History of Pacific Yearly Meeting

Background and History

Pacific Yearly Meeting was officially formed in 1947.  For the first 11 years it existed “jointly and within” the older organization, Pacific Coast Association of Friends. The “two” organizations met as one and the same gathering. In 1958, the name “Pacific Coast Association of Friends” was officially dropped. In the early 1970’s the yearly meeting split into three yearly meetings, Pacific, North Pacific and Intermountain, with the name Pacific going to the one with the most members, largely in California. The shorthand moniker “PYM” was used until PYM affiliated with Friends General Conference in 2019 and gradually began using “PacYM” to avoid confusion with Philadelphia Yearly Meeting.

Changes in Organizational Structure

PacYM has changed the organization of how it conducts its business a number of times over the years.  In addition to decisions made in plenaries at Annual Session, some decisions have been delegated to smaller committees with differing titles and charters over time:  Interim Committee (IntCom), Executive Committee (ExecCom) and Representative Committee (RepCom).  These committees met  either in the summer during Annual Session or during the year between Annual Sessions (or both).  This is how it evolved:

The 1947 Organization Committee Report called for a “Representative Committee” which could fix its own time and place of meeting.  The committee consisted of PYM officers and two representatives from each Monthly Meeting (of which there were initially 12).  The report suggested (but did not require) that the committee meet in the Summer at the time of Annual Session, and at other times “upon the request of three members of the committee.”  Sometime between 1947 and 1952 the committee’s name was changed to “Interim Committee”, though its composition and charge were the same.  By 1955 at least it had become regular practice for Interim Committee to meet both Winter and Summer.  Research into the archives at Whittier College Library continues in search of possible Interim/Representative Committee minutes before 1955.

Starting in 1964 Interim Committee was renamed Representative Committee and began meeting only in the summer during Annual Session.  A smaller Executive Committee was created to meet in the winter to conduct interim business.

Starting in 1976 the Executive Committee was abolished and the full Representative Committee began meeting twice a year, in the winter as well as during AS in the summer.

Starting in 1996 and to this day decisions in the summer are turned over to the entire yearly meeting (plenaries).  Representative Committee continues to meet in the winter.

Publication of Minutes

Minutes for the years 1947-1957, when PYM and PCAF met jointly, were published in Friends Bulletin, the publication of PCAF that first came out in 1929.  After 1957 only informal reports about the PYM annual sessions were published in Friends Bulletin, not the full minutes.

Minutes for the years 1958-2012 were published and circulated on paper separately from Friends Bulletin.  Copies (with all attachments) went to all PYM officers and committee clerks, to each monthly meeting, and to “archives” (see below) and to other “interested individuals”.

In 2001 minutes began to show up digitally on a PYM website (as well as on paper), but it was an informal process.  Many of the early web versions do not contain all the attachments, nor are the attachments to be found posted on the website.  Generally since 2006 the website version has contained all, or nearly all, of the attachments.

The publication and circulation of paper minutes was discontinued after 2012.  Unfortunately it took some years for the website to embrace its role as the sole official publication of the minutes.  The full digital minutes packets for 2013-2016 were put together retroactively in 2018.  Publication of full digital minutes packets resumed in 2017.

Archives

The minutes for the first eleven PYM Annual Sessions, 1947-1957 inclusive, were published in Friends Bulletin. Western Friend (today’s incarnation of Friends Bulletin) has made available on its website scanned images of all issues of Friends Bulletin back to the first issue in 1929.  We encourage Friends to visit this extremely useful Western Friend deep archive to explore more of the history of Friends in the Pacific region as reported in the issues of Friends Bulletin.  The digitized PacYM minutes linked here for 1947-1957 Annual Sessions were downloaded as PDF images of the appropriate issues of Friends Bulletin in this archive.

Pacific Yearly Meeting has long maintained a physical archive of sorts. This includes (or should include) all the PacYM minutes and much, much more besides.  It is currently housed at the Whittier College Library.  However Whittier College only provides the storage space, it does not perform any curatorial services and has not integrated the materials into their collection.  The archive is stored in a dozen file cabinets in the basement of the library and is not accessible to the general public.   It is under the care of the PYM Historian/Archivist(s) (currently Jan Tappan and George Mills).PacYM has also periodically sent materials, including minutes, to the Friends Historical Library at Swarthmore College in Philadelphia.  There the materials become part of the FHL curated collection, which means they are catalogued and publicly accessible.  But they are only available on paper in the library itself, not online and not digitally.

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