Afternoon Minutes from Meeting for Business at Fall 2019 Continuing Sessions

Continuing Sessions, Minutes

Minutes prepared by Recording Clerk, Kri Burkander and approved in Sessions

PYM Continuing Sessions, November 2, 2019

We gathered back together in worship after our morning program, which grounded us in an appreciation for our gifts and our community, and nourishing fellowship over lunch.

Clerk Christopher A. Lucca began by thanking Friends in attendance for making time for our Yearly Meeting business despite the many other responsibilities and concerns we all carry. He then introduced himself and invited the rest of the facing bench to introduce themselves. We welcomed first time attenders to continuing sessions, and acknowledged those Friends serving as elders. Yearly Meeting staff stood and introduced themselves. We also greeted our speech to text translation provider, Melissa (Missy) Smith.

Nominating Council

Melissa Rycroft reported as clerk of the council. Bethann Morgan was nominated to serve as an Elder, with a term ending in 2022. This nomination was approved. Melissa also shared the names of Friends who have requested to be released from service: Merritt (Terry) Cooke (Alternate Clerk); Jonathan Evans (Administrative council); Jane Cadwallader (Recording clerk), Victoria Greene (Nominating council). We approved these changes with gratitude and regret.

General Secretary Report

Christie Duncan-Tessmer reported as our General Secretary. We were invited to think of tiny stories which began with the phrase “Because of my home Quaker community, I…” “My Quaker community gives me…” and “The thing that’s really hard about my home Quaker community is…” We were invited to imagine those stories in our head, and then look around the room and imagine who else might have similar stories, or the opposite stories. We were further invited to imagine the tapestry of string we might weave by connecting with those around the room with similar and different stories. The Yearly Meeting is, after all, “a network of connections”.

Christie reminded us of the Quaker Self Portrait project. Our census project starts tomorrow, with counting those in our meeting, whether on the benches, or in the kitchen, or in first day school. If you don’t already have a point person identified in your meeting, please consider who that might be. Visit PYM.org/census to enter those numbers. The Self Portrait project also includes solicitations of selfies or group photos or haikus or other group creations, as well as a survey. The intention of this work is for us all to be better known by each other and deepen our community.

We heard that the Yearly Meeting staff is working with Prototype Entities to obtain a baseline for its continuing Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI) work. Friends are invited to review the report provided (and available online). The YM staff is on track with the associated goals, and the first training was well received. Informal feedback suggests that Friends are already starting to think and act differently. We heard that the cost for this program is in the mid-$30K, and includes the series of trainings and the development of a tool to continue this work going forward. If monthly meetings are interested in working with Prototype Entities to do their own work, they are encouraged to reach out directly.

Happy money news! Our fiscal year ends September 30, so the books aren’t completely closed on the year, but we do know that we wayyy exceeded our goal for Annual Giving. This represents an increase over last year, and the first increase over previous years in some time.

Treasurer Report

Andrew Anderson reported as our Treasurer, and echoed the General Secretary’s enthusiasm regarding our finances. He provided an update from his presentation in July regarding our work with Friends Fiduciary. Friends Fiduciary and the Reinvestment Fund are still working together with the YM and while there is progress forward, there is nothing to report at this time.

Andrew reminded us that “gratitude takes what you have and turns it into enough”. We are feeling grateful for the generosity of Friends.

Quaker Life Council

We are much concerned about the whole content of human relationships, about the meaning of “Thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself” in the full range and depth of its implications. Loving does not merely mean doing good works; it goes further than feeding the hungry and clothing the naked. It means warmth and intimacy, open-heartedness and overwhelming generosity of hand and spirit. It means a desire to know and a courageous willingness to be known. Loving implies commitment to the other person, involvement in that person’s life, whatever it may cost in suffering, whether that suffering comes through being repudiated or in through identification and sharing. The life of society desperately needs this warmth of giving and receiving. Everywhere we see sociability without commitment or intimacy, and especially in our towns, intense isolation and loneliness. We see human energy that should be creative and loving deflected into activities that are coldly power-seeking; we see love inhibited, frustrated, or denied, turning into its opposite – into ruthlessness and aggression. –Quaker Home Service, London YM, 1961 (Faith and Practice, p. 173 no. 167)

Clerk Amy Taylor Brooks notes that there is suffering in this room, but also the presence of incredible strength and love. We were invited to turn to a neighbor and hold them quietly in love and prayer, wishing them good things.

QLC is looking for a recording clerk! If you know someone for whom that is a gift, please share their information with Nominating Council. Because they are without a recording clerk, the council has not been able to share minutes as regularly as they would like, because it takes longer to produce and approve the minutes.

If you are on a collaborative, sprint, or committee and would like to liaise with QLC, please let any member of QLC know and they will find time on an upcoming agenda for you.

QLC has received a number of minutes from meetings regarding support for immigrant and refugee rights. We heard a minute from Harrisburg Meeting on this topic (attached). Given this movement among us, QLC wonders if this might become a collaborative.

We heard a minute expressing a desire to mobilize a protest against the private sale and distribution of assault style rifles from Bucks Quarter (attached). A Friend from Bucks Quarter clarified that the intention was for the YM to work with the appropriate local and national bodies to mobilize this effort.

Another Friend raised a question seeking clarity on the process for minutes of concern from monthly and quarterly meetings, and when such a minute should come before the Yearly Meeting. This process is in the handbook, but the timeline might need further clarification. It was noted that QLC’s purpose is to support the work of the monthly and quarterly meetings in this regard, rather than elevating any particular concern above others.

QLC was asked at our July sessions to create a truth and reconciliation process. This led to a discernment about what that process might be. QLC reached out to the fourteen Friends who had volunteered to steward this work, and they are continuing to be in dialogue about how to best support the work of that group going forward. Friends suggested that QLC undergo a learning phase, potentially reaching out to Pendle Hill or other Friends with experience in restorative justice.

A Friend shared a concern about dwindling membership. We heard that there is an upcoming Threshing Session scheduled on January 28, 2020 at Haddonfield Mtg, which will hopefully be the beginning of an ongoing conversation.

The roots of war can be taken away from all our lives, as they were long ago in Francis of Assisi and John Woolman. Day by day let us seek out and remove every seed of hatred and greed, of resentment and of grudging, in our own selves and in the social structure about us. Christ’s way of freedom replaces slavish obedience by fellowship. Instead of an external compulsion He gives an inward authority. Instead of self-seeking, we must put sacrifice; instead of domination, cooperation. Fear and suspicion must give place to trust and the spirit of understanding. Thus shall we more and more become friends to all… and our lives will be filled with the joy which true friendship never fails to bring. Surely this is the way in which Christ calls us to overcome the barriers of race and class and thus to make of all humanity a society of friends. – All Friends Conference, 1920 (Faith and Practice, p. 174 no. 168)

Administrative Council

Clerk Terri Whiteford reported for the council. She reminded us about our historical Friends who were bold spiritual leaders, and noted that sometimes this willingness to speak up makes us unpopular.

The council is preparing to kick off three sprints. Two of those sprints are revisiting our strategic plan and governance structure, assessing how they continue to serve us or need to change. The third sprint is reviewing the Undoing Racism proposal, the Multicultural Audit Steering Committee proposal, and the FGC assessment, sorting through the role of Administrative Council, and how the council will support the work as it moves forward.

We were reminded that part of the work of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion is being willing to accept that the impact of our actions is more important than our intentions. We need to be open to hearing how our words are received by others, and willing to stumble toward right relationship with each other with restraint, compassion, and altruism.

A report from the retreat will be forthcoming.

We heard appreciation from the former clerk of the Multicultural Audit Steering Committee, who felt that while there had been frustration when the body failed to approve the recommendations of that group at the March continuing sessions, the Spirit’s work among us in moving us forward is clearly evident and we are where we are meant to be.

Reporting on the Progress from the Charges from 2019 Annual Sessions

Chris Lucca reminded the body of the minutes from July sessions, which charged the Quaker Life and Administrative Councils to come under the weight of revisiting the Undoing Racism Group proposal, reviewing the recommendation from the Multicultural Audit Steering Committee, and creating a Truth and Reconciliation process for those Friends of color who have experienced trauma from the Yearly Meeting.We have heard from QLC and Admin council regarding their pieces of this work, and now wanted to hear from the clerk of the group of Friends who volunteered to steward that work ongoingly.

Marille Thomas reported as clerk of that group of Friends, echoing the Friend who noted that we are where we are meant to be.

After a grounding exercise, we received the written report from the group, which is available on the YM website. This report includes homework for members of the body to take back to our monthly and quarterly meetings, as well as the proposals from the Multicultural Audit Steering Committee and Undoing Racism Group, the Crossroads Continuum of becoming an antiracist organization, and the summary of the FGC Institutional Assessment.

In the interest of transparency, Marille shared that the group of Friends and the Councils had differing understandings of what the charge was coming out of July sessions. They are continuing to work together to navigate this misunderstanding. Questions remain about which council this group will report to, and where in the PYM structure the group will fall. There is ambiguity here, and Friends are invited to embrace this discomfort, as we move into growth and transformation.

We were reminded of an activity facilitated at an earlier continuing session, during which those present rated Philadelphia Yearly Meeting as a 2 on the Crossroads Continuum. A two describes a monocultural club which intentionally maintains white power. However, this group is hopeful that the yearly meeting can grow and transform into an antiracist organization. This is an invitation for us to be in Spirit with each other.

We closed that report with a reflection exercise, during which Friends were invited to make suggestions about where in the PYM structure this work should fall. These written reflections will be collected and shared on the Yearly Meeting website, and additional suggestions will be invited.

These minutes were approved.

Submitted with love and joyful service, Kri Burkander, Recording Clerk

 

Minute of Support for Immigrants and Refugees

Approved by the Harrisburg Monthly Meeting of Friends
October 14, 2018

Throughout our nation’s history, immigrants, refugees and those brought here against their will have contributed diverse perspectives and resources resulting in a cultural and economic wealth that has enriched all of our lives. To counter the rising tide of intolerance toward immigrants and refugees, the Harrisburg Monthly Meeting of Friends felt moved to offer this minute of support.

All non-indigenous Americans in this country are either immigrants, descendants of immigrants or descendants of those forcibly brought to this country. As did many of our ancestors, today’s immigrants and refugees are fleeing persecution, extreme poverty and/or violence in their home countries. As Friends, we believe in the equality, dignity and worth of every person regardless of place of birth, religion, race, sexual orientation or socio-economic status. We oppose discrimination in all forms and recognize a collective responsibility to support refugees and immigrants who relocate in our community.

We encourage local, state, and national governments to develop immigration policies which are fair, just, and respectful. Any reform of our immigration system must also seek to address the root causes of persecution and economic inequality that lead to the often desperate measure of fleeing one’s homeland in search of a better life.

 

Bucks Quarterly Meeting Minute

September 10, 2019

Christopher A. Lucca
Presiding Clerk Philadelphia Yearly Meeting
1515 Cherry Street
Philadelphia, PA

Dear Chris,

Bucks Quarterly Meeting recently conducted meeting for worship with attention to business at Fallsington Friends Meeting in Fallsington, Pennsylvania. During this meeting, which took place on August 18, 2019, Friends approved the following minute:

Bucks Quarterly Meeting supports a Friends-led national protest against the private sale and possession of assault-style rifles and large-capacity gun magazines in the United States. This is rightly ordered and in alignment with our peace testimony, or opposition to physical violence, and with our support of efforts to reduce and eliminate armaments and militarism in our society. The protest should take place in our nation’s capital at the earliest possible date that a well-organized one can be launched.

Friends of the Quarter also asked that the Quarter communicate its approval of this minute to Philadelphia Yearly Meeting, and that the Quarter request that Yearly Meeting assume responsibility for coordinating efforts with the appropriate local, national, and international organizations to achieve the Friends-led national protest proposed by Bucks Quarter in its minute.

This letter to you is of course my way of fulfilling the Quarter’s request to make Yearly Meeting aware of the Quarter’s minute and its request for Yearly Meeting action in regard to it. I hope the Yearly Meeting will give serious consideration to the minute and request for action, and I am happy to answer any questions you or others at Yearly Meeting may have in regard to them.

Thank you very much for your time and consideration of this matter.

Yours,

Boris Simkovich
Acting Clerk, Bucks Quarterly Meeting of the Religious Society of Friends

Bucks Quarterly Meeting of the Religious Society of Friends
Bristol • Buckingham • Doylestown • Fallsington • Lehigh Valley • Makefield • Middletown Newtown • Plumstead • Quakertown (NJ) • Solebury • Southampton • Wrightstown • Yardley