Letter to Friends - March 6, 2006

The historic meetinghouse is located approximately 50 miles Southeast of Rochester, NY

(A letter from Judy Wellman)
Hello Friends—

Much has been happening, quickly, this week, on the Farmington meetinghouse, some of it excellent, some of it not. I'll start with the not-so-good news and then move to better news and finally to the best news. So read to the end!

1. NOT-SO-GOOD NEWS. Here is a photo of the Farmington Meetinghouse taken by Charles Lenhart on March 3, 2006. As you can see, the fence is almost up around it, but the clapboards and windows from the bottom half of the west wall are missing. The Farmington Town board has been very supportive, trying to give us as much time as possible to come up with a plan for this building, but the owner, fearful of an immediate demolition order, worried about liability, and not realizing how much progress we were making, took off this section of the wall on Friday. He is very willing not to do anything further while we develop a plan. But the clock is definitely ticking.

2. BETTER NEWS. Help needed! On March 1, we wrote a proposal to the Chace Fund of Philadelphia Yearly Meeting to document the building with photographs and drawings. The proposal was due that same day, so we were graciously given until March 10 to find a 501ce organization or Quaker meeting who would be willing to sponsor this grant. The grant is for $5000. If we are to have a chance at this money, we need a group to volunteer immediately to fill out the forms by Friday to complete this application. I realize this is a long shot, since most of you have Boards who would need to give their approval. But, at this point, documentation is crucial.
3. BEST NEWS! We have been promised $5000 to help toward carefully dismantling the building and labeling the pieces for future rebuilding elsewhere. I was so overjoyed that I forgot to ask the donor whether I could reveal the name. More later!

We are still working on:

1. setting up an account to receive funds.
2. getting estimates for dismantling and moving the building.
3. finding a place to store the dismantled building.
4. figuring out what we need to do, and in what priority order.

If you have ideas or can help in any way, please don't wait to be asked. This is an emergency situation. Everyone's help is needed. Whether any part of this building is saved will depend on what everyone does in the next few days. Please pass these emails on! The alternative--and it is not unrealistic--is to create a website with the photos and documentation and let the building go. But all know that this is not the same thing as a real living building.

For those of you who are new to this community we’ll post more shortly with the brief report we gave to the Farmington Town Board about this building last week.

With faith and hope, Judy

In June 1848, 200 people walked out of Genesee Yearly Meeting, held in Farmington. A month later, a core group of these Quakers became the single largest religious group to sign the Declaration of Sentiments at the Seneca Falls women's rights convention. (About one-quarter of the signers were these Friends.) In October 1848, they returned to Farmington to form the Congregational Friends, which abolished separately meetings for women and men and met on the basis of total equality for everyone.

Thomas M'Clintock, a leader of this group, wrote the BASIS OF RELIGIOUS ASSOCIATION, which stated that "the true basis of religious fellowship is not identity of theological belief, but unity of heart and oneness of purpose in respect to the great practical duties of life." The NEW YORK TRIBUNE reprinted this, and it became an influential statement for reformers throughout the country.

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