Report from Spring Sessions 2022
by Sarah Way
The following summary of Spring Sessions business reflects my personal perspective and sense of the proceedings. For the official, approved minutes, please visit nyym.org/content/nyym-sessions-minutes.
Friends gathered online for New York Yearly Meeting's Spring Sessions on April 1-3, 2022. During meeting for business on Saturday morning, a report was presented that updated Friends on the antiracism trainings that several dozen NYYM Friends have recently taken. It was also announced that the Draft Statement on Becoming an Anti-Racist Faith Community would not be brought to the meeting for approval at Summer Sessions 2022, as had been previously stated. Vocal ministry followed. Some Friends felt the anti-racism statement process didn’t follow proper Quaker procedures. Many who had attended the trainings spoke about how they found them to be powerful and enlightening. A Friend asked whether antiracism training would be necessary if we were truly living our faith and uniting with each other in that which is eternal. The fact that Friends of Color have been harmed and continue to be harmed in our community was acknowledged; many feel that action, not just love, is necessary to change this. Some Friends wish to shift our mindset toward being “for” something instead of “anti” something. It was implied that antiracism training itself was divisive. Many Friends believe antiracism training is a necessary tool for us to use to get closer to becoming a Blessed Community. Friends will continue the movement, energy, and focus on antiracism and the uprooting of white supremacy in the yearly meeting in the months ahead.
On Saturday afternoon, the NYYM financial statement from 2021 was presented, as well as the budget for the current year. NYYM ended 2021 with a budget surplus. The discussion of the current budget led into a report on the Lindley Murray Fund, a sizable and long-standing trust fund that is part of NYYM’s budget. As a charitable trust, the Fund must disburse 5% of its assets per year. Friends Fiduciary will help manage this disbursement.
Sessions Committee reported on plans for Summer Sessions, which will be held both online and in person with some combined, hybrid activities. The procedure to follow in case of a technical glitch was discussed: if there is an internet or power outage during a meeting for business, we will suspend business for 10 minutes. If the problem hasn't been resolved within 10 minutes, the clerk will decide how to move forward. Scheduling a called meeting to complete business at a later time is one option.
On Sunday, the gathered Friends approved a slightly amended version of a Minute for Redirecting Nuclear Funding to Climate Change brought forward from the Climate Change Working Group and previously approved by the Witness Coordinating Committee. The minute will be signed by the NYYM clerk and general secretary and sent to the administration in Washington DC. A minute on Mindful Eating and Compassion for Animals was read and ministry was offered. The body could not unite with the minute in its current state; the bringers of the minute were asked to undertake further discernment and bring back the minute once it's been refined. (A future issue of Spark may focus on this topic.) Fred Dettmer presented an update on the lawsuit that is attempting to reinstate the Green Haven Prison Preparative Meeting’s Quarterly Meetings. Having been denied in district and circuit court we are now petitioning the case to the US Supreme Court. The key question is, to what extent should a prison be allowed to impinge on an incarcerated person’s — or an outside religious group’s — free exercise of religion? Fred will continue to provide updates on this case at future Sessions.
The next gathering of New York Yearly Meeting will be Summer Sessions, July 24-30, 2022, being held online and in person at Silver Bay, NY. I hope to see you there.