New England Yearly Meeting

A community of Quakers and Quaker meetings across New England.

2018 Annual Report

Oct 17, 2018

Members of Permanent Board, together with visitors, have met six times since Sessions 2017 to conduct the necessary business of NEYM. NEYM committees, ad hoc committees of Permanent Board, quarterly and monthly meetings—widely dispersed Friends from across New England—season this work for Permanent Board’s worshipful discernment.

At each meeting, in addition to regular reports from the presiding clerk, secretary, and treasurer, we hear reports from two of our sub-committees: the ad hoc Challenging White Supremacy Working Group and the ad hoc Reparations Working Group.

We also hear regularly from the Finance Committee, Development Committee, and ad hoc Long-Term Financial Planning Committee. In May, the Finance Committee brought forward its draft budget for comment and discernment; the Development Committee brought for approval a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) with Everence, a Mennonite financial services firm, to support a philanthropy, education and stewardship program; and the ad hoc Long Term Financial Planning Committee brought for approval a process to set annual funding priorities to guide Finance Committee as it creates the annual operating budget and to support long-term financial planning. The Board approved forwarding to Sessions its recommendation to lay down the ad hoc Long-Term Financial Planning Committee with the completion of this work, after 4 years of labor informed by more than 40 years of committee work and discernment.

It is Permanent Board’s work to faithfully discern when to lay down and when to lift up the life and ministry of Friends. Since Sessions 2017, Permanent Board has lifted up:

  • The creation of the Faith in Action Committee to support and connect the faithful ministry and witness of Friends throughout New England
  • The revitalization of the Fund for Sufferings to support both individuals and meetings that suffer for their witness to the Truth. Permanent Board redesignated $25,000 from the Legacy Gift Committee’s Witness and Ministry Fund to seed the Fund for Sufferings
  • Our history and love of the written word in our approval to forward to Sessions the Purposes, Procedures and Composition of the Archives and Historical Records Committee. NEYM archives are now housed at the Special Collections and University Archives (SCUA) of the W.E.B. Dubois Library of the University of Massachusetts. The Archives and Historical Records Committee continues to deepen our partnership with SCUA through a MOU which clarifies the care and use of the archives and how the yearly, quarterly and monthly meetings can transfer materials to SCUA. This year, SCUA is hosting the bi-annual Conference of Quaker Historians and Archivists!
  • Support of the ministry and witness of individual Friends, our monthly and quarterly meetings in our approval to use $40,000 for a website redesign to enhance our efforts at communication and outreach. These funds come from the redesignation of the $128,800 received from the 2015 sale of Moses Brown’s 1644 copy of The Bloudy Tenent of Persecution for Cause of Conscience. The remaining $88,800 will become working capital in NEYM’s undesignated reserves. In recognition of the changing nature of how we connect, communicate, and publish, Permanent Board approved forwarding to Session its discernment to lay down the Publications and Communications Committee—leaving to Coordinating and Advisory Committee the continuing work of discerning how best to support publication and outreach in all its forms
  • The good work of the Friends Camp Committee in our approval to forward to Sessions the Camp’s Purposes, Procedures and Composition and the Committee’s discernment to better align its budgeting process with that of the Yearly Meeting operating division
  • Providence Monthly Meeting’s physical plant expansion to better serve its growing membership, while affirming the faithful work of Vassalboro Quarter to lay down, in good order, two of its monthly meetings
  • Personnel Committee’s discernment that NEYM’s non-compliance with the 1986 Federal Immigration Reform and Control Act (IRCA) is no longer a living witness of the Yearly Meeting. Personnel Committee lifted up the numerous places where Friends bear faithful and living witness to immigration concerns, outlined how the IRCA non-compliance witness arose, and reported on the significant personnel and financial liabilities that non-compliance engendered. Permanent Board approved the Yearly Meeting coming into full compliance with IRCA regulations.
  • The inspirational witness of Friends as we heard Vassalboro Quarter’s recently approved minute calling for Friends to support “The 2018 Poor People’s Campaign: A National Call for Moral Revival” and approved the presiding clerk’s signing the NEYM-Cuba Yearly Meeting joint minute to “support full and equitable diplomatic, commercial and socio-cultural relationships between our two nations”
  • The lives and testimony of 14 Friends as we heard their Memorial Minutes in worship

As the administrative structures and financial foundation of NEYM grow more robust, I feel ever greater hope that NEYM stands better prepared to do what we are truly called to do: “to obey the promptings of the Spirit to bring healing, wholeness and transformation of ourselves and to the world” [2015-64].

Advance documents for Permanent Board meetings are available on the NEYM website. Meetings of Permanent Board are open; all are welcome. Dates and locations of meetings are posted into 2019! Please join us.

—Sarah Gant, clerk

Ad-Hoc Long-Term Financial Planning Committee

Below is a brief history of the ad hoc Long Term Financial Planning Committee and then a description of our recent work.

The Committee was formed in 2014 by Permanent Board at the request of Sessions (see minute 2014-57). Initially, the charge was narrowly focused on financial sustainability, but we quickly realized—and Permanent Board affirmed—that it was impossible to create a financial plan without the Yearly Meeting first articulating a shared sense of why the organization of Yearly Meeting exists, what work it does, and how we could discern our shared work going forward.

We were grateful to discover that this discernment had been happening for years. We synthesized many documents into a report called “We Need a Plan,” which we presented at Sessions 2015. The report drew on consultation and listening going back to 1968, and articulated the core purpose and priorities for the Yearly Meeting organization, which Sessions then approved (see minutes 2015-37 and 2015-64). We also have either undertaken or supported several other initiatives, including clarifying, integrating, and aligning the work of committees and staff; making our financial reporting clearer and more transparent; encouraging a more dynamic voice for New England Quakers through time-sensitive public statements; increasing attention on outreach and inclusion; and launching both a monthly email newsletter and the twice-yearly Living Faith gatherings.

Over the past three years, we have worked towards delegating to more permanent (i.e., less ad hoc) bodies the capacity to support the current and future work of our Yearly Meeting, both financial and otherwise. Finance Committee is now preparing budgets with the help of multi-year financial projections and has made difficult choices to bring us a balanced budget this year. Development Committee is participating in a more robust and integrated development program that includes the work of staff and other partners. And Permanent Board has approved a process to integrate ongoing discernment about NEYM’s current and potential work, creating annual funding priorities to guide Finance’s creation of the budget that Sessions approves each year.

With the Yearly Meeting purpose and priorities clarified, with a process in place for discerning work going forward, with a balanced budget proposed, and with longer-term planning functions integrated into the organization, we believe we have fulfilled the purpose for which we were created. With gratitude for this opportunity to serve and confidence in the fruits of faithful work by so many, we are asking the Yearly Meeting to lay down the ad hoc Long Term Financial Planning Committee.

At Sessions we will provide a short presentation to the gathered body on our work thus far. We will also provide two breakout sessions where we can share more about this journey, answer questions about our work, and explore together where the Life is moving among Friends in New England. We hope to see you there!

— Ben Guaraldi, clerk

Challenging White Supremacy Working Group

“Begin where you are, to heal racism … wherever you are is OK; but it’s not OK to simply stay there.”

Immediately following passage of the 2016 Yearly Meeting Minute on White Supremacy ( Permanent Board minuted formation of an ad hoc committee to hold and promote the NEYM-wide work of “interrupting white supremacy in ourselves, within individuals, interpersonally, in our meetings, and at all system levels of NEYM.” The 10-member working group has focused on raising awareness via newsletter submissions and outreach, building leadership capacity via training workshops, and supporting monthly meetings by directly leading racial dialogue religious education series.

Design Principles: We intend that all our work and out-reach should be:

  • Invitational
  • Inclusive
  • Grounded in the Spirit
  • Action and Forward-Oriented
  • Prophetic
  • Conducted to promote intersectionality—awareness of the interconnectedness in the Spirit: of racial justice, environmental justice, economic justice, sensitivity to class differences, gender equality, recognition of gifts and leadings, spiritually grounded budgeting

CWS activities this year include

  • October 14, 2017: “Leadership in Envisioning Racial Justice” workshop led by Lisa Graustein. Attendees: CWS, RSEJ, and NEYM Coordinating and Advisory members.
  • January 2018: CWS committee retreat at Woolman Hill (with guest Fritz Weiss, NEYM Presiding Clerk) “Visioning the Path to Challenge White Supremacy”
  • April 2018: Presented workshop at the Living Faith Gathering, “Call and Response: How Meetings can Engage with the Minute on White Supremacy”
  • June 2018: Presented workshop at Wellesley, “Capacity-Building for Leadership in Racial Dialogue”
  • Submitted four CWS offerings for NEYM newsletter

Monthly meetings and individuals have responded to the invitation to join in this liberating work. Many are leading by facilitating or sponsoring conversations and education about racial identity and racism. Fifty Friends from 18 NEYM monthly meetings attended the June “Capacity-Building Training” in Wellesley to learn how to facilitate healing racial dialogue.

In 2017 Lisa Graustein summarized a vision for how we in New England Yearly Meeting might liberate our Quaker culture from the oppression, injustice and spiritual malaise of white supremacy. It involves both the inward work of education, skill-building, accountability and working toward liberation from internalized and external manifestations of white supremacist thinking and behavior; and the outward work of public witness, activism, humble service, and reparations of resources.

“We need tens of thousands of white people courageously and passionately winning over the hearts and minds of white people so that we can all get free.” (Chris Crass, Towards the “Other America,” 2015)

As a community and as individuals on the CWS work group, we understand this as an engagement with no beginning and no end that the Spirit leads us to continue. Those of us on the work group who identify as white are continually humbled by the realization that this is our work to do as beneficiaries of the dominant culture, by “virtue of our whiteness.” We are reminded of all we do not know and see about racial injustice, and the damage inflicted by our dominating culture. We are also humbled by our missteps, by our epiphanies, and by the Grace that releases vulnerability and healing, and the yearning to keep at it so that all may be lifted up to thrive and flourish in the shared, Life-giving fellowship of the Spirit.

— Susan Davies, clerk

Student Scholarship Granting Subcommittee

This is the third year of our grant awards. We had 24 applicants and awarded 22 grants to a total of $30,000. The fund will have remaining balance to allow for one more year of grant awards. We plan to repeat this cycle for one more year to spend out the remaining balance. Awards were made to those who have connections with New England Yearly Meeting, applications coming from both young and old and for a wide variety of educational purposes.

—Rebecca Leuchak, clerk

New England Yearly Meeting of Friends

901 Pleasant Street, Worcester, MA 01602

(508) 754-6760 - [email protected]