Working Groups and Standing Committees: FAQs

Implementation Committee

In the week of April 13th the Implementation Committee sent a letter by email to the clerks of current standing committees and working groups sharing that as step in implementing our new five year plan, standing committees and working groups will be laid down.  The letter can be read online (add hyperlink).  Following the communication the clerk of the (implementation) committee, together with the presiding and rising clerks and the general secretary, hosted 3 conference calls: one with standing committee clerks and two with working group clerks and members of all groups.  Below are the questions that have been most frequently asked.  If Friends have additional questions or comments they are invited to use our online form to share them with the committee.

What is the effective date for laying down standing committees?  How long do they have care of the working groups?

In general, the standing committees remain in authority over the working groups until the councils are up and running and able to take over or until the working groups under a given standing committee have all been laid down.  The final date for the transition to be completed is September 30, 2015.  The intent is to be somewhat flexible in the timeline, understanding that some may be able to be laid down earlier than September 30.  The Implementation Committee wants not to apply unbridled pressure but to encourage the transition work to begin now and to continue as it needs to ensure a grounded and orderly transition to the September 30 completion date.  As Friends involved with the Arch Street Standing Committee know, that group is being laid down and the authority shifting to the Arch Street Meeting House Preservation Trust as the Trust is ready to pick it up.

What is the effective date for laying down working groups?

The final date is September 30, 2015. If it makes sense for the work of a group to continue until that moment then it should reach out to the Implementation Committee for coordination before Sept 30; early communication is requested.  If the nature of the work and transition lean toward laying down earlier, (ie, the work and group normally breaks for the summer) then the group should do that.  The intent is to be somewhat flexible in the timeline, understanding that working groups have different needs. The Implementation Committee wants not to apply unbridled pressure but to encourage the transition work to begin now and to continue as it needs to ensure an grounded and orderly transition to the September 30 completion date.

Can working groups continue their work after September 30?

No. Working groups will not exist after September 30.  There will be new structures raised up (see below) and there is a different funding structure (see below) and there will not be any working groups.

What about granting groups?  Does this apply to them?

Granting Groups are under a seperate transition schedule.   They were contacted in February and their transition is underway. In the new structure, they will continue under the care of a single Grants Committee. An Interim Grants Committee will hold this responsibility until the Administrative Council can put a permanent committee in place.  The Interim Grants Committee is in the process of being set up.  The Implementation Committee is in ongoing relationship with the granting groups via a Grants Task Group to facilitate this process.

What about funding for work in the new structure?

The budget for the next fiscal year, beginning October 1, will not include allocations for working groups or standing committees.  There is a budget for program expenses for which the Quaker Life Council will have responsibility.  The budget for the current year continues to be available to working groups and standing committees until they are laid down or until 9/30.

How will the work of a current group be known by the new structure? 

Each group is asked to create a document that provides an overview of its significant work and contributions and the wisdom that the new councils will benefit from having. in this document any time sensitive information will be shared. This document needs to be received by September 30 or ealier.  If there is a function of the group’s work that would benefit from the councils knowing of it in advance then that document should be sent in advance or the group should reach out to the Implementation Committee for coordination.

What should the transition document address or include? Where do we send it?  Who will receive it?

In response to working groups’ feedback, Implementation Committee has developed a list of questions to respond to. There is an online form that you can use to submit your responses or to upload a document.  Alternatively it can be emailed to the PYM office: mthomas@pym.org.

All transition documents will be given to the new councils.

Our group has many materials and minutes from over the years.  What should we do with them?  What will happen to them?

Put all electronic documents on a flash drive and send it to the General Secretary’s office.  Submit paper documents in a well labeled box to the General Secretary’s office.  The documents will be shared with the councils and will be archived as appropriate.

The Long Range Plan indicates that the Implementation Committee will evaluate existing working groups using a survey form.  Is this happening?  Can we use this process to advocate for the continuation of our working group?

The Implementation Committee will not be evaluating existing working groups.  There will not be an evaluation form.  We are requesting groups to complete the transition document described above in its place.  This is not a request to advocate for the continuation of a group or for a group to argue for its importance.  The Implementation Committee knows that the work and ministry that has taken place in our community is important.  However, the structure for doing our work and ministry is changing and the current structures will not continue.  It will be up to the Quaker Life Council to determine what work will be done in the name of the yearly meeting.  The Implementation Committee wants to remind Friends that there are many ways to be faithful to callings, including under the care of a monthly or quarterly meeting or independently.

Our working group already has plans in motion for programs for the fall.  Can those plans and programs continue?

This is an example of a case in which it would be good for the group to complete its transition document sooner rather than later so that the relevant council can be aware of the work and determine what it will do.  Current plans for the future will not mean that working groups that are developing those plans can continue or ensure that those plans will be able to be executed.

What structures are being raised up?

The new structures are designed to welcome collaboration, to encourage a wider number of  Friends to know one another and join together in our leadings and to simplify governance and administration.

The Five Year Plan that we approved at Annual Sessions last summer provides an overview of the structures and is available online.  The glossary at the end of the plan is a good place to look for a simple overview.  The current work of the Implementation Committee is to flesh out these new structures so that there is clarity about their roles, responsibilities and resources.  The Implementation Committee will share this information as soon as it is complete. Regular updates are made on the Implementation Committee news page.

Can we continue our work in the new structure?

It is the understanding of the Implementation Committee that our new plan’s intention is not to carry forward current structures with new names.  We are looking toward a new way to experience our extended community and to carry work.  It will be the role of the Administrative Council and the Quaker Life Council to determine what work will be done in the name and the container of the yearly meeting

What about nuts and bolts administrative committees that provide required service for the Yearly Meeting structure – do we continue our work until told otherwise?

Implementation Committee knows that there are some functions that rise and fall and there are others that are ongoing and the structures will need to address that.  Administrative working groups that provide a required ongoing function will be asked directly within the next month to plan to continue until further notice.  When the Administrative Council clerk is approved Implementation Committee will bring this question forward to that person.

This is a little scary.  It means that the work we’ve done may not continue or we may not have the same role even when we have the experience that our work is very important

The Implementation Committee knows that some people are passionate about the work and ministry they have been doing. And we are deeply appreciative.   Our yearly meeting is going to change and we don’t know exactly what it will look like and, yes, it is scary and exciting.   This is something that the Committee feels the weight of.  And yet, that fear and the unknowing of just what is coming next and how it will work out is not going to be a barrier to our stepping out into a new structure.