Working Group on Right Relationship with Animals Annual Reports

The text of recently received Annual Reports are below, with the most recently received at the top and older reports below. To jump to a particular report, simply click the year listed below.

2016 Report 2017 Report 2018 Report 2019 Report

2019 Annual Report

Working Group Members: Dayna Baily, Alex Bell, Mary Campbell, Margaret Fisher (Clerk), Margaret Greene, Stuart Greene, Samantha MacGrath, Edie Silvestri, Nic Tideman, Colie Touzel

Activities this year: After the Yearly Meeting adopted the minute last August encouraging Friends to discuss how to expand the circle of love to animals, and to consider their welfare when making food choices, the Working Group considered how to facilitate those discussions. We continued our visits to local meetings, with three more visited since last August bringing the total to date to thirty meetings (two of which have been visited twice). We put on a “Vegan Tasting Feast” and discussion at William Penn House and provided a plant-based lunch at the Peace and Social Concerns Networking Day. We added another video to the series on our BYM web page. Two members of our Working Group had articles published in the June 2019 edition of the Friends Journal. We have been in touch with Friends around the world who carry a similar concern for the wellbeing of animals and for the impact that our food choices have on the ecosystem. Three meetings to date – Patapsco, Herndon and Midlothian – have adopted Baltimore Yearly Meeting’s minute, and others are considering it.

We also initiated a “Two Book Project” in which we invite Friends to read and discuss one of two books about animal agriculture: Eating Animals by Jonathan Safran Foer, and A Plea for the Animals by Matthieu Ricard.

Plans for the coming year: The food choices of members of our Working Group range from vegan to meat eating. We welcome all Friends who would like to participate as we work to lay the issues before Friends, encouraging them to make intentional decisions about their food choices based on spiritual discernment aided by an informed understanding of the impact of animal agriculture on the living world. We are seeking invitations to those meetings we have not yet visited and are also happy to revisit the ones we have. We can offer a short presentation followed by worship sharing, a discussion about the two books, or a workshop on how to eat a plant-based diet. We can also offer a simple worship sharing for spiritual seeking related to the query, “What is my right relationship with other animals?”, in which the visitor(s) from the working group will not be promoting eating or not eating animal products.

2018 Annual Report

Our official Working Group members are Dayna Bailey, Jodi Beatty, Alex Bell, Mary Campbell, Margaret Fisher (Clerk), and Samantha Magrath. In addition, 19 other people have participated in occasional email discussions.

We continued our work to stimulate thought and discussion among Friends about the effect that our food choices and other personal decisions have on the lives of animals and the rest of the living world. In the past year, we gave a workshop at Annual Session, a talent show presentation at the Women’s Retreat, and provided a “Vegan Tasting Feast” at the P&SC Networking Day. We sent invitations to Friends to participate via the BYM Interchange, and we added another video and other materials to our web page on the BYM website. Four of us have travelled singly and in groups of two or three to as many local Meetings as scheduling would allow. We led discussions and worship sharing at 10 local Meetings, to bring the total to 24 local Meetings visited so far. We have submitted our concern to Unity with Nature, Peace and Social Concerns, Young Friends, and Young Adult Friends for seasoning. Our Working Group members bring a diversity of Quaker perspectives about the spiritual implications of our food choices and are united in a leading to bring the concerns forward despite the considerable time and emotional commitment that are involved.

We have found Friends willing to engage on the concern for animals. We are hopeful that they are ready to express that willingness in the form of a minute which we plan to propose at Annual Session.

2017 Annual Report

Our working group engaged in the following activities in the past year.

  • Annual Session August 2016
    • Offered Pendle Hill Pamphlet #440 for sale (Enlarging our Circle of Love).
    • Provided vegan snacks during one of the Meeting for Business breaks.
    • Offered animal face painting at the All Age Celebration.
    • Filmed Friends talking about their relationship with animals and posted the video on our website.
  • BYM Women’s Retreat
    • Performed an amusing song during the Coffee House. Posted a video on our website.
  • Meeting visitation
    • Margaret Fisher led discussions at two more Meetings (for a total of fifteen so far) and continues to seek invitations to other Meetings.

Members of the working group have demonstrated very limited enthusiasm for meetings or email discussions.

Respectfully submitted,

Margaret Fisher (Herndon), Clerk

2016 Report

Our working group convened officially for the first time at Annual Session last year. Our mission is to stimulate thought and discussion among Friends about the effect that our food choices and other personal decisions have on the lives of animals and on the rest of the living world. We have come up with several ideas for starting the conversation.

  • Adult Discussion sessions: Margaret Fisher has been travelling to meetings to lead discussions and would welcome invitations to the Meetings she has not yet reached. Pendle Hill Pamphlets will be publishing her manuscript this month (August 2016).
  • Video series: We have created four very short videos which can be viewed through our working group web page. More videos are in progress.
  • Plant-based meals: Vegan feasts at potluck time are a joyous way to break down misconceptions about meatless meals.
  • Self-study: Our web page includes suggestions for engaging books and videos.

It is an interesting challenge to learn how to address the topic of food in a way that welcomes all to the discussion. We are finding that humor, story-telling, self-deprecation, and non-dairy ice cream are invaluable tools in this endeavor. The greater challenge has been in attracting people to participate in the discussion to begin with. Apparently there is no subject more likely to drive away an audience than “The Spiritual Nature of Vegetarianism!”

A logistical challenge has been in finding ways for our group to meet, given the distance to Interim Meeting where those few Working Group members present often need to attend the meetings of other committees. Two attempts at teleconferencing were not well attended.

Margaret Fisher (Herndon)

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