Minutes, Fall Sessions 2015


Minutes and attachments—pdf file.


New York Yearly Meeting
Fall Sessions
November 7–8, 2015


Doane Stuart School, Rensselaer, New York
Saturday, November 7, 2015, 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

2015-11-01. The meeting opened with silent worship.

2015-11-02. The Clerk introduced the members of the clerks’ table and reviewed the agenda. The Clerk also reminded Friends to read the Consent Agenda, which will be considered tomorrow.

2015-11-03. Anita Paul (Schenectady) welcomed us on behalf of the Host Committee and thanked individuals for their work in preparing for the gathering. She also expressed appreciation for the excellent facilities at Doane Stuart School. Several visiting Friends introduced themselves.

2015-11-04. Friends stood as their region and meeting were called. All regions were represented.

2015-11-05. In the absence of a copy of his memorial minute, Friends were asked take some time to hold Jim Oltman in the Light. A member of Purchase Meeting, Jim died in July at the age of 84. Friends spoke their loving memories of him.

2015-11-06. Deborah Wood (Purchase), clerk of Nurture Coordinating Committee (NCC), reported on plans for the funds remaining in the Young Friends in Residence (YFIR) program, which was laid down in July 2014. NCC recommended that all of the money in the YFIR fund ($21,563.52 as of September 30, 2015) be returned to the NYYM operating budget. NCC noted that $5,000 of that total is already planned for the proposed Children and Youth Secretary. Friends approved the recommendation.

2015-11-07. Matthew Scanlon (Scarsdale), clerk of Financial Services Committee, presented the proposed budget for 2016 (view here). NYYM will need to draw some money from reserves in 2016 in order to implement the Leadings and Priorities. This is not unusual for a non-profit organization starting something new. Matt emphasized the importance of donations and volunteer work for the health of the Yearly Meeting. Projected expenses for 2016 are $586,723, an increase of approximately $46,000. Projected revenue from Standard Sources is $551,282, an increase of $11,000. The difference of $35,000 will come from balances in several NYYM funds.
    Matt listed the programs that are receiving additional funds, and several Friends came forward to explain expansions and new projects. Matt also noted which managed funds are being accessed to supplement revenue. After a period of questions, clarifications, and suggestions, Friends approved the 2016 Budget.

2015-11-08. Friends also agreed that any surplus from 2015 be transferred to the 2016 Operating Budget as Other Income.

2015-11-09. The minutes were approved up to this point.

2015-11-10. Paula McClure (Montclair), Treasurer of NYYM, reported on the financial state of NYYM as of September 30, 2015 (view here). Income, year-to-date, is $329,840, 61% of the budgeted $540,724. Disbursements were $369,702, or 68% of the budgeted $540,684. The corresponding numbers for 2014 were provided for comparison. Friends accepted the report. In response to a question on the “green” nature of our deposits, we were informed that NYYM deposits its CDs and money market accounts in the Carver Federal Savings Bank. Headquartered in Harlem, Carver was founded in 1948 to serve African-American communities whose residents, businesses, and institutions had limited access to mainstream financial services.

2015-11-11. Fredrick Dettmer (Purchase) of the NYYM Trustees, introduced Peter Phillips (Cornwall), who described the discovery that NYYM had no By-Laws and the subsequent process of creating them. A first reading of the By-Laws was given at Summer Sessions 2015. In presenting the second reading, Peter reviewed which sections were taken directly from Faith & Practice and which were added for clarification and legal compliance. Friends approved the second reading and thus the new By-Laws (view here).

2015-11-12. Emily Provance (15th Street) reported on her intervisitation with Baltimore Yearly Meeting (BYM) at their yearly meeting sessions in early August 2015. Emily described BYM and their generous hospitality. They have a strong intervisitation program that reaches out to other yearly meetings and wider Quaker bodies. In their annual sessions, BYM tends to have more time in fellowship than NYYM or New England Yearly Meeting, but NYYM spends more time in worship. Emily listed a series of differences she found in BYM, along with some interesting new ideas. She noted that Baltimore and other Quaker groups all seem to be examining ideas around priorities and structure. Emily finished with positive examples of cross-pollination as ideas move from one group to another. Emily’s full report is attached (view here).

2015-11-13. The remaining minutes of this session were approved.

2015-11-14. After announcements, we closed with quiet worship.


Doane Stuart School, Rensselaer, New York
Saturday, November 7, 2015, 1:10 p.m.

Lucinda Antrim (Scarsdale), Clerk
Jeffrey Aaron (New Brunswick), Assistant Clerk
Andrew Mead von Salis (Brooklyn), Recording Clerk
Sylke Jackson (Rockland), Reading Clerk

2015-11-15. The Clerk commenced the meeting at 1:10 in a spirit of worship. She introduced those at the clerks’ table and reviewed the afternoon’s agenda

2015-11-16. The Clerk called upon Matthew Scanlon (Scarsdale), clerk of the Financial Services Committee. He introduced a first reading of the new Handbook section on that committee by describing the ways in which the text reflects our Leadings and Priorities as well as current practices and needs. He read the new text in full, and invited comments from individuals at the committee's meeting later today. The reading was received. (View the Handbook page here.)

2015-11-17. Barbara Menzel (New Brunswick), clerk of the Personnel Committee, introduced two interim, part-time Friends who were currently fulfilling some of the tasks of the Young Adult Field Secretary, Gabrielle Savory Bailey (Chatham-Summit), while her leave of absence continues. Their extensive experience with youth and young adults was reported. Emily Provance (15th Street) will be working with young adults and their meetings. Jillian Smith (Saratoga) will handle communications and media.

2015-11-18. Emily Provance (15th Street) and Rachel Pia (Syracuse), co-clerks of the Meetings for Discernment Steering Committee, came forward. They introduced the new Handbook pages proposed for the Meetings for Discernment and for their Steering Committee, and read the text of each in full, including some history and background as well as purpose and process. Friends' input was invited on these pages also. (View the Handbook pages for Meetings for Discernment and Meetings for Discernment Steering Committee.)

2015-11-19. Christopher Sammond (Poplar Ridge), our General Secretary, was invited to present his report. His oral presentation began with what news and hopes he had heard in traveling throughout the Yearly Meeting, which varied depending on who spoke and their circumstances. Amid that variety, an overriding theme was a desire that we “become one Yearly Meeting.” He cited a Youth Institute, a Quaker Outreach Roundtable, other outreach and advancement events, and individual and covenant donations to New York Yearly Meeting, as reflecting new enthusiasm for our direction. Attention to earthcare, advance dialogue to prepare for budgeting our new ideas, and keener awareness of our community experience in “moving toward greater Light” were all encouraging signs Christopher saw among us. The report was received (view here).

2015-11-20. Next, Friends heard an announcement from Anne Pomeroy (New Paltz) and Lucy Harper (Rochester), co-clerks of the Spiritual Nurture Working Group. They have been working with six monthly meetings so far to design and present workshops and retreats around the Yearly Meeting, and present the “Tending the Garden” retreat series at Powell House. They distributed for our reference color brochures of their offerings.

2015-11-21. Arlene Johnson (Chatham-Summit), taking the lectern, introduced a presentation by several teens and adults who created an Alternatives to Violence Project program for local area youth in the immigrant community. This was the first AVP youth camp in the nation. In response to news of violence in their New Jersey area, the project grew into an annual AVP summer camp. It has been supported by groups including our Witness Activities Fund and by 1,800 hours of volunteer labor. Stuart Sydenstricker, an adult coordinator, opened an AVP “Fishbowl” style talk in which teens and a parent spoke their personal impressions and experiences. Specific AVP techniques and lessons have proved powerful, so that self-respect and mutual respect have grown. Seeing this personal benefit has led parents to take a basic AVP workshop. Stuart concluded that Friends can use effectively the AVP experience of the Light working within us in many new settings. Friends moved into some minutes of worship to hold what we had heard.

2015-11-22. The minutes of this session were read, corrected and approved.


Powell House, NYYM’s Conference & Retreat Center, Old Chatham, New York
Sunday, November 8, 2015, 10:15 a.m.

Lucinda Antrim (Scarsdale), Clerk
Jeffrey Aaron (New Brunswick), Assistant Clerk
Melanie-Claire Mallison (Ithaca), Recording Clerk
Elaine Learnard (Conscience Bay), Reading Clerk

2015-11-23. Friends gathered in worship.

2015-11-24. Our Clerk introduced those at the clerks’ table. She also acknowledged the Elders holding us through-out the room. The Clerk reviewed today’s agenda, noting that via a dream she had this morning, she is learning to listen to the Light in new ways, and so the agenda has shifted. Our Clerk invited us all to listen in new ways for The Word.

2015-11-25. Our Reading Clerk read the following poem provided by the Committee on Conscientious Objection to Paying for War:

Conscientious Objector

by Edna St. Vincent Millay (1934)

I shall die, but that is all that I shall do for Death.

I hear him leading his horse out of the stall; I hear the clatter on the barn-floor.

He is in haste; he has business in Cuba, business in the Balkans, many calls to make this morning.

But I will not hold the bridle while he clinches the girth.

And he may mount by himself: I will not give him a leg up.

Though he flick my shoulders with his whip, I will not tell him which way the fox ran.

With his hoof on my breast, I will not tell him where the black boy hides in the swamp.

I shall die, but that is all that I shall do for Death; I am not on his pay-roll.

I will not tell him the whereabout of my friends nor of my enemies either.

Though he promise me much, I will not map him the route to any man's door.

Am I a spy in the land of the living, that I should deliver men to Death?

Brother, the password and the plans of our city are safe with me; never through me

Shall you be overcome.

(Edna St. Vincent Millay lived quite close to Powell House, towards the Massachusetts' state line. Her home, like the Shaker sites in the area, is worth visiting.)

2015-11-26. Judy Meikle (Wilton), reporting for the Yearly Meeting Task Group for the White Privilege Conference (April 14-17, 2016, Philadelphia), invited us all to participate actively in the conference, of which NYYM is a host. She told us the many ways many communities of faith are connecting in support of racial justice. She reminded us of our own yearly meeting’s work on this issue. Next April, Judy said, we can continue to put our words into action by getting on the bus and attending the White Privilege Conference. She summarized the workshops of past conferences, giving us a taste of what may happen in April. The conference theme is “Let Freedom Ring – Reimagining Equity and Justice in the United ” – you will find like-minded people to talk to and explore issues, especially since about two thousand people attend. Judy asked us to consider if we are led to attend and be part of the 100 participants promised from NYYM. The conference is a joyful occasion. Spread the word. Registration opens on Monday, January 18, 2016 (Martin Luther King, Jr. Day). Friends spoke to their support and appreciation of this work. Judy’s full report is attached (view here).

2015-11-27. Robert (Sunfire) Kazmayer (Easton), speaking for Witness Coordinating Committee, read a “sign on” letter, circulated by the Global Food and Water Watch consortium, protesting hydraulic fracturing (fracking). The full text of the letter is attached (view here). Sunfire also read the cover letter that WCC recommends NYYM attach to the signed statement. Friends spoke in support of the GF&WW letter and approved asking both our Clerk and our General Secretary to sign on.

2015-11-28. NYYM approved our endorsement of the above letter, and our cover letter below. Both will be sent electronically to Global Frackdown to Paris.

The New York Yearly Meeting of the Religious Society of Friends meeting (representing eighty-four Quaker meetings and worship groups in New York, New Jersey and Connecticut) at its fall session on November 8, 2015, approved our Yearly Meeting Clerk's and our General Secretary's signing this letter. It is consistent with our stand on hydrofracking and climate change given in the minute (resolution) shown below.

New York Yearly Meeting of the Religious Society of Friends Minute on Hydrofracking

Approved Fall Sessions, November 11, 2012.

New York Yearly Meeting has considered the potential consequences of High Volume Hydraulic Fracturing (also known as HVHF, horizontal hydrofracking, or fracking) in New York State. We oppose hydrofracking in New York State and beyond. We urge our political representatives to prohibit the practice of HVHF in New York State. As Quakers, we experience the Divine through loving and truthful relationships with all people and all creation. After extensive efforts to inform ourselves about fracking we have concluded that it is inconsistent with our faith and practices which include a commitment to integrity, community, equality and care of God’s creation. We observe that the natural gas industry and government agencies have placed financial gain over the health of our communities and the environment. We see no legitimate reason to exempt hydrofracking from existing laws protecting water, air, land, and health, as is currently the case. In other states where horizontal hydrofracking has been performed, it has resulted in the loss of vast amounts of fresh water, the release of toxins into the environment, damage to communities, and cost to the tax payers.

We support legislation and incentives which promote research, development, and use of renewable and sustainable energy; support local farms and farmers; protect the air and water; enforce accountability for industries that risk environmental harm; and create economic policies that promote work for New York State residents that they can do in good conscience. We urge all citizens to thoughtfully consider the long term effects of hydrofracking on the water, land, local economy, infrastructure, services, and the community as a whole. We are encouraged by the many communities coming together to seek a way forward based on truth and respect. We are called to stand against fracking, and invite others to join us in opposition to this practice.

2015-11-29. Karen Snare (Bullshead-Oswego) read an epistle from the Friends General Conference Central Committee, attached (view here). Central Committee has had to face the hard task of reorganizing their programs within the realities of their long-term financial situation. However, FGC will continue to be “a blanket of many colors…and the blanket warms us all.” Friends spoke to their appreciation of the work FGC has done, their concern for staff who have lost their jobs due to the restructuring, and acknowledged the deep listening of all those involved.

2015-11-30. Deb Wood (Purchase) brought a report on behalf of Nominating Committee, including new nominations listed below.  These were approved as follows:  Friends approved the nominations of those within the NYYM. Friends approved the nomination from outside of the NYYM. Friends accepted the request for release from service.

Committee on Conflict Transformation
    Class of 2018
    Wilber Bontrager, Farmington Friends
Committee of Conflict Transformation
    Class of 2018
    Mason Barnet, PhYM *
NYYM Trustees
    Class of 2020
    Keith Johnson, Chatham Summit
Sessions Committee
    Class of 2018
    Linda Houser, Purchase
Release from Service
    Kathleen (Kate) Lawson (New Brunswick) — New Jersey Council of Churches, Sessions Committee, Worship at YM

(* by permission of the NYYM)

2015-11-31. The consent agenda, attached (view here), was approved. Friends approved also the nominations of those being co-opted.

2015-11-32. Claire Simon (Montclair), Spring Fall Sessions Liaison, brought the Sessions Committee report. She offered our thanks to the Host Committee, the Host Region, and the Powell House staff. She reported that 121 adults attended these Fall Sessions, and at least six young friends participated in the Youth Program. During their time together the youth made and served soup at a local homeless shelter, participated in AVP activities, and created an AVP “puzzle” epistle.

2015-11-33. John Cooley (Central Finger Lakes) brought a report from General Services Coordinating Committee, of which he is clerk. First, GSCC has approved the Aging Resources Consultation and Help (ARCH) proposal to Friends Foundation for the Aging for a 2016 grant to continue ARCH’s work in NYYM. Nurture Coordinating Committee, under whose care are the Committee on Aging and ARCH, also reviewed and approved the proposal. Second, GSCC approved the application to Shoemaker Fund for a new three-year grant, for which New England Yearly Meeting is the lead applicant and NYYM is secondary. If approved by Shoemaker, this grant, titled “Fostering Vibrant Multigenerational Meetings,” will be combined with provisions we have in our approved 2016 budget, thereby enabling us to hire a 70% part-time Children and Youth Field Secretary. NYYM Personnel Committee has drafted a job description in hopeful preparation for the awarding of this grant. We should know the decision from Shoemaker within a month. Friends asked for clarification on how grants are created and approved on behalf of the NYYM. John explained that grants, written by a committee and approved by a coordinating committee, are generally intended to provide the Yearly Meeting with an avenue for testing a program or position. As the end of the grant draws near, the Yearly Meeting has the opportunity to evaluate the program or position and decide if it should in some way be sustained via the operating budget. Actual practices may vary according to the original grant-requesting committee’s guidance.

2015-11-34. John then reported GSCC has approved the NYYM Trustees continuing to name a liaison to the Audit Committee (but not the treasurer of the trustees) and has approved associated changes to the Audit Committee’s NYYM Handbook page (attached; view here), which he presented for first reading.

2015-11-35. Mary Eagleson, clerk of Witness Coordinating Committee, brought forward announcements from Witness. A fund is being created in conjunction with the NYYM Treasurer to support friends attending the White Privilege Conference. Anyone can make a donation to this fund and the WPC Hosting Task Group (see minute 2015-11-26 above) is asked to decide on the particulars of the distribution of the funds and announcement of all information on the fund. Second, the Quaker Earthcare Witness line item in the Sharing Fund is laid down, because QEW is a national organization, not a Yearly Meeting committee. Contributions from the YM to QEW will be made via a different line in the Sharing Fund. Third, the NYYM Earthcare Working Group will now have a line in the Sharing Fund, as will European American Quakers Working to End Racism Working Group.

2015-11-36. The minutes were read and approved as amended.

2015-11-37. Friends settled into open worship before adjourning.


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