Minutes, Spring Sessions 2011

Spring Sessions 2011

April 1–3, 2011
Oakwood Friends School
Poughkeepsie, NY

Saturday, April 2, 2011 10:00 a.m.

Heather M. Cook, Clerk
Jeffrey Hitchcock, Assistant Clerk
Elaine Learnard, Recording Clerk
Robin Alpern, Reading Clerk

2011-04-01. Out of the silence, the reading clerk read a letter from a Friend from Mito Monthly Meeting in Japan, who, in the face of the catastrophes they are now experiencing, reflected on faith and rebuilding. The letter, with a preamble, is appended.

2011-04-02. New York Yearly Meeting (NYYM) Clerk Heather M. Cook (Chatham-Summit) spoke about the trauma in Kenya that Getry Agizah of Friends Church Peace Teams shared about at last night’s presentation, and that is echoed in Mitsuo’s letter. She prayed that the seed within us may burst open and that we may be conduits for healing across the globe, in our communities and in our own hearts. The Friends World Committee for Consultation (FWCC) Asia and West Pacific Section meeting began yesterday; we hold them in our hearts and hold in prayer as well those Friends who cannot be with us. She introduced those at the clerks’ table.

2011-04-03. The reading clerk called the roll, asking Friends to rise by regional meeting. All regions were represented. 

2011-04-04. Friends were welcomed by the clerk of Nine Partners Quarterly Meeting, the host region. Mary Foster Cadbury (Bulls Head-Oswego) told us that in a new awakening Nine Partners is now meeting at one of their five constituent meetings in a Quarterly Meeting for Worship.

2011-04-05. Peter Baily (Poughkeepsie), head of Oakwood Friends School, welcomed Friends, gave some information on the school (26 faculty babies!) and Quaker education and expressed thanks for Friends’ care of the school. He sees Friends schools providing an education based in Quaker values to many non-Quakers around the country.

2011-04-06. The Clerk reviewed the proposed order of worship for the morning, noting that we will see what unfolds. She reviewed changes to the consent agenda, which will be considered tomorrow.

2011-04-07. Coclerk of the Nominating Committee Jill McLellan (Central Finger Lakes) brought the nomination of Jeffrey Hitchcock (Rahway & Plainfield) for service as assistant clerk of the Yearly Meeting through Summer Sessions of 2011. Friends approved and Jeff joined the clerks’ table. Friends heard the first reading of the nomination of John Edminster (Fifteenth Street) as a representative to the Friends United Meeting Triennial in 2011, which Friends will consider tomorrow.

2011-04-08. For the Stamford-Greenwich Care Committee, Deborah Wood (Purchase) spoke about the establishment in the late 1940s and the laying down in 2010 of Stamford-Greenwich Meeting by Purchase Quarter. The report gave many of the highlights of the meeting’s history and its members, and of its decline; the report is appended.

2011-04-09. For the NYYM Trustees, Paula McClure (Montclair) reported on the transfer and current use of the property and assets of Stamford-Greenwich Meeting, including the plans to sell the property. The Trustees have not at this time placed restrictions on future uses of the property and the Yearly Meeting will be informed of the progress of the sale. The report urges all regional meetings to be alert to the needs of struggling meetings, and to let the clerk and the general secretary know of their concerns. The report is appended. From the floor, Friends had questions about how the proceeds from the sale would be handled and whether the building might be razed by a purchaser. It was clarified that the Trustees will consider the plans of a particular offer before deciding whether to accept it, but that the specifics of the listing have not yet been determined. Friends are encouraged to speak with the Trustees about any concerns they may have.

2011-04-10. Friend approved the minutes to this point.

2011-04-11. Friends heard read:

…we call upon all that we hold most sacred, the presence and power of the Great Spirit of love and truth which flows through all the Universe to be with us, to teach us, and show us the Way.

Andrew Harvey, The Essential Mystics. San Francisco, CA: HarperCollins, 1996, 5.

2011-04-12. Clerk of General Services Coordinating Committee Jeffrey Aaron (New Brunswick) introduced the work of that section and brought for a first presentation the Yearly Meeting Handbook page for the General Secretary Supervisory Committee. Friends are invited to bring questions and comments to the clerk of General Services or of the General Secretary Supervisory Committee, listed in the NYYM Yearbook.

2011-04-13. For the Personnel Committee, Susan Bingham (Montclair) reported that two members of Personnel Committee, the clerk of the Young Adult Concerns Committee, and the general secretary interviewed three well-qualified candidates for the new position of Young Adult Friends field secretary. She warmly introduced the candidate they were clear to appoint, Gabrielle (Gabi) Savory Bailey (Chatham-Summit). Gabi greeted Friends, saying that it is with an open and grateful heart that she takes this next step through the next door. She invited Friends to enter into a conversation, getting to know one another, discerning our gifts and those of others, testing leadings, building and using networks of support and connection. She asked to be held in the Light, as there is much to do; the Spirit is already moving in her work and she does not do it alone; she invites us all to join her in this work. Her contact information is available at nyym.org She can be reached in many ways.

2011-04-14. Treasurer Susan Bingham presented the treasurer’s report. As of December 31, 2010, NYYM was $37,500 in the red, despite serious efforts by committees, appointees, and staff to curtail expenditures. When all covenant donations designated for 2010 had been received by mid-March, the Yearly Meeting was unexpectedly about $18,000 in the black. After using approximately $8,000 to cover deferred expenses, the treasurer, in consultation with one of the assistant treasurers, Yearly Meeting staff, and the clerk of General Services, applied $10,000 to the Contingency Fund, so that the books for 2010 could be closed.

2011-04-15. For the Financial Services Committee, Peter Phillips (Cornwall) gave a PowerPoint presentation to summarize the interlinked information on the effects of late-arriving donations for 2010, a $1,907 increase in 2011 covenant donations, and the funding of the tiers that was part of the approved 2011 budget. Financial Services developed three recommendations for the Meeting’s consideration to use 2010 revenue for those stated priorities. Peter noted that NYYM’s “vision is clear and dynamic.”

Friends approved the following recommendations brought by Financial Services:

  • that the extra funds from 2010 be used to support programming;
  • that the $10,000 being held in a Contingency Fund be used to fund the activities of the 2011 budget’s Tier I in its entirety; and
  • that the increased covenant donations in the amount of $1,907 be put proportionally toward the 2011 budget’s Tier II projects.

2011-04-16. Clerk of the Nurture Coordinating Committee Cheshire Frager (Flushing) read astatement explaining the minute of support from Nurture for continuing the Young Friends in Residence (YFIR) Program. Friends approved the following minute:

Reviews of the Young Friends in Residence program indicate that it is fulfilling its mission in expected and unexpected ways. In order to sustain the momentum and continue to strengthen this developing program, the Nurture Coordinating Committee requests that the Young Friends in Residence program become an ongoing program of the New York Yearly Meeting. The program will receive annual financial support from the Yearly Meeting to the extent possible.

2011-04-17. Clerk of the Steering Committee for the Meetings for Discernment Janet Hough (Chappaqua) gave a report of the history and experience of the Meetings for Discernment to date, in anticipation of bringing to Summer Sessions recommendations for an ongoing body, including a description of its form and its relationship with monthly meetings and with the Yearly Meeting structure. Although the original charge for the Meetings for Discernment included hearing minutes of concern from monthly meetings, the steering committee is clear that this function has not been effective. A written report is appended. Friends spoke from the floor of the crucial importance of the extended worship as part of the Meetings for Discernment, of the value of monthly meetings having these opportunities for connection and communication, and of the opportunity for concerns to be lifted up.

2011-04-18. The Clerk indicated that the remaining minutes from this morning’s session will be considered at the beginning of tomorrow morning’s session.

2011-04-19. The meeting ended in open worship.


Sunday, April 3, 2011, 8:30 a.m.

Heather M. Cook, Clerk
Jeffrey Hitchcock, Assistant Clerk
Karen Reixach, Recording Clerk
Karen Snare, Reading Clerk

2011-04-20. Friends settled into worship.

2011-04-21. Clerk Heather M. Cook welcomed Friends and introduced the individuals at the clerks’ table.

2011-04-22. Karen Snare (Bullshead-Oswego), reading clerk, read excerpts from the Epistle from Friends for Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, and Queer Concerns’ Midwinter Gathering 2011:

We came together once again to witness to the power of radical love and radical inclusion to transform and sustain us spiritually—and to discern how we are called to deepen our commitment to that call….

As we shared our truths with one another in worship, Spirit revealed to and through us how wholeness, community, love, and integrity are intimately intertwined with each other….

We ask for the prayers of all Friends everywhere as we do our work, and we ask you, as way opens, to support us and join with us in our struggle. We offer you our unfolding witness and testimony to the power of radical love and inclusion in this community and an invitation to join in this experience at gatherings in the future.

2011-04-23. Elaine Learnard, recording clerk for Saturday session, presented the minutes for the latter part of that session. Friends approved the remaining minutes from Saturday’s session.

2011-04-24. The following passage from George Fox was read:

Keep your mind on what first convinced you, that power of God which first awakened you, and get up and live in it! You will then be kept honest and sincere in your minds, and your hearts will be open, naked before God and before one another, stripped of everything that is contrary to them.

Rex Ambler. Truth of the Heart: An Anthology of George Fox 1624–1691. London: Quaker Books, 2001, 83.

2011-04-25. The Clerk presented the consent agenda for consideration. This agenda was circulated by electronic and postal mail in the week before this session, and hard copies have been available for review at the registration table. Friends approved Minutes 26–29 in accord with the consent agenda.

2011-04-26. Friends accepted the request for release from service:
Ministry Coordinating Committee (at large), 2013: John Perry (Bulls Head-Oswego).

2011-04-27. Friends approved the modification of the Preface statement of the Yearly Meeting Handbook to designate General Services Coordinating Committee as also responsible for those portions of the Handbook which currently are not under the care of any entity, and which are in need of review and updating.

2011-04-28. Friends approved an addition to the Handbook General Services section, “Committee Guidelines/Guidelines for Committee Members,” of an entire section articulating our practice for co-opting.

Co-opting Practice

Co-opting is a process for noting Friends who serve on NYYM committees whose appointment is outside of the usual guidelines for committee service.

  • An individual who is appointed to a committee as a full member through the usual nominating process but who is not a member of a monthly meeting. These individuals understand and accept Friends practice for conducting business in worship.
  • Appointment of someone who has served on a committee for the maximum time allowed, and agrees to serve for another year to respond to a particular need of the committee.


These names would be listed in the Yearbook with the appropriate class and with the designation “co-opted.”

Ideally, all committee openings would be filled and approved at Summer Sessions, and no one would resign before serving his or her full term. This not being the case, a committee may invite individuals to serve with the committee although they have not been through the normal nominating process, and are therefore not designated as “members.” Yearly meeting service is encouraged for all who have the commitment, time, and energy to serve.

The committee clerk, in consultation with committee members, may ask individuals to serve who have not come forward by Summer Sessions, but who might have been nominated if the name had been known earlier. The committee may invite an individual with a particular skill that the committee needs for a specific task or to work for a limited period of time.

Anyone serving in this manner may not serve as committee clerk, and should not expect to participate fully in the decisions of the committee.

The committee may request that these Friends be nominated for approval at the next Yearly Meeting Session. Individuals approved at Spring or Fall Sessions would be assigned to a class as if they had been appointed the previous summer.

2011-04-29. Friends approved changing the name of the General Secretary Supervisory Committee to Supervisory Committee for the General Secretary.

2011-04-30. Friends approved the nomination of John Edminster as a NYYM representative to the Friends United Meeting 2011 Triennial.

2011-04-31. Friends directed the Clerk to endorse a travel minute from Buffalo Monthly Meeting, endorsed by Farmington-Scipio Region, for Newton Garver, who for many years has been carrying a concern for the Bolivia Quaker Education Fund.

2011-04-32. Clerk of the Liaison Committee Charge Group Frederick Dettmer (Purchase) read the report of the group since NYYM Summer Sessions in fulfilling its charge “to propose a process to guide the Yearly Meeting in discerning who we are, how we are led, and how we support the work of those leadings and needs.” (NYYM Minute 2009-11-36) The Group has expanded to include Marissa Badgley (Poughkeepsie), Christine (Spee) Braun (Old Chatham), Steven Davison (Yardley MM/PhYM), and F. Peter Phillips as well as the original members Jeffrey Aaron, Heather M. Cook, Fred Dettmer, Cheshire Frager, Julia Giordano (Bulls Head-Oswego), and Christopher Sammond (Bulls Head-Oswego, sojourning at Poplar Ridge). Fred also explained the origin of the effort and research on other priority processes of Friends’ organizations. The report offered eight recommendations for Friends’ consideration. Some Friends had reservations about a goal of “setting priorities” and the complexity of the proposed process. Others expressed tenderness and gratitude for the work of the Group, while others expressed disquiet about the pragmatic tone of the document. Friends embraced the intent to discern how God is working in our Yearly Meeting, based in broad involvement in the process for prayer, listening and faithfulness. After several Friends spoke about the work of the Charge Group, and another Friend put the proposal in perspective, Friends were clear to approve the recommendations of the Charge Group (Minutes 33–40), with one Friend standing aside. The ad hoc Priorities Working Group will be constituted to start the process laid out in the report. Friends are invited to get under the weight of this concern.

2011-04-33. New York Yearly Meeting is clear that we need to discern accurately and corporately how the Spirit is at work among us and where it is leading us as a Society of Friends in the immediate future. We will need also to discern which facets of this work are primary, which are secondary or even tertiary, and which may need to be laid down, at least for a while. All in the Yearly Meeting will be invited to participate in this task of listening and discerning where we are led. The product of this discernment process, presented as a Statement of Leadings and Priorities, will become—upon approval—the priorities of New York Yearly Meeting as a community for the ensuing four to six years. This approved Statement should serve to focus the energy and resources of the Yearly Meeting, without limiting opportunity for emerging leadings to flourish. It will be utilized in preparing budgets, staff work plans, and other services and initiatives of the Yearly Meeting and its committees and constituent parts.

2011-04-34. An ad hoc Priorities Working Group will be formed to guide this process of developing a Statement of Leadings and Priorities that reflects the leadings and needs arising from our meetings and individual Friends. (Throughout these Minutes, the term “regional meeting” is meant to include regional, quarterly and half-yearly meetings, and the term “monthly meeting” includes monthly meetings, executive and preparative meetings, and worship groups.) The following persons will be asked to participate on the Working Group: the Yearly Meeting clerk, assistant clerk and general secretary, the clerk or a named representative of Financial Services Committee, Young Adult Friends, each coordinating committee, and each regional meeting. Friends who are serving due to their role on one of the above committees may also serve as the representative for their respective region, if that is the will of their region. The Working Group's first meeting will be convened by the clerk of the Yearly Meeting, and at that first meeting the Working Group will name its clerk. At-large members may be named by the Working Group during the course of its work.

2011-04-35. The Working Group is charged with responsibility (a) to gather the sense of the monthly and regional meetings and of individual Friends as to how the Spirit is at work among us and where it is leading us as a society of Friends in the immediate future; (b) to distill those insights and discern from them a proposed Statement of Leadings and Priorities that is both prophetic and workable; (c) to reflect these insights and priorities back to our constituent regions to ensure that the Working Group has discerned accurately; (d) to report its findings to the Yearly Meeting Body and to lead the process for considering and approving the Statement of Leadings and Priorities; and (e) to design a process to assess the implementation of these priorities.

2011-04-36. In its undertaking of this work, the Working Group may initiate discernment sessions, visits and consultations with monthly and regional meetings, and may also utilize existing structures and programs—including, but not limited to, State of Society reports, NYYM Sessions, Meeting for Discernment, and worship sharing queries at sessions of NYYM—in order to discern how we might name broad goals for prioritization. The Working Group may also communicate with regional and monthly meetings and Friends, initiate gatherings (such as retreats at Powell House), and employ any other techniques it finds will be helpful in developing a full and clear sense of our leadings for the immediate future work of New York Yearly Meeting.

2011-04-37. Once such clarity on leadings and priorities for our work together has been reached, the Working Group will send a written report to all our regions. After consultation with the regional meetings and any changes in the proposed Statement of Leadings and Priorities that result, the Working Group will forward the proposed Statement of Leadings and Priorities to the next Yearly Meeting session for its consideration.

2011-04-38. Upon adoption by the Yearly Meeting Body, the Statement of Leadings and Priorities will be used to inform our planning and work as a body. Yearly Meeting committees and coordinating committees will use these Priorities in planning their services and initiatives. Staff will use these Priorities to develop a work plan. Financial Services Committee will use them in preparing budgets. The Trustees will be asked to consider them in allocating trust funds, within the limits of trust instruments.

2011-04-39. The Yearly Meeting acknowledges that the Spirit determines the progress of faithful work. The Working Group should bring reports to each session of New York Yearly Meeting until it completes its work. The Working Group will be laid down upon the approval of a Statement of Leadings and Priorities by the Yearly Meeting and the approval of an ongoing assessment process designed to encourage us to remain faithful to our leadings.

2011-04-40. For the 2011 budget year, the four coordinating committee clerks will allocate funds from their current section budget lines to support this Working Group. For the 2012 budget year, Financial Services Committee, in consultation with the clerk of Yearly Meeting, the clerk of the Working Group, and the general secretary, will include a line in the 2012 budget for this work to continue.

2011-04-41. The minutes of the meeting to this point were read and approved.

2011-04-42. Clerk of Witness Coordinating Committee, Frederick Dettmer, reminded Friends that the Sharing Fund supports the witness work of Friends in NYYM, both directly through the work of NYYM committees and working groups and through assistance to the witness of Friends through their Monthly Meetings in the form of Witness Activities Grants. He conveyed gratitude for the contributions.

Fred recalled that the Sharing Fund has received significant bequests and other generous special contributions which have permitted the establishment of a Sharing Fund Endowment. This year, the Sharing Fund will begin to draw on the Endowment to supplement the annual donations. As a result, Witness Coordinating Committee has set its overall 2011 Sharing Fund goal at $71,755, and its goal for contributions from Friends at $50,000. This is a reduction from the contributions goal of $60,000 in 2010 and 2009 in recognition that actual contributions have not achieved that goal.

2011-04-43. NYYM representative to the Friends United Meeting (FUM) 2011 Triennial and the General Board, John Edminster, reported on continuing work to explore a relationship with Chwele Yearly Meeting in northwest Kenya. At Fall Sessions 2010, the Yearly Meeting heard a report from two representatives to FUM who had received an invitation from Friends at Chwele Yearly Meeting to consider that we be partner yearly meetings. The minute of the FUM Representatives’ report (NYYM 2010-11-39) and the report itself can be found in the NYYM Yearbook and on the Web site. Background material on Chwele Yearly Meeting and a letter to Chwele Yearly Meeting from the Clerk and the General Secretary were circulated by postal and electronic mail to Friends who registered for Spring Sessions, and hard copies have been available in our meeting space.

The Representatives are clear that they want to explore what it means to partner with Chwele Yearly Meeting and asked that the Clerk and General Secretary write to our brothers and sisters in Chwele YM. That letter was sent and contained the following paragraph:

“At this point, we are clear to explore how we might walk together, to offer, as Paul says, ‘mutual encouragement’ to each other in our efforts to be faithful, despite the vast distance that separates us geographically. We see several opportunities coming up where we might be able to get to know each other better, without undue expense. We hope these opportunities would enable us to join in prayer and discernment as to what the relationship of partner yearly meetings might mean to each of us, and how God is calling us to be in relationship.”

John asked for the meeting’s blessing on this exploration. Friends received the report.

2011-04-44. Clerk of Sessions Committee John Cooley (Central Finger Lakes) offered a statistical report on Spring Sessions:

Total attendance: 129
Youth and infant: 7
26 stayed in Oakwood Friends School dormitories
23 stayed in the homes of 11 local Friends

The Registrar for Spring Sessions reports that one problem in finding Friends hospitality in their area, with no public transit, is finding enough Friends to drive to Friends’ homes.

Fifteen of our attenders registered and/or paid at the Session. Late registration is a chronic problem for our hosts, and Friends are reminded to be considerate.

2011-04-45. Clerk of Sessions Committee reported on 2011 Summer Sessions. The theme is “Peace with Earth: Transforming our Communities” and the plenary speaker will be Anne Mitchell, former clerk of Canadian Yearly Meeting and current general secretary of Quaker Earthcare Witness. Fall Sessions 2011 will be held at a private school near Albany, with overnight accommodations available at Powell House.

2011-04-46. Clerk of Sessions Committee reported that the Affordability and Alternate Site Working Group was laid down at the February 2011 meeting of Sessions Committee. The working group investigated a number of possible sites for Summer Sessions without finding realistic prospects. Sessions Committee has a list of criteria of what is needed in a Summer Sessions site. Individuals are encouraged to give Sessions Committee the specific name of a venue (not a general category like “private colleges”) that they believe might be a possibility. If someone wants to do the research themselves, Sessions can share the criteria and its experience with best ways of getting answers from a venue. Contact the clerk of Sessions Committee.

2011-04-47. At Fall Sessions 2010 the Handbook page for the Youth Committee had its first reading. Friends heard and approved the Youth Committee page for inclusion in the Yearly Meeting Handbook with one minor change from the floor. One Friend stood aside.

2011-04-48. The minutes were read and approved.

2011-04-49. The meeting ended its business at 11:45 a.m. to reconvene at Silver Bay, NY, for Summer Sessions, July 17–23. Friends continued in open worship with prayer and vocal ministry.

This item was presented at