2021 Yearbook Third Month 2021 Interim Meeting Attachments
Acting General Secretary’s Report
Third Month 2021 Interim Meeting
We are one-day shy of being exactly three months since our last gathering to consider the business of the Yearly Meeting. In that time, many things have happened that have changed the work of the staff, the Acting General Secretary, and the entire community. There is an urgency for us to consider how to rise to these new challenges and opportunities.
At the Twelfth Month 2020 Called Interim Meeting, I had the pleasure of introducing Brian Massey as the new Camping Program Manager. I am pleased to say that he has done a fabulous job stepping into a big job just as we opened registration for the 2021 camp season with a whole new sliding scale for fees and all of the uncertainties of the ongoing pandemic. Not only has Brian navigated these challenges, he has also successfully led the effort to find a new director for Opequon Quaker Camp. He and Jared Wood, the new Director, are working to develop new procedures for Opequon to help the community develop and grow.
Mary Braun brought 2020 to a fabulous close as she will detail in her own report today. She rightly gives credit to everyone who gave their support to the Yearly Meeting to help us successfully weather the financial challenges we faced in 2020. Her unending energy, innovative ideas, and constant optimism was the driving force behind that success. And in the middle of trying to close out 2020, she worked with Brian to develop an unprecedented winter campaign asking the camping alumni to support for the sliding scale. The generosity of that community has been another sign of support for our leap of faith.
Khalila Lomax finished 2020 with the second successful series of the 21-day Challenge and then jumped into 2021 and the accelerating work of supporting the STRIDE camper and their communities in Philadelphia, Baltimore, and the District throughout the pandemic. At the same time, they are working to generate excitement for camp and developing new ways to prepare the campers for the camp season.
Sunshine Klein continues to support our middle-school and high-school students as they try to build their community without the ability to gather together for conferences. The JYFs met together in January (and are meeting again next weekend) and the Young Friends had their LoveCon last weekend. Sunshine is working with Brian to find new ways to proselytize the Youth Programs to camp families this summer and we know that everyone is looking forward to the day they can all be together in person.
David Hunter and many volunteers completed the work of updating the Infirmary at Catoctin Quaker Camp and we are now pleased to have it generating income in the middle of winter. David has been working with Brian to identify what work will need to be done at the camps to recover from not being open in 2020 as well as what changes need to be made to assure that our campers and staff will be a safe as possible during the 2021 season. In the middle of all of this, he also led the search for a new Caretaker at Catoctin, and we are thrilled that Dylan Phillips will be joining us in the middle of March. Dylan’s energy and excitement for the camp will be a great addition.
Harriet Dugan continues to work hard to single-handedly master all of the skills and jobs of our financial department that have required two people to manage in the past. In February she took on the work of preparing our records for the audit that will be starting this week. What is always a challenging project was made doubly complex since the Yearly Meeting skipped the 2019 audit last year, so she has had to prepare two years of records and reports.
Finally, in December we marked our appreciation for the work of Administrative Assistant Laura Butler. We were sorry to have to see her leave her service to the Yearly Meeting at the New Year, but I am thrilled to report that she has found new employment. We miss her in the office and wish her all of the best. At the end of January, we said good-bye to Jane Megginson as she ended her service to the Yearly Meeting. She is also greatly missed.
Departure of Jesse Miller as Director of Opequon Quaker Camp:
On January 3, Jesse Miller sent an email resigning as the Director of Opequon Quaker Camp. In addition to this, Jesse took the time and energy to share deep and painful thoughts about his experiences over many years with the BYM Camps. A copy of Jesse’s letter has been provided as an attachment to this report, and many Friends across the Yearly Meeting have had the opportunity to read and reflect on it over the past two months.
Jesse speaks mainly to his experiences with our camps, the part of our community that he grew up in and where he became a valued and beloved leader. Personally, I was excited for him and for Opequon Quaker Camp when he was named as the Director of the camp for the 2020 season. I am certain that his wisdom, passion, and sensitivity for that community would have been a gift. All of us, especially Jesse, were robbed of that opportunity by the closure of the camps last spring. Jesse’s wisdom and passion can be seen in his letter, even as he brings forth painful and worrisome comments about his experiences with us.
Since Jesse’s letter was received, I have had the privilege of participating in conversations among the Camping Program Committee, the Camp Property Management Committee, the Growing Diverse Leadership Committee, the Supervisory Committee, and others about the concerns that Jesse raises. While some of the specific events Jesse relates have required specific and direct response, the systemic issues he describes cannot be solved quickly. In all the conversations I have listened to, I have heard Friends mirror the pain and sadness that I felt. But I have been heartened by how many Friends have then taken the next step of recognizing the duty the entire Yearly Meeting has to take the opportunity that Jesse, and others, have given us.
We have heard many times in the past months of the need for the entire Yearly Meeting to consider how we have failed to live up to our promises to be an anti-racist community. We have heard it from the Young Adult Friends, from the Young Friends, from the STRIDE community, and now from a leader of our camping program. Friends are recognizing the power of the messages from these Friends, and we are beginning to seek ways to make the real and necessary changes to live into our promises.
As examples of the responses I have seen, I have attached copies of letters from the Clerks who give guidance and structure to our Yearly Meeting, and from the Growing Diverse Leadership Committee that were sent directly to Jesse himself. Additionally, on the agenda for Third Month 2021 Interim Meeting there is a request from the Supervisory Committee to increase its membership which would allow more Friends to participate in the work to guide and advise the General Secretary and staff. There is also a report from the Youth Safety Policy Working Group on their discernment that the obligation of making a safe environment for children goes well beyond “just sexual abuse.” They are looking at how to seek to develop processes to help prevent “emotional harm from any source.” The camping program is working with Brian and the Directors to deepen and strengthen the policies and training for all camp staff, including work grant volunteers, to improve their ability to create and maintain the safe space we promise our camps will be.
In the coming months I am certain that we will hear about more work being done by others across the Yearly Meeting. There is a rising energy and commitment to be better than we have been, to learn from our past mistakes, and to support new leadership at multiple levels of the Yearly Meeting who are dedicated to finding new solutions. Jesse ended his letter by saying “I still believe in BYM. I still believe in the mission.” We owe him, and everyone in our community who has been harmed by our mistakes, to do the hard work needed to justify his belief in us. It is work for everyone, in every worshiping community, in every committee, at every camp.
From: Jesse Miller V
Sent: Sunday, January 3, 2021 6:22 AM
To: Elaine; David Hunter; JoAnn Coates Hunter; Brian Massey; BYM Administration; Wayne Finegar; Linda Garrettson; Jane Megginson; Harry Scott; Jules Skloot; Sara Brigham; Damon Cory-Watson; Silas Gordon Brigham; Sean Hickey; Hope Swank; Dyresha Harris; Jesse Austell; Rosalie Eck; Steph Bean; Betsy Roush
Subject: On Blackness and BYM
I’m sending this message out to those of whom I feel I worked with the closet as well as other "immediate chosen" family. Please forgive my lack of communication these many months. This past year has been occupying to say the least. I’ve mostly been caught up with building a new life in the Bay Area while trying to navigate the many, many, messy emotions I have about this world and my place in it.
I know that camp is already chugging along toward summer 2021, and thank God for that. I wish I could figure out a way to take part, but I don’t see how I can be involved with camp for a while. Much of it is logistical: I currently can’t afford the time, mindspace, or the financial juggling to make that possible. If these were my only reasons, I would have made that clear as soon as I could; I know that folks were waiting to hear back from me. In many ways, I imagine the hope was that I would return to direct Opequon. Mine was too. My heart sang at the possibility. Me, after all my years there, assembling a team to run that place? Get outta here, that would have been awesome!
But I can’t. And it’s not the logistics of life. It’s because my heart’s not aligned. I don’t think it can be right now.
Feel free to share this message with anyone who is interested.
BYM is my family. There can’t be that many people for whom that is more true than me. Lacking solid support structures and caught up in the deep and dysfunctional trauma of my own immediate family (thanks slavery!), I grabbed hold of camp and built my own. And it was there for me. And it made me who I am. It wasn’t always easy, but that made sense to me. In what family is it always easy? The primary feeling I felt was love - coming and going - so little else mattered, as far as I was concerned.
Throughout my 20s and now into my 30s a few major things happened for me: I rose higher in the organization, and I became a bona fide youth development professional. This new vantage point gave me new insights into BYM and began deeply changing my experiences. In reflection of my last four years as director, I’m going to share some hard truths I felt and observed and why I can’t return. These observations are directed toward BYM as a whole.
It’s cultural. It’s at the heart of lamenting a lack of diversity, yet failing to properly consider those who show up. Here are some concrete examples.
Let’s talk about the caretaker at Shiloh. I love that guy. The people who know him best know what a sweet and caring person he is. They also know he holds views that are straight up racist and sexist. This is known. When I have interacted with him, I’ve initiated the most gentle and patient of conversations to delicately attempt to spell out why his views are painful to me. Did his views ever change with all that patience and space I gave? Nah. But he stuck around because he’s pretty good in his position, problematic views and all. Heck, I never complained, good soldier that I am. But I also never hid how I felt from anyone.
There’s that of God in everyone, right? BYM and camp try to hold space for all people. The practice is to show love and patience with whom we disagree. To come together in community and see our way to coexistence. I really do love Mike. But the very last time I saw that man he was making wildly offensive comments about my Asian girlfriend who he was meeting for the first time that I won’t repeat. My love for him doesn’t make me want to be around him anymore, is what I’m saying.
I bring Mike up because he’s an example of how difficult it is to share space with someone who has views you disagree with when those views are opposition to your own oppressed identity. “Holding space” is not an equal exercise. You can be the leftiest radical in the nation who sheds an honest to goodness tear every time you witness oppression, but that is going to land differently for you every single time if you’re white. I bring up Mike, a white man who believes black people are inherently criminal and told me so in Trumpian rhetoric, because as much as many of us agree that people like him in the community who have challenging views are difficult to work with, it is always going to be harder for people like me - a person of color.
And, by the way, the “challenging views” that we’re talking about here are white supremacy. Just to name that.
Ya’ll, when you’re running a mostly white summer program in rural, politically conservative areas, with a mostly white staff, and you claim to want people of color in your program, you can’t also let people with racist ideas share that community with them. That’s not a tricky situation to navigate. That’s open hostility against the minority portion of your population you claim to value.
This is my overall experience at BYM when it comes to race. For fifteen years I’ve been held up in the community as an ideal because of my identity; heavily visible for the obvious reasons, but also heavily featured in BYM promotional materials as people of color in the camp community always are. For fifteen years I’ve simultaneously assisted white people bring people of color into their community while also constantly trying to softly - ever so softly - pull and push that community to be more accomodating. At this point, it grieves me to say that I feel I’ve spent most of my time trying to help white people be less racist, rather than actually building a safer space for people of color. And I don’t feel those efforts to have been successful.
To be fair, I believe this is a primary problem with mostly white organizations in general in this country. That the intention is to be more diverse and inclusive, but that the work falls to the few POC folks, and that true movement in culture is slow if at all. Yet my experience is that BYM as a spiritual, Quaker, organization often leans on its intentions rather than direct action.
I think about the practices. I think about the slideshow of campers of color of whom white families complained about, again and again. How often there is outside pressure from families who demand we take disciplinary actions against these campers and how these campers negatively impacted their experience. I think about how we have all clearly seen the phenomenon of black campers receiving harsher reactions and punitive measures from our mostly white staff. I think about all the black kids who were viewed as problem campers. I think about how often directors have to justify and defend ourselves to the broader community when we teach and train on social justice.
I think about Dyresha and everything she’s had to endure over the years. There were so many who were vocal about the issues they had with her leadership; including her own direct supervisor. She was then placed on a co-director team with me, the only other black director at BYM with the explicit intention of being balanced. I could feel myself becoming the “good” director which - due to historical racial undertones- was more than uncomfortable. I continued to watch with unease as I increasingly felt set-up to oppose and correct her leadership.
You can say what you will about it, but anyone familiar with the issue knows very well how difficult it was on her and I, and you can’t avoid the reality that the only two black leaders in the organization were intentionally placed in conflict with one another.
For four years.
And we still ran the hell out of that camp too. Despite these difficulties; again a theme for POC folks in the community. Bearing it for the greater good. Bearing it for you.
I think about the Brighams. Good Lord, I think about the Brighams; particularly Sara and Elaine and how much they fought (fought, fought, fought!) for racial equity with their campers and staff and the resistance I saw them face. They were never afraid to ruffle feathers and push the community to face itself for people who look like me. I understand that the circumstances around Elaine’s departure are complicated. It’s just that—once more—many of the conflicts centered around the community’s discomfort with her navigation around issues of race with our black campers; issues BYM is too quick to turn away from.
I think about all those black kids we hauled in from Philly, Baltimore, and DC. How jaring and terrifying it was for them to come into our community, and how much we failed them when—all too often—their fears came true out on the trail with strangers, or even in the cabin with fellow campers, or our own staff. If the breach was loud enough the community would rightfully reel, but we’re too quick to forget who it hurts the most.
As a director, I spent time in communication with black families convincing them that the experience was worth it. I would smooth over their concerns. “I know,” I found myself saying multiple times, “But they’re good white people. Give them a chance. We’re working on it.”
My heart’s heavy, ya’ll. I don’t feel angry or hostile toward anyone. Or bitter. You know me. That’s not in my character. What I feel is love. And exhaustion. My love tells me that I must be truthful about my experiences. That I’ve watched POC folks like myself come and go and face a lot of challenges as we carry weight for you. That I’ve watched white allies depart for the same reasons. And finally - most alarmingly - that while the mostly white BYM community no doubt receives some cultural value and benefit from having POC folks around...I’m just no longer sure if the difficulties these same POC people face in the community justifies that experience. That, right now, if a black family asked me if they should send their black child to be a camper or staff member at a BYM camp I’d have to give a long, hard, sigh, and - in this moment - I don’t know if I would say yes. If I did, there’d have to be a lot of qualifying statements, that much is certain.
My love tells me to say that I hope BYM can find it in itself to be more comfortable with being uncomfortable on issues of race. That it can notice when it feels tense and inflexible. That it can lean in and allow itself to stumble. That it can be courageous enough to be messy with itself. But my exhaustion wants me to say that asking us to show up isn’t enough anymore. People like me are too tired to show up, and will always become too tired to keep showing up if BYM doesn't face itself and become intolerant of intolerance. You can’t build a safe space for people of color unless you do. But you can’t expect us to pull you through it.
And BYM must stop saying, “Please show up.”
Followed by, “We have issues with how you came.”
I understand that some of these statements may arouse questions, and I can imagine the desire for further elaboration. However, these are all the words I have to share. I still believe in BYM. I still believe in the mission.
You got this.
Much love and peace,
Attachment I2021-04B: Acting General Secretary's Report:
Letter of Yearly Meeting Clerks to Jesse Miller
Letter of Yearly Meeting Clerks to Jesse Miller
On January 3, 2021 you sent a letter to about 20 people in Baltimore Yearly Meeting. That letter has been very widely shared.
We are writing, as Clerks of BYM, with appreciation for your candor and directness. Thank you for your love and your long participation in BYM. Thank you for believing in us, and for caring enough to point out how our racism as an institution has injured you and so many others in our care.
You name that, although true for many mostly-white organizations in this country, BYM in particular has been guilty of leaning on “good intentions” rather than “direct action”. You remind us that direct action cannot rely on POC who have long been doing more than their share, and thereby are exhausted and discouraged. Your call for us as an organization to find our courage and step out in faith that we can, indeed, do this work is being heard.
Parts of what you are naming are being addressed by those caring for the camps, other parts by those caring for the staff, and all of what you have shared is being used to foster discussions in committees, Meetings, and among those of us tasked with leadership in an organization with both many moving parts, and much inertia.
We hear that our good intentions have not prevented harm - for that we apologize and pledge to right the wrongs where possible and prevent future harm as much as we are able.
We recognize that you are building a new life in the Bay Area, and wish you deep joy as Way Opens for you. We hear that you have no more words for us right now, but please know that we are willing to listen if you have more to share at any time.
As a member of our family, Jesse, you will always be welcome among us. With work and healing, our wish is that someday soon the gifts of our community will outweigh our failings and you will find this community a safe and joyful place to be, even if only to visit.
Attachment I2021-04C: Acting General Secretary's Report:
Letter of Supervisory Committee to Jesse Miller
Letter of Supervisory Committee to Jesse Miller
From: Ramona Buck
Date: January 8, 2021 at 4:16:23 PM EST
To: Jesse Miller
Cc: Adrian Bishop
Subject: Thank you for your letter
I am writing on behalf of the BYM Supervisory Committee to say that your letter was forwarded to us so we could benefit from your thoughts and experiences regarding the camping program. We deeply appreciate the fact that you took the time and effort to write and send the letter. It is apparent that you care deeply about the BYM camp programs and that you have given a great deal to them. I know that the staff of the Yearly Meeting and the camping programs will continue to be affected by your experiences and ideas, and hopefully can continue to make positive changes in order that campers will be safe and supported and will have a wonderful experience at the camps. Thank you for your service to Baltimore Yearly Meeting, and best wishes for your future endeavors.
I am cc'ing Adrian Bishop, the Co-Clerk of Supervisory. He has had surgery recently so can't be fully active on this committee right now, but I know he joins with me in this appreciation, and we both wish you all the best.
Co-Clerk, BYM Supervisory Committee
Attachment I2021-04D: Acting General Secretary's Report
Letter of Growing Diverse Leadership Committee to Jesse Miller
Letter of Growing Diverse Leadership Committee to Jesse Miller
Dear Jesse, February 25, 2021
The Growing Diverse Leadership Committee of Baltimore Yearly Meeting offers many thanks for the remarkably powerful letter “for reflection and action” addressing the subject: “On Blackness and BYM” that you sent to those with whom you felt that you had worked closest and other “immediate chosen” family.
We hear you.
We acknowledge that BYM has harmed not only you, but many other Black People in our community. We can only imagine how many others have been harmed that have not come forward. Your courage is commendable, and particularly acknowledged by other Black friends. It is imperative that our community respond.
We also acknowledge that the organizational structure of BYM lacks accountability and thus affords minimal protection to those in our care. Often no one is held responsible for causing harm or for failing to take steps to prevent similar harm in the future.
We appreciate the time you took and spent sifting, sorting, listening, and loving. All the while, you were adjusting, beginning, ending, and continuing; amid emotion and confusion plus wishing, planning, saving, and deciding.
There is more. You tell us of hearing music, feeling pain, glorying in opportunity. But then, you came to understand that “way” was not open as you had hoped and could not be when your heart, head, gut, and spirit are not in sync (aligned, as you named it). At least your heart was not aligned for now. Even for family. Even for what you have been building. And loving. Still loving…
The profession you have made and are making into your identity is just too fraught right now, right here. It is marred in a manner unsuitable in your current circumstances because it is specific to a given place, family, and set of cultural contradictions that manifest in individuals, a Quaker organization, and Quaker values until that combination has become unbearable.
Diversity is what is at the heart. What passes for its practice at BYM is so out of alignment with what is required that it is, effectively, not being practiced and is missing. Diversity requires understanding of and belief in “that of God in everyone.” Its absence, especially given Quaker rhetoric, is too much to hold, especially when it has become personal and becomes lost due to characteristics you cannot change. That point is made still sharper and more painful when we of BYM can change our portion and do not choose to do so. A choice we make by refusing to become educated so we understand the pain we are imposing on people who love us, like you.
You tell us that you experience us “as a spiritual, Quaker organization [that] often leans on its intentions rather than direct action.” Our wish fulfillment efforts won’t cut it. Grown-ups should understand this. And we must recognize that wishful thinking leads to blaming the victim when those with power don’t get our way. And that is wrong spiritually, morally, and logically, no matter how much we declare that our intentions are good. Plus, we even found a way to compound that, by placing Dyresha and you in antagonistic roles with you being asked to “correct” and “fix” her while Dyresha was being punished for making the “wrong” choice when she was forced to select one job and to do it as her supervisor/boss wanted. Thanks are owed to both of you for how well you ran Catoctin Quaker Camp. We must learn about choosing and being grown-ups from what you two did, the character you each showed and that you showed as a team.
It is imperative that we as the Growing Diverse Leadership Committee rebuke the idea that intentions alone are adequate. Instead, we demand actions and outcomes.
We as a committee plan to work with the rest of BYM to adequately address your concerns. Here are several steps we will take in the next 90 days to respond. We will:
- Investigate a program evaluation/diversity audit, including a recommendation for funding sources.
- Lead BYM in revisiting our Anti-Racist Declaration in such a way that every staff member, committee member, and other members of the BYM community have an opportunity to understand its spirit and application in a practical way.
- Advocate for the Anti-Racist Declaration being applied in such a way that it results in a more racial diverse staff and leadership positions, including, but not limited to, Supervisory, Search, and other Committee Clerks
- Continue to raise with CPC the issue of what happened to and with the camper at Opequon. Since we have yet to receive a satisfactory answer to this matter, we will continue to press the issue with Brian Massey, Camping Program Manager.
We want to honor your boundaries around discussing this issue further. Would you like to hear about our progress and conclusions, or would you like to stay away from any follow-up and updates? If you choose not to respond at all, we understand, and will take that as a desire to opt out of that conversation moving forward. Please know that if you select that option, we will be willing for you to re-open discussion with us at a time of your choice.
We appreciate your metaphor of family and share it. You are our brother. We hold you in love and in the Light.
Peirce Hammond, Clerk
BYM Growing Diverse Leadership Committee
With deep appreciation and thanks, the Baltimore Yearly Meeting Camping Program Committee recognizes Jesse Miller for his many years of service to our organization. One of Jesse’s outstanding qualities is his willingness to serve where needed. Over Jesse’s long tenure with the camping program, he has served as a counselor, staff member, assistant director, caretaker and director for our camps.
Jesse has brought light and love into each role he has served in BYM. His infectious laugh, sense of humor, and joy-filled smile will be missed greatly. The tone that he set at camps was open, centered, and creative as he set his goal to see the Light and bring out the Light in staff, campers, families, and camp neighbors. The camping program is richer thanks to Jesse’s commitment to youth development and building strong relationships with the families of campers.
In his letter of resignation Jesse made clear that the persistence of racism in our community has made it too painful for him to continue his work in it. We are particularly grateful that he shed light on this painful truth in a spirit of love. We receive this feedback in the same spirit of love. His insight gave us much to reflect on, and much to work on. We commit to strengthening anti-racism training for our staff, better supporting BIPOC campers, and using Jesse's feedback to foster more inclusive camps for all participants.
With deep sincerity and appreciation, we wish Jesse the best in all of his future endeavors.
To: BYM Trustees (approved for forwarding to Interim Meeting)
From: Youth Safety Policy Working Group (YSPWG)
Carlotta Joyner, Clerk
Subject: Recent activity and plans of YSPWG
Date: February 18, 2021
At the YSPWG meeting on February 3, 2021, we discussed two matters that I wish to highlight to Trustees: (1) a proposed policy revision and (2) proposed addition to the ex officio membership of the working group.
Our primary agenda item was a concern raised at the previous meeting, namely that there might be “emotional harm from any source and whether the policy should be expanded to address that risk. An example of such possible harm was the impact on youth of an incident at camp that might have been disturbing to them while they had no clear way to express how they felt.”
After much rich discussion, it was our sense that the policy should be expanded, or clarified, to ensure that it addresses child abuse more broadly than just sexual abuse. Existing language in the policy in the section on “responding to allegations of child abuse” reads, in part, as follows [bold emphasis is added to highlight language considered relevant at our meeting]:
“Notwithstanding these various definitions [in different political jurisdictions in which BYM operates], child abuse, neglect or sexual abuse generally include, but are not limited to the following:
- Any treatment, action or behavior or lack thereof to a child by any adult or other child that is not accidental, and that causes physical, sexual or emotional harm or injury to that child. This includes actions or behaviors that are direct as well as indirect though writing, phone calls, texting, instant messaging, via any form of social media or other form of communication or interaction. …“
As a first step in proposing a policy revision, four working group members agreed to draft an introductory statement that would lay out the broadened scope of the policy. That group (Alex Bean, Adrian Bishop, Becka Haines Rosenberg, and Sunshine Klein) will bring suggested language to our next meeting, which is scheduled for April 7. We will bring this proposed language to Trustees when it is ready.
Membership of the working group
Membership is defined in the Manual of Procedures as follows:
“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.”
It was our sense that we could better accomplish our mission with addition of the STRIDE coordinator as an ex officio member. At the Trustees meeting, Wayne Finegar will present the rationale for this addition and describe the next steps to make this change, if Trustees approve.
Baltimore Yearly Meeting
I am presenting and reporting on the unaudited financial statements of Baltimore Yearly Meeting for the year ended December 31, 2020. As we all know, this has been a tumultuous and unpredictable year, both for BYM programs and finances. Because of the pandemic, BYM amended its budget in midyear and drastically reduced expenses. Camps, as well as most other in-person programs were cancelled, and several administrative staff positions were suspended.
As a result of reduced expenses and increased donations, BYM ended 2020 in a strong financial position. Our unaudited statement of activities shows an excess of revenues over expenses of $241,693. More explanation about this to follow. Our cash and investments also showed increases over recent previous years.
The balance sheet or statement of financial position shows the unaudited balances in our various asset, liability and net asset accounts as of December 31, 2020. In our asset accounts, BYM shows total cash of $597,004. On December 31, 2019, our total cash balance was $379,314. Our total property and equipment net of depreciation is $2,661,034 which is just a little less than the previous year. Our investments total $1,675,960 which is an increase of about $184,000 from December 31, 2019.
Under liabilities, we are still showing the PPP (Paycheck Protection Program) loan of $178,000 as deferred income. We have applied for forgiveness of this loan and should know soon whether we are approved. Our friendly loan balance is $213,355, down from about $240,000 the previous year.
Our unaudited total net assets (difference between total assets and total liabilities) on December 31, 2020 are $4,450,987, which includes the 2020 income of $241,693.
Statement of Activities
The statement of activities shows the total revenue and expenses for the year ending December 31, 2020. It is presented in five columns. The first column shows the unrestricted activity. The next three columns show restricted activity, and the fifth column shows the total of all activities.
Under revenues, BYM collected $499,374 in apportionment. Our total contributions were $731,552. This total includes unrestricted contributions of $537,247 and restricted contributions of $194,305. For comparison, our unrestricted contributions in 2019 were $212,409 and our restricted contributions were $105,113.
Investment income was $163,944 which includes unrealized gains of $124,648. In 2019, the total investment income was $12,517. Total revenues were just over $1.5 million. In previous years, this total is about $2 million, the decrease due mainly to the cancellation of camps.
The expenditures are listed next which total $1,294,390, all unrestricted.
The bottom line shows an excess of revenues over expenditures of $241,693 of which a little over $214,000 was unrestricted. In 2019, our unaudited excess of revenues over expenditures was $102,666.
Keep in mind that, of the $214,000 unrestricted surplus, approximately $124,000 was unrealized gains. This gain could be reduced or eliminated depending on changes in the value of our investments. However, we are encouraged to end the year with in a stronger financial position. According to my calculations, our unaudited unrestricted reserves on December 31, 2020 are approximately $398,000. It may be slightly less as some of the investment income will most likely be allocated to restricted activities.
We are going to have an audit of the books for 2020, something which we did not do for 2019. So, all these amounts are subject to change as a result of the audit.
Hopewell Centre Meeting
Interim Meeting: March 6, 2020
This development report, above all else, is about gratitude. How else can we possibly describe last year, 2020? G.K. Chesterton observed that “gratitude is happiness doubled by wonder.”
So please wonder with me as we trace the journey of this past year.
We embarked in January 2020 finishing the prior year with $328,700 in contributions. Our first quarter ran smoothly, until March. In March the pandemic precipitated a harsh decline in BYM assets and in giving overall to nonprofits in the United States and Canada. By May, BYM had limited reserves and just one month of operating revenue. At the same time, the pandemic also triggered camp closures, cutbacks in staff, and suspended or re-designed programming.
What we encountered next in this journey was unlike the experience of many other mid-size nonprofits in the country. While our nonprofit peers finished the year with a decrease of 5.5% in contributed revenue, BYM gratefully realized an incredible 122 % increase over the prior year. How this happened is the story of many Friends in our extended BYM family. Did you know, for example, that –
- Quaker contributions rose from donors residing in 36 states
- Sustaining Quakers maintained their steadfast monthly and quarterly giving and new Sustaining Quakers joined them – increasing their ranks by 25%
- Many gifts arrived attached to notes of encouragement and affection—what light you shared!
Total revenue for FY2020 amounted to $728,935. The cost to raise $1 dollar in revenue was 20 cents or for every dollar spent, $5 dollars was raised
It is the sum of Friends’ collective gifts—large and small—that together sustain the Yearly Meeting. What we witnessed is our community recognizing the need to connect, holding up the value of our bond as Friends, and enjoying the realization of what we share. Across the Mid-Atlantic States, we witnessed this on a level that transcends financial proportions.
The impact of our communities’ generosity is demonstrated by the ability of our Yearly Meeting to continue making vital connections between Friends across the Mid-Atlantic and beyond. Together, you foster stability for the Yearly Meeting and its continued services and communications. Because of this stability, happily we also now anticipate re-opening camps this summer.
Some unique aspects of the journey in 2020, include:
- The benevolence of 96 camp families who gave a collective $84,400 to help offset $463,000 in fixed costs at camps (costs that endured despite the closure of camps.)
- The timely and generous additional revenue, above and beyond apportionment, sent by local Meetings who saw the urgency to bolster the resources of their Yearly Meeting.
- The magnanimity of one Shiloh family who with appreciation for the generative experience of camp made a transformative gift to improve the facilities and afford better equity in gear for scholarship campers
This journey in 2020 shows that we are indeed in this together. Gratitude and wonder accompany the joy of this realization. Truly, we are a blessed community bound together by what we hold dear.
Thanks to the sustainability that you provided, we now stand poised to prepare for our anniversary year ahead in 2022. We have the next nine months to envision how, as individuals and as local Meetings, we will commemorate a very special time. Our anniversary will be a confluence of our past and our future. Our story as Friends is still unfolding – thanks to you.
FY2020 by the numbers:
- • Total giving reaches $728,935
- • 939 total donors made almost 3,000 gifts
- • The average gift size rose by $86 over the prior year
- • Giving Tuesday on 12/1 was very successful – and the $32,000 challenge match was met with $91,000 donated.
- • Generous gifts from 45 local Meetings (and Yearly Meetings), above and beyond apportionment, total $105,442
- • The year ended with 142 Sustaining Quakers, a 25% increase
- • Camping Program realized $208,000 in revenue / $84,000 of which came from camp fees that were donated back to BYM despite the closure of camps in 2020
- • The Barry Morley Fund grew in Memory of Stephen Gilbert, which earmarks scholarship money for camps (this will be useful in helping to ensure the success of the new sliding scale fee system at camps.)
- • STRIDE grants totaling $6,200 accompanied other grants totaling $27,500
- • One Catoctin Bathhouse loan was forgiven
- • An additional four Friends shared their intention to make a planned gift
Thank you Friends.