PYM AS 2015 – Listening Session

LISTENING SESSION

Wednesday July 15, 2015

(Notes, not minutes)

Shayne Lightner (Santa Monica) member of Ministry & Oversight Committee clerked the session that began at 8:50 a.m.

Lynnette Arnold (Santa Barbara) from the Subcommittee on Child Refugee and Migration reported that the subcommittee has met 25 times. Six Meetings have approved minutes on this matter of concern (Inland, Redwood Forest, Humboldt, Santa Monica, Orange Grove, and La Jolla). She read the minute of support that LACC and the Peace & Social Order Committee have proposed. It is posted on the Pacific Yearly Meeting website.

Appreciation was expressed for the Committee having done the minute right, going to local Meetings, encouraging direct support action and caring out activities (such as going to a Texan detention center, working with local detainees, and exploring work with AFSC and FCNL).

Another suggested support activity would be to go to immigration court hearings (which requires both sides to give permission to attend) and listen to the stories and experiences expressed there while showing outside concern for the proceedings.

A question was raised about the portion of unaccompanied minors in the migration. In 2014, this group was the largest of all, followed by the group of mothers with small children. The interest group this afternoon will answer questions more fully.

This minute supports work being carried out by members of the Yearly Meeting.

The subcommittee’s work focuses on children and family detention. The prisons are private entities and this issue needs to be addressed.

Is the work of LACC seeking a path to citizenship, or to give out green cards? US will have to support these children and families. Monthly Meetings need to address these questions but also need to think more about the moral rightness of addressing this migration.

There is a piece on the PYM website, and a briefer note in an issue of Western Friend regarding the moral issues surrounding child migration. The subcommittee has tried to keep spiritual and moral values in the front of its work, as have the six minutes from the Meetings.

Sacramento Friends Meeting has underwritten some legal fees for persons representing migrating children: is this occurring elsewhere in the Yearly Meeting? Some local governments have underwritten these costs and the committee has information for those wanting to check out their local area’s response.

La Bestia DVD will be shown this evening. There will be time for hearing what La Casa de los Amigos is doing.

A Friend suggested that the section on calling for Meetings to act be more explicit in strongly calling for discernment on what a Meeting is led to do in response to this situation.

Abuse Protection Policy: Barbara Babin (Redwood Forest) of Ministry and Oversight Committee presented the background and asked to hear concerns and questions about the Abuse Protection Policy. Several years ago the Yearly Meeting’s insurance company came up with requirements for qualifying for continuing insurance coverage for working with youth.

A Friend expressed appreciation to the Committee for its work. A question was asked about the company collecting the data: is it sharing it with anyone else? The Committee will check out that question.

One Friend served last week in abuse protection at FGC and underwent training ahead of that service. This might be a good thing for Yearly Meeting to do. He expressed a hope that Friends might also address the “ban the box” (movement to end practice in which felons can’t be hired when checking a box on a hiring application).

A step seems missing in banning an attender who has been guilty of abuse from Annual Session: can their participation be restored by some means—perhaps through the local M&O working with them? Might participation in banning someone lead to the decision-maker(s) being criticized, or the person being removed from relevant future service?

What does the policy say about consensual sex between minors? M&O said they would look at the California Penal Code for guidance.

One Friend shared his experience of being told that comforting/hugging a male child while on his lap could be perceived as dangerous: are we responding out of fear with these policies?

This policy is adequate for the insurance company but not for our community. Are we clear that when someone is labeled as a sex offender, that is an extremely broad brush? A key aspect is to be aware of the power relationships. Sometimes the adult reactions can be as harmful as the event itself. We should teach kids to resist exploitation or power plays. The way confidentiality is carried out should not induce shame and guilt.

A Friend called for M&O to be available to those present whose past experiences might lead them to be experiencing trauma/emotional upheaval at this time.

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Finance Committee: Statton Jaquette (Palo Alto), Clerk of Finance Committee, called attention to their report (posted on the website). Questions and comments:

Are you recommending reducing the number of representatives to two? Not this year, but we will let attrition get it down to two.

M&O several years ago had been asked to look into the number of delegates appropriate for each Quaker organization: should we do this based on financial consideration (as proposed here) or should some body such as M&O discern? Stratton said we cannot afford to fully fund the maximum number of delegates.

Nominating and M&O did do discernment and those considerations do not seem to be present in this discussion, so maybe this can be carried over to March 2016 RepCom and in the meantime, the three Committees might meet over this matter. Finance Committee said that M&O’s recommendations in the past were not approved and Finance Committee does not have all the information on the number of times a group meets nor the costs. It has had to ask for an augmentation when the expenses went over those budgeted.

The worth of going as representatives to FWCC or FCNL has more value to the individuals, the organizations, and the Yearly Meeting than may be reflected in the financial determinations being made.

QEW has two delegates that need to go to several meetings a year whose costs may exceed the budgeted amount. The Finance Committee does not know the value of representatives who often are not given Plenary time to report back.

Unity with Nature (UWN) report (the following summary was read by UWN):

Much of UWN’s activity since the 2014 annual gathering has been described in our Report to Representative Committee.

We are presenting two proposals to plenary. The first is signing “Facing the Challenge of Climate Change: A shared statement by Quaker groups” which was developed by QEW, QUNO, and FCNL. At of early June, at least five PYM monthly meetings have joined their voices to this inspiring statement of Unity. The five meetings are Palo Alto Friends Meeting, Sacramento Friends Meeting, Strawberry Creek Monthly Meeting, Humboldt Friends Meeting, and Honolulu Monthly Meeting. The statement will be available on our PYM website and on our information table at annual session, and attached to the minutes.

The second proposal is a minute advocating divestment of fossil fuel energy stocks as a strategy for slowing climate change. We are aware of at least two PYM monthly meetings, Strawberry Creek and Sacramento, who have come to Unity on a divestment statement or minute. We understand from Treasurer Roy Allen that “PYM has no investments in fossil fuel companies, either directly or indirectly. Our investments at Friends Fiduciary are in their Green Fund.” So, we will be asking for a statement of unity to the effect that “PYM has no investments in fossil fuel companies and will not be making any investments in fossil fuel companies in the foreseeable future. We urge other Quaker groups to consider doing the same, taking, if necessary, up to five years to do so. We further encourage individuals to consider divesting their own portfolios of fossil fuels.”

Our offer of developing an optional DIY carbon tax as part of the 2015 annual gathering registration process, was accepted by Representative Committee. We thank the Registrar for including this in the online procedure. Friends were able to select the tax they felt to be appropriate for them, based on approximate estimates of CO2 (typically several hundred pounds) generated by individuals’ travel for annual gathering. These funds will be used for Earthcare purposes according to UWN committee unity.

We received no responses to our invitations to apply for a 2015 UWN mini-grant. We share a report on the outcome of our 2014 mini-grant to Casa de los Amigos in support of their rainwater storage system, on our information table this week. Friends can also find there other Earthcare information and homemade items for those wishing to donate to future mini-grants and other UWN efforts.

We are very excited that Jose Aguto, FCNL’s Legislative Secretary of Sustainable Energy and Environment Program, is joining us this year and will give a plenary talk on Friday at 3:30 PM.  UWN is sponsoring an interest group given by Jose Aguto called, ‘The Climate Change Challenge: Legislative Possibilities and Earthcare Action’ – on Wednesday right after lunch. We hope that his advice and counsel is inspiring and useful to Friends.

We offer two Interest Groups this year:

  • Walking the Land: Listening to Nature: Getting to know the flora and fauna of Walker Creek while opening our senses and centering down into our bodies, a part of nature. Through directed experiment to centering in silence, we Worship in Unity with Nature.
  • Greening the Meeting, Greening Our Lives: Discerning and Living Our Earthcare Testimony: A presentation about levels of sustainability will be followed by queries and discussion about what we may be called to do, individually and collectively. Queries will include the ‘Three Challenges’ developed recently by QEW’s Sustainability, Faith, and Action Working Group, as well as reports from participants about what they and their meetings have already accomplished, and their hopes for the future.

Our mission statement and proposed charter revision of October 25, 2014 will be posted

on our PYM website. We are in unity that the two PYM representatives to QEW are also ex officio members of Unity with Nature Committee.  We thank PYM for supporting the work of QEW—the unfolding of the Earthcare testimony—by continuing to support PYM’s two representatives to attend the twice yearly QEW conferences.We are dedicated to continue giving support for and information about living our felt Earthcare testimony.

We sponsored Interest Groups at College Park Quarterly Meeting.  At spring quarterly at Ben Lomond, Robin Keeler and Cedar Selenite presented exploring embodiment in nature using non-violent communication processes.

As outgoing co-clerks, we devoutly hope that PYM will seek discernment about how the committee can best support Friends’ future Earthcare ideas and sustainability goals.

Friends who are interested in Earthcare may be interested in the fall conference of Quaker Earthcare Witness [QEW] – Thursday October 22nd to Sunday 25th at beautiful Ben Lomond Quaker Center, which is open to all.  Friends are especially encouraged to come on Saturday the 24th for a day of inspiring speakers, workshops, and worship in Unity with Nature.  On Wednesday the 21st and the morning of the 22nd, QEW is planning some hands-on projects for wise stewardship of the land.

We are honored to have had the privilege of this service. Thank you.

Respectfully submitted by:

  • Muriel Strand, co-clerk Sacramento Meeting
  • Catya de Neergaard, co-clerk Strawberry Creek Meeting