Program 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.
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Program Committee consists of nine members as well as the Presiding Clerk, the General Secretary, Bookstore Manager, Registrar and representatives of Ministry and Pastoral Care, Junior Yearly Meeting, Young Friends and Young Adult Friends. It is a large and mighty committee that meets together four times a year. In addition, every member of the Committee works outside of the large meetings, taking responsibility for some element of the Annual Session program either individually or as a subcommittee member.
Last year we included in our annual report the statement that “The evaluations you complete after experiencing Annual Session are our guide for future sessions.” To illustrate the truth of our statement, the first task we undertake in the fall of each year is to summarize and study all the evaluation forms submitted by attenders of the Annual Session just completed. From those evaluations, we were very aware that there was growing discontent with accommodations at Frostburg and the difficulty of travel for many people to get to the campus. Attendance had also decreased over the past few years, perhaps for these reasons. So, this year we updated our list of needs for an Annual Session site, then looked at the geographic center of the Yearly Meeting and gathered lists of appropriate venues near that center. We contacted three venues that seemed promising on paper. After our initial contact, only one viable site remained – Hood College – and a subcommittee visited the campus in late October and another group in early December. All were positive about the possibility of changing our venue for the 2016 Annual Session.
Needless to say, changing the Annual Session to a new venue after nine years at Frostburg was not an easy decision. We had a very good working relationship with Dave Treber at FSU, who is also a member of the Yearly Meeting and was eager to make BYM feel welcome on the FSU campus. All of the staff at FSU were very welcoming and helpful while we were there, but we felt it was time to try a new site.
After the decision to move to Hood College was made, Program Committee began rethinking all of the program elements to determine how they would work in the new venue. There were so many details that we had become familiar with after nine years at the same site, but each had to be re-examined. We knew that there would inevitably be glitches caused by our unfamiliarity with the Hood campus, but we tried very hard to minimize their effect.
We have again arranged a program with a mix of activities that we hope will allow all ages to enjoy being in community and learning from each other. Our 2016 theme “Discernment and Action in Spiritual Community” challenged us to draw strength from our spiritual life together. At the same time that we were all experiencing how this theme was interpreted by our speakers and workshop leaders and determining what it means in our own lives, Program Committee had already begun working on the 2017 Annual Session program. We plan to meet again on the Hood College campus the first week of August in 2017 to follow up on this year’s theme by considering the next step: “Putting Faith Into Action for Justice in the World.” Our hope is that you will find at Annual Session some spiritual nourishment and go from Annual Session refreshed to continue the work and to meet again next year.
Program Committee consists of nine members as well as the Presiding Clerk, the General Secretary, Bookstore Manager, Registrar and representatives of Ministry and Pastoral Care, Junior Yearly Meeting, Junior Young Friends, Young Friends and Young Adult Friends. It is a large and mighty committee that meets together four times a year. In addition, every member of the Committee works outside of the large meetings, taking on responsibility for some element of the Annual Session program either individually or as a subcommittee member.
The evaluations you complete after experiencing Annual Session are our guide for future sessions. We begin our work each fall by studying carefully all the comments submitted, with the hope of improving those things that didn’t work, while bringing back the kind of events that Friends most appreciated. Last year we were able to offer accommodations in the new Edgewood Commons for the first time. The space was well-received by those who took advantage of it, and Edgewood Commons is available to us again this year. We continue to work with the college on other issues such as smoothing out our access to technology for workshops and interest groups.
As the host of Annual Session, the Program Committee worked hard again this year to offer you plenary speakers who could elucidate the theme of “Living Into Right Relationship” and planned a wide range of workshops and interest groups, many of which helped us explore the theme in more depth. Aspects of our theme are well-illustrated by changes on the Frostburg campus. We’ve seen the new CCIT building with its environmentally-conscious elements, the Sustainable Energy Research Facility (SERF) initiative demonstrating off-the-grid production of energy, and the college food service which uses produce from the Frostburg Grows demonstration project. The Committee also designed activities and gatherings as opportunities to get to know each other and to share ideas with Friends from around our region. We’ve tried to ensure a space and an environment where spirit-led business sessions, worship and community can happen. At the same time we are planning the details of the current year’s Annual Session, we also develop a theme for the following year’s Annual Session and secure plenary speakers who will address that theme in some way.
Many of the evaluations from attenders at Annual Session expressed appreciation for our spiritual community together and the opportunity to share insights with Friends from a wider area than their local Meetings. Such positive feedback led us to wonder why many do not attend Annual Session and what kind of feedback we might get from those Friends. Are there site or programmatic elements that keep them from coming? Are there ways that we could make Annual Session more attractive to an even wider group of Friends in our region? Early in the year we set ourselves the task of designing an instrument that might give us some sense of why people do not attend Annual Session. While we have not followed up on this idea as aggressively as the timeline we set for ourselves, we still think the project has merit and will continue to work toward gathering information from non-attenders.
Our attempt to gather feedback from non-attenders is just our most recent idea for reaching out to local meetings and trying to draw people into our BYM community. Each year members of Program Committee either visit local Metings or contact clerks and newsletter editors personally to convey our enthusiasm for the upcoming Annual Session and to promote attendance. The Connecting Local Meetings sessions during Annual Session have been well-received and have become an integral part of the programming. We keep individuals and local Meetings informed about the activities of Annual Session and try to convey the value of attending by providing information in the Interchange.
Many of the elements described in the Vision Implementation Report are encompassed, we hope, in the work just outlined. Program Committee is large and diverse, and we work well together as a whole and in smaller groupings. We support and encourage each other in our work. We provide programming at Annual Session of interest to individuals and local Meetings, and we reach out to ensure that they are aware of the opportunities to participate in a wider community of Friends.
Barbarie Hill (Charlottesville), Clerk
The Program Committee is a small group with a big job. We have four meetings as a whole committee during the year to plan and carry out Annual Session. From the registration, information and orientation meetings to the workshops, speakers and even the food, this group of dedicated committee members brings it all together each year so that Friends may gather and worship, learn and grow in community.
We continue to try to improve each year, to plan more as a group, to add new activities and to listen to your feedback. This year we have brought back the Connecting Local Meetings section as an opportunity to share ideas and interests among Meetings. We heard many Meetings ask for the chance to network more and we were pleased last year with your response to our initial offering. This year we are happy to add another choice to lodging options as well. Edgewood Commons offers a different style of hospitality from the dorms we are used to. We hope that you will continue to offer evaluations to this committee so we might continue to look for improvements to Annual Session.
During the past year we welcomed a few new members to the committee and this year we say thank you to several long time members as they leave the committee to serve in other roles. We do not meet during Interim Meetings since many of our members are involved in other committee work, instead we find ourselves in Sandy Spring gathered to do our work. While these committee meetings have been open meetings in the past, we find that moving forward there are some times when agenda items are not appropriate ones for visitors. For instance, during the times when workshop choices or any presenters are being discussed, no visitors are to be present. If someone would like to visit a Program Committee meeting, (s)he should first call the Committee Clerk to say why (s)he would like to visit. The Clerk can then check to see if the next meeting is an appropriate time for that purpose.
The committee looks forward to continuing to serve you. We thank you for your presence at Annual Session.
Peg Hansen (State College), clerk
Annual Session is the place where we can all come - all ages, all Meetings - and it’s a pleasure in many ways to do this work, helping to bring Friends together.
The Program Committee has spent a good deal of time this year working with the Yearly Meeting staff to build attendance at Annual Session. We have used the feedback we get from the evaluations, comments shared with our committee members and have welcomed the input from several Young Adult Friends working on our committee. Last year we added online registration which seemed to be a big hit. Online registration is back this year and going strong, we are adding online evaluation to the site as well. The committee hopes that more Friends will take a moment to give us their valuable feedback.
Of course, the person who helps us the most is you, who can come to Annual Session and then tell others about how it is special. Many thanks to you!
For Annual Session 2013 we are pleased to report that the Healing Center is back in a new and hopefully more supportive way. The committee thanks Steph Bean for her work with the healers to bring this great opportunity to Friends at Annual Session while supporting the Friends doing this work. We hope that you feel restored by week’s end by this and other activities.
We look forward to trying out a new event this year with the “Connecting Monthly Meetings” event on Friday. This is a chance for Friends to help co-create the event by sharing about their Meeting’s experiences and hearing about others.
The Program Committee meets four times yearly, plus at numerous subcommittee meetings, to bring Friends together in community at Frostburg MD to worship, learn, share and spend time together. In order for this to happen the committee plans for workshop development, the Daily Minute publication, the information table staffing, Bible study and worship sharing time, food and lodging coordination, the book store and speakers, the Healing Center and much more.
We’d like to thank Frostburg State Conference manager, Dave Treber, member of Dunnings Creek Meeting for all of his help in assuring that the campus works well for us.
We have already begun to work on the 2014 Annual Session, which will have the theme of Transformation And Healing.
We look forward to seeing returning Friends and new Friends this year at Annual Session.
Peg Hansen (State College), Clerk
The members of the Program Committee along with the Yearly Meeting staff make Annual Session happen for all Friends. From the registration process, work shop development, Daily Minute publications, information table staffing and food coordination to the Bible studies, worship sharing time, book store operations, provision of transportation from building to building, and the arrangement for speakers the committee works hard to make it all happen. And to think we meet a mere 4 times during the year!
During the past year the Program Committee has changed the procedure for choosing a theme for each Annual Session. This has proved to be a work in progress and many members of the committee have stepped up and taken on yet more work. We are now planning, and have been working for several months on Annual Session 2013. Of course we were also hard at plans for 2012 at the same time. Also during this year we have worked with Frostburg State University staff toward a cleaner dorm situation. We have been able to solve last year’s handicap transportation issues and have said farewell to Tawes building. It is the hope of the committee that these changes will help increase attendance at Annual Session.
We are pushing for an increase in feedback this year from Friends. We hope that more of you will take the time to evaluate your experience at Annual Session. We really do read all of the forms that come back to us and use them to make plans and possible improvements to future Sessions. Please take the time to give us your thoughts!
Program Committee has a small but hard working group of Friends who make it possible for all to gather at Frostburg in community to work, learn, share a meal and enjoy time with one another. I hope that you will join me in thanking these hard working folks with the red dots.
Peg Hansen (State College) clerk
This has been a year of changes for the Program Committee. Due to construction of the Lane Center at Frostburg during Annual Session 2010 we used different buildings for our Business Meetings, lectures and many workshops. While this was a challenge, Friends managed to carry on while touring more of the Frostburg campus. This year we will be back in the Lane Center and look forward to the renewed space.
Program Committee had a change of clerk this year and the Committee has been hard working and gracious with their time and knowledge as the new clerk finds her way. Dennis Hartzell, long time food coordinator has moved away and while we will miss him terribly, Denny left such great notes and strong sense of community with the folks at Frostburg that Susan Griffin is able to step in as the new food coordinator seamlessly.
We welcomed some new Committee members this year and will say thank you to some after 2011 Annual Session. We have a small but hard working group of Friends who make it possible for all to gather at Frostburg in community to work, learn, share a meal and enjoy time with one another.
We are happy to announce that beginning this year we have started an assistance program for Younger Adult Friends which can help 18 to 25 year old Friends with up to 50% of the cost to attend Annual Sessions. We have heard the concerns of these Friends regarding the cost to join us at a time in life that is especially draining financially and hope this will be a way to encourage these Friends to continue to be involved with the Yearly Meeting.
The members of the Program Committee along with the Yearly Meeting staff make Annual Session happen for all Friends. From the registration process, work shop development, Daily Minute publications, information table staffing and food coordination to the Bible studies, worship sharing time, book store operations, provision of transportation from building to building, and the arrangement for speakers the committee works hard to make it all happen. And to think we meet a mere 4 times during the year! But wait; did I mention the daily early morning breakfast meetings during Annual Session? So please, when you see a Friend with a red dot be sure to thank them for their work , even if they do look half asleep at the time.
Peg Hansen, (State College), Clerk