ad hoc Growing Diverse Leadership Committee Annual Reports
The text of recently received Annual Reports are below, with the most recently received at the top and older reports below. To jump to a particular report, simply click the year listed below.
|2016 Report||2017 Report||2018 Report|
Summary: Our committee had a year of enhancing the dialogue in our Yearly Meeting, Quarterly Meetings, and Local Meetings about the experience of Friends of color and Young Adult Friends in our Yearly Meeting. More than 200 Friends in BYM participated in workshops and discussions led by our Outreach and Inclusion Coordinator, and members of the ad hoc GDLC. We received a report on the findings of three focus groups conducted by and for Friends of color on what would improve the experience of Friends of color in our Meetings and Yearly Meeting. Young Adults, Young Friends, and Friends of color participated in increased numbers in two of our Interim Meetings as we sought deeper understanding within our community after the difficult discernment over BYM’s epistle at Annual Session 2017. We are glad for more dialogue and meetings with more participation, and hope these are good stepping-stones to our becoming a more equitable, diverse, inclusive – and whole – Yearly Meeting.
But please read more:
To review, our committee was formed at the 2015 Annual Session with the goal of expanding on the work of the Growing Diverse Leadership program in all of BYM’s camping programs, and also in the wider Yearly Meeting. BYM received a three-year grant from the Shoemaker Fund to support an Outreach and Inclusion Coordinator (OIC) who would provide staff support for this work and cover related expenses. Dyresha Harris was hired as the OIC, and she did this work for nine months of the year (she has worked the other three months as Catoctin’s Co-Director) and other people have been hired to cover the summer work. Dyresha ended her time as OIC at the end of May, and the ad hoc GDLC has been focused on discerning how best to carry on this work for the Yearly Meeting.
Our committee’s purpose is to increase the number and the participation of Friends of color and of young adult Friends in the life of our Meetings and our Yearly Meeting. We seek to have us all, in whatever grouping we are part of, grow in equity, diversity, and inclusion. While it is simply said, it is not achieved quickly and not without a great deal of work, discussion, and discernment.
A major highlight this year was the number and the richness of workshops that offered both guidance and opportunities for discussion. As OIC, Dyresha led a workshop for the Yearly Meeting on the morning of the Called Interim Meeting in November, with 75 people present, and also led and co-led workshops at the Women’s Retreat, Warrington Quarterly Meeting, the Networking Day of the Peace and Social Concerns Committee, and for several Local Meetings. Members of the GDLC also led several workshops and discussion for the BYM Apportionment Day and for several Meetings. All of this work helped us develop our understanding of concepts and skills for identifying hurtful behaviors that happen in our community, why they happen, and what we can do to make things right when they have occurred.
Another highlight of the year was the holding of three focus groups for Friends of color, which let us learn important things about the experience of Friends of color in these meetings. Each focus group met once, considered a well-structured set of questions, and made notes about what was discussed. Our committee hopes that all Friends will consider how these findings can help us understand each other better and discern changes we need to make in our Meetings and Yearly Meeting.
We plan to hold focus groups for Young Adult Friends this fall to learn more about the experiences, needs, and hopes of our YAF’s. We are glad for the participation of Young Adult Friends on many BYM committees, and especially in the Supporting Transformative Relationships in Diverse Environments (STRIDE) Working Group, which is part of the Growing Diverse Leadership Initiative.
Our committee supported Meetings as they undertook the annual demographic survey. The survey was again controversial for some Meetings, but easier for others. For a third year, Meetings were asked to include questions about the age and the racial and ethnic background of meeting members and attenders. The original intent of asking for this information was to provide a basis for noting changes in our Meetings and Yearly Meeting. Instead, we have found that the questions and answers are very important in helping us know ourselves better and deepening our understanding of one another.
Our ad hoc GLDC spent much time in the fall thinking through the needs and desires expressed during the upset that occurred in the discernment process about BYM’s 2017 Annual Session epistle. That experience demonstrated that the two goals for the Growing Diverse Leadership program – supporting Friends of color and young adult friends – are inseparably bound up with each other. The Young Adult Friends and Young Friends present let us know how deeply they need to have their religious community take an active stand against racism, to embrace the term antiracist as descriptive of who we are. When the term “antiracist” was initially met with resistance by some Friends, the YAFs and YFs were distressed to the point of feeling distanced from their community.
In November, ad hoc GLDC members helped to facilitate small group discussions about racism and antiracism among Friends as part of our Called Interim Meeting in November. Because there were a number of Young Adult Friends and Friends of color present, this also became a time when groups that were more diverse than usual had conversations together. People who participated felt the discussion had been rich.
In the spring of this year, members of our committee participated in the National Council of Church’s ACT Rally to End Racism. Our committee made a banner that said, “Quakers united against racism,” which ended up being a marvelous outreach piece for us, and was cited in the Washington Post. It was important to have a Quaker voice in this gathering of many religious groups – we let others know that we not only oppose racism, but we are also still in existence!
While the focus of our committee has been the BYM community and making it more welcoming for more people, there are those on our committee who continually remind us that part of working against racism is the social justice element of making reparations to and standing with people who have experienced racism directly, in our wider world.
Through the year we have considered what we need to do to establish a long-term ministry of making our Meetings and Yearly Meeting more welcoming to a wider, more diverse group of people. With the Working Group on Racism, we have set up a plan for starting Change Groups in each Local Meeting of BYM. These groups have just begun, and we are seeking to provide materials, queries, speakers, and other forms of support for them, so that each meeting, and by extension our whole yearly meeting, will work with intention to break down barriers to participation by people of color and young adults. Please see the website Dyresha set up to support this work - http://www.bym-rsf.org/what_we_do/gdli/
We have found that our work has been greatly enriched by the Outreach and Inclusion Coordinator. Her presence and capabilities allowed us to offer very good workshops. When GDLC members led workshops and discussions, it was with the guidance of our Outreach and Inclusion Coordinator. The funding for this position ends with the end of the 2018 calendar year. Should we spend our BYM funds on supporting this position from the regular budget? We haven’t done this before. Should we continue providing trainings and workshops for our Yearly Meeting and Meetings? Without a person on staff, we may need to pay people to keep the kinds of workshops going that we had in the last year. How does BYM want to continue to make our community more equitable, diverse, and inclusive of a wider number of people? There will be time at this year’s Annual Session to consider these questions together.
In closing, we’d like to appreciate Dyresha Harris’ leadership – the workshops, the great webpage she developed, the problem solving and support she gave so generously. Our future work will grow from the good foundation she provided.
Marcy Baker Seitel (Adelphi)
Our committee has a simple mission – to increase the number and increase the participation of Friends of Color and of Young Adult Friends. The key objectives of our work is for meetings to grow in equity, diversity, and inclusion. While it is simply said, it is not achieved quickly and without thoughtful work and discernment. We are making progress, though.
To review, our committee was formed in 2015 at Annual Session with the goal of expanding on the work of the Growing Diverse Leadership program within our BYM camping programs so that the work would include all the Yearly Meeting. A three-year grant was given to BYM in 2015 to support this work by the Shoemaker Fund. The work of the committee was seen as having three stages – first to collect data about Friends of Color and Young Adult Friends, second to try out programs, and third to assess how these programs are doing.
In the past year, we found it difficult to bring to fruition some of our plans. Members of our committee designed a survey for Local Meetings that would provide information about numbers of Friends of Color and Young Adult Friends. Meetings, however, were uncomfortable with the survey for various reasons, and so to date we have not collected as much information as we had hoped to obtain. On the good side, the survey generated very good conversations about the discomfort of collecting and using demographic information among Friends, which feels like a measure of growth in itself. We will continue to work on developing a meaningful way of gathering demographic information that lets us know who is attending our Local Meetings and in what numbers, which will in turn help us know how we are growing.
For understanding our Young Adult Friend population better, our committee worked with the Advancement and Outreach Committee to devise a survey for Young Adult Friends, which was given in June. The results of this survey will be available this fall, and we hope will show us how our YAF’s have come to be part of BYM, and how they are now participating in BYM.
Focus Groups are being organized for Friends of Color who are part of Monthly Meetings within BYM. These focus groups are meant to be a place where Friends of Color can share their experiences of being part of BYM and share what they hope for their Meetings and for BYM. The first Focus Group was held at Stony Run Meeting in June, and others are planned for the near future.
BYM’s Outreach and Inclusion Coordinator, Dyresha Harris, visited a number of Local Meetings to lead discussions about BYM’s STRIDE programs and the work overall of Growing Diverse Leadership.
Along with the Working Group on Racism, our committee is encouraging the formation of Action Groups within each local Meeting. These groups would explore ways to reduce the barriers to participation of people of color in their Meetings. Our committee has been looking into resources that we can offer to Local Meetings to support them in their efforts. We have a list of printed resources, and will also seek trainings, speakers, workshops, and other kinds of resources so that local Meetings can find what they think will work well for their Meetings.
Through the next year, we hope to learn more about multicultural, multiracial congregations, and visit a few to learn how their worshiping communities have achieved equity, diversity, and inclusion. We have found some materials that we find meaningful and will share them with local Meetings.
And in the next year, we will consider how we can best keep the work on equity, diversity, and inclusion alive in our Yearly Meeting in the future. Should there be standing committees to do this work, or can the work be carried out by committees we already have?
The organization of this committee changed this year, but in the end we affirmed that the original plan for the committee would be best. We have a core committee of Friends who are committed to working on the issues of Growing Diverse Leadership. We also have an expanded committee – a number of BYM committees send ex-officio representatives to attend meetings. The purpose is to provide support for BYM Committees as they seek to grow in equity, diversity, and inclusion. By having committee members attend our expanded meetings, our core committee can serve as a source of support for the committees, and committees can share their wisdom with one another, as committees seek to grow in equity, diversity, and inclusion.
We are looking to all members of Baltimore Yearly Meeting, through your local Meetings and your BYM Committee work, to take some initiative in helping our Yearly Meeting become more diverse in Friends of Color and Young Adult Friends. Read about what we are doing in the coming year, and please join in. And share your experiences with us!
Respectfully submitted by
The Growing Diverse Leadership Committee was established at Annual Session 2015. However, appointment of committee members to the Committee did not occur until the following October. The committee met monthly starting in November, through July of this year. The format of the group is five core members who serve the committee directly, and fifteen members who are appointed because of their service on other committees.
In the first year of this three-year program, we are in the planning stage, and beginning the execution stage – information gathering. The second year will focus on execution of programs, and the third year will focus on analyzing the impact of the programs we have done.
We are using a typical strategic planning approach to determine our activities, applying the BYM Vision and the goals and objectives of this program to identify strategies and programs to reach those goals. While the BYM Vision does not change, the phrasing of the goals and objectives have been edited slightly. The part of the Vision that applies to this program is as follows:
Baltimore Yearly Meeting is a worshiping community, gathered in the presence of the Divine, affirming that of God in every person. The Yearly Meeting knits Friends from the Chesapeake to the Appalachians into the larger Religious Society of Friends. As Quakers, we seek to know and follow God’s will for us as a gathered people, to speak the truth that is revealed to us, and to listen to the truth that is revealed to others.
We aspire to listen deeply and inclusively to each other, to actively welcome all, and to attend in joy and faith to the Inward Teacher, whom some call Light, some call Spirit, and some call Christ.
The goal as we are currently writing it is:
To bring innovation and vitality to local Meetings within the Baltimore Yearly Meeting of Friends in ways that will increase and sustain multicultural and intergenerational community in all facets of the spiritual life of Meetings and will serve to strengthen Baltimore Yearly Meeting and the Religious Society of Friends.
The objectives, as we are currently writing them:
- Increase and sustain the participation of people of color in the spiritual life of pilot Meetings by X(?) percent by December 2018.
- Increase and sustain the participation of young adults in the spiritual life of pilot Meetings by X(?) percent by December 2018.
Our first initiative is to gather information. We requested demographics from Local Meetings on age and ethnicity to establish a baseline, so we can see if our programs make a difference at the end of the three-year program. We are researching efforts of other faith communities to change their demographics to see what has been successful, and doing surveys/focus groups with both Young Adults and People of Color who do and do not attend Local Meetings to learn what could be done differently and what shouldn’t change. We are identifying a liaison at interested Local Meetings that we can communicate with to offer support as they establish a small group within the Meeting and carry out activities to increase younger attenders and attenders of color. Contact David Etheridge if you would like to be the liaison for your Meeting.
In the coming year, we will host programs to increase participation of young adults and people of color in BYM and its Meetings. We envision this to include workshops around communicating across differences, evaluation of traditions and physical space to see if they are welcoming to people from every background, identifying routes to leadership, and efforts to increase attendance at Local Meetings (potentially FGC’s Growing Our Meetings project).