A powerful speaker with a message of kindness, advocacy, and partnerships within the community, Nikki Mosgrove, of Trenton Friends Meeting and Nia Ministries, spoke to the truth that what is right is not always comfortable. She opened with Micah 6:8, a theme of this year’s Annual Sessions.
He has shown you, O mortal, what is good.
And what does the Lord require of you?
To act justly and to love mercy
and to walk humbly with your God.
— Micah 6:8
Nikki spoke this as:
the LORD has told you what is good, and this is what he requires of you: to do what is right, to love mercy, and to walk humbly with your God.
She recited the prayer Open Unto Me, by Howard Thurman, to the nearly 140 Friends present. She focused the keynote on the story of how Trenton meeting worked to address its own awareness of ‘color-blindness’ and racism, eventually coming to a place of vision and unity. That unity led to the Meeting’s choice to distribute $100,000 in funding to local organizations with important needs. It also led to something new for her – a personal journey that opened up into a vocation: Nia Ministries. As the website notes, Nia means “purpose” in Kiswahiliand and Nia Ministries sees the building of our community as a collective vocation. At Nia, Nikki is providing “education and spiritual guidance/training to those affiliated with the Religious Society of Friends.”
Open unto Me Open unto me — light for my darkness. Open unto me — courage for my fear. Open unto me — hope for my despair. Open unto me — peace for my turmoil. Open unto me — joy for my sorrow. Open unto me — strength for my weakness. Open unto me — wisdom for my confusion. Open unto me — forgiveness for my sins. Open unto me — love for my hates. Open unto me — thy Self for my self. Lord, Lord, open unto me! -- By Howard Thurman
Over a period of time, Trenton Meeting engaged in a discernment process about how to repurpose $100,000 of their endowment. They made the decision to use this money as direct investment in local communities. Some examples of projects they ultimate chose were paying for capital improvements at a local church, supporting Community College students’ tuition payments as they finished their degrees, plus other grants that improved individual lives or furthered local community needs. In doing this work Trenton meeting felt good, and closely connected.
Advice for Meetings
Nikki clarified that when doing this work, Friends should not to assume they know what might be needed (toxic philanthropy), but should “ask people what they need. “There are no perfect partnerships,” Nikki said; “if you want to serve others, then ask what is needed.”
She suggested Friends not wait to engage, but look to meet critical needs right now, and to put equity in the Black community. It is important to work with non-profits that are led by people who look like those they serve. Such partnerships, which involve both deepening local connections and making real financial contributions, are what grow belonging.
Poll results – 99% of Friends want to do community work
Before taking questions Nikki used two polls to ask Friends to speak their collective truth. 99% of Friends present said they were interested in doing community focused work, and 71% said they recalled their meetings discussing 2017 queries the yearly meeting had shared (see queries below).
What are we, as a Meeting, doing to identify and address racism within our Meeting?
What are we, as a Meeting, doing to end injustice and violence in our communities, our city, our world?
In response to a question, Nikki shared some excellent advice: when tackling a culture of color blindness, meetings should reach out to professional facilitators. Trenton Meeting found that facilitation was critical to progress.
At the close of the talk, Friends entered into worship and a land acknowledgement was read.
Watch the Keynote
Land Acknowledgement Prayer
Philadelphia Yearly Meeting Annual Sessions 2021: Act Justly, Love Mercy, Walk Humbly: Micah 6:8
Prayer offered by: sandra boone, O’Scheyichbi, PYM First Contact Reconciliation Collaborative initiator
Alii, greetings from the sacred woven word Treaty of Amity, Sacred Oak, Sacred Elm, Lenape and Friends, Quakers, stewarding intentions of perpetual friendship and peace.
Glory of Light be with us, mindfully aware of human capacity and spiritual gifts, we come seeking clarity of dutiful social constructs reconciling divine intentions.
With humility, we acknowledge that today’s gathering, PYM AS, is rooted in and sprouts from the ancestral territories of Indigenous Peoples.
Susquehanna, Shawnee, Nanticoke, and Lenape Tribal Nations’ Peoples – a homeland overflowing with abundant love; homeland of sovereign culture more than 12,000 years – by that number, ~600 generations, 10,000 years before Jesus, more than twice the age of the Great Pyramid.
This land remains the continuous homeland of Nanticoke and Lenape People, Nations still here, ascribing as: Ramapough, Powhatan, Nanticoke-Lenape, Lenape Indian Tribe of DE, and Nanticoke; these “keepers of the land” are of kinship Nationhood: relations with the land & water, governing structures, original instructions, sacred ceremonies, keepers of wisdom, story-telling, dances, arts, and now language revitalization, continuous histories in place, on their homeland of proprietary lifeways.
With reciprocity, calling-in our sacred woven word, bound by the Lenape Treaties of Amity, we are Treaty People; Lenape and this Religious Society of Friends of Truth, PYM, we are Treaty Peoples.
May the one who blesses ancestors bless this sacred work; may the source of strength who blesses the ones before us help us – hearing agency & urgency rising, tending all roots & healing measures…walking humbly, loving mercy, acting justly….
Na ne lekch, let it be so.