Minutes, Spring Sessions 2012

New York Yearly Meeting
Spring Sessions
April 13–15, 2012

School of the Holy Child, Rye, New York
Saturday, April 14, 2012, 10:20 a.m.

 Heather M. Cook (Chatham-Summit), Clerk
Jeffrey Hitchcock (Rahway & Plainfield), Assistant Clerk
Roger Dreisbach-Williams (Rahway & Plainfield), Recording Clerk
Karen Snare (Bulls Head-Oswego), Reading Clerk

2012-04-01. Friends gathered in worship. The Clerk spoke: Source of Love and Truth, let us be faithful. Let us release our striving, our wanting, knowing and managing. Let us be conduits of Love and Truth. Last evening Friends gathered at Purchase Meeting heard Larry White, who attends Morningside Meeting, speak of his experience and concern with the criminal justice system in this country, particularly the prisons. Rather than focusing on how others should change, Larry called us to question our own assumptions, beliefs, and actions regarding punishment. This call applies to all areas of our lives. May the ministry we have received last night and this morning carry through the work that lies before us both here and in the wider world. Let us be full of faith. May faith be overflowing!

2012-04-02. On Friday evening Larry White—an attender at Morningside Meeting who has spent most of his life in the prison system—charged Friends, as founders of our penitentiary system, to address the horrendous breakdown of that system. Only Friends have the moral authority to say that this is not what we intended and to make the argument for a system that changes behavior for the good—which the current system does not do. The studies have been done; we know what works to change behavior. Friends have the responsibility to work and speak out for these changes.

2012-04-03. The Clerk introduced the Friends at the clerks’ table and reviewed the agenda for our session.

2012-04-04. The Clerk asked those attending a Yearly Meeting session for the first time to rise and be welcomed. Two Friends rose.

2012-04-05. The reading clerk called the roll of meetings in attendance by region. All were represented.

2012-04-06. The clerk of Purchase Quarterly Meeting, Norma Ellis (Scarsdale), welcomed us and introduced the members of the host committee whom Friends can contact if they have questions or concerns during these sessions.

2012-04-07. The clerk of General Services Coordinating Committee, Jeffrey Aaron (New Brunswick), introduced the reports from the committee: All good news.

2012-04-08. Jeffrey Aaron reported on the move of the Yearly Meeting office from the basement to the third floor of 15 Rutherford Place in New York City. The new quarters are superior to what they were before and the reduction in operating costs may happen sooner than expected.

2012-04-09. Gabrielle (Gabi) Savory Bailey (Chatham-Summit) reported orally on her work as Young Adult field secretary. Over the past year, she has made more than 35 visits to Friends in meetings and other settings, and is conducting a survey of young adults, which is still in progress. She senses that there is a lot of Spirit in New York Yearly Meeting.

We need to question our assumptions and expectations that interfere with knowing each other and our experience of spirit. She gave us several queries. Do I assume that because I have known someone for a long time I know what they believe and their relationship with Spirit? Do I welcome the gifts and challenges that come with spiritual community? Am I prepared to be whole?

Am I afraid that I will not be led if I release my assumptions and expectations about Spirit? When have I experienced someone really seeing a spiritual gift or quality in me, telling me, and holding me accountable to be faithful to that which I have been given? Am I willing to create a space where people feel safe to talk about their faith? Where is it OK for me to say what I believe? Do I hold so dearly to traditions and past experiences that I am unable to see how Spirit is moving in the present? Am I willing to give up something precious in order to be faithful?

Gabi shared how her 15-month-old daughter had eldered her by insisting that family worship before a meal not end as quickly as her parents thought it should. What assumptions do we make about the spiritual gifts of our youngest members?

The meeting was gathered into worship beyond words as we considered the ministry which we had heard and felt an awesome presence.

2012-04-10. The Treasurer, Susan Bingham (Montclair), presented her report: The closing balance on December 31 was $204,735 reflecting a surplus of +$177 for 2011. On March 31 the closing balance was $174,550, a net change of -$30,185 (expenses more than receipts) which is normal for this time of the year. Friends received the report.

2012-04-11. Jeffrey Aaron presented a proposal from General Services Coordinating Committee for a Development Committee to establish an organized approach to assuring adequate material and financial support for the work of the Yearly Meeting, and also support the work of constituent monthly and regional meetings and Yearly Meeting entities in meeting their own financial needs. A survey of other Friends organizations by the existing working group has shown that New York Yearly Meeting is virtually alone in not yet having such a committee. A proposed Handbook page is being prepared.

Concern was expressed for transparency and clarity in what we as a Yearly Meeting spend in our various capacities outside of the operating budget.

Friends approved the establishment of a Development Committee.

2012-04-12. Friends approved the morning’s minutes except for minutes 1, 2, and 9.

2012-04-13. Judy Meikle (Wilton), who travels under a concern for reforming the criminal justice system, particularly the abolition of the death penalty, reported that the Connecticut legislature has approved repeal of the death penalty and that it now awaits the signature of the governor. She shared the testimony she gave to the State Senate in support of SB Number 280 An Act Revising the Penalty for Capital Felonies in the name of the Yearly Meeting. The text of her testimony is appended. Connecticut is about to join New York and New Jersey, and 14 other states, in abolishing the death penalty. Once nine more states do this, a majority of the states will not have the death penalty and the Supreme Court can more plausibly be asked to declare it unconstitutional as cruel and unusual punishment.


School of the Holy Child, Rye, New York
Saturday, April 14, 2012, 1:30 p.m.

Heather M. Cook (Chatham-Summit), Clerk
Jeffrey Hitchcock (Rahway & Plainfield), Assistant Clerk
Andrew Mead von Salis (Brooklyn), Recording Clerk
Karen Snare (Bulls Head-Oswego), Reading Clerk

2012-04-14. Friends gathered and deepened in worship. From the silence, the Clerk calls us back to faithfulness to our business.

2012-04-15. Minutes 1, 2, 9, and 13 were read by Roger Dreisbach-Williams, recording clerk from this morning’s session. Further consideration will be given to the language they require.

2012-04-16. Naomi Paz Greenberg (member of Flushing Meeting currently attending Morningside Meeting) introduced a minute of Flushing Monthly Meeting, with the approval of New York Quarterly Meeting, regarding the United States’ policy relations with Colombia, including a “free trade agreement.” The reading clerk read it, as follows:

Flushing Monthly Meeting Proposed Minute on Colombia
and So-Called Free Trade Agreement Ratification

The peace testimony of the Religious Society of Friends has led the Flushing Monthly Meeting to join the many people of the world concerned about the ongoing and deepening humanitarian crisis in Colombia. The result of a decades-long conflict, Colombia’s internally displaced population is the largest in the world, estimated by the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees to range from 3.5 to 5.2 million. These Colombians—many of them peasants, indigenous and Afro-Colombian people—have left their land, which is their only source of livelihood, and have become refugees in their own country or have fled to neighboring countries.

The government of the United States has a long history of intervention in Colombia—starting with US military actions to secure Panama, which was still part of Colombia until 1903. In the past decade, efforts have centered on “Plan Colombia” in which billions of US taxpayer dollars have gone to the Colombian military ostensibly to eradicate coca crops. While cocaine production has not diminished, US aid has served to militarize the Colombian countryside. As a result, large segments of the rural population are caught in the cross fire between the army, the guerrillas, drug dealers, and paramilitary groups. In addition, environmental groups like Earth Justice estimate that Plan Colombia has already fumigated three million acres, which has created serious ecological damage throughout the countryside.

We call on all elected officials, and especially the President of the United States, to put an end to the “War on Drugs,” rightly named the War on Certain Drugs, invest resources domestically in prevention, education and treatment rather than incarceration.

We call on elected officials to put an end the funding of fumigation programs in Colombia and help Colombia invest in alternative life-sustaining crop production with development assistance to the peasants who have suffered the most during the civil war.

Recent ratification by the Congress of the United States of “Free” Trade Agreements with Colombia, South Korea and Panama serves to further devastate the rural economy in these countries and undermine the ability of peasants to compete with the flood of subsidized US agricultural products that will result.

We urge the government of the United States of America to acknowledge the great burden of moral responsibility for the immense harm inflicted on the people of Colombia, to invest resources in true foreign aid, to help to rebuild a broken society, and to invest immediately in programs to support refugees and victims of this decades-long war.

Furthermore, we call on elected officials to direct financial assistance away from military funding and toward programs of healing the great social rifts such as a Truth and Reconciliation process.

The Meeting was asked to approve its call to our nation to acknowledge and act upon its great burden of moral responsibility for the harm suffered in Colombia as a result of the United States’ economic, environmental, military, and antidrug policies. Friends noted that these policies have inflicted some harm in the United States as well as in Colombia, and addressed the minute’s treatment of the different aspects of the harm. Further consideration was given to whether we are called to address ourselves to civil authority for the amelioration of a moral and spiritual concern, and how we might advance the efforts of Flushing Meeting and New York Quarterly Meeting other than by approving their minuted language.

Friends received the minute with deep appreciation and expressed unity with the concerns raised in the minute. Witness Coordinating Committee was asked to discern how we can further them.

2012-04-17. The clerk of Witness Coordinating Committee, Fred Dettmer (Purchase), presented an oral report on the Sharing Fund. The 2011 goal was reduced to $50,000, and contributions of $46,331 came to 92% of that goal. For 2012, the Witness Coordinating Committee has set the Sharing Fund goal at $55,000. Fred reminded us that the Sharing Fund is our channel of substantive support for all our witness activities. He noted that the treasurer’s report for 2011, as received today, includes Sharing Fund Endowment income of about $20,000 where it reports “Total Sharing Fund Income Less Trustee Income” of $66,331. Contributions were urged.

2012-04-18. The reading clerk read Chapter 29, Verse 11 of Jeremiah:

For surely I know the plans I have for you, says the Lord, plans for your welfare and not for harm, to give you future with hope.

2012-04-19. The clerk of the Steering Committee for Meetings for Discernment, Jeffrey Hitchcock (Rahway & Plainfield), read that committee’s report. A meeting for discernment convened at Ithaca on Saturday, March 3, 2012. Inner experience and outward expression were articulated in messages that were recorded by note-takers, some of which are cited in the report. The next meeting for discernment will convene during our Summer Sessions on July 24, 2012. Friends received the report.

2012-04-20. The clerk of the Priorities Working Group, Lee Haring (Bulls Head-Oswego), gave an oral introduction to the group’s written report, which he read and commented upon. He commended to us the 2011 minutes of Yearly Meeting when the working group was established, detailing its charge, which is crystallized in the phrase, “to gather the sense of the monthly and regional meetings and of individual Friends as to how the Spirit is at work among us and where it is leading us as a society of Friends in the immediate future.”

To introduce the members of the working group who were present, Lee invited them to stand, and encouraged Friends to seek them out and contribute further input. He asked us to expand the working group by volunteering for occasional or ongoing service as participants. Friends’ specific questions were answered, and their appreciation of the working group’s attention to their concerns was expressed. The report was received.

2012-04-21. Friends approved the minutes of this session so far.

2012-04-22. Following an announcement presented by the reading clerk, the Meeting returned to a period of settled worship at 3:30 p.m.


Purchase Meeting, Purchase, New York
Sunday, April 15, 2012, 10:35 a.m.

 Heather M. Cook (Chatham-Summit), Clerk
Jeffrey Hitchcock (Rahway & Plainfield), Assistant Clerk
Roger Dreisbach-Williams (Rahway & Plainfield), Recording Clerk
Robin Mallison Alpern (Scarsdale), Reading Clerk

2012-04-23. Friends gathered in worship. Friends heard:

Traditional Quaker decision-making… is a Spirit-led process in which we seek to learn the will of God for the meeting in the matter at hand. … To discern the leading of the Spirit we listen for promptings within ourselves and in the ministry of others. This does not mean that we don’t use our brains or think. It does mean, however, that we try to open ourselves to an awareness of the working of the Spirit both within ourselves and within the meetings as a whole. It is this experience of being gathered in the Spirit that is the unity we seek in making decisions.
—This We Can Say: Australian Quaker Life, Faith and Thought, Australian Yearly Meeting, 2003, 86.

The Clerk introduced those at the clerks’ table and reviewed the agenda.

2012-04-24. Minutes 1, 2, 9, and 13 from yesterday morning were approved.

2012-04-25. The Clerk expressed appreciation to Purchase Quarter for hosting these sessions.

2012-04-26. The consent agenda was presented for approval without discussion as is our practice. Friends approved minutes 27 through 29 in accordance with the consent agenda.

2012-04-27. Friends received the following requests for release from service:

Susan Laughter (Brooklyn), Communications 2013
Fred Doneit (Poughkeepsie), Supervisory Committee for the General Secretary 2013
Nancy Gabriel (Ithaca), Supervisory Committee for the General Secretary 2014
Jolene Festa (Brooklyn), Committee on Conflict Transformation 2013
Daphne Mason (Butternuts), Indian Affairs Committee 2013

2012-04-28. Friends approved the proposed addition of “Co-opting Practice” for inclusion in the “Appointments” section of the NYYM Handbook.

Co-opting Practice

Co-opting is a process for noting Friends who serve under appointment of New York Yearly Meeting outside the usual guidelines for service. Names of co-opted individuals are listed in the Yearbook with the appropriate class and with the designation “co-opted.”

An individual may be co-opted for one year at a time in these instances:

  • An individual under appointment through the usual nominating process may be co-opted if s/he is not a member of a monthly meeting. This individual must understand and accept Friends’ practice for conducting business in worship.
  • An individual who has served on a committee for the maximum time allowed and agrees to serve for another year to respond to a particular need of the committee. This individual may be co-opted for only one year.

Revised and approved by General Services Coordinating Committee, January 28, 2012

2012-04-29. Friends approved a proposed revision to New York Yearly Meeting Handbook Committee Guidelines Section D “Financing,” in the General Services section (page 77).

2. Funding from Outside Sources
This is a policy statement on Requests by Yearly Meeting Committees for Funding from Sources Outside of the Yearly Meeting, originally approved by Representative Meeting in 1980. The current version date is at the end of this document. It is applicable to all Yearly Meeting committees. Separately incorporated organizations related to NYYM are encouraged to develop their own guidelines for seeking outside funding. When the outside funding is the result of an endowment or special bequest to NYYM, and an existing or special NYYM committee or task group is required to manage and utilize these types of funds, this is a special situation not restricted by the following Yearly Meeting Guidelines for Funding from Outside Sources. However, all NYYM committees and programs, no matter their source of funding, work within the guidelines of the YM authority and structure.

Friends are committed to expressing faith in action. We show our commitment by putting our own time, our own energy, and our own money into activities that demonstrate our beliefs. New York Yearly Meeting funds its concerns in part through the Yearly Meeting Operating Budget and trust funds of the Yearly Meeting, and the rest from the Sharing Fund. Money to do this comes from our Operating Budget, trust funds of the Yearly Meeting, the Sharing Fund, and from individual friends. Occasionally a committee many consider seeking outside funding to meet a need that seems beyond our financial resources at the time. This outside funding should be for the short-term, an immediate solution to a problem rather than a permanent part of our financial structure. If the need is projected to continue beyond a one- to two-year span or persists after that time, then Friends should give thought to meeting that need within our budget structure. Funding that is needed beyond a one- to two-year horizon should be sought only after careful consideration and seasoning to determine how meeting these needs can fit into the spiritual and financial structure of the Yearly Meeting.

Because of the danger that seeking outside funding may become an end in itself and become too large a portion of the Yearly Meeting Operating Budget, and the possibility that projects funded by such grants may become primarily interested in their own survival, it is important that there be clear guidelines for the grant applications. The following considerations should precede requests for outside funding:

  1. A clear definition of the project should be developed by the originating group, showing the aims, the amount of money needed (according to budget categories, not just total), the time for the project’s completion, and the disposition of the project once the portion to be funded is completed.
  2. Friends should be clear on the nature of the organization from which funds are being requested.
  3. Grants should be requested in the name of New York Yearly Meeting. They should be administered in such a way as to maintain the project’s Quaker origin, character, and identity and to thought of as New York Yearly Meeting projects.
  4. For any staff to be added as a result of project expansion due to outside funding, the Personnel Committee of the General Services Section shall review and must approve the proposed job descriptions, supervisions, salary, etc., for consistency with the Yearly Meeting personnel policies.
  5. Certain projects supported by Yearly Meeting funds may be encouraged to seek independent status or other affiliation, in order that they may continue to grow and that the way may be open for Yearly Meeting committees to venture forth into other areas of endeavor. Such modifications should be made by the originating group in consultation with the section coordinating committee and the Financial Services Committee.
  6. The proposal developed in accordance with the guidelines above shall be considered by the appropriate section coordinating committee. It shall be considered first on its merits, then for its relationship to other funding interests of committees in the section and for the appropriateness of seeking outside funding. If the coordinating committee approves, the proposal will be presented to the General Services Coordinating Committee and the NYYM Trustees for approval or further seasoning on issues including, but not limited to, insurance, payroll, liability, taxes, employment status, and other possible legal issues.
  7. All money from grants will be held by the Yearly Meeting treasurer in a project- specific fund. The treasurer will have the responsibility for proper administration of these funds.
  8. Responsibility for oversight of the funded project rests with the committee that originated it, and its general oversight with the section coordinating committee.

Revised and approved by General Services Coordinating Committee, January 28, 2012

2012-04-30. The clerk of Nurture Coordinating Committee, Deborah Wood (Purchase), reviewed the Friends World Committee for Consultation World Gathering which starts in Kenya in two days. Sylke Jackson (Rockland), Diane Keefe (Wilton), Margaret Mulindi (Manhattan), Gloria Thompson (Manhattan), and General Secretary Christopher Sammond (Poplar Ridge) are attending from New York Yearly Meeting, and are expected to report to us at Summer Sessions. A Friend spoke of her experience of representing the Yearly Meeting at a past World Gathering as a transforming experience, and led us in prayer for those attending—and for those who will receive the changed delegates upon their return.

2012-04-31. The clerk of Financial Services, Sandra Beer (Old Chatham), presented the revised budget for 2012. The deficit that was approved at our Fall Sessions has been eliminated and $19,420 has been added for a total balanced budget of $524,087.

2012-04-32. Sandra Beer presented Financial Services’ recommendations for revised expenditures. Full funding was restored to Powell House, Young Adult Concerns, and representatives to Friends General Conference and Friends United Meeting. Partial restoration was made to funds for Friends organizations (FWCC, FGC, FUM) and Young Friends in Residence. One Friend asked to be recorded as standing aside.

2012-04-33. The clerk of General Services Coordinating Committee, Jeffrey Aaron (New Brunswick), presented the proposed Handbook page for the Development Committee for a first reading. Friends were asked to prayerfully consider this proposal and respond to members of General Services. [The Handbook page may be found at http://bit.ly/JeTfBO.]

2012-04-34. Clerk of Sessions Committee, John Cooley (Central Finger Lakes), presented statistics on attendance at this session: 119, including 7 under age 11 and two younger children. He also reported that attendance at Fall Sessions 2011 was 116 (including 7 under 18 years old).

Jon Watts and Maggie Harrison have agreed to be our plenary speakers at Summer Sessions, when the theme will be “Living and Nurturing Integrity.”

The handbook for hosting Fall and Spring sessions is now available on the Yearly Meeting Web site [at http://bit.ly/J2N5DG].

2012-04-35. The minutes of this session were approved.

2012-04-36. The meeting closed with a period of singing followed by open worship, to reconvene at our Summer Sessions, July 22–28, 2012, at Silver Bay YMCA of the Adirondacks.

This item was presented at