With almost 100 Friends in attendance, Meeting for Business in Worship was held virtually from just before 9:00 AM to 11:30 AM on the morning of August 1st. This was followed by Worship until noon. The agenda offered the following items of business: Proposed Minute from the Diversity Equity and Inclusion (DEI), General Secretary’s Report, and two Minutes of Service. Minutes follow with thanks to the PYM recording clerk, Kri Burkander.
Minutes of 341st Annual Sessions of Philadelphia Yearly Meeting
Held by Zoom video conference, Sunday, August 1, 2021
We heard the proposed minute from the DEI sprint, attached.
There was a concern about the word “agreement”, as Friends traditionally use the word “unity”. Framing our goal positively, instead of what we want to avoid, might be helpful.
A friend from Admin Council shared a concern about whether that group has the expertise to shepherd this process without some external support. Another Friend encouraged us to look to Spirit for that expertise. We were also encouraged to seek “healthy” and “loving” relationship, rather than “right” relationship.
It was clarified that what we were approving was the minute itself, having accepted the report from the Sprint on Thursday, understanding that we will continue to listen deeply to each other which will inform the work going forward. This minute and the work are fluid and iterative, aspiring to be open to continuing revelation. After some more consideration, the body approved the minute, with one Friend standing aside.
General Secretary’s Report
Our General Secretary, Christie Duncan-Tessmer, shared her report (attached). She told the story of our Yearly Meeting’s transition from an annual session tradition that was separate for youth and adults to our current tradition of emphasizing multigenerational time. This was borne out of articulation of needs and desires from youth and families, and took time and intention to get right. We were reminded that changing the ways we do things often requires different people to make the decisions. Our Yearly Meeting is still growing into our understanding of belonging for all of us, and we will keep growing through this discomfort and evolution.
Christie highlighted staff changes. Meg Rose, George Schaffer, and Zachary Dutton will all be transitioning out of their roles. Recognizing that Meg’s and George’s roles were rooted in a concern focused on belonging, their positions are being restructured into one full-time position that will support both the YAF community and the Resource Friends. This role will be complemented with part-time assistance with YAF event scheduling as well as part-time social workers to support our pastoral care. This full-time position will be posted in October and will be hired in time to overlap with George. Zachary’s position will be posted a few months later, to ensure time for a smooth transition. The body took some time to share celebrations and gratitude for these Friends, as well as our General Secretary, for their service to our community.
The report from our General Secretary was accepted by the body.
Minute of Service, Eileen Flanagan
To: Philadelphia Yearly Meeting of the Religious Society of FriendsFrom: Philadelphia Quarterly Meeting
Philadelphia Quarterly Meeting met on 18th day, 7th month, 2021 and approved a request to endorse Eileen Flanagan’s minute of religious service. We forward her minute to you and request your endorsement as well.
Eileen is a member of Chestnut Hill Monthly Meeting, which provides strong spiritual and practical support for her ministry. Eileen’s ministry has involved travel in the United States and internationally in the course of research for her writing and giving talks and training to various groups. She and her support committee anticipate that will continue to be the case over the course of the next three years. She is currently in Montana protesting the Line 3 pipeline in support of the Indigenous Water Keepers.
We are grateful for Eileen’s faithfulness in fulfilling the call to religious service and ask you to hold her and her work in prayer.
Kathleen Karhnak-Glasby, Clerk, Philadelphia Quarterly Meeting
Renewed Minute of Religious Service for Eileen Flanagan Approved in Meeting for Worship with Attention to Business, 20 June 2021
Chestnut Hill Friends Meeting recognizes that our longtime member, Eileen Flanagan, has been called by the Spirit into a prophetic ministry of healing humanity’s separation from the earth, each other, and the Divine. Her ministry includes writing, public speaking, and teaching about effective activism, as well as her own activism. Grounded in her commitment to discernment of Divine guidance and tested by her faithful public action for environmental justice, her ministry is an expression of the prophetic call to return to the Divine and to see and care for the most vulnerable among us.
We have received the blessing of her ministry in our own community. We support her call to minister to others, with prayer; by providing a committee for support and accountability; and by receiving donations and grants to Chestnut Hill Meeting to be released to Eileen for the costs of this work. Eileen and her committee will report annually. At the end of the third year the meeting will revisit its commitment to support this ministry.
We commend Eileen to all, in the hope that she will be kindly received wherever she serves.
Friends endorsed these minutes, and pledged to offer support and care to Eileen as she travels under this ministry.
Youth/YAF Program Epistles
Melinda Wenner-Bradley reported that this would traditionally be the opportunity for us to hear from each of our youth programs individually, but that this year the children and youth programs have decided to share one epistle on behalf of all youth programs. The epistle was read by the children and youth program staff, and attached. The epistle was received with gratitude and appreciation.
Mary Tierney shared the epistle from the Young Adult Friends program, attached. Their epistle highlighted the importance of paying reparations as we work toward healing the racial wounds of our country. This epistle was received with gratitude.
Bianca Santini-Dumas shared the second reading of the Epistle, attached. Friends approved this epistle with noted updates.
Having completed our business, and still having some time together, our Presiding Clerks introduced two reflective queries, and invited Friends to share.
What am I taking away from these sessions?
Where might I bring my gifts and talents to help address the needs of Philadelphia Yearly Meeting as I understand them?
Please see the PYM Epistle news story