needed from the Meeting. Joe responded that he is asking YAFs to discern if membership is right for them and to join committees. He asked that there is space for YAFs on committees, specifically financial committees. Another Friend affirmed Joe’s suggestion to include YAFs on financial committees. Another Friend added that a Young Adult is co-clerking the Fundraising Task Force.
  • Joe also added that YAFs do feel supported within FMW as a whole.
  • The report was accepted. 

Membership - First presentation of Bill Strein (Rob Farr)

  • Rob Farr gave the first presentation of Bill Strein for Membership at Friends Meeting of Washington. Rob Farr shared a portion of Bill’s letter, where he shared that he has been attending FMW since 1993. His contribution to our Meeting through his committee work is greatly appreciated.
  • This will lay over for one month as is our custom.

Letters to the State Attorneys General of DC, Maryland and Virginia (below) (Debby Churchman)

  • This letter was composed with help from Choose Democracy US and a Quaker leader, George Lakey, in order to have each vote truly counted. 
  • This letter would be sent from a group of Quakers and would be signed from Friends Meeting of Washington. 
  • Additional similar letters will be sent to the Secretary of State or Commissioner of the Board of Elections of Virginia, Maryland and DC.
  • A Friend shared their concern that this letter would feel like a threat. Debby shared that the letter was meant to support an effort to appeal to the political “middle” rise and ask for a fair election. 
  • A Friend asked to add a last sentence saying “We will be holding you in the Light as this election unfolds.” This sentence was added. A Friend suggested adding an explanation of Quakers and Quakerism because many may not know the history of Quakerism. A Friend suggested changing “citizens” to “residents”. 
  • Friends approved this letter and other similar letters.

Other Business

Event hosts needed.  If you are interested in hosting events at FMW, please contact Brian Lutenegger,


Young Adult Friends Annual Report, 10/2020

The Friends Meeting of Washington Young Adult community has been deeply affected by the COVID-19 pandemic and accompanying lockdown. Though we are not unique in having our lives disrupted by COVID-19, the disruptions have affected our lives in unique ways. Though many YAFs live with roommates or in group homes, there are some who live alone and are experiencing greater isolation than other members of the community who live with their families. Many YAFs are also in the group that splits time between the Washington, DC area and a family home somewhere else. The inability to travel easily to see parents and siblings has been a unique challenge for YAFs. The economic uncertainty that has resulted from COVID-19 has also hit YAFs differently than some of the older members of the community. These disruptions to our lives have led to a deeper commitment to our Meeting life and a greater reliance on the spiritual and social activities provided by our YAF community. 

YAF has transitioned many of our normal activities to Zoom, a virtual meeting platform. We have transitioned from doing monthly potlucks to weekly Zinners. Many YAFs have found these Zinners to be a valuable part of coping with the social isolation that comes from the lock down. We have also transitioned the YAF sponsored bible study on to Zoom. Attendance at the bible study has increased since the beginning of the lockdown as many are seeking increased spiritual guidance during this time. We have also been able to easily accommodate FMW YAFs who have moved out of the area to come to these events because of their virtual nature. It has been great to see the old F/friends can still lean on the FMW YAF community for support. We have also been relying more on the YAF GroupMe, a group text app, to chat during the day. These normally weekly events have helped to break up the monotony of the week and keep us grounded during this time. YAF also hosted a virtual trivia night for the whole FMW community and Quakers from all over the country attended. It was a great success.

Outside of our interactions with the FMW YAF community, young adult friends have found this to be a trying time that has required the development of new coping skills. Some F/friends have been able to find solace in an increased awareness of nature, going on more walks, runs, bike rides, and other outdoor activities. Other F/friends have taken the time to practice increased mindfulness and meditation during these days of isolation. We have also found it helpful to pick up new projects and hobbies like knitting, poetry, puzzles, LEGOs, and baking. A key part of coping with the lockdown has been breaking up the monotony. Staying mentally and physically active has been a great source of comfort for us all. 

We are getting through this because we are doing it together. We have been here to support each other through shared joys and sorrows of this time. Though as individuals this outbreak may have been overwhelming, because we have been there for each other we have been able to withstand it. 

One notable challenge from this year, separate from the challenges of COVID-19 has been the challenge of relating to the Baltimore Yearly Meeting (BYM) YAF Community. Since the beginning of the 2020 calendar year FMW YAF has taken steps to engage more directly with the BYM YAF community. We have been attending BYM YAF business meetings and have been engaging with BYM YAF on their Discord (a chat room based app). However, FMW YAFs have felt continually unwelcome in BYM YAF spaces. FMW YAFs have operated with the idea that “if you feel young, you are young” and have no strict age cutoffs. On the other hand, BYM YAFs have a stricter age limit of 18-35, including not allowing those outside the age range to participate in their group chat and other events. BYM YAFs are also spread across the Maryland, Virginia, and Pennsylvania region, while FYM YAFs are understandably concentrated in or near Washington, DC. One particular instance on the BYM YAF Discord made these differences very clear, and some members of the BYM YAF community were against FMW YAF joining the BYM YAF community. Many members of the FMW YAF community felt uncomfortable. Subsequent exchanges during BYM YAF business meetings have further increased the divide between these two groups and made it difficult for some members of the FMW YAF community to continue engaging with the BYM YAF community. FMW YAF is currently seeking clearness on what the next steps are for our community as we look for ways to be involved with Baltimore Yearly Meeting while feeling distanced from the Young Adult space set up by the Baltimore Yearly Meeting.

The FMW YAF community feels connected despite the challenges of this time. In order to cement our commitment to inclusion, we updated the FMW handbook to include our affirmation of all f/Friends, specially with respect to race, ethnicity, gender, and sexual orientation. We also added a more thorough process for our co-conveners with overlapping two year terms. These changes will be the scaffold for our community to continue to grow upon in the future. 

Respectfully submitted, Amanda Mayer and Joe D’Antonio


Draft Letter to State Attorneys General of DC, Maryland and Virginia

Dear [State] Attorney General [Last name],

We represent a group of members of the Religious Society of Friends (Quakers) who are growing increasingly concerned about the upcoming presidential election in November, particularly in light of the threats against it expressed by numerous actors in the political realm. Many of these threats have come in the form of unsubstantiated allegations concerning the legitimacy of mail-in ballots. We understand that yours would be the office responsible for overseeing any investigation into such legitimacy.

We are writing to offer our full and unwavering support for these values:

  • All votes must be counted
  • Irregularities must be investigated impartially
  • True election results must be represented

We assume that you agree to these values, and want you to know that we will actively support the efforts you have already made and will continue to make to see that they are adhered to in [state’s] elections in November. Can you assure us that you do, in fact, agree with these premises, and plan to implement them? We will be holding you in the Light as this election unfolds.

In peace,

Peace & Social Concerns Committee

Friends Meeting of Washington
2111 Florida Ave. NW
Washington, DC 20008

[Note--a variation of this letter may also be sent to the Secretary of State or Commissioner of the Board of Elections of Virginia, Maryland and DC, who are responsible for ascertaining and reporting the final vote tally in their respective locales. We will be asking them to adhere to the same 3 principles.]  This letter is based on training from  Many groups are organizing such trainings to prepare folks to support the upcoming election; you can find a good list here:  

A group of 10 Friends at FMW met last Saturday to discuss how FMW could best support this group. We want to start with affirmations of those who are responsible for the state/district vote tally and any litigation over that tally. We also plan to thank members of the military who have expressed their commitment to a peaceful transfer of power, and to reach out to various DC-based associations to ask for their commitment to the 3 goals stated in the letter, above. We are asking the Meeting to sign onto these letters, to show our commitment to the 9th query (social order), which says, in part, Do you take your full share of civic responsibility by voting and giving service? 

Can we translate that commitment into action, Friends?
# # # # #

FMW Event and Office Rental Report, September 2020

Prepared by Brian Lutenegger, Event and Rental Manager or 202-483-3310 / 734-255-6829

Financials –FY21 Bookings

Here is a breakdown of where we are in terms of bookings for recent past and future fiscal years as of October 7, 2020.


FMW Event Space Bookings



Fiscal Year








Before FY Start








































































































YTD Total








Year End Total








* Through October 7th

I am about to prepare several additional contracts for FY21 and another $5,000 worth of events for FY22.

The charts above do not reflect what I am seeing in reality. Events are beginning to take off again. We’ll have at least one event on each of the next three weekends, including small socially distanced weddings, celebrations, and a product launch. Much of the uptick is due to FMW listing on Peerspace (more information below). In fact, this report is a few days late because I have been focused on giving tours and accommodating various events.

Our fiscal year runs from July 1 to the following June 30th.

Financials – FY21 Earned

During September, we held $3,808 in successful (and carefully socially distanced) events. More details below.

Interesting Events in our Spaces

Events in September included the following:

  • Our first major event in the COVID era was a small (20 person) wedding reception on Saturday 9/12, yielding the following positive review on Wedding Wire (included here not for her comments about me, but rather to give Friends an idea of the impression we and our spaces make):
  • A Jewish community celebrating High Holidays. Friends who attended in person worship in the garden on Sunday 9/20 are thanked for their flexibility in working with them to ensure they had the opportunity to celebrate Rosh Hashanah, which fell on a Sunday this year.
  • A documentary filming – actually, just background shots for interviews conducted in front of a green screen.
  • A wedding open house that brought a number of our partners and about 12 brides into our spaces on a Sunday afternoon. The event was centered around an “off the rack” sale by a wedding gown studio from Old Town Alexandria looking to expand its presence in DC.


We made the decision to try listing our spaces on Peerspace, a website similar to Airbnb where interested parties inquire and book entirely on their site. Since joining, I have been absolutely inundated with requests.

Some of these requests are for events that are not appropriate to host at the present time (they exceed the 50 guest limit for mass gatherings under the DC government’s Phase 2 reopening guidelines). A few came very close to booking and then changed their mind. But we have received several bookings off the site for this fall, including an elopement, two parties, a film shoot, a photo shoot, and a product launch. All of these events will follow social distancing and facemask guidelines – and will be in the gardens when feasible.

 Nonprofit versus market rates

At least half of the events booked during FY21 and still scheduled to occur are paying our market rates. This fiscal year is a bit of an anomaly so far as normally we’d have multiple nonprofit staff retreats during the week.

a. A discounted nonprofit or tenant rate
b. A lower rate due to construction
c. Memorial service and weddings under the care of the meeting where we do not charge for space for the service itself – only for the cost of the event host 
d. Some other factor

Our standard nonprofit discount is 20 percent off our market rates.

Thus far, we have been able to accommodate all requests for Meeting- and Quaker-related activities at FMW around outside space rentals. We are making every effort to accommodate Sunday afternoon and evening rentals, while ensuring that all of our internal activities on Sunday mornings are unimpeded by outside events.

What I am Working On

In September, I:

  • Fielded several inquiries for weddings to be scheduled later in 2020, 2021, or beyond. Provided virtual and in person tours. During September, event inquiries continued to increase over previous months since COVID-19 began in March.
  • Continued to tweak the design of our website to keep the content and layout fresh and useful. Not everything I have done will be apparent by simply looking at the site. In September, we had 395 visitors to the event rental site, including 384 new visitors.
  • Continued networking with other event and wedding professionals in the DC area to let them know about our venue.
  • Published to our social media accounts multiple times per week on a variety of topics. This includes a post automatically scheduled for many Sunday mornings that generally includes a quote related to Quakerism or individuals currently in the news (a tribute to RBG). This has also included at least one post about happenings within our community that might be of wider interest.
    • We’ve increased our followers on Instagram to 133 and Facebook to 88. The social media posts incorporate hashtags that circulate our posts well beyond the existing followers of our page.
    • We’re also running limited advertising on Facebook
  • Watched online webinars on handling COVID-19 as an event venue and attended virtual happy hours with industry professionals (there aren’t as many of these as early in the pandemic and quite frankly, I’m feeling Zoom overload)
  • Marketed our office spaces (more below), including bringing three potential tenants through Suite 364 (the third has rented it).
  • Continued working with a wedding planner who has selected FMW as one of two venues for a Christmas-themed style shoot with other wedding professionals in late October.
  • Held a successful open house with our wedding partners and brides (see above). This required some planning and prep calls.
  • Filled in for Barbara on postcard distribution while she was out of the office.
  • Responded to numerous requests on Peerspace, an Airbnb like website for meeting and event space described above
  • Attended a virtual / in person event, Beyond the Blackout – intended to help those in the local events industry create diverse connections among event partners. I’ll be connected with a BIPOC business for further networking and dialogue.

Office Space Rentals

At present, we have the following nine tenants:

- AsylumWorks (formerly Asylum Seeker Assistance Project) (
- Children’s Art Studio
- DesignCase Architects (
- Dupont Circle Village (
- Barbara Sobol, Art Therapist
- Sondra Geller, Art Therapist (
- Dr. Douglas Rugh, PhD (Psychotherapist,
- National Campaign for a Peace Tax Fund (
- Women’s Ordination Conference (

Only the Carriage Room remains vacant at this time.

On 10/1/20, Children’s Art Studio became our ninth tenant. As their name suggests, they provide art classes to children with the following philosophy in mind:

The Children’s Art Studio is founded on the belief that children reap tremendous emotional, developmental and intellectual gains from making art and that this opportunity should be made available to all.

Their administrative office will be at FMW (no classes or workshops without prior arrangement, except online ones – their only teaching environment for the time being).

How you can help me and FMW’s budget

If you know of (or work for) an organization that may need office space in the coming months – perhaps a larger organization or a smaller one interested in sharing with someone else – feel free to connect me so that we can fill the last remaining spaces. Or if you know of places where we might market our available office spaces, please let me know that as well.

The same is true of our event spaces. Please think about whether your employer, an organization whose board you sit on – or even yourself for a special event – might be able to make use of our spaces.

If you have ideas for content that we can post on Facebook and Instagram that might be of interest to a wide (not necessarily Quaker) audience, I am happy to consider. I have posted photos of most of the banners we have had on our fence over the past few months. And, as noted above, I generally post a Quaker quote on Sunday mornings with wide appeal – or from a non-Quaker that directly relates to the current political climate or recent events. These have been well received.