Minutes, Fall Sessions 2017

New York Yearly Meeting

Minutes from Fall Sessions 2017

November 11-12


Saturday, November 11, 2017
Caldwell University, Caldwell, New Jersey

Lucinda Antrim (Scarsdale), Clerk
Jeffrey Aaron (New Brunswick), Assistant Clerk
Karen Way (New Brunswick), Recording Clerk
Elaine Learnard (Conscience Bay), Reading Clerk

2017-11-01. The meeting opened with quiet worship.

2017-11-02. Clerk Lucinda Antrim (Scarsdale) welcomed Friends, introduced the clerks’ table, and acknowledged those holding the meeting in the Light. She spoke with gratitude of sources of warmth on this cold day, including the fire of Pentecost.

2017-11-03. The Reading Clerk read the roll of monthly meetings and worship groups. Friends stood in response. All regions were represented.

2017-11-04. Liseli Haines (Mohawk Valley) acknowledged with humility that we hold this meeting on Lenapehoking, on the lands of the Lenape. Though many Lenape were forcibly relocated to Oklahoma, many stayed in plain sight, living among us today. We thank them for the care they have taken of these, their homelands.

2017-11-05. Claire Simon (Montclair) and Alice Coulombe (Rockland) welcomed us for the Host Committee from All Friends Region. They thanked Sessions Committee and all those who helped make this gathering possible.

2017-11-06. Mary Hannon Williams (Bulls Head-Oswego), Treasurer of the yearly meeting, presented the Treasurer’s Report for the first three quarters of 2017 (found here). Mary explained the new format, which includes a high-level one-page summary. As of October 31, our income is at about $526,000 or 69 percent of the year’s budget, and disbursements at $525,000, or 70 percent. The summary also shows fund balances and invested trust funds. Details are presented on following pages. Friends received the report.

2017-11-07. Matt Scanlon (Scarsdale), clerk of Financial Services, presented the proposed budget for 2018 (See Sessions Documents on the Fall Sessions 2017 page). Matt acknowledged the extensive, valuable work contributed by all the yearly meeting volunteers—a wealth that no budget can express. He also reviewed comments from monthly meetings that suggest we cannot expect much of an increase in covenant donations, and probably a decrease. To consider this problem, we need the help and participation of as many budget-minded Friends as possible. Friends should notice that ARCH is being fully incorporated into the NYYM budget, which affects totals. Also, as the treasurer indicated, we are changing formats for the sake of transparency, which can make comparisons with past years more complicated.
Matt presented the expense and revenue sections in summary. The projected expenses for 2018 are $727,000. This is $26,000 less than the revised 2017 Budget, due to decreases in the audit line and in personnel expenses. As with last year, revenue is expected include reserve from 2017, grant income, redistribution of trust fund earnings, covenant donations, and individual donations. Meetings varied in their response to the 2018 request for covenant donations: of 58 meetings responding, 9 increased their donation over 2017, 39 kept their same donation, and 10 decreased their donation. Matt then reviewed the sections, asking for questions.
Friends approved the Budget for 2018.

2017-11-08. Friends also approved transferring the excess revenue over expenses in 2017 into the revenue for 2018.

2017-11-09. Chris de Roller (Old Chatham), Powell House Youth Director, spoke of the value of the Youth Program at Powell House, reading wonderful lists of adjectives, activities, and praise from young participants. Mike Clark (Old Chatham), Powell House Youth Director, described the Powell House Youth Program as a spiritual development program for growing humans. The program seeks more children, as well as help from older Friends in transportation and recruitment.
Regina Baird Haag (Old Chatham), Co-Executive Director of Powell House, gave the numbers of participant-visits for each age group at Powell House programs, totaling 1,700. Regina described her son’s happy first visit to Powell House and asked for stories from everyone to create an experiential history of Powell House.
Dennis Haag (Old Chatham), the other Co-Executive Director of Powell House, described the strategic plan that has been under development since May. They hope to have a 5-year plan in place by January. Dennis reported that on November 28 Powell House will be listed on the website for New York Gives, allowing Friends to donate online to Powell House for 24 hours. Dennis suggested that Friends might follow up this action by writing a check for NYYM.
Friends received these reports.

2017-11-10. Steve Mohlke (Ithaca), General Secretary for NYYM, shared what he has learned on his first few months on the job (attached). In talking with monthly meetings, committees, and staff, Steve has heard both worry and hope, both concern about our decline and excitement about new projects.
Both are true: we are in distress and we are experiencing energy and enthusiasm. We need to let go of what isn’t working, keep what works, and learn new ways to reach out. We have losses: both Emily Provance (Interim Young Adult Field Secretary) and Melinda Wenner Bradley (Children and Youth Field Secretary) are leaving their positions. Steve thanked them for the wonderful work they have set in motion, and urged us to understand their departure as part of the cycle of life. We are both dying and being born anew, all the time.
Friends received the report.

2017-11-11. Jens Braun (Old Chatham), convener of the Committee on Conscientious Objection to Paying for War, played a recording of a song by Paulette Meier (Cincinnati Meeting) based on the writing of John Woolman:
May we look upon our treasure, our furniture, our garments, and try to discover whether the seeds of war are nourished by these our possessions.
(A recording can be found on Youtube: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cMvoYdhJ9k4)

2017-11-12. Emily Provance (15th Street) reported on the “holy experiment” she undertook this year to see if Facebook could be used in a focused way for outreach. With the support of Ministry Coordinating Committee, Emily ran Facebook ads for 50 days in a 20-minute radius of six meetings, and then repeated the experiment for another 50 days with 12 meetings, along with some social media training for the meetings. Over 300,000 people were reached, with an estimated 30,000 expected to remember. Nearly 1,500 clicked on meeting websites. Emily is now communicating with a wide range of Friends in many Quaker organizations around the world, consulting with them to begin their own holy experiment. Friends who want to follow the growth of Emily’s work can check her blog on quakeremily.wordpress.com.
Friends received the report.

2017-11-13. Doug Way (New Brunswick) reported for the Pay-As-Led Task Group. The task group has discerned that they cannot implement Pay-As-Led for the 2018 Summer Sessions. Two problems were discovered. First, the process will require that we take on functions previously managed by Silver Bay Association: receiving, processing and ultimately paying for all reservations at once. Second, to create or buy registration software will require upgrading the entire NYYM electronic system, which is a longer process than we have time for this year. The task group is disappointed but not discouraged. A survey of Friends has suggested that there is more than sufficient support for Pay-As-Led, measured against New England Yearly Meeting’s successful implementation. In the meantime, Friends are encouraged to donate to the Equalization Fund. Sessions Committee plans to make the Fund more “user friendly” in 2018.
Friends received the report.

2017-11-14. Minutes were read, corrected, and approved in stages during the session.

2017-11-15. After announcements, meeting closed.


New York Yearly Meeting Fall Sessions 2017
Caldwell University, Caldwell, New Jersey
Sunday Morning, November 12, 2017

Lucinda Antrim (Scarsdale), Clerk
Jeffrey Aaron (New Brunswick), Assistant Clerk
Bridget Bower (Perry City), Recording Clerk
Rima Segal (Rochester), Reading Clerk

2017-11-16. The meeting opened with a period of worship.

2017-11-17. The clerk introduced the clerks’ table.

2017-11-18. As is our practice, no questions having been raised about the consent agenda, it was approved, with a correction in the spelling of David Fletch to David Fletcher. Consent Agenda: http://www.nyym.org/sites/default/files/2017-FallSessions-ConsentAgenda.pdf

2017-11-19. Peter Phillips (Cornwall), for the NYYM Trustees, brought the second reading of the proposed revision to the by-laws of New York Yearly Meeting. Friends approved the change of the by-laws. It is attached.

2017-11-20. Peter Phillips (Cornwall), clerk of the Committee to Revise Faith and Practice, brought a second reading of the Committee’s handbook page. Friends expressed concern about limiting membership on the committee to members of New York Yearly Meeting. Friends approved the handbook page without the statement about membership limitation. Friends asked the Clerk to reopen the conversation about membership and this committee. It is attached as amended.

2017-11-22. Jeffrey Aaron (New Brunswick) reviewed the history of the Nurture Coordinating Committee, noting that it has had operational challenges for the last 20 years.
Friends considered suspending Nurture Coordinating Committee until Spring Sessions. Friends are not yet ready to suspend NCC. Until then the Assistant Clerk will continue to sign vouchers and budget approvals for the committees and groups currently under the Nurture Coordinating Committee.

2017-11-23. Minute of exercise
Additional discernment and worship needs to be done about the structure of the yearly meeting, perhaps at Coordinating Committee weekend in January, also at other places and times. Friends were concerned about the concentration of power in our current structure. Friends want to be involved and we explored possible ways this might happen: for example a working group or a round of visitations with Monthly Meetings. We need to look deep and pay attention to the life of the yearly meeting where it is rising.
Friends raised a concern about an apparent micro-aggression made by a Friend during the presentation of an earlier item. The concern was heard but it was not immediately clear how to respond and we continued with the agenda. During our discernment about Nurture Coordinating Committee, Friends repeatedly returned to addressing the earlier incident. It became clear that we could not move forward without additional labor together. The work of restructuring yearly meeting committees is inseparable from the work of addressing the implicit bias in our current structures. We hope to pay attention to the ways in which our structure tends to reinforce existing power dynamics. We are beginning to learn how to talk about it.

2017-11-24 The Ministry Coordinating Committee report is postponed until Spring Sessions.

2017-11-25. Friends approved the clerk’s endorsement of Robert Kazmayer’s (Sunfire) travel minute (attached).

2017-11-26. Minutes were read, corrected, and approved in stages during the session.

2017-11-27. The meeting closed with a brief period of worship. There were no announcements.

Addendum to the minutes:

Total registrations for this weekend are at 142 and of that number six were youth.
We will meet again at Spring Sessions, April 6-8, 2018, hosted by New York Quarter. Details will be available in February and March.
We thank All Friends Regional Meeting for hosting our sessions.


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