Minutes, Summer Sessions 2011

The 316th New York Yearly Meeting
Summer Sessions

July 17–23, 2011
Silver Bay, New York

Monday, July 18, 2011, 10:15 a.m.

Heather M. Cook, Clerk Jeffrey Hitchcock, Assistant Clerk
Roger Dreisbach-Williams, Recording Clerk
Karen Snare, Reading Clerk

2011-07-01. The Clerk spoke of the rainbow covenant between God and Noah. God hung his bow in the sky—a sign in ancient times that a warrior had quit the fight. We live in a culture that does not trust; this week is a time away from the world when we can practice trusting and listening to one another with love.

2011-07-02. The Clerk reviewed the order of worship for our session.

2011-07-03. The Clerk introduced the Friends at the clerks’ table. The reading clerk called the roll of regions in attendance. All regions were represented.

2011-07-04. A report from Junior Year Meeting (JYM) on the activities of the 3rd & 4th grade group was presented by Rachel Hewitt (Chatham-Summit), Abbey Byrlus (Shrewsbury), Olive Niccoli (Brooklyn), and Kayleigh O’Keefe (Housatonic).

2011-07-05. Visitors were welcomed. A travel minute from John Munandi Sindani and his wife, Lydia Munandi, was read. They spoke about Quakers in Western Kenya, and Friends high schools that are providing important education. Their prayer is for peace as another election approaches. Friends in Kenya are working with great urgency to prevent a repeat of the violence that broke out after the last national election. The country has a new constitution and there is hope, but the struggle continues, and prayer support is requested. Friends in Kenya need Bibles, which are very expensive when purchased locally.

2011-07-06. Bill Galvin, from the Center on Conscience and War, was also with us and rose to be welcomed.

2011-07-07. The travel minute of Jean Smith from East Africa Yearly Meeting was read. Jean spoke from the floor about her work among AIDS widows and widowers in Kenya.

2011-07-08. David Kisselback, chief executive officer of the Silver Bay YMCA, welcomed us and spoke about what our presence means to the staff. He also reviewed improvements being made to the facilities.

2011-07-09. The Clerk reported on three letters that have been sent by coalition groups, which the Clerk and general secretary signed on behalf of New York Yearly Meeting, since our last Session: from Food & Water Watch to New York governor Andrew Cuomo urging rejection of the recommendations from the Department of Environmental Conservation to allow hydraulic fracturing outside the watersheds for New York City and Syracuse; from a group of human rights defenders to the World Council of Churches thanking them for taking up the conscientious objection to paying taxes for war; and from heads of U.S.-based religious institutions and faith-based organizations to US President Barack Obama opposing prospective federal budget cuts affecting the poor and most vulnerable in our country.

2011-07-10. The preceding minutes were approved.

2011-07-11. A memorial minute from Bulls Head-Oswego Monthly Meeting for Christopher Joel Cadbury (1921–2010) was read. Chris grew up in a dense social network of family and Westtown School where he learned to think, when to be unselfish, what is a lie, what to share with others, and how to marry. He went on to maintain dense social networks among his relations, and at 57th Street Meeting in Chicago and Bulls Head-Oswego Monthly Meeting in Clinton Corners, NY. Chris could fix things, whether at the meetinghouse, on the dairy farm where he lived, or in conversations where he was noted for insightful questions and thoughtful responses. He is remembered for his integrity, which was remarkable, even among Quakers. His presence was a gift; he is deeply missed.

2011-07-12. General Secretary Christopher Sammond (Bulls Head–Oswego/sojourning at Poplar Ridge) presented his report.

A graph showing the decline in the membership of the Yearly Meeting was distributed to Friends present. In the last 56 years we have lost 50% of our members. While we are certainly growing in some ways—in spiritual depth, in unity, in our practice—we continue to decline in membership. Our current rate of decline is only about a fourth of what it has been in some periods in our history. Our current level of membership is 8% less than it was ten years ago. Christopher is concerned about this ongoing trend, and suggests that the graph could potentially represent one side of a parabola, with an equally positive upside in our future—but only if we change current behaviors. He wants us to carry this concern, to be mindful of it when we are making decisions about programs and allocation of resources.

People are coming in the door—32 of 53 State of the Meeting reports mention new attenders—but they are not necessarily staying. Some meetings are looking at possible outreach programs, and are near concluding that they just do not have the energy. We are at a critical time in the life of our meeting. We are nearing the time when we may not have the necessary critical mass to do the work of outreach necessary to preserve many of our meetings.

And we underestimate our current capacity to do so. “The core of what I feel led to talk about today is agency: The innate capacity to effect change.” We have more agency than we know. We are capable of doing more than we imagine. Some meetings are reaching out and finding new resources, coming together and finding new strength. Several examples were cited.

Agency is a spiritual quality. The third line of the Lord’s Prayer, “Thy kingdom come,” could be translated from the original Aramaic directly into English as “Create your reign of unity now—through our fiery hearts and willing hands,” or “Unite our ‘I can’ to yours, so that we walk as kings and queens with every creature.”

As Christopher has made over 150 visits to meetings and worship groups over seven years, he has been asking the question: What makes meetings thrive and grow? He has concluded that having one or two individuals on fire with commitment makes all the difference. A Friend with gifts in forming community, with gifts in witness, or with gifts of spiritual depth can act like a seed crystal, inspiring those around that person to join in creating a more vibrant meeting. We need to support these people.

Howard Thurman, a wise and grounded 20-century theologian, wrote, “We need not so much instruction, we need contagion. Be contagious!” Bill Taber, the late eminent Friend, wondered, “Can the prophetic stream be caught like the measles?” Augustine of Hippo summed it up long ago: “God without us will not; we without God cannot.”

Christopher closed with commentary on the passage from Matthew (16.25) “He who seeks to save his life shall lose it.” If all we want are more members, we will die, but if we move forward with vision and energy, others will want to join us and we will grow.

In response to Christopher’s presentation we heard: We need to love one another—those on fire, those who are wet blankets, those who are embers or kindling waiting to catch fire.


Wednesday, July 20, 2011, 10:15 a.m.

Heather M. Cook, Clerku
Jeffrey Hitchcock, Assistant Clerk
Roger Dreisbach-Williams, Recording Clerk
Robin Mallison Alpern, Reading Clerk

2011-07-13. The Clerk spoke about bumps, likening our business sessions to the morning sails that she and her husband have taken the past few mornings. The first morning was so smooth that her husband had to row. This morning’s sail had waves coming over the bow, and tying up to the dock was difficult; but at the end there was a greater sense of confidence, and trusting the love beneath the missed directions and impatient words. Her prayer is that we learn to welcome the bumps—the sharp tone that sometimes comes, “the water crashing over the bow”—trusting that greater competence, confidence, and love will follow.

2011-07-14. The Clerk introduced the Friends at the clerks’ table.

2011-07-15. Reporting from the JYM 9th & 10th grade group, Emrigael and Guinevere Alpern (Scarsdale) told us that in the morning the group had had a discussion about dreams and then talked about marriage equality. On Beach Day they talked with Bill Galvin about conscientious objection and the draft.

2011-07-16. Visitors were introduced and welcomed: Anne Mitchell, general secretary of Quaker Earthcare Witness and clerk of Canadian Yearly Meeting; Betsy Brinson, Richmond, VA, Meeting; and Camilla Campisi from the Quaker United Nations Office in New York.

2011-07-17. The Clerk reviewed the order of worship.

2011-07-18. During Community Worship on Tuesday, a memorial minute for Natalia “Natia” Rose Valentine Gorgen (1993­–2010) from Poughkeepsie Monthly Meeting was read. “Dream as if you’ll live forever, live as if you’ll die tomorrow!” was the quote on her Facebook page. Natia was a presence that could not be ignored, with her tall frame and long limbs, her way of stomping around the house and her loud laughter. She lived and experienced life intensely whether it was happiness, sadness, anger, or love.She was a champion swimmer, an exceptional student, and a valued leader coming into young adulthood while still, in some delightful ways, a child.Friends mourned her vital spirit, still expecting her to come bouncing through the door.

2011-07-19. Friends approved minutes 2011-07-11 through 2011-07-18.

2011-07-20. A memorial minute from Syracuse Monthly Meeting for Carolyn Murray Weddell Kulka Mallison (1924–2010) was read.

Carolyn fell in love with words and language early in life. She learned to transmute the shyness and differentness that had made her childhood painful, into respect for her own person, and for the unique gifts and foibles of others. She created space for people to be themselves, odd though they might be. This did not, however, mean they would not get a good argument if Carolyn disagreed with them. Those who have been active in New York Yearly Meeting for long, remember Carolyn’s teachings about the Goddess. Having been initiated into a group that celebrated the divine feminine along with the masculine, Carolyn began offering workshops to interested Quakers in the 1980s. Here she brought together her love and understanding of mystery, of otherworldliness, of the female spirit, of nature and Mother Earth. Carolyn’s early discovery that she could have faith in the path guided her last years and days. Goddess wisdom teaches there is no beginning and there is no end; death is but the doorway to the next stage of life. Carolyn had no fear of that doorway; she trusted that the path knew where it was going. She died peacefully on August 1, 2010. In the Goddess tradition, August First is Lammas, a time to celebrate the ripening crops, knowing prosperity is at hand. Carolyn’s last words are surely addressed to us all: “I love you too.”

Additional stories were shared.

2011-07-21. Friends heard, “This is the day that the Lord has made; let us rejoice and be glad in it.” —Psalm 118:24

2011-07-22. The State of the Society Report, a summary of monthly meeting reports, was read by Karen Way (New Brunswick). A theme emerges in the State of the Meeting reports: that meetings are vital when they make hard decisions together. Throughout the Yearly Meeting, extraordinary individuals followed leadings that took them into innovative community projects, heroic acts of caring, or witness that led to prison.

These individuals were nurtured by their meetings, which were nurtured in turn by the energy of each individual. But it is what a meeting does as a whole that seems to give it experiential vitality. As a whole, meetings face crises such as domestic violence in the meeting family, unexpected loss of a meeting space, or the death of a beloved teenager. And it is as a whole that meetings celebrate weddings, new members, intergenerational worship, or the opening of a new room for worship. Several meetings spoke of a yearning to be called, to be unified as they were at some point in the past “in a single project which was experienced as Spirit-led.”

We are not quiet for the sake of quiet itself, but to better hear that of God within. George Fox urged us not just to take care of each other, but to “stand and live in the same power and Spirit that the prophets and apostles were in.” We cherish our monthly meetings, which provide us with comfort and community, but it may be discomfort that moves us to seek wider justice, greater environmental health, and a larger people to be gathered.

One meeting wrote: “As is true of all living bodies, our membership waxes and wanes, and the collective energy of individuals grows and lies dormant, always, it seems, to grow again like the new shoot emerging each year from the bulb. But the spiritual center of our meeting—the ‘divine’—is constant.”

The full State of the Society Report is on the NYYM Web site (nyym.org), printed in the Yearbook, and available from the Yearly Meeting office.

2011-07-23. The Ministry Coordinating Committee (MCC) Handbook page was presented for the first time. Friends were asked to bring any concerns to the coclerk, Amy Willauer-Obermayer (Binghamton).

2011-07-24. The Meetings for Discernment Steering Committee presented a proposal to make the Meetings for Discernment and its Steering Committee an ongoing part of the Yearly Meeting. Friends not being ready to approve this proposal, its consideration will continue.

2011-07-25. The Meeting approved holding over consideration of the minutes until tomorrow morning.


Thursday, July 21, 2011, 10:15 a.m.

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

2011-07-26. Following a period of open worship the Clerk introduced those at the clerks’ table and provided the order of worship for the morning.

2011-07-27. Grace Prial (Chatham-Summit) and Rajani Flanders (Cambridge, NEYM) reported for the JYM 11th & 12th grade group. They are having a good week.

2011-07-28. The minutes from Wednesday’s session were approved.

2011-07-29. The Clerk presented the consent agenda for approval and reminded Friends that, there having been advance opportunity for expressing concern or comment, items on the consent agenda require no discussion. Friends approved the minutes 2011-07-30 through 2011-07-32 in accord with the consent agenda.

2011-07-30. Friends approved the nominations for service to the Yearly Meeting. The nominations can be found following the minutes and epistles of this Summer Sessions, in the listing of “Friends under Appointment to New York Yearly Meeting” in the Yearbook.

2011-07-31. Friends received the requests for release from service:
Vincent Buscemi (Morningside) Friends General Conference 2012; Bowen Alpern (Scarsdale) FGC 2012; Electra Cummings (Brooklyn) Barrington Dunbar 2013; Jill Nanfeldt (Chatham-Summit) Sessions 2013; Elizabeth (Buffy) Curtis (Mohawk Valley) Ministry and Pastoral Care 2012; Jack Patterson (Morningside)Witness Coordinating Committee at large 2013; Claire Cafaro (Saratoga) Alternatives to Violence Project 2012; Catharine Thomas (Chatham-Summit) Sufferings 2012; Sybil Perry (Bullshead-Oswego) Indian Affairs 2012; Ann Geiger (Butternuts) Committee on Conscientious Objection to Paying for War 2012.

2011-07-32. Friends approved the Handbook page for the Supervisory Committee for the General Secretary. This page of the Handbook can be found at the nyym Web site or paper copies may be requested from the Yearly Meeting office.

2011-07-33. Gabrielle “Gabi” Savory Bailey (Chatham-Summit), Young Adult Field Secretary since March of this year, spoke on her growing sense of the work of engaging and supporting the work of young adults ages 18–35. This group is not homogeneous, including young people at such points in life as making a transition following the high school years, beginning work, and forming families. In the 10 visits or events she has participated in so far, she reported the sense of the Spirit moving and the hunger for wholeness among Friends of all ages. Young Friends are doing faithful work; she sees her role as support, as listening, as being held up by Friends in prayer. She said the desire for integration of all ages is not helped by asking for people to serve by age rather than by gifts appropriate to the work. Gifts are best identified by acting together, and good work attracts the people needed. She also observed that often the same people are repeatedly asked for service, and challenged the body to know one another’s gifts by knowing one another more deeply. She ended with a query: How are we faithful to the leadings and gifts from God and how do we nurture those in ourselves and others, regardless of age, encouraging and supporting each other at each stage of life?

Friends spoke of the desire to be heard and recognized, and for love and understanding to grow.

2011-07-34. Powell House Committee incoming clerk Elizabeth Powers (Brooklyn) observed that Powell House has been at the heart of the transformation of NYYM and that in the next 50 years, if Powell House is to continue this vital work of connection, transformation, sustainability, reconciliation, and revelation, Powell House will also have to be transformed. She reported on efforts to craft a vision for this Yearly Meeting retreat center based on the experience and needs of Friends in NYYM. The committee is learning how to create “a container of grace” for its own work and for Powell House itself by attending more deeply to individual leadings and by taking seriously the commitment to experimentation. “It is like Peter getting out of the boat; as long as he had faith, he moved forward; when he had fear or disbelief, he sank.” We are seeking new ways of engaging with NYYM in tenderness, love, and experimentation. She asked that Friends hold the staff, the committee, and the work in prayer as the committee steps out of the boat.

Friends raised the issue of accessibility for older Friends and stressed the importance of the youth program in preparing young Friends for a life of integrity and caring. Friends are invited to be in further conversation with Powell House Committee.

2011-07-35. Witness Coordinating Committee (WCC) clerk Frederick Dettmer (Purchase) introduced the panel on visions for a global future, sponsored by WCC and the Earthcare Working Group: Lucas Braun (Old Chatham), Marissa Badgley (Poughkeepsie), Alexander York (Purchase), Elizabeth Vardy (Mohawk Valley), Sky Gurvich Loth (Wilton), and Alanna Badgley (Poughkeepsie). After hearing compelling accounts of their commitments, work, and vision, the body was left with a query from Alanna: What can you do? A summary of the presentations will be prepared by the Earthcare Working Group and posted on the Yearly Meeting Web site.

2011-07-36. Friends approved the minutes for this session.


Friday, July 22, 2011, 10:15 a. m.

Heather M. Cook, Clerk
Jeffrey Hitchcock, Assistant Clerk
Elaine Learnard, Recording Clerk
Karen Snare and Robin Alpern, Reading Clerks

2011-07-37. The meeting settled into open worship, out of which the reading clerk read:

As a Religious Society of Friends we see the stewardship of God’s creation as a major concern. The environmental crisis is at root a spiritual and religious crisis; we are called to look again at the real purpose of being on this earth, which is to till it and keep it so as to reveal the glory of God for generations to come.

It is a stony road ahead but our faith will uphold us; the power to act is God’s power which is mediated through each of us as we give and receive support one from another. We can all listen if we will to the wounds of the earth, tuning into it with joy. —London Yearly Meeting, 1988

2011-07-38. The Clerk introduced those at the clerks’ table, and acknowledged the Friends on the facing bench and scattered throughout the body holding the meeting in prayer. She asked that we be tender and disciplined at today’s meetings. She reminded us that any business not completed by the close of this afternoon’s session will be held over until Fall Sessions, as this evening’s meeting will be devoted to epistles. She reviewed the order of worship for this session.

2011-07-39. Sessions Committee clerk John Cooley (Central Finger Lakes) brought the news of the death last night of Joe Paquette, a longtime Alternatives to Violence Project (AVP) practitioner and friend to many in NYYM, who had driven some Friends here for last night’s contra dance. He collapsed on the Inn porch and a long attempt to revive him was unsuccessful. After noting that Joe would have had a special connection to tonight’s bonfire and Council of All Beings, John invited everyone to come to a meeting tonight to share memories and ministry on Joe’s life. Any future plans for a memorial service will be announced through the NYYM office.

2011-07-40. Friends heard a reading: “I have called you by name. You are mine, and I love you.” —Isaiah, 43:1–2

2011-07-41. The reading clerk read a recommendation that NYYM endorse the application of Mason Jenkins (Morningside) to the National Association of Veterans Affairs Chaplains. Based on the report from his care and support committee, Morningside Meeting approved this recommendation on February 6, 2011, and the New York Quarter approved it on April 17, 2011. Friends approved endorsing Mason’s application and directed the Clerk to register Mason with the Department of Veterans Affairs.

2011-07-42. Meetings for Discernment Steering Committee clerk Janet Hough (Chappaqua) read a report on Tuesday’s Meeting for Discernment. The report is appended. The report concluded with the following statement: “At this time, we would like to ask that this experiment in faithfulness be continued in its present form.” Following discussion about what is meant by “experiment” and by “in its present form,” Friends approved continuing the Meetings for Discernment for another three years, through the conclusion of Summer Sessions 2014. Friends also approved appending to these minutes the upcoming detailed report on Tuesday’s Meeting for Discernment.

2011-07-43. Ministry Coordinating Committee coclerk Amy Willauer-Obermayer brought a request that the Yearly Meeting on Ministry and Counsel be suspended for an additional year, through Summer Sessions 2012, pending approval of the MCC Handbook page. Following further consideration, Friends approved suspending the Yearly Meeting on Ministry and Counsel for three years, through the conclusion of Summer Sessions 2014, to correspond with the continuation of the Meetings for Discernment for the same period.

2011-07-44. The minutes to this point were approved.

2011-07-45. Epistle Committee clerk Roger Dreisbach-Williams (Rahway & Plainfield) gave the first reading of the epistle from these Sessions.

2011-07-46. Committee to Revise Faith and Practice clerk Joan Oltman (Purchase) presented the first reading of a proposed new Advice and a revision to Query 10 for Faith and Practice, as approved for forwarding to Yearly Meeting Sessions by MCC on July 21, 2011. The committee has been considering this revision since fall 2010, including seeking guidance from the Earthcare Working Group and from monthly meetings, and holding a full-day committee session in June to consider all the responses in rewriting the draft. The proposed texts are:

Advice: Friends are advised to acknowledge and celebrate our interconnectedness with the natural world and to share with our children and others our love for God’s creation. We are encouraged to live lives that nurture both ourselves and our Earth. We are urged to pay attention to such concerns as population growth, climate change, sustainable energy policies, and right sharing of natural resources.

Revised Query 10: Are we engaged in nurturing and deepening our relationship with all creation? Do we make time to open to the Spirit through contact with nature? Do we strive to live in harmony with the earth? How can we transform our lives in witness to our right relationship with the Earth, and join with others in active stewardship, realizing that we share one planet, now and in the future?

2011-07-47. Minutes 2011-07-45 and 2011-07-46 were approved.

2011-07-48. The reading clerk read a memorial minute for Willard Gaeddert, whom Fredonia Monthly Meeting has had at its heart for more than 45 years. Willard gave service to Friends as clerk for monthly meeting and New York Yearly Meeting, on Ministry and Counsel, and as Trustee. He spoke to us with the clear sense that responsibility for right order and right action lay with all of us in the boat together. Willard’s list of accomplishments would consume several pages of small print, but he never wanted to rest on his laurels; he wanted to be engaged, fully, in repairing the broken places whether they were in his neighborhood or in the wider world. Friends rose with remembrances and deep appreciation for his life.

2011-07-49. The meeting continued in community worship.


Friday, July 22, 2011, 1:45 p.m.

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

2011-07-50. The meeting opened in worship. The reading clerk read the following passage:

Yearly Meeting is not, in the last resort, made up of a body of experts. People who know a great deal about the matter in hand may do most of the talking, central committee members familiar with the complexities of translating convictions into practical terms may appear to be leading the meeting. But a few halting yet sincere hesitations, uttered by a Friend from a small meeting in a distant county may, in fact, be of more significance in revealing a matter in its true setting than all the sophistication of the committee worthies. Again and again on deep issues it is reality as known and experienced by the simple and single-minded meeting, that does not know too much to have lost its simple faith, that guides the Society; and the central committee or its administrator who knows that its service is, in the end, related to the life of the local meetings in the country, will have a deep respect for the weight of Yearly Meeting.
Britain Yearly Meeting Quaker Faith and Practice

2011-07-51. The Clerk introduced those at the clerks’ table and recognized the service of those carrying microphones to make our meetings more accessible and of those holding the meeting in prayer. She reviewed the order of worship for this session.

2011-07-52. A remaining minute from the morning session, minute 2011-07-48, was approved.

2011-07-53. General Services Coordinating Committee (GSCC) clerk Jeffrey Aaron (New Brunswick) reported that the exploration of the geographic location of the Yearly Meeting office is a complex undertaking, with so many interlocking variables and so many different opinions and perspectives that no clear path forward has emerged. He continues to welcome suggestions and perspectives. Separate from the consideration of moving the Yearly Meeting office from New York City to another site is the recent possibility that the office may be moved from the basement to the third floor of the current building (owned by the New York Quarter), because the American Friends Service Committee (AFSC) will consolidate space on the third floor. The preliminary analysis of costs and benefits of the move was presented to GSCC this week and the Committee authorized the clerk of GSCC to proceed with lease negotiations for the new space. In response to questions, Jeffrey reported that there is an elevator and that renovation costs are still to be determined.

2011-07-54. GSCC clerk Jeffrey Aaron noted that a complete and updated Handbook for the Yearly Meeting is not currently available. A working group will urge all committees to update (or provide) their Handbook descriptions. Working with the Communications Committee, GSCC hopes to make the Handbook fully available on the Web site for reference, in a format that permits downloading individual pages so that Friends can maintain a current version without printing out the entire Handbook each time a change occurs. Since the Handbook is a critical source of information, committee clerks are urged to put this item on their committee agendas and to keep the GSCC clerk informed of progress.

2011-07-55. Treasurer Susan Bingham (Montclair) summarized the status of the income and expenses for the operating budget as of June 30, 2011. The opening balance in January was $204,558. Year-to-date receipts are $237,806; total disbursements are $230,349, for a net change of $7,457, significantly better than at the same time last year. The full report is posted on the Web site.

2011-07-56. Financial Services Committee clerk Sandra Beer (Old Chatham) reported on the process for preparation of the 2012 budget. A spare basic budget will be distributed to monthly meetings, identifying additional tiers of activity that could be undertaken should sufficient funds be available. Budget Saturday is scheduled for September 24, 2011, [location: Purchase Meeting]. It would be most helpful to have estimates of covenant donations from meetings by Budget Saturday. Sandra urged Friends to describe their experiences of Yearly Meeting to Friends at home, to provide perspective as meetings consider their donation to NYYM.

2011-07-57. Nominating Committee coclerk Jill McLellan (Central Finger Lakes) presented the nominations of Friends outside the Yearly Meeting for appointment to the Oakwood Friends School Board of Managers, as is our practice.

2011-07-58. Friends approved Richard Eldridge (’10), Philadelphia Yearly Meeting, for Oakwood Friends School Board of Managers, Class of 2013.

2011-07-59. Friends approved Elizabeth Eschallier (’04), Philadelphia Yearly Meeting, for Oakwood Friends School Board of Managers, Class of 2013.

2011-07-60. Friends approved Mary Alexander (’06), Philadelphia Yearly Meeting, for Oakwood Friends School Board of Managers, Class of 2014.

2011-07-61. Friends approved Sheila Lunger (’10), Philadelphia Yearly Meeting, for Oakwood Friends School Board of Managers, Class of 2014.

2011-07-62. Friends approved Philip Richmond (’08), Baltimore Yearly Meeting, for Oakwood Friends School Board of Managers, Class of 2014.

2011-07-63. Nominating Committee coclerk Jill McClellan described the method of appointment to Nominating Committee: Each region is asked to appoint one member of the Nominating Committee for each 200 members in that region. Some regions are not represented or are underrepresented, which means that full knowledge of gifts that may be available among Friends is lacking. The Nominating Committee plans to review the population statistics annually, and to advise regional clerks of the number of Nominating Committee members that the region should provide.

2011-07-64. Nominating Committee coclerk Jill McClellan offered the revised Handbook page for the Nominating Committee for its first presentation. The proposed sections of the Handbook can be found at the NYYM Web site or paper copies may be requested from the Yearly Meeting office.

2011-07-65. Sessions Committee clerk John Cooley reported the statistics for this Summer Sessions: A total of 558 people registered, of whom 103 were in JYM and 25 were preschool children. 71 individuals received a total of $12,525 from the Equalization Fund. Sessions Committee has reserved the Silver Bay YMCA from July 22 to 28, 2012, for next year’s Summer Sessions. For Friends who want to explore other locations for our Summer Sessions, the Committee can provide a list of locations that have been considered and the criteria for a suitable site. The next Sessions Committee meeting is October 1, 2011; timely comments and suggestions for a theme for next year’s Summer Sessions are welcome. On behalf of NYYM, the Committee has given a copy of Lester Brown’s World on the Edge: How to Prevent Environmental and Economic Collapse to the Silver Bay YMCA library.

2011-07-66. The minutes to this point were approved.

2011-07-67. Witness Coordinating Committee (WCC) clerk Fred Dettmer reminded the body that at Summer Sessions 2010 WCC and Indian Affairs Committee had brought forward (as Minute 2010-7-37) for first reading a proposed minute that calls upon the United States Senate to ratify the United Nations Declaration of the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, so that it becomes the law of the land in the United States of America. The minute repudiates the Doctrine of Discovery, a theory used to seize and claim dominion over lands long inhabited and cherished by indigenous peoples. Indian Affairs Committee subsequently shared the minute with the monthly meetings and worship groups, together with explanatory and educational materials, and traveled to meetings to explore with Friends the opportunities and challenges offered by the minute. The Committee’s work is not yet done. The committee will again reach out to regional and monthly meetings. Meetings are encouraged to invite members of Indian Affairs Committee to visit for the purpose of engaging with this important work.

2011-07-68. Witness Coordinating Committee clerk Fred Dettmer reminded the body that the tenth anniversary of 9/11 will be an opportunity to reflect on the effects of the violence that occurred on September 11, 2001, and also over the ensuing decade, and to join with people of all faiths to celebrate the acceptance and compassion that make peace and community possible. Many interfaith events will be held to commemorate the tenth anniversary, and people of goodwill everywhere are urged to help organize and to participate in such activities.

2011-07-69. Friends approved the following minute on observing the 10th anniversary of 9/11:

Ten years ago members of al-Qaeda used four passenger aircraft as weapons to kill nearly 3,000 people on September 11, 2001. The United States government’s response was to answer violence with violence. In the ensuing wars, hundreds of thousands more people have been killed. New York Yearly Meeting of the Religious Society of Friends (Quakers) urges everyone to recognize this anniversary as an occasion to remember that there are always alternatives to violence and that there is a Spirit in every human being which responds with gratitude to these alternatives.

The Religious Society of Friends has always upheld the way exemplified by Jesus, who taught us never to return evil for evil, but to love our enemies and pray for them, forgiving them every offense. We confess that we, being human, do not always fulfill this high standard. Nevertheless, we continually strive to discern the guidance of the living God who loves unconditionally, and extends unlimited compassion, comfort, mercy, guidance, grace, and revelation to all who ask.

We testify to the world that we disown all wars and fighting with outward weapons for any cause whatsoever. These are never necessary. There are no “just wars.” Among the weapons we renounce are the tongue and the pen, when these are used to provoke prejudice and hatred. Neither will we be silenced by fear when we are called to witness against evil masquerading as good. We seek to build a world in which a just peace is possible. We seek the strength to support and keep faith with those who suffer for nonviolent acts of conscience. We live by the gospel of God’s love for all. Join us.

2011-07-70. Friends directed the NYYM Clerk and general secretary to sign and distribute the minute widely. Reports of the monthly meetings’ use of the minute would be welcomed by WCC.

2011-07-71. Witness Coordinating Committee clerk Fred Dettmer indicated that information about events is available on the Web site of the National Religious Campaign against Torture (nrcat.org), and information about events within NYYM will be posted on our Web site. WCC is asked to undertake the responsibility for having information posted on the Web site.

2011-07-72. Friends approved minutes 2011-07-67 through 2011-07-71.

2011-07-73. The reading clerk read, “For surely I know the plans I have for you, says the Lord, plans for your welfare and not for harm, to give you future with hope.” —Jeremiah 29:11

2011-07-74. Ministry Coordinating Committee coclerk Regina Haag (Adirondack) described the years-long process for developing an apology to Afro-Descendants for NYYM Friends’ role in slavery and its aftermath. Task Group on Racism in NYYM clerk Irma Guthrie (Perry City) read the following apology, which will be sent to monthly meetings for their consideration. Monthly meetings are asked to inform MCC of their considerations and work on the issues of apology for slavery, segregation, and discrimination.

We, the New York Yearly Meeting of the Religious Society of Friends, apologize to Afro-Descendants* for Quaker participation in the terrible acts of enslaving your ancestors and for the destructive effects that those acts have had on succeeding generations.

Slavery is an abomination. We regret that any Friends participated in or benefited from Slavery. This included trafficking in human beings from Africa, capitalizing on the products of their labor and suffering, and being enriched by an economy based on chattel slavery. We apologize that NYYM allowed its members to hold Africans in bondage up until 1777 when Friends were directed by the Yearly Meeting to “manumit their slaves.”

In addition we abhor the decades of terror and legalized racial segregation that followed. We acknowledge that, despite our Testimony of Equality, Friends practiced segregation in our schools and enforced segregated seating areas in many of our meetings. We regret the effects that those policies had, and continue to have on all of us.

We recognize that this apology is a step toward healing and trust that more openings will follow as we strive, with Divine assistance, to discern what we as Quakers are called to do bring about justice and reconciliation in our beloved community.

*Afro-Descendants is a term now officially in use by the United Nations to identify the more than 250 million descendants of enslaved Africans dwelling in North America, Latin America, the Caribbean, and the Slavery Diaspora.

Friends spoke from the floor of the need to include a request for forgiveness from God and those who have been injured; and also of the caste system created by our current approach to criminal justice, resulting in the “new Jim Crow.”

2011-07-75. Friends approved minutes 2011-07-73 and 2011-07-74.

2011-07-76. The meeting continued in community worship.


Friday, July 22, 2011, 6:45 p.m.

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

2011-07-77. Out of open worship, Grace Prial read:

Worshippers are like the spokes of a wheel. The nearer they come to the centre of all Life the nearer they are to each other. Having reached the centre they become united in a single life through the creative love of God. —Howard H. Brinton, Creative Worship

2011-07-78. The Clerk welcomed everyone to our final meeting for worship with attention to business for Summer Sessions 2011, naming it a joy to see so many of us gathered. She explained that some epistles are letters to each other, some to the wider world.

2011-07-79. JYM Committee clerk Peter Close (Purchase) recognized the outgoing (Virginia Haines, Mohawk Valley), incoming (Dawn Pozzi, Rochester), and continuing (Miriam McGiver, Quaker Street) coordinators of the JYM program at Summer Sessions.

2011-07-80. JYM Committee clerk Peter Close introduced the incoming clerks for the JYM groups: 11th & 12th grade clerks Daniel Condon (New Paltz) and Samantha DeBellis (Purchase); 9th & 10th grade clerks Isabella Aguirre (Purchase) and Emrigael Alpern (Scarsdale); and 7th & 8th grade clerksNora Mattson (Brooklyn), Lucy Jackson (Rockland),and Emily Lawson (New Brunswick).

He recognized the service of the outgoing clerks: 11th & 12th grade clerks Rajani Flanders (Cambridge, NEYM), Noah Pomerselig (New Paltz), and Grace Prial (Chatham-Summit); 9th & 10th grade clerks Mariah Goodwin (Butternuts) and Martin Glazer (Rochester); and 7th & 8th grade clerks Erin Clark (Old Chatham) and Simon Michaud (Old Chatham).

2011-07-81. In front of a painted folding screen of their peaceful world, the 1st & 2nd graders presented their epistle as an original song about their week. The singing presenters were: River Hudson Festa-Rios (Brooklyn), Rose Fleischer-Black (Brooklyn), Max Frackman (Brooklyn), Yuan Ye Garcia (Butternuts), Eamonn Glynn (Brooklyn), Jack Kane (Albany), Tallulah Klein (Brooklyn), Bridget Lawson (New Brunswick), Ethan Lee (Rockland), Rivers Lyons (Brooklyn), Ryan O’Keefe (Housatonic), Wyatt Oltman (guest/Purchase), Dalio Sorel di Conato (Homewood, BYM), and Madeline Wagner (Brooklyn). The epistle is appended.

2011-07-82. Entering and exiting accompanied by their own drumming, the members of the 3rd & 4th grade group chanted their epistle, “We are the Web of Life.” The epistle is appended.

2011-07-83. For the 5th & 6th grade group, Juliet Ramey LaRiviere (15th Street), Thea Clarkberg (Ithaca), and Eric Menzel (New Brunswick) told us about their week of activities, and told us that that they can’t wait until next year. The epistle is appended.

2011-07-84. Passing the microphone from hand to hand, Nora Mattson (Brooklyn), Kianna Huey (15th Street), Soren Grunder (15th Street), and Simon Michaud (Old Chatham) took turns reading for the 7th & 8th grade group about their worship and learning during the week. The epistle is appended.

2011-07-85. For the 9th & 10th grade group, Martin Glazer (Rochester) read the epistle, to a piano accompaniment by Jan Jurchak (Old Chatham), while several in the group acted out the activities of the week. The epistle is appended.

2011-07-86. The 11th & 12th grade group sat in worship, while Robert Kellner (Purchase) spoke out of the silence about learning about Quaker practice by working in committees to plan the week, and about Quaker faith in many of their activities and in their time together. They thanked the Yearly Meeting for a wonderful year. The epistle is appended.

2011-07-87. The Circle of Young Friends epistle was read by Barbara von Salis (Brooklyn) and Sky Gurvich Loth. The epistle is appended.

2011-07-88. Epistle Committee member Elizabeth Gordon (Binghamton) gave the second reading of the epistle, as revised based on responses received since this morning’s first reading. With two corrections, Friends approved the epistle. The epistle is appended.

2011-07-89. Following meeting for worship tomorrow morning, New York Yearly Meeting will adjourn, to meet again from November 11, 2011, to November 13, 2011, at the Doane Stuart School in Rensselaer, NY.

2011-07-90. Friends approved the minutes of the evening session and continued in expectant waiting worship.

This item was presented at