Minutes, Spring Sessions 2014


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New York Yearly Meeting
Spring Sessions
April 4–6, 2014

Colgate Rochester Crozer Divinity School, Rochester, NY &
Rochester Meeting, Rochester, NY


Saturday, April 5, 2014, 10:00 a.m.

Jeffrey L. Hitchcock (Rahway & Plainfield), Clerk
Lucinda Antrim (Scarsdale), Assistant Clerk
Roger Dreisbach-Williams (Rahway & Plainfield), Recording Clerk
Robin Mallison Alpern (Scarsdale), Reading Clerk

2014-04-01.   The Clerk spoke of our meeting as a corporate body in the chapel with its uplifting architecture (Friends spoke to the body from an elevated pulpit), and reviewed the agenda – reminding Friends about the Consent Agenda which will be considered tomorrow.

2014-04-02.   Friends stood as their region was called.  All regions are represented.

2014-04-03.   Lucy (Lu) Harper (Rochester) welcomed us on behalf of the Farmington-Scipio Host Committee. 135 Friends have registered.

2014-04-04.   Clerk of the Priorities Working Group, Lee Haring (Bulls Head-Oswego) presented a report from the Priorities Working Group.  The report includes six areas of concern, actions, both immediate and to be completed over the next five years, goals to be achieved, and a process of accountability that will be presented in a few weeks.   Friends were asked to read the report, share it with other Friends, and hold it in prayer/reflection.  Reflections should be sent to the clerk of the Priorities Working Group.  The report is attached. An updated version will be presented for approval at Summer Sessions. 

2014-04-05.   Minutes 2014-04-01 through 2014-04-04 were approved.

2014-04-06.    The meeting received a minute of travel from Rochester Monthly Meeting, endorsed by Farmington-Scipio Regional Meeting, for their members Mary Kay Glazer and Mark Moss to carry their concern for couple enrichment work.  They began this work in 1999 after a period of discernment.  This minute was first issued in 2002 and renewed in 2009 and again in 2013. A Care Committee of Rochester Monthly Meeting oversees their work and maintains a fund for this calling.  Friends directed the Clerk to endorse this minute of travel.

2014-04-07.    The meeting received a minute of travel from Syracuse Monthly Meeting, endorsed by Farmington-Scipio Regional Meeting, for their attender Rachel Pia to travel as part of a team under the care of, and serving, Friends General Conference’s New Meetings Project.  An Anchor Committee of Syracuse Meeting and Farmington-Scipio Regional Meeting will meet with her to support her faithfulness in this work.  Friends directed the Clerk to endorse this minute of travel.

2014-04-08.   The meeting received a minute of travel from Fifteenth Street Monthly Meeting for their member Emily Provance to sojourn in Britain from Ninth Month 2014 till the middle of the year 2015 with a concern to travel in the ministry among British Friends worshipfully exploring Quaker faith and practice. A Care Committee has been established and is working with her in preparation for this work.  She will be asking questions (rather than bringing a message) and reporting on her experience. Friends directed the Clerk to endorse this minute of travel.

2014-04-09.   The meeting received a report from Mara Komoska (Brooklyn) and Shirley Way (Ithaca) on their travel to El Salvador to hold Alternative to Violence Project workshops.  This trip was supported by the Witness Coordinating and World Ministries committees.

2014-04-10.    The meeting received a report from Frederick Dettmer (Purchase) on an amicus curiae (Friend of the Court) brief filed on behalf of Philadelphia Yearly Meeting and New York Yearly Meeting by the Religious Liberty Clinic of the Stanford Law School on the appeal of a case regarding an Orthodox Jewish community in Teaneck, New Jersey.  The case is pending.

2014-04-11.   Minutes 2014-04-05 to -10 were approved.

2014-04-12.   Lucinda Antrim assumed the Clerkship of the session.  

2014-04-13.   Jeffrey L. Hitchcock (Rahway & Plainfield) reported on the Clerk’s leading that we need to visit meetings and worship groups other than our own.  This is already being done to some extent: he wants to see it expanded.  He shared a vision of local meetings and worship groups knit together into a Yearly Meeting through inter-visitation, and introduced a website to record and report on these visits.  The website has already recorded more than 20 visits.  His report is attached.

2014-04-14.    Minutes 2014-04-11 to -13 were approved.


Sunday, April 6, 2014, 10:15 a.m.

Jeffrey L. Hitchcock (Rahway & Plainfield), Clerk
Lucinda Antrim (Scarsdale), Assistant Clerk
Andrew Mead  von Salis (Brooklyn), Recording Clerk
Karen Snare (Bulls Head – Oswego), Reading Clerk

2014-04-15.  Friends settled easily into silence, in a sunny room freshly seasoned by an hour of worship.  Welcoming us, the Clerk reminded us of the differences and sameness of visiting new spaces for our meetings.  He reviewed our agenda. 

2014-04-16.  Lucinda Antrim stepped aside from the clerks' table.  As clerk of the Meetings for Discernment Steering Committee, she presented and summarized the Committee's report.  She highlighted the Meetings for Discernment's role in our Yearly Meeting's life, and its coordination this year with the Priorities Working Group. Ruth Bryan (Scarsdale) and Beverly Archibald (Manhattan) were appointed to service on the Committee, while Alanna Badgley (Poughkeepsie) and Irene Goodman (Manhasset) were released from service, pursuant to the Committee’s process.
    Friends spoke to the quality and value of the Meetings for Discernment. The report was received.

2014-04-17.  The Treasurer, Susan Bingham (Montclair), presented her December 31, 2013 report, consisting of final statements of the Yearly Meeting's operations, funds activity and financial position for the 2013 year, and her February 28, 2014 report, consisting of statements of the Yearly Meeting's operations, funds activity and financial position for the first two months of 2014. 
    These reports have been posted on our website.  They show that for 2013, our receipts exceeded disbursements by $173.89 upon operations totaling about $487,000.  This was our second year in a row with a surplus of about $200.  For the months of January and February 2014, our disbursements exceeded receipts by $7,896.79 upon operations totaling roughly $70,000; this shortfall is a small fraction of the shortfall at this point last year.  Our closing balance on hand thus fell a little below $200,000.
    Friends received the report.

2014-04-18.  A proposed Handbook page for the Advancement Committee was given its first reading by Mia Kissil Hewitt (Chatham-Summit), clerk of that Committee.  The text was drafted to revise an existing page.  It was approved by the Ministry Coordinating Committee at Fall Sessions 2013, and Friends' comments and suggestions were now welcomed.  Some were voiced today and received by the Committee.  Further consideration of the Handbook page was held for its second reading at our Summer Sessions.

2014-04-19.  A proposed Handbook page for the Sessions Committee was given its first reading by Melanie-Claire Mallison (Ithaca), assistant clerk of that Committee.  The draft revised an existing page.  Friends were reminded that the Committee's subcommittees each maintain an internal handbook of additional details within that subcommittee's purview.  Friends' comments and suggestions were welcomed.  Further consideration of the Handbook page was held for its second reading at our Summer Sessions.

2014-04-20.  John Cooley (Central Finger Lakes), clerk of the General Services Coordinating Committee, reported orally to us.  The committee had no items for our action today.  He introduced Linda Houser (Purchase), clerk of our Trustees, who read and commented on their report.  Its primary theme is a shift toward greater transparency.  Their financial reports were made to be quarterly rather than annual, and are posted on our website.  They began to report Trust operations with clearer organization.  Several other steps under consideration were detailed.
    In 2014, the Trustees have expended $37,200.00 from funds that they manage: $29,650 from specified Funds toward five related Yearly Meeting operating expense lines, as well as $7,550.00 from the Trustee Administrative Fund for two items of Trustees' internal operating expenses. A further report from the Treasurer of the Trustees will be posted on our website when final data from Friends Fiduciary Corporation arrives.
    Friends commented on the Trustees' work and received their report.

2014-04-21.  John Cooley proceeded to advise us of progress in selecting new auditors.  He made available a report of the Audit Committee to the General Services Coordinating Committee. 
    John went on to inform us of the current status of our budget.  He said, "We wanted to show in the budget what it really cost to run the Yearly Meeting, so we put in the budget both the expenses and the additional revenue from the Trustees, rather than just having the Trustees pay for things directly."  But this effort to improve transparency has introduced a complication to our accounting.  The Financial Services Committee has thus amended the budget to reflect better how our money is actually raised and spent. 
    John also described activity regarding the Lindley Murray Fund, whose report to the Coordinating Committee was widely distributed.  He discussed certain work and accomplishments of the Communications Committee, Development Committee, Personnel Committee and Supervisory Committee for the General Secretary, among others.  He assured us that these committees' reports, while not made to our Sessions, are posted in the General Services section of the Yearly Meeting website, along with that Coordinating Committee’s minutes.
    Friends received the report of the General Services Coordinating Committee.

2014-04-22.  The Clerk presented for approval the Consent Agenda that had been published in advance. In accord with our consent agenda practice, Minutes 23 and 24 were approved. 

2014-04-23.  The following Friends were nominated for service in committee or other positions, respectively.  These appointments, each ending in July of the specified year, were approved:
    Representative to Friends United Meeting Triennial (2014)
    Christopher Sammond, Poplar Ridge
    Alternate Representative to Friends United Meeting Triennial (2014)
    Gabrielle Savory Bailey, Chatham-Summit
    Prisons Committee (2016) Anne Wright, Scarsdale
    Sessions Committee (2016) Kathleen (Kate) Lawson, New Brunswick
    Worship at YM Sessions Committee (2016) Janice Ninan, Collins

2014-04-24.  The Yearly Meeting was asked to release the following Friends under committee or other appointment from their service through July of the specified year.  These releases were approved:
Youth Committee (2016)   Helen Staab, Purchase
Committee for Conflict Transformation (2016) Jack Cuffari, Montclair

2014-04-25.  Irma Guthrie (Perry City), clerk of the Faith and Practice Revision Committee, reported that the Ministry Coordinating Committee has approved the proposed new section in our book of discipline, Faith and Practice, that defines "Worship Groups."  Since its first reading, it was amended both before and after the text was distributed and posted on our web site in preparation for this second reading for approval.  The amended definition clarifies a pathway to membership for worship group participants.  The amended text was read aloud, as follows:

When Friends or other seekers choose to worship together regularly, whether in a community or in a prison, they may form a worship group by requesting the care of a nearby monthly, quarterly, half-yearly or regional meeting.  A committee of care and accountability should be appointed by that meeting to assure the conduct of the worship group in the manner of Friends. The care committee for that worship group should include meeting members or attenders who attend the worship group regularly.  Attenders at the worship group should become familiar with the ways of Friends' faith and practice. New attenders should be welcomed.
    Attenders of a worship group may apply to the monthly meeting providing care for the worship group for membership in the Religious Society of Friends, or for marriage, in accordance with the process used by the meeting to which they apply and the guidance offered in this Faith and Practice.  If the worship group is under the care of a regional, quarterly or half-yearly meeting, attenders may apply to any monthly meeting in the region for membership or marriage.
    A worship group may hold property and/or financial assets, and may receive and disburse funds on behalf of its attenders.  It may also choose a clerk, a treasurer, and other officers as needed, conduct business of its own, and prepare business to be forwarded to the meeting under whose care it operates.

The change to Faith and Practice was approved, effective immediately.

2014-04-26.  On behalf of the Ministry Coordinating Committee, Irma Guthrie also described the responses to the Task Group on Racism's queries following up our Fall 2013 Apology to Afro-Descendants.  The responses of various individuals and local meetings were of value and will be published.

2014-04-27.  Melanie-Claire Mallison (Ithaca), assistant clerk of the Sessions Committee, reported the updated results of our participation this weekend.  126 Friends attended these Spring Sessions, including six teens and five younger children.  21 hosting homes provided lodging and hospitality for 57 Friends.  Appreciation of the Host Committee's work and of Rochester Monthly Meeting's accommodations was expressed by all. 
    Melanie-Claire also announced the dates of our Summer Sessions at Silver Bay, New York, in July.  She informed Friends that Margaret Lew and Helen Garay Toppins will convene the host committee of New York Quarterly Meeting for our Fall Sessions 2014 at Fifteenth Street meetinghouse in New York City on November 14-16.
    This report was received.

2014-04-28.  The Minutes were read, corrected and approved in stages during today's session.

2014-04-29.  The Clerk invited Friends to join in silent worship to conclude our meeting, and the Yearly Meeting did so in gratitude.  Friends adjourned at 12:15 p.m., to convene again at Silver Bay, New York from July 20 through 26, 2014.

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