The following article introduces the Quaker Life Council’s 2019-2020 work since July 2019. The full 14 page QLC report and all appendixes and minutes received are posted with Annual Sessions advance documents. We recommend reading the full report.
From the Quaker Live Council
This past year has been a challenging one for this council, with changes in clerkship, membership, and modes of communications. We serve as the stewards of yearly meeting activities, nurturing new initiatives and long-standing concerns, supporting corporate work in peace and justice, and lifting up individual monthly meetings as needed. Specifically, we help coordinate the work of the nine collaboratives that have arisen in recent years, including:
- Abolition of Nuclear Arms
- Friends World Committee on Consultation,
- Legislative Policy (working closely with FCNL),
- Middle East Collaborative
- First Contact Reconciliation
- Spiritual Formation
One big issue this year was the concept of a truth and reconciliation process (especially for Friends of Color experiencing trauma within the yearly meeting). It was laid before us a year ago at the 2019 Annual Sessions. We seasoned it over several months with the Quaker Life Council Ministry & Care Committee and the Clerks Group to find that the need has been pre-empted by the higher priorities for self and community education as well as creative conflict resolution. Yet, the concept is a serious one and needs to be initiated when the time is right.
We were blessed to hear staff reports from our Youth Religious Life, Care & Aging, Community Engagement, Events and Resources, and Young Adult Engagement Coordinators.
Our staff are carrying out a feast of activity, creativity, and good work! We also reviewed the business meeting guidelines developed by our Young Friends (high school age) and helped coordinate the threshing session on membership held at Haddonfield Friends Meeting in January. The report on this threshing session is included as a separate advance document for the 2020 Annual Sessions.
We considered and endorsed several important minutes of concern from various quarterly meetings, including Caln Quarterly Meeting and Harrisburg Friends Meeting’s minutes on immigration, and Bucks and Concord Quarterly Meetings’ on gun control. (download minutes & report appendixes)
The Clerks Group is made up of the clerks of the three councils (Nominating, Quaker Life and Administrative), the Treasurer, the General Secretary, and the Presiding Clerk.
We applauded the good work of our new Ministry & Care Committee as it condensed more than 50 State of the Meeting reports from monthly and quarterly meetings into one summary document for the entire yearly meeting, (and issued as a) report on the state of our yearly meeting from our Ministry & Care Committee.
We were able to make a significant financial contribution from our Strategic Project Reserve Fund to the Ujima Friends Peace Center to support their community outreach and education programs. We also endorsed the Poor Peoples Campaign on behalf of Philadelphia Yearly Meeting.
Administratively, we created a liaison with the Granting Committee, activated the Ministry & Care Committee, got clarity on our stewardship of funds, clarified the roles and functions of our Program Committee, and added new members to several committees that lie under our care.
This work would not be possible without the devotion and care of PYM staff, especially Zachary Dutton, Associate Secretary for Program and Religious Life, and his various colleagues. We are deeply grateful for their faithful work through thick and thin.
As with many councils and committees, we cherish the time we have together to share our stories and fellowship as well as carry out Philadelphia Yearly Meeting’s business. And we have learned to adjust from face-to-face meetings to Zoom-based meetings and conversations because of this year’s Covid-19 pandemic. The current movement towards deeper racial justice affects us all and tests many of our current practices, assumptions, and attitudes.
Our major challenges continue to be communications (how come more people don’t know what we are doing – and why don’t we hear from them?), capacity (we need more members representing more local meetings), clarity of governance (who’s on first?), and lack of time (too many topics get tabled for future meetings). We look forward soon to spending time on a self-evaluation process to determine if we are carrying out our mission as well as we should be on your behalf.
Anthony Stover, Clerk
Read the full report, including documents from our Program Committee, Youth Programs Advisory Committee, Sessions Coordinating Committee, and the Friends Counseling Service. It is posted with Annual Sessions advance documents for the 2020 Annual Sessions with appendices posted separately.