«New England Yearly Meeting of the Religious Society of Friends Permanent Board Minutes November 23, 2013 Plainfield Monthly Meeting 13-107 ...»
New England Yearly Meeting of the Religious Society of Friends
Permanent Board Minutes
November 23, 2013
Plainfield Monthly Meeting
13-107 Intervisitation: Friends from Permanent Board had the opportunity to visit with
Friends from Plainfield Meeting before our opening worship.
13-108 Opening Worship: During our opening worship, in the meeting room at
Plainfield meeting, we heard a memorial minute for Andrew Towl.
13-109 Welcome: We were welcomed by our clerk, who spoke of the many ways God is with us, and by Rachel Walker Cogbill, clerk of Plainfield Meeting.
13-110 Roll Call: The Recording Clerk called the roll.
Present: Holly Baldwin, Travis Belcher, Deana Chase, Susan Davies, Jeremiah Dickinson, Sarah Gant, Ben Guaraldi, Jan Hoffman, Leanna Kantt, Allan Kohrman, Christopher McCandless, Jean McCandless, Bruce Neumann, Suzanna Schell, Becky Steele, Carolyn Stone, Donn Weinholtz, Fritz Weiss, Rosemary Zimmermann, Hannah Zwirner.
Regrets: Aimee Belanger, Justice Erikson, Galen Hamman, Nancy Isaacs, Sandy Isaacs, Mary Knowlton, Rebecca Leuchak, Rocky Malin, Elias Sanchez-Eppler, Karen Sanchez-Eppler, Patricia Shotwell, Sara Smith, Philip Stone, Hannah Zwirner.
Ex-officio: Edward Baker (Clerk of Personnel), Muriel Farrar (Gonic, co-clerk of Finance), Maria Lamberto (Co-clerk of Finance), Noah Baker Merrill (Yearly Meeting Secretary), Jacqueline Stillwell (Presiding Clerk), Visitors: Wilmer Brandt (Plainfield), Charlie Cogbill (Plainfield), Carol Dawes (Plainfield), Buck Foster (Plainfield), Nat Shed (Friends Camp Director) LaVerne Shelton (Madison, WI), Rachel Walker-Cogbill (Plainfield), Carl Williams (Plainfield), Kathleen Wooten (Lawrence).
13-111 Minutes: Edits were offered for the minutes from our Sept. 28th meeting. With changes, the minutes were approved.
13-112 Memorial Minute: friends approved forwarding Andrew Towl’s Memorial Minute to Sessions.
13-113 Joint Meeting: We reflected on the joint session with Ministry and Counsel at our Sept. 28 meeting. While Friends enjoyed meeting together, and opportunities for sharing through the day, it seemed that there was limited benefit to the shared agenda item (consideration of MM relationships). Friends are open to continuing to explore joint meetings, recognizing that more benefit may emerge as the practice becomes more familiar.
PB Minutes 11/23/13 Approved 2/15/14 13-114 Monthly Meeting Relationships: Deana Chase, speaking for a working group which included Sara Smith and Bruce Neumann, presented their thoughts on visiting Monthly Meetings as part of our initiative to foster relationships. She presented a document which gives some advice about how to approach a visit, and some queries to use when engaging with MM Friends. We understand that answers to the queries are not the object, the queries are a vehicle towards our goal of listening, making connections, sharing ideas and inspiration. We are encouraged to bring available hand-outs to support the task of explaining the scope and relevance of NEYM, and to leave behind, hoping to encourage further discussion and awareness. Hand-outs include: A brochure with Deana’s and Sarah’s two images of ways to understand the YM, and a brochure about the Youth Programs. Deana also mentioned that she is exploring the idea of a “Yearly Meeting Passport” to encourage intervisitation. Anyone interested in visiting could bring their passport to a meeting and get a stamp showing that they had been there. Bruce spoke about a Google doc he has set up to help track intervisitation. The link will be widely distributed among PB, Structural Review, and Ministry and Counsel. Friends considering a visit are encouraged to look at it to help plan where to go, and to update the document as plans are made and visits accomplished. Some concern was raised about the required internet accessibility and spreadsheet skills. Noah said he hoped this work could be coordinated with staff, and that we could consider how staff support could be most useful. Friends endorsed the working group’s plan.
We turned from looking at logistics to considering the context of asking MM’s for increased donations. While Friends are clear about our role in the relationshipbuilding which we hope will foster donations, it is less clear who is expected to discuss donations with the MM’s, and at what point. We understand that conversations about money will be more effective if they grow out of a relationship. We are encouraged, in our visits, to express our thanks for the gifts that have been given: of Friends’ service to their communities and to the YM, of spiritual presence in their communities, and for the financial contributions that have been given in the past. (Note that MM contributions are listed in the Directory.) The clerk clarified that PB’s new role in this process is in the ongoing work of fostering YM/MM relationships, which we hope will be helpful to Finance Committee and staff, as they contact the MM’s regarding their donations. PB Friends are welcome, as led, to assist Finance Committee by contacting MM’s with whom they have developed a relationship.
One Friend encouraged us all to “Get out there and start visiting,” not to wait for further refinements of visit planning. We will certainly learn from the work.
Another Friend encouraged PB members to participate on their MM Finance committees, and be an advocate for YM donations.
13-115 Finance Committee: Maria Lamberto, for Finance Committee, introduced Muriel Farrar, who will be acting as co-clerk with Maria. We heard that the committee, now with 15 members, has established subcommittees for: Budgeting Process; Policies, Structures and Systems; and Education and Support. The
13-116 Treasurer’s Report: Ben Guaraldi reported that with the close of the fiscal year, Monthly Meeting giving matched the budget, and that individual giving, up 31% from expected, matched the challenge built into the budget. Due to an unexpected imbalance of income and expenses at Sessions, we still ended up with a deficit, smaller than it might have been. Noah and Ben are working toward greater transparency around Sessions financial planning as part of work toward transparency overall. While one Friend encouraged us not to plan on using reserves in future budgets, another pointed out that our finances are not in any sense “out of control;” there are a few key issues needing focused attention. Ben also assured us that while we have no intention or expectation of using any of the Legacy Gift, its presence provides a cushion against worse than expected end-ofyear balances. Friends also raised the question (unanswered) of whether Sessions should break even, or whether it should be considered a ministry that NEYM supports.
Ben reported on the current state of Student Loans.
13-117 Student Loan: We considered how we are led to handle existing Student Loans.
The last loans were made in 2009 and, while it has not been laid down, the Student Loan Committee has no members. While the Student Aid Revisioning Committee considers what, if any, role the YM will have in providing student aid in the future, we do have some responsibility to resolve existing loans, currently totaling $76,846 among 23 borrowers. While integrity suggests that repayment is in the interest of both the borrowers and potential future uses for the money, Friends expressed concern for borrowers who might be in a difficult financial situation. We were reminded that there is an existing handbook, used by the Committee for many years, which gives advice and procedures for dealing with a variety of situations.
The clerk offered the following minute:
In the absence of a functioning student loan committee, we will appoint a conservator and a group of friends to carry this work until its logical conclusion (which may be affected by the recommendations of the Student Aid Re-visioning Committee).
We request that these administrators resume and maintain communication with borrowers, in conjunction with the accounts manager, the YM treasurer, and the previously established handbook.
We further request that the committee keep in mind the relationship with the borrowers, and helping them understand the spiritual implication of their loans. Communication with borrowers should include the message that we do not want repayment of the loan to result in undue financial hardship. If that appears to be the case, we will make other arrangements with this borrower, as appropriate.
13-118 Worship: As we continued attending to business after lunch break, the clerk reminded us that we continue with worship as the underpinning of our work.
13-119 Personnel Policy Manual: On behalf of the personnel Committee, Edward Baker brought us a few changes to the new Personnel Policy Manual which had been posted for our consideration before our September meeting. Friends approved the new manual, with the changes presented. We understand that the manual will also be shown to legal counsel for approval, and that another section on discrimination in the workplace will be added.
13-120 Travel to Cuba: The clerk presented the names of eight friends desiring our blessing for travel to Cuba in February to participate in Cuba Yearly Meeting, and to visit with Hanover Meeting’s sister meeting in Havana. These Friends are all from Hanover Meeting, except Jacqueline Stillwell from Monadnock.
Erica Brinton, Len Cadwallader, Mary Ann Cadwallader, Craig Putnam, Paula Rossvall, Fritz Weiss, Penny Wright, Jacqueline Stillwell Friends approved the clerk endorsing their Travel Minute.
13-121 Travel to Cuba: Friends approved the clerk endorsing a Travel Minute for Benigno Sanchez-Eppler, who will be returning to Cuba in January to teach at the Cuban Quaker Peace Institute. Benigno will also be bringing copies of works by Kelly, Bownas, and Penington which he and Susan Furry have translated into Spanish.
13-122 Yearly Meeting Secretary Report: Noah Baker Merrill reported on issues of concern and interest around and beyond the YM.
Noah and several other NE Friends attended the FCNL Annual Meeting last weekend, and note that our whole religious society seems in a time of change and transformation. If we are uncomfortable with change, we must remember that we are called to change our institutions to better serve God’s work through our present and future religious society.
Beth Collea, Religious Education Coordinator, has been the primary organizer of an event which will explore how we support new Meetings. This will occur on January 25 at Framingham Meeting.
Noah is busy with annual staff reviews, updating job descriptions, developing a shared work plan for the staff, and beginning work on the priorities budget. While PB Minutes 11/23/13 Approved 2/15/14 the YM secretary is responsible for the first draft, Noah will convene the clerks of several committees for input as he begins the process this year.
Delia Windwalker, who has several times previously served as NEYM administrative staff, will step in as Interim Office Manager during Jeff Hipp’s paternity leave.
We heard that work on the new website continues, and is nearing completion. In order to allow time for troubleshooting and support for the rollout, formal launch will wait until Jeff’s return. Even when the site is up, we can expect that it will continue to evolve as we grow into its full capabilities.
13-123 Youth Programs: Noah presented, for our consideration, a request from staff to consider the structure, purpose, and procedures of the Youth Programs committee.
Since the staff restructure several years ago, the YM secretary is responsible for supervision of the Youth Programs staff, a task which previously was at the core of Youth Programs committee’s work. Nia Thomas and Gretchen Baker-Smith (youth program coordinators) have suggested that the committee would serve a more important role at this point in maintaining oversight of the overall youth programs and policies. Currently the committee is inactive, and the charge of the committee is unclear. Noah pointed out that 34% of individual and MM giving goes to support Youth Programs which are are an important part of our overall ministry. These programs could also be a significant source of liability if not monitored carefully, and require a strong group providing oversight. On behalf of the youth programs staff, he is requesting guidance for a reconsideration of the Purposes and Procedures for a Youth Programs/Ministries Committee. Nia Thomas has drawn up a first draft of such a document (attached) as a basis for further reflection. Jackie Stillwell and Susan Davies volunteered to provide such guidance, dialoguing with Youth Programs staff and others, with a goal of PB bringing a recommendation to Sessions 2014.
13-124 Sessions Fee Structure: Noting that it is the YM Secretary’s responsibility to set the fee structure for Sessions, Noah presented a new concept he and the Treasurer have been seasoning. While the standard approach would be to make across the board increases to cover increased costs, Noah has expressed interested in a more transparent system that would at once show the true cost of sessions and allow Friends to pay what they are able. The new system would present four options to