Scope: Authority, Responsibilities, and Accountability

The Quaker Life Council holds full authority for assisting PYM in determining its purpose and priorities through deep spiritual discernment. It supervises the programs and activities that support a vital Friends community of PYM and ensures that they are aligned with the purpose, priorities, and strategic directions of the yearly meeting.

In addition, it holds authority and responsibility for:

  1. Appointing and laying down its own committees as needed, assigning responsibilities, and appointing committee members who need not be members of the Quaker Life Council but who are asked to do relevant work.
  2. Holding committees and other structures under its care accountable to their charge.
  3. Collaborating with the Administrative Council on matters of budget, planning, and communications for improved connections between Friends.
  4. Providing advice and support when requested for the General Secretary and clerk as needed.
  5. Communicate the activities of the Quaker Life Council and the yearly meeting to PYM Friends on a regular and consistent basis, so that Friends may always know the business before the Council.
  6. Bringing the matters of its substructures to the agenda of business meeting as needed, in consultation with the presiding clerk.
  7. Attending and reporting to yearly meeting in session.
  8. Participating in strategic planning; ensuring that the strategic directions are met through the work of the Council and its substructures.
  9. Focusing the yearly meeting body on a very limited number of social justice issues that are clear concerns to which we are called, and facilitating the effective response and action of our community to address those issues.
  10. Ensuring State of the Meeting reports are produced, reviewed, and shared annually.
  11. Supervising publications produced by PYM.
  12. Seeking opportunities to be in mutually supportive relationships with sister Quaker organizations.

The council shall maintain a document describing the processes it uses to fulfill its responsibilities.

Quaker Life Council Accountability Roles

The Quaker Life Council has specific roles of authority and responsibility with the bodies in its care, including holding them accountable to their charges, ensuring that they are meeting their responsibilities, and using their authority in service to our yearly meeting. Specifics are below.

Quaker Life Council Accountability Role for Threads

Learn more about Threads.

  • Threads are identified by the Quaker Life Council.
  • The threads are organized by staff in collaboration with Friends, under the direction of the councils.
  • On an annual basis, the council will hold each thread accountable through a review process that the council is responsible for and manages, ensuring that the threads are meeting their responsibilities and functioning to their greatest possible strengths. The council determines annually whether or not the thread is still vital and viable for continuation. The council has the authority to lay threads down and raise new ones up as is needed.
  • The council may take sprints that are relevant to a particular thread under its care.

Quaker Life Council Accountability Role for Collaboratives

Learn more about Collaboratives.

  • Collaboratives are formed under the care of the Quaker Life Council through a process established by the council.
  • The council may establish a committee to supervise and support the collaboratives’ substructure.
  • The council will review the annual reports submitted by each collaborative and ensure that they are meeting the needs of the yearly meeting. Additionally the council may choose to require other forms of reporting such as quarterly reports or in-person reports by the clerk. The council must clearly communicate these requirements to collaboratives in advance.
  • Collaboratives do not have their own funding. The process and the decision-making for funding is the responsibility of the council, which may designate its funding to support collaborative activities. In the event that funding is approved for a collaborative, the council is responsible for supervising the use of those funds.
  • Councils will respond to collaboratives’ requests for financial support for travel or childcare.
  • Contracted services should be rare. If the council approves the use of contracted services by a collaborative, the contract must be approved by the council and signed by the council clerk prior to any work by that contractor.
  • The council grants approval to collaboratives for the use of communications, logistical, and program resources that require prior approval.
  • The council will consider laying collaboratives down when membership dwindles to one Friend, or Friends from only one monthly meeting, or the collaborative fails to submit their annual report, or becomes unresponsive to the council. Additionally, if the council finds that a collaborative is not helping us be a more dynamic, community-organized and Spirit-led community, or feels that a collaborative is working against that goal, the council may lay it down.

Quaker Life Council Accountability Role for Resource Friends

Learn more about Resource Friends.

The Council provides the routine administrative process for the program, including:

  • Maintaining a robust recruitment, cultivation, and approval process to bring people with needed gifts on board.
  • Evaluating the work of individual Resource Friends, releasing Resource Friends as needed.
  • Regulating any associated accounting processes with the support of PYM staff.
  • Developing information and referral processes with the support of PYM staff.
  • Establishing areas of expertise for which Resource Friends are desired.
  • Establishing standard compensation parameters and working with PYM staff to establish and maintain a process for approving expenses that meets with established accounting practices.
  • Reviewing the reports of Resource Friends at the completion of each referral, and reviewing the written annual reports from each Resource Friend on the work that they have done.

The council may establish a committee to supervise and support the Resource Friends substructure. Resource Friends do not have the use of communications, logistical, or program resources that require prior approval.

Quaker Life Council Accountability Role for Committees

Learn more about Committees.

  • Given the call to simplify our structures, it is expected that the councils will use committees sparingly.
  • When formed, the council enumerates the goals of a committee so its progress can be measured by those goals moving forward. Periodically, the council will review the committees under its care to support them and to determine whether the goals of that work are being met and continue to be needed.
  • A committee can be comprised of council members and anyone else that the council appoints. It is expected that one council member will serve on each committee. The council will appoint people to committees who have the skills, experience, and/or gifts to do the work of the committee. The council is encouraged to choose individuals who will approach the task with a diverse set of views and are sensitive to maintaining the yearly meeting as a safe place for all. It is particularly encouraged to choose from under-represented portions of our community with respect to geography, age, and race.
  • The council may remove members from committees.
  • The council may lay down committees in their care when their work is complete or no longer needed or when it feels the work of the committee is not meeting expectations.
  • The council will receive and review an annual written report from the clerk of each committee. It will invite the clerk of each committee to report in person on an identified cycle (quarterly, bimonthly, annually).
  • In the event that a committee has a budget, the council will supervise the committee’s spending. Councils will respond to committees’ requests for financial support for travel or childcare.
  • Contracted services should be rare. If the council approves the use of contracted services by a committee, the contract must be approved by the council and signed by the council clerk prior to any work by that contractor.
  • The council grants approval for the use of communications and logistical resources requested by committees.

Quaker Life Council Accountability Role for Sprints

Learn more about Sprints.

  • Sprints under the care of the Administrative Council do not have authority on their own. Their authority falls within the parameters of the authority, the council, and any additional parameters identified by the council.
  • The council is responsible for approving the goals and timeframe for sprints in its care.
  • A sprint may be laid down by the council if it seems not to be moving forward.
  • The council grants approval to sprints for the use of communications and logistical resources requested by sprints.

Quaker Life Council Accountability Role for Representatives to External Organizations

Learn more about Appointed Representatives.

The council will maintain relationships with the Friends who are appointed by the yearly meeting to represent PYM to outside organizations, ensuring the representatives have the information needed to successfully represent PYM and that the representatives share information back to PYM about the organizations to which they are appointed.

Quaker Life Council Accountability Role for Bridge Contacts

Learn more about Bridge Contacts.

  • The council will appoint a Bridge Contact.

Quaker Life Council Accountability Role for Skills and Gifts Reservoir

Learn more about Skills and Gifts Reservoir.

  • The council is expected to use the Skills and Gifts Reservoir to help identify Friends who may serve our community through substructures in the council’s care.

Accountability of the Council

The council is held accountable to the yearly meeting in session, which has responsibility for the direction and care of the councils. The yearly meeting body defines the purpose and priorities of the yearly meeting, and the body approves the council members and the budgets under which the councils function. The body of the yearly meeting may reclaim or reassign any authority or responsibility assigned to the Administrative Council, the Quaker Life Council, or Nominating Council, and may revise the governance structure of Philadelphia Yearly Meeting.