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News from Permanent Board, November 2018
7 December 2018
Members of Permanent Board gathered, with many visitors in attendance, on 17 November 2018, hosted by the Kendal Worship Group and warmly welcomed by Len Cadwallader, clerk of Hanover Friends Meeting.
Out of worship throughout the day, we heard memorial minutes for Ramona Moore (Windham Friends Meeting, Falmouth Quarter), Lucinda Selchie (Belfast Area Friends Meeting, Vassalboro Quarter) and Ed Snyder (Arcadia Monthly Meeting, Vassalboro Quarter). Sitting with the testimony of the lives of these faithful Friends, giants among us, I found hope for how quiet persistence, grounded in faith, might impact the world, and I thought of Helen Keller’s words:
I long to accomplish a great and noble task; but it is my chief duty and joy to accomplish humble tasks as though they were great and noble ... The world is moved along, not only by the mighty shoves of heroes, but also by the aggregate of the tiny pushes of each honest worker.
I thought of so many among us who volunteer vast amounts of devoted time and energy to the work of Friends. Indeed, it is the “honest workers” among us—those who lay out the mugs for fellowship and greet at our doors, who add their wisdom to our committees, who travel among us as ministers, who speak up in our name as activists—who weave the web of interconnection among our monthly, quarterly and Yearly Meeting that makes us, small denomination that we are, strong beyond our numbers. That web, together, is more powerful than any single thread.
As is our tradition, we heard regular reports from the Presiding Clerk, Secretary and Treasurer, including some financial good news. For the fiscal year ending September 2018, we again met our overall financial goals, continuing our planned progress toward financial sustainability. Our end of year deficit was smaller than had been budgeted! The long-awaited goal of balancing the Yearly Meeting budget this fiscal year (by September 2019) is within sight, made possible only through the continuing and increased support of Friends. Alongside the “honest workers” is the foundation of support from local meetings, and the multitude of donors (and even tithers!) who support that web of interconnection with the needed funds to do the good work that we do.
The funding priorities process, approved at Sessions 2018 to make the financial aspects of the work that we do together more transparent and participatory, is also moving along in this first year of this new approach. Broadly, Permanent Board approved four funding priorities in response to the ongoing listening, consultation and discernment around NEYM:
- Learning, Practice, and Leadership
- Expanded Childcare at Sessions
- Increased Capacity for Financial Management
These approved priorities, together with detailed notes, will now be forwarded to Finance Committee to guide its budget process. The preliminary budget will come to Permanent Board on 11 May 2019.
In the afternoon, Permanent Board turned our attention to Sessions minute 2018-53, asking the body to formally re-examine the structures and practices of clerking in the Yearly Meeting. Permanent Board approved a working group to report to Permanent Board on 11 May 2019 and to Sessions 2019 with the following Vision and Charge:
Vision: We envision a healthy Society with strong, faithful leadership, well-equipped and well-supported to share gifts. We cannot be a healthy Society when there are barriers to service, when gifts lay fallow, unrecognized and un-nurtured. We long for a Society where the broad exchange of the diverse ideas, perspectives, experiences and values that exist in our Society inform our leadership. Specifically, how do we hear and respond to diverse perspectives arising from our different experiences across age, race, gender, sexuality, economics and education?
Charge: We ask this working group to explore, with unfettered curiosity, the structures and culture of NEYM, to identify any tangible or intangible barriers to service that may preclude full inclusion of any in our membership from leadership positions. We invite you to propose specific structures and practices that would support rising leaders and nurture the continuous development of new leadership within NEYM.
In additional business, Permanent Board approved a funding proposal from Archives and Historical Records for work that will improve accessibility to materials now housed in the Special Collections of the Dubois Library at UMass Amherst. We heard a report from the Challenging White Supremacy Working Group; approved the Purposes, Procedures and Composition of EarthCare Ministry; heard of recently completed and future travel to Cuba under the auspices of Puente de Amigos; and approved the travel minutes and nominations of many, many Friends called to ministry and service among us.
It was a full and blessing-filled day! Permanent Board next meets at Providence Monthly Meeting on 23 February 2018. Please join us! All meetings of Permanent Board are open, as we conduct the business of the Yearly Meeting between sessions. Advance documents are available on the NEYM website.
Blessings to you, honest workers,
Sarah Gant, Beacon Hill (MA) Monthly Meeting
Permanent Board Clerk