2017 Yearbook Eleventh Month 2017 Interim Meeting Sandy Spring Friends Meeting
I2017-59 Opening. Baltimore Yearly Meeting’s Interim Meeting gathered on 11/11/2017 at Sandy Spring Friends Meeting’s Community House in Sandy Spring, Maryland; a list of affiliations of attenders is attached. We thanked those from Sandy Spring (in particular Robert Finegar) and the Yearly Meeting staff for their hospitality. We thanked Dyresha Harris, Outreach and Inclusion Coordinator, for an edifying and enjoyable pre-meeting workshop focused on subtle bias and microaggressions. We allowed time for Friends to name people and concerns to be held in the Light.
I2017-60 2018 budgets. Jim Lynn (Sandy Spring), Stewardship and Finance Co-clerk, presented second readings of proposed 2018 operating and capital budgets; the written version of Jim’s notes on them is attached, as are the written versions of the proposed budgets. Jim mentioned that repayment of Friendly loans for the Catoctin bathhouse is to be done according to the agreements made when the loans were made; the Committee has heard a concern about technical details of accounting for the loans and their repayment; the Committee continues work in this area.
In response to a concern raised, Ann Venable, Development Director, expressed a belief (which Ann asked if we share) that the proposed budget’s increase in donations is attainable if Ann and many others work and give toward it; a development plan is in place.
We heard a suggestion to make donations before the end of this year, in case tax deductions for those donations disappear next year.
We heard a concern about whether it is better for the Yearly Meeting to raise funds directly, in competition with local Meetings, or to rely on funds obtained through local Meetings. We heard a concern about fundraising to meet expenses rather than using reserves to do so; decisions about which to do depend on the amount of unrestricted reserves available.
Jim discussed Stewardship and Finance Committee’s strategic planning concept (mentioned in Jim’s notes). We heard a sense that the strategic planning concept presented today includes only some parts of complete strategic planning.
We thanked Stewardship and Finance Committee and others for their diligent work on the budgets.
I2017-61 Friends in Unity with Nature. Karie Firoozmand (Baltimore, Stony Run) and Debbi Sudduth (Goose Creek) reported on behalf of Friends in Unity with Nature, presenting a reminder from Annual Session on plastic bags and the effects of their use on carbon footprints; the Committee urged us not to take things out of stores in single-use plastic bags. The Committee has prepared a new “Fair Share of Carbon Emissions” brochure, available now.
I2017-62 Work with human rights groups. Darcy Lane (Sandy Spring) reported on behalf of Peace and Social Concerns; a written version of the report is attached. At the Committee’s recommendation, we APPROVED this: we ended our ties to the National Religious Coalition Against Torture (NRCAT). At the Committee’s recommendation, we APPROVED Interfaith Action for Human Rights (IAHR) as an affiliated organization. We APPROVED this: we amended our 2018 budget to change the National Religious Coalition Against Torture (NRCAT) as a recipient of $275 to Interfaith Action for Human Rights (IAHR) as a recipient of $200.
We directed our Manual of Procedure Committee to update the manual to reflect today’s changes. We heard a desire to check that affiliated organizations serve the entirety of the Yearly Meeting.
I2017-63 Nominating Committee. Deborah Haines (Alexandria), Nominating Committee Co-Clerk, reported. At the Committee’s recommendation, on this first and only reading, we APPROVED this: we named Suzanne O’Hatnick (Baltimore, Stony Run) and Jack Lahr (Annapolis) as representatives to Interfaith Action for Human Rights, for our normal three-year terms.
I2017-64 Racism, anti-racism, and Friends. We separated into small groups for structured discussions about racism, anti-racism, and Friends; material prepared for the discussions is attached. We regathered and shared what arose in the small groups.
We heard one group’s unity in comfort with using the words “anti-racism” and “anti-racist,” and their desire to prioritize aid to victims of racism over protecting the feelings of perpetuators of racism. We heard of one group wanting to be both anti-racist and for building a beloved community, and of the group’s gratitude for the work of our young people in this area. We heard of how progressive Quakers can be complacent when it comes to recognizing our own biases and racism. We heard of one group’s feeling that being anti-racist requires action, and that action needs to begin with working on ourselves. We heard that New York Yearly Meeting has been working on this topic for at least a decade. We heard one group’s acknowledgment that Quakers are part of the wider community, so that racism that exists “out there” also exists “in here,” and its sense of “anti-racist” being a term with more action and a different energy than other terms.
We heard one group’s sense that “anti-racist” denotes an active stance, and that it is okay to occasionally state what one is against. We heard one group’s sense that, given our society, not being able to see our own racism is like not being able to see the water we swim in. We heard of how racism can take the form of over-embrace, and of how anti-racism can take the form of working on your own racism. We heard of how perceptions of racism in Meetings can depend on the identities of those doing the viewing. We heard of those in one group who were readier to be against the idea of racism than to be against those who perpetuate racism, more comfortable with being anti-racism than being anti-racist.
We were reminded that it’s possible to be anti-war while at the same time not being against those who serve in the military. We heard a sense that no matter what terminology we use, our focus should be on dismantling the institutions of racism. We heard of how “anti-racist” can be seen as a description of who we are and our philosophy, not whom we are against. We heard a sense that “anti-racist” is an adjective with a different use than the “anti-racism” noun; we can seek to live into the adjective. We heard a call to be thoughtful in how we would welcome those who are racist and how to protect those they would harm. We heard a desire to discern what we are going to do rather than to decide on words to use, and a sense that the words we use will not change the actions or words of others.
We APPROVED this: we directed our Growing Diverse Leadership Committee and Working Group on Racism to document how racism manifests itself within the Yearly Meeting.
We heard a sense that we might now state that Baltimore Yearly Meeting opposes racism in all its forms; we heard a sense that doing so might be a bandage keeping us from doing more needed work. We heard of how securing training for our Clerks might go a long way toward improving how we function. We planned to revisit racism, anti-racism, and Friends at our next Interim Meeting, and to encourage and enable work by our local Meetings.
We ADJOURNED, to gather next as Interim Meeting on 3/17/2018, hosted by Charlottesville Friends Meeting in Charlottesville, Virginia, or at the call of the Clerk of Interim Meeting.
Marcy Baker Seitel, presiding Arthur David Olson, recording