Philadelphia Yearly Meeting is pleased to share the good news that Melinda Wenner Bradley is now serving our community as the Director of Programs. This newly created role holds responsibility for cultivating relationship and ministry amongst Friends and meetings and working with program staff to direct their energy and resources to engage PYM Friends. Melinda, a member of West Chester Meeting, has been with PYM as the Youth Religious Life Coordinator for the last four years and brings to this new role her insight on how we nurture our experience of community and the spiritual formation of Friends of all ages. The Director of Programs job description includes holding a portfolio of program-focused work and many Friends will be glad to know that Melinda will continue to support religious education.
Governance & Stewardship
A workshop was held on Saturday May 7, and we returned to the questions we’ve held since 2020 about navigating the new normal of life through the ongoing pandemic. We highly recommend to readers the guidance on virtual gathering authored by Emily Provance, a Traveling Minister of New York Yearly Meeting. [Read more…] about Workshop on Gathering Virtually
Arch Street Meeting House has just installed brand new outside exhibits. This exciting addition will elevate the meetinghouse to one of the must-see historic sites in Old City Philadelphia and will attract thousands of visitors to the historic property to learn about Quakerism for years to come. On Friday, May 27th, from 5-8, regional Quakers, history enthusiasts and supporters of the Arch Street Meeting House Preservation Trust will celebrate this milestone with a celebration and exhibit unveiling.
Interview with Sean Connolly, the Executive Director of the Arch Street Meeting House Preservation Trust, about their new outside exhibits.
Q: It’s been a year since the successful fundraising campaign for the new outside exhibits at Arch Street Meeting House, how is the project progressing?
Things have progressed really well. Last summer, we hired Exhibitology out of Newark, NJ and Paul Trapido to design the new outside exhibit designs. That was really successful, we followed up that design process with two days of exhibit prototyping, basically testing out the new exhibit content and making sure it spoke to both the regular visitor and to the Quaker community. Based off of what we learned there we made a few edits to the design and the Board of Trustees approved the final design this past Fall. After that the designs went off to the fabrication company and are now ready to be installed at Arch Street Meeting House in early May.
Q: What role do you see these new exhibits will have in Arch Street Meeting House’s ability to engage with the public and teach about Quakerism?
These exhibits have everything to do with fulfilling that role. These exhibits will give visitors just enough information to spark their interest and encourage them to come inside the Meetinghouse to learn more. Getting people in the door had been one of our biggest problems, most visitors were unsure of what this site is. The terms meetinghouse and monthly meeting, while integral to the Quaker faith offered little clarity to visitors on what they would learn about when they step inside out grounds. These new exhibits signs clear that up. They answer the broad questions like what is Quakerism, and then also tell really impactful relatable stories that resonate with visitors. In the end more visitors will learn about Quakerism and come away more interested in the Quaker faith than ever before.
Q: You mention impactful, and relatable stories, can you give an example?
I wish I could, but I’d prefer if visitors could stop down to Arch Street and see the new exhibits for themselves. Let me just say that you will now see a more well-rounded, and full story of Quakerism on display at ASMH.
Q: Have there been any challenges associated with this project?
Sure, Covid-19 presented a continuing challenge, as most of the designs had to be done virtually. But that also made us more efficient with our time. Shipping delays were an ever-present cause for concern and we were not immune from the global shipping delays. But luckily, we kept it pretty much on track and are very glad to be able to deliver on our goals to our supporters, Grantmakers and Quakers across the world. We’ll be so glad to have the exhibit in place before the summer tourist rush. Really even with some small delays its perfect timing.
Q: What is next on the agenda for the Arch Street Meeting House Preservation Trust?
We recently conducted a Feasibility Study in preparation for a capital campaign for the meetinghouse. We have a lot of big projects on the horizon, HVAC, fire suppression systems and preservation and delivering on phase 2 of the exhibit overhaul – inside the meetinghouse. Honestly the next decade is going to be awesome and I’m looking forward to being able to see the meetinghouse address new problems. But before then make sure to stop by to see the new exhibits, they offer a glimmer into exciting things to come.
To see the new exhibits readers can visit Arch Street Meeting House, Thursday-Sunday, between 10am and 4pm or attend the official exhibit unveiling celebration on Friday, May 27th between 5pm and 8pm. Email Sean Connolly at SConnolly@HistoricASMH.org or go to www.HistoricASMH.org for more details.
The Arch Street Meeting House Preservation Trust, operates the Arch Street Meeting House on behalf of the Philadelphia Yearly Meeting.
Photo Above: top left to bottom right: Lucas Richie (staff), Meg Rose (staff), Sarah Ennis, Yelena Forrester, Afroza Hossain, Naomi Madaras, Liana Irvine, Jeremy Graf Evans, Hanae Togami, Afiya Johnson-Thornton
From 2020-2021, PYM staff organized a program to learn how to better engage and include young adults in PYM’s granting witness. During the year-long experimental program, eight Quakers aged 18-35 (YAFs) served on one of PYM’s granting groups and then provided feedback on their experience to PYM’s Granting Committee.
On the weekend of March 25 – 27, Philadelphia Yearly Meeting convened our 2022 Spring Continuing Sessions. The weekend began with a powerful and moving performance from Molly Hicks on Friday evening. On Saturday, Francisco Burgos delivered a keynote address, after which, we held PYM’s meeting for worship for business. During meeting for business, Green Street Meeting’s Reparations Committee presented on their work. This included a touching message from Kimberly Jones about the George Floyd murder in Minneapolis.
On Sunday of Spring 2022 Continuing Sessions weekend, local meetings were encouraged to “create your own” intergenerational gathering of Friends. Shared here are stories from meetings who created time for togetherness. Other meetings are planning future programs, and we would love to keep hearing and sharing those stories! [Read more…] about Together: Intergenerational Sundays
On Sunday of Spring Continuing Sessions weekend, we encourage meetings to “create your own” intergenerational gathering of Friends. While the pandemic has opened the possibility to join together from across the PYM region without travel, which we’ll do on Saturday online, our local meetings are where we gather most often across generations for fellowship, worship, learning, and business. Let’s continue the energy of being together at Sessions in the time after worship on Sunday morning, March 27. Shared here are resources and suggestions to plan simple opportunities for togetherness!
A parent in my meeting shared with me that they were not sure how to talk to their children about Russia’s war on Ukraine. I recalled a line in an article that had resonated for me as a parent and educator: We don’t have to protect children from difficult feelings, but we must not leave them alone with them. The Tote Bag newsletter for March/April has many resources and events to share with meetings and families, but these ideas for supporting one another and talking about ways to create peace are perhaps the most important. [Read more…] about Religious Education Resources for March & April 2022
Our strategic directions guide us to connect Friends and meetings to one another so that we may experience vibrant, Spirit-led community and deepen our relationships. Philadelphia Yearly Meeting has the gift of a devoted staff who support the community in making those connections. When there is turnover, as staff members move on, we have the opportunity to reflect on their meaningful contributions and to consider what new opportunities there are to continue to build on those contributions. [Read more…] about Retooling Our Staff Structure to Better Support Our Community
After a year-long discernment process, members of PYM’s Indian Committee, with approval from PYM’s Granting Committee and Administrative Council, have agreed upon a new name, the Quaker Fund for Indigenous Communities Granting Group. The granting group’s statement below has been shared with past members, past grant recipients, Quakers, and organizations with related missions: