2020 Yearbook Annual Session 2020
of Baltimore Yearly Meeting
of the Religious Society of Friends
of Baltimore Yearly Meeting
of the Religious Society of Friends
Held Virtually Due to Pandemic
Y2020-2 Introductions and Tech Review. Ken Stockbridge (Patapsco), Presiding Clerk, welcomed Friends to this Annual Session of the 349th year of Baltimore Yearly Meeting. Friends assisting with this session include Meg Boyd Meyer (Stony Run), Recording Clerk; Jason Eaby (Nottingham) and Mackenzie Morgan (Adelphi), sound and technology managers; and the Prayerful Presences, Gary Sandman (Roanoke) and Melanie Gifford (Adelphi).
Ken spent a few minutes demonstrating technical features of Zoom to be used in this Meeting.
Lisimba Smith (Friends Meeting of Washington) was one.
Letters of introduction for visitors are available on-line.
The following individuals introduced themselves:
Ashley Wilson, Grassroots Advocacy Manager for FCNL
Sharon Gates (Orange Grove Meeting, Pacific Yearly Meeting)
Earl Smith, ( Stillwater Meeting, Ohio Yearly Meeting)
SY Bowland, (Morningside Monthly Meeting, NYYM)
Tom Roberts, (Noblesville Monthly Meeting, Western YM)
The entire group present, using break-out rooms, introduced themselves to several other participants and responded to the Query “What challenges and possibilities does the present moment offer me?“
Y2020-4 Program Committee. Barb Platt (Sandy Spring), Clerk of Program Committee, welcomed all. She noted that almost 300 Friends have registered for this virtual Annual Session with 18 visiting from outside BYM and 68 first-time attenders. She reminded Friends of our theme: Courage, Faith, and Hope to Love Across Our Differences and read from Thomas Merton:
You do not need to know precisely what is happening, or exactly where it is all going. What you do need is to recognize the possibilities and challenges offered by the present moment, and to embrace them with courage, faith and hope. In such an event, courage is the authentic form taken by love.
Conjectures of a Guilty Bystander, 1965.
Y2020-5 Epistle Committee. The Clerk nominated the following Friend to serve on the Epistle Committee: Meg Regal (Sandy Spring). Friends are invited to communicate with the Epistle Committee via e-mail. Approval of this session’s epistle will be laid over until September Interim Meeting. Friends APPROVED this nomination to the Epistle Committee.
Y2020-6 Approval-Ready Business Items. The Clerk called attention to the published list of approval-ready business items, explaining that these decision items are published with full explanations for all to read. They will be brought to the floor of the Thursday 7pm business session this week. Friends are asked to read the materials, contact the individuals listed with questions or concerns, and resolve these prior to Thursday, July 30 if possible.
Stephanie Bean (Adelphi) for Presiding Clerk of Baltimore Yearly Meeting.
This nomination becomes part of the Search Committee Report on the approval-ready list, which will be brought to the floor for action on Thursday evening, July 30.
Y2020-8 Reading. The Epistle of the 2020 Friends General Conference Virtual Pre-Gathering of Friends of Color and Their Families was read by Lisimba Smith, Jose Woss, Rashid Darden, and Sabrina McCarthy, of Friends Meeting of Washington. The Clerk asked Friends to hold this message in their prayers this week and beyond. The Epistle is ATTACHED.
Y2020-9 Growing Diverse Leadership Report on Use of Anti-Racism Declaration and Queries. Peirce Hammond (Bethesda), Clerk of Growing Diverse Leadership (GDL) Committee, Sam McCormick, of Philadelphia Strengthening Transformative Relationships in Diverse Environments (STRIDE) group, and Khalila Lomax, STRIDE Coordinator each spoke. Friends ACCEPTED the Growing Diverse Leadership report, which is ATTACHED.
Peirce recognized the individuals who read the previous epistle. Khalila was thanked for her work this year.
The Declaration and Anti-Racist Queries were adopted last year by Baltimore Yearly Meeting. Reports from Meetings and committees ranged from reading the Queries in Meetings to adopting the Declaration as a theme for the year. Some Meetings adjusted the queries.
The committee asks that Khalila Lomax be permitted to do anti-racism training in local Meetings next year.
GDL and STRIDE have found that we are not living up to the queries to the extent that we should. The committees feel that Camping Program Committee has not adequately dealt with incidents which occurred last summer. Another situation occurred when funds raised for STRIDE were used for other purposes without consultation with STRIDE.
Friends were reminded that the STRIDE program is a year-round program. Participants in the STRIDE program are individuals who have often not had the advantages of many Friends. A camper who experienced racism will not be returning.
STRIDE is a program of Baltimore Yearly Meeting and is the work of the entire Yearly Meeting.
GDL is working with Supervisory Committee to help Yearly Meeting develop accountability around these concerns.
The report was noted as highlighting significant problems we have: a gap in our queries and a gap in our thinking. “It can’t be enough to change how we are among ourselves. It also has to be about anti-racism towards the world. This report showed the problems only on what was focussed inwardly. We have not faithfully worked through and thought through how we are racist in the wider world. This report has showed us a gap in our overall anti-racist framework.”
A Friend asked that the queries be read. Peirce read them. The Presiding Clerk reminded Friends that these will be ‘front and center’ in all our decision-making this week.
A word of appreciation was expressed for this report and the presentation of the FGC Epistle read earlier. This report does point out things that we need to do. “We seek to heal, and we also seek to stop racist behavior in our community.”
Peirce reported that he had received a letter from Camping Program Committee which indicates that a conversation between GDL and the committee which is needed will be held.
Y2020-12 Introductions. Ken Stockbridge (Patapsco), Presiding Clerk, welcomed Friends to this Annual Session of the 349th year of Baltimore Yearly Meeting. Friends assisting with this session include Meg Boyd Meyer (Stony Run), Recording Clerk; Jason Eaby (Nottingham), MacKenzie Morgan (Adelphi), and Wayne Finegar (Sandy Spring), sound and technology managers; and the Prayerful Presences, Rita Willett (Richmond) and Rebecca Richards (Gunpowder).
Allen Stockbridge (Bellingham MM, North Pacific YM)
Katrina Mason (Claremont MM, Pacific YM)
All attending were placed into break-out rooms to respond to the query “What gives you courage?” while introducing themselves to each other.
Y2020-14 Epistle Committee. The Clerk presented the names of Melanie Gifford (Adelphi) and Patti Nesbitt (Sandy Spring) for membership on the Epistle Committee. Friends were encouraged to write to the committee with suggestions for what should be shared about this Annual Session. A Friend enquired whether a Young Adult Friend had been sought. The Clerk described the process he uses, looking for diversity and other things such as being present for the week. We APPROVED these nominations to the Epistle Committee.
Y2020-15 Report from Interim Meeting. The Presiding Clerk reminded Friends that matters approved by Interim Meeting and forwarded for information to Annual Session are included with the Advance Reports. In addition, nominations of Cathy Tunis (Herndon) and Bill Mims (Langley Hill) to continue serving on Search Committee appear there as part of the proposed list of approval-ready business items.
Marcy Baker Seitel, Clerk of Interim Meeting reported.
Marcy felt that the advance report needed to be longer due to the pandemic, since it seems that there are few detailed reports from the last pandemic.
She noted that Friends listen to each voice and look for a path together.
Unity, urgency, and trust are the things that she wishes to bring to our attention.
Marcy says that the Meeting feels happiest when feeling in unity, which she experiences as strong and also very fragile. Being willing to step up for each other is what helps build unity.
Our sense of urgency can both unite and divide us. Accepting each other’s urgency is important.
Trust can be hurt when things are brought into the open. A sense of building and repairing trust is how we have trust. Seek to build a deeper sense of trust between yourself and those you are with.
She thanked those present for working with her and together over the past four years.
STRIDE feels gratitude to Khalila Lomax, the STRIDE coordinator, who started all-STRIDE Movie Nights and arranges joint meetings of the STRIDE groups from different areas. The STRIDE annual report, on which their oral report is based, will appear in the Annual Reports section of the Yearbook.
Some STRIDE grants were reallocated to support camp. This affected on-going relationships with STRIDE families. However, since camp was cancelled, STRIDE has maintained relationships with campers and their families. STRIDE continues to provide needed items to families related to the pandemic, such as masks and financial support. In addition, STRIDE members maintain relationships with community partners in each location, such as Horton’s Kids in DC, the McKim Center in Baltimore, and Puentes de Salud in Philadelphia. The Fresh Air Fund provided assistance for summer programming for STRIDE campers from Baltimore.
STRIDE is pleased that the Camping Program Committee will be working together with STRIDE to improve communication and heal those hurt last summer by racist situations.
STRIDE hopes to bring some STRIDE families to camp on August 14-16 to enjoy a weekend at camp. Some former counselors will also participate. STRIDE noted that the group expects to follow the safety guidelines established for the rental of cabins at Catoctin.
STRIDE invites all of BYM to participate every other Thursday on zoom for Movie Night and discussions. In addition, STRIDE always needs nice backpacking sleeping bags and children’s sized backpacks. Friends are advised to seek out and support mutual aid networks near themselves--that is, listening and hearing what people need and providing it for them. Other things Friends can do to counter racism include donating to local bail funds and/or legal support and organizing against state-sanctioned violence and racism.
A Friend brought attention to the fact that Opequon Creek is being threatened by pipelines which also will have a predominant effect on minority communities nearby.
Gratitude was expressed for STRIDE and its work. Thanks were also expressed to STRIDE for bringing forward problems which have been experienced.
Rosie and Sam were congratulated and thanked for this report. A question was raised whether the Charlottesville group will restart, but no one knows.
Y2020-19 Introductions. Ken Stockbridge (Patapsco), Presiding Clerk, welcomed Friends to this Annual Session of the 349th year of Baltimore Yearly Meeting. Friends assisting with this session include Meg Boyd Meyer (Stony Run), Recording Clerk; Jason Eaby (Nottingham) sound and technology manager; and the Prayerful Presences, Windy Cooler (Sandy Spring) and Rebecca Pickard (Gunpowder).
Y2020-22 Manual of Procedure. Friends APPROVED the three changes proposed in the Advance Report (ATTACHED): a description of Quaker Religious Education Collaborative (QREC), a description of Right Sharing of World Resources (RSWR), and a revised description for William Penn House, which was moved into the description for Friends Committee on National Legislation (FCNL).
Y2020-23 Nominating Committee. Friends APPROVED the nominations indicated in the roster included in the Committee’s Advance Report. These will be reflected in the respective Committee and Organization Representatives listings in the Yearbook. The report accompanying the roster is ATTACHED.
Y2020-24 Search Committee. Friends APPROVED nominations of Stephanie Bean (Adelphi) to serve as Presiding Clerk, Meg Boyd Meyer (Stony Run) to serve as Clerk of Interim Meeting and Rebecca Richards (Gunpowder) to serve as Recording Clerk of Interim Meeting. Each term is for two years.
Friends APPROVED nomination of Ramona Buck (Patapsco) to a two-year term on Supervisory Committee and noted that Stephanie Bean, Presiding Clerk, and Meg Boyd Meyer, Clerk of Interim Meeting will also become members of Supervisory Committee.
Friends APPROVED the nominations of Chip Tucker (Charlottesville), Debbi Sudduth (Goose Creek), Melissa Meredith (Bethesda), and Janet Eaby (Nottingham) to serve three year terms on Nominating Committee.
Y2020-25 Working Group on Racism. Friends RECEIVED a report (ATTACHED) from the Working Group on Racism including very recent activities of local Meetings (Change Groups) on racial justice work.
Y2020-26 Interim Meeting Report. Friends ACCEPTED the ATTACHED report from Interim Meeting. Friends APPROVED appointment of Catherine Tunis (Herndon) and Bill Mims (Langley Hill) to continue serving on Search Committee for two years.
Y2020-27 Peace and Social Concerns Committee. Friends APPROVED endorsing the the Quaker Statement on Potential Israeli Annexation of the West Bank (https://bit.ly/QkrStmtAnnx) of July 1, 2020, by the Friends Committee on National Legislation, the American Friends Service Committee, and Quaker Peace and Social Witness. Friends are encouraged to contact their members of Congress and ask that they do all in their power to prevent Israel from annexing these lands. Friends are urged to communicate that Quakers in this region are unified in their opposition to annexation. See ATTACHMENT Y2020-27A.
Friends APPROVED endorsing the Health Equity Resource Communities Resolution of the Maryland Citizens’ Health Initiative. See ATTACHMENT Y2020-27B.
Friends CONCURRED in recognizing Quaker Voice of Maryland Working Group under the care of Peace and Social Concerns Committee to advocate more effectively on state policy that speaks to our testimonies.
Friends ACCEPTED the charge of Quaker Voice of Maryland Working Group as reflected in the attached report. This group has been active since March 2019, as reported in Interim Meetings in March and June 2019. Maryland Friends are encouraged to go to Quaker Voice of Maryland website www.quakervoicemd.org and sign up to be on the contact list or to volunteer to become more involved. See ATTACHMENT Y2020-27C.
Y2020-27 Friends Meeting School. A visual presentation was made by BYM Board Members and the new head of Friends Meeting School. See https://youtu.be/BtQH_TTLWYg. The Annual Report of BYM’s Representatives to the Board appears in the Annual Reports section of the Yearbook.
Y2020-28 Supervisory Committee. Friends RECEIVED a report from Supervisory Committee (ATTACHED), which provided a position description for the Acting General Secretary, as promised at Summer Interim Meeting.
The Clerk expressed appreciation to all for preparing for approval-ready business items.
Gratitude was expressed to Nominating Committee and Young Adult Friends for helping us improve the number of young adults who will be serving on committees.
Y2020-29 Clerk of Interim Meeting. Meg Boyd Meyer (Stony Run), incoming Clerk of Interim Meeting, reminded Friends that Interim Meeting is primarily related to committee functioning and asks all committees to get in touch with her about who will serve as clerks following Annual Session.
Y2020-31 Treasurer’s Report. Jim Riley (Hopewell-Centre), Treasurer, reported on the financial position as of June 30, 2020. His written report is ATTACHED, including thanks to staff for working with all of us.
BYM is doing well financially, with a small surplus for the first 6 months, primarily because Meetings sent apportionment early and individuals made contributions.
Staff reductions at BYM began on July 1. BYM has reason to believe a federal ‘loan’ will be forgiven, which will permit it to be counted as revenue. Deferred revenue still includes some camp fees, some of which will be returned and some may become income.
The Treasurer was thanked for the clarity of the report.
BYM no longer is facing a short-term cash flow problem; however, BYM has not raised the money it has anticipated needing in the long term, so contributions are welcome. Apportionments are welcome whenever they come.
Y2020-32 Stewardship and Finance Committee. Terence McCormally (Herndon) co-clerk, presented. The ATTACHED report was ACCEPTED.
Terence informed Friends that Baltimore Yearly Meeting had a budget problem before the pandemic because BYM had made plans to spend more money than BYM had raised. The 2021 budget will have to reflect whatever the income actually is this year; not what was previously anticipated.
Stewardship & Finance Committee is responsible for determining the annual apportionment and also for planning a budget for the coming year. This year, that planning is happening later than usual. Friends can expect to see a budget this fall to review and approve in November. Apportionment will be the same percentage of income next year as last year. Since this will be based on income in 2019, Meetings may not be able to pay as much in 2021; consequently, Stewardship and Finance Committee will be contacting Meetings.
Friends expressed appreciation to the Stewardship and FInance Committee. A member of the Development Committee suggests that 25% apportionment is the maximum that many small Meetings can afford. “The Yearly Meeting as a whole needs to take a serious look at major expenses. We cannot afford the things we have planned.”
A committee clerk asked about the budget process; all committees will be asked to request funds, but these may not all be possible in the budget. The S&F committee plans to prepare a realistic budget.
A Friend noted that those who represent BYM at other organizations often get funds from local Meetings or other individuals to support their travel. Other committees of BYM should consider doing this. It was noted that relying on the private expenditure of funds does limit the potential for some to participate.
The Development Committee appreciates the extensive work by Mary Braun, the Development DIrector, who has visited Meetings, attended training sessions and written and received three grants in the last few months.
Appreciation was also expressed for the increased number of gifts received as BYM has faced financial problems. 190 camp families gave their deposit to BYM. In addition, 12 Monthly Meetings made contributions and 27 gave apportionment gifts earlier than anticipated.
Friends were reminded that Amazon Smile and IGive will donate to BYM if you designate it when you make a purchase.
BYM’s 350th anniversary and the 100th anniversary of the camping program fall in 2022. If you would like to help coordinate celebrations, please let the BYM office know.
This fall, a small capital campaign will raise funds for capital projects for camps. These are on-going expenses and some work has been postponed due to financial difficulties.
Friends were thanked for their support for BYM and encouraged to remember BYM in their estate planning.
Discussion after the report made clear that additional conversations need to be held. It was acknowledged that difficulties were experienced in relation to STRIDE grants this year; the Development Committee and staff need to work with others. Growing Diverse Leadership (GDL) and STRIDE have reported that conversation between them and the Development Committee and staff did not happen in a timely way. GDL and STRIDE indicated that they will be working with Supervisory Committee to help address this situation.
- How do we find the hope to sustain and grow our community?
- How does our hope for deeper community depend on what happens inside each of us?
- How can a spiritually grounded community foster hope to face challenges together?
Y2020-37 Introductions. Ken Stockbridge (Patapsco), Presiding Clerk, welcomed Friends to this Annual Session of the 349th year of Baltimore Yearly Meeting. Friends assisting with this session include Meg Boyd Meyer (Stony Run), Recording Clerk; Jason Eaby (Nottingham) and Mackenzie Morgan, sound and technology managers; and the Prayerful Presences, Walter Brown (Langley Hill) and Greg Robb (Friends Meeting of Washington).
The Clerk told Friends of the long history of celebrating the Yearly Meeting as a community at the Friday business session, having the children and everyone present. Today the children will not be present; however, we will introduce the staff of the Yearly Meeting and find other ways to celebrate the Yearly Meeting.
One of the best pieces of advice I’ve ever gotten about clerking is “Just name it.” When you have no idea what to do... ‘just name it.’ So I have something to raise.
We have heard a number of concerns expressed over and over at this session. Last night it took us 30 minutes to approve the minute for a ten minute report.
Here are some things I am hearing: People have found several reports together confusing. These seem to be saying different things.
It’s been observed that what we’re experiencing is a conflict. I need to tell you that we’re not going to get the clarity we seek at this Annual Session.
I’ve been hearing about this for some time, and I’m still not clear. I need to hear more. What I think we have all heard and why this has caught our attention is that we hear pain, frustration, and anger. When we hear that from one part of the YM, we also hear a response to it that is itself an expression of pain, anger, and frustration. We have details to sort out; that much is clear. There is pain, anger, and frustration and it is hard to hear that.
It seems especially fitting to me that we name these things in this session in which we’re celebrating our YM. Conflict is hard. But, if we don’t experience it, we’re not growing.
Friends are really good at denying the existence of conflict—of avoiding it. There’s a problem with doing that. This has prompted me to consider the connection between conflict and community. And peace. I’ve come to appreciate that the Blessed Community that we are all striving to build is one in which we have a safe space to hear each other’s anger—that we can hear and feel and sympathise with each other’s pain.
Anger is a hard emotion for Quakers. I think because it is the emotion that is associated with violence. And our peace testimony calls us to abhor violence. But our testimony is not against anger; it is against violence. If we do not have a space in which people are able to express their anger, that only increases the chances for violence to come out.
So let’s be a community that can create space for us to allow our feelings. If we can build that sort of community and witness for peace in that way, we will be so much closer to becoming the Blessed Community.
Peace is not the absence of conflict. Peace is the ability to engage conflict in constructive ways that lead to resolution, to reconciliation, to transformation, and healing and wholeness.
So I wish I could tie everything up in a bow, but I’m not ready to do that. I don’t know who is. We’re working on it. But let’s celebrate that we’re in a community that can embrace situations like this in love and faithfulness.
Y2020-41 Welcoming Buckhannon as a Monthly Meeting. Buckhannon Preparative Meeting has asked to be recognized as a Monthly Meeting of Baltimore Yearly Meeting. It is currently under the care of Monongalia Monthly Meeting, which has approved its request and reported that to June Interim Meeting, which has forwarded the request to Annual Session, recommending approval. See IM2020-08 and Attachment IM2020-08.
Friends from Buckhannon were recognized. Judy Seaman introduced herself, speaking of the need to have a meeting in an area closer to where a number live. They worship in the chapel of West Virginia Wesleyan college. There are now 6 recorded members.
We WELCOMED Buckhannon Friends Meeting as a Monthly Meeting of Baltimore Yearly Meeting.
Takoma Park Preparative
Baltimore, Stony Run
Friends Meeting of Washington
Fauquier Friends Worship Group
Penn Hill Preparative
Augusta Worship Group
Norfolk Worship Group
Young Adult Friends asked to be recognized as a group; some who are actively involved are not members of other Meetings.
The Clerk indicated that there are some other worshipping communities.
Catoctin Quaker Camp
Opequon Quaker Camp
Shiloh Quaker Camp
Teen Adventure Quaker Camp
Laura Butler, Administrative Assistant, has been working on the database.
Harriet Dugan, Bookkeeping Assistant, is now working much more than expected.
Jane Megginson, Camp Program Manager is still on her vacation, since in 18 years of working for the Yearly Meeting, she has never had a vacation in the summer.
David Hunter, Camp Property Manager, is now at Catoctin all the time.
Khalila Lomax, STRIDE Coordinator, whose work life has changed into finding new ways to support STRIDE campers.
Mike Reed, Shiloh caretaker was not present.
Sunshine Klein, Youth Programs Director, beginning in September.
Mary Braun, Development Director, has led others in finding numerous new ways to support BYM.
The Clerk thanked them all for their dedication and service to this Yearly Meeting.
Betty Ansin Smallwood invited any staff person who needs assistance at the BYM office to ask her for help. She also has room for overnights at Friends House.
Those who were 80 years old or over were also recognized.
He sent a letter to every household on the BYM mailing list—almost $1800 was saved by having volunteers prepare and send the letters.
Wayne indicated that he is honored to be working with all of the staff and with the Yearly Meeting.
Wayne asked all present to look at the daily announcements this week and respond if interested in serving as a Volunteer Coordinator (on a volunteer basis) or in volunteering otherwise for the Yearly Meeting.
ATTACHED to these minutes is a letter that Wayne sent to all households on the BYM mailing list in early July 2020.
Y2020-45 Quaker Voice of Maryland. Molly Mitchell (Homewood) presented a report on Quaker Voice of Maryland, a Working Group of Peace and Social Concerns Committee, that helps Maryland Friends work together to advocate effectively on state legislation. See ATTACHMENT Y2020-27C.
The group has met monthly since March 2019 and bi-weekly during the Maryland legislative session. It has conducted outreach to 12 (of 19) local Meetings in Maryland, including those on the Eastern Shore that belong to Philadelphia Yearly Meeting. Membership in the group now includes representatives from 8 local Meetings. A website has been created and a logo developed. A workshop was held at Annual Session.
Current priorities selected by Meetings and individual Friends are climate justice, gun violence prevention and peace building, immigration and civil rights, and criminal justice and prison reform. Testimony was provided this legislative session on solitary isolation and criminal justice reform. Friends lobbied for climate justice and the Kirwan Commission on educational reform.
Friends were asked to focus on a second reading of the Preface for Faith and Practice, replacing the current preface with the Vision Statement of Baltimore Yearly Meeting, which includes the statement of the Elders at Balby which are in the current preface.
The Presiding Clerk reminded Friends that non-substantive matters do not have to be approved by the Meeting; the Committee can decide how to format these.
We APPROVED replacing the “Preface” in the current Faith and Practice with the current Yearly Meeting Vision Statement as described in the ATTACHED report.
Helen presented the following comments:
The Faith and Practice committee has been using the following queries in their work.
How do we make manifest our faith through our practice not only in our own faith community, but also in the world?
How can our document, Faith and Practice of Baltimore Yearly Meeting, best express our understanding of Quaker faith and practice in a way that unites rather divides?
As you work through the “Marriage Section” of Faith and Practice in your Meetings or your committees, and discern what comments to forward to us, we hope that you will use not only BYM’s Anti-racist queries to consider the document but your understanding of aspects of the vision statement which refer to marginalized groups of people within our midst. As we have worked through this section—some of us as writers, all of us as commenters and editors—we have worshipfully considered these words and the implications for Friends and our faith communities. We have often found that from our worshipful consideration of the proposed text, a Friend in our small committee will question something—a phrase or a concept—that opens our hearts and minds to another aspect of how these words may be construed and has led to some editing that we believe has made the document a better one.
As you move through this document in the coming months, your discernment with others gathered in worshipful consideration will make this a truer statement of how BYM Friends approach marriage. Each local Meeting has its own understanding, and must discern aspects in their own body. Please keep in mind that these are mere words that attempt to express our faith and our intention for practice.
In your communication with Faith and Practice Committee please be clear identifying
- The group by which the text was considered (local Meeting, BYM committee, etc)
- The process the group used to season the text
- To whom we should respond
- The text that may need editing/changing
If you need help or clarification with the process, please let us know!
We ACCEPTED the ATTACHED report of the Faith and Practice Committee as the first reading of the proposed revision to the Marriage section of Faith and Practice, also ATTACHED.
Friends are asked to make sure this is being looked at in their local Meetings, and Yearly Meeting committees, working groups, and other associated groups, and then direct feedback to firstname.lastname@example.org. The committee’s intention is to respond to each comment that comes from a group, and, if agreed upon by the committee, changes may be incorporated. It expects to bring this revision to next Annual Sessions for a second reading.
Y2020-49 Introductions. Ken Stockbridge (Patapsco), Presiding Clerk, welcomed Friends to this Annual Session of the 349th year of Baltimore Yearly Meeting. Friends assisting with this session include Meg Boyd Meyer (Stony Run), Recording Clerk; Jason Eaby (Nottingham), Mackenzie Morgan, and Wayne Finegar, sound and technology managers; and the Prayerful Presences, Tim Hunt (Langley Hill) and Windy Cooler (Sandy Spring).
A brief review of technical procedures was presented.
Y2020-50 Memorial Meeting. A Memorial Meeting was held by Zoom at 2 p.m. at which Friends read excerpts from Memorial Minutes or obituaries for the following Friends who were active in BYM and died this year: Naomi Mattheis (Friends House in Sandy Spring); Caroline Kirk Hagen (Nottingham); Richard Sutton (South Mountain); Don Gann (Stony Run); Judy Riggin (Alexandria). During the following worship Friends shared reflections. Their Memorial Minutes are ATTACHED.
Sharon Gates (Orange Grove MM, Pacific YM)
Hal Stockbridge, Olympia, Washington
Ted Stockbridge, Houston, Texas
Allen Stockbridge, (Bellingham MM, North Pacific YM)
Bobby Trice (FMW), FCNL
Y2020-52 Report on Opening Retreat. The Clerk noted that our practice has been to include reports on our opening retreat and plenary sessions for the record. He has asked selected Friends to prepare such reports. Friends APPROVED including these in the minutes here.
Sarah Bur (Homewood) prepared this report.
Over 70 Friends participated in our Opening Retreat, “Blessings on the Threshold,” led by Margaret Benefiel.
The retreat centered on a question from Sheryl Fullerton, “What if we can choose to experience this liminal space and time, this uncomfortable now, as a place and state of creativity, of construction and destruction, choice and transformation?” A liminal space is where you have left something behind, yet you are not yet fully in something else. It’s a transition space that well describes this time in our history. We reflected on the queries:
Do we have the courage to stand in the threshold, the liminal space between worlds?
To feel with depth what makes us tremble for ourselves and our world?
To seek with heart the way forward led by Spirit?
There was ample time allowed during the retreat for individual reflection away from Zoom. Margaret Benefiel skillfully used the Zoom platform to help us reflect and respond to the queries sharing one-on-one, in worship-sharing in small groups, and sharing with the whole group. As one retreat participant commented, Margaret Benefiel accomplished “more with less.” We left the retreat more grounded, more centered, and ready to participate with open hearts in the BYM annual sessions
Margaret Benefiel opened her talk reflecting on the 5 pandemics we currently face: COVID-19, racism, police brutality and militarization of police, climate change, and economic disparities. These are profoundly challenging times that we are called to respond to, with “courage, faith, and hope to love across our differences.”
Margaret advised us that traditional didactic approaches to teaching and learning do not change hearts and minds; neither does appealing to emotions. What is now proven is that deeper layers of knowing, through meditation and contemplation in community, is what changes lives.
She reminded us that Quakers have a rich heritage to call upon to change hearts and minds. Quakers have discovered this over and over again. John Woolman provides a clear example, lovingly meeting with Quaker slave holders, listening carefully, reflecting on what they had to say, and then meeting with them again to speak truth about the evils of slavery.
There is no template for loving across differences. However, Margaret left us with five ways to nurture courage, faith and hope, to speak truth to power across the divides:
Stay spiritually grounded through a daily spiritual practice
Stay connected in a spiritual community
Make a practice of loving across differences
Discern in spiritual community what is mine to do.
Discern in spiritual community what is ours to do.
Bridget Moix, the 2020 Carey Lecturer and a member of Friends Meeting of Washington, was introduced by Lauren Brownlee from Bethesda Meeting, who warmly characterized her as “the scholar, the peacemaker, and the Friend.”
Acknowledging the native inhabitants who spanned the native lands where our Meetings now reside, Moix began her inspiring and thought-provoking discourse by naming some of the events that have turned our world upside down in the last year. She reminded us that every moment calls us in some way and referenced the Merton quote from this year’s annual session’s theme:
“You do not need to know precisely what is happening, or exactly where it is all going. What you need is to recognize the possibilities and challenges offered by the present moment and to embrace them with courage, faith and hope. In such an event, courage is the authentic form taken by love.”
Moix shared her own journey through slides and stories, inviting us to ponder 3 questions: What is ending? What is essential? What is eternal?
What is ending? Disruption can be a time for improvisation and transformation. This is a prophetic moment for the Society of Friends with ministry to offer and the opportunity for radical transformation. If we are to live in integrity, the future cannot look like the past or the present.
The ending that is required is complacency of white people. As Friends, we are grappling with change and our denial. Building on D’Angelo’s concept, Moix named the “white Quaker fragility” which impedes us. As we become aware of our collusion with racism, we are challenged to reconcile our identity as good moral people with the recognition of our history of collusion. We need to change the narrative history of who we are. Transformation can be painful.
Moix described with candor her increasing discomfort with white Quaker spaces and her sudden recognition, “if it is hard for me, what is it like for Friends of Color?” She reflected, “How faithful you are, Friends of Color. How do those of us who are white do better to give space and support and respect to Friends of Color?”
Queries for “What is ending?”
Where do I find courage to confront racism in my life and how do I share my courage with others?
How do I practice hope in the midst of my own fear, shame, uncertainty?
How does my faith demonstrate the possibilities of the Beloved Community that already exist…and are still to come?
What is essential? Courage. Faith. Hope. Courage is collective and contagious, something we share and give to each other. Uncertainty is the space of hope, where we are liberated to try new possibilities. Faith and community give us courage and hope. Moix called us to live as if the future exists now. Be bold enough to build the beloved community here in this world now.
Queries for “What is essential?”
Where do I find courage to confront racism in my life and how do I share my courage with others?
How do I practice hope in the midst of my own fear, shame, uncertainty?
How does my faith demonstrate the possibilities of the Beloved Community that already exist…and are still to come?
What is eternal? Inspiring us with quotes on justice and love and possibility, Moix invited us toward transformation. She reminded us that joy and love can stand even in the moment of crisis. Describing a recent dream where young Friends were saying they were leaving our community, she said she awoke from the dream recognizing that, even in this moment of crisis, it was not yet too late. We were still in the struggle, standing on the precipice of change, together. The love is eternal and we can all stand tall in the possibilities of the moment.
Queries for “What is eternal?”
How do we let go of that which must end in our ourselves, our Society, and our world?
How do we draw on that which is essential – courage, faith, hope – for the strength we need to transform?
Y2020-55 Ministry and Pastoral Care: Spiritual State of the Yearly Meeting Report. Gary Sandman (Roanoke) and Greg Robb (Friends Meeting of Washington) read the Spiritual State of the Yearly Meeting report. The Report appears at the beginning of the Yearbook.
Friends ACCEPTED the report with appreciation.
Y2020-56 Anti-Racism Queries. The Clerk reminded Friends that BYM adopted queries on anti-racism last year and that these are on the daily agenda. Friends are encouraged to use these on every business item and also in their local Meetings.
Y2020-57 Reparations Action Working Group. Nikki RIchards (YAF) and Khalila Lomax, STRIDE Coordinator reported jointly. Their written report is ATTACHED.
A variety of activities are suggested for helping individuals and groups to examine how to dismantle wrongs that we are or have been party to. A list of examples is available from the Working Group. These include examples of the Quaker history of complicity in racism. Recognizing and apologizing are both necessary for past and present harms. BYM is recommended to consider whether its investments cause or have caused harm.
Friends are asked to work with the Reparations Action Working Group and Growing Diverse Leadership Committee to plan how to make reparations for past and present harm.
The Working Group hopes to work with Change Groups, Camp Groups, etc. during this year. Suggestions for legislation and working within the wider community are also in the documents the group has provided.
Friends are invited to become involved with the Reparations Action Working Group either in the core group—attending meetings—or the second group—receiving e-mails.
Friends APPROVED embracing the Working Group’s process for exploring the implementation of recommendations regarding reparations, which are laid out in their Advance Report: Recommendations for Engagement with Reparations. We encourage Friends of the Yearly Meeting and local Meetings to engage with this effort.
Y2020-58 Program Committee. Barb Platt (Sandy Spring), clerk of Program Committee, thanked all for attending Annual Session and asked each to fill out an evaluation online. She gave special thanks to the large group of volunteers who provided technology assistance.
The Pay-as-Led experiment was successful. Many people contributed above the suggested fee and many who might not have been able to attend were able to do so. This helps make our community more inclusive. The discernment on using this method for in-person sessions will continue in the year ahead. Carol Seddon was appreciated for five years of working to provide Junior Yearly Meeting.
Barbara Thomas (Annapolis) was introduced as the new clerk of Program Committee.
We were invited to return to Hood College in Frederick, Maryland next year in person for Annual Session, tentatively scheduled for August 2-8. 2021. The theme is: Seeking Wholeness: Knowing Our Shadow and Our Light. Lauren Brownlee (Bethesda) will be the opening night speaker. This will be the beginning of the 350th anniversary year for Baltimore Yearly Meeting.
Registrar’s Report: Baltimore Yearly Meeting Annual Session, August 1, 2020
Barbarie Hill, Registrar
|Total Adult Attendance||
|Number of BYM local Meetings represented||
|Attenders from outside BYM||
*In 2020 we experienced our first virtual Annual Session and our first trial of Pay-As-Led (PAL). The 342 registrants paid an average of just about $100 each, which was the suggested fee. 24% of registrants paid more than the suggested fee and 37% paid less than the suggested fee.
**In 2019 22 adults came for the first time on Saturday in response to our “Free Saturday” promotion
*** there was no programming specifically for YFs in 2020
Friends expressed appreciation for the work of the Program Committee, Barb Platt, the clerk of Program Committee, and all who helped with this Annual Session of Baltimore Yearly Meeting.
Helen Tasker read the epistle from the Women’s Retreat, which will appear in the epistles section of the Yearbook. She also noted that the Women’s Retreat will not be held in 2021.
Robert Finegar read the Young Friends Epistle, which will appear in the epistles section of the Yearbook. A special appreciation was presented to Jossie Dowling for helping Young Friends as she served 5 years as Youth Program Manager.
Epistle Committee members, Meg Regal (Sandy Spring), Mackenzie Morgan (Adelphi), Patti Nesbit (Sandy Spring), and Melanie Gifford (Adelphi), presented the first reading of the Epistle of Annual Sessions and showed it on screen.
Appreciation was expressed for their work. Friends were invited to share with the committee suggestions for the Epistle through an electronic link or via e-mail.
The second reading of the Epistle will take place at Interim Meeting on September 26. An epistle from Young Adult Friends will also be read at that time.
Y2020-60 Minute of Appreciation for Clerk of Interim Meeting, Marcy Baker Seitel. Jolee Robinson and Mackenzie Morgan (Adelphi) presented a minute of appreciation for the out-going clerk of Interim Meeting, Marcy Baker Seitel (Adelphi).
The Yearly Meeting is grateful to Martha (Marcy) Baker Seitel (Adelphi) for her faithful service as Clerk of Interim Meeting for the last four years. Marcy has stayed centered during sometimes difficult business meetings, always attempting to reflect the sense of the meeting rather than working with a particular outcome in mind She also worked to strengthen many Yearly Meeting committees and held breakfast sessions on Interim Meeting days to support committee clerks. These sessions were especially helpful for new clerks. We appreciate the depth of Marcy’s concern for the success of the Yearly Meeting and the Spirit-led focus she brought to her work.
Marcy led us into the great unknown of clerking Zoom business meetings. We are grateful.
Marcy’s combination of willingness to learn, modesty, and incredible capacity at learning were appreciated. She would grow from one Meeting to the next. Thank you.
We APPROVED this minute of appreciation.
Bill Mims (Langley Hill) presented a minute of appreciation for out-going Presiding Clerk, Ken Stockbridge (Patapsco). Participants in the meeting made suggestions which became part of the minute.
Ken Stockbridge has served Baltimore Yearly Meeting as Presiding Clerk for six years, from 2014-2020.
During Ken’s leadership, Baltimore Yearly Meeting experienced a number of transitions and crises. It recognized the need to grow diversity in its programs and membership and took the STRIDE program under its care. The location of the Yearly Meeting annual sessions changed and later even moved to a “virtual” online meeting for 2020, due to the novel coronavirus pandemic. Ken’s facility, ease, and confidence in using technology have truly been impressive and helpful. The camping program, at the heart of the Yearly Meeting, has been through financial and physical changes. Ken visited BYM camps and talked with individuals there, drawing them into participation in other parts of the Yearly Meeting. Throughout all of this, Ken’s steady leadership has enabled BYM to continue its life in the Spirit and to progress.
Ken’s energy, competence, and dedication have been remarkable. He has represented the Yearly Meeting in a wide range of outside organizations, often going well beyond what is expected of him.
Ken has said that, like earlier Clerks, he regards his major duty as the care of the Yearly Meeting as a worshipping community. He has done this particularly well, as his leadership has clearly been Spirit-led. He has provided spiritual support to others. He often brought music and singing and readings to our annual business session, enriching them. Friends are particularly appreciative of his travel throughout the whole geographic area of the Yearly Meeting.
Young Adult Friends and Young Friends were always part of the business meetings he planned. He made a special point of recognizing and nurturing leadership, especially among Young Adult Friends.
Baltimore Yearly Meeting has been blessed by Ken and his caring, generous spirit. We are grateful to have had his leadership for these years.
We APPROVED this minute of appreciation.