A Letter from Fall Sessions
by Jeffrey Aaron
Clerk of New York Yearly Meeting
Fall Sessions 2018 in Rochester was at once a grounded and deep gathering of Friends laboring together lovingly, and a time of serious concern about the need to face difficult financial decisions which for some years have been predicted to be imminent. We also heard uplifting reports, including an exciting new outreach proposal and an intriguing new membership concept.
At Summer Sessions 2018, the Personnel Committee advised Friends that they wanted to hire a full time Youth and Young Adult Field Secretary to support the monthly meetings, replacing two vacant part time positions. The work of the former part time staff members was truly invaluable, but there have been very few applicants for these part time positions. Unfortunately, we did not at that time appear to have the finances to make a full time hire with benefits. Calling on faith and a Spirit-led way forward, Friends approved the hire and asked Financial Services Committee to find the funds for the new position to be included in the 2019 budget.
At Fall Sessions, Financial Services Committee reported that our trustees provided options to cover an anticipated deficit in the 2019 budget that came in at well over $100,000, but all the options were unsatisfactory, and would have included the sale of invested principal, which the trustees urged not be done. Therefore, the proposed budget, which included the sale of principal, was withdrawn. There is no 2019 budget at this time. The process for this situation, which has occurred before, is for the creation of an interim budget to carry us until Spring Sessions. At Spring Sessions, Financial Services Committee will present a new budget. Gathered Friends were asked for input as to priorities and ways forward for the committee to consider.
Friends responded again with a call to faith, as they did at Summer Sessions, asking those who are able, to reach deep, including making pledges to the anonymous $50,000 matching grant that is now in effect (see www.NYYM.org/matching). We were reminded that use of invested principal could quickly deplete what little unrestricted investments that there are, which would also eliminate the income they provide, income that supports important witness work. Friends asked that we carry this report of our situation back to their local meetings in the hope of increasing both meeting and individual donations. Financial Services Committee will also seek ways to reduce expenses. Comments about priorities, ways to increase donations or reduce expenses can be sent by anyone to Mary Harpster, clerk of Financial Services Committee, at [email protected].
All Friends are invited to take part in Coordinating Committee Weekend, January 25-27, where these concerns and other matters, including needed structural changes, will be discussed. Coordinating Committee Weekend is always a joyful (and delicious) occasion, in part because it takes part at our own wonderful Powell House. Please consider attending regardless of whether you are or are not a member of a coordinating committee. You are welcome! See the Powell House calendar at www.powellhouse.org/index.php/calendar.
In the Light,
Jeffrey Aaron, Clerk, NYYM