Called Session

June 24, 2017 @ 10:00 am – 3:00 pm America/New York Timezone
Arch Street Meeting House
320 Arch St
Philadelphia, PA 19106
Tricia Coscia

Register Now

Before attending, download and review these preparatory materials. Or scroll down to the Preparatory Materials Packet section on this page to view them. 

Some of the videos mentioned in the prep materials will be playing at Arch Street Meeting House before the start of the Called Session, 9 AM to 10 AM upstairs in the Penn Suites. Print versions of the prep materials will also be made available at that time.

The agenda for the day and afternoon query:

9:00 to 10:00 AM Penn Suites Viewing of Videos and Preparation
9:00 to 10:00 AM East Room Refreshments, Check In if You Didn’t Pre-Register
10:00 to 11:00 AM West Room Welcome, Introductions Worship
11:00 to 12:15 PM West Room Small Group Reflection Exercise in Triads
12:15 to 1:00 PM East Room Brown Bag Lunch
Coffee, water and non-perishable snacks will be available.
1:00 to 3:00 PM West Room Meeting for Worship with Attention to Our Community

Guiding Query for the 1:00 to 3:00 PM Session
In this moment in our history as a country and as a yearly meeting, and given our minute of action from January 2015 and our query used at the 2015 fall Continuing Sessions, what is the Holy Spirit calling us to do together as a faith community, to heal from our own racism and to dismantle the structural racism/white supremacy in our beloved yearly meeting?

Other Important Logistics

The Called Session will occur in the West Room of Arch Street Meeting House. The smaller Monthly Meeting Room, adjacent to the West Room, will be reserved as a Pastoral Care space for folks who seek support or just want somewhere to recenter.

The Owen Biddle Room, upstairs, from 9 AM until the end of the day, will be reserved as an affinity space for people of color. The Owen Biddle Room is farthest down the hall from the front stairwell and closest to the upstairs bathrooms. There will be signs to lead the way.

One of the Penn Suite Rooms, from 10 AM until the end of the day, will be reserved as an affinity space for white people. The Penn Suites will be used for video viewing until 10, and then converted into the affinity space. The Penn Suites are the smaller rooms in the middle of the upstairs hallway.

If you need to reach someone after 5 PM on Friday June 23 or at any point Saturday June 24, call the PYM field phone number 215-621-8481.

Letter from our Clerks

Dear Friend,

We hope you join us for a meaningful day on June 24, 2017 at Arch Street Meeting House 10 AM to 3 PM for Philadelphia Yearly Meeting’s 2017 Called Session to reflect upon our 2015 Minute of Action on Addressing Racism. Please register (above) if you haven’t already; it helps us properly prepare.

Why are we gathering? We gather to remember that all of us, people of color and white people, are harmed by the structures in the United States that prolong inequality.  We remember that the visible and invisible fingerprints of racism are embedded throughout our culture, politics, and society, so that it is hard for many to see how it undermines our own sense of ourselves as people walking cheerfully over the world.  Without careful examination and understanding, we become patterns of racism, not patterns of equality.

Incidents at Upper Dublin Monthly Meeting and around our staffing have highlighted the complexity and perniciousness of patterns of racism in our society.  These examples and others inform us that we have work to do within our community, and they have been a catalyst for our Called Session. Our work on June 24 will not solely focus on these two incidents, but will be to listen to each other deeply, seek to understand our stories and listen for how God wants us to proceed so that we can more consciously address patterns of racism.

The day will include significant time for worship, a period of small group listening, and a generous time for us to have a Meeting with Attention to the Community.  We will guide our worship and stories with queries and Quaker practices that have guided us for centuries.

We have developed preparatory material we hope all Friends, whether or not you plan to attend, will read and reflect upon. It is a packet containing basic definitions, links to videos and articles, and a brief journaling exercise. You can download the packet above, here or review it by scrolling down to the bottom of this event page.

While everyone is welcome, this advance work will help inform participants about the nature of racism, so that we may start our work together on June 24 with a common vocabulary.

Again, we hope you can join us, bring your full and authentic self, open to transformation, open to listening, open to God’s love, open to the hurt that some of us have endured.  Come learn and guide us to our next step as we live more fully into the people we want to be and less fully into the people our world shapes us to be.

Penny and Emily
Penny Colgan-Davis, PYM Clerk
Emily Blanck, PYM Sessions Coordinating Committee Clerk

Preparatory Material Packet

This is a packet to help prepare Friends ahead of the June 24 Called Meeting of Philadelphia Yearly Meeting to be held at Arch Street Meeting House 10 AM to 3 PM. Before attending the June 24 Called Meeting, we recommend that you reflect on the below material. After reflecting, try the journaling exercise on the last page.

View a few short videos.

Review these key terms.

The below terms are compiled, created and/or edited by Ali Michael, Ph.D. who draws from the work of a variety of people, groups and organizations. She gave us permission to include a fuller list of terms. You can view this list on the PYM Website.


Racism is prejudice plus power. Racism is “(t)he use of race to establish and justify a social hierarchy and system of power that privileges, preferences or advances certain individuals or groups of people usually at the expense of others. Racism is perpetuated through both interpersonal and institutional practices.” (Definition from by the Association of American Anthropologists) Structural racism, also called societal or systemic racism, is racism expressed in the various systems of our society to maintain power and privilege of white people. Institutional racism is racism expressed at the group level, and individual racism is racism as it is exposed in our everyday interactions (see racial microagressions below).


“Being anti-racist begins with understanding the institutional nature of racial matters and accepting that all actors in a racialized society are affected materially (receive benefits or disadvantages) and ideologically by the racial structure. This stand implies taking responsibility for your unwilling participation in these practices and beginning a new life committed to the goal of achieving real racial equality” (Definition from Dr. Eduardo Bonilla-Silva’s Racism without Racists). Anti-racism is a positive position; it is explicitly against racial injustice and explicitly for equity for people of color and white people.

Equity vs. Equality

Equality means everyone gets exactly the same thing—without regard to individual differences.  Equity means everyone gets what they need to yield the same outcome. If one of my children is disabled, for example, treating both my children equally may mean sending them both to the same school. Treating them equitably, however, would mean choosing the schools that meet their different needs.

Intent vs. Impact

Our intent is invisible to the other person; however, our impact is not. It is the impact, or effect, of an action or statement that the other person experiences. Intent and impact are not always the same, and this disconnect is often a source of tension across race. White people (or members of a mainstream group) tend to focus on their intention, not the impact of their actions. So they may feel angry or hurt when someone’s reaction does not seem to recognize their intention. People of color (or folks in a marginalized group) focus on impact. For regardless of someone’s intention, the effect is still real. Some actions or statements are not in themselves racist; however, they may have that impact.  For example, not paying attention when a person of color is speaking: this behavior on its own would not be called racist. But the effect of a white person as a dominant group member on a marginalized group member can have a negating effect. A key skill is understanding that both are present and to acknowledge one’s impact rather than denying it. (Definition from Antje Mattheus and Lorraine Marino’s Whites Confronting Racism manual)


The dominant group takes or easily receives benefits because of their group’s power—such as good jobs, high income, access to money, physical safety, good education, quality health services, good housing, respectful treatment, being held in high regard, favorable historic interpretations, etc. Privilege can show up in “simple” ways such as being able to catch a cab when you need one; or not to be treated with suspicion while shopping. It also shows up in “not-so-simple” ways such as being reasonably sure you’ll find a place to live where your neighbors are welcoming or at least neutral; or, that you will be treated fairly when stopped for a traffic issue. (Definition from Antje Mattheus and Lorraine Marino’s Whites Confronting Racism manual)

Racial Microagressions

“Racial micro-aggressions are brief and commonplace daily verbal, behavioral or environmental indignities, whether intentional or unintentional, that communicate hostile, derogatory or negative racial slights and insults toward people of color. ” (Definition from Dr. Derald Wing Sue’s Racial Microaggressions in Everyday Life)

Racial microaggressions are characterized by almost always having vastly different intent and impact. They gain power from their cumulative effects and the underlying messages that are being communicated.  When teachers consistently call a Chinese American student by another Chinese American student’s name, for example, the underlying  messages  that are communicated  from many different teachers are: you all look the same, you are not an individual, I don’t care enough to learn your name. Of course, the teacher’s intent is to greet the student by name in a gesture of friendliness, unaware that they are mistaking the student for another student.

Reflect on the term white supremacy.

The term white supremacy has been difficult for our yearly meeting community. For some Friends, the term harkens back to the days of George Wallace and the Klan. To refer to the current context of race and racism in Philadelphia Yearly Meeting with the same iconography used to describe Klan members and slave owners erases the progress that our movements of resistance have made. These Friends see the use of the term white supremacy as unfairly equating the current situation in Philadelphia Yearly Meeting with a tragic past of racial violence and explicit and unapologetic beliefs that white people are superior to other races.

Other Friends find the term white supremacy to be the most accurate language for describing a prevailing ideology (or set of ideas, not necessarily beliefs) that justifies the maintenance of wealth, power and privilege of people of European descent throughout the history of the new world to the present. The ideology of white supremacy warps individual and societal dynamics in dramatic and traumatic ways. From the distribution of economic resources, to spiritual and psychological health, to officer involved shootings, and to mutually fulfilling equalitarian relationships, we have not left behind our violent past because the violence continues today (albeit sometimes in less blatant, more covert ways). Through this understanding, higher education, healthcare, banks, criminal justice systems, popular media, religious institutions (among other institutions) play interlocking roles in perpetuating the ideology of white supremacy and maintaining wealth, power and privilege for folks of European descent.

For more on white supremacy, we recommend reading this three-page article “What is White Supremacy” by Elizabeth ‘Betita’ Martinez. For more advanced study, we also recommend this longer article “Heteropatriarchy and the Three Pillars of White Supremacy: Rethinking Women of Color Organizing” by Andrea Smith.

Looking for More Resources?

Try the resources section of the Addressing Racism Page on the PYM Website.

Journaling Exercise

Find time to contemplate and/or journal in response to the below queries.

After reading through the above material, what sensations do you notice in your body, and what feelings and/or thoughts arise?

After reading the above material, do you find any aspects confusing or difficult to understand? What do you agree or disagree with?

In what ways will you spiritually prepare for the called meeting? How will you work to be present to the voices of others while maintaining your center?