Manual of Procedure II. Structure of Baltimore Yearly Meeting of the Religious Society of Friends
Baltimore Yearly Meeting of the Religious Society of Friends is an organization of the members of its constituent Monthly Meetings. The privileges and responsibilities of attendance at and participation in the sessions of Yearly Meeting and of service on its committees are open to all members of the Yearly Meeting.
Intermediate between Monthly Meetings and the Yearly Meeting there have customarily been bodies such as Quarterly Meetings and Half-Yearly Meetings. Throughout this Manual of Procedure the term “Quarterly Meeting(s)” will be used to refer to all such intermediate bodies whether meeting quarterly or in some other pattern.
The Yearly Meeting appoints officers and committees necessary to carry out its concerns effectively. The constitution and duties of the usual committees are provided for in this Manual, but nothing stated below is to be construed as requiring the Yearly Meeting to continue any committee beyond the period of its usefulness or as forbidding the establishment of other organs.
The Yearly Meeting meets at least once a year, at an appointed time and place and for a stated length of time.
The functions of the Yearly Meeting are:
- to hear reports from Quarterly Meetings, Monthly Meetings, and the organs established by the Yearly Meeting, and to take action upon these as appropriate.
- to consider and to implement as proper the concerns of groups or of individual Friends.
- to nurture an atmosphere within the Society conducive to the strengthening of the spiritual life of Friends and of the Quarterly and Monthly Meetings, and to the wider dissemination of the principles and testimonies of the Religious Society of Friends.
- to receive and to dispatch epistles from and to other groups of Friends, to accept the minutes of visiting Friends, and to prepare or endorse minutes for its members desirous of visiting among Friends outside the Yearly Meeting.
- to make provision for participation in the work of wider Friends’ organizations.
- to approve a budget and to make apportionments thereof to the Monthly Meetings.
- to maintain a central file of information concerning the affairs of the Society within the area of the Yearly Meeting for the use of committees or of individuals in the furtherance of the activities of the Yearly Meeting.
- to perform such other functions as from time to time shall appear proper to the carrying out of the activities of the Yearly Meeting.
The Presiding Clerk of Yearly Meeting, Recording Clerk of Yearly Meeting, Clerk of Interim Meeting, and Recording Clerk of Interim Meeting are selected from members of Baltimore Yearly Meeting. They are appointed by the Yearly Meeting after nomination by the Interim Meeting and take office at the end of the Yearly Meeting Annual Session at which they are appointed, to serve for terms of two years, or until their successors are appointed. No officer should serve more than six consecutive years in a particular office.
The Presiding Clerk serves as Clerk of all business Meetings of the Yearly Meeting and acts as Convener when special sessions are required. The Clerk attends Interim Meeting, and serves as an alternate to the Clerk of Interim Meeting. The Clerk also serves as a member of the Supervisory Committee, the Program Committee, the Trustees, and, in accordance with the provisions of Friends General Conference, is a member of the Central Committee of that body. Annually, the Clerk nominates and the Annual Session approves an ad hoc Epistle Committee to draft a general epistle to other Friends groups for the Yearly Meeting’s review and approval. Reading Clerks are appointed by the Presiding Clerk as needed at Annual Session. The Clerk reports to each regular session of the Interim Meeting on activities as Clerk during the intervening period.
A retiring Clerk continues to attend Interim Meeting for one year.
The Presiding Clerk and all former Presiding Clerks may be invited by a Quarterly or Monthly Meeting to serve as Listeners to help the Meeting find clearness on a particular concern, use Quaker process more effectively, and make better use of the resources of the Yearly Meeting. Any one or more of the Clerks may be asked to initiate this process.
The Clerk of Interim Meeting convenes and guides the sessions of that Meeting, serves as an alternate to the Presiding Clerk of Yearly Meeting, serves on the Supervisory Committee, and may clerk that Committee. The Clerk of Interim Meeting receives and expends the funds of the Yearly Meeting as directed whenever neither the Treasurer nor the Assistant Treasurer is able to do so.
The Recording Clerk of Yearly Meeting provides for the orderly recording of the proceedings of the sessions of the Yearly Meeting and serves as an alternate to the Recording Clerk of Interim Meeting.
The Recording Clerk of Interim Meeting provides for the orderly recording of the proceedings of that Meeting and shares the work of recording the proceedings of Yearly Meeting sessions.
Assistants to these officers may be appointed when deemed necessary.
The Treasurer and Assistant Treasurer are selected from among the members of Baltimore Yearly Meeting. They are nominated to the Yearly Meeting by the Interim Meeting and, when appointed by the Yearly Meeting in session, serve beginning January 1 (the beginning of the Yearly Meeting’s fiscal year) following the close of the Annual Session at which appointed, for terms of two years, or until their successors are appointed and qualified. As with other officers, it is preferred that the Treasurer and Assistant Treasurer serve no more than six consecutive years in a particular office. The Treasurer and Assistant Treasurer serve ex-officio as members of the Stewardship and Finance Committee.
The Treasurer monitors and expends the funds of the Yearly Meeting as directed, and maintains financial records and books as directed by the Stewardship and Finance Committee, setting forth the financial conditions and resources of the Yearly Meeting. The Treasurer attends Interim Meeting, and serves as an ex-officio member of the Trustees and the Supervisory Committee.
The Assistant Treasurer is expected to become familiar with the procedures of the Treasurer, assist the Treasurer and, whenever the Treasurer is unable to serve, serve as Treasurer. The Assistant Treasurer attends Interim Meeting.
The Trustees, like other committees of the Meeting, are selected by the Meeting and are expected to act for the whole Meeting in carrying out their responsibilities under the law. Thus, while Trustees must be conscious of their fiduciary obligation to preserve the assets of the Meeting, they must also be continuously sensitive to the spirit of the Meeting and its wish to fulfill the social testimonies of the Society of Friends. The Meeting, in turn, should be sensitive to the legal responsibilities of trustees which can, in certain circumstances, make them personally liable for actions taken in the name of the Meeting.
Trustees and other financial officers should seek to be as responsive as possible, within the limits of legally imposed restrictions, to the considered judgment of the whole Meeting on matters of policy
The Yearly Meeting appoints generally nine (but no fewer than four) Trustees in accordance with its corporate charter. Each Trustee shall be a member of a constituent Monthly Meeting. There are at present nine Trustees: the current Presiding Clerk and Treasurer of the Yearly Meeting plus seven persons nominated by the Nominating Committee and appointed by the Yearly Meeting to serve for terms of three years, with the possibility of re-appointment for a second three-year term. A Trustee’s term begins at the close of the Yearly Meeting or Interim Meeting Session at which they are appointed and ends at the close of the Annual Session during which their term ends. Normally one of these seven is from each Quarterly Meeting within the Yearly Meeting. The Trustees may not co-opt additional members.
The Trustees are the body authorized to act as the governing body of the Yearly Meeting with respect to legal matters. Either the Clerk of Trustees or Treasurer signs for the Yearly Meeting on forms, such as tax returns, to be filed with governmental entities. Trustees are responsible for obtaining and holding the title to real property owned by the Yearly Meeting, such as burying grounds and camps. Trustees arrange for investing the funds of the Yearly Meeting and, following the policy outlined in Faith and Practice, 1988, Appendix I, 3, Trustees ensure restricted funds are managed in accordance with intentions of the original donors. The Trustees arrange for a certified public accountant to audit the Yearly Meeting’s books and records in accordance with Yearly Meeting policy, and receive and review the auditor’s report (currently, an audit is done annually). To accomplish this, the Trustees meet at least annually and report annually to the Yearly Meeting.
Baltimore Yearly Meeting has adopted policies that govern the Trustees. These policies include the Whistle Blower (Appendix B to this Manual), Conflict of Interest (Appendix C to this Manual), and Youth Safety (Appendix D to this Manual) Policies. Trustee review reinforces the Yearly Meeting’s intention that all committee members and corporate practices uphold these policies.
It is the policy of Baltimore Yearly Meeting that the Trustees will keep contemporaneous minutes of all meetings. These minutes are to be sent to the Yearly Meeting Office in a timely fashion for retention.
The Youth Safety Policy Working Group (YSPWG) is under the care of the Trustees. The Working Group includes the following: General Secretary, Youth Programs Manager, Camp Program Manager, Presiding Clerk, Clerk of Supervisory Committee, Clerk of Trustees (or a designated member of Trustees), Clerk of Youth Programs Committee (or a designated member of that Committee), Clerk of Camping Program Committee (or a designated member of that Committee), Clerk of Religious Education Committee (or a designated member of that Committee), Clerk of Junior Yearly Meeting Staff (or a designated member of JYM staff), and others as needed. YSPWG meets at least once per year to review the current Youth Safety Policy, and to discuss any youth safety concerns that may have arisen. Trustees appoint a Trustee to serve as convener of the YSPWG. Throughout the year, the General Secretary keeps the members of YSPWG informed about best practices for youth safety, as information becomes available. YSPWG stands ready to address, in a timely manner, any youth safety policy issues that may arise.
The Clerk, or another designated Trustee, serves as a member of the Camp Property Management Committee. The Clerk, or another designated Trustee, serves as a member of the Development Committee.