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.
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.
- Thread Gatherings were held in a series over two months. PYM focuses on five areas of work that thread through all of our meetings: Ministry & Care, Religious Education, Peace & Social Justice, Outreach & Communications, and Governance & Stewardship. Thread Gatherings are an opportunity for PYM Friends to learn, share, challenge and inspire one another on a topic in a thread. Two Thread Gatherings were held this month:
- Ministry & Care Thread Gathering on Truth & Transformation explored the practice of deep listening to increase our capacity for healing by responding compassionately to incidents of racial wounding. Approximately 80 people participated on February 27.
- Governance & Stewardship Thread Gathering on Building Community and Philanthropy offered a panel of experts and small group sessions to provide resources on successful philanthropic and engagement strategies that work. Approximately 30 people participated on March 6.
- Monthly Meeting Leadership Gathering is a an event held three times a year to bring Friends who carry responsibility for the good order and functioning of their meeting to come together to support one another. This is the second one this year and about 90 people were in attendance.
- The Practice of Worship Series is an exploration of practical and concrete ways in which we worship and was continued into April because of the strong interest for the event which was meant to last four weeks in February.
- “Stories of Faith on the Road to Easter” is a 6-week series of videos of Godly Play and Faith & Play stories about the ministry and life of Jesus of Nazareth. A new video is posted every Monday, and we’re half-way through. The second half of the series moves us into thinking about the Easter story.
- A webinar hosted by the Eco-Justice Collaborative engaged approximately 100 participants from several yearly meetings and one Quaker organization (FCNL) on February 28. The Community Engagement Coordinator deepened our Zoom capacities by delving into the webinar format.
- A workshop on Facebook as an outreach tool was co-facilitated by the Advancement Marketing Communications Coordinator for a joint event for Caln and South Jersey Quarterly Meetings in their ongoing work on outreach. 50 people attended on February 20.
- The Planning Committee for FGC’s Consultation on Spirit and Community Online is preparing for the event on April 17. PYM’s Community Engagement Coordinator is working with Friends from two other yearly meetings and FCNL to prepare for sharing the learnings of large group virtual gatherings, as well as explore the opportunities going forward.
- The Friends Counseling Service Advisory Panel has been reinvigorated and met this month for a kickoff meeting to discuss policy. Friends Counseling Service is a PYM program which provides psychological support for Friends, by Friends.
- Spring Continuing Sessions and Summer Annual Sessions are deep in planning and preparation modes.
- Quaker Worship Workshop offered by the Associate Secretary for Program & Religious Life and the Care & Aging Coordinator led a workshop on at Central Philadelphia Meeting on February 28.
- Quaker Eldering Workshop offered by the Care & Aging Coordinator at Third Haven Meeting on March 13.
- A spring series of mindfulness classes offered by Friends Counseling Service from March 4 through April 22.
- Giant Children’s Meeting continues to meet on the last First Day of every month. February’s event had the theme “Giving Love Everywhere.”
Inclusion and Anti Racism
Ensure our communities are welcoming and safe for all people.
- The planning for Spring Continuing Sessions has focused on the three shared concerns we are pursuing as a yearly meeting, all of which to one degree or another are related to our commitment to anti-racism and to save and welcoming community: Addressing Diversity, Equity & Inclusion, Membership & Belonging, and Climate Change. Each of these will be explored with some depth and will have next steps charted.
- Three members of the PYM Staff and two Council members are participating in a 3-week live, interactive/online workshop titled “Transforming White Organizational Culture” offered by an organization which is run by two Quakers from New York Yearly Meeting.
- The Staff DEI Team has completed a Request for Proposals for a facilitated DEI-Anti-Racism experience that the DEI team can take on together with the intention of building cohesion around common DEI/Anti-Racism understandings that the team would like to have in order to be an effective change agent.
Communications and Technology
Connect Friends across the yearly meeting through effective communications and technologies. Simplify and focus governance and administration.
- Launched an interview series in our online news on Quakers in Higher Education featuring Maurice Eldridge (Swarthmore), Sarah Willie-LeBreton (Swarthmore), and Terry Nance (Villanova) and Sa’ed Atshan (Swarthmore).
- The annual request for membership statistics from monthly meetings was launched. In the first week we received complete responses from a third of our meetings. Our new database simplifies the administrative process in most cases. We have offered all meetings the option to receive a spreadsheet with their member and attender data so they can simply cross-check for accuracy and update the sheet. Many meetings responded positively.
- Implementation and training for an Events Management application of our database is ongoing. It is a powerful tool and it will take time for several months to get it up and running.
- The Email application of our database is now configured to regularly track performance of sent emails and provide insight to interactions in terms of deliveries, bounces, unique clicks, best links.
- To ensure we are including Friends who don’t rely on email and internet to receive information we regularly send print invitations through the mail for PYM events. In the last month we designed and mailed five event postcards.
- Top five visited pages of the website in February:
- Faith and Practice (this is always at the top of the list)
- Truth and Transformation Thread Gathering
- Monthly Meeting Leadership Meeting
- Chocolate and Beer Valentine Event at Arch Street Meeting House (sold out!)
- Making a Difference: Black Quaker History (A news story from last year)
Business and Finances
- 32 meeting have sent covenant gifts so far in FY2021.
- Arch Street Meeting House launched a campaign to support the installation of outdoor exhibits to engage visitors and utilize our grounds as an incredible outdoor classroom.
- In the continuing effort to simplify, streamline and automate processes, the business office implemented a bill payment platform which tracks invoices and approvals, makes payments, and creates digital files of vendors and payments. Many small and medium-sized businesses have turned to this and similar services during COVID-19 to manage the constraints of working remotely. There should be lasting productivity improvements even after we return to work at the office: reduced use of paper and photocopying and a centralized digital filing system for accounts payable.
- PYM is not applying for a second Paycheck Protection Plan (PPP) loan. We do not meet the criterion of a 25% drop in revenue in any quarter of calendar 2020 vs. calendar 2019.
- The December appeal landed in most households in February because of USPS delays. However, we are seeing a healthy stream of contributions coming in. Additionally, we can see that the strategizing of fundraising staff was effective at maintaining December Annual Fund income at the previous year’s level.
- George Schaeffer, PYM’s Care & Aging Coordinator, began a sabbatical in March. Our new policy provides a three-month sabbatical to staff who have worked for PYM for 10 year. While he is refilling his cup his responsibilities are being managed by other staff including the Friends Counseling Service Coordinator and the Community Engagement Associate.
- The Program & Religious Life team has expanded capacity from a Community Engagement Associate position that focuses on special projects and filled by an internal hire who has transitioned from the Data Team.
- The staff is using a DEI lens to develop a broader and clearer practice for Professional Development support.
- The Youth Program Facilitator search has yielded 14 people whose credentials are being reviewed out of 72 applicants. 7 of 14 are currently being pre-screened with phone interviews.
(photo courtesy of Katie Burnett on Unsplash)