Growing Diverse Leadership Committee 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.
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The Growing Diverse Leadership Committee (GDL) meets monthly except in August. Six to 15 people join each call. We begin worship and read portions of the Declaration of BYM as an Anti-Racist Faith Community. We next hear from our STRIDE Coordinator, Khalila Lomax, discuss current issues, reports from STRIDE liaisons, liaisons to the BYM Working Group on Racism and the Reparations Action Working Group, and conclude with silent worship.
Membership: Nominated members are St. Clair Allmond, Rashid Darden, David Etheridge, and Peirce Hammond. Members representing other committees or ex officio are: Donna Kolaetis (Working Group on Racism), Elizabeth “Betsy” Roush (Camping Program Committee), Nikki Richards (STRIDE), Becca Bacon, Amrit Moore and Thomas Webb (YAFs), Margaret “Meg” Boyd Meyer (BYM Interim Meeting Clerk), and Stephanie “Steph” Bean (BYM Presiding Clerk). In addition, the Committee co-opted, Meg Regal for most of the year.
Resignation: Rashid Darden resigned in June 2021. GDL has requested a replacement.
GDL’s 2021 and 2022 budgets: GDL’s 2021 budget of $1,000, paid for designing workshops concerning reparations and for professional development for our respected colleague, Tronette Anochie’s work with Dr. Amanda Kemp. For 2022, the clerk made a request for $10,000 to be shared among the GDLC, the Working Group on Racism (WGR), and the Reparations Action Working Group (RAWG) to support training and facilitation in continuing the Anti-Racism work.
2. STRIDE (Strengthening Transformative Relationships in Diverse Environments)
A separate report on STRIDE activities has been prepared by the STRIDE Working Group. Please review it for details about this remarkable effort to extend the diversity of the BYM campers and services provided in portions of the cities of Baltimore, Philadelphia (where STRIDE originated), and the District of Columbia.
We acknowledged the deeply flawed employee review process that is in effect at Baltimore Yearly Meeting and took care to ensure that our participation in that process, which is without rubric, metrics, or standards, would not cause harm to any employee of BYM, especially the employee we were asked to review, who is a Black woman. We noted that historically, open-ended evaluations, such as the one provided to us, tend to be more favorable to men than women. Additionally, people of color are more likely to be documented as lower performing than their white counterparts in some evaluations systems. It is our sincere hope that the next permanent General Secretary will make the creation of a fair evaluation process a top priority. GDL has no desire to further participate in a process which could further harm marginalized communities.
We are very pleased with the work of Khalila Lomax, STRIDE Coordinator. We support Khalila’s desire for further professional development.
Working with the Camping Program
GDL held our first discussion with Brian Massey, BYM’s new Camp Director, focusing especially on issues related to Jesse Miller’s letter:
- Talking with families specifically about concerns about safety of camp for children of color
- Setting as the top priority the physical and emotional safety of children
- What would it look like if we centered camp around the physical and emotional safety of Black children?
Brian indicated that there was a balance needed between “trusting Way to Open sometimes and placing guard rails sometimes.” He mentioned being specifically focused on:
- improvement of EDI training for staff and all adults who might have contact with campers,
- incident response protocol for all types of harmful incidents, including transparency,
- programmatic design with caucus and affinity groups carefully woven in with institutional support and restorative justice practices that work in a camp environment, and
- broad accountability and inclusivity of input to revamp the camps’ feedback and evaluation system to enable improvement/ growth including the staff evaluation system.
We asked how discipline and punishment decisions will be documented so we can analyze data to see if there is equity. Brian responded that they would employ standardized incident reports with a tier system and being more explicit about our values to employees and families.
We also asked how the hiring process for camps and ongoing support of staff will ensure inclusion of diversity? Brian told us that there is still work to be done to improve the pipeline for the hiring pool and that another area of weakness is developing supportive structures to ensure safety and growth for both gender nonbinary staff and campers.
Report on activities we promised Jesse that we would undertake by May 26, 2021, (90 days after February 25). Note that since we had written to Jesse that we understood that he did not desire updates, we would honor that, which we have.
- Investigate a program evaluation/diversity audit, including a recommendation for funding sources. GDL supported the submission of a budget request by BYM’s Working Group on Racism to fund a self-run diversity audit to BYM’s Stewardship and Finance Committee and Development Committee, who are seasoning our request.
- 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. GDL members Rashid Darden and Nikki Richards led three recorded discussions of the queries, available to BYM Friends.
- Advocate for the Anti-Racist Declaration being applied in such a way that it results in a more racially diverse staff and leadership positions, including, but not limited to Supervisory, Search, and other Committee Clerks. Discussions have been opened with the Presiding and Interim Meeting Clerks of BYM, as well as the Acting General Secretary. We anticipate adding the newly selected General Secretary when they become available to do so.
- 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 raise the issue with Brian Massey, Camping Program Manager.
The Growing Diverse Leadership Committee (GDL) meets monthly using virtual technology except in August and December. Eight to 15 people join each call. We begin with a period of worship, followed by reading the queries included in the Declaration of BYM as an Anti-Racist Faith Community. We next hear from our STRIDE Coordinator, Khalila Lomax, followed by the issues of the month, and conclude with silent worship.
Membership: Nominated members are: St. Clair Allmond, David Etheridge, and Peirce Hammond, Clerk. Members representing other committees or ex officio are: Donna Kolaetis (Working Group on Racism), Nora Swift & Lizzie Kellett (Camping Program Committee), Nikki Richards (STRIDE), Amrit Moore and Thomas Webb (YAFs), Marcy Seitel (BYM Interim Meeting Clerk), and Ken Stockbridge (BYM Presiding Clerk). In addition the Committee has co-opted Jolee Robinson Mackenzie Morgan, and Meg Regal. STRIDE Coordinator, Khalila Lomax, is an essential part of each meeting. We have been unsuccessful in getting the CPC and YAF representatives to join us.
Resignation: Danielle Green, nominated to GDL at 2019 Annual Sessions, resigned in November. GDL recommended a replacement. To date, no action has been taken.
GDL’s 2020 and 2021 budgets: GDL’s 2020 budget was $2,500. This was used to pay for work done to design workshops concerning reparations and for professional development for our STRIDE Coordinator. For 2021, the clerk made a request for $10,000 to be shared among the GDLC, the Working Group on Racism (WGR), and the Reparations Action Working Group (RAWG). We expect almost all of this to support training and facilitation in continuing the Anti-Racism work that these groups are doing. Currently our clerk and BYM’s Interim Meeting Clerk are working with RAWG Clerk Nikki Richards and the facilitators to develop workshops to deepen understanding in BYM of reparations place in Anti-Racist efforts.
2. STRIDE (Strengthening Transformative Relationships In Diverse Environments)
A separate report on STRIDE activities during the past year has been prepared by the STRIDE Working Group. Please review it for details about this remarkable effort to extend the diversity of the BYM campers and services provided in portions of the cities of Baltimore, Philadelphia (where STRIDE originated), and the District of Columbia.
The report, referenced by the STRIDE Working Group, sent to BYM’s Supervisory Committee in response to queries it sent to each committee responsible for working with staff employed by BYM, was jointly prepared by the STRIDE WG and GDL.
In October, Khalila Lomax was hired by BYM as STRIDE Coordinator. In January we responded to a request from the BYM General Secretary to provide input for Khalila’s required three-month review. We were very pleased to do so. We reported, “Khalila is positive, affirming, and ‘can-do.’ She is a learner who is pleased to add, knowledgeable, attentive, innovative, caring, smart, and well-read. Khalila makes connections and brings items, ideas, and possibilities to our attention. She is generous with her ideas, time, and attention. We find her to be patient and caring.”
We reported that Camping Program staff found that Khalila was good at working with teams, and ready to learn about the camping program. She readily absorbed a lot about how the camping program operates, including subtleties about the values behind the program. She has kept up well with communication. She is excited by STRIDE, and has jumped right in.” Several of us referred to a Movie Night held in December at Homewood Friends Meeting in Baltimore. Khalila came up with the idea and asked the STRIDE people to weigh in on her outline of the event and possible movies to show. She then arranged it. After the movie (“When They See Us”) was shown, Khalila led a discussion using questions to draw out discussion, which she facilitated well. The STRIDE members were glad to have someone give them a chance for input, but then take care of the rest of planning, since they were busy. The event served not only as a STRIDE fundraiser, but also to connect with others in the Yearly Meeting, and spur meaningful conversations. It was such a success that Baltimore STRIDE has continued STRIDE movie nights, as noted elsewhere. This is an example of Khalila’s leadership: create possibilities, try them out, and turn them over to the STRIDE groups.
Khalila assisted the STRIDE groups with fundraising, completing grants, registration events, and getting campers signed up for camp. Khalila has been leading an antiracism program at Friends Meeting of Washington.
David Etheridge, clerk, WGR, shared his delight in his contacts with Khalila, which “are beyond what her job description says.” For examples, he cited her participation in WGR meetings, as well as the Reparations Action Working Group as it has been forming.
With respect to our recommendations to Khalila, she was encouraged by more than one person to get to know Amanda Kemp, which she has done, as well as others doing good work similar to hers. We also encouraged Khalila to speak with those who began the STRIDE work some years back, especially Dyresha Harris, which she also has done.
3. Reparations Action Working Group (RAWG):
This group has grown out of GDL to identify the harm that has been done to African-Americans and American Indians over centuries and recommend reparative actions. RAWG has prepared its own report, which please read and consider deeply.
4. BYM Declaration as an Anti-Racist Faith Community:
At its 2019 Annual Sessions, BYM adopted its Declaration as an Anti-Racist Faith Community. Since GDL was the committee responsible for submitting that document, we were asked to prepare and submit a report to the 2020 Annual Sessions describing the Yearly Meeting’s experience with the Declaration during the year after its adoption. In response to a recommendation from BYM’s Presiding Clerk, GDL developed a communication to local Meetings and BYM committees, working groups, and STRIDE groups letting them know we are available to discuss next steps with respect to the Declaration. The queries are to be used for decisions made by the Yearly Meeting and its committees. Local Meetings were urged to consider its message and how it applied to them and then to make their own decisions about making use of them. An initial letter was sent in August, thanks to Wayne Finegar, to alert each set of clerks to the adoption of the Declaration, where to locate it, and that a report was required of GDL for the 2020 Annual Sessions, so a follow-up letter requesting feedback about their experiences should be expected the following spring. In April a second set of letters was sent out, also thanks to Wayne, with a response requested by May 25. As of late-June, we heard from six local Meetings and six BYM committees and working groups. Here is some of what occurred:
- The first GDL meeting after the 2019 Annual Sessions began with a discussion of the BYM adoption of the document BYM Declaration as an Anti-Racist Faith Community. Part of the Declaration is this set of queries for our consideration, read at that meeting and each GDL meeting since then:
- How could this decision affect those who have been harmed by racist behavior?
- To what degree have privilege, class, stereotypes, assumptions, and our ability to include other perspectives affected this decision? Will this decision promote equity, diversity, and inclusiveness? Will it enable us to be more friendly and whole?
- How will we provide opportunities for those most likely to be directly affected by our decision to influence that decision?
- How does this decision support the declaration of our Yearly Meeting that we are an anti-racist faith community?
- At this GDL meeting, the Presiding Clerk informed us that the BYM staff had already been engaged with the Declaration. Tent cards setting out the queries were on the conference room table used for committee virtual meetings from the BYM office, where they remain.
- That Fall the Interim Meeting Clerk spoke with the clerk of Dunnings Creek Friends Meeting at their request. Two GDL members offered to visit that Meeting to discuss the Declaration, but were unable to set a date.
- The Presiding Clerk held a retreat with the local Meeting Clerks on November 9, 2019. The clerk of this committee attended and read and then discussed the Declaration and told the gathered local Meeting clerks that he would be sending them the letter described earlier.
- Friends Meeting of Washington adopted the queries with some minor changes--such as having the word “choice” substituted for the word “decision,”--to make the queries a more dynamic part of the discerning process and not an afterthought.
- Annapolis Meeting reported that after much threshing, their extensive revisions include:
- An introductory Quaker quote; 'Be patterns, be examples in all countries, places... wherever you come...';
- Making clear that the queries should be applied 'individually and collectively, in our decisions and practices, our actions and inaction'; and
- Adding recommended actions 'regularly to seek visits with our African-American neighbors and others we perceive as different in their faith communities and elsewhere to listen and understand their lives and their concerns.'"
- Little Falls Meeting began a series of discussions related to the Declaration in June. They plan to have one Adult First Day program a month dedicated to talking about anti-racist behavior/practices/decision-making. Their goal is to educate everyone to be as welcoming a Meeting as they can and to either adopt the Declaration as written or to make some minor changes to it.
- The clerk of this committee discussed the Declaration and its queries with Patapsco Monthly Meeting and with the Peace & Social Justice Committee at Bethesda Monthly Meeting. Patapsco then held a listening session followed by a workshop on anti-racism led by member of the Meeting who is a teacher and drew drawing from workshops she leads at her school.
- The STRIDE Coordinator, the clerk of the Working Group on Racism, and the clerk of this committee discussed the Declaration and its queries with Sandy Spring Friends Meeting’s Change Group, at their request.
- The Declaration was reported as in use by the Supervisory, Stewardship & Finance, Growing Diverse Leadership, and Program Committees and the Working Groups on Racism and on Reparations; at STRIDE meetings, Interim Meeting, and a few local Meetings, including local Change Groups.
- Various Friends reported reflecting on the queries during meetings and on the efficacy of hearing the queries read by different voices. In one case, the queries were applied to the planning of a meeting location and provided a useful lens through which to consider the next FUM Triennial in Africa.
- We heard that the last query lends itself to becoming a minute: “This decision supports our effort to become an anti-racist community because _____.”
- We are now asking BYM Committees and working groups to report explicitly to BYM as to how they used the Declaration queries in doing their work.
- These examples were provided in response to inquiries about the Declaration. In addition, there are several other activities that have come to our attention led by Change Groups and individuals in other Meetings.
5. Involvement in Proposal Concerning Youth Involvement in YM Leadership
When the Earlham School of Religion (ESR) was developing plans to approach the Lilly Endowment for a grant, they asked BYM to become a partner in its proposed initiative to address intergenerational leadership development in faith communities. The grant would have ESR facilitate a discussion about intergenerational leadership and, possibly, build a leadership development program. GDL was asked to communicate with ESR since we work on developing leadership among young adults. Our discernment led us to invite ESR to join one of our meetings, after which we agreed to support their proposal through a letter of support signed by the BYM Presiding Clerk and the clerk of this committee.
We have considered several basic purposes for holding a GDL retreat:
- To get to know Khalila and for her to get to know each of us
- How to further support Khalila’s STRIDE efforts
- To hone our focus and priorities, envisioning future goals
- To consider how to best work with the Reparations Action Working Group
- To consider how we interact with the wider Yearly Meeting
- To undertake together a cultural assessment of our personal understanding(s) of Quakerism and our personal understanding(s) of whiteness
- To build our group so we can rely on each other
- To determine how to follow up with and support Meetings and committees in order to make Declaration queries real
- To have fun!
Where: Richmond. We will contact that Meeting to request use of space
When: Tentative date: October 10, 2020
Who: The retreat is for committee members. Planning responsibilities must be discussed.
7. Expression of Gratitude
GDL has been deeply gratified with:
- The selection of Khalila Lomax as STRIDE Coordinator. BYM’s General Secretary included the GDL clerk and a STRIDE representative in his selection process. He then made the final selection and chose Khalila Lomax, an African-American woman with spiritual grounding, intelligence, experience and learning in relevant areas, familiarity with outdoor education, strong people skills, determination, and a thoughtful and strong work ethic.
- The choice of Wayne Finegar as Khalila’s supervisor. Wayne has been open, honest, and professional with Khalila. He has encouraged her to let him know immediately of any concerns or issues that she has and has worked to know her personally and to learn about the work of the STRIDE Coordinator.
- The relationships with the STRIDE groups in Baltimore, DC, and Philadelphia that Khalila is developing. The groups respect Khalila and value her thinking, experience, and leadership. She is available to them at any time and always joins their ZOOM meetings. Khalila has also begun to hold regular all-STRIDE meetings appropriate to the program’s status as a BYM Working Group.
- The recent unity among GDL, STRIDE, the Reparations Action Working Group, the Working Group on Racism, the BYM Peace and Social Concerns Committee, and others who are committed to anti-racism work. BYM is fortunate to have a group of people who are committed to anti-racism and we look forward to the deepening of relationships and solidarity among these groups and individuals. In lifting up the leadership of young people and people of color, we are witnessing the growth of diverse leadership within our Yearly Meeting; we intend to continue to cultivate such growth during the coming year.
- As Khalila has told us, “Doing this work feels to some of the core group members like ‘doing worship.’
GDL is transitioning from:
- Dyresha Harris’s direct leadership to her substantial legacy,
- Being an ad hoc committee to becoming a standing committee,
- A general focus on antiracism work in partnership with BYM’s Working Group on Racism (WGR) to specific antiracism work in partnership with WGR and with others, especially STRIDE,
2019 found the ad hoc Growing Diverse Leadership Committee (GDL) moving on after our Outreach and Inclusion Coordinator, and leader, Dyresha Harris had resigned that position. Our desire was to build on her legacy to us by:
- Doing antiracist work;
- Adopting a multicultural outlook;
- Applying lessons from Clinton Pettus’s insightful Focus Group Report provided to us in 2018;
- Taking our place in the Post-Shoemaker, Pro-STRIDE (Strengthening Transformative Relationships in Diverse Environments) era;
- Collaborating with the Working Group on Racism (WGR) in various ways, including supporting YAFs in their antiracism work, such as development of their plenary for the 2019 Annual Session;
- Working to support the energy, dedication, and accomplishments of the STRIDE volunteers so they can sustain their effective efforts;
- Realizing ideas and ideals such as supporting Change Group formation and individual, group, and Meeting growth along a continuum beginning with a concern for equity adding outreach, leading to increased diversity through inclusion, and then friendship, on its way toward wholeness.
In the course of 2019, so far, we have followed and supported the leadership of our WGR partners in bringing training in antiracism work by Dr. Amanda Kemp over two nearly full-day in-person workshops and some shorter, technology-driven sessions to Change Groups as they get started in our local Meetings, as well as to interested individuals. A fuller description of the training may be found in this year’s WGR Report.
Both for the Change Group effort and as a general resource, IM Clerk Marcy Seitel, GDL members Lauren Brownlee and Louisa Davis, and a variety of other Friends prepared a binder of materials for Change Groups to use as they get under way. Further, David Etheridge and other WGR Friends created a Google sharing place for all participants in the training and future Change Group communications across BYM.
In addition, as the post-Shoemaker, STRIDE-oriented discussions were developed under Ned Stowe’s leadership, way opened for GDL to take on support for the STRIDE program. Because we believe the STRIDE program to be indispensable to the vision of the Yearly Meeting due to its remarkable success in bringing ethnic and economic diversity into the camping program in the past several years, we were enthusiastic about this opportunity.
This new effort immediately changed GDL since it included becoming the committee supporting a to-be-hired STRIDE Coordinator. That, in turn, focused our efforts preparing a job description, budget, and program description for, first, the March Supervisory Committee meeting and, then, after receiving approval, for the March, 2019 Interim Meeting. At the latter, we also submitted a charge for a new Growing Diverse Leadership Committee (GDLC), as we become a standing BYM committee, to be nominated and have our membership approved at the 2019 Annual Session. Interim Meeting approved these proposals.
A part-time, interim STRIDE Coordinator, Jossie Dowling, was appointed in May 2019. The new, full-time Coordinator is to be hired later this year. The search for this individual began in May with the posting of a job description and related materials. A search committee has been selected.
The STRIDE Working Group named Nikki Richards, of Baltimore STRIDE, as its liaison to GDLC. She immediately led a set of spirited and increasingly focused discussions of Reparations supported by a three-way partnership of BYM’s Peace and Social Concerns Committee, WGR, and GDLC. Through June, that effort has sponsored two open-to-all ZOOM discussions. In addition, it has formed three committees: Communication, Education, and Logistics, each of which has met and begun its work. Further, we have become oriented to an event being sponsored in October 2019 by the National Council of Churches within BYM’s geographic area, in Norfolk, VA, in remembrance of the arrival of African people who were enslaved in the British Colony of Virginia in 1619.
The WGR and the GDL also communicate with other Yearly Meetings and FGC about the antiracism work we are doing.
We are optimistic and excited by this work. It has implications for all of what we do in BYM. Please join us formally or informally. Please discuss what you are doing in ways like those that have been provided by several Meetings and many individuals. We need and ask for your help. Thank you!
Summary: Our committee had a year of enhancing the dialogue in our Yearly Meeting, Quarterly Meetings, and Local Meetings about the experience of Friends of color and Young Adult Friends in our Yearly Meeting. More than 200 Friends in BYM participated in workshops and discussions led by our Outreach and Inclusion Coordinator, and members of the ad hoc GDLC. We received a report on the findings of three focus groups conducted by and for Friends of color on what would improve the experience of Friends of color in our Meetings and Yearly Meeting. Young Adults, Young Friends, and Friends of color participated in increased numbers in two of our Interim Meetings as we sought deeper understanding within our community after the difficult discernment over BYM’s epistle at Annual Session 2017. We are glad for more dialogue and meetings with more participation, and hope these are good stepping-stones to our becoming a more equitable, diverse, inclusive – and whole – Yearly Meeting.
But please read more:
To review, our committee was formed at the 2015 Annual Session with the goal of expanding on the work of the Growing Diverse Leadership program in all of BYM’s camping programs, and also in the wider Yearly Meeting. BYM received a three-year grant from the Shoemaker Fund to support an Outreach and Inclusion Coordinator (OIC) who would provide staff support for this work and cover related expenses. Dyresha Harris was hired as the OIC, and she did this work for nine months of the year (she has worked the other three months as Catoctin’s Co-Director) and other people have been hired to cover the summer work. Dyresha ended her time as OIC at the end of May, and the ad hoc GDLC has been focused on discerning how best to carry on this work for the Yearly Meeting.
Our committee’s purpose is to increase the number and the participation of Friends of color and of young adult Friends in the life of our Meetings and our Yearly Meeting. We seek to have us all, in whatever grouping we are part of, grow in equity, diversity, and inclusion. While it is simply said, it is not achieved quickly and not without a great deal of work, discussion, and discernment.
A major highlight this year was the number and the richness of workshops that offered both guidance and opportunities for discussion. As OIC, Dyresha led a workshop for the Yearly Meeting on the morning of the Called Interim Meeting in November, with 75 people present, and also led and co-led workshops at the Women’s Retreat, Warrington Quarterly Meeting, the Networking Day of the Peace and Social Concerns Committee, and for several Local Meetings. Members of the GDLC also led several workshops and discussion for the BYM Apportionment Day and for several Meetings. All of this work helped us develop our understanding of concepts and skills for identifying hurtful behaviors that happen in our community, why they happen, and what we can do to make things right when they have occurred.
Another highlight of the year was the holding of three focus groups for Friends of color, which let us learn important things about the experience of Friends of color in these meetings. Each focus group met once, considered a well-structured set of questions, and made notes about what was discussed. Our committee hopes that all Friends will consider how these findings can help us understand each other better and discern changes we need to make in our Meetings and Yearly Meeting.
We plan to hold focus groups for Young Adult Friends this fall to learn more about the experiences, needs, and hopes of our YAF’s. We are glad for the participation of Young Adult Friends on many BYM committees, and especially in the Supporting Transformative Relationships in Diverse Environments (STRIDE) Working Group, which is part of the Growing Diverse Leadership Initiative.
Our committee supported Meetings as they undertook the annual demographic survey. The survey was again controversial for some Meetings, but easier for others. For a third year, Meetings were asked to include questions about the age and the racial and ethnic background of meeting members and attenders. The original intent of asking for this information was to provide a basis for noting changes in our Meetings and Yearly Meeting. Instead, we have found that the questions and answers are very important in helping us know ourselves better and deepening our understanding of one another.
Our ad hoc GLDC spent much time in the fall thinking through the needs and desires expressed during the upset that occurred in the discernment process about BYM’s 2017 Annual Session epistle. That experience demonstrated that the two goals for the Growing Diverse Leadership program – supporting Friends of color and young adult friends – are inseparably bound up with each other. The Young Adult Friends and Young Friends present let us know how deeply they need to have their religious community take an active stand against racism, to embrace the term antiracist as descriptive of who we are. When the term “antiracist” was initially met with resistance by some Friends, the YAFs and YFs were distressed to the point of feeling distanced from their community.
In November, ad hoc GLDC members helped to facilitate small group discussions about racism and antiracism among Friends as part of our Called Interim Meeting in November. Because there were a number of Young Adult Friends and Friends of color present, this also became a time when groups that were more diverse than usual had conversations together. People who participated felt the discussion had been rich.
In the spring of this year, members of our committee participated in the National Council of Church’s ACT Rally to End Racism. Our committee made a banner that said, “Quakers united against racism,” which ended up being a marvelous outreach piece for us, and was cited in the Washington Post. It was important to have a Quaker voice in this gathering of many religious groups – we let others know that we not only oppose racism, but we are also still in existence!
While the focus of our committee has been the BYM community and making it more welcoming for more people, there are those on our committee who continually remind us that part of working against racism is the social justice element of making reparations to and standing with people who have experienced racism directly, in our wider world.
Through the year we have considered what we need to do to establish a long-term ministry of making our Meetings and Yearly Meeting more welcoming to a wider, more diverse group of people. With the Working Group on Racism, we have set up a plan for starting Change Groups in each Local Meeting of BYM. These groups have just begun, and we are seeking to provide materials, queries, speakers, and other forms of support for them, so that each meeting, and by extension our whole yearly meeting, will work with intention to break down barriers to participation by people of color and young adults. Please see the website Dyresha set up to support this work - http://www.bym-rsf.org/what_we_do/gdli/
We have found that our work has been greatly enriched by the Outreach and Inclusion Coordinator. Her presence and capabilities allowed us to offer very good workshops. When GDLC members led workshops and discussions, it was with the guidance of our Outreach and Inclusion Coordinator. The funding for this position ends with the end of the 2018 calendar year. Should we spend our BYM funds on supporting this position from the regular budget? We haven’t done this before. Should we continue providing trainings and workshops for our Yearly Meeting and Meetings? Without a person on staff, we may need to pay people to keep the kinds of workshops going that we had in the last year. How does BYM want to continue to make our community more equitable, diverse, and inclusive of a wider number of people? There will be time at this year’s Annual Session to consider these questions together.
In closing, we’d like to appreciate Dyresha Harris’ leadership – the workshops, the great webpage she developed, the problem solving and support she gave so generously. Our future work will grow from the good foundation she provided.
Marcy Baker Seitel (Adelphi)
Our committee has a simple mission – to increase the number and increase the participation of Friends of Color and of Young Adult Friends. The key objectives of our work is for meetings to grow in equity, diversity, and inclusion. While it is simply said, it is not achieved quickly and without thoughtful work and discernment. We are making progress, though.
To review, our committee was formed in 2015 at Annual Session with the goal of expanding on the work of the Growing Diverse Leadership program within our BYM camping programs so that the work would include all the Yearly Meeting. A three-year grant was given to BYM in 2015 to support this work by the Shoemaker Fund. The work of the committee was seen as having three stages – first to collect data about Friends of Color and Young Adult Friends, second to try out programs, and third to assess how these programs are doing.
In the past year, we found it difficult to bring to fruition some of our plans. Members of our committee designed a survey for Local Meetings that would provide information about numbers of Friends of Color and Young Adult Friends. Meetings, however, were uncomfortable with the survey for various reasons, and so to date we have not collected as much information as we had hoped to obtain. On the good side, the survey generated very good conversations about the discomfort of collecting and using demographic information among Friends, which feels like a measure of growth in itself. We will continue to work on developing a meaningful way of gathering demographic information that lets us know who is attending our Local Meetings and in what numbers, which will in turn help us know how we are growing.
For understanding our Young Adult Friend population better, our committee worked with the Advancement and Outreach Committee to devise a survey for Young Adult Friends, which was given in June. The results of this survey will be available this fall, and we hope will show us how our YAF’s have come to be part of BYM, and how they are now participating in BYM.
Focus Groups are being organized for Friends of Color who are part of Monthly Meetings within BYM. These focus groups are meant to be a place where Friends of Color can share their experiences of being part of BYM and share what they hope for their Meetings and for BYM. The first Focus Group was held at Stony Run Meeting in June, and others are planned for the near future.
BYM’s Outreach and Inclusion Coordinator, Dyresha Harris, visited a number of Local Meetings to lead discussions about BYM’s STRIDE programs and the work overall of Growing Diverse Leadership.
Along with the Working Group on Racism, our committee is encouraging the formation of Action Groups within each local Meeting. These groups would explore ways to reduce the barriers to participation of people of color in their Meetings. Our committee has been looking into resources that we can offer to Local Meetings to support them in their efforts. We have a list of printed resources, and will also seek trainings, speakers, workshops, and other kinds of resources so that local Meetings can find what they think will work well for their Meetings.
Through the next year, we hope to learn more about multicultural, multiracial congregations, and visit a few to learn how their worshiping communities have achieved equity, diversity, and inclusion. We have found some materials that we find meaningful and will share them with local Meetings.
And in the next year, we will consider how we can best keep the work on equity, diversity, and inclusion alive in our Yearly Meeting in the future. Should there be standing committees to do this work, or can the work be carried out by committees we already have?
The organization of this committee changed this year, but in the end we affirmed that the original plan for the committee would be best. We have a core committee of Friends who are committed to working on the issues of Growing Diverse Leadership. We also have an expanded committee – a number of BYM committees send ex-officio representatives to attend meetings. The purpose is to provide support for BYM Committees as they seek to grow in equity, diversity, and inclusion. By having committee members attend our expanded meetings, our core committee can serve as a source of support for the committees, and committees can share their wisdom with one another, as committees seek to grow in equity, diversity, and inclusion.
We are looking to all members of Baltimore Yearly Meeting, through your local Meetings and your BYM Committee work, to take some initiative in helping our Yearly Meeting become more diverse in Friends of Color and Young Adult Friends. Read about what we are doing in the coming year, and please join in. And share your experiences with us!
Respectfully submitted by
The Growing Diverse Leadership Committee was established at Annual Session 2015. However, appointment of committee members to the Committee did not occur until the following October. The committee met monthly starting in November, through July of this year. The format of the group is five core members who serve the committee directly, and fifteen members who are appointed because of their service on other committees.
In the first year of this three-year program, we are in the planning stage, and beginning the execution stage – information gathering. The second year will focus on execution of programs, and the third year will focus on analyzing the impact of the programs we have done.
We are using a typical strategic planning approach to determine our activities, applying the BYM Vision and the goals and objectives of this program to identify strategies and programs to reach those goals. While the BYM Vision does not change, the phrasing of the goals and objectives have been edited slightly. The part of the Vision that applies to this program is as follows:
Baltimore Yearly Meeting is a worshiping community, gathered in the presence of the Divine, affirming that of God in every person. The Yearly Meeting knits Friends from the Chesapeake to the Appalachians into the larger Religious Society of Friends. As Quakers, we seek to know and follow God’s will for us as a gathered people, to speak the truth that is revealed to us, and to listen to the truth that is revealed to others.
We aspire to listen deeply and inclusively to each other, to actively welcome all, and to attend in joy and faith to the Inward Teacher, whom some call Light, some call Spirit, and some call Christ.
The goal as we are currently writing it is:
To bring innovation and vitality to local Meetings within the Baltimore Yearly Meeting of Friends in ways that will increase and sustain multicultural and intergenerational community in all facets of the spiritual life of Meetings and will serve to strengthen Baltimore Yearly Meeting and the Religious Society of Friends.
The objectives, as we are currently writing them:
- Increase and sustain the participation of people of color in the spiritual life of pilot Meetings by X(?) percent by December 2018.
- Increase and sustain the participation of young adults in the spiritual life of pilot Meetings by X(?) percent by December 2018.
Our first initiative is to gather information. We requested demographics from Local Meetings on age and ethnicity to establish a baseline, so we can see if our programs make a difference at the end of the three-year program. We are researching efforts of other faith communities to change their demographics to see what has been successful, and doing surveys/focus groups with both Young Adults and People of Color who do and do not attend Local Meetings to learn what could be done differently and what shouldn’t change. We are identifying a liaison at interested Local Meetings that we can communicate with to offer support as they establish a small group within the Meeting and carry out activities to increase younger attenders and attenders of color. Contact David Etheridge if you would like to be the liaison for your Meeting.
In the coming year, we will host programs to increase participation of young adults and people of color in BYM and its Meetings. We envision this to include workshops around communicating across differences, evaluation of traditions and physical space to see if they are welcoming to people from every background, identifying routes to leadership, and efforts to increase attendance at Local Meetings (potentially FGC’s Growing Our Meetings project).