General Secretary Report to Councils

General Secretary, PYM

Mid-December 2018 Through Mid-January 2019

Business and Finances:

  • Received donations in response to the December appeal. An informal analysis indicates most gifts that came in are similar or increased a bit from last year and lapsed donors from as long ago as the year 2000 have made gifts. Overall, though the income is down from the same quarter in previous years, largely due to the death of elderly major donors.
  • Encouraged PYM Friends to give to their monthly meeting in the final email appeal. This did lead to online gifts to meetings.
  • Sent quarterly reports and checks to monthly Meetings who use PYM’s online giving resource in record time following the close of the quarter.
  • The Administrative Council’s Governance Committee approved and named Friends to a sprint (a sprint is a short term, project-focused committee) to lay the groundwork for establishing a long-term structure for the new Development Committee and addressing short-term needs. Staff began convening the sprint.
  • Began to automate some of our internal processes with the support of Your Part Time Controller (which is acting as controller on an interim basis).

Program and Ministry:

  • Young Adult Engagement — The Young Adult Friends winter retreat was held Jan 4-6 with several new attenders, and four new people were added to its pastoral care and outreach committee.
  • One Quilt, One Yearly Meeting — With the excitement of Continuing Sessions approaching, we are checking in with monthly meetings, Friends schools, and collaboratives about their quilt square for the quilt project for the clerks’ table.
  • Resource Friends – Based on our experience in launching three practice areas we refined and documented the vision and implementation plan for this program.
  • Sessions – In keeping with the annual timeline developed by the Community Engagement team last year, we continue to plan for Spring 2019 Continuing Sessions, finalize our broad plan for Annual Sessions 2019 at The College of New Jersey, and have some prospective locations for Spring Continuing Sessions 2020. Fall 2019 Continuing Sessions will be at Arch Street Meeting House. Two new Young Adults have joined the Sessions Coordinating Committee which is adding some great flow between the action at March Continuing Sessions and the work of the larger committee.
  • Young Friends – The traditional Christmas Gathering was held at Haddonfield Meeting, and their next event is the Winter Gathering Feb. 8-10 at Green Street Meeting.
  • Children and Families (C&F) – The Winter Family Overnight was held at Camp Onas. There was twice the registration of last year’s event. Through Annual Sessions, the C&F program is focusing on the theme, “Who is my neighbor?” and looking at the experiences of immigrants, refugees, and asylum-seekers through the lens of children’s literature and age-appropriate resources and activities.
  • Thread Gatherings – the dates and topics have been set into 2020.
  • Friends in Fellowship – the dates and topics have been set into June.

Communications and Technology:

  • Began initial staff training for the transition to a different email tool which syncs with our new database and developed an implementation timeline.
  • Designed a Christmas card that matched the appeal for all staff to send to those with whom we work in the community.
  • Ongoing website maintenance focused this month on installation of Word Press 5.0 upgrades, researching and testing new calendar plugins.
  • Set up a third ‘development’ website to test features we are considering adding to our website.
  • Reduced data use on our website to comply with our current webhosting plan without affecting access to PYM resources or functionality.
  • Reestablished the Religious Education resources section of the website that meets space limitations and WordPress upgrade needs.

Staff and Administration:

  • Revised the composition and charge of the Staff Administrative Team – newly renamed the Operations Team – comprising of the General Secretary, Associate Secretaries and the Director of Human Resources and Inclusion. The purpose of the team is to:
    • ensure we each know what is happening in all departments and in the yearly meeting
    • serve as a clearing house or threshing space for staff activity
    • ensure staff are supported and moving forward on our goals and the strategic directions and to attend to staff cohesion
  • Said farewell to Young Friends co-facilitator Kody Hersh who has moved on to be the (first) Youth and Young Adult Coordinator for Southeast Yearly Meeting.
  • The Director of Grantmaking, Carol Walz, announced that she will be retiring at the end of March after more than two decades of working with PYM. We are making plans to support the transition in this department.
  • Recruitment is underway for two open positions:
    • Gifts Processing and Data Entry Associate
    • Event Support Staff for Arch Street Meeting House.
  • Completed Open Enrollment and finalized all benefits, communications and documentation with benefits providers.
  • Completed the near-final draft of a document that describes the authority, roles and responsibilities for the key stakeholders in the activity of the Arch Street Meeting House with respect to property, finance, program and communications.

Inclusion and Anti-Racism:

  • The Director of Human Resources and Inclusion presented staff with a summary of comments and themes from PYM staff interviews with respect to work and work culture. The staff discussed results of the interviews and ideas about next steps.
  • Six staff registered for Amanda Kemp’s online training title “Transform your Conversations about Racism.”
  • The General Secretary, along with other members of the yearly meeting, attended the Interfaith Philadelphia program:  A Conversation on Race and Faith. A group of Philadelphia religious leaders shared stories and engaged in conversations on the intersection of race and their experience of faith. Attenders then did the same in small groups.


  • Melinda Wenner Bradley, Youth Engagement Coordinator, attended the Friends Theological College in Kaimosi, Kenya, where she was invited to co-lead a conference for religious educators from yearly meetings in Kenya, Tanzania, and Uganda.
  • Christie Duncan-Tessmer met with the heads of FGC and Friends Fiduciary for regularly scheduled check in meetings.