General Secretary Report to Councils

General Secretary, PYM

Mid-April to Mid-May 2019

Business and Finances:

  • The company that printed the 2018 Faith and Practice has been sold and its distribution subsidiary declared bankruptcy. We’ve moved the remaining copies of Faith and Practice to FGC’s QuakerBooks, where they are available for purchase.
  • The second quarter was closed and a report completed.
  • New templates for PYM’s accounting software can now generate reports automatically without human manipulation and formatting. The March 31 report was generated entirely from the accounting system. The Controllers from YPTC also wrote a new forecasting function that predicts trends, factors in seasonality (Annual Sessions only happens once, in July, while some of our biggest expenses, e.g. staff, rent, are steady throughout the year) and weighs the risks of not meeting budget.  The projected trends seem to be accurate so far.  We’re on the road to a more efficient, easier and more informative way of tracking our finances.
  • The first pass of the FY20 budget was done and has us at a good starting point.  In the next few weeks our new budget model will help us move the preliminary budget to a firm proposed budget for Annual Sessions.
  • Planning for a kitchen at Arch Street Meeting House that meets the needs of staff and the monthly meeting is moving forward with a meeting between the space designers, kitchen equipment experts, the MMFP clerk and Arch Street Meeting House staff.
  • Burial grounds from the 1600’s, one of which was Quaker, are likely to be disrupted by construction in the Schuylkill Yards project. PYM was briefly mentioned in a May 2 Inquirer story on the topic. We have been invited into conversations with the construction company, which is also consulting Quaker burial ground scholars.
  • We got the spring appeal out the door.  There were unanticipated data problems that took some hand-fixing and caused slight delays.

Program and Ministry:

  • 40 youth (MSF and Young Friends), four youth programs staff and seven wonderful volunteers attended the retreat weekend at Camp Swatara with Caln Quarter. Staff led a workshop titled “Hand in Hand: Supporting young people and their spiritual journeys.”
  • 31 participants attended the Spring Family Overnight at Camp Dark Waters.
  • 42 people attended the Friends in Fellowship National Trail network talk with Steve Elkinton at Arch Street Meeting House.
  • 50 People attended the Friends in Business event that focused on the Friends Education Equity Collaborative.
  • 65 Friends attended the Legislative Policy Collaborative all-day event at Friends Center on May 4th that included speakers from FCNL.
  • About 20 people participated in a conference call with Church World Service on Refugee and Migrant Justice on April 16.
  • The ‘Quakers Got Talent’ event was publicly launched. Date is June 17.
  • The Land Acknowledgement practice for all PYM Sessions is now the responsibility of First Reconciliation Collaborative.
  • Youth staff facilitated a program for Brooklyn Friends School’s 7th Grade at Arch Street Meeting House, which included learning about the diversity of vocations and witness among Friends and semi-programmed worship with a Faith & Play story.
  • Our standard Program Evaluation questions have been updated to integrate results of a Pendle Hill study on program evaluation funded by the Shoemaker Fund.
  • We’ve re-publicized the availability of childcare for councils and availability of providing Quarterly Meetings with approved childcare providers (at the expense of the meeting).
  • The restoration work at Millington Burial Ground is complete. As reported and warmly received at 2018 Annual Sessions, PYM plans to give the old Quaker burial ground in Millington, MD, to the Town of Millington to preserve and use as an historic site and green open space. The Town had asked PYM to make certain improvements and PYM engaged conservators to clean and reset the burial ground’s small number of headstones and refurbish an historic wrought iron fence.  That work was completed in early May with the reinstallation of the fence.  Admin Council’s Property Committee continues to work on the conveyance of the property and expects to report to Annual Sessions this summer. (See picture below).

Communications and Technology:

  • Much of the final writing and beginning layout for the next print version of Faith In Practice was completed. It features illustrations by the same Quaker artist whose work is in the appeal.
  • We fine-tuned a plan (with an 11-tab spreadsheet) for how to move forward each of the nine areas of the database (such as demographic data details and integrating email) in a way that doesn’t step on its own feet or burn up staff time.
  • We completed the background, infrastructure work for moving all employee electronic files, dating from the present back to the 1990s, to the cloud.
  • We purchased and installed a budget model for our MIP/Sage accounting software.

Staff and Administration:

  • Youth Engagement Coordinator title has changed to Youth Religious Life Coordinator. Staff believe that this title more accurately reflects the role and responsibilities of this position.
  • Support for recruitment and perhaps other duties are being thought out.
  • The current Young Adult Engagement & Sessions Coordinator is resigning the Sessions Coordinator part of her position and will remain on as Young Adult Coordinator part-time while attending school. The scheduler for Arch Street is moving on to another (full-time) position, her last day is May 17.
  • We onboarded two casual staff, one a child care provider and one assistant for Sessions.
  • We increased numbers in the Childcare Assistants Pool and strengthened the procedures on childcare to make them more broadly inclusive and take the needs of parents into account.
  • The Youth Religious Life Coordinator got certified in Youth Mental Health First Aid. All youth staff will complete this training next.
  • The 1:00 Wednesday open-door staff check in time has been used for: a discussion about the clerks’ letter to PYM and the reaction it’s getting among staff and in the community, reviewing the budget practice, and discussing social media.

Inclusion and Anti-Racism: 

  • Ops Team has included an agenda item on inclusion and anti-racism for each monthly team meeting. It is a place where we discuss our own observations and experiences.  Over time, the conversation gets deeper and more varied.
  • We need additional support with the tasks related to recruitment for open positions. This is a key point for making room for inclusion work.
  • We talked with the CEO of Prototype Entities, the consultants recommended by the Multicultural Audit Steering Committee, to explore what they offer that could meet the needs and interests of staff.
  • Our onboarding has become much more complete. It includes meeting with the supervisor, HR staff, Associate Secretaries and General Secretary for all staff, and with the supervisor, HR staff and General Secretary for part-time, as-needed staff.  In addition to standard things like HR policy and staff meetings, new staff learn about the budget, all the programs we support, how communications happen, how staff learn about what’s happening in PYM and who to talk to when you have a question or different perspective on what’s happening.

Visits to Quaker Meetings and Organizations:

  • Melinda Wenner Bradley, Youth Religious Life Coordinator, attended the Committee on Friends Education religious life gathering at Lansdowne Friends School.
  • Melinda attended a Good Friday service with Friends at Mullica Hill Meeting.
  • Melinda shared a presentation at West Chester Friends School about her travels among Quakers in Kenya.
  • Melinda participated in a QREC Conversation Circle on supporting Quaker Parenting.
  • Wendy Kane, Transitional Meeting Engagement & Data Coordinator, visited Solebury Monthly Meeting. We’re sending a save the date type postcard for sessions which has been in design this week.
  • Christie Duncan-Tessmer, General Secretary, attended Freedom Seekers Memorial event at Providence Meeting.
  • Christie visited Reading Monthly Meeting.
  • Christie met with Doug Bennet (President Emeritus, Earlham College), the General Secretaries of other Northeast/Mid-Atlantic yearly meetings, the heads of FGC and Pendle Hill, Steven Lawrence (pastor of White Rock Baptist Church, Convenor of New Conversations on Race and Ethnicity), Mikal Anderson (Founder & CEO of Prototype Entities).
  • Christie and Linell McCurry, Associate Secretary for Business and Finance, attended Fairhill Burial Ground’s 25th anniversary celebration.