On a regular schedule PYM’s General Secretary, Christie Duncan-Tessmer, publishes a report to PYM Councils detailing work that PYM Staff has completed. You can read a full archive of reports to councils or read her report for the April of 2021 below. [Read more…] about General Secretary Report, April 2021
On a regular schedule PYM’s General Secretary, Christie Duncan-Tessmer, publishes a report to PYM Councils detailing work that PYM Staff has completed. You can read a full archive of reports to councils or read her report for the first March of 2021 below. [Read more…] about General Secretary Report, March 2021
On a regular schedule PYM’s General Secretary, Christie Duncan-Tessmer, publishes a report to PYM Councils detailing work that PYM Staff has completed. You can read a full archive of reports to councils or read her report for the first two months of 2021 below. [Read more…] about General Secretary Report, Jan-Feb 2021
General Secretary Report – Autumn 2020
Program and Ministry:
- Fall Continuing Sessions was held by Zoom on its regularly scheduled date, which fell on the Saturday after the election. In anticipation of having not knowing in advance what would be happening in our world on that day, Continuing Sessions focused on worship and youth programs only. It postponed business until Tuesday, December 8.
- Over 160 Friends gathered for worship with storytelling and traditional waiting worship. The election results were called during our worship.
- Participation in afternoon events was decreased as a result of the election results. Some Friends joined together for lunch by zoom in small groups. Some Friends returned for worship sharing in the afternoon.
- Youth Programs Virtual gatherings for Children & Families, Middle School Friends and Young Friends took place in the afternoon.
Summary of PYM program News – Mid-May to Mid-June 2020
- We are in the process of developing a re-opening plan for PYM staff, which will entail a partial re-opening. 10 members of staff will be permitted in the office at any given time, following appropriate safety practices. Certain staff whose duties require them to be in the office (things to do with accounting, receiving mail, signing checks, etc.) have priority access to the office for their work.
Summary of PYM program News – Mid-March to Mid-May 2020
- PYM went from business as usual to work from home under Covid 19 distancing restrictions after four intense days of planning in the second week of March. In doing this we safeguarded staff health & wellness, developed a remote accounts payable system, secured necessary laptops and software, and implemented Zoom conferencing systems that served both staff and the Yearly Meeting.
Business and Finances
- PYM was funded for a Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) loan from the Small Business Administration (SBA) in April. The SBA gave specific guidance to faith-based nonprofits, encouraging them to apply. PPP loans cover 2.5x a small business’s average monthly payroll. The loan may be forgiven in full if the organization maintains its staffing and payroll levels for the eight weeks following funding, which PYM intends to do. The loan is welcome support in a time of financial uncertainty.
Our General Secretary, Christie Duncan-Tessmer has served PYM as staff for over 14 years and served as General Secretary for more than five years.
With gratitude for the work accomplished and a desire for her to be at her best as she continues to serve Friends, the Administrative Council began planning a three-month wellness leave in the winter with final approval in February. This is a paid leave during which she will have the time and space to rest and be renewed.
Mid-January to Mid-February 2020
Business and Finances:
- In partnership with Friends Fiduciary, PYM has made a $1 million investment in the Impact Accelerator Bridge Loan Fund I, sponsored by the Reinvestment Fund. Friends previously briefed on this potential investment at Annual Sessions in July received the report warmly. This project required many hours of staff and finance committee support to bring to fruition, so we are happy to celebrate its launch.
- The audit was received (but has not yet been reviewed by the audit committee). Completing this year’s audit was an enormous project taking much time and requiring pages of accompanying documentation. Reporting standards have changed, and details needed to be delved into at a deeper level to ensure everything is properly represented. For example, the way in which a fund was cared for during the depression (yes, from nearly 100 years ago) affected the way details were represented today.
View a downloadable/PDF version of the report here.
The bulk of this report is made of minutes of exercise taken by PYM Recording Clerk, Jim Herr. The minutes review the proceedings of the day. Following the minutes of exercise, the report contains a transcription of collections of “advice to the yearly meeting” in response to several queries that participants wrote down in small groups. Find in Appendix A the advance documents that were provided ahead of the threshing session.
Mid-November 2019 to Mid-January 2020
Business and Finances:
- The Christmas appeal was mailed on December 4th and launched electronically on December 3. We are still counting the gifts and it looks like response is on par with the previous year.
- As last year, the final emailed appeal in late December focused on asking Friends to make a gift to their monthly meeting. There were almost 50 MM gifts that came in that day and for the whole month we collected 320 gifts for monthly meetings. Online giving to meetings was up 13% in December over last year.
- We completed the work for the FY19 audit, almost. The required new format has necessitated additional detail work for 2019 and re-formatting for 2018 so the two years can be compared.
- The General Secretary made a presentation to the Friends Fiduciary’s board (on which she sits) on PYM’s finances since 2012. It was well received, and Christie will adapt it for the Councils and other audiences when it is updated for FY 2019 on completion of the audited financial statements.
- A major renovation project started at Arch Street in December with the long-planned relighting of the East Room. Flexible new lighting will enhance the East room’s service as a multi-purpose room for exhibits, events and performance.
- Staff met with archivists from Swarthmore to learn about best practices for digital archiving.
Program and Ministry:
- The Associate Secretary for Advancement and Relationship convened Quarterly Meeting reps for lunch and conversation on the next printed newsletter which will feature the Quarters and how they serve and engage our yearly meeting.
- The Youth Religious Life Coordinator visit facilitated multigenerational forum after worship at Old Haverford Meeting.
- The Youth Religious Life Coordinator facilitated the first of 3 Saturdays in Godly Play and Faith & Play training for PYM Friends at Pendle Hill, January 11.
- The Religious Education and Youth Work Thread Gathering was held at Wilmington Meeting to explore the ways in which our meetings can support religious education and programs for children, youth, and families.
- Friends in Business in November featured dinner and talk by Scott Wallace on super PAC funding and the way it sways election outcomes with 55 people in attendance.
- At the Quaker Family Meetup parents shared experiences and support of parenting during the holidays at Birmingham Meeting.
- Young Adult Friends held a Holiday Potluck on 12/14/19 which 21 people attended.
- The Young Adult Friends Winter Retreat was a “Skill Share” weekend. 23 people came, including 5 new people and a 6 week old baby!
- The Young Friends Christmas Gathering at Woodstown Meeting featured workshops by young Friends relating to identity and exploring the ways in which we are all superheroes.
- The Winter Family Overnight was held on January 11-12 with 12 families and 30+ participants at Camp Onas. They played, worshiped, prepared meals together and explored their theme of “Use your voice!”
Inclusion and Anti-Racism:
- We continue to refine our onboarding procedures as a way of being transparent about the way in which we function as a community. Part of our process is for each new staff member to meet with each current staff member about their work. We are catching up for those who are already on staff by asking each person to give their onboarding spiel to all staff at staff meetings.
- The General Secretary and two Associate Secretaries began individual coaching with Prototype Entities.
- We completed our third all-staff training with Prototype Entities. This final training focused on microaggressions. The staff is forming a sprint to consider the next steps for expanding and operationalizing those learnings.
- We received a preliminary report from Prototype Entities based on the documents they reviewed and the staff they met with. A summary of that report was shared with staff and discussed. We will prepare a summary for PYM Friends as well.
Communications and Technology:
- PYM website was redesigned and relaunched over Christmas. The new framework has better technical support and improved user experience. We now have improved legibility, mobile experience and SEO possibilities as well as faster page load times. The home page, interior page layouts and most of the content did not change.
- The website navigation was improved so that it works better for all our intended audiences (Members, Attenders, Seekers, etc.) by being simpler, not relying on insider knowledge of PYM and concentrating on the most visited pages.
- The PYM graphics on all social media channels were upgraded
- A reporting method was developed to document how people search on the Grants and Quaker Aging Resources webpages.
- December and January editions of “Tote Bag” religious education and family resources e-newsletter were sent.
Staff and Administration:
- Open enrollment just ended and PYM’s health insurance is basically status quo for 2020. The platinum-level plans that we can offer in 2020 are nearly identical to what was offered in 2019 and very similar to those we offered in 2018. The cost of health insurance coverage will increase by a maximum of 4.5%, which is within our budget and the employee contribution remains stable.
- We implemented a new policy that provides a monthly stipend to offset the cost of health insurance for staff who are part-time and do not qualify for PYM health benefits. Nearly all of the part-time staff immediately provided required paperwork and began participating.
- We hired New Children and Families Program Assistant, Crystal Hershey. Crystal grew up in PYM’s youth programs and now is one of the adults nurturing our current crop of children!
- National searches were launched for two positions: Executive Director of Arch Street Meeting House and Director of Human Resources & Inclusion. Our Diversity, Equity and Inclusion consultants are supporting the HR & Inclusion search.
- The Office Assistant had her baby and is on parental leave. Jess Purvis who has served in this role on an interim basis in the past stepped in to help out again.
- Melinda Wenner Bradley, Youth Religious Life Coordinator, and Meg Rose, Young Adult Friends Coordinator, met with Pendle Hill Education program staff for a regular meeting on how our organizations can collaborate.
- Grace Sharples Cooke, Associate Secretary for Advancement & Communications, visited Lansdowne meeting to talk about how to increase the effectiveness of Monthly Meeting Fundraising.
- Christie Duncan-Tessmer, General Secretary, attended the Conference of National Black Churches as an invited member of the National Council of Churches Board
- Christie attended the National Council of Churches gathering for “Heads of Communion” for a silent retreat and sharing.