Minutes, Fall Sessions 2014

Submitted on 11/15/2014

 

Download a pdf file of the Minutes and attachments for Fall Sessions 2014.


 

New York Yearly Meeting

Fall Sessions

November 15–16, 2014

 

Fifteenth Street Meetinghouse, New York, NY
Saturday, November 15, 2014, 9:30 a.m.

Jeffrey L. Hitchcock (Rahway & Plainfield), Clerk
Lucinda Antrim (Scarsdale), Assistant Clerk
Roger Dreisbach-Williams (Rahway & Plainfield), Recording Clerk
Karen Snare (Bulls Head-Oswego), Reading Clerk

2014-11-01 The Clerk spoke of the deep worship we shared this morning. The Yearly Meeting has faced difficult times with a troubled economy and declining numbers. He has heard a sense of despair and cynicism as he travels around the Yearly Meeting.  The ministry we heard this morning may be a step in a new direction, a sense of guarded optimism.  He invited Friends to enter the work before us with joy.  The Clerk introduced those at the clerks’ table and reviewed the agenda.

2014-11-02 Friends were asked to stand as their region was called.  All nine regions, quarters & half yearly meetings are present.  The Clerk asked Friends to identify their home meeting and role when speaking to the body.

2014-11-03 Carol Summar (15th Street) and Emily Provance (15th Street) spoke for the host committee welcoming us and going over access issues since the elevator is not working.  Special thanks were extended to Friends Seminary, Yearly and Quarterly Meeting Staff for their efforts in preparing for these sessions.

2014-11-04 The Clerk reported interim items approved by the Clerk and General Secretary and not reported previously. 

November, 2012 - signed on to a statement from Britain Yearly Meeting and AFSC calling for the end of the use of force in Gaza.

 

December, 2012 - signed on at the request of the NYYM Conscientious Objection to Paying for War Committee as official co-sponsors of the next International Conference of War Tax Resisters and Peace Tax Campaigns.

December, 2012 - signed on to a letter from FCNL for The Climate Summit 2013 coalition, of which FCNL is a charter member, supporting President Obama in following through on his commitment in hosting a national summit on climate change.   The President was particularly looking for religious groups to show support for this initiative.

January, 2013 - signed on to a letter to Governor Cuomo from many organizations applauding his commitment to address climate change after hurricane Sandy, and challenging his ongoing support for hydrofracking as being inconsistent with that stance, due to its large impact of greenhouse gas emissions.

September 2014 - Signed a shared statement by Quaker groups titled “Facing the Challenge of Climate Change.”

A list of all interim items approved by the Clerk and General Secretary since 2010 was made available to Friends.

2014-11-05 Friends heard the 2014 epistle from Ohio Valley Yearly Meeting.

2014-11-06 Friends heard a report from the General Secretary which he entitled “Community, Communion and Living in Truth.” There was ministry of appreciation and expansion of the General Secretary’s report. Notes for the oral report are attached. A separate written report on the work of the General Secretary is also attached. Friends received the General Secretary’s oral report.

2014-11-07 Minutes 2014-11-01 to -06 were approved.

2014-11-08 John Cooley (Finger Lakes), serving as Clerk of General Services, spoke on Friends commitment to follow the law when possible and to break it when necessary and to act with integrity and transparency.

2014-11-09 Susan Bingham (Montclair), serving as Treasurer, presented her report.  Last year the closing balance was $18,000 less than the opening balance, this year it is $26,000 less.  In the context of the total budget this is not a serious concern.  Friends received the report. (View the report here.)

2014-11-10 Matt Scanlon (Scarsdale and Sing-Sing Worship Group) presented the first part of the budget for 2015.  The budget now considers volunteer efforts and trust fund expenditures, which effectively doubles the size of the budget.  

Meeting income is about the same (this number had been decreasing).  Most meetings are able to increase what they contribute, several have indicated that they must reduce their contributions, and it balances.

Christopher Sammond spoke on the work of the Development Committee; about asking for our passion, and the funds that go with it.  He expressed gratitude for automatic donations, multi-year donations, and the member of a prison worship group who gave $5 on an income of a few cents an hour.  Concerns that Development efforts will take funds from Covenant Donations are not supported by the experience of New England Yearly Meeting that has been doing this for several years. (View the Development Committee report here.)

Matt Scanlon resumed his presentation of the budget, which now includes a consolidated audit to include Trust Funds, Development Contributions, Covenant Donations and Program Revenue, highlighting the changes from last year, and notes on how the budget reflects the Statement of Leadings and Priorities.  This will come most forcefully from the work of the committees and should be reflected in the 2016 budget. Yearly Meeting Staff, Powell House and Trustees are already reporting on their work in the context of the Leadings and Priorities.

The covenant donations should reflect what meetings can do.  Some will be able to do more and some won’t.

The institutional structure that we support in this budget enables Friends to respond to callings.  The example of a Friend who was able to replace college courses in prisons when the State of New York ended the program was cited.

Timothy Johnson (Schenectady), serving as Clerk of the Audit Committee, spoke to the increased cost of the audit, which is being paid for by Trustees.  We have not been in compliance with Generally Accepted Accounting Principles (GAAP) and part of the cost increase is to bring us into compliance with GAAP.

Friends approved the budget for 2015. (View the 2015 budget here.)

2014-11-11 Mary Eagleson (Scarsdale), serving as Clerk of the Witness Coordinating Committee, presented the concern to ask President Obama to release Leonard Peltier from prison.  Susan Wolf (Ithaca) presented a minute in support of this request. Friends asked that the minute be reworded to reflect the spiritual basis of our concern.  Friends also spoke of others who are unjustly imprisoned and need our concern.  A Friend asked what should be done after the minute is approved.  This should be the beginning, not the end of our concern.  The minute will be brought back tomorrow.

2014-11-12 Minutes 2014-11-08 to -11 were approved.

2014-11-13 The meeting closed with worship.


 

Fifteenth Street Meetinghouse, New York, NY
Sunday, November 16, 2014, 10:30 a.m.

Jeffrey L. Hitchcock (Rahway & Plainfield), Clerk
Lucinda Antrim (Scarsdale), Assistant Clerk
Andrew Mead von Salis (Brooklyn), Recording Clerk
Sylke Jackson (Rockland), Reading Clerk

2014-11-14. Following an hour in Fifteenth Street Meeting's weekly worship, Friends moved at 10:30 a.m. into attending to the business of the Yearly Meeting.  From the quiet in the room, the Clerk introduced the clerks and announced the business before us.

2014-11-15. Tom Rothschild (Brooklyn), on behalf of the Indian Affairs Committee, read a revision of the Committee's minute, presented yesterday, supporting the release of Leonard Peltier. Copies, with background information, were distributed.

Friends approved the minute as revised and read at this point, and as further revised by our Minute 24 (below). It is therefore as follows:

Friends have a long-standing concern for prisons and those who have been unjustly imprisoned. We are called by God to act with integrity, and out of this grows a concern for justice. We have historic ties with Native American Nations and hold a concern that Native American individuals and Nations receive justice within our governmental systems. We feel led by the Spirit to call for the release of Leonard Peltier because we are led to speak truth to power. If we remain silent, we fail to take action when we feel called to do so. Our conscience requires it of us and our Spirit moves us to act. We join the international community in calling for his release.

In Leonard Peltier’s own words:

The Message

Silence, they say, is the voice of complicity.
But silence is impossible.
Silence screams.
Silence is a message,
just as doing nothing is an act.

Let who you are ring out & resonate
in every word & deed.
Yes, become who you are.
There’s no sidestepping your own being

or your own responsibility.
What you do is who you are.
You are your own comeuppance.
You become your own message.

You are the message.

In the Spirit of Crazy Horse,
Leonard Peltier

New York Yearly Meeting of the Religious Society of Friends calls for the release from prison of Leonard Peltier in accordance with the plan drawn up by the National Congress of American Indians. Leonard Peltier is elderly and in ill health. We ask that he be allowed to rejoin his family and live his last days in peace.

The clerk of NYYM is requested to forward this minute to Barack Obama while he is in office, and to our Senators and Congressional Representatives.

Additionally, the clerk is requested to write to Leonard Peltier personally to inform him of our action and support, as well as the National Council of American Indians, which formulated the plan for his release; the International Leonard Peltier Defense Committee, IndianCountryToday;and all North American Yearly Meetings. Individual members of New York Yearly Meeting are also encouraged to express individual support for release of Leonard Peltier as led.

2014-11-16. The Assistant Clerk, Lucinda Antrim, presided as the Yearly Meeting heard a report on our Visitation Initiative.  Jeff Hitchcock (Rahway & Plainfield) presented the oral report of the 145 recorded occasions of intervisitation this year by 63 different Friends.  All Friends are free to log visits through a “QuickLinks” on our website as they take place.  He reviewed the who, what, when and where of the visits, and emphasized especially the why – because of the rewarding relationships and mutual enrichment that can be gained by reaching out to seize the widely-overlooked opportunities for intervisitation among our local meetings. (View the report in the attachments above.)

Various Friends' expressions of appreciation and welcome arose from the floor.  Letters of introduction from a visiting Friend's home meeting were encouraged. 

2014-11-17. The Clerk then introduced Elaine Learnard, clerk of the Priorities Working Group, who reminded us of the Statement of Leadings and Priorities, approved this summer, which appears in our currently released Yearbook.  She presented for a first reading the Working Group's new proposals.  Their purpose is to guide our future decisions on using our resources, and to provide a process for implementing the priorities and assessing that implementation.  These draft minutes reflect the past three years of work, and are ready for distribution and consideration throughout the Yearly Meeting. 

Members of the Working Group took turns reading aloud its proposed minutes embodying the proposals, including five Implementation Minutes and a Priorities Assessment Committee Minute.  The latter includes language intended to be fit for inclusion in our Handbook upon an approval of the Yearly Meeting's establishment of an assessment committee.  The Working Group invited feedback and discussion before an expected second reading at our Spring Sessions 2015, at which time the Working Group expects to recommend that it be laid down.

Friends' concerns and comments were offered from the floor, and will continue to be welcome over the coming months.  Friends directed the Clerk to distribute the proposals in accordance with the Working Group's report. (View the Priority Working Group's proposal and report in the attachments above.)

2014-11-18. The Reading Clerk read the Epistle of the Quaker Youth Pilgrimage 2014.  Twenty-six pilgrims from nine countries toured many localities in Peru and Bolivia, the first time the Youth Pilgrimage has been to South America.  They understood God's purpose that we not be alone, as different forms of worship were experienced and, in due course, well appreciated.  Games, songs and caring among the pilgrims and their hosts transcended barriers of language, forms of worship, and culture.  Quoting George Fox, the pilgrims reported they felt the meaning of being patterns and examples as they walked across these new lands. (View the epistle in the attachmens above.)

2014-11-19. The Assistant Clerk presided as Mary Eagleson (Scarsdale), as a member of the Liaison Committee by virtue of her clerkship of our Witness section, gave the second reading of a “Minute clarifying the role of the clerk and general secretary in representing NYYM,” which had its first reading and consideration at this year's Summer Sessions (Minute 2014-07-39).  The Liaison Committee recommended its approval today.  With word changes to emphasize reporting all such interim statements back to the Yearly Meeting and archiving them, the Minute is approved, as follows:

The NYYM clerk and general secretary are expected to represent the Yearly Meeting.

Between sessions, when the occasion for giving the Yearly Meeting a public voice seems urgent and appropriate, the clerk and general secretary are expected to represent the Yearly Meeting’s known stands, along with the testimonies of the wider body of the Religious Society of Friends.

Such occasions could include, but would not be limited to, joining with other organizations in joint statements or actions, signing onto amicus curiae briefs, signing petitions and letters of concern as an organization, sending letters of concern to other yearly meetings affected by wars, terrorism and natural disasters, and making time-critical comments to public officials.

The clerk and general secretary should confer with each other and be in accord before taking action. If one or the other is not available to confer, the clerk or general secretary should confer with the assistant clerk and/or associate secretary.

Whenever possible, they should anchor their comments in our faith as Friends, articulating how our speaking out is linked to our testimonies, our Faith and Practice, and past minutes approved by the Yearly Meeting, and they should use the resources of the Yearly Meeting’s committee members and individuals known to share deeply the relevant concern. If necessary the clerk may call a special meeting of the Liaison Committee to aid in their discernment.

Furthermore, these Friends can ask an individual member to speak for the yearly meeting in a specific instance in which the individual can draw on her or his expertise in the relevant area of concern.

At the next session, the clerk and general secretary will report on such statements and actions they have taken in the interim between sessions.  Their actions and joint statements with other bodies will be archived in the NYYM office. When either or both are instructed by a minute of the Yearly Meeting in session, they are expected to report how they have carried out the task.  This follow up may be done in writing to the relevant committees and individuals or, if appropriate, by reporting at the next session.

This minute is intended to clarify, consolidate and reiterate policies and processes based on precedents and current review by the Liaison Committee.

2014-11-20. The Clerk called upon John Cooley (Central Finger Lakes), clerk of the General Services Coordinating Committee, who presented its recommendation that the Development Committee be authorized to conduct fund appeals at their discretion, instead of continuing our practice of prior approval of an annual appeal by the body of the Yearly Meeting.  Friends approved.

2014-11-21. The Clerk brought to our attention the Consent Agenda.  The following Minutes 22 and 23 were approved in accordance with our consent agenda practice.

2014-11-22. The following nominations for Yearly Meeting service were approved:

Ministry and Pastoral Care (2017) Emily Provance, Fifteenth Street
Communications Committee (2015) Jennifer Coonce, Brooklyn (attender)
Development Committee (2017) Albert Hsu, Wilton
Personnel Committee (2017) Lynn von Salis, Brooklyn
Friends United Meeting—General Borard (2017) Beverly Archibald, Manhattan
Young Adult Concerns Committee (2017) Alanna Badgley, Poughkeepsie
Young Adult Concerns Committee (2017) Audrey Jaynes, Saratoga
Indian Affairs Committee (2017) Rebekah Rice, Saratoga
Indian Affairs Committee (2017) Rebecca Wolf, Rochester

2014-11-23. The following releases from Yearly Meeting service were received:

Committee on Conflict Transformation (2015) Judy Meikle, Wilton
State of the Society (2016) Joan Cope Savage, Syracuse
Junior Yearly Meeting (2016) David Gerhan, Schenectady
Elsie K. Powell House, Inc. (2016) Cinda Putman, Albany
Elsie K. Powell House, Inc. (2016) Caherine (Cathy) Wald, Amawalk
Friends Committee on National Legislation (2015) Jonathan Collett, Butternuts

2014-11-24. Revisiting our Minute 2014-11-11, a Friend rose to suggest a change in language as to our call to act that appeared to have the consent of the Indian Affairs Committee.  Friends approved replacing the phrase “Our testimonies call upon us to act with integrity” with “We are called by God”.

2014-11-25. The Reading Clerk read a travel minute of Manhattan Monthly Meeting for Margaret Mulindi to travel and work in Kenya, already endorsed by New York Quarterly Meeting.  The Clerk offered it for endorsement by the Yearly Meeting.  Friends directed the Clerk to endorse the travel minute.

2014-11-26. The Sessions Committee, by Melanie-Claire Mallison, its assistant clerk, reported orally on these Fall Sessions.  The attendance was the largest Fall Sessions attendance ever, including 170 adults, 26 teens and 2 younger children giving a total of 196 Friends.  Melanie-Claire named the Host Committee's members and many volunteers and the host meeting and School, to all of whom we are grateful for their resourceful and generous service.  The report was received.

2014-11-27. Melanie-Claire Mallison proceeded to read a report of the Sessions Committee. Friends received the report and invitation, which is included as follows at their request:

  • Dear friends:
  • Next year will be an auspicious year for us — 2015 will be the 320th anniversary of the creation of the New York Yearly Meeting of the Religious Society of Friends. 2015 is also the 60th anniversary of our becoming a united yearly meeting, approved at Summer Sessions 1955. And finally, 2015 will be the first calendar year during which we will consider and worship on our shared Leadings and Priorities, approved at the 2014 NYYM Summer Sessions. (Find the full text of the Leadings and Priorities online at nyym.org.)
  • Given these three historic events, NYYM’s Session Committee has chosen to work them together into a theme for the 2015 Summer Sessions, being held July 19‐25, at Silver Bay Association. Along with our two anniversaries, the first two envision statements from our Leadings and Priorities are; “We Envision A Yearly Meeting Deeply Grounded In The Practice Of Our Faith” and “We Envision A Yearly Meeting Made Up Of Strong, Vital Monthly Meetings.” And while we are all encouraged to consider the six envision statements as one piece, our theme will be:
    • 320 Years, One Faith.
      60 Years, One Meeting.
      Today, One Vision.
  • We invite all f/Friends to consider this theme as a starting point for every level of their Quaker work and worship through‐out the entire year. For instance, the NYYM Communications Committee is already dedicating the January issue of Spark to these first two envision statements. The articles will surely provide “food for thought” and prayer and action. Perhaps your Meeting could host discussion groups to consider the envision statements and the articles in Spark. Perhaps your committee could consider its work with the envision statements in mind – how does our work further the practice of our faith and strengthen our Meetings? Certainly, First Day Schools and Youth Groups need a strong foundation in understanding Quakerism and a strong Meeting to support them as they discover their own faithful gifts.
  • We hope you will join us in celebrating New York Yearly Meeting, which is, after all, nothing without our Faith and our Meetings. We are 320 years strong because of you. Thank you.
  • Sincerely,
    NYYM Sessions Committee

2014-11-28. The Minutes were heard, corrected and approved in stages during the meeting. 

2014-11-29. Friends returned to a period of silence to end the Fall Sessions, adjourning at 12:35 p.m. to meet again for Spring Sessions at Oakwood School, Poughkeepsie, N.Y., on April 10-12, 2015.

 

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