Saturday, March 24, 2018: Peace and Progress!
The Multicultural Steering Committee has released a new working report.
Sunday, Dec 10, 2017:
Peace and Progress! The Clerk’s Reflection of the First Gathering of the Multicultural Audit Steering Committee, where 19 Friends met, held on Saturday, Dec. 9th at Arch Street Meeting affirmed the purpose of, encouraged each other, participated engagingly and delivered their best fruits, will post after few days of reflection. At this moment, I can share that my cup runneth over. – tonya thames taylor Postscript: Friend Carter Nash of Harrisburg MM is my Associate Clerk. Hip, Hip, Hooray!
In 1868, retired Union General O.O. Howard, Howard University’s namesake, visits the American Missionary Association’s freedmen school, Storrs School (now Clark Atlanta University) in Georgia. Howard queries, “What should I tell the people up North the plight of former slaves?” A 13-year-old Richard Robert Wright answers, “Sir, tell them we are rising.” Later in life, Wright starts and serves as the first president of the forerunner to today’s Savannah State University in Georgia.
As clerk of this community, I fervently pray when asked of a committee member, at the end this committee’s labor, “What report does thou have?” With a joyous heart, the answer is, “We are rising in revelation and treating one another sacredly.”
I dearly hope that words will serve as bridges, not cliffs, as we articulate the truth as we receive the revelations. This is why I write in the plainspoken language.
To learn more about the Multicultural Audit Steering Committee, please check out “Who We Are” in the menu directly below. If one is using a mobile device, click “Next Tab” to get to “Who We Are.” If one is on a desktop/laptop, no worries, it is automatically done with simply clicking the link.
tonya thames taylor, Clerk
The Multicultural Audit Steering Committee is tasked with selecting a consulting firm that helps organizations such as The Philadelphia Yearly Meeting (PhYM) assess its scorecard in terms of its own goals, values, and mission.
What We Do
We combine research, interviews, feedback, waiting, and discernment to ascertain who is best qualified to assist us in our institutional self-assessment.
The People’s Committee
The committee represents 10 Quarters and 17 Monthly Meetings in the Philadelphia Yearly Meeting (PhYM).
The clerk of this committee of 20 has nicknamed the Multicultural Audit Steering Committee as “The People’s Committee.”
Why? Our committee is comprised of nominations that derived from a “Call to Serve on the Multicultural Institutional Audit Committee” that the Clerk of PhYM, Penny Colgan-Davis circulated to everyone who has provided contact information to PhYM in July 2017. After Annual Sessions, Jesse Purvis, Office Assistant at yearly meeting, diligently and admirably followed up with emails and phones calls to each nominee Throughout September and October 2017, Nomination Council, Quaker Life Council, and Administrative Council discussed each nominee on their lists and work to populate the committee.
The following persons graciously accepted the call to serve:
Allan Austin, Matthew Bradley, Howard Van Breeman, Lauren Buckalew, Oskar Castro, Laura Pickering Ford, Jondhi Harrell, Ayesha Imani, Jada Jackson, Gabbreell James, Sam Lemon, Nikki Mosgrove, Sandra Boone Murphy, Ed Nakawatase, Carter Nash, Arla Patch, Delia Pitts, Jeff Rosenthal, Anthony Stover, tonya thames taylor (Clerk), Noah White, Deb Will, Sarah Willie-LeBreton, and Wanda Wyffels.
When I asked why one answered the “Call to Serve” for this committee, here is one of the responses I received (updated as pictures and/or comments are received). Last updated: Thursday, December 7, 2017.
Allan Austin, North Branch MM, Upper Susquehanna Quarter (PA): “The direct connection that Friends draw between faith and practice has produced a long Quaker activism on issues of race, both in the meeting house and in the wider community. The conversations that have revolved around such activism, however, have never been easy ones. I am pleased to see Friends taking up such difficult conversations once again, and I am happy to serve in this most important work.”
Howard Van Breeman, Wicomico MM (MD), Southern Quarter: “Simply one or more Friends suggested me as someone who could serve. I was asked to serve. And finally and most importantly I believe from my experiences I can make meaningful contributions.”
Lauren Buckalew, Birmingham MM, Concord Quarter (PA): “I responded to the call to serve because I felt honored to be invited into the conversation, one which has increasingly became part of PYM (and the nation’s) consciousness. I look forward to the process, the learning as much as the contributing.”
Oskar Castro, Central Philadelphia MM, Philadelphia Quarter (PA): “Fundamentally, I have agreed because I wish to be of service to the Yearly Meeting and because this sort of conversation is one I have been having for most of my professional life. My lived experiences, my professional experiences, and my spiritual direction can be useful in this regard and I am pleased to be of service.”
Laura Pickering Ford, Harrisburg MM, Philadelphia Quarter: “I graciously agreed to serve on the MultiCultural Audit Steering Committee as I believe the importance of being inclusive in our communities. I believe this comes with a responsibility to listen with an open heart and mind to others; leave ego at the door; walk in others shoes and follow the leadings as presented. This work is important to our entire community as we live our faith through action each day.
Jondhi Harrell, Germantown MM, Philadelphia Quarter (PA): “The reason that I felt called to serve on the Multicultural Audit is due to the profound sense of disillusionment and disharmony which has permeated the Yearly Meeting in recent years around the issues of perceived racism and white privilege. It is my belief that PYM has a clear responsibility to build community and be a leading force in the struggle for social justice in the greater Philadelphia area and tri-state region. This responsibility is being compromised by internal dissent. Perhaps this audit can be a initial step in creating an atmosphere of unity to steer friends onto a course of action that truly reflects who we are as a community walking in the light.”
Ayesha Imani, Ujima Friends Peace Center/Germantown MM, Philadelphia Quarter (PA): “First and foremost, I love this yearly meeting and want to assist it in finding its way through the turmoil of the past several years. Secondly, standing squarely in the center of the intersection of my African ancestry and my Quaker faith, I hear the Spirit of God calling us into greater faithfulness, more radical hope, and more revolutionary love. The audit could be a step in answering that call, if we are willing to be open, tender, and obedient.”
Samuel “Sam” Lemon, Providence MM, Chester Quarter (PA): “1. I was asked to consider if I would serve on this committee , and I believe that service to others is a key part of Quaker spirituality; 2. For ten years, I served on the PYM Indian Committee and found that to be a deeply meaningful experience. I have also served on various committees at Providence Month Meeting, in Media, where I am a member. 3. As long as it is a meaningful and productive endeavor, I feel I may have some unique knowledge and experiences regarding race and ethnicity in America, that may be helpful in promoting greater understanding and progress on these compelling issues within PYM.”
Sam also shared that his justice labor manifests in his ongoing writing projects: two books available on Amazon: Go Stand Upon the Rock and The Case That Shocked the Country: The Unquiet Deaths of Vida Robare and Alexander McClay Williams- the youngest person in Pennsylvania to die in the electric chair– for a crime he did not commit and Sam’s AFSC post regarding “Religious Freedom in Worship and Witness“: https://www.afsc.org/blogs/acting-in-faith/finding-religious-freedom-worship-and-witness
Nikki Mosgrove, Trenton MM (NJ), Burlington Quarter: “I am serving because I was asked to serve.”
Sandra Boone Murphy, Mickleton MM (NJ), Salem Quarter: “When asked, ‘Why have I answered the ‘Call to Serve’ on the PYM Steering Committee toward tasking a Multicultural Audit?’ now known as The Peoples Committee, I can say this: ‘Why have I answered the ‘Call to Serve’ my faithful community? Among Friends there is a discord toward welcoming diversity, causing a lack of inclusive voice, gifts and inner light; what raised me up is loving and called upon as a breath into the spaces of dis-ease; I long for the wider community to experience that peace of my ‘home’ that loves the stranger, by coming into relationship. Perhaps a Multicultural Audit will expose what has been missing from our hearts and witness.”
Carter Nash, Harrisburg MM, Caln Quarter, (PA): “I was pleased to agree to serve because it is important that we work together to find an honest, truthful way of understanding how to be loving, welcoming, caring to all who are among us and will come among us be it for an hour, a day, a month or a lifetime.”
Arla Patch, Doylestown MM, Bucks Quarter (PA): “My interest in justice was a seed planted in Doylestown Friends Meeting in First Day School by Larry Miller when I was a teen. Recently I was honored to work on the first Truth and Reconciliation Commission in Maine on what happened to Native children in the child welfare system. Working with Quaker colleagues on Multicultural issues is an exciting prospect to me.”
Anthony Stover, Germantown MM, Philadelphia Quarter (PA): “I can give away only what I’ve first received. Friends played key roles in American abolition movements, though some opposed immediate emancipation. Friends assisted freed and freedom-seeking African-Americans. From 1920 on, many American Friends joined organizations promoting civil rights and racial justice. Quaker faith—like so many religions in this country—has often struggled to uphold its core commitment to peace and justice, particularly when it comes to race. I must serve on this committee in support of my beloved faith base community the Religious Society of Friends to continue the journey for racial justice within the community of Friends.”
tonya thames taylor, Clerk, Fallowfield MM, Western Quarter (PA): In the liner notes of “Love Supreme,” musician and messenger John Coltrane writes, “May we never forget that in the sunshine of our lives, through the storm and after the rain – it is all with God – in all ways and forever.” Meditation, self-reflection, acceptance, and service to others are four actions gleaned, thus far, in my celestial journey. PYM is exploring how it can better love, serve, and emit goodness and that journey reminds me of a scripture, Matthew 7:7, that has sustained me since my youth “Ask, and it shall be given you; seek, and ye shall find; knock, and it shall be opened unto you.”
Deb Will, Providence MM, Chester Quarter (PA): “I have agreed to serve on this committee because it brings together two passions of mine, diversity, and inclusion, and Quakerism. I recognize that Friends have not fully lived up to our testimony of equality because our institutions, and the individuals within them, are part of a society where racism and other isms run rampant. I want to help Friends and PYM in particular, to recognize ways that we can become a more inclusive and welcoming community.”
Sarah Willie-LeBreton, Providence MM, Chester Quarter (PA): “I have agreed to serve Philadelphia Yearly Meeting on the Multicultural Audit Committee for several reasons: I am a member of PhYM; I have expertise in engaging in social conflict constructively; I appreciate that racism and other forms of oppression are often with us but need not define us; I was asked to participate; I am deeply committed to the members of our YM understanding themselves more fully so as to live more deeply into beloved community; and I believe that changing structures requires individual and collective decisions from the interpersonal and everyday to voting, budgets, and protests. I look forward to living and learning with fellow Friends to our loving edge.”
Wanda Wyffels, Abingdon MM, Abington Quarter (PA): “From childhood I’ve believed we are all one and have tried to live out the testimony of equality by not being a respecter of persons. My spirit leaped for joy when I first heard of the possibility of a multicultural audit of PYM. While I have long felt the oneness of all in my spirit, I know that working that out in the world around me is not that simple, even among those with good intentions. I trust performing the audit on PYM will be enlightening and bring us closer to the beloved community we seek together in Spirit. I come to my service to this end both humbly and hopefully.”
When We Meet
Our first meeting is Saturday, December 9, 2017 at Arch Street Meeting House in Philadelphia.
We plan to meet via conference call and in-face meetings roughly every three weeks for the duration of four months or until we find the consultant.
This committee will keep our ongoings posted via this page.
“I no longer call you servants, because a servant does not know his master’s business. Instead, I have called you friends, for everything that I learned from my Father I have made known to you.” — John 15:15