Dear Friends of Pacific Yearly Meeting,
Unity with Nature Committee’s function is to encourage, support, share, and bring forward Pacific Yearly Meeting [PYM] Friends’ concerns, witness, and leadings for Earthcare. Central to our concerns for the last many years is to slow and eventually stop global warming and its horrific proliferation of dire consequences for both humans and the whole ecosystem. Transitioning to sustainable living systems, net zero energy use, keeping fossil fuels in the ground, permaculture, acting locally, and a carbon free future are among the solutions that many Friends envision.
PACIFIC YEARLY MEETING
UPDATES TO PROPOSED SLATE OF OFFICERS, COMMITTEES AND DELEGATES
21 SIXTH MONTH 2016 (BEGINNING OF PLENARY FOR DISCERNMENT)
These names are brought as an addition to the nominations being considered for action later today at
Business Plenary III:
Unity with Nature Committee
2019 Andi Macleod, La Jolla (2016)
Youth Programs Coordinating Committee
2018 Barbara Babin, Redwood Forest (2016)
To Friends Everywhere:
Lift the veils the obscure the Light of Truth within you. Sink down to the Seed that God sows in your hearts.
From June 17 through June 22, 2016, three hundred and eight Friends gathered at Walker Creek Ranch in Petaluma, California, for the 70th Annual Session of Pacific Yearly Meeting. The theme of our gathering was, “Lifting the Veil,” and during our time together, we sought the tenderness that comes from lifting the veils of everyday life. We felt the kindness that comes with the presence of Spirit.
Our invited guest from the Coast Miwok People, Sky Road Webb, opened our annual session with sacred songs, with tales of the land’s history, and with stories of indigenous peoples today. As the wind swirled forcefully around our gathering, billowing the sides of the large tent in which we held our plenary sessions, we felt the breath of Spirit moving in the world around us, and among us, and within us.
Early in our sessions, we noticed and appreciated the careful preparations that had been made for our gathering, both physical and spiritual. It was clear that our clerk, our assistant clerk, and our Ministry and Oversight committee had designed our plenary sessions to serve both as learning experiences and as times for Spirit to enliven our business. At the start of each plenary, our clerk reminded us of the sacred purpose of our Quaker practices. He reminded us to lift the veils of our egos, to “speak only when spoken through,” to drop our preconceptions, and to open ourselves to Mystery. He also took these learning experiences to special sessions with our young Friends. Worship sharing groups, interest groups, and bible study sessions throughout the week were also designed to help us explore the countless implications of “lifting the veil.”
We opened ourselves to experimentation in matters both profound and mundane. Some of our experimentation concerned simple logistical changes that helped clear our way to attend more fully to Spirit and community. We enjoyed the return of our long-lost Information Desk. We experimented with starting our session on Friday instead of Monday, which allowed participation by Friends who were only available for the weekend. We increased the number of intergenerational plenaries and offered a new evening campfire event for our youngest Friends, which enabled parents to attend evening interest groups. And we tried overall to lessen the number of concurrent offerings in our schedule, to create a greater sense of simplicity and unity among us.
Another new occurrence this year was that our annual session was led by adult Friends who grew up among us. Our presiding clerk, Diego Navarro, and our keynote speakers, Darcy Stanley and Carl Magruder, all had participated in PYM as children. Of course, Friends from countless backgrounds bring us leadership and light, but we felt especially uplifted to find that “our own” leaders are uniquely qualified to speak to our condition as a yearly meeting.
Our condition is one of human imperfection. Although we did feel Spirit working through us frequently during our time together, we also found ourselves stumbling over details in our business, found ourselves tripping over our worldly veils. We found it difficult to come to terms with the need to reduce the operating deficit in our budget. We suffered from confustion as we worked to approve the minutes of our meetings, confusion that diverted our attention from the task at hand and tempted us to reopen previous conversations instead. And throughout the year, between our annual sessions, we struggled to find ways to stay connected with each other – facing dilemmas over right uses of travel and electronic communications.
On a deeper level, we find ourselves falling short of our responsibility to nurture each other’s spiritual growth. Although we can feel inspired by descriptions of traditional, supportive relationships between Quaker ministers and elders, and can even feel inspired to see examples of such relationships in action today, many of us still find it hard to trust each other fully and to support each other effectively. Old memories of past hurts get in the way, which are sometimes hurts that we have caused each other. We struggle to learn ways to speak truth with love, to navigate between the errors of undue harshness and dishonest niceness.
At the same time, we sometimes find that conflict can open our hearts, and we continue to draw inspiration from each other. Our teens and young adults especially serve as models of faithfulness and good order for the rest of us. And we felt moved to see our young Friends embracing new experiences – from a wiggly baby tooth to the traveling minutes of two young adult Friends preparing to travel in the ministry in Australia.
We feel led to learn better how to reach down to the Seed that God sows in our hearts. We feel led to learn better how to pull away the veils that hide that seed, the veils of our daily worries, of our selfish wants, of our self-recriminations, of our wildest dreams, the countless veils that hide the Seed and Light of Truth. And when we ask whether we will choose to help each other in this work, we have learned to answer, “I hope so.”
June 21, 2016
As of June 20, 2016, 305 people have attended Pacific Yearly Meeting’s 2016 Annual Session for at least one day. Of these, 30 were in the Children’s Program, 20 were in the Junior Yearly Meeting, and 35 said on their registration forms that they considered themselves Young Adult Friends. The median age of our attenders here is 54.5 years old. The mean is 48; and 41 people registered themselves as first time attenders.
We want to extend our profound thanks (once again) to the Berkeley Contract registration team: Joe Magruder, Margaret Mossman, and Joanne Magruder. Their help, plus the online registration process has made things so much easier for all of us.
We will be posting the application for the 2017 contract registration team shortly after Annual Session on the Pacific Yearly Meeting website. Applications are due November 15th, 2016. See the Registrars for more information.
From Sarah Tyrrell: After four years of service as Registrar, this is my last time before you in this role. On behalf of myself and Heather, it has been a joy to welcome you to Annual Session and make sure you are well-situated while you’ve been here.
LATIN AMERICAN CONCERNS COMMITTEE
In 1997, the Annual Session established a standing Latin America Concerns Committee to gather and disseminate information to Pacific and other Yearly Meetings regarding Friends groups and service projects in Latin America. The intention is to support rather than replace spirit-led projects already supported by Monthly Meetings, Worship Groups and individual Friends.
Committee meetings will be held three to four times a year: usually before and during Annual Session and Representative Committee. Some meetings will be by conference call. These meetings will include planning and preparation of Interest Groups at Annual Session. The three main programs, Casa de los Amigos, El Salvador Project and Guatemala Friends Scholarship Program, will take turns as presenters for Interest Groups. Subcommittee/Working Groups will be formed as appropriate. There is a PYM fund to assist the committee in bringing representatives or others to Annual Session. The committee, through the clerk, should communicate with clerk of Finance Committee the recommendations for committee expenses (line 5238) and Latin America Concerns Outreach (line 5212/R2749) for the upcoming fiscal year (October 1 – September 30) at least two months before Annual Session. The clerk should assess whether the approved committee budget is sufficient to complete the committee’s work and request augmentations as appropriate to clerk of Finance before Representative Committee and/or Annual Session.
The committee is composed of from five to nine members
who are determined by the Nominating Committee in consultation with the committee. Additionally, there are three members appointed to the committee, one each from Casa de los Amigos, El Salvador Project and Guatemala Friends Scholarship Program.
Information gathering and dissemination regarding Latin American meetings and projects.
Make report to the Representative Committee and PYM Annual Session
Communication with contacts in PYM Monthly Meetings.
Support of subcommittees as needed
Clerk shall make request to Finance for the coming year’s budget 2 months before Annual Session.
EXPECTATIONS AND TIME INVOLVED
Committee meetings are held usually 3-4 times a year, lasting up to 2 hours each time. One to two are in-person and two are by telephone conference. There may arise occasion for additional telephone conferences.
Co-Clerks meet as needed to prepare for meetings.
Committee member work may include writing, attending meetings, information gathering regarding Latin American meetings and projects, communication with contacts in PYM Monthly Meetings, and planning/preparation of Annual Session Interest Groups.
Minutes of meetings are kept.
No expenditures are necessary beyond reimbursable expenses.
Revision approved by LACC June 2015
Dear Friends – my name is Stephen Myers. I am a member of the Sacramento Friends Meeting and the clerk of the board of the Friends Committee on Legislation of California.
The present moment is an encouraging time to be your voice of conscience at the State Capitol. In recent weeks, State government has included, for the first time in more than 20 years, money in the annual budget to support children born into poverty. We are also beginning to see a shift toward more rehabilitation, rather than punishment, in the state prison system: FCLCA helped to pass laws that will allow people sentenced as minors to demonstrate positive changes in their attitude and behavior in order to earn parole.
Our work is needed now more than ever. FCLCA has three areas of concentration for our work: reform of the criminal justice system, promotion of economic equality, and environmental justice. Right now, we are advocating for a redefinition of the purpose of sentencing from its present intent of punishment to a more holistic definition that includes restorative justice. We believe this can open the door to a paradigm shift in which California’s justice system serves to heal rather than promote further harm.
Our coalition work to repeal the Maximum Family Grant, the state aid to children I mentioned before, brought together members of a wide range of faith communities. Many of these congregations were featured in a brief video which I would be delighted to share with you this week. Working together with a wide range of communities has been empowering and nourishing for FCLCA, and we couldn’t do that work without your support!
We also are uniquely suited to address issues at the intersections between our priorities: our current work to increase the level of investment towards greenhouse gas reductions in low-income communities would benefit working families at the same time it would promote environmental justice.
Our impact is determined in large part by the support of the members of this meeting – YOU allow FCLCA to make a difference at the state capitol. The good folks in the Palo Alto, San Jose, Santa Cruz, and other meetings who are working on the 50th Annual Harvest Festival, as well as other meeting fundraisers, allow FCLCA to be present each day in Sacramento to build relationships and keep our eyes and ears open to any developments in the capitol building. Thank you for your support!
FCLCA’s Action Network has reached 5,200 subscribers! This allows FCLCA to multiply our impact by enabling you and your social networks to send messages directly to state legislators. Legislative staff tell us that our direct advocacy makes a huge difference – we have ensured good bills have made it through committees and stopped bad bills before they became law. The action network is an excellent way for every member of the meeting to stay informed about FCLCA’s work and to be part of the movement to promote Friends’ values at the state level. I strongly urge you to sign up online at www.fclca.org.
And, as always, we remain a source for in-depth analysis of state-wide Initiatives, allowing voters to understand ballot measures from a carefully reasoned Friends’ perspective before going to the polls in November. Our recommendations will be available in the next issue of the Newsletter online and in print for our supporters.
The other half of FCLCA, the Education Fund, has also been hard at work: last year we created the Bring Your Voice Guidebook to Lobbying the California State Legislature that will be available soon. We are developing a citizen-lobbyist training program to train other like-minded folks across the state!
While all this good news is inspiring, it is also important for me to express my uncertainty about the future of FCLCA. We’re struggling to close a $100,000 annual shortfall for our lobbying organization. As the Quaker community has aged, more of our income has come from end-of-life bequests rather than steady monthly and annual contributions. That is why I am directly asking members of this meeting to ask yourself how you as an individual and your Friends Meeting as a community can help FCLCA bridge the significant gap that presently exists. We need a significant number of new individuals to contribute $1,000 or more annually. If you are able to give at this level, FCLCA needs you to do so. If you can connect the organization to those either in your meeting or in your larger circle that can contribute financially, please share those contacts with me. Remember that with our monthly sustainer system, a significant annual contribution can be divided into manageable monthly amounts. To encourage your participation in our summer initiative, a generous donor has enabled increased or new donations to FCLCA to be matched dollar for dollar up to $11,000!
Again, I want to thank those individuals and meetings that contribute time, love, and resources to the Friends Committee on Legislation of California. We cannot continue to be your voice of conscience without your passion and commitment to Friends’ values. I am extremely appreciative for the opportunity to serve you as the clerk of the board, and am available at any time to talk with you about supporting the work of FCLCA – whether that be through writing a letter to your legislator, organizing a fundraiser at your meeting, or stretching financially to make an individual contribution. Every effort is appreciated!
Your Discipline Committee asks Pacific Yearly to refer to the Discipline Committee as the “Faith and Practice Revision Committee” from the point of approval of this name change through the acceptance of a revised Faith and Practice.
We will continue with our work and expect to return to Representative Committee 2017 with a recommendation regarding the committee composition.
The Epistle of RSoF, German Yearly Meeting 2015
The morning was grey. But the joy of being together with Friends was great. To be connected despite distances in space and time. Is Mysticism Deed? Is Deed Mysticism? A wonderful scent of freshly cut celery drifted through the Quaker House. Does the mystical spirit smell of celery? The helpers enjoy the Deed. Our children and the helpers enjoy the soup, the rest of us the odour.
The 85th Yearly Meeting of German and Austrian Quakers took place from the 22nd to the 25th of October 2015 in the Quaker House in Bad Pyrmont. Our theme was “Spiritual Growth”. 186 Friends between the ages of 9 months and 93 years were present, including delegates and guests from Georgia, Great Britain, Ireland, Luxembourg, the Netherlands, Sweden, Switzerland, Hungary an the USA.
Our community and the bonds between Quakers world-wide as the foundations of spiritual growth were stressed in many of the Epistles which reached us from other Yearly Meetings. Our Friend Esther Köhring held the Richard L. Cary Lecture with the title “Roots and Wings. The
opportunity to grow in the community of Friends”. She spoke of the joy of being able to grow within the Europe and Middle East Young Friends (EMEYF) and German Yearly Meeting; wings were her earlier experience, roots came later. “Young Friends are not your future; they are part of
our joint present.” We can only grow into the Future out of the Here and Now of each one of us, younger or older. The sense of community – amongst EMEYF as within our Yearly Meeting – forms the foundation of mutual trust: both to fly, to attempt new things, and to develop roots, to
“become radical” in the original sense of the word. To try new approaches asks for the overcoming of the continual need for a finished product, “not always hearing the song of the birds but always listening for it”, and carrying the “Krummelus pill” in our pocket (like Astrid Lindgren’s
Pippi Longstocking) as a sort of dried pea to keep disturbing us and prevent us becoming too comfortable in our settled Quaker existences. “How can we be Quakers without ceasing the process of becoming Quakers?” New attempts: open sessions of our committees, a morning bible study time unit, joint business meetings of Young Friends and the Yearly Meeting, autobiographical contributions. From inner growth to outward deed: the particular field in which Friends feel moved to act is
currently – in view of the special situation of the moment in Germany – assisting refugees. Many Friends work with ongoing initiative and commitment in this area.
Important aspects of our Business Meeting: several years of work by a Literature Group have come to a successful conclusion, and “Our Book” has been published under the title “And what can you say? Views and experiences” (ISBN 978-3-929696-52-3). German Quakers’ striving to
live in the spirit of love and truth and their various answers to the questions of their time are reflected in this volume. Then: a new translation and publication of the Journal of George Fox in German has been decided upon. We look forward to its realization.
Further: the Yearly Meeting has agreed on the text of an open letter to the German Chancellor Angela Merkel and to other German and European politicians to express three concerns of German Quakers in the present refugee crisis. Firstly, we support the policy of open borders for
asylum seekers and live in the hope that we shall master the situation. Secondly, export of weapons from Germany contributes to the uprooting of refugees. Thirdly, all possible efforts must be made to aid the restoration of acceptable living conditions in the refugees’ countries of origin.
We greet Friends throughout the world in the conviction of our mutual trust and unity.
Sabine Alvermann (Clerk) Neithard Petry (Clerk)
Pacific Yearly Meeting
State of the Society Report
June 20/21, 2016
¢ “As we reflect on the state of our meeting in 2016, we ask ourselves, Where’s the enthusiasm? Where’s the juice?” Strawberry Creek MM
¢ Twenty-one Meetings and three worship groups sent in State of the Meeting reports, trying to distill the “juice” and the challenges of their communities. From these, we find general themes and specific examples which make up this State of the Society Report.
¢ Meeting Community – Chico Friends Meeting speaks of what it is to be a community:
“Tender, generous, and often very human, we are a small but steadfast people wrestling with what it means to be Quaker. With faith that the power and the mystery of Spirit is in it, we continue to, each in our own way, show up, and when we do, we experience life of the Spirit abundantly.”
“This year we celebrated our 50th Anniversary as a monthly meeting.” Grass Valley MM
“Our Meeting has enjoyed a time of spiritual stability in which the attendance at Meeting for Worship has grown… We want to strengthen our spiritual relationships with both long-time attenders and those who have arrived more recently.” Mexico City MM
“After three quarters of an hour or so, we are joined in silence by the children of the meeting and their teachers. The shine in their eyes promises a lively sharing at the rise of meeting.” Inland Valley MM
“In January we hosted PYM’s Ministry and Oversight Committee, and our discussions with the committee emphasized the importance of our Quaker ties. We benefit from members of our meeting who are active in PYM and SCQM, experiencing the richness of the larger Quaker community.” Orange County MM
¢ Meeting Space – the space we use or own creates both opportunity and challenge.
“We continue to be struck by the new openness of our Meetinghouse, symbolizing to both us and the broader community the welcome we seek to provide.” Berkeley Friends Meeting
“We approved a Minute and updated our outdoor sign which now reads: Davis Friends Meeting (Quaker), an open, welcoming, and affirming Meeting.” Davis MM
“For now, we have suspended the search [for a meetinghouse to purchase]. This has been very painful, especially for those who have worked so hard and for so long…Without a meetinghouse we are not very visible to our local community. Yet we have a welcome stream of visitors who know to look for us.” Strawberry Creek MM
“Some Friends have voiced concern over the Meeting owning properties as the many issues it brings may be getting in the way of Spirit rather than leading us toward it.” San Francisco MM
¢ Outreach/Work in the Community – As in many years past, the quality, substance and sheer diversity of community outreach and social action is remarkable, including response to the California drought with drought-resistant meeting grounds.
“We are especially happy to continue sponsorship of the student Peace Essay Contest in the Stanislaus County Schools. We are ever heartened by the growth in participation and the depth of commitment and passion of young people. Delta MM
“We continue to express our social concerns through ongoing activities such as providing a meal and music to homeless women once a month, and supporting those who are taking Alternatives to Violence into the community and local prisons. Live Oak MM
“We help with the monthly Rice Plus Project that packs and distributes rice, beans and other necessities to farm families in the Salinas Valley and North Monterey County.” Monterrey Peninsula MM
“Our presence is noted in public events, including demonstrations in support of climate action, the Black Lives Matter movement, and immigration concerns. Two of our members attended the UN Conference on Climate Change (COP) 21 in Paris, one as General Secretary for Quaker Earthcare Witness.” Strawberry Creek MM
“We support the Dougla-Prieta project in Arizona and Mexico, the undocumented student scholarship fund, African student scholarship funds, the East Bay Sanctuary movement, Prisoners packages work, Citizens Climate Lobby and the Interfaith Jewish Voices for Peace.” Sacramento MM
“In response to immigration and refugee crises, members of our meeting have taken in 3 immigrant families and a new committee was formed to offer financial advocacy and support.” La Jolla MM
“When one of our long standing members passed away, his estate was bequeathed to us. We set aside part as an Endowment, a portion was used to complete our new meeting home the rest funded Grants totaling $174,000.” San Diego MM
“Acknowledging the many efforts of individual Friends in the world, nominations to our Peace and Social Order Committee were suspended pending clarification of this committee’s relationship to the concerns of Friends. Consideration of this action is ongoing.” La Jolla MM
¢ Good Order requires us to examine not just what we do, but how and why.
“…the Clerk discerned three desirable efforts for the community: To continue the sharing and examination process that has invigorated Meeting for Business; to structure our community so that we are better able to welcome newcomers; and to be more transparent and efficient. We feel both the pressure of uncertain plans for the next year, yet also joy in our new direction.” Palo Alto MM
“Our meeting has grappled with differences of opinions and with individual life challenges, through the vehicle of clearness committees. This is a profound process that helps to center us in love when facing challenges. Santa Barbara MM
“Getting enough money to meet our budget continues to be a challenge, and we are also challenged by the search for members and attenders to take on a position or serve on a committee, or to help carry out a program. Yet we are committed and care and know there is a way through this if we are willing to be open, patient to wait for this response, and ready to act on it when it comes.” Grass Valley MM
“Quaker history shows us that it is often through struggle that we receive our spiritual gifts. We struggle with how people react to what others say and with achieving a common understanding of committee work versus meeting work and how to make decisions.” Chico Friends Meeting
¢ Rhythms Of Life – While the familiar problem of aging seems to be consistent throughout, there is a sense of renewal and vibrancy, with a number of meetings and worship groups growing and delighting in newcomers, new members and new families. And it’s clear the work of Bob and Kathy Runyon and Quaker Center has positively impacted and helped nourish many meetings through our Yearly Meeting.
“Many of us are using our Meeting’s Ben Lomond Quaker Center [annual] pass which helps our Meeting grow spiritually.” Sacramento MM
“Marloma Long Beach Meeting consists of six senior citizens of increasing age and diminishing energy. Once a very active meeting, we no longer do social service projects as a Meeting, although individuals take part in a variety of activities. What of our spiritual development? One member described our Meeting as “a place where we go to regenerate our spiritual batteries once a week.” Marloma Long Beach MM
[We held] a meeting-wide retreat, “From Strength to Strength: Visions for the Future of the Claremont Monthly Meeting.” Out of the retreat emerged a sense that we might do well to embrace, rather than lament, our smallness: genuinely prophetic communities are perhaps likely to be small.” Claremont MM
“…because there are fewer of us, many standing Meeting committees are small and we rely on individuals to do work that was once done by committee. The answer may lie in simplifying our process and letting go of traditions which no longer serve us.” Orange Grove MM
“Though our spirit remains strong, we are less able to summon physical ability to accomplish all we wish to do. At the same time, Friends are learning to accept the limits of aging, and are searching for new and creative ways to be of service.” Delta MM
“The Query “How is truth served in our Meeting?” also applies to recognizing our own limitations. Some in our Meeting have learned this through disabilities or illnesses. For others it is a matter of following new leadings and finding new ways to be of service. Davis MM
” …older, more seasoned Friends, and Friends ways, [are] giving over to inspired, service-oriented outreach. Meeting community inreach is giving way to larger engagement in service to others in the greater community outside our doors.” San Francisco MM
“We have felt a flowing energy from the Divine to welcome new visitors, attenders and members of our community, floating in and out, a life of constant change. We happily welcome four new members this year. We are thankful for the vitality and energy felt by many in our community.” Santa Monica MM
“The Worship Group at Soledad State Prison (CTF) remains under our care. Currently there are 7 to 8 Live Oak Friends who’ve worshipped and participated in worship sharing discussions, with 7 to 10 inmates, twice monthly. Live Oak MM
“We are continuing to grow as a spiritual community in faith and in numbers.” Conejo Valley WG
“The small size of our worship group continues to be a challenge and a blessing. We don’t have the problems, nor do we have the possibilities.” Ojai WG
“We are a small group, but we have shown concern on peace and social justice issues at a time when the world if full of violence and grave injustices. We are thankful for our time together.” Whitleaf WG
¢ Summary – Many meetings speak of their challenges, but also their sense of joy and renewal together.
“Of the little miracles in life, one of those is how we have come together to form a larger community. We have made a family together, a safe place to grow our relationships. An adult who grew up within our Meeting said he remembered Meeting fondly as “a place where he was loved.” Orange County MM
“Chico Friends Meeting life is not smooth, but it is full of joy and of meaningful relationships with each other, the wider world, and the Spirit of God. Chico Friends Meeting
“When Spirit moves in Meeting, it is amazing and glorious, a gift from God. It is in those moments we feel how easy it is to become as God wishes us to be. We trust that Spirit will guide us forward.” Orange Grove MM
“Reflecting on this year, we find strength in the richness of our memories, strength in the power of our hopes. Above all, we seek strength in our togetherness.” Claremont MM
“We…seek to remain open to the will of the spirit and affirm that all creation has worth and dignity.” La Jolla MM
“We recognize the need to remember that we are a living tradition. The world and the Meeting are always changing. We seek the guidance of Spirit in knowing our truth and moving ahead in response to change. We strive to treat each other tenderly and, as we seek the truth and act upon it, we work to touch that of God in each of us.” Strawberry Creek MM
¢ We close our State of the Society Report with a quote from Grass Valley MM:
“ …our practice is gathering together in silence, to be available, to be open, to be willing to share when the spirit prods or encourages us, to be patient, to be open and inclusive of others’ viewpoints, and to experience this process as our act of worship, our way of being in the world.”
Submitted by the Ministry and Oversight Committee of PYM