Quaker Earthcare Witness Representatives Report to PYM’s Annual Session 2016

June 17, 2016

Dear Friends,

Inspired by sessions at PYM in 1985 and PYM’s nascent Unity with Nature Committee and Earthlight Magazine, Quaker Earthcare Witness [QEW] was founded in July 1987 at Friends General Conference [FGC]. During the 1987 FGC, Marshall Massey called for a Quaker testimony on unity with nature.  A week-long workshop led by Alice and Bill Howenstine formed the vision statement and founding core group. This earliest vision statement includes, “We believe right relationship with our natural environment is basic to the achievement of peace and a just social order, and the equitable distribution of the world’s resources, both today and through generations to come.” They called on Friends to live in unity with nature.  They soon began the “Befriending Creation” magazine/newsletter (August 1987), a major channel for disseminating information to Friends and other interested parties about all topics related to the next steps in more fully living our Earthcare testimony.  PYM’s Bob Schutz was a part of this founding group.  According to records, Bob had been already working with PYM’s Unity with Nature committee’s [UwN] publication “Unity with Nature” since 1985

QEW provides Friends throughout the North American continent a network to share environmental information, inspirations, concerns, and views.  An overwhelming number of Friends agree on the urgent necessity to stop climate warming.   Although individual and small group actions to live more sustainably are commendable and needed,  the entire global economic system is the cause of the climate disruption, so to fix one, you have to fix the other.  Both systems – world climate/ ecosystem and world economy are massive and complex.   QEW facilitates collaborations for Friends to discern the best views, strategies and courses of action to slow climate change.  QEW supports Friends in living more sustainable lives and supports Friends’ leadings to bring faith into action as well as searching for global solutions.

The major vehicles for these functions and goals are the Befriending Creation Newsletter, epistles, various publications, many in trifold form, and the QEW website with its active forum for discussions and many informative pages.  QEW has twice yearly steering committee meetings in which the yearly meeting representatives [YM Reps] are automatically members.  Hence PYM and other yearly meetings, in sending Reps, give something more important than money: working advocates.  The steering committee meetings are also collaborations.  The Fall meeting has some programming.  The YM Reps are two-way conduits of information and inspiration to and from QEW & YMs and to each other.

The two current PYM representatives to QEW, Rick Herbert and Catya de Neergaard are not just attending a three day meeting twice a year.   Both are actively engaged in bringing forward the work of QEW.  Rick is QEW’s representative to FCNL and has recently become clerk of QEW’s FCNL working group.  Catya is clerk of the Spiritual Nurturance committee, somewhat analogous to an oversight or care of meeting committee, and has recently become convener of the Sustainability, Faith, and Action Working Group which is a birthing ground for supporting concerns into Leadings, Faith into Action.  As clerks, both Rick and Catya are members of the Continuing Council, the ongoing executive committee of the steering committee.

So PYM generously supports QEW by sending YM Reps and a donation.  QEW shares PYM’s Earthcare Leadings and inspirations with other YMs.  QEW  is available to YM members as a resource in many ways.  QEW helps PYM’s UwN committee provide the latest thinking and  programming to PYM.  QEW provides a platform for PYM Friends to call out to far flung Friends and to hear Friends’ voices speaking about Earthcare across the continent, to collaborate, and to explore solutions.   QEW and its contributing YMs form a web of creative interdependent co-arising.

In the last fifteen months, QEW has sent us the Epistle “The Three Challenges”  asking for Monthly Meetings to plant edibles and natives, especially to support pollinators and ecological diversity and switch to renewable energy in Meetinghouses; work on climate action plans on the municipal and state level, and to divest from fossil fuel companies.   PYM’s Unity with Nature Committee brought “The Three Challenges” as an interest group to Annual session 2015.

Among other updates and publications, QEW wrote an epistolary response to Pope Francis’s encyclical on climate and justice Laudato Si (“Praised Be”).  In early May, QEW approved a new brochure advocating for women’s reproductive choice which in turn is linked to lowering population growth which in turn lowers a whole host of problems including global warming.

We feel privileged to serve as your QEW Representatives.  Along with Shelley Tanenbaum, general  secretary of QEW, we are here at Walker Creek 2016 and would be happy to answer any questions and talk about Earthcare.

Thank you.

Gratefully submitted,

Catya de Neergaard

QEW Representative

and on behalf of Rick Herbert QEW Representative

Finance Committee Travel Subsidy Recommendation

Finance Committee recommends a subsidy for Friends traveling to Annual Gathering in excess of 200 miles:

  • subsidy for those traveling over 200 miles by car pools of 3 persons or more $25.00/person
  • subsidy for those traveling over 400 miles by car pools of 3 persons or more $50.00/person
  • comparable subsidies for people traveling by bus or train, also based on distance.

The subsidy will be paid for by a $1.00 increase in assessment and a $5.00 increase in session fees for Friends in mainland U.S.


Discipline Committee – note on Faith and Practice revision status in 2014

Representative Committee:

Saturday, 1 March 2014

Orange Grove Meetinghouse

Discipline Committee: The presiding clerk reminded Representative Committee that at the 2013 Annual Session, Discipline Committee brought a recommendation that PYM embark upon a revision of the current Faith and Practice. Both enthusiastic support and reservations were expressed, with no clear unity emerging. He noted that if the currently 6 proposed revision takes five years, 18 years will have lapsed since the publication of the 2001 edition—significantly longer than past revision time spans.

Carolyn Stephenson (Honolulu), clerk of the Discipline Committee, reaffirmed the view that it is time to begin the revision process of Faith and Practice, as a living document reflecting our continuing revelations as Friends. The committee’s full report is appended. An interest group at the Annual Session on Faith and Practice as a Living Document will help to further our discernment. A Friend asked those in attendance to consider what may be outdated in the current issue of Faith and Practice. Friends spoke to changes needed in the Advices & Queries, the recognition of Earth Care and the support of same-sex marriage as concerns held by our corporate body, and the use of technology as a vehicle for enhancing the life of Faith and Practice among us. Record keeping, charges to the committees and officers also need greater clarity, since they are the keys to the smooth operations of our Society. One Friend expressed a longing for a return to a Christian discipline, reflecting our long tradition. “How does Faith and Practice reflect our faithfulness to the Divine?”

If we approve a revision, the Faith and Practice Revision Committee is asked to consider relative stability and consistency among members of the committee, since wholesale or frequent turnover on the committee can be disruptive. We were asked to address further concerns to the committee.

We approved this minute:

Minute RC 2014.05: Representative Committee approves bringing the following minute to the 2014 Annual Session: “Pacific Yearly Meeting approves beginning on the next revision of our Faith and Practice.”


Annual Session 2014

Walker Creek Ranch

July 14 to 19, 2014

Plenary VI

Discipline Committee Clerk Carolyn Stephenson (Honolulu) presented the committee’s report (attached) which included the news that Monthly Meetings are no longer to send their minutes to Whittier College and must await a disposition announcement from the Discipline Committee.

The March 2014 Representative Committee approved a minute that we start the revision of our Faith & Practice. After some discussion the following minute was approved:

AS Minute 2014-04: Pacific Yearly Meeting asks the Discipline Committee to begin work on the next revision of our Faith and Practice.

American Friends Service Committee Corporation Meeting report to Annual Session 2016

Nancy Ahlberg Mellor, PYM Representative to AFSC Corp.

A quotation from the AFSC website reads: “The American Friends Service Committee (AFSC) is a Quaker organization that promotes lasting peace with justice, as a practical expression of faith in action. Drawing on continuing spiritual insights and working with people of many backgrounds, we nurture the seeds of change and respect for human life that transform social relations and systems.” 

The Corporation of the American Friends Service Committee is the organizing body that chooses the AFSC Board, which in turn sets the direction of the organization.  The Corporation meets annually.  As a representative of Pacific Yearly Meeting to the American Friends Service Committee Corporation, I had the privilege to attend the most recent sessions of the 99th AFSC Corporation, held on March 4 and 5, 2016 at the Friends Center in Philadelphia.  In addition to the business meetings of the Corporation, the days and evenings were filled with workshops that reflected the theme “Change the Story, Change the World” and included material and ideas that are meant to be shared with our home Meetings.

The current work of the American Friends Service Committee is covered at other times at Yearly Meeting and will be explained by those who work directly with programs.  From my perspective as a member of the corporation, I can say that I am immensely honored to be a tiny part of the AFSC, the work of which I have known and respected for nearly sixty years.  In addition, my membership on the Corporation has increased my interest in the projects located in the Central Valley, the Pan Valley Institute in Fresno and Project Voice in Stockton.  That interest has led to visits and presentations at Sacramento Friends Meeting by Myrna Nateras and Luis Magana and by members of the meeting to their projects.   Thank you, Pacific Yearly Meeting for my appointment to the Corporation of the American Friends Service Committee.

Announcements in Plenary Sessions

Saturday Meeting for Business Plenary

  • There is a Representatives and Clerks list for Monthly Meetings at the Information Desk.  Please stop by to update your Meeting’s information.
  • Once food has been removed from the dining room, WCR staff cannot bring it back due to health codes.
  • Early Quaker Writings meets daily from 1:30-3 pm in Fireside.
  • Please close doors when leaving buildings.
  • What is a Plenary Session?  Plein+aire=in the open/full air.
  • A call to elders:  if you have eldered or will be eldering for a session at Annual Session, please come to a gathering of elders, tonight (Saturday) and tomorrow (Sunday), from 8:15 to 9:15 in the Plenary Tent.
  • September 24, 2016 marks the 50th annual Harvest Festival in support of Friends Committee on Legislation of California – originally held at Hidden Villa and now held at the Palo Alto Meetinghouse.  There are flyers at the back of the plenary tent and post them widely.
  • These announcements are now available on the website (if you are reading this, you know that!) and on the PYM Slack Channel.  Need help getting on the PYM Slack Channel?  See E.J. Harkness.

Keynote Address

Listening Session(s)

Meeting for Business Plenary II

Plenary for Discernment

Meeting for Business Plenary III

Closing Plenary