Status Report on Annual Session Minutes Packets

Short summary:

Draft packets of Annual Session Minutes and Reports are now available for the years 2018 and 2013-2016.   Update: We have also just published DRAFT packets of the Representative Committee Minutes and Reports for the years 2013-2017, as well as a DRAFT summary list of all PYM Minutes of Action for all years 2001-2018.

Your feedback on these DRAFT packets would be appreciated before they are considered final.

The full report:

Pacific Yearly Meeting has a long tradition of  assembling the records (that is, the minutes and all of the committee reports) after each Annual Session into a “packet”.  This packet (running up to 100 pages or more in recent years) would be sent to Clerks (or their designees) of Monthly Meetings, Worship Groups and Preparatory Meetings as well as to PYM’s officers and committee clerks.  The same process would be followed for each meeting of Representative Committee.

Historically the packets were, of course, paper documents.  That began to change in 2001 when the first electronic packet (a PDF file) was published on the PYM website (which, I believe, wasn’t even official yet).  Since then PYM has gradually shifted from paper to electronic distribution, with both formats co-existing until 2012.  I like to say that PYM “successfully weaned itself off of paper” in 2012, for I believe that was the last year that a paper packet was printed.

At the same time, however, the process for collecting the electronic records into a single PDF file had, unfortunately, not yet been institutionalized.  As a result of a personnel change, institutional memory was lost.  Annual Session records for the years 2013 through 2016 were never assembled into packets.  They were only published as separate “items” (web posts or PDF files) on the website:  one item for each plenary session (9 or 10 posts or PDFs) and one or more “items” for each committee report (as many as 28, not including redundant or extraneous files that were also posted on the website each annual session).   Having the minutes and reports exist in dozens of separate files, and very irregularly organized files at that, has made reference to the minutes since 2013 very tedious and error prone.  Searching “the minutes” for particular items of interest is extremely difficult and frustrating.

Over the past year your Secretariat Clerk (myself) has been on a personal crusade to start publishing electronic Minutes and Reports Packets again.

I am happy to report that with the hard work of the Presiding Clerk, Diego Navarro, and the Recording Clerks, Jim Anderson and Sharlene Roberts-Caudle, we managed to publish electronic packets for the 2017 and 2018 Annual Sessions.  This involved a lot of research into past practices (which are very “uneven”, to say the least) and an unbelievable number of small arbitrary decisions about organization, formatting, referencing, and so forth.

I am even happier to report that, propelled by the momentum generated by finalizing the 2018 packet,  I have also finally pulled together draft packets for each of the “missing years,” 2013 through 2016.  In addition to the above mentioned people, past Clerk Steven Smith and Recording Clerks Julie Harlow, Amy Cooke, Stephen McNeil and Leslie Zondervan-Droz were also drafted into this reconstruction effort.  For these past years we don’t have the flexibility to change the content or format of the constituent “items”, but we do have some control over how they are combined and presented.  Also, some material is still being tracked down (in particular the 2014 and 2015 Meeting for Memorials names).

I invite the PYM community to examine these DRAFT packets which I uploaded yesterday.  (Update: DRAFT RepCom minutes packets have also been uploaded for 2013-2017.  Also a DRAFT summary list of all PYM Minutes of Action for all years 2001-2018. )  I welcome feedback on the “packet” aspects: the title page, table of contents, Preface and the List of Action Minutes are all artifacts of combining the “items” into a packet.  So is the choice of which “reports” to include as attachments.  Tell me what “works for you” and what you would like to “see improved”.  What makes for a useful packet?  Also, of course, if you see any glaring errors or omissions, let me know of those too.  I’m sure there are some.

In service, George Mills, PYM Secretariat Clerk (Communications Committee), PYMSecretariat@gmail.com, November 2, 2018.  (Updated Nov 11, 2018)