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Permanent Board News, May 2018
24 May 2018
Members of Permanent Board, together with several visitors, gathered for worship and business on 12 May at Moses Brown School in Providence, RI. As we arrived in a sweet, early spring morning mist, a bustling campus greeted us. Athletes came and went, seemingly filling every field, while others in the student body prepared for the spring theater production, Les Mis. The campus seemed to be vibrating with the energy of spring: trees bursting forth in bloom and students bursting forth with that headiness that occurs in springtime as proms, school-end celebrations and summer plans loom. I felt both younger and quite pleased to be older at the same time!
We met in the Sinclair Room, surrounded by the (remarkable) creativity of the spring student art show and under a (glowering) portrait of Moses Brown, benefactor of so much that is still very much alive today. Mike Hirtle, soon retiring from faithful service as clerk of Providence Monthly Meeting and from the Moses Brown School Board, greeted us, oriented us to the school and its long history, and shared with us the great, good news of Providence’s growth and physical plant expansion plans.
Turning to the business before us, among various matters, the Yearly Meeting secretary told us about the Lilly Endowment’s recent open call for proposals to support thriving ministry, and to reclaim and reimagine traditions supporting ministry. After questions and discernment, Permanent Board approved an ad hoc group of Friends to write and submit a proposal. We look forward to the fruits that this effort might bear in the life and ministry of New England Quakers.
In 2015 NEYM found in our archives—and sold at auction for $128,800—a rare book, The Bloudy Tenent of Persecution for Cause of Conscience, written by Roger Williams in 1644. In August 2015, Permanent Board directed that this money be held in a separate fund to support, as needed, the moving of the archives. At this time, the archives have been fully moved. Permanent Board approved that up to $40,000 of these funds be used for a website redesign to better connect and lift up the meetings and ministries of New England Friends. The remaining $88,800 will be placed into NEYM’s working capital and considered undesignated reserves. The Bloudy Tenent was, in fact, Moses Brown’s personal copy. Did I see that portrait smile—just a bit—to think of this 1644 publication funding new forms of publication and outreach 373 years later?
The spring meeting of Permanent Board always has a financial focus as we prepare for Sessions. The Finance Committee brought us its draft (balanced!) budget for comment and discernment, and the ad hoc Long Term Financial Planning Committee brought forward a proposal for a process to set annual funding priorities to guide the Finance Committee in its creation of the annual operating budget. With gratitude, the Board approved the process and affirmed Finance Committee’s work on the draft budget, which will be brought to Sessions for approval.
Throughout our worship, we heard six memorial minutes—for Edward Baker, Mary Connie Lyon Comfort, William Wistar Comfort, Ann Cotton Levinger, George Klaus Levinger, and Connie Sattler—testimony to the faithful service of these dear Friends. We heard full and joyous reports from Permanent Board’s ad hoc Challenging White Supremacy Working Group as it prepares for Sessions 2018; learned of Vassalboro Quarter’s recently approved minute calling for Friends to support “The 2018 Poor People’s Campaign: A National Call for Moral Revival;” and about Friends Camp (with a slide show!) as it prepares for another fully enrolled summer season with increasingly robust programming in the “shoulder seasons.” We also clarified that the newly-revived Fund for Sufferings may be used to support the financial needs of individual Friends—as well as local meetings—which suffer as a result of their witness to Truth.
Note: All advance documents for Permanent Board meetings are available on the NEYM website. Meetings of Permanent Board are open; all Friends are welcome. Dates and locations of meetings are posted into 2019! Please join us for the important business of NEYM that Permanent Board conducts between Sessions.
Yours in service,
Sarah Gant, Beacon Hill Friends Meeting
Clerk of the Permanent Board