PYM AS 2015 – Meeting for Business II

July 16, 2015

We opened in worship at 8:45 a.m.

The Presiding Clerk read the traveling minute for Paula Palmer (Boulder, Colorado, Intermountain Yearly Meeting) who is traveling under the concern about right relationships with indigenous peoples.

AS Minute 2015-01 Pacific Yearly Meeting approves having the clerk endorse this travel minute.

The Clerk then read the traveling minute for Friends General Conference General Secretary Barry Crossno, (Arch Street Meeting, Philadelphia Yearly Meeting).

AS Minute 2015-02 Pacific Yearly Meeting approves having the clerk endorse this travel minute.

Reading Clerk Diego Navarro (Santa Cruz) read the epistle from Baltimore Yearly Meeting.

The minutes from Meeting for Business I were read, corrected, and approved.

The Clerk announced that Lloyd Lee Wilson had to leave the Annual Session due to a family health emergency. We entered worship, holding Lloyd Lee Wilson and his family in the Light.

Stephen Matchett (San Francisco), Co-Clerk of Nominating Committee, presented updates to Tuesday’s report for seasoning until Saturday. Friends may bring any concerns to Committee members. The updates are attached to the minutes and were posted outside the dining hall.

Julie Harlow (Davis), David Lederman (Orange County), and Barbara Babin (Redwood Forest) of Ministry and Oversight Committee read the State of the Society report gathered from 28 Meetings and three worship groups. The report will be posted to the Yearly Meeting website and attached to the minutes.

Unity with Nature Committee Co-Clerks Catya de Neergaard (Strawberry Creek) and Muriel Strand (Sacramento) called attention to their report posted on the Yearly Meeting website. They then introduced the June 2015 Facing the Challenge of Climate Change created and signed onto by many Friends’ bodies which declares, “as members of this beautiful human family, we seek meaningful commitments from our leaders and ourselves, to address climate change for our shared future, the Earth and all species, and the generations to come.” Six PYM Monthly Meetings have endorsed this call: Delta, Humboldt, Strawberry Creek, Honolulu, Palo Alto, and Sacramento. A concern was expressed for the statement’s lack of mention of the role that nuclear power plays in creating adverse climate change. Also what actions Friends might take seem to be absent. This call is not an action in itself but relies on us as individuals and as corporate bodies to carry out implementing actions. Two Friends stood aside and released the Yearly Meeting to act.

AS Minute 2015-03 Pacific Yearly Meeting approves endorsing as a first step the “Facing the Challenge Climate Change” statement.

Ministry and Oversight Report State of the Society: Trees And Truth

This State of the Society summary report for Pacific Yearly Meeting is based on the State of the Meeting reports of 28 Meetings and 3 Worship Groups for the 2014-2015 year.  

Meetings and Worship Groups overall report a sense of spiritual depth and fulfillment from their efforts worshiping, discerning and experiencing together the Spirit.  Although many reports conveyed challenges, none indicated things were bad.   As Quakers that are part of the liberal, unprogrammed tradition we are positive and, in most instances, joyful.

Nearly every Meeting/Worship Group, however, indicated they were dealing with some form of the circumstance our branch of the Society finds itself in:  We are a self-run, volunteer faith that rarely proselytizes or advertises. In many instances we struggle to make the wider world aware of our presence.  Perhaps as a result, our numbers are dwindling, those that are part of us are aging and we struggle to fill committee memberships (and rarely lay committees down).

But while there is a common sense of ongoing concern and fragility, there is also a very solid, consistent core.  And there is a sense of optimism and hope for the future.

The metaphor that was touched upon in several of the reports was that of a tree:  There are references to “strong roots”, “sprouting buds”, “greening”, experiencing the cycles and rhythms of life, and producing nourishing fruit.

Here are some other themes and quotes that reflect the state of our society this past year:

Meeting Space

Many Meetings understandably have either dealt with, are dealing with or will deal with Meeting space issues.  Not every Meeting has its own Meetinghouse. Whether renting or owning, each presents its own rewards and challenges.

“Building a Meetinghouse continues to be a focus and a goal of our meeting.”  Inland Valley MM 

“Our meeting site has been under renovation.  We are grateful that we have a good relationship with the landlord.”  Marloma Long Beach MM

“Certain issues regarding the funding of specific programs and around our inherited property have challenged us. Our unity is sometimes bold, sometimes more threadbare.”  San Francisco MM

“Over the past year, many of our hopes and concerns have revolved around our physical place of worship. Many members express a longing or yearning for a permanent, OCFM-owned meetinghouse. There are mixed feelings about the wisdom of taking on the upkeep, labor, and financial obligations of owning our own property.”  Orange County MM

Outreach/Work In The Community

Regardless of the size of the Meeting/Worship Group, Friends in Pacific Yearly Meeting are involved and engaged in a wide array of activities to try to help make the world better.  Perhaps because technology has become so accessible, many Meeting/Worship Groups have worked on or revised their websites this year.

“…Peace & Social Concerns Committee created an Annual Calendar of Community Actions, which identifies Meeting’s participation in monthly events in accord with Quaker Testimonies.”  Honolulu MM

“Worship and Ministry Committee brought forward the theme: An Experiment in Radical Hospitality: spiritual hospitality, environmental hospitality (serving people and the planet), and personal hospitality.  How do we share what is important to us?”  Davis MM

“We recognize the value of service as a meeting, but are also aware that true service should be rooted in spirit.”  Humboldt MM

“…we need to think about how to help people understand what we do and why it happens this way. We might think of the Christian metaphor of “laying the table” and connect to the “slow food” concept as a sort of marketing strategy:  Quakerism is slow, deliberate, rich, and deep.”  Orange County MM

“We are aware of how busy we all seem to be, as we wish for clarity in order that we are not merely busy but expressing the Spirit’s movement among us.”  Palo Alto MM

Meeting Community

Meetings spend a lot of time on community and community connections.  Meetings are always navigating a line of being mindful that community exists to help us grow into the Spirit together, not as an end unto itself.  This is a challenge because our Meetings are a welcoming home to many.  But it seems many Meetings within PYM are a place where community is rooted in Spirit and thus very nourishing.

“We in Berkeley Meeting continue to strive to discern how we are led corporately and individually to grow in the Spirit with one another.”  Berkeley MM

“We continue our Friendly Eights pot lucks, and care for members that need our support and our young people. Last year we began a group for the grade 6-9 age young people named by them EQYSOF (Epic Quaker Youth Society of Fun). They feel a part of the Meeting and love having their own group.”  Sacramento MM

Good Order

Although we struggle from time to time with difficult issues, differences in theological and political perspectives, and interpersonal conflicts, Friends labor faithfully with one another in the search for the guidance of the Spirit and find great joy in the resulting unity.

The Spirit moves within us during our two weekly meetings for worship, and we take joy in good Quaker order during our monthly meetings for business and the work of our committees.” Palo Alto MM

Marin Friends Monthly Meeting will be laid down as of Twelfth month, 21st day, 2014. We are sad that we cannot continue to function as a Monthly Meeting; proud of what Friends of this meeting have accomplished; and pleased that (after a multi-year process) we have reached unity on our way forward.” Marin MM

Pain from past conflicts within the meeting still lingers, evoking such responses as: “We’re dwindling because of hurt feelings that we haven’t worked with yet” and, “We need to be kinder to each other.” Claremont MM

Our Meetings for Business continue to be a shared time of worship and care for our Meeting…. Spirit continues to prevail with help from silence and listening, and we are careful to show kind regard for one another.” Reno MM

This has been a year for deep spiritual searching within. During the last 2 years the document, Intentions for the Betterment of Honolulu Friends Meeting, was developed and finally affirmed. It lends words and queries to our efforts at right relationship in our Meeting…” Honolulu MM

Attendance at our Meetings for Business increased and those Meetings reflected careful presentations by our dedicated committee work and by our growing ability to listen more deeply to one another.” Redwood Forest MM

Over the past several years, we have struggled together with a number of difficult, soul wrenching issues. True to our Beanite heritage, we keep coming back to the table to labor with one another. While we have not been able to resolve some painful issues, we continue to listen to one another and work towards solutions.” Santa Cruz MM

Rhythms Of Life

As mentioned previously, death, dying, aging and the challenges of a limited number of hands to do the work of the Meetings was a common theme to all.  In particular, though, our community seemed to suffer the falling of some old trees (i.e. long-time, stalwart Members…anchors of many communities).

“Must advancing age or diminishing strength remove F/friends from having a presence and voice in our Meeting? Can we restore kindness and love among us and conduct our business in a way that does not lead to over-commitment and burnout?”  Claremont MM

“The rhythm of life brings loss to our meeting: deaths of Friends and of those dear to members in our community….We support each other in these times making room for the Spirit to bring healing and peace…The Spirit moves in our lives. We celebrate the cycles of life and our Meeting together, and listen for how we are led to change and grow to meet the coming years.”  Palo Alto MM

New Worship Groups

One monthly Meeting was laid down this year (Marin) and four new worship groups are forming:  Livermore Worship Group under the care of Berkeley Meeting, Carson City Worship Group under the care of Reno Meeting, and Western Shore Worship Group under the care of San Francisco Meeting.  In addition, Strawberry Creek Meeting reports that an informal worship group has formed in Contra Costa.

“The outgrowth of the Western Shore Worship Group has allowed another earlier time for Meeting for Worship to be offered, at 9:30am, and in another San Francisco location.”  San Francisco MM

Summary

There is a sense of optimism and bright future for our Society here in our region.  Many Meetings have overcome struggles of personal or Meeting House issues and have emerged looking to the future, for growth…

“Humboldt Friends Meeting is infused with energy, and blessed with new attenders. Our focus on bringing others into our community during the last few years may be manifesting results. Several people, including younger adults, have come to explore what meeting has to offer, and stayed.”  Humboldt MM

“A healthy meeting is like an orange tree. It has deep roots, a strong trunk, wide spreading branches, fragrant blossoms and nourishing fruit. We strive to bring this metaphor to life at Orange Grove Meeting.”  Orange Grove MM

Overall, 2014 was a year when Redwood Forest Friends Meeting planted a variety of seeds that sprouted buds, and that with proper tending can yield strong shoots and full foliage in the future.”  Redwood Forest MM