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 May 2021 below.
Program and Ministry
Connect Friends and meetings to one another so that we may experience vibrant, Spirit-led faith community Broaden engagement and deepen relationships in our yearly meeting.
- Registration for Annual Sessions is now open, and the schedule, outline of the business agenda and keynote speakers have been announced.
- The Runway to Annual Sessions continued. The following workshops were held, each with around 25 people attending:
- A rightly Ordered Life: The Simplicity Testimony, Then and Now. Led by Quaker Voluntary Service on May 18.
- Humble Walk Bears Fruit. Led by First-Contact Reconciliation Collaborative on May 20.
- When Spirit Calls: Engaging the Challenges of Ministry. Led by Jay Marshal on May 25.
- F/friends in Unlikely Places: Engaging those who do not agree with you. Led by Friends Committee on National Legislation.
- On Saturday May 26, the youth programs staff held a planning retreat to celebrate the addition of Mars Hohenstein as Children & Families Facilitator and to plan the next year’s programming. Youth staff have been especially challenged in their work by the pandemic due to how deeply affected our children and families have been. They have, and deserve, the deepest respect and admiration of staff for their perseverance.
- A committee has formed to organize the first retreat for BIPOC Young Adult Friends who are between the ages of 18 and 35ish which will take place in the fall; BIPOC YAF’s from anywhere are welcome. There will be virtual and in-person opportunities.
- A sprint appointed last month by the Quaker Life Council to prepare the ground for our yearly meeting-wide ministry on climate change has been meeting weekly and has prepared the first draft of a report and recommendation that will go to Annual Sessions in July.
- We hosted two more virtual teas with Christie with close to 40 people. These are an informal way of connecting with PYM Friends and will be ongoing. If you’d like an invitation, let Grace Sharples Cooke know! (firstname.lastname@example.org)
- A survey was shared with PYM Friends inviting them to give feedback about our strategic directions by the sprint responsible for evaluating where we are at this point with our governance and strategic directions.
- The Community Engagement Coordinator attended a weekend retreat on Creating a Blended Worshipping Community offered by Woodbrooke (in Britain) and Pendle Hill to Friends around the world. Through deep listening and worship sharing, they explored the gifts before us as we experiment with new ways to welcome Friends and seekers into our community. We continue to discern the ways in which we expand this welcome with the use of technology, while creating the beloved community that we seek.
- Friends of all ages – 8-80 years old – gathered (virtually) for a community showing and discussion of We Are the Radical Monarchs (those who registered early received popcorn in the mail!). The discussion which was a thoughtful reflection on the film and on centering BIPOC and youth voices.
- The Youth Religious Life Coordinator participated in the Powell House event on “How are the Children? Plain Speaking about Quaker Meetings and Families in Post-Pandemic Times.” She spoke with Emily Provance on experiences with all-age Quaker communities in pandemic times, including family devotionals, PYM Giant Children’s Meeting, NYYM parent support groups, and more. Building on this past year’s learnings and experience from years past, they named some of what’s happened in Quaker communities and what may be needed next. They’ve been asked to reprise their talk for Friends in Britain Yearly Meeting.
Inclusion and Anti Racism
Ensure our communities are welcoming and safe for all people.
- The Councils’ June meeting fell on Juneteenth this year. To mark the day two Friends on the council with professional knowledge and personal experience of Juneteenth are sharing information and stories about this day of liberation and inviting council members into reflecting on the day with queries.
- Staff recently held a Meeting for Learning expanding on the study of Tema Okun’s “White Supremacy Culture Characteristics”.
- The DEI Team held its self-led retreat experience which yielded some grounding for the work ahead. This includes working with a consultant which will conduct a training for the DEI Team.
- Some staff and governance members are participating in an anti-racism training offered by National Council of Churches and Grace & Race ministries titled “Let’s Talk” that is based on the curriculum developed by the United Church of Christ – a denomination with very similar values to Friends’.
Communications and Technology
Connect Friends across the yearly meeting through effective communications and technologies. Simplify and focus governance and administration.
- Completed a reorganization of PYM’s website navigation. Three years of testing and research yielded a navigation system that is based on actual usage patterns, what people search for, and best practices among similar organizations.
- The home page of the website features the LGBTQ+ flag colors on our home page for Pride Month.
- The most visited page on the website this month was the story on the Gathering on Reopening Our Monthly Meetings
Business and Finances
- The first draft of the budget for FY 2022 was completed, approved by the Finance Committee and sent to the Administrative Council. The Council will discern whether it is ready to send to the monthly and quarterly meetings for information. In July, the Administrative Council will propose a final budget to the body for approval at Annual Sessions.
- Mailed the 2020 annual report to the donor and council community. The report includes our audited financials for FY20, the good news of an uptick in donors and storytelling around innovation guided by our Strategic Directions, Friends Counseling Service and Arch Street Meeting House Trust.
- The Spring appeal is also in the mail. The appeal is later than usual to accommodate the fact that the year-end appeal was delayed by the USPS and didn’t reach homes until February.
- A ‘no ask’ version of the appeal was sent to Friends who do not want to be solicited so they receive the same loving message and information that is shared in the appeal.
- With this appeal, return envelopes will be sent directly to the bank for processing, decreasing internal processing time and our margin of error while increasing the speed with which checks can e deposited.
- Received a remarkable bequest of $175,000 from a PYM volunteer who died at the age of 98 in March of 2020.
- The final details of a Defined Contribution retirement plan were solidified and the staff retirement benefit will be served through a new Friends 403(b) Plan beginning July 1st. The present Defined Benefit Pension Plan will be frozen as of June 30 and all of the benefits that employees have accrued so far will be maintained for them. Current employees who are vested in the Pension Plan will receive that benefit. The change to a 403(b) plan allows for predictable budgeting because it is a fixed percent of payroll and the plan is always fully funded. The plan is fully portable, all employees are immediately vested and immediately receive a 7% contribution from PYM plus an additional 3% match. Four group orientations were held to support staff’s best use of the benefit and personalized guidance is available every weekday from Conrad Siegel, the plan’s administrator.
- PYM has chosen to stay a remote workplace for the next quarter with plans to reassess the organization’s position when the following quarter is upon us.
- Staff Changes
- George Schaefer returned from his sabbatical! We are all so happy to see George back in our zoom meetings. Last year the Administrative Council approved a 3-month sabbatical for staff who have passed their 10 year anniversary.
- Meg Rose, our Young Adult Engagement Coordinator, departs from staff on July 16 to pursue a career in social work having received her MSW from Bryn Mawr this month. The Young Adult Friends community, the Program Committee, and the Quaker Life Council have written or will endorse minutes of appreciation for her four years of service with the yearly meeting.
- We are seeking an Interim Young Adult Friends Facilitator to support continuity for the work that Meg has stewarded for four years.
- Our effective use of our database is now supported full time by a Salesforce Database Coordinator. Shelly Xia joined the staff in June to ensure our data is clean and tells us all the stories we want to know.
(photo courtesy of Artem Kniez on Unsplash)