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.
- The Runway to Annual Sessions is in progress! The runway is a series of workshops running on a weekly basis from now through Annual Sessions at the end of July. It is the primary thing moving in the yearly meeting now. Note that two of the workshops were facilitated by PYM Collaboratives which carry the work expressed in the workshop all year long. The opening events included:
- Friends gathered to explore together challenges and opportunities of re-opening and lay the groundwork for resource development. More than 80 attended on May 4.
- A workshop on The Roots and Branches of Quaker Advocacy was facilitated by PYM’s Legislative Policy Collaborative and Friends Committee on National Legislation. 16 people attended on May 6.
- A workshop on Middle East Conflict as a Global Issue of Injustice was facilitated by PYM’s Middle East Collaborative. 30 people attended on May 13.
- To see the whole calendar of runway events go to: pym.org/annual-sessions.
- Quarterly Meeting Leadership gathered to connect around topics shared by PYM’s presiding clerks and PYM staff, followed by break-out groups to discuss topics that the attenders suggested. This is one of three QM Leadership meetings scheduled annually. Over 30 people attended on May 11.
- We hosted two April Tea with Christie events virtually. A total of 20 people came and drank real tea while visiting virtually.
- A virtual approach to a camping weekend for youth was the only event since the start of the pandemic that we decided to cancel due to low registration numbers. It feels like a win that all but one scheduled event for fourteen months of pandemic have been held.
- Arch Street Meeting House launched a podcast. You can listen to “Untold Stories in Quaker History” on the ASMH website (historicasmh.org/podcast). Inaugural episodes feature Quakers and the Abolitionist Movement and Alice Paul.
- As a next step following Continuing Sessions where the PYM community affirmed our experience of being called to address climate change as a ministry of the entire yearly meeting, including every Friend and every meeting, a sprint held its first meeting to lay the groundwork for holding this yearly meeting-wide concern.
Inclusion and Anti Racism
Ensure our communities are welcoming and safe for all people.
- Two staff members and a council member are participating in an external three-part follow-up workshop series led by the Center for the Study of White American Culture entitled – “White Accountability and Organizing.”
- The staff DEI team has been folded into the procedures for developing a new staff policy and gave input to an updated proposed Compensation policy. The next stop was Personnel Committee which will be followed by all-staff review, another stop at Personnel, and then on to Admin Council for approval.
- Some staff members attended an introduction to the United Church of Christ training “White Privilege: Let’s Talk” and the 20-year Anniversary Webinar by Tema Okun on White Supremacy Characteristics.
- The General Secretary is a member of the Racial Justice Steering Committee meeting of the National Council of Churches and attended its first meeting.
Communications and Technology
Connect Friends across the yearly meeting through effective communications and technologies. Simplify and focus governance and administration.
- News this month focused on the launch of the Runway to Sessions and key social justice issues before Friends. Stories on belonging and membership and addressing racism were featured as was the primary issue before meetings – reopening.
- We placed an advertisement for the Runway to Sessions in the digital version of Friends Journal. Since all programming is online, we felt the national exposure was useful. Clicking on the ad takes Friends to the sessions pages. We will be running a second ad in two weeks for Annual Sessions itself.
- Runway to Sessions invitation postcard was mailed to 7000+ households across the USA. In typical years this kind of publicity goes to a smaller, closer-to-home list but given the online nature of the event we included everyone in the mailing.
- Web traffic in April was down from the March high caused by Continuing Sessions. Page loading speed is slightly slower. Still, we document considerable growth over last year. A comparison of April 2020 to April 2021 shows an overall increase in web engagement of 14%.
- The top event people connected to was pathways to ending Gun Violence.
- Most visited page was Faith and Practice; a close second was annual sessions.
- People have started to search for Meetings (a possible sign of interest in re-opening).
- Instagram grew to 631 followers
Business and Finances
- It is budget season! The budget for Fiscal Year 22, starting on 10/1/2021, will come to Annual Sessions for approval by the body. An initial draft was reviewed by the Finance Committee as a first step on its journey.
- Community Engagement Team welcomed the new Children & Families Program Facilitator, Mars Hohenstein, who started work on April 19th.Mars grew up in the care of Frankford Meeting, and has worked with children in a variety of settings including leading First Day School and as a teaching assistant at Frankford Friends School.
(photo courtesy of Andrea Merovich on Unsplash)