It is hard to believe I have been serving the Quarter for more than 4 months already! Along with the regular duties of communication, event planning including Quarterly Meeting, and supporting the Working Group on Aging Concerns (which will now be moving forward with an ARCH training!), I have been visiting the meetings. I have now visited 8 meetings, and attended the Fall Worship at Chichester. Soon I hope to visit Appoquinimink, the preparative meeting under the care of Wilmington. I’ve also attended events at several meetings and am gradually getting to know more people and learn what the various relationships are.
I also attended Philadelphia Yearly Meeting Annual Sessions in July (and was happy to see some of you there!). I participated in several sets of exercises which were meant to encourage us to be more welcoming by being better listeners, and sharing our deepest feelings. I attended workshops by the Eco Justice Collaborative (which shared a wonderful video which can be brought to meetings), one by Spiral Q, and another by the Quaker Voluntary Service program.
In addition, I had the opportunity to meet with other Quarter Coordinators and Clerks of Quarters over lunch. It was very helpful to hear what other Quarters are doing and how the various Coordinators function. Some issues (very small meetings, and how to get meetings to support each other’s events, for example) seem to be common to every Quarter. The Coordinators will be meeting again later this fall at Friends Center after the new PYM program staff have been hired.
There was also a meeting of First Day School and Children’s Religious Life people, including those of us who attended the FDS retreat in May (I attended before I was hired), along with interested others. We talked about what we’d like PYM to do to support us. Zac Dutton has since reached out.
Several very important decisions were made this summer – including the approval of a new Faith and Practice! Two buildings which had been under the care of PYM are becoming independent of the Yearly Meeting. The Burlington Meeting and Conference Center is being Transferred to the care of Burlington Quarter. The Arch Street Preservation Trust is well on its way to becoming financially independent. I think the decision with the potential for the most impact on PYM is the approval of the undertaking of a Multicultural Insitutional Audit – the fruit, I think, of all the discussions, workshops and listening, even when hard, that has taken place over the last several years. An article about this was in the Concord Quarter October Newsletter
The General Secretary’s report was pretty powerful for me. She accepted responsibility for the conflicts and impacts of the controversial staffing decisions made earlier this year in a very humble way, and asked for our help in keeping her open and asking for support.
Another new event at Yearly Meeting Sessions was the inclusion oflocal faith communities at a picnic (held indoors due to weather), and an interfaith panel around the topic of how faith inspires their advocacy. It was noted that in the past we have gone to Annual Sessions and not interacted with the community around the site, so this programming was an attempt to get more involved and knowledgeable. I found myself talking to some people of the Muslim faith at dinner who did not know about Quakers, but had come to dinner and to hear their leader on the panel.
Overall I am enjoying the work and inspired by all that you are doing both in your meetings and outside of them. I am very open to feedback, so if there is something you would like me to do differently, or you would like my help, please let me know! Here are some small ways I can continue to support you:
• Publicize events at your meeting – I send out Announcements every month around the 20th – try to get copy to me by the 15th.
• I can generally bring and set up the Quarter’s sound system for your event.
• I can put you in touch with people in other meetings doing similar work.
• I can find you resources.
• And more – just ask! - Lynne Piersol