A Message from the Presiding Clerk: an experiment in learning and safeguarding space at Annual Session 2020

July 8, 2020; updated version July 12, 2020

Our theme at this Annual Session is “Radical Inclusivity: Responding to God’s Insistent and Persistent Love.” Radical inclusivity is the vision of what I hope all of us want to work toward, where we want to grow. But it is not where we are now.

White Supremacy is embedded in the culture and institutions of the U.S and within the Religious Society of Friends. We must name it and we will name it here at Annual Session when it shows up.

There are ways that the tentacles of racism show up and when it shows up we, as individuals and as a collective, suffer damage to our souls. People of Color notice when racism shows up. White people often do not notice.

At Annual Session, we are embarking on an experiment this year. We will notice words that land in a harmful way and help us, our whole body of Friends assembled here, to learn to see and to acknowledge when words land in a way that causes harm. One might say something with no harmful intent, but it may land with harm. We will pause at those times, we will breathe together, and we will address the harm done. Addressing harm needs to include acknowledging another’s experience. Dialogue with white Friends can then occur in a private space if an individual wants to explore the learning. Dialogue among Friends of Color can also occur in a private space to address the harm done. Throughout the Annual Session there will be Affinity Groups held for Friends of Color and for white allies in separate spaces so that support for this important work and learning can occur without inadvertent harm being done.

Let us strive to hold our whole community with open hearts, to pay attention to all who share this space, and to speak with integrity. For as much as it is hard for white Friends to learn of our unseen, unacknowledged racism, it is even harder, harsher for it to land with Friends of Color. A harm to one is a harm to all. Let us see what love can do.

The Process:

Anyone in attendance may identify an ‘ouch’ by sending a private message in the ‘chat’ to Friends Laura Magnani and Deborah Marks who will alert the clerk to the ouch. 

When there is an ‘ouch’ in the room, the clerk will stop the meeting and ask Friends to pause, breathe, and notice what has occurred so we can all learn together. The clerk will ask Friends to spend a few minutes writing what they noticed and what each is feeling in their body. This may be an opportunity to consider how the ‘ouch’ lives within you, too, and how you might forgive and repair. 

We will then return to the business at hand. At the end of the plenary, the clerk will check-in to see if anyone wants to acknowledge the harm done. Please read below for examples of this. 

Friends of Color are encouraged to meet in the Affinity Group for Friends of Color for further support. White Friends are encouraged to continue learning about how to uncover and dismantle white supremacy within themselves and our community in the White Allies Affinity Group. 

Examples of an ouch:

  • Using the pronoun ‘we’ when speaking as a white Friend about the Yearly Meeting when that person really means ‘we white Friends.’
  • A white Friend speaks about how ‘sheltering in place’ has not caused any change in her lifestyle, when People of Color are disproportionately affected by the loss of livelihood and death from Coronavirus infection.

What does acknowledging harm done by speaking something that causes an ouch or harm look like and sound like?

  • Thank you for calling this to my attention.
  • I will reflect on this and attend to learning from it.
  • After some reflection:
    • “May I offer a repair?“ Ask question without expectation
    • “I recognize that my statement caused harm because… “ No excuses.
    • “I apologize for that harm”
    • “Is there anything I missed that I might explore with white Friends?”

What further causing harm may look like:

  • Saying “yes, but”
  • Asking or expecting Friends of Color to teach white Friends. Please utilize the White Allies Affinity Group for further education and support.  
  • Seeking soothing and comfort from a Friend of Color when speaking about the ouch with the Friend of Color (and at the expense of their time and energy). This is sometimes referred to as “white tears.” 

Sandy Kewman
Presiding Clerk

This message is available as a PDF on the 2020 Annual Session Information page.

Pacific Yearly Meeting’s Virtual Annual Session 2020: Registration is now Open

Registration is now open for Pacific Yearly Meeting’s Annual Session, to be held on Zoom July 10–15, 2020. Children’s Program will take place on Friday, July 10, with the Teen and Adult programs starting Friday evening. We will have worship, Bible study, Worship-Sharing, a Keynote address, Interest Groups, Meeting for Memorials, and opportunities for play and fellowship. Sessions will be limited in length and ample break time will be provided to prevent Zoom burn-out.

You can find the schedule and a lot of other information about Annual Session at https://www.pacificyearlymeeting.org/annual-session-minutes-reports/2020-annual-session/.

The website is being updated on a daily basis, so check back frequently for new items.

We are experimenting with Pay-as-Led this year. You decide how much you are able to pay to participate in the Virtual Annual Session. A range of fees are provided based on what it costs PacYM for you to attend, so you can make an informed decision. Do not let cost get in the way of your participation in Annual Session.

Click here to register (opens in a new tab).

Please share this announcement with your Meeting and anyone who might be interested in attending PacYM’s Virtual Annual Session 2020.

A Message from the Presiding Clerk

May 30, 2020
Dear Friends,

Once again our country is reeling from the deaths of Persons of Color.  These are persons who are too often seen as less than, not worthy of life, respect, or the presumption of innocence by those with less melanin in their skin.  I lift up the recent names of George Floyd, Breona Taylor, Ahmaud Arbery, and so many for whom no video footage is available.

Friend, deal plainly with yourselves, and let the eternal light search you, and try you, for the good of your souls; for this will deal plainly with you; it will rip you up, lay you open, and make all manifest that lodgeth in you; the secret subtlety of the enemy of your souls, this searcher and tryer will make manifest.
Margaret Fell 1614-1702

As Quakers are we hearing the call from God to witness racism, feeling the injustice in our bodies and then discerning ways to live into mending the harm?  We cannot be silent or complacent.  By virtue of our faith we are called to witness to white supremacy, domination, and disregard for humanity.   We are called to discern how we will live and speak so that all people have the space and air and choices that we all have been given by God.  

We must look consciously for and weed out the ways within the Religious Society of Friends of the Truth that constrict us in patterns of oppression or silencing of other human beings.  I ask that we reflect deeply, ask for guidance, and follow that guidance.

Sandy Kewman, Presiding Clerk of Pacific Yearly Meeting

O Lord, thou hast searched me, and known me.
For there is not a word in my tongue, but, lo, O Lord, thou knowest it altogether.
Search me, O God, and know my heart: try me, and know my thoughts:
And see if there be any wicked way in me, and lead me
in the way everlasting.

 Psalm 139: 1, 4, 23-24 KJV

Annual Session 2020 Will Be Online Only

AN IMPORTANT ANNOUNCEMENT ABOUT ANNUAL SESSION 2020

Dear Friends of Pacific Yearly Meeting,

I want to reach out to each one of you in this time of uncertainty and urge you to please take good care of yourselves and each other. Stay connected. We will get through this difficult time together in community.

Since few of us are meeting in physical proximity at this time because of the COVID-19 pandemic, Friends in Monthly Meetings as well as at the Quarterly Meetings and our Yearly Meeting are arranging for telephone and internet meetings. We are now planning to gather as a Yearly Meeting using this technology over many sessions throughout the summer rather than in one physical place at one time in July, 2020. Yes, Annual Session will happen digitally this year instead of a physical face-to-face meeting. Even if large gatherings are allowed by July, we believe that many Friends will be unable to participate in an in-person Annual Session this summer due to COVID-19 related financial, family, work, and school challenges.

 As a yearly meeting, we are working on creating virtual worship-sharing opportunities, interest groups, affinity groups, and the keynote that can be seen by anyone who can connect to the internet. In the coming weeks, planning meetings will occur with Meeting Representatives to PacYM, committees and additional groups. There are many possibilities for what we might offer, so if you have an idea please let us know: PYMclerk@gmail.com. We are hearing positive responses from those who have been able to attend virtual Meetings for worship. We urge everyone to reach out to those who need technical support or to let us know of the need so that Friends can help one another to be connected.

Information about these upcoming virtual programs will be disseminated via email and on the pacificyearlymeeting.org website (check out it’s new look!) as soon as they are scheduled.

Our world is in transition and positive transformation is possible. Our world is crying out for healing. What is being called forth at this time, from each one of us and all of us together and from the world? Let us take the next steps together with openness, curiosity and a dedication to learning with and from one another.

In service,
Sandy Kewman, Presiding Clerk

Interim Youth Programs Coordinator

Dear Friends,

Youth Programs Coordinating Committee (YPCC) is happy to report that Rebekah Percy has been hired as the Interim Youth Programs Coordinator.  She will begin work on March 23rd.  Rebekah is a member of La Jolla meeting and attender at Orange Grove.  She has attended PacYM since childhood and has served the yearly meeting in a variety of ways, most recently as co-clerk of YPCC for two years.  Her experience with the YPCC as well as her strong organizational and communication skills will serve the youth programs of the yearly meeting well.   Rebekah resigned from the YPCC on January 6 to address work-life balance issues and was not involved in the decision to release Javaughn. Rebekah can be reached at the YPC email address: pym.youthcoordinator@gmail.com starting March 23rd.

The Interim YPC position is intended to serve us through Annual Session and will end on August 31.  YPCC has created an Ad Hoc committee to address issues surrounding the YPC role and are requesting participation from youth, Racial Justice subcommittee, and Ministry and Oversight in this review process.  We hope this work will be completed by fall and a new YPC recruitment process will begin at that time.

Stay well,
Melissa Lovett-Adair, Clerk
Youth Programs Coordinating Committee

Gathering Guidance for Meeting Activities

(sent on behalf of Sandy Kewman, Presiding Clerk, by Sharon Gates, Assistant to the Clerk)

Dear Friends,
I want to share with you the ‘Gathering Guidance” of the California Dept. of Public Health to help guide your Meeting activities. In order to slow the spread of coronavirus, the state of CA is implementing recommendations including canceling gatherings of 250 or more people and recommending that those at elevated risk stay away from gatherings of 10 or more people. All gatherings of 10 or more people should implement the practice of social distancing by ensuring that individuals are 6 feet apart.

Friends should be sure that their members understand what is being recommended, particularly those at elevated risk. In addition, monthly meetings should do their best to implement safe practices at meetings for worship, including finding ways to break the silence that do not require taking the hand of the person next to you. For example, touching elbows or putting one’s own hands together in front of you and bowing could be used.

We recognize that some PacYM meetings are located outside of California and so you may want to follow those of your state or country. Good hand washing for 20 seconds is still very important.

The guidelines in full can be found here: https://www.cdph.ca.gov/Programs/CID/DCDC/CDPH%20Document%20Library/Gathering_Guidance_03.11.20.pdf

As Barry Crossno of Friends General Conference stated earlier this week:”May Spirit help us be conduits of wisdom and comfort for one another during a time of uncertainty.”

much peace,
Sandy Kewman
Presiding Clerk, Pacific Yearly Meeting

A Quaker Center Call for Program Proposals for 2021

Deadline Extended to March 15, 2020

The Ben Lomond Quaker Center is accepting program proposals for 2021.

Quaker Center seeks to nurture the spiritual growth and faithfulness of Friends and others, while strengthening Quakerism and its witness in the world.  We offer programs and personal retreats exemplifying Friends’ testimonies of community, integrity, simplicity, peace, and equality. We strive to live in right order with all creation, especially with the redwood forest that sustains us here in the Santa Cruz mountains.

Hence, we are seeking Friends who are led to share their insights into

  • Spiritual practice, growth, and faithfulness.
  • Strengthening and enriching Quakerism and its witness in the world.
  • Exemplifying Friends’ testimonies.
  • Climate change & living in right order with creation
  • Social & Racial Justice & Healing

Programs utilizing a mix of modes (such as: journaling, discussion, worship, the arts, group lectures, small groups, queries, interaction with nature, etc.) are encouraged.

Those program proposals which offer insights into developing and nurturing an effective and radical Quaker witness in the face of contemporary challenges will be given special attention.

PLEASE SUBMIT A 25- 35 -WORD DESCRIPTION OF THE PROGRAM, INCLUDING:

Name(s) and Contact Information (including email) of leader(s) and an elder (if you wish):

  • Proposed title:
  • Overview of program:
  • Preferred month(s) to hold program in the coming year:

PROGRAM PROPOSAL:  

What leads you to offer this program? Who would benefit from your program, and what should they expect to learn or experience?  How would this program potentially teach and transform the participants? What activities would be involved?

LOGISTICAL INFORMATION:

Workshop Size: Typically 25 – 50

We offer honoraria as an expression of gratitude for the gifts of ministry and time that this work demands.  Travel fares are reimbursed up to a mutually determined limit.

PLEASE SUBMIT PROPOSAL WITH ABOVE INFORMATION TO:

BobFisher@QuakerCenter.org and Nicholas.C.Wright@gmail.com

Deadline Extended to March 15, 2020

Job Opportunity: FGC Conference Coordinator

Friends General Conference (FGC) is looking for a new Conference Coordinator.  Ruth Reber, the current Conference Coordinator, will retire at the close of the 2020 Gathering. Applications are being accepted until January 3, with a projected start date in March 2020. If you or someone you know is interested in the position, please go to https://www.fgcquaker.org/serve/opportunities/job-opportunity-conference-coordinator

— Sharon Gates, Assistant to the Clerk of Pacific YM

We Are Affiliated with Friends General Conference

Message from Sandy Kewman, Pacific Yearly Meeting Presiding Clerk

Dear Pacific Yearly Meeting Community,

Shan Cretin, co-clerk of M&O, and I are happy to report on the request to affiliate with Friends General Conference which was approved at our Annual Session, 2019.

We were informed that Friends General Conference Executive Committee approved the request of Pacific Yearly Meeting’s affiliation with FGC on October 7, 2019.  During the Central Committee Meeting on October 24 and 26, 2019 the decision was announced to the wider community of FGC.  Frank Barch, Clerk of FGC Central Committee, stated in an email the following:

I am so greatly pleased to be able to welcome Pacific Yearly Meeting into the Friends General Conference family! As I was certain, Executive Committee rejoiced to receive and approve your request for affiliation. This indeed made it a happy meeting last weekend!

Welcome, and thank you! If I can offer support or explanations, I am at your service.

Frank Barch, Presiding Clerk
FGC Central Committee

This is the Minute recording their decision:

(53-19) Pacific Yearly Meeting’s affiliation with FGC: Jean-Marie Prestwidge Barch (Clerk of the Committee for Nurturing Ministries) brought a recommendation that we accept Pacific Yearly Meeting’s request to affiliate with FGC. Friends APPROVED joyfully. We are inspired by the faithfulness of Pacific Yearly Meeting’s years-long, careful process to come to the point of requesting affiliation. There are directly affiliated monthly meetings within Pacific Yearly Meeting. In the future, the yearly meeting affiliation will take priority. Jean-Marie shared that there are two monthly meetings in Pacific Yearly Meeting that are in Mexico. We are aware that there are multiple yearly meetings in FGC with Spanish-speaking people. We wish to explore the possibility of FGC providing materials in the languages of the people we serve.

Heather Levien has been named as an interim representative of PacYM to FGC. The PacYM nominations committee is considering naming an additional interim representative and will nominate regular representatives in July who will serve a 3 year term.  At that time, representation by the directly affiliated Monthly meetings of PacYM will be subsumed under the PacYM representation to FGC, therefore, there will be no need for the directly affiliated monthly meetings to nominate their own representatives to serve after the July PacYM Annual Gathering.  In the interim, some monthly meeting representatives to FGC are maintaining an active role during this transitional period.

When PacYM’s affiliation was announced at the recent FGC Central Committee Meeting (October 24-27), it was pointed out by the General Secretary, Barry Crossno, that 70 years ago during the 1948 Conference, the Central Committee formed a committee to explore “widening the influence” of FGC.  The following September 1949, the Central Committee asked this ad hoc committee to explore drawing other yearly meetings into affiliation with FGC, particularly Philadelphia Yearly Meeting Orthodox, the recently formed Pacific Yearly Meeting, and the recently united New England Yearly Meeting (Gurneyite and Wilburite Orthodox Friends in New England Reunited in 1945). Barry warmly welcomed PacYM as the newest affiliate.

Warmly,
Sandy