2021 Yearbook Twelfth Month 2020 Called Interim Meeting Attachments
Laura joined the Yearly Meeting staff as the Administrative Assistant in 2018. Since then she has been a vital part of the behind-the-scenes work necessary to keep the Yearly Meeting office functioning properly. Among her accomplishments has been completing the migration of data from our prior database, an effort that began in 2014 and required manually coding information in over 10,000 individual records; updating the camp alumni database with the information of over 500 camp families each fall; and the never-ending effort of keeping up with changes of address and other contact information. Her careful attention to detail and cheery attitude about work that many would find difficult and tedious have been a benefit to the entire staff. We thank Laura for her service to the Yearly Meeting and wish her great success in the future.
Acting General Secretary’s Report
Twelfth Month 2020 Called Interim Meeting
Much has happened in the Yearly Meeting office since my last written report for the Ninth Month 2020 Called Interim Meeting. The highlights include:
- The search for the next Camping Program Manager was initiated, with over 120 applications received. With the wonderful support of the interview committee of Sam McCormick, Betsy Roush, Guli Fager, Dyresha Harris, and Robert Finegar, we narrowed that list to first 40, then 12, then 4 candidates. At the time of my writing this report, we are not yet ready to announce who has been hired. However, it is my hope that I will update this report in person at Interim Meeting to introduce Jane Megginson’s successor.
- The difficult decisions required to bring the 2021 budget into balance in a way that is conservative but hopeful about what we can do as a community were made, and approved.
- The 2020 Yearbook finally went to the printer just after Thanksgiving. I expect that we will be able to mail copies to those who will be receiving printed volumes shortly before Christmas.
- David Hunter and volunteers have prepared the Infirmary at Catoctin Quaker Camp to be able to be rented out over the winter. We have had a surprising level of interest in the Caretaker’s cabin since it began to be listed on AirBnB, and we look forward to similar popularity with the Infirmary.
- Mary Braun and the Development Committee have become even more busy than usual. The Winter Appeal letter may already have arrived in your mailboxes, and you probably have received information about #GivingTuesday and the challenge grant. If you enjoyed the staff’s Thank You video last week, the credit goes to Mary and Sunshine. It is through their work and the support of everyone that the Yearly Meeting has been able to work through the challenges of 2020. Mary’s imagination and innovation in finding new ways to inspire all of us to support the Yearly Meeting in 2021 will continue to be key to our being able to move ahead.
- Khalila Lomax and members of STRIDE have begun a series of discussions with the rest of the staff to better educate all of us on what the program has been doing in recent months and how they are beginning to plan for 2021. This is an exciting idea that I know all of the staff are benefiting from. In the future, we are going to look at having each member of the staff do something similar. With all of the changes that every program has faced, this framework creates a new opportunity to share our work with each other.
- In the last few weeks, Sunshine Klein has led the first Junior Young Friends conference, the second Young Friends conference, and a Friendly Adult Presence training. Both the JYF and YF conferences were virtual, but they are finding new ways to build and support their communities despite not being able to be physically together. The Young Friends who registered early for the conference even had boxes of brownie mix and other treats delivered to their door!
- Jane Megginson and the Camping Program Committee have continued to work on planning for the 2021 camp season. This is always a massive project that requires dedicated work in more “normal” times. For 2021 we face a seemingly infinite range of possible scenarios depending on what happens with the COVID-19 pandemic. Questions range from “will there be camp at all” to “will any campers come” and so many more. They have taken the opportunities of the unknown to consider new ideas including introducing a sliding scale for registration fees similar to the Pay as Led being considered for Annual Session. We think that a sliding scale will make coming to camp possible for more families inside and outside the Yearly Meeting. Many of these decisions will have to be finalized very soon, and we hope to be including the new Camping Program Manager in those choices.
I mentioned the approval of the 2021 budget in my list of highlights, because it absorbed much of my time and energy since September. It is also a useful reference for looking back at what has happened in 2020 and what the Yearly Meeting is looking forward to in 2021. We learned in 2020 that assuming things would work out if we just kept doing what had always worked in the past isn’t a good system. We learned that it is sometimes easier to make a promise to ourselves than to actually live up to the implications of that promise, but that failing to keep the promise can have severe and long lasting results.
In the past, we have approved budgets that included promises of fund-raising that then weren’t kept. The 2021 budget is the result. Similarly, in the past we have promised ourselves, and most importantly our younger (or newer even if not chronologically younger) Friends that everyone is equal, that we try to always act with integrity, and that we are in community with everyone else. In recent months we have heard members of our community express pain and anger. Some reported feeling excluded and ignored as things were happening to react to the closure of the camps and the Yearly Meeting’s fiscal crisis this spring. Others described feeling that they felt less equal because of issues of membership that didn’t seem to fit with our deeper testimonies. Yet others have questioned our willingness to live up to the promises we have made to ourselves in being an anti-racist community.
I believe that when Friends approved budgets with bigger promises of financial support, they thought they were acting with good stewardship. I also believe that when decisions were made and actions taken in the last months that no one intended to cause the pain and anger we have seen. A Young Adult Friend who I deeply respect has been talking with me. I shared my certainty that none of the sources of pain being reported were intentional. They used the analogy of having your toe stepped on by accident and noted that the fact of the accident doesn’t remove the pain of the sore toe. Their analogy makes a point. But it fails to go to the next step, that we must first apologize for the unintended harm, and then work to learn to not do it again.
Our entire Yearly Meeting community has seen that we can find new solutions to difficult problems when it is needed. We learned how to worship, do business, and build community while physically apart from each other. Many have begun thinking about how to adapt our traditional practices from non-pandemic times to include the benefits of the new solutions even when many of us are able to return to being together. We are beginning to apply that same energy to find new solutions to our deeper problems. The Faith and Practice Committee has been asked to consider the meaning of membership in the modern day. The Manual of Procedure Committee has been asked to consider the implications of the provisions of our procedure in light of our commitments. The Camping Program Committee is rethinking many elements of how the camps operate. The Youth Programs are finding new ways to serve our children who can’t be together.
All of these changes, and so many more, are needed and important. But we must learn from what we have heard in the recent months. Through the hard work and generosity of many Friends, the Yearly Meeting isn’t in the kind of crisis we faced last spring. We have the time to do what should have been done then, but wasn’t. We must include everyone in the conversations and decisions to come. When someone says they feel ignored or excluded, we must make sure that we take the time to hear them and make sure they know they have been heard, and valued. The Yearly Meeting can grow and become the valuable connection that we all desire only when every person knows that they are loved and accepted.
During Eleventh Month 2020 Interim Meeting, there was a discussion that grew out of the proposed new job description for the General Secretary. Included in that discussion were a number of very kind comments about Friends’ appreciation for my service over the years. I want to thank everyone for those comments, and for all of the other messages of support that I have received in recent months. They mean a great deal to me. Another element of that discussion was suggestions that the search for the next General Secretary be delayed. I didn’t speak during the meeting, as it felt inappropriate at the time. But I want to be clear that I am fully in support of the current plan to proceed with the search process immediately. Whomever the next General Secretary is, they deserve the opportunity to be fully engaged in the conversations and discernment that the entire Yearly Meeting need to have. Doing the search now while we are just beginning our work gives the new General Secretary the best chance to succeed in their service.
The discussion last month emphasized the general desire for a “truly open national search process.” This desire, and many of the deeper feelings that were raised, should be part of an understanding of the wider changes that the Yearly Meeting is being asked to consider. The General Secretary Search Committee being proposed is made up of Friends who have a range of experience of our community. They need the guidance, and support, of us all as they take up their work.
Proposed Position Description
Title: General Secretary, Baltimore Yearly Meeting of the Religious Society of Friends
FLSA Status: Exempt
Reports to: Clerk, Supervisory Committee of the Baltimore Yearly Meeting
As a participant in the Religious Society of Friends, the General Secretary provides Spirit-led, strategic leadership to Baltimore Yearly Meeting. The charge includes planning, supervising staff, raising funds, and monitoring programs, finances, and property.
The General Secretary works to strengthen a culture of consultation, accountability, outreach, and inclusion.
Functions and Responsibilities
Responsibilities for the Staff
- Hires and evaluates employees consistent with the policies and procedures of the Personnel Handbook, while supporting their professional growth.
- Supervises the staff, including working towards achieving the goals of the Yearly Meeting
- Builds relationships among the staff and volunteers that facilitate communication, consultation and cooperation, and that nurture love and unity within the Yearly Meeting community.
- Represents the staff’s interests to the Yearly Meeting.
Working with the Components of Baltimore Yearly Meeting
- Demonstrates, through example, being rooted in Faith and Practice and in the practices of the Religious Society of Friends
- Serves as a voice for and about Baltimore Yearly Meeting
- Cultivates inclusiveness across the Yearly Meeting with particular attention to young adults, people of color, people of diverse socioeconomic backgrounds, and people of diverse sexual orientations and gender identities.
- Initiates the development of policy changes or new policies as needed.
- Ensures that Yearly Meeting policies and decisions accord with applicable laws and regulations.
- Shares relevant information about BYM and its activities within the Yearly Meeting and to the public.
- Supports the Presiding Clerk and the Clerk of Interim Meeting in planning and carrying out meeting activities and events.
- Supports the Program Committee in the planning and implementation of Annual Session.
- Enhances opportunities to collaborate with Friends’ organizations, institutions, etc. that will expand the reach of the Yearly Meeting and the Religious Society of Friends.
- Ensures the smooth running of the many programs of the Yearly Meeting, including the camping programs, programs for youth throughout the year, and various retreats.
- Supports individual Meetings and Worship Groups of Baltimore Yearly Meeting
Fundraising and Managing Resources
- Manages fiscal resources in keeping with the articulated vision of the Yearly Meeting.
- Helps to develop the budget each year in conjunction with appropriate committees
- Works with the staff and the committees to meet budgetary objectives.
- Supports Development staff and Development Committee members in seeking funding from potential donors.
- Monitors applications for grants and their administration and evaluation.
- Ensures that record management procedures are clear and consistently implemented.
- Approves and monitors contracts.
- Manages the maintenance of the BYM office building and grounds, and the camp properties.
- Bachelor’s degree, or:
- Some college education and exceptional management experience in lieu of a formal degree
- Demonstrated commitment to the Quaker beliefs and practices that underlie the work of Baltimore Yearly Meeting.
- Active involvement as a member or attender in the Religious Society of Friends as well as experience working on Quaker Committees, organizations, or other Quaker activities.
- Experience of Quaker decision-making such as in committees or business meetings.
- Completion of at least 5 years of staff supervision, fiscal oversight, and program administration.
- Demonstrated success working within an organizational structure that includes committee decision-making and consultative processes.
- Experience in building relationships across ethnocultural groups.
- Experience in making presentations to internal and external audiences.
- Experience in working with all age groups, including youth camp programs, is an asset.
Other Required Skills and Abilities
Excellent interpersonal skills
Willingness to travel frequently and, at times, to work unconventional hours.
Salary and Benefits
Salary is commensurate with qualifications and experience. Benefits include: health plan coverage; long-term disability insurance; term-life insurance; eleven paid holidays; annual, personal medical, maternity/paternity, adoption and sabbatical leaves; retirement contributions.
Baltimore Yearly Meeting, a spiritual community, welcomes all to its programs. The Yearly Meeting is an equal opportunity employer and does not discriminate in hiring based on race, gender, sexual orientation, disability, marital status, age, or national origin.
Physical Demands Criminal Background Check
The physical demands described here are representative of those that must be met by an employee to successfully perform the essential functions of this job. Reasonable accommodations will be made to enable individuals with disabilities to perform these functions.
Criminal Background Check
A criminal background check is required for any new staff person.