2017 Yearbook 346th Annual Session of Baltimore Yearly Meeting of the Religious Society of Friends Hood College Frederick, Maryland
- How have I experienced the hope and promise that comes when greeting a new life?
- What commitments and resolve have I felt to help ensure a healthy and fulfilled life for each child?
After settling into more worship, a Reading Clerk read this:
Dear Child of God, you are loved with a love that nothing can shake, a love that loved you long before you were created, a love that will be there long after everything has disappeared. You are precious, with a preciousness that is totally quite immeasurable. And God wants you to be like God. Filled with life and goodness and laughter—and joy.
Y2017-2 Introductions of Friends at the Clerks’ Table. Ken Stockbridge (Patapsco), Presiding Clerk, welcomed Friends to the 346th annual session of Baltimore Yearly Meeting and thanked us for being here today. Friends at the Clerks’ table introduced themselves: Helen Tasker (Frederick), Recording Clerk; Jason Eaby (Nottingham) managing sound and technology; Young Friends Katie Farr (Friends Meeting of Washington) and Savraj Moore (Maury River) serving as Reading Clerks. The Clerk reminded us that we are each prayerful presences and introduced the Prayerful Presences on the stage. He introduced his own support committee.
Y2017-3 Introduction of First-time Attenders and Visitors. The Clerk asked first-time attenders to stand and be acknowledged. He then asked visitors to introduce themselves. The following visitors stood and introduced themselves: John Hunter (Durham, NC, Piedmont Friends Fellowship), FGC visitor, presented a letter of introduction to the clerk; Anne Hutchinson (Oxford, Ohio Valley YM) and Gail Koehler (Lexington, KY, Ohio Valley YM), whose letter of introduction from Ohio Valley YM was read; Moses Murenga, Pastor (Kakamega YM, Kenya), whose travell minute, excerpted, was read; and Ann Dodd-Collins (Portland, Maine, New England YM), whose letter of introduction was read. The following visitors also introduced themselves: Sam Milford (Pittsburgh Friends Meeting, Lake Erie YM); Richard Shaw (State College and Pittsburgh Meetings, Philadelphia YM); Chuck Fager (State College and Spring Monthly Meeting, North Carolina YM-FUM); Dale Graves (West Newton Friends, Western YM);Sylvia Graves (West Newton Friends, Western YM); Patricia Jones (Minneapolis, Northern YM); and Beth Gorton (Quaker City Unity Friends Meeting, New England YM).
The Clerk asked us to lift up names of those regular attenders to Annual Session who were not here.
Courage as a Spiritual Practice
The 2017 Annual Session retreat focused on the theme, Courage as a Spiritual Practice. Songs, stories, games, and “Words Worth Hearing” seeded each session. The retreat comprised three sessions: (1) Knowing of Self, (2) The Spirit-Self Relationship, and (3) Being in Community. Through individual contemplation followed by sharing in pairs, small groups, and with the whole group, the sessions encouraged the development of spiritual friendships.
Y2017-5 Message from Program Committee. Barbarie Hill (Charlottesville), Clerk of Program Committee, welcomed us and asked other members of the Committee to stand. She gave us a few much appreciated tips regarding logistics and described highlights of the coming week.
Y2017-6 Nomination of Epistle Committee. The Presiding Clerk nominated the following to serve on the Epistle Committee: Elizabeth DuVerlie (Baltimore, Stony Run), Peirce Hammond (Bethesda), and Jennifer Vekert (Sandy Spring).
Friends APPROVED the nominees for the Epistle Committee.
Y2017-7 Report from Interim Meeting. Marcy Baker Seitel (Adelphi), Clerk of Interim Meeting, spoke of blessings and surprises throughout her first year in this role. Thirty-five Meetings participated in Interim Meetings this year, and she emphasized that “more participation is better decision making.” She also spoke of how Friends came to Interim Meeting well prepared with well-seasoned reports. She hopes that more local Meetings engage with Interim Meeting next year.
She read the following:
“The meeting for business, if it be Spirit-filled and properly understood by those present, is a hands-on, laboratory-like experience in which the whole fellowship comes face to face with the Spirit’s demands for the sacrifice of time, treasure, convenience, and prejudice. When opinions differ widely and the need for spiritual discernment becomes crucial, the best of Quaker business techniques alone will not suffice; then we are driven, as never in a meeting for worship, to seek that spiritual covering which alone can give the fruits of the Spirit, which can sustain harmony while waiting for the right leading. Thus, God’s work among us becomes more real, and faith is both tested and strengthened in the business meeting.” from Mind of Christ: Bill Taber on Meeting for Business, Michael Birkel, Editor. Pendle Hill Pamphlet 406.
She spoke of how many of the decisions through the year were very difficult, and she spoke of how awesome it was to watch Friends come to unity when they did not necessarily come expecting unity. She spoke of how when she was asked to be Clerk of IM, that though she did not feel led to the position, she trusted Friends, and the experience for her has been rich. She asked us to open our minds to the possibilities of this happening in our own lives.
The BYM Interim Meeting Annual Report 2017, which spells out the decisions made during interim meeting is ATTACHED.
Friends ACCEPTED the report.
Listen to a traditional West African Griot story: When a tribal woman knows she is pregnant, she goes into the wilderness with a few friends to pray and meditate until they hear the song of the child. They recognize that every soul has its own vibration that expresses its unique flavor and purpose.
When the women attune to the song, they sing it out loud. Then they return and teach it to everyone else. When children are born into the tribe, the village community gathers and sings their song, one unique melody for each unique child. Later, when children begin their education, the village again gathers to chant each child’s song. They sing upon the initiation of adulthood and at the time of their marriage. If at any time someone commits a crime or aberrant social act, the villagers will circle the individual and chant their song, recognizing that the proper correction is love and the remembrance of identity, because when you recognize your own song you have no desire or need to do anything that would hurt another. Finally, when the soul is about to pass from this world, family and friends gather at the bedside, as they did at birth, and sing the person to the next life.
In any culture, a friend is one that knows our song and sings it to us when we have forgotten it. Those that love us are not fooled by the mistakes we’ve made or the dark images we hold about ourself. They remember our beauty when we feel ugly; our wholeness when we are broken; our innocence when we feel guilty; and our purpose when we are confused.
Life always reminds us when we are and when we’re not in tune with ourself. When we feel good, we are matching our song. We may feel a little wobbly at times, but so have all the great singers. If we just keep singing, we’ll find our way home. In the end, we shall all recognize our song and sing it well. …
At one with the universe, our song contributes its part in the infinite chorus of creation.
Y2017-9 Staff Introductions. Ned Stowe (Sandy Spring), BYM General Secretary, introduced staff members who were present: Wayne Finegar (Sandy Spring), Administration Manager; Margot Lehman (Sandy Spring), Comptroller; Emily Morgan, Bookkeeping Assistant; Ann Venable, Development Director; David Hunter (Frederick), Camp Properties Manager; Jane Megginson (Frederick), Camp Program Manager; Jossie Dowling, Youth Programs Manager.
The General Secretary also mentioned Dyresha Harris, Outreach and Inclusion Coordinator and Catoctin Co-Director, Jesse Miller, Catoctin Caretaker and Catoctin Co-Director, and Jake Butler, Shiloh Caretaker, who were not present for introductions. He expressed his appreciation for the staff members’ work. The Presiding Clerk expressed deep appreciation for the gifts that they bring to this work.
Y2017-10 Trustees Report. Harry Tunis (Herndon,) Clerk of Trustees, introduced Trustees who were present. He highlighted items from the Trustees’ Annual Report. Trustees worked closely with Stewardship and Finance and the General Secretary on finances that made Catoctin Bathhouse project possible. He thanked those who made this possible. He spoke of other activities over the year, and these are detailed in the Annual Report, elsewhere in the Yearbook.
Friends ACCEPTED the report.
Sometimes we see the empty rows of benches
Sometimes we see the five new members in 2016
Sometimes we see the melting snow dripping through the gap of a missing slate
Sometimes we see the imaginative use of luminaries to catch the drips in the sand
Sometimes we see the cold grey of winter
Sometimes we see the love and beauty of a December wedding
Sometimes we hear of trials and tribulations
Sometimes we hear of joy and laughter
Sometimes we hear the traffic go by
Sometimes we hear the activity and energy of the First Day school
Sometimes we hear the lists of things to be done
Sometimes we hear the reports of the volunteers on the work that has been completed
We have members and attenders from ages 1 to 102
And we feel the love and the presence of God
When have I witnessed the seeds of brokenness and injustice in childhood?
Where have I seen the harvest of such dysfunction in adulthood?
After a few moments of silence, the Reading Clerks read the following:
An unfortunate aspect of my association with the Religious Society of Friends (Quakers) is that I have never been able to become a member. I have tried on more than one occasion over the years to apply for membership. However, our Faith and Practice contains language about membership with which I am unable to come into agreement. With respect to membership, Faith and Practice situates the Quakers squarely in the Judeo-Christian tradition.
Encouragement of questioning is one of the things I most value about the Society of Friends, questioning to seek my own Truth or truths without boundaries, even questioning fundamental Christian beliefs. Quakers have no required set of beliefs or creed. Yet, the membership section of our Faith and Practice certainly seems to require commitment to Christian “principles of belief.”
Attesting to this one tradition feels to me like turning my back on all the other meaningful religious friends I have made over these many years. Over the years the Society has become a diverse place. Besides Universalists and Non-Theists, there are Programmed, Unprogrammed, Evangelical, and Traditional. We also have Jewish-Quakers and Buddhist-Quakers and many others. Instead of describing Quakers as uniformly Judeo-Christian, I’d prefer to see us welcome, encourage, and celebrate our diversity and our unity within that diversity.
I simply cannot limit myself to one set of religious beliefs. I would find this terribly restrictive intellectually and spiritually. The invitation to question everything is one of the reasons I am a Quaker. This questioning enables me to make a personal spiritual commitment, instead of following whatever was handed down from my parents. I’ve found that over my lifetime such questioning has continued, and my spiritual allegiance, faith, ideas, beliefs, practices, rituals, and values have continued to evolve.
Y2017-14 Introductions. Ken Stockbridge (Patapsco), Presiding Clerk, welcomed Friends at the Clerks’ table, who introduced themselves: Helen Tasker (Frederick), Recording Clerk; Jason Eaby (Nottingham), managing sound and technology; Young Friends Thomas Finegar (Sandy Spring) and Sunshine Austin (Stony Run), serving as Reading Clerks. The Clerk also introduced Marcy Baker Seitel (Adelphi), Clerk of Interim Meeting, Prayerful Presences, and his own support committee.
Y2017-15 Introduction of First-time Attenders. The Clerk asked first-time attenders to stand and be recognized. He asked visitors to introduce themselves, and the following Friends did so: Stephen Angell (Earlham School of Religion, Oxford, Ohio Valley YM), and Stephen Howell (Farmland Friends, Indiana YM).
This was an incredible and informative presentation. There were some diverse views, thoughtfully shared both in the speakers’ opening remarks and in the responses to even more diverse questions and observations from the audience.
There were some basics shared about the racism, paternalism, and judgmentalism which underpins our criminal justice system. Broader issues and opportunities that were all part of the evening fabric included employment, job training, mentoring, the role of community colleges, and the spiritual aspects of work and service we may undertake.
Panelists were: Phil Caroom (Annapolis), former Maryland Juvenile Court master & judge; Eddie Conway (Homewood), founder of a prison literacy project; Natalie Finegar (Sandy Spring), Chief of the Misdemeanor Division for Baltimore City Public Defender; and Vince Taylor, former Juvenile Probation Officer and manager of school “Restorative Justice Circles.” Ruth Flower (Takoma Park) moderated.
Y2017-17 ad hoc Faith and Practice Process Clarification Committee (F&PPCC) and Second Reading of Manual of Procedure Entry. Karen Cunnyngham (Annapolis), Clerk of the Committee, introduced other members of the Committee and reported on its work. She presented four documents to the body. She clarified the charge of the renamed Faith and Practice Committee, which describes how the Committee will do its work. She described the process and pointed out that because this is a living document we need a standing committee. She then reviewed the following:
Second Reading: Manual of Procedure Entry for Faith and Practice Committee
The Faith and Practice Committee consists of six to ten persons nominated by the Nominating Committee and appointed by the Yearly Meeting. This Committee will benefit from having members with diverse perspectives of theology and Quaker practice, as well as members of diverse ages, races, and backgrounds, and from diverse regions.
The Faith and Practice Committee is charged with the care of our Faith and Practice and will regularly review it. The Committee engages with the constituents of the Yearly Meeting to explore and clarify our continually evolving experience with Quaker faith and practice and seeks to have the published Faith and Practice reflect this experience. The Faith and Practice Committee is expected to be in close communication with other committees, particularly the Ministry and Pastoral Care Committee. The Committee is responsible for printing, posting, and distribution of Faith and Practice or its revised sections, as needed.
Faith and Practice is a living document; changes to it are brought forward as needed. Seasoned changes to Faith and Practice may be proposed by:
- the Faith and Practice Committee itself;
- Monthly Meetings, Preparative Meetings, and Worship Groups;
- Worshiping communities, such as the camps, Young Friends, and Young Adult Friends;
- Baltimore Yearly Meeting committees; and
- Quarterly Meetings.
The Faith and Practice Committee will disseminate proposed changes to local Meetings and others as appropriate for their consideration and discernment. After considering feedback, the Committee will bring recommendations for change to Interim Meeting for a first reading and then to Annual Session. An individual with a proposed change is expected to work through one of the groups listed above. The Faith and Practice Committee is available to help with this process, working to ensure that all concerns are seasoned at the appropriate level. In the interest of accuracy and clarity, the Faith and Practice Committee may copy-edit Faith and Practice.
Friends APPROVED this addition to the Manual of Procedure.
We heard from Friends: A Friend asked if there was a way to ensure that multiple groups working on the same sections of Faith and Practice could be informed of others working on the same task, especially if coming from different seasoning groups. The Clerk of the Committee said it would be a great idea for the seasoning groups to inform the Faith and Practice Committee of its work, so the Committee could be aware of parallel work.
Karen clarified that ad hoc committee advices are merely that—advices for the new committee. Discernment in how to proceed is left to the standing committee.
Friends APPROVED laying down the ad hoc Faith and Practice Process Clarification Committee and expressed deep gratitude for its work.
Wounding and being wounded are inevitable in our human situation. We are wounded by many factors nobody caused or intended. … Or maybe we were older and quite aware, and bear the wound consciously in the form of a fear or grudge. … We are wounded both in ways we know and in ways we don’t know. We bear scars both from those who have loved us and from those who have not.
And we wound. Automatically, unwittingly, inevitably. We do not see another’s need or hear her or his spoken or unspoken request. We get distracted and overlook someone who needs attention. We are limited and we miss cues, fail to meet hopes and expectations. Often not because we want to, but just because we are unable not to.
And the circle widens. Participation in our society inevitably means wounding, even though we live at some distance from the wounds we inflict, and are not immediately conscious or directly responsible. ...We live in a world in which wounding and being wounded, wittingly or unwittingly, are warp and woof of the fabric of our lives.
...as we wound, we are also wounded; that there is always, eventually, a feedback loop, a boomerang effect from the loser, because all things are connected.
Interconnections, Pendle Hill Pamphlet #261 (1985), p.14-16
Y2017-20 Ministry and Pastoral Care, Spiritual State of the Meeting (SSoM) Report. Amy Schmaljohn (Gunpowder), Co-Clerk of the Committee, directed us to the Annual Report (included in Annual Report sections of the Yearbook) and mentioned the working groups under its care: Intervisitation, Racism, Spiritual Formation, and Women’s Retreat. Melanie Gifford (Adelphi) Co-Clerk read the Spiritual State of the Yearly Meeting Report, included as the first document in the Yearbook.
The Clerk expressed his sense of blessing at hearing the report and being a part of this community.
We ACCEPTED the report.
Y2017-21 Meeting Visits Report. Meg Boyd Meyer (Baltimore, Stony Run), Meeting Visits Coordinator, and Ann Venable, Development Director, reported. Meg encouraged meetings to go to the website to access information about how to connect with the Meeting Visits group. This group encourages Friends to visit other Meetings within the Yearly Meeting and elsewhere in the world of Friends and to then report back via a form on the BYM website. Ann and Meg spoke of how the staff intends to visit all 52 BYM Meetings and hopes that they can arrange appropriate staff to help address concerns of the local Meetings.
Y2017-22 General Secretary’s Report. Ned Stowe (Sandy Spring), BYM General Secretary, gave his report. He expressed gratitude for being amongst us and the many who have helped him understand the organization, particularly Mary Campbell on Supervisory Committee, with whom he worked closely. He gave an overview of the Catoctin bathhouse. He expressed gratitude to the funders and special thanks to David Hunter (Camp Property Manager) and Anne Venable (Development Director) for their work. He also expressed thanks to the contractor who completed this task in a timely fashion. Ned’s oral report highlighted four major points which are detailed in the written version of this report: the need for better cost estimates for major projects; the need for the project development calendar to coincide with the BYM budget and decision-making calendar; the need to be clear about who is authorized to make executive decisions in between Interim Meetings and Annual Session when necessary; and the need to unite in a common vision of the role and future of the camping program within BYM. The written version is ATTACHED.
The Clerk encouraged us to have conversations with Ned and other staff members. A Friend expressed that the fourth point is important to clarify, and she looks forward to the Yearly Meeting engaging in this conversation. We thanked Ned for the report which we ACCEPTED.
Y2017-23 Friends United Meeting (FUM) Report. Georgia Fuller (Langley Hill), a BYM Representative to FUM General Board, gave the report, which was accompanied by a slideshow. She introduced Margaret Amudavi, who is visiting from Kenya. She showed slides comparing two Triennials at High Point, NC in 2008, and at Wichita, KS in 2017. Georgia spoke of how quilts, which embellished some of the space at the gathering, serve as an apt metaphor as FUM seems to be growing in diversity. She explained that many FUM board members have changed their views over the years since we have engaged in difficult conversations with them around gays in committed relationships. She emphasized the example of how Riley Robinson (former BYM General Secretary and one of BYM’s representatives to FUM) was asked to lead one of the anchor groups (formerly known as worship groups) at the Triennial and how that shows growth on the part of FUM’s acceptance of participation by gays. She also spoke of FUM’s work at Friends Theological College in Kenya. The details are in the Annual Report in the Yearbook.
Georgia ended with this quote from Winnie the Pooh: “You can’t stay in your corner of the Forest waiting for others to come to you. You have to go to them sometimes.”
The Clerk thanked Georgia for her service.
Let us imagine – until finally we know it is so – a whole universe grounded in Mercy or Compassion: everything and everyone is “for” the other, their fates linked in an invisible design, in continuous interplay, exchanging life, love, energy. ...
On the human level, we know that wounds are healed, both physically and interpersonally, when the connections are re-established, when the environment is functioning in harmony, when the communications channels are open for the exchange of life. ...
Wounding may be inevitable, and may seem to predominate, but transformation is in process, and life will prevail. We have that hope and that promise in the wounded and risen body of Jesus. Our role is to extend that transformation now throughout all of creation, enhancing life and being in all its forms, enlarging our awareness of the interconnections and our gratitude for the exchange.
Y2017-26 Welcome back. Later that day, Presiding Clerk Ken Stockbridge (Patapsco) welcomed us and introduced the Recording Clerk, Helen Tasker (Frederick) and the sound and technology manager, Jason Eaby (Nottingham).
Y2017-27 Development. Liz Hofmeister (Bethesda), Clerk of Development Committee, and Anne Venable, Director of Development, presented an oral report and slideshow drawn from the Annual Report, which is elsewhere in the Yearbook. Liz updated us on the work of the year and thanked us for contributions and the loans from nine individuals and one Monthly Meeting. Some of the highlights noted that the cost of the bathhouse came in under the revised budget and that it was opened in time for camp. Liz emphasized that development is about money but also about building relationships through the Yearly Meeting. She gave the example of how the Program Committee decided to waive the Annual Session fee for Friends up to 8th grade and 24 people made donations totaling $2,200.00 as part of their registration, up from eight donors last year who contributed $417.00.
Ann Venable explained planned giving and the many ways we can arrange gifts that will ensure a legacy lives on. She mentioned some specific donors and also explained that each donor will be honored with an oak tree which will be planted where they so desire. She told several stories relating to the oaks.
Y2017-28 Catoctin Bathhouse Report. We watched the Catoctin Bathhouse movie, in which David Hunter (Frederick), Camp Property Manager, explains the mechanics and layout of the new bathhouse and origins of the timber, as well as energy-saving and green aspects. It ends with campers thanking us for the bathhouse. https://youtu.be/S9BuGljG-XQ
Y2017-29 Camping Program Committee Report. Harry “Scotty” Scott (York), incoming clerk of the Committee reported. He noted that it is the 60th year for activities at Camp Catoctin. He spoke of how these camps are sacred spaces. He asked Camping Program Committee members to stand. He invited Camp Property Management Committee members to stand. He also asked David Hunter, Camp Property Manager, and Jane Megginson, Camp Program Manager, to be recognized. He began by introducing camp staff: Rosie Eck and Jesse Austell, Co-Directors at Teen Adventure; Hope Swank, Director of Shiloh; Sara Brigham, Director, and Jules Skloot, Associate Director of Opequon; and Jesse Miller and Dyresha Harris, Catoctin Co-Directors.
Two stories from camps were told by Hope Swank and Dyresha Harris. Hope told an amusing story about Shiloh Quaker Camp and how it was a camper who helped brighten her outlook one day. Dyresha shared a story about the fire circle for the graduation, including the query for the fire circle: What do we do when things don’t go as planned? The first camper to speak told about white pebbles that they found at the Catoctin Fire Circle on a class retreat—but they were wax from a previous graduation. The camper spoke of how remnants of previous campers’ experiences can be carried on to future generations.
Scotty continued by outlining the document sent out earlier this year, ‘Camping Program Seeks Discernment” (ATTACHED) which outlines the need for Meetings to discern whether we should buy or lease a different site for Opequon Quaker Camp. He explained that there will be several listening sessions about that topic throughout this week.
What has held me back from action? Fear? Doubt? Something else?
When have my fears and pain also compelled me to action?
After a bit more worship the following was read:
If it sometimes seems that Friends’ sense of testimony has waned in recent years, it is certainly not for lack of issues. The difficulty, rather, is in knowing where to start. Our problems can seem so overwhelming, so big, so impersonal, that it can lead to paralysis. In the face of the sheer number and magnitude of our problems, I suspect that all of us have at times struggled with the temptation to hopelessness and despair.
Y2017-32 Introductions. Ken Stockbridge (Patapsco), Presiding Clerk, welcomed Friends and introduced Friends at the Clerks’ table: Helen Tasker (Frederick), Recording Clerk; Jason Eaby (Nottingham), audio visual technician; Young Friends William Capon (Bethesda) and William Finegar (Sandy Spring), Reading Clerks. He also introduced Marcy Baker Seitel (Adelphi), Clerk of Interim Meeting, his own support committee, and Prayerful Presences.
Y2017-33 Introduction of First-time Attenders and Visitors. The Clerk asked first-time attenders to stand and be recognized. He asked visitors to introduce themselves. The following visitors stood and introduced themselves: Margaret Amudavi (Lugulu Kenya YM); Jean Smith (Kaimosi, Kenya, East Africa YM), for whom a Travel Minute was read; Linda Williams (Erie Friends Worship Group, Lake Erie YM), for whom a Travel Minute was read; and Christine Ashley, (Whittier Meeting, Iowa Yearly Meeting), FCNL Field Secretary.
Bette Hoover (Sandy Spring) and Marcy Baker Seitel (Adelphi) designed our intergenerational plenary so that participants over 40 could directly talk with those under 40, which included Catoctin campers and staff, Young Adult Friends, and Young Friends. It was well attended and received. Sharing began in pairs with questions like, “what’s something that bothers you in this world?” and “how does it make you feel?” The sharing then continued in larger groups on broader topics like describing ways Quakers respond to injustice, defining nonviolence, and naming Friends or other peacemakers we admired and the qualities that made them special. In one group, for example, a middle school camper from Catoctin who lived in Philadelphia served as the speaker, sharing what the group had learned with the entire room. Older Friends let the younger Friends in their group know they appreciated their contributions and having our young Friends teach old timers some valuable lessons.
Y2017-35 Friends Peace Teams (FPT) Report. Bob Rhudy (Patapsco), BYM representative to the Friends Peace Teams Council, reported; his written version of the report is ATTACHED. He thanked Friends for their participation with that group. He read "We utterly deny all outward wars and strife and fightings with outward weapons, for any end or under any pretence whatsoever. And this is our testimony to the whole world." (From "A Declaration to Charles II," 1661.) He encouraged us to use modern technologies to continue to make that witness. He reviewed some history of the organization which began in 1995 and highlighted some initiatives with which FPT is involved. Bob highlighted some of their initiatives: African Great Lakes Initiative (AGLI); and Peacebuilding en Las Americas (PLA); Asia West Pacific Initiative (AWP), and Alternatives to Violence Project (AVP).
He spoke of the book The Power of Goodness: Art and Stories for a Culture of Peace, initiated and inspired by and dedicated to BYM’s Janet Riley Moles (Sandy Spring) during her work in Russia in 1994. It was edited by Friends Peace Teams' Asia and West Pacific Initiative co-coordinator Nadine Hoover. It "combines stories collected in Europe and the United States after WWII. Beautifully illustrated by children ages six to 20 years old, the book is intended to instruct people, young and old, in the ways of peace and nonviolence" to overcome the trauma of war. The former Chechen Minister of Education and Science (2007), L.M. Dadaev, declared the "The Power of Goodness a gift to Chechnya's children."
Y2017-36 Manual of Procedure (MoP) Report: First Reading of Friends Peace Teams Entry. Susan Kaul (Bethesda), Clerk of Manual of Procedure Committee, reported. She introduced another committee member. She began with reading of the entry for Friends Peace Teams:
Friends Peace Teams, Inc. (FPT), is a not-for-profit corporation initiated in 1995 by Friends from several U.S. Yearly Meetings. It seeks to promote social welfare, peacebuilding, healing, and reconciliation through its work to develop long-term relationships with communities in conflict around the world.
FPT activities overall are conducted under the auspices of the FPT Council, a governing board of representatives appointed by Friends Yearly Meetings and other interested members appointed at large. For more information on FPT staffing and peace work initiatives around the world, see their website, www.FriendsPeaceTeams.org. The Council meets annually at one in-person business meeting (called “Face to Face”) and monthly by phone and internet.
Baltimore Yearly Meeting may appoint one representative and one alternate to the FPT Council, each for three-year terms, upon nomination by the Nominating Committee and appointment by the Yearly Meeting.
It was also clarified that this representation does not mandate financial obligations from the Yearly Meeting, but there are funds available within BYM to help defray the costs for our representatives. Friends were encouraged to share travel miles for travelling reps to other bodies as well.
Friends APPROVED adding the Friends Peace Teams entry to the Manual of Procedure, without the need for a second reading.
Y2017-37 Manual of Procedure (MoP) Report Second Reading: Manual of Procedure Changes. Susan Kaul (Bethesda) Clerk of the committee, presented the second reading of changes for Search Committee, Camp Property Management Committee, Friends House Retirement Community, Friends House Nursing Home, Prisoner Visitation and Support, and Young Friends of North America. The document of changes is within the committee's Annual Report, which will appear in the Yearbook and be reflected in the Manual of Procedure.
These changes to the Manual of Procedure were APPROVED individually. [See Y2017-68.]
Y2017-38 Minute of Appreciation. Friends expressed deep appreciation for the dedicated work of Susan Kaul, Clerk of the Manual of Procedure Committee, as she rotates off of the committee. When she took on the leadership of the committee, it was unexpected, as Howard Fullerton was unable to continue. She stepped into his “big shoes” and anchored the committee with her clarity, dignity, and an occasional dose of humor. We are grateful for her service.
I'm challenged and reassured by the words of Paul Tillich:
"...the life of a community of faith is a continuous risk."
In our local meetings, we're challenged daily to risk being vulnerable with one another, to risk reaching together for the world we know is possible, to risk imagining and—with humility—helping to midwife the world of justice, love and peace that is already being born among us. Sometimes we risk revealing how discouraged we are when we see how far we still have to travel on this journey. When we risk being vulnerable in love, we can be surprised by joy.
But there are other risks as well.
Without watchfulness we risk becoming too comfortable, too accustomed to our traditional ways. We risk being self-satisfied, too focused on our own needs and preferences. We risk ignoring our relationship with Creation and closing our ears to the voices and perspectives of our neighbors living at the margins, as together we face the dehumanizing, isolating and death-dealing effects of empire.
In the condition of our world today, we risk losing the heart of who we're invited to be, gradually forgetting the spiritual challenge to affirm Life in the face of death, to open ourselves to transformation, to embrace profound joy alongside deep grief, to risk being instruments of the Spirit for a world renewed.
Whether because of the fear of change, the distraction of busyness, the urgency for action, the rejection of the harm done in the name of religion or the desire to be all things to all people, the great risk is that we lose our sense of particular calling as a community of faith, becoming a group of comfortable like-minded individuals who have lost sight of the deep hope that the world so desperately needs.
To me, the antidote to this slow loss of communal vocation is intentional relationship, mutual encouragement, celebration and sharing our journeys in the Spirit. Together, through a multitude of voices and actions, we remember and live a shared story about Love triumphing over despair and death. This, Friends have called Testimony.
Risk surrounds us on all sides. Which risk will we choose?
It's always a risk to choose love over fear, holy discomfort over rigid certainty, engagement over apathy. It's a risk to trust the still, small Voice. These choices have consequences, as our tradition testifies. As we open our lives to the Light, our lives and the world around us change.
In this time when so much conspires to harden our hearts, blur our vision, deaden our compassion, and sap our courage, may we help one another stay open to the invitation and the challenge before us.
... may we each in our own way find inspiration to let our lives testify to the Truth we are coming to know. May our witness encourage others to encounter and embrace anew the quickening Power that waits within every heart. And through faithfulness, may this Power move and breathe and act in this struggling, wondrous world.
We are deeply beloved, just as we are. And we are invited to so much more. Let us be a community that risks great joy.
July/August 2017 Newsletter
Y2017-41 Search Committee: Second Reading of Nominations from 6th Month Interim Meeting. Karie Firoozmand (Stony Run), Clerk of Search Committee, presented the second reading of the slate of Yearly Meeting officers, Supervisory Committee, and Nominating Committees, as seen below.
Search Committee Second Reading:
Yearly Meeting Officers:
Recording Clerk: Helen Tasker, Frederick (2013)
Treasurer: Tom Hill, Charlottesville (2014). New term begins January 2018
Assistant Treasurer: Jim Riley, Hopewell (2014). New term begins January 2018
Josh Riley, Hopewell Centre (2017)
Chip Tucker, Charlottesville (2017)
Alexandra “Alex” Bean, Adelphi (2017)
Friends APPROVED this second reading of nominations.
Y2017-42 Search Committee: First Reading of New Nominations. Karie Firoozmand (Stony Run), Clerk of Search Committee, presented the first reading of additional names offered for Supervisory and Nominating Committees, as seen below, with the second reading expected on Saturday:
Adrian Bishop, Stony Run (2017)
Katherine Munnell, Homewood (2017)
Y2017-43 Nominating Committee - First Reading of 2017-2018 Slate. Eric Hanson (Takoma Park), Co-Clerk of the Committee, gave the first reading of the 2017-2018 slate. He asked other members to raise their hand and be recognized. Eric introduced us to a British card game “Unable and Unwilling” via a slideshow, which parodies the idea of getting people to volunteer to serve on committees. Eric reviewed the changes to the slate, adding a couple of names that were not on today’s printed version. He noted that there are many slots available for Friends who feel led to serve. The second reading with appropriate changes will come to us on Saturday, and the final version will be printed in the Yearbook.
Tom started by reminding Friends that the Generally Accepted Accounting Principles system ("GAAP") requires BYM to separate our accounts into funds by donors' restrictions. BYM follows GAAP, as it has for many years, because it helps us carefully trace how we are keeping our promises to past and present donors. Page 4 of the BBD audit reports activities in the three fund classes. Tom noted that BYM's overall net assets increased $195,000 during 2016. This broke down into a $175,000 increase in unrestricted net assets, a $16,000 increase in temporarily-restricted net assets, and an almost $4,000 increase in permanently-restricted net assets. This surplus is good.
A big change this year is that, in the audit report, our CPA firm BBD separated the unrestricted funds into “operating funds” and “property & equipment.” This format change recognizes BYM's unusual mix of operations. For 2016, property & equipment assets increased almost $201,000, while the operating funds assets declined over $25,000. BBD also restated 2015 activities in the new format, showing an $86,000 operating fund deficit. While the net result in 2016 is positive, the property & equipment additions were paid for with restricted gifts that flowed through to our contractors and vendors and did not make up for the deficit in the operating funds. BYM's cash flow was negative in both years. Thus we drew down our unrestricted reserves.
Quaker charities have long recognized that donors find capital projects like new buildings more attractive than overhead. BYM's recent experience reflects this dichotomy. Friends have given generously for improvements to the BYM Office and to the BYM Camps, but we seem to have a continuing deficit in administrative operations.
Another aspect of the 2016 audit Tom highlighted is the "qualification" because the audited financials did not include activities of the Miles White Beneficial Society of Baltimore City. Miles White is about 125 years old, started and administered under Homewood Meeting that in 2012 formally became a "supporting organization" for BYM. It has about $2,000,000 of assets for its ministries. Because BYM now appoints all members of the Miles White Board, GAAP treats it as controlled by BYM and expects the Miles White operations to be consolidated in BYM's financials. BYM does not exercise any control and did not report Miles White data to BBD, so BBD again "qualified" its opinion. The BYM Trustees are working with Miles White to see if its results can be included in the 2017 audit and the qualification removed.
Tom Hill also discussed the unaudited Statement of Activities and Statement of Financial Position for the six months through June 30, 2017. Again this year, most camp and Annual Session income came in the first six months, while most of the expenses will be paid in the second six months. Perhaps half of general administrative expenses are recorded in each half. At June 30, 2017, we had recorded $789,000 in operating activity with a $185,000 deficit in net restricted activity. This gave a net $604,000 of income over expense. This is roughly in line with 2016 and prior years, but it does not provide a basis for projecting final 2017 results after all accruals.
Friends ACCEPTED the Treasurer's report.
In March, Interim Meeting approved in concept HOPE Committee’s recommendation for BYM staffing. HOPE recommended that our staff include an Associate General Secretary and a full-time Administrative Assistant, believing that delegating the General Secretary’s administrative responsibility to an Associate General Secretary would free up the General Secretary’s time for strengthening support to and connections with local Meetings and that the current staff needs more support.
Supervisory Committee appointed a subcommittee to work with the General Secretary on the necessary job descriptions. One member of the subcommittee gave the matter a great deal of thought and presented the subcommittee an innovative plan to reorganize the staff. The subcommittee did not reach unity with this plan or any other.
The subcommittee presented the alternatives they had worked with to the whole of Supervisory Committee in mid-July. Despite lengthy discussion, Supervisory Committee did not reach unity on job descriptions. I pray that way will open and Supervisory Committee will bring job descriptions to Interim Meeting.
Friends ACCEPTED the report.
Y2017-46 Stewardship and Finance Committee-Apportionment Formula Change, Second Reading. Lee Henkel (Floyd) gave us an overview of Stewardship and Finance Committee’s recommendation to adopt a new apportionment formula which is based on a Monthly Meeting’s ability to pay, calculated by dividing each Monthly Meeting’s income by the total for all Meetings and then multiplying that by the apportionment for the year. The written version of her oral report, along with the recommended apportionments showing the results under the old and new formulas, is ATTACHED. The committee recommended that the proposed formula be adopted for 2018 rather than waiting for 2019.
Friends APPROVED the changes to the apportionment formula applied to 2018 apportionments.
Y2017-47 Stewardship and Finance Committee-First Reading “Recommended Apportionments for 2018.” Lee Henkel (Floyd) reviewed the "Recommended Apportionments for 2018” which is the list of how much each Monthly Meeting is expected to pay to the Yearly Meeting annually. With the newly approved formula, each Meeting is expected to pay the YM 24.9% of their income, although there are a few exceptions, mostly due to individual Meetings’ individual circumstances. Lee explained that $495,000 is the total amount the Yearly Meeting needs to raise from apportionments. Stewardship and Finance Committee members raised their hands to identify themselves. The second reading of this will be on Saturday, with a couple of open sessions for further seasoning hosted by this Committee before then. The final apportionment schedule will be included in the Yearbook.
Y2017-48 Stewardship and Finance Committee Report. Jim Lynn (Sandy Spring) explained that the Committee is not presenting a 2018 capital and operating budget at this time; the first version of the budget will be presented at October Interim Meeting. He emphasized that there will be time for discussion, including an interest group later today. He directed our attention to the written version of this report which is ATTACHED.
...Not everyone prays in the same way, or needs to. Nonetheless, I have become convinced that our participation in the divine love for others is somehow necessary. In a world in which we are given free will to accept or reject God’s gifts, the divine wholeness for which we are intended is not forced upon us. We must choose to welcome and surrender to it, relinquishing our fears and lesser desires. We all have resistance to divine love and often find it easier to open up to love from other people. We can become mediators of the love of God for one another, gradually helping ourselves and those we love and pray for to become more directly open to the divine healing love that makes us whole.
We closed with a few moments of silence followed by announcements.
South Mountain Friends Fellowship (SMFF) Spiritual State of the Meeting Report 2016
This year was a trying time for all of us at [South Mountain] due to the sudden and unexpected tragic death of one member, Monroe O. Wright. What made this such a shocking loss was because Monroe died the day before our third annual Christmas Day observances. During this special event we invite all outside visitors from Patapsco Friends Meeting, as well as pen pals and visiting friends from other Meetings to celebrate the holidays together. Our small group takes the time to buy snacks from the prison commissary and entertain our Guests.
Unfortunately, on this day, after everyone [gathered], with a sparkle in their eyes, a smile on their faces, and a happy holiday spirit, we were given notice by a correctional officer that Monroe died the day before. ... This news startled all of us. We were sad and felt powerless because new rules prohibited hugging or consoling one another despite the fact one may be in tears due to the emotional news. This joyful occasion began on a sour note.
The snacks Monroe brought to entertain our Friends were left lingering in his cell, but his Spirit was with us that day. The celebration turned into a celebration/memorial service in remembrance of Monroe.
…the Spirit of Monroe bubbled up in and around each of us. We laughed, danced and sang throughout the morning. The sparkle in our eyes returned and the joy in our hearts were reenergized... It was indeed a beautiful memorable moment and we were glad our out-side visitors were there by our side to share such a moment. Monroe would have been so pleased. He often spoke of his love for the Quaker group.
As incarcerated citizens we look at society through a crystal ball. Despite our current prison address, we and countless other inmates around the country are concerned about what kind of world we will enter into once we are released. Climate change and economic upheavals are issues that plague our minds. Despite the fact we are confined to a very small area, we see how life on TV is passing us by, and we cannot touch or participate in reality. When you have everything taken from your life, the world itself and everyone and everything on this earth becomes so precious. We know now that every person, animal, and plant is connected and it appears that only humans are doing harm to this planet.
It shocks us to see grown adults fussing and physically fighting over man-made stuff. When all these so-called "must have" items have been taken away from you, one can easily determine what is more important in life. We strongly agree with the authors' statement that, "(w)hile gratitude leads to increased happiness and life satisfaction, materialism - placing higher value on material possessions than on meaningful relationships - has the opposite effect." ... Active Hope is insightful, informative and a motivational tool.
One of our own South Mountain members, Andre DeLaney, is awaiting his release after 28 years of imprisonment. Though Andre is intellectually challenged he has proved himself to be a real trooper by never giving up no matter how difficult the task. What a fine example he has been for all. His kind and forgiving nature along with his ever present smile radiates sunshine and the joy to be found in sharing his love of life with others.
The senior citizen of our group, Kent, who is 64 years old, has had both a trying and rewarding year. Though he is joyful at the pending release of his friend Andre he knows he'll deeply miss his buddy of 17 years. Kent is old school and for years only let a few people get close to him. It has been amazing to watch our outside Friends dismantle that protective wall one brick at a time. Kent never misses attending our weekly Meeting for he has come to embrace our outside Friends as his family. In twenty-two years he has received only three visits. Now he receives a visit every Saturday when Quaker Friends come to South Mountain.
In the near future, [Gabe] will be transferred to a pre-release facility, hopefully in Baltimore City. Meanwhile, he recently passed his final college accredited meat cutting apprenticeship exam with flying colors. He will receive his ... official state-issued license. Thereafter, he will be a licensed journeyman meat cutter, however he is concerned that being a vegetarian may be a conflict of interest. LOL
As a long time attendee Gabe will dearly miss each person he worships with. He is scared, apprehensive and joyful to taste the ... forbidden fruit which is called freedom that many folks take for granted. He will continue to stay in contact with his incarcerated and ex-incarcerated comrades.
It should be noted that the Governor has plans ... to down-size this particular prison. Already a sizable portion of the inmate population has been transferred to other prisons across the state. In the event that the SMFF group is discontinued, we want the Religious Society of Friends to know just how thankful we are for their prison ministry. You cannot imagine just how our lives have been changed by this ministry. Each outside Friend, especially from Patapsco Meeting, has earned a special place in our hearts and shall never, ever be forgotten. These wonderful people brought so much into our lives and changed us in so many positive ways. Prison can be a very lonely place for so many of us. But that sense of being alone was replaced with the knowledge that each Saturday we would be in the company of folks that truly cared about each one of us. You all became our family and we have come to cherish and love our Friends who shared their love with us.
Y2017-52 Roll Call of Meetings. The Clerk explained that South Mountain Friends Fellowship has been laid down as there is only one man still at the facility, and the Maryland Prison System will not allow faith groups to meet unless there are at least two prisoners who want to meet with that faith community. The Clerk also noted that Abingdon Meeting has transferred its membership to the relatively new Piedmont Friends Yearly Meeting.
The Reading Clerks read out the name of each local Meeting and asked Friends to stand, if able, as the Meeting was called.
Takoma Park Preparative
|Baltimore, Stony Run||
(Friends House)Miller Center Meeting for Worship
Fauquier Friends Worship Group
Augusta Worship Group
|Little Britain||West Branch|
Penn Hill Preparative
Y2017-53 Junior Yearly Meeting (JYM). Carol Seddon (Baltimore, Stony Run), Co-Clerk of JYM, introduced her Co-Clerk Ellen Arginteanu (Richmond). Carol gave the report, which is ATTACHED. The JYM Friends and their teachers came to the front of the room and, with Ruth Fitz (York), led the body in worshipful singing “Funga Alafiyah,” a welcoming song from West Africa, and “Hollow Bamboo.”
After the children left and a moment of silence, the following queries were read:
Where do I find courage to act?
How can I “live in that life and power that takes away the occasion” for injustice?
How do my spiritual practice and my Quaker community help me to undertake healing and promote wholeness for every child?
After a period of silent worship, a Reading Clerk read the following from Doug Gwyn’s A Sustainable Life:
“… Thomas Gates emphasizes that the Friends meeting should actively nurture the expectation that one will receive divine leadings, and actively support its members in clarifying and following them. Formal membership only begins a lifelong process whereby individuals grow and change in relation to the meeting community—or else stagnate or drift away.”
Y2017-55 Introductions. The Presiding Clerk invited Friends at the Clerks’ table to introduce themselves: Helen Tasker (Frederick), Recording Clerk; Jason Eaby (Nottingham), managing sound and technology; Young Friends Brigid Roush (Sandy Spring), Kate McHale (Sandy Spring), and Young Adult Friend Jennifer Vekert (Sandy Spring and Raleigh, NC) served as Reading Clerks.
Y2017-56 Unity with Nature (UwN) Skit. Susan “Sue” Hunter (York) and Karie Firoozmand (Baltimore, Stony Run) presented a skit to emphasize the message of UWN: our use of and addiction to plastic bags is a harmful, unhealthy habit we need to break.
Y2017-57 Unity with Nature (UwN) Report and Proposal. Debbi Sudduth (Goose Creek) asked Friends who serve on the Committee to stand and be recognized. She read Genesis 2:15: "The Lord God took the man and put him in the Garden of Eden to work it and take care of it."
Debbi presented background of UwN’s work over the last couple of years and then presented the proposal below. The Annual Report is elsewhere in the Yearbook. A written version of her oral remarks is ATTACHED. The text of the proposal is below:
The Unity with Nature Committee proposes that BYM embrace our request that individuals in BYM refrain from the use of single-use plastic check-out bags in all stores, not just grocery stores. Through our uniting in the promise of individual personal action, this demonstration of respect for nature may encourage others to join in this action and in other actions that also strive to put us back into a harmonious relationship with nature.
"Be patterns, be examples in all countries, places, islands, nations wherever you come...." - George Fox
Friends suggested that this proposal also be shared with Friends Schools within the Yearly Meeting.
Friends APPROVED embracing this proposal.
Y2017-58 Peace and Social Concerns (P&SC) First Reading of Proposed Minute on North Korea. Phil Caroom (Annapolis), Clerk of P&SC, gave context to the suggestion that the Committee create a minute in reference to North Korea. The background presented is below.
Proposed Peace and Social Concerns Committee minute in response to Consideration of U.S. renewed military action against North Korea
Within the past day (8/2/17), U.S. Senator Lindsay Graham has stated to national media (NBC’s Today Show), “There is a military option to destroy North Korea's (missile) program and North Korea itself. …If there's going to be a war to stop them, it will be over there. If thousands die, they're going to die over there, they're not going to die here and (President Donald Trump) told me that to my face."
U.N. Ambassador Nikki Haley is reported by CNN to have announced, “The time for talk is over.” Vice President Pence has stated that “all options are on the table.”
Nonetheless, there is a broad international consensus that economic sanctions have had a major impact on North Korea; its only remaining trading partner, China, has agreed within the past month (6/25/17) to increase its economic sanctions.
There will be an interest group to further discern this before tomorrow’s second reading. [See Y2017-76.] A Friend encouraged us to individually take responsibility for conveying this message to our elected officials.
Y2017-59 Ad-hoc Committee on Growing Diverse Leadership (GDL). Dyresha Harris, Outreach and Inclusion Coordinator and Co-Director of Catoctin Quaker Camp, explained her involvement in the Committee and the work of holding up the beloved community in these times and spoke of her hopefulness for our work to address equity, inclusion, and diversity. Her slideshow and commentary, “Journey Together,” explained how various parts of the whole Yearly Meeting travel on this journey toward these goals. She mentioned the Fox quote of “Being Patterns and examples…” and how embodying the values we hold dear can effect change in our communities and the world. She emphasized that our time is now.
Lauren Brownlee (Bethesda), Assistant Clerk of GDL, recorded a video for her part of the report. She noted that a foundational learning is leaning in to the work with which we feel uncomfortable. She spoke of the intersection between the difficulty of a task and deep joy when engaged in such a task. She spoke of how one Meeting has grown in the last year, and how many Meetings have initiated projects to increase racial diversity in the Meetings, which gives her hope for the future of Friends. Lauren read excerpts from BYM Meetings’ Spiritual State of the Meeting Reports that reflect this.
Dyresha explained our Strengthening Transformative Relationships in Diverse Environments (STRIDE) groups and their involvement with BYM camps, four cities, and she also highlighted some of the work. She mentioned the committee has a new grant. She spoke of Meeting connections and how young adults long to connect socially with Friends and highlighted events such as hosting a Square Dance evening which was diverse in many ways. She spoke of investing resources and shared the following quote from her PowerPoint file:
Fundraising is proclaiming what we believe in such a way that we offer other people an opportunity to participate with us in our vision and mission…we are declaring, “We have a vision that is amazing and exciting. We are inviting you to invest yourself through the resources that Spirit has given you—your energy, your prayers, and your money—in this work to which Spirit has called us [together].”
Dyresha also mentioned a new STRIDE group in Charlottesville and a new webpage: http://tinyurl.com/stridepage
Marcy Seitel (Adelphi), Clerk of the Committee, expressed gratitude for Dyresha’s work. Marcy will present her part of the report tomorrow. [See Y2017-79]
Y2017-61 Memorial Meeting. Several Friends read the excerpts from Memorial Minutes for the following Friends: Patricia Loring (Bethesda), Careen R. Mayer (Annapolis), and W. Byron Forbush II (Stony Run). These memorial minutes are ATTACHED. We adjourned after worship.
How can our shared experience of the Light move us to promote justice and wholeness in the wider world?
How can we find common cause with others seeking to change the world?
After a few moments of worship a Reading Clerk read the following:
Testimonies come from the bottom up; they are the end result of thousands of Friends around the world who are attentive and faithful to the leadings of the Light, to the Witness within them. It may be useful to sort those actions into certain abstract categories, but let us not mistake these categories for the testimonies. Testimony happens only when individual Friends are listening to the Light, acting as they are led, and sharing their stories in word and deed. As our text [James 1:22] says, testimony happens when we are “doers of the word, and not hearers only.”
Y2017-63 Introductions. Ken Stockbridge (Patapsco), Presiding Clerk, welcomed Friends and introduced Friends at the Clerk’s table: Helen Tasker (Frederick), Recording Clerk; Jason Eaby (Nottingham), audio visual technology; Young Friends Starling Wolfram (Adelphi) and Henry Carlson (Goose Creek) and Young Adult Friend Keir Hudson (Frederick), serving as Reading Clerks. He also introduced his own support committee, Prayerful Presences, Marcy Baker Seitel (Annapolis), Clerk of Interim Meeting.
Y2017-64 Introduction of First-time Attenders and Visitors. The Clerk asked first-time attenders to stand and be recognized. He asked visitors to introduce themselves. The following visitors stood and introduced themselves: Julia Isaacs (Madison, WI, Northern YM); Pamela Boyce Simms (Hudson Monthly Meeting, New York YM); Andrei Israel (State College and Adelphi), William Penn House Executive Director, whose Travel Minute from William Penn House was read; Jacob Flowers (Regional Director, South Region AFSC) whose Travel Minute was read; and Theo Sither (FCNL).
Shan Cretin, outgoing General Secretary of the American Friends Service Committee, gave the annual Carey lecture. She provided a concise American history of white domination dating at least from the original US Naturalization Law of 1790, and of AFSC's 1917 founding around the need to provide an alternative to military service during WWI.
She then talked about her journey from young pacifist to General Secretary of AFSC. Along the way, she worked in minority communities, until a Black Panther pulled her aside and told her that if she wanted to make a difference, she needed to work in her community, not in the black community. “We black folks can take care of ourselves. Your white community needs to change.”
She then talked about her journey through white privilege while working for peace and justice. As a Quaker, she has been working through this privilege in her religious community. This led her to a query: What would it mean in our Meetings if everyone felt equally able to speak their mind, to be wrong, or even to be stupid?
Her challenge to us was: What can we do to repair the racial damage done by our white forefathers?
She left us with an old Quaker query, and a Jewish Proverb: Query: Was thee faithful? Did thee yield? Proverb: You are not expected to complete the work in your lifetime—nor may you refuse to do your unique part.
Y2017-67 Youth Programs Committee. Rebecca “Becka” Haines Rosenberg (Alexandria) and Annalee Flower Horn (Adelphi), Co-Clerks, gave the report. Becka introduced Jossie Dowling, Youth Programs Manager, and expressed thanks for her work with our youth. She also noted that our youth are always in need of more Friendly Adult Presences (FAPs) and encouraged Friends to contact the committee for training opportunities. The written version of the oral report is ATTACHED, and the full Annual Report is elsewhere in the Yearbook.
Y2017-68 Manual of Procedure Changes, 3rd Reading. Susan Kaul (Bethesda), Clerk of MoP, gave a correction to the second reading of the MoP report. [See Y2017-37] The correction is below and will be included in the revisions to the Manual of Procedure.
The Search Committee is composed of six persons, two appointed each year to serve a three-year term. They are
and nominated by an ad hoc Naming Committee and (appointed by Interim Meeting ),. and forwarded to the Yearly Meeting for approval. Their service begins immediately after the next Annual Session of Baltimore Yearly Meeting. two appointed each year to serve a term of three years. These persons Search Committee members attend Interim Meeting. No person may serve for more than six consecutive years. The Committee may not co-opt additional members.
Friends APPROVED this correction.
Adrian Bishop, Stony Run (2017)
Katherine Munnell, Homewood (2017)
Friends APPROVED the nominees.
Y2017-70 Nominating Committee, Second Reading. Bette Hoover (Sandy Spring), Co-Clerk of the Committee, presented the second reading. The final appointments are reflected in the Committee Membership section of the Yearbook.
Friends APPROVED the 2017-2018 slate of nominees.
Y2017-71 Intervisitation Working Group. Rebecca “Rep” Pickard (Gunpowder) gave an overview of the Working Group’s work over the past year, accompanied by a slideshow. She remarked that we have had at least 24 visitors from other Yearly Meetings. Their Annual Report is included in the Yearbook. She encouraged us to consider how we each may support the Working Group. She asked members of the Working Group to stand and be recognized.
Although attempting to bring about world peace through the internal transformation of individuals is difficult, it is the only way. Wherever I go, I express this, and I am encouraged that people from many different walks of life receive it well. Peace must first be developed within an individual. And I believe that love, compassion, and altruism are the fundamental basis for peace. Once these qualities are developed within an individual, he or she is then able to create an atmosphere of peace and harmony. This atmosphere can be expanded and extended from the individual to his family, from the family to the community and eventually to the whole world.
Peace Is Every Step: The Path of Mindfulness in Everyday Life, 1991.
Y2017-74 Friends World Committee for Consultation (FWCC). Thomas Finegar (Sandy Spring) and Judith Seaman (Buckannaon Preparative, Monangalia), Representatives to FWCC, reported. Judith gave an overview of the FWCC conference in NY. They were introduced to the first cohort of travelling ministers for a variety of activities. She encouraged Friends to contact FWCC with questions. Thomas gave a passionate report about his experience at FWCC. They noted that all Friends are welcome to invite travelling Friends. The written report is ATTACHED.
Y2017-75 Friends General Conference (FGC) Report. Rebecca “Becka” Haines Rosenberg (Alexandria), FGC Central Committee Representative, gave the report. She directed us to the Annual Report for more details. She also thanked Linda Goldstein for her work on that report. She highlighted the Spiritual Deepening Program, the Quaker Cloud, and an institutional self-assessment around racial issues. She spoke of her transformative experience of serving on this Committee for many years. The written version of her oral report is ATTACHED.
Y2017-76 Peace and Social Concerns Committee, Second Reading of the Proposed Minute on the Consideration of US Renewed Military Action Against North Korea. Phil Caroom (Annapolis) presented the revised minute. [See Y2017-58]
proposed by BYM Peace and Social Concerns Committee
as to consideration of U.S. renewed military action against North Korea
Baltimore Yearly Meeting (“BYM”) of the Religious Society of Friends (“Quakers”) urges U.S. leaders to resist any temptation to a military strike against North Korea.
The use of military force on the Korean peninsula would cause massive loss of life and other horrific consequences to Koreans and other nations’ people including our own. Over 100,000 Americans reside in South Korea, including thousands of civilians. Such a war, especially nuclear war, also would do terrible, long-term damage to the world’s ecosystem. As with the war in Iraq, an attack on North Korea would have unintended consequences.
Only continued patience, diplomacy and nonmilitary interactions hold the promise for true peace-building and a better future for the Korean peninsula. Our nation must reject the false promises of war and threats of war.
BYM includes more than 52 worshipping communities in four states (Maryland, Virginia, Pennsylvania and West Virginia) and the District of Columbia with attendance of more than 7,000. As Quakers, we have supported peaceful resolution of conflicts for more than 350 years, receiving the Nobel Peace Prize, participating in establishment of the United Nations and other practical, ongoing conflict resolution organizations. Consistent with Friends’ Peace Testimony, we “utterly deny all outward wars and strife and fightings with outward weapons, for any end or under any pretence whatsoever.”
With the adoption of the Minute, BYM’s Peace and Social Concerns Committee will transmit the minute to the White House and the U.S. State Department and post it online, and our BYM Clerk should transmit this to media. We also will suggest that Monthly Meetings and other Quaker organizations transmit it to and meet with their respective Senators and Congressional representatives, together with requests to join the opposition to such preemptive military action. Finally, we will urge Friends, other individuals and groups and to send such messages in their own words and to sign petitions opposed to a renewed Korean War as provided and to send such messages in their own words and to sign petitions opposed to a renewed Korean War as provided by Friends Committee on National Legislation and other groups.
A Friend thanked the committee for the work and reminded us to individually take action on this, in addition to the Yearly Meeting’s actions. A Friend asked what would happen if North Korea took military action against the U.S. first, and another spoke to the notion of pre-emptive strike which was in the first version. When Friends asked specific questions, Phil clarified how the committee had considered them and reminded us that we are only asked to approve the minute itself, not the proposed actions. A Friend asked for clarity on the proposed actions and asked that we additionally include reaching out to other faith communities. Several questions were asked about precise wording, and Phil explained in detail how the interest group seasoned specific wording. The Presiding Clerk will work with the Committee to ensure this is distributed to local Meetings.
Friends APPROVED the revised minute.
Y2017-77 Stewardship and Finance Committee-Second Reading of Apportionment Assignments. Lee Henkel presented the report after thanking several committee members who are rotating off: Jason Eaby, Will Stratton, and Hank Rupprecht. She explained how they came up with the apportionment total amount and then came up with the percentage each Meeting would need to pay. They adjusted the apportionments for some Meetings.
Friends APPROVED the Apportionment Assignments part of the budget. The final apportionment schedule will be included in the Yearbook.
Y2017-78 Stewardship and Finance Committee Report on Budgeting Process. Jim Lynn (Sandy Spring), Co-Clerk of Stewardship and Finance Committee, explained that the capital and operating budgets will not be presented today, as they need more seasoning. The written version of his oral report from Thursday is ATTACHED (Y2017-48). The Presiding Clerk said that we will hear more from this Committee at Interim Meeting. It was noted that we usually have two readings before the budget is approved, and the Clerk of Interim Meeting clarified that it is not a requirement to have two readings, and a minute can clarify how we will proceed with this. She noted that Stewardship and Finance will send out advance information about the budget.
Y2017-79 ad-hoc Growing Diverse Leadership (GDL) Committee. Marcy Baker Seitel (Adelphi), clerk of the Committee, and Dyresha Harris (Outreach and Inclusion Coordinator) presented the second half of the GDL report. [See Y2017-59] Marcy expressed thanks for Dyresha who has come down from Camp Catoctin to participate in this report. Marcy emphasized how important this work is for the Yearly Meeting to take on. The work is about clearly understanding our oneness. She spoke of the need for intentionality when growing diversity. She explained the committee’s work: support all committees of the Yearly Meeting to grow in equity, diversity, and inclusion. The Committee is working to get change groups into every Meeting and is reviewing materials in order to make recommendations to the Yearly Meeting. GDL is also conducting focus groups, and the first one, formed with Friends of Color, has been held. Marcy also spoke of how local Meetings were first resistant to new demographic information requested in their Community Statistics Reports, but she emphasized how great it is that we are engaging in these conversations. She encouraged us to identify people in our own Meetings who can move this concern forward. She also spoke of how one visiting Kenyan Friend, Pastor Moses Murenga, began to increase diversity by working with neighbors of his parishioners in his local community.
Y2017-80 Epistle of Baltimore Yearly Meeting-First Reading. The final version will be printed in the Yearbook. Peirce Hammond (Bethesda), Elizabeth DuVerlie (Baltimore, Stony Run), and Jennifer Vekert (Sandy Spring) read the first draft of the epistle. The second reading will be on Sunday.
“If we do not act we shall surely be dragged down the long dark and shameful corridors of time reserved for those who possess power without compassion, might without morality, and strength without sight. Now let us begin. Now let us rededicate ourselves to the long and bitter—but beautiful—struggle for a new world. This is the calling of the [children] of God, and our brothers [and sisters] wait eagerly for our response. Shall we say the odds are too great? Shall we tell them the struggle is too hard. . . . Or will there be another message, of longing, of hope, of solidarity with their yearnings, of commitment to their cause, whatever the cost? The choice is ours, and though we might prefer it otherwise we must choose in this crucial moment of history.”
Y2017-83 Opening. Baltimore Yearly Meeting regathered on 8/6/2017 at Hood College in Frederick, Maryland. We heard introductions: Ken Stockbridge (Patapsco), presiding; Arthur David Olson (Takoma Park), recording; Amrit Moore (Maury River), reading; Robert Finegar (Sandy Spring), reading; Sylvia Beam (Goose Creek), reading; Jason Eaby (Nottingham), sound.
The Presiding Clerk noted that, given the delay in approving our 2018 budget, publication of the printed version of the Yearbook is to be deferred until after the budget’s approval; electronic versions of yearbook materials are to be available before our next Interim Meeting.
The Presiding Clerk called for and noted the names of Committee Clerks. Marcy Baker Seitel (Adelphi), Clerk of Interim Meeting, announced a 9/16/2017 retreat at Langley Hill Friends Meeting House for all Baltimore Yearly Meeting Committee Clerks; a separate retreat for local Meeting Clerks is planned for 2018 at Annapolis Friends Meeting House.
Y2017-84 Epistles. Kelly McKenna (Annapolis), Julia Hill (Charlottesville), and Graham Hill (Charlottesville) read aloud the Junior Yearly Meeting epistle. Caroline Hill (Charlottesville) and Kat Darnell (Frederick) presented the Junior Young Friends’ epistle. Thomas Finegar (Sandy Spring) read aloud the Young Friends’ epistle. Jennifer Vekert (Sandy Spring) read aloud the Young Adult Friends’ egg-centric epistle. Sarah Burr (Homewood) read aloud the Women’s Retreat epistle.
Elizabeth DuVerlie (Baltimore, Stony Run), Peirce Hammond (Bethesda), and Jennifer Vekert (Sandy Spring), our Epistle Committee, read aloud for its second reading the Yearly Meeting epistle. We heard a desire for a greater focus on younger Friends, in particular their leadership, efforts to encourage families to attend our Annual Session, themes of the programs of younger Friends, and the service of younger Friends as Reading Clerks. We heard a concern about the use of the term “anti-racist,” seen as negative; we heard a sense that the term “anti-racist” is appropriate; we heard that simply “addressing” racism is too weak, while seeking to end racism is too optimistic. We heard senses that our response to racism might be challenging it, confronting it, correcting it, and healing the disease. We heard of the use of the terms multicultural, multiracial, and inclusive in this area.
Members of the Epistle Committee read aloud a revised first page of the epistle reflecting our struggle with use of the term “anti-racist.” We heard a concern about focusing on words about racism rather than seeking to practice what we preach regarding racism. We heard contrasted the relative ease we have in uniting on statements about war with the relative difficulty we have in uniting on statements about racism. We heard a personal account of racism in our own community that called us to account and touched us deeply.
We APPROVED the Yearly Meeting epistle with changes read, changing “inclusive” to “equitable and inclusive,” dropping the word “tremendous” in the second page’s last paragraph, and empowering the Epistle Committee to revise the epistle to reflect suggestions made at this meeting regarding younger Friends.
We APPROVED this: we minuted our appreciation to the Epistle Committee and to the courageous voices we’ve heard.
Representatives of Young Friends conveyed their concern with our process in dealing with the epistle; a written version of their statement is ATTACHED.
Y2017-85 Program Committee and bookstore report. Barbarie Hill (Charlottesville), Program Committee Clerk, reported for both Program Committee and the bookstore. Barbarie reported that the bookstore [covered its costs]. Barbarie reported that we’ll be at Hood College again next year, from 7/30/2018 through 8/5/2018, focused on the theme “Radical Listening—Rooted in Love.” We APPROVED this: we minuted our appreciation to the Program Committee.
Y2017-86 Registrar’s report. Sheila Bach (Langley Hill), Registrar, reported. Sheila reported 388 Annual Session attenders this year, 17 fewer than last year. There were 53 first-time attenders, 21 of whom used first-time attender certificates; 29 children attended for free as part of the Yearly Meeting’s new program.
Y2017-87 Closing. We heard announcements. We heard, improved, and APPROVED these minutes. We adjourned, to gather next in Annual Session if it be God’s will, on 7/31/2018 at Hood College in Frederick, Maryland, or at the call of the Presiding Clerk.
Ken Stockbridge, presiding Helen Forsythe Tasker, recording, 8/1-5/2017
Arthur David Olson, recording, 8/6/2017