Southern Appalachian Yearly Meeting and Association
Yearly Meeting #35
Warren Wilson College, Swannanoa, North Carolina
June 9-12, 2005
C:\Documents and Settings\Thomas Lamm\My Documents\Personal\SAYMA\YM2005 Documents\SAYMA05-YMminutes_(w)_.wpd
June 9, 2005 - Fifth Day (Thursday) 2:00 pm
35 - 1 Opening
Kristi Estes, clerk, opened meeting by reading the following:
"Open my eyes that I may see
Visions of truth thou has for me.
Open my heart, illumine me, spirit divine."
I think our hope is that into our business meetings, those very temporal happenings, we can bring some "vision of truth." Such a hope must be founded on a sense that sacredness is everywhere, that we are standing on holy ground, and that our task is to perceive it - to take off our shoes, as Moses instructed, and stand in the midst of holiness. We are, in this work, through our workaday lives and the business of the Meeting, to bring time and the timeless together. In even the smallest thing we can be channels for divine love - "not even a sparrow falls, but thou are mindful of it." We must pray, "Open my heart, illumine me" by Ellie Foster, quoted in Plain Living: A Quaker Path to Simplicity, by Catherine Whitmire, 2000, p. 149.
Kristi welcomed Friends to the 35th yearly meeting sessions of Southern Appalachian Yearly Meeting and Association.
35 - 2 Roll Call of Meetings
Mary Calhoun read the roll of meetings and worship groups. The following were represented at the beginning of this session: Asheville MM, Atlanta MM, Brevard MM, Celo MM, Charleston MM, Chattanooga MM, Columbia MM, Cookeville PM, Foxfire MM, Greenville MM, Huntsville MM, Memphis MM, Nashville MM, New Moon WG, Swannanoa MM, West Knoxville.
A list of yearly meeting attenders is included as Appendix A. Separate lists are not included for particular yearly meeting sessions. State of the Meeting reports are included as Appendix B.
35 - 3 Announcements
-- Kristi asked Friends to use one of our cordless microphones and to introduce themselves when speaking.
-- Steve Livingston announced that he is the site coordinator and asked Friends to contact him with questions. Those who wish to use one of the small dining rooms should use the sign up sheet in the bookstore.
-- Errol Hess, clerk of the yearly meeting planning committee announced that breakfast hours are incorrect in the schedule. Breakfast actually starts at 7:15. Errol is arranging the displays and invited Friends to check them out.
-- Nicole Rennie announced that at all Friends are invited to the Young Adult Friends- led worship sharing.
-- Kristi announced that there are sign up sheets for Friends who want to receive yearly meeting minutes when they are available. Otherwise, copies are sent to each monthly meeting and worship group. There are separate sheets for those who want an electronic copy (accessed on the website) instead of a paper copy. Paper copies cost the YM about $8 each.
35 - 4 Introductions-- Jonah MacDonald and Christina Van Regenmorter will be serving as the clerk's assistants.
-- Kristi introduced Deborah Fisch who is the coordinator of the Friends General Conference Traveling Ministries program.
-- Kristi read a traveling minute from Martha Hampton, clerk of the Ministry and Counsel Committee of Iowa Yearly Meeting Conservative.
-- Kristi also introduced Sue Axtell who is a student and director of admissions of the Earlham School of religion.
35 - 5 Agenda Review
The agenda was reviewed. It is as originally presented although some items have been moved.
Minute -- The agenda was approved as presented.
35 - 6 Calendar
Kristi presented the calendar for Yearly Meeting events for 2005 and 2006 and proposed the additional dates for representative meetings and yearly meeting for 2006 and 2007. The locations for the proposed dates have not yet been arranged.
June 8 - 12 Warren Wilson
Sept 10 - Representative Meeting - Nashville
December 3 - Representative Meeting - Atlanta
April 8 - Representative Meeting - Birmingham
June 7 - 11 Yearly Meeting - Warren Wilson
? September 9 - Representative Meeting
? December 2 - Representative Meeting
? April 7 - Representative Meeting
? June 6 - 10 Yearly Meeting
35 - 7 Epistle Committee Formation
The clerk asked for volunteers for the epistle committee. Penelope Wright, Nashville Monthly Meeting, Susan Phelan, Huntsville Monthly Meeting, and Peter Buck, Asheville Monthly Meeting volunteered to serve on the committee.
Minute -- Friends approved these Friends for the epistle committee.
35 - 8 Treasurer's Report
David Ciscel presented the treasurer's report. The report is attached in Appendix C. The Treasurer answered questions about the spiritual development fund ($500 is allocated to the fund each year) and about how duplication costs are noted (costs are not allocated to individual committees unless they are submitted by the committee).
Minute -- The treasurer's report was accepted with minor corrections.
35 - 9 Nominating Committee Report
Kristi reported that there is a proposal for changes in the nominating committee process that was approved by representative meeting but is also being brought for approval to Yearly Meeting.
Sharon Annis, clerk of the Nominating Committee, presented the committee's initial report.
--The Nominating committee for SAYMA should be composed of members:
Clerk - the past SAYMA clerk to serve as clerk
Members - from 4 different Monthly Meetings, who are
active in the Yearly Meeting.
These individuals would serve for 2 year, staggered terms.
The committee is encouraged to work with the other committees and officers of SAYMA to identify persons who have gifts in the various areas of service needed and who have indicated an interest, and to seek input from Monthly Meetings and Worship Groups about individuals that are interested in extending their involvement in Wider Quaker Organizations including SAYMA.
-- That a Naming committee composed of 3 individuals be appointed at Yearly Meeting to identify and bring forth names to serve on the Nominating committee. This ad hoc committee would be appointed by the presiding clerk and serve during the yearly meeting session.
Friends raised concerns about whether the proposals would give us broad enough input with fewer people on the nominating committee and with having the clerk appoint the naming committee. Friends asked whether the proposed changes would ensure that people who are relatively unknown to those who have been active with the YM (in the "power structure") will be asked to serve the yearly meeting in positions of responsibility. The clerk, recording clerk and nominating committee clerk will bring a proposed minute on the nominating and naming committees to the next meeting for business session.
Sharon listed the positions where Friends are needed and encouraged Friends to consider where they might serve. These positions are: assistant clerk, recording clerk, assistant treasurer, two members of nominating committee, the peace and social concerns committee members, personnel committee members, yearly meeting planning adult program coordinator, yearly meeting worship sharing coordinator, American Friends Service Committee Corporation alternates, AFSC/SERO Executive Committee, and Friends Committee on National Legislation representative. Friends may find out more about positions by talking to those who are currently serving or have served in various positions in the past.
35 -10 FWCC Guest
Kristi introduced Nancy Wallace who is a visitor to Yearly Meeting from Friends World Committee for Consultation.
Nancy Wallace spoke to us about her participation with FWCC. Her attendance at FWCC allows her to work and worship with Friends from all over the world and from all Friends' traditions. This profound experience has given her hope. She has found that she has much in common with Friends across the spectrum. FWCC core values include: communication among Friends, crossing boundaries among Friends, and growing in relationship and experience of God.
35 - 11 Faith and Practice Revision Committee
Geeta McGahey presented the proposed changes from the committee. They are attached in Appendix C.
Kristi asked if there are any concerns or proposed changes to Faith and Practice coming to Yearly
Meeting after seasoning by a monthly meeting. No proposals were brought forth.
June 10, 2005 - Sixth Day (Friday) 8:30 a.m.
35 - 12 Opening
Christina Van Regenmorter read the opening reading:
Facts About Geese:
Fact One: As each bird flaps its wings, it creates an uplift for the birds following it.
Lesson: People who share a common direction and sense of community can get where they're going quicker and easier because they're traveling on the thrust of one another.
Fact Two: Whenever a goose falls out of formation it suddenly feels the drag and resistance of trying to fly alone and quickly get back into formation.
Lesson: If we have as much sense as a goose, we will stay in formation with those who are headed where we want to go and be willing to accept their help, as well as give ours to others.
Fact Three: When the lead goose gets tired, it rotates back into formation and another goose flies at the point position.
Lesson: It pays to take turns doing the hard tasks.
Fact Four: The geese in formation honk from behind to encourage those in front to keep up their speed.
Lesson: We need to make sure our honking from behind is encouraging. And not something else.
Fact Five: When a goose gets sick, or wounded, or shot down, two geese drop out of formation and follow it down to help and protect it. They stay with it until it is able to fly again.
Lesson: If we have as much sense as geese, we too will stand by each other in difficult times as well as when we are strong.
Excerpts from a talk by Angeles Arrien in Insight and Action by Tova Green and Peter Woodrow
35 - 13 Announcements
-- Errol Hess announced that the location of the women's center is Jensen 306 and it will be open during workshop times and for women's worship.
-- Sharon Annis reminded Friends that the Nominating Committee is meeting at 11:00 a.m. in front of the bookstore and invited Friends to join in.
-- Faith and Practice review committee will be meeting at 11:00 a.m.. Any Friends with concerns or those interested in the work of the committee are invited to join the committee. The committee will next be looking at the testimonies.
-- The Electronic Communications ad hoc committee will be meeting in Carson 11.
-- The Ecological Concerns Network will be meeting in Carson 2. They will also be meeting in the middle lunch room at noon.
-- The Finance Committee will also meet at 11:00 in a corner of Cannon.
-- Herb Walters of Rural Southern Voice for Peace (RSVP) will be available at lunchtime to speak with interested Friends.
-- State of the Meeting reports will be posted in the lobby. They are available in a notebook which has a sign up sheet if Friends would like copies.
-- The sign up sheet for the small lunch rooms is downstairs in the bookstore.
Beth Ensign asked that Friends please put hymnals in the gray tub by the registrar's table.
-- There is a threshing session Friday night at 6:00 p.m. on the possible name change for the yearly meeting.
35 - 14 Introductions
-- Nancy Diaz is from Pendle Hill and works as the co-director of the young adult/youth programs and as the recruiter there.
- Ed Dreby with Quaker Earthcare Witness is from Mt. Holly Monthly Meeting, Philadelphia Yearly Meeting.
-- Dorothy Day is here from the Friends General Conference yearly meeting visitors program of the traveling ministries committee. Kristi read a letter of introduction for her from Deborah Fisch.
-- Keith and Ellen Helmuth were introduced. Keith will be speaking to us at the plenary. Ellen works in the FGC office.
-- Mary Ann Downey, Atlanta Monthly Meeting, was introduced as a representative from Friends Journal. We are invited to give her feedback about Friends Journal. The year is the 50th anniversary of Friends Journal. Subscribers and advertisers pay only half the cost of the Journal. Donations supply the rest of the cost. Friends Journal also has a website with a free article each month where interested people can request a free issue. (www.Friendsjournal.org) It is also possible to get permission to copy articles from the Friends Journal for use in discussion groups.
35 - 15 Roll Call
Mary Calhoun called the roll of monthly meetings and worship groups that had no one present at the beginning of yesterday's session. These additional groups were represented: Anneewakee WG, Berea MM, Birmingham MM, Crossville MM, Oxford MM.
35 - 16 Agenda
Kristi announced that the agenda is probably too full and some people and committees will simply be introduced. The reports will be in the minutes. If action is not needed from a committee, perhaps a brief announcement will suffice.
35 - 17 Treasurer's Report
-- Correction: In the set aside funds there should be an additional $200 in the spiritual development fund. This amount will be corrected in the final version that goes into the minutes.
-- Since yesterday's report, three more monthly meetings, Athens, Huntsville and Nashville, have paid all, or part of their 2004 - 2005 assessment.
Minute -- Friends accepted these additions to the report.
35 - 18 Ecological Concerns Network
Susan Carlyle reported for the committee, with a recommended minute to consider for endorsing the Earth Charter.
YM Report for the Ecological Concerns Network 2005
This is the 5th annual report from a network of 50 plus people within SAYMA who support each other in following their leadings to work on ecological concerns. Sharing information has enabled us to participate together in workshops, events, and on action items.
We continue the monthly email distribution of the ECN Connections. Roy Taylor of Atlanta Friends Meeting and Canton worship group has taken over as editor.
ECN was asked to participate in a panel discussion at the fall Friends World Committee for Consultation gathering. Their theme was "Outreach." Susan Carlyle shared ECN's efforts both within SAYMA and their outreach involved in the minute on Global Climate Change and the work related to the Earth Charter.
ECN members are also available to speak to monthly meetings with the message of how ecological concerns relate to Friends testimonies of peace and justice. One ECN member, Kim Carlyle, has made presentations at Swannanoa Valley and West Knoxville meetings. He has a traveling minute and would like to visit each meeting and worship group in SAYMA.
ECN provided the Yearly Meeting office with some paper that is 100% post consumer recycled paper and is processed chlorine free for its use. The YM office will now take over the displaying and posting of the State of the Meeting reports at our annual gathering.
This year, during yearly meeting, there will be a tour of the eco dorm and some of the many other earth friendly efforts that exist on the Warren Wilson College campus. Once again, the early morning outdoor worship will be under the care of ECN.
We continue to support the endorsement of the Earth Charter by our YM. Here is a minute that is revised from last year's presentation:
We of the Southern Appalachian Yearly Meeting and Association of the Religious Society of Friends (SAYMA) find the Earth Charter to be consistent with our Quaker faith and testimonies. Although this document is not perfect, it is a document that deserves our support because it arises from a deep concern for both improving the human condition and protecting God's earth.
We endorse the Earth Charter as a guide for spiritual practice and social action, recognizing that this may require us to make changes in the way we live. This endorsement signifies SAYMA's commitment to continue its practical application of the Earth Charter's principles.
In considering this minute, Friends shared many concerns about whether passing a minute will lead to changes in our hearts and our behavior after the minute is approved. Friends approved the following:
Minute -- We of the Southern Appalachian Yearly Meeting and Association of the Religious Society of Friends (SAYMA) find the Earth Charter to be consistent with our Quaker faith and testimonies. Although this document is not perfect, it is a document that deserves our support because is arises from a deep concern for both improving the human condition and protecting God's earth.
We endorse the Earth Charter as an invitation for spiritual practice and social action, recognizing that this may require us to make changes in the way we live. This endorsement signifies SAYMA's commitment to continue its practical application of the Earth Charter's principles.
We request that the Ecological Concerns Network continue to shepherd a greater awareness of the principles of the Earth Charter and that monthly meetings and individuals seek out this opportunity to receive, question and live out this work.
35 - 19 Rural Southern Voice for Peace
Herb Walters spoke to us about the work of RSVP. Herb was originally a Released Friend from SAYMA. RSVP is part of the proposed yearly meeting's budget once again. RSVP has no current newsletter. This lack has made it more difficult to keep in touch with Friends. RSVP's commitment is to being a training center for the listening project. He read a quote from a woman who was part of a listening project in Croatia. Listening projects have occurred both locally and around the world. A recent local listening project was within the new local Hispanic community and it led to a development of a community center and the identification of community leaders. There is another current project in Harlan, Kentucky focusing on the drug problem there in the hope of finding a community-based, grass roots solution to that problem. RSVP's web site is www.listeningproject.org
35 - 20 American Friends Service Committee - Southeast Regional Office
Ginny Baumann, our representative to AFSC-SERO, introduced Betty Knott, the new regional director of the SERO office of AFSC. Prior to her appointment as director she was involved in AFSC as a member of the finance committee. She has also worked with the Society of St. Vincent De Paul in Australia and Oceania, and she worked in Georgia on housing issues for the severely mentally ill. She is Catholic. She will be available in lunchroom C tomorrow at noon and welcomes Friends to join her there.
Betty told us that she has been in the position for just one month. AFSC has been involved in strategic visioning and came up with six goals. Those goals were then narrowed to two goals. These goals are 1) peace and conflict reconciliation, and 2) migration and human mobility issues. SERO is doing a lot of work on the second goal such as Project Voice in Charlotte, South Carolina. Its aim is to empower farm workers and other workers and to inform them about their rights. A youth group from North Carolina is now in Kenya looking at issues of debt.
The reports from our representatives, Carol Lamm and Sallie Prugh, are attached in Appendix C.
35 - 21 Friends Committee on Outworld Relations
Phil Neal, from Asheville Friends Meeting, presented a report as the coordinator of FCOR
FCOR -- Friends Committee on Outworld Relations
Annual Report to SAYMA -- June 2005
FCOR as an organization has been in existence since 1995. In June of that year, FCOR presentations were made at the annual Gatherings of both SAYMA and FGC. Since then, FCOR has presented an Interest Group at the FGC Gathering every year, and has one scheduled again in 2005. At SAYMA Gatherings, FCOR events have occurred intermittently while a table display has been consistently provided every year.
Development of FCOR has been hampered by two principal factors. First, FCOR's emphasis on visitation by extraterrestrial (ET) visitors has been met by limited response on the part of Friends within the FGC folds. A relatively few Friends have found this to be of major importance. However, most Friends, though tolerant and even supportive, have seemed to maintain the concept of present day ET visitation in the realm of science fiction or academic discussion. Second, there have not been enough Friends with enough time and energy for FCOR to generate an organizational activity which effective, healthy and able to make its presence known. The originator and nominal coordinator of the organization is also encountering the limitations of advancing age and reduced energy. If FCOR is to survive beyond appearing on the scene occasionally during each year, an infusion of new and younger personnel is a necessity.
Recently, the focus of FCOR has incorporated a new area, that of Zero Point Energy (ZPE). While related to ET visitation, ZPE is also firmly connected with worldly history. Over a century ago, the electrical genius Nikola Tesla discovered, and publicized, this new energy source now known as Zero Point Energy, or Vacuum Energy. This energy exists as tiny waveforms throughout all of space. Tesla published papers and made presentations about ZPE; anecdotal accounts also reported that Tesla had a road vehicle powered by ZPE-sourced electricity. Fossil fuel and electrical power commercial interests effectively smothered and concealed Tesla's work, in order to develop the conventional energy sources of oil and coal. But, around 1947 and years following, several ET ships crashed and were spirited away and concealed by the military. In time, clandestine research revealed that the ET ships had been powered and propelled by ZPE.
Since that time, "the cat has been getting our of the bag". Today, several versions of ZPE "generators" are close to being marketed, though still facing bureaucratic obstacles. One inventor, in a spirit of public service, has published plans on the Web for the construction and activation of a small, primitive Motionless Electromagnetic Generator (MEG). This MEG can utilize ZPE to produce the extra power. Intended only for demonstration, it can put out three to five times the input. The larger production prototypes now ready for market may put out as much as 100 times input (coefficient of power: 100). Clearly, the development of a technology such as this could even eliminate our need for fossil fuels, as well as mitigate air position and global warming.
Stimulated by these possibilities, the FCOR coordinator recently initiated construction of a replica of the small MEG shown on the Web, aided by two other Friends with electrical engineering expertise. This "generator" has already been constructed by others, and has performed as expected. The construction was completed and the FCOR-built MEG was then connected to the same electrical input as that successfully used previously by others. After a long period of attempting to achieve an output exceeding input, we were obliged to admit that we had not fully mastered the control of variables, at least not in time to have a working device on hand for the 2005 SAYMA Gathering. Advance publicity by FCOR has been made with the assumption that the individual talent and expertise on hand should be able to replicate the performance of existing working models. However, this did not happen, at least not soon enough. FCOR is presenting a workshop in which the not-yet-successful MEG is available as a visual aid in describing the procedure intended to bring about the goal of harnessing ZPE. It should be noted that the construction of this generator is based on a U.S. patent awarded to Thomas Bearden et al., and its performance as a demonstration model verified and approved by the inventor.
It is regrettable that FCOR cannot present a working MEG in 2005 to back up the claim that ZPE is a fully viable energy form. However, efforts are far from finished, and we hope that a working MEG will be on hand in 2006. In the interval, we should be able to garner fresh knowledge and insights. Input of other Friends could contribute to that. This is the sort of activity that Tom Bearden seeks to encourage. The Bearden patent is available on the web, and the Bearden textbook and other related material are available from FCOR.
Previously, the presence of extraterrestrial visitors has been the major consideration for FCOR. What could be more important than coming forward to meet visitors from elsewhere and seeking to join them in the Universe? And might not Friends have special capabilities to aid them in such an endeavor? Our destiny as a race is surely tied to our ultimate bonding with other intelligent civilizations who even now visit us.
Now, however, arises this new challenge, Zero Point Energy, pointing to potential societal changes and betterment for all people on earth. Once informed of ZPE's practical availability, Friends will surely pause to consider among themselves the many changes that use of ZPE could effect. Those who have not been easy about the issue of ET visitation may well find themselves drawn into the dissemination of the good news about ZPE. Eventually, this could also serve to attract new interest about Friends' relationship with the visitors.
This being said, FCOR now puts forward its challenge. Are there Friends who, realizing the importance of ET visitation, AND/OR the advent of Zero Point Energy, will now find time and energy to take up the standard and give FCOR shape, substance, and momentum? There is great need here, and tremendous potential. A clerk, treasurer, recorder, news editor, and SAYMA representative are needed. We welcome Friends from SAYMA and those elsewhere in FGC who are inspired to respond. To initiate action, the present coordinator of FCOR is ready to be part of the effort and offer whatever wisdom seems to have been gathered so far.
In the Light,
J. Philip Neal, Coordinator, FCOR
227 Edgewood Rd, Asheville, NC 28804
35 - 22 Quaker Earthcare Witness
Kim Carlyle introduced Ed Dreby. Ed comes to us from Mt Holly Monthly Meeting of Philadelphia Yearly Meeting. He has worked with a number of different interfaith efforts but is now working exclusively with Friends. He is one of the founders of Quaker Earthcare Witness for National Legislation. He has focused on global climate change and is now looking at the ways our structures affect environmental and social ills.
Ed mentioned that Philadelphia Yearly Meeting (PYM) is very different from SAYMA - it uses much more paper and has more money but has not yet starting using 100% recycled paper. QEW is trying to reach out to monthly meetings through yearly meetings. Ed thinks that PYM and SAYMA will probably be on the forefront of that effort. QEW is a now a member organization of Friends Committee on National Legislation. FCNL gives us an unusual voice to our government. FCNL is now working on energy policy and long-term environmental protection. Ed encouraged us to strengthen our relationship with FCNL. PYM had a called session on climate change last Saturday. We will receive an epistle from that session. It includes the minute they approved at that session. The minute also makes them lovingly accountable for continued action.
35 - 23 Personnel Committee
Penelope Wright sat in as clerk while Kristi reported for the committee. Kristi made the following report:
This year the Personnel Committee has reviewed job descriptions, job performance through annual evaluations, and employee compensation for 2 employees. It has provided support for supervisors, and job training as needed for the employees. At April Representative Meeting we requested a COLA for both employees effective October 1.
We also make the following recommendations:
-- That the Yearly Meeting purchase computer equipment to update the office's 6-year old computer and software, and provide training if necessary for the administrative assistant. Friends with expertise in this area have agreed to assist in evaluating our specific needs. We estimate approximately $1000 will be needed but we will bring back a specific request in September if much more is required.
-- We request that the Yearly Meeting's selection of clerk for the Personnel Committee not be automatically linked to the Assistant Clerk of Yearly Meeting position. The vacancy in Asst. Clerk this year has created some problems for the committee as the convener is also the supervisor for one of the employees. Separating these positions may create opportunities for someone with specific skills in the area of personnel to serve without the possibility of having to clerk Yearly Meeting.
Finally, we are very thankful to both Mary Calhoun and Therese Hildebrand for their continued faithful and professional service to the Yearly Meeting.
Submitted by Kristi Estes, convener of the Personnel Committee
Minute -- Friends accept the report and ask that the recommendation for new computer equipment and software go to the Finance committee for consideration. Friends also ask that the old equipment be recycled if another home cannot be found for it. Friends also approve the de-linking of the positions of clerk of the personnel committee and that of assistant clerk of yearly meeting. Free Polazzo asked to be recorded as standing aside from the part of the minute de-linking the positions of clerk of personnel committee and assistant clerk of yearly meeting.
June 11, 2004 - Seventh Day (Saturday) 9:30 a.m.
35 - 24 Opening
Kristi welcomed Friends. Jonah MacDonald read the following:
Epistle from Lower Elementary Group, Pacific Yearly Meeting 2004
We love to see each other every year and do the things we love to do together. We wrote a poem about what our spirit looks like:
What is Nature saying to my spirit?
Do not be afraid, because God is with you.
Be at peace.
You are safe with God.
Things will turn out okay.
Be aware of poison oak.
Here it is good, fresh air; you can always feel and hear things.
You are being protected.
You are important, but not more important than the trees and the animals.
When you are quiet and listen, sometimes you will hear, and sometimes you won't .
You can be happy. Don't worry what will happen.
Epistle from Preschoolers, Pacific Yearly Meeting 2004
We played. We had some fights. We made up. We made very good friends. We like to explore a lot. We went to a secret temple. It was dark. We had worship.
With love, PYM Preschoolers
35 - 25 Announcements
-- Kristi announced that participants for the talent show must sign up by noon today.
-- If anyone has to check out today, you need to check out this morning or find the registrar.
-- We are helping two young Friends to go to the World Gathering of Young Friends in England. A statement from them follows:
In Lancaster England on August 16-24, 2005, Friends from all reaches of the globe will gather together for a World Gathering of Young Friends, the first in 20 years. This coming together will serve to unite and strengthen bonds between Friends of diverse races, nationalities and beliefs. In order to support the need for a truly representative and diverse group, the World Gathering would greatly appreciate any donation you can afford. To find out more about the gathering or to donate, please visit www.wgyf.org or contact one of SAYMA's two representatives, Galen Labotka or Elaine Ruscetta who are both at yearly meeting. We would appreciate any support you can give!
-- Carla Askonas from Chattanooga announced that the meeting there is looking for a meeting resident care keeper for their meetinghouse. Contact someone from Chattanooga for additional information.
-- Minutes from other yearly meetings are available for review.
--There is a threshing session tonight at 6:00 p.m. on the question of a possible name change for SAYMA.
-- Errol Hess reminded Friends to fill out an evaluation form before they leave.
-- Bob McGahey reminded Friends about the meeting for remembrance this afternoon.
-- Kristi introduced Bruce Birchard, the general secretary of FGC. He is from Central Philadelphia monthly meeting.
-- Geeta announced that those interested in Right Sharing for World Resources are meeting at lunch today and she introduced Jennifer Walker, who is a board member of Right Sharing from Asheville. There are also items for sale for Right Sharing at the bookstore as well as some pictures from children who lost family members in the tsunami.
-- The bookstore will close for business at 10:30 this evening.
-- People interested in AFSC will meet in lunchroom C.
35 - 26 Friends General Conference
Jonah McDonald reported that FGC has been exploring how to do teen and young adult ministries and how to work with monthly meetings on that issue. FGC had a consultation on that issue and pulled together Friends from all ages and regions. Jonah, Christina Van Regenmorter and Elaine Ruscetta all attended this consultation.
Elaine expressed the concern that there is a widening gap between generations in the Religious Society of Friends. She suggested some actions to mend the rift: 1) Work on ways to keep in touch with young Friends who go away to college, 2) Find ways for young Friends to serve in leadership roles, 3) Reminding friends -- however old they are - that they serve as role models and ask friends to explain when they leave and are no longer available to Young Friends.
Jonah said that the consultation was really about intergenerationality -- how we act not as age groups but as humans. He described a workshop exercise --"think pair share" -- where people split up according to ages and discussed queries: How are you supported in your life as a Friend? How do Friends' organizations support you as a Friend ? What could be done better by the Society of Friends to support you in your life as a Friend? They discovered that those in each age group generally had the same responses to the queries. High schoolers wanted to be seen as full people. College students wanted to feel at home. 23 -25 year olds wanted help with transitions. 26 -39 year olds had a certain sadness about losing the community they felt when they were younger as they focused on starting families. Those 40 and older focused on how to integrate their exterior and interior lives.
Christina was thankful for the experience and experienced the mutuality of people wanting to help and need helping, wanting to hug and needing hugs and of people of all ages needing spirit-based communication and community. Those in all ages need interactions beyond "How's school?" and "What's your major?" to "How is your heart?" Christina gained a spiritual friend and has also been involved in getting younger Friends involved in committee work in her home meeting. She ended with a story about someone's Quaker life being compared to sitting on a rock in an ocean. When that individual went to a retreat where Friends opened themselves to spiritual guidance, that individual discovered that he was actually sitting on a whale that was going somewhere.
Kristi then read from an epistle from Marion Beane, the presiding clerk of FGC's Central Committee:
During our opening First Day worship at Central Committee we were blessed with powerful ministry about the truth of our experience among and with gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender, and queer Friends. Out of that ministry Central Committee became clear that we needed to bring this message back to Friends and witness to its power and truth.
...This epistle and minute have now been distributed to the Clerks and staff of all affiliated yearly meetings, to all directly affiliated monthly meetings, to the clerks of yearly meetings that appoint observers to Central Committee, and to the clerks of Friends for Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, and Queer Concerns...
Central Committee further asked that all yearly meeting and affiliated monthly meeting representatives carry this epistle back, to share our experience and to ask our yearly and monthly meetings to 'dwell deeply' and then come back to FGC with whatever they are led to share about their own experiences with lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer Friends.
Their minute follows:
Our experience has been that spiritual gifts are not distributed with regard to sexual orientation or gender identity. Our experience has been that our Gatherings and Central Committee work have been immeasurably enriched over the years by the full participation and Spirit-guided leadership of gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender, and queer Friends. We will never go back to silencing those voices or suppressing those gifts. Our experience confirms that we are all equal before God, as God made us, and we fell blessed to be engaged in the work of FGC together.
Kristi asked how we can "dwell deeply" with this minute as a yearly meeting and in our monthly meetings.
Some Friends shared the ways that their monthly meetings have already responded to this minute by either uniting with it or approving a similar minute and by finding ways to witness in their communities following from the minute. Some Friends spoke to the benefits of our yearly meeting writing its own minute based on our experiences in our region and responding to the political realities in this area. Friends who are gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender, and queer generally feel at home in our yearly meeting and in monthly meetings but gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender, and queer Friends are hated elsewhere and there has been too much silence from Friends.
Minute -- Friends approve the following minute:
SAYMA's experience has been that spiritual gifts are not distributed with regard to sexual orientation or gender identity. Our experience has been that our work with SAYMA has been immeasurably enriched over the years by the full participation and Spirit-guided leadership of gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender, and queer Friends. We will never go back to silencing those voices or suppressing those gifts. Our experience confirms that we are all equal before God, as God made us, and we feel blessed to be engaged in the work of SAYMA together.
We call on ourselves as individuals and in our monthly meetings to take this minute in our hearts and take action as we are led.
35 - 27 Ministry and Nurture:
Bob McGahey reported for the committee:
This has been a year of renewal for SAYMA Ministry and Nurture Committee, one in which the seeds of a new vision of how we function as a committee have been planted and some first fruits harvested. At our fall retreat, we affirmed that "whenever we meet, our [first] commitment is to deepen worship and allow Spirit to move among us." To better enable this deepening process, we decided to uncouple our meetings from the quarterly representative meetings, holding our meetings instead at smaller meetings and worship groups, where we could both conduct our business and join with our hosts in fellowship, worship, and listening to their corporate concerns. According, we coupled our fall retreat with a visit to Crossville Meeting for worship and sharing. We held our winter meeting at Foxfire; the spring meeting was at Brevard.
At the fall retreat, we reviewed and modified our proposed charge to be published in the revised SAYMA Guide to our Faith and Practice. We have clarified to ourselves and proposed language for further Faith and Practice Revision Committee work that we are not a committee of "reps" from our respective meetings but a group committed to serve the entire SAYMA community. To that end, we have proposed a change in how our committee is constituted, such that, in addition to the Clerk, the Nominating Committee selects three members who join with members brought forward from the meetings across SAYMA. We request that all prospective members of the committee first enter into a process of discernment with their meetings.
Since we affirm that we are not a representative body, we have developed a system of apportioning to our members a list of contacts for all meetings and worship groups to facilitate communication with our committee. We are still feeling our way here, but our expectation is that these contacts be made at least quarterly.
These are some challenges to implementing our new vision. One is the logistic for the mutual accountability between us and Friends who have been issued letters of endorsement by the Yearly Meeting on our recommendation, since our meetings will not be accessible to those attending representative sessions. The second is to assure our presence at representative meetings to hold the clerks' table in the Light, to report on our own meetings, and to serve as "ears" to hear concerns from both the business sessions and individuals. Our commitment is to have one of our members present at rep meetings to fulfill these functions, a commitment which we honored this year, though we did not fulfill our preference to have two members present.
A third challenge is staying in contact with the planning committee, which we did poorly this year. We need to be more mindful of communication with them, probably by appointing a liaison to the planning committee.
Our main concern arising from a year's discernment is the nature of SAYMA's worship groups. Our concerns include fostering the communication between them and caring monthly meetings, recognizing new worship groups in an accurate and timely manner, and assisting in reaching closure in the cases of unresolved misunderstandings. After a long period of consideration, we are requesting at our current Yearly Meeting session to have advancement added to our charge, recognizing that we are the most suitable body within SAYMA to take on the charge of the Advancement and Outreach Committee which was laid down a number of years ago.
In terms of closure, we reported at the spring rep meeting that Cleveland Worship Group has departed from SAYMA, ending an uncomfortable chapter which highlighted our need for further work on the development of worship groups and their relationships to established monthly meetings.
In support of our focus on nurturing worship groups, we have asked Deborah Fisch, clerk of Traveling Friends, to lead a two-part workshop at this gathering, "Strengthening Ties Between our Monthly Meetings and Worship Groups." We are also sponsoring a second workshop, "Theological Diversity Through Song" led by Dorothy Day and Sue Axtell. SAYMA Friends have long recognized, and most of us have blessed, the urge to sing unto the Lord. But this workshop would have us look at the theologies imbedded in the hymns.
We of Ministry and Nurture feel blessed in having renewed clarity about our mission of service to SAYMA, and look forward to continuing to serve as the Holy Spirit guides us.
He added that their fall meeting under their new structure was transformative and they were able to meet with Crossville Friends in a way that brought forth immediate fruit.
Bob presented the following proposal:
Members of SAYMA's Ministry and Nurture Committee serve the entire SAYMA community at the request of their monthly meetings, who provide a discernment process and support for this work. In addition, SAYMA's nominating committee nominates Friends to serve as clerk and three members of the Ministry and Nurture Committee. Ministry and Nurture members nominated by the nominating committee will be asked to serve for staggered two-year terms.
Minute -- Friends approved the proposal changing the makeup of Ministry and Nurture.
35 - 28 Finance Committee
Chris Berg presented the report form the committee. The report is attached in Appendix C.
Our finances are currently not in balance. The proposed budget for fiscal year 2006 shows a deficit of $5550. Our reserve funds are only about $2000.
Minute -- Friends approved the provisional budget with the understanding that the final budget will be presented at the September representative meeting. We ask that a balanced budget be brought to the September representative meeting. Friends ask that the Finance Committee send a letter to monthly meetings and individuals describing our current financial situation, discussing the services and benefits from the yearly meeting, and asking Friends to consider additional contributions.
June 12, 2005 - First Day (Sunday) 9:30 am
35 - 29 Junior Yearly Meeting Epistle
Dear SAYMA Friends,
We have a great time at Junior Yearly Meeting this year (as always). We're sure all of my friends did also. (Yes.) We made shirts, candles, kites, and a monkey bridge. Ron, Jane, Robin, Sharon, Chuck Jones, Steve, Bill and the amazing jugglers, Heidimarie, Adrienne, Martha, Beth, Mark, Wendy, Bert, Sheena, Elizabeth and Jonah gave us a great time with many activities. My favorite part was soccer in the gym. My favorite part was soccer, swimming and the monkey bridge. Everyone says their favorite part:
monkey bridge swimming
making shirts and kites soccer
kick the can flying kites
making candles everything except for the stuff I didn't do
Young Friends gave us a demonstration of what happens to cans when someone is gentle or rough with the cans.
We also heard a story about all the Young Friends listening to one Young Friend who became unhappy. All the others gathered around. One Young Friend asked him if there was something the others could do to make him happy
The Young Friends then presented Jane Goldthwait and Ron McDonald with t-shirts signed by all the Young Friends to thank them for their time together during yearly meeting.
35 - 30 SAYF Epistle
The Southern Appalachian Young Friends Epistle was presented by Conrad Honicker and Rachel Leemun-Monk.
From inside jokes and having a good time
To spirituality and taking a moment to rhyme
The friends we made
during the weekends we've spent.
OK, Forget the rhyming, this is how SAYF went.
SAYF started its year off in August 04 in Black Mountain for the annual nurturing, steering and oversight meeting. When September 04 rolled around Chapel Hill was the place to be, with the community building there and activities. Though several meetings missed this retreat due to hurricanes! Being at Penn Center in October 04 was no surprise. Neither was the service project there. The generous service SAYF provided was rewarded with bruises from the beach but followed by a delicious potluck from the locals. After the November retreat in Knoxville, no Friends are going to war thanks to the conscientious objection workshops and the social action themed retreat.
During the January 05 retreat Friends discussed the theme of diversity, after watching "Do the Right Thing" by Spike Lee. Following in February was another nurturing meeting in Knoxville which discussed topics such as "redefining guidelines". Asheville hosted the March 05 retreat which brought in a panel to talk to Young Friends about the theme of Quaker leadership. Friends held the final retreat before SAYMA in Hard Labor Creek State Park where Friends relaxed joyfully and froze during the night.
So that concludes this year of SAYF
It's been a fun time
No need to rhyme
So see you next year SAYMA
The SAYF Steering Committee report is presented in Appendix D.
35 - 31 Announcements
-- Steve Livingston made an announcement about the number of plastic bottles added to the water stream every year including four left on the back ledge of our meeting room.
-- Errol Hess, as clerk of the planning committee, announced that several people have worked hard to organize yearly meeting especially the registrar, Ceal Wutka, who had to function without a co-registrar. Someone is needed to be co-registrar.
-- Nicole Rennie announced that she needs help driving back to Atlanta.
-- Bill Reynolds announced that he is looking for a ride to the FGC Gathering in Blacksburg the first week of July.
35 - 32 Faith and Practice
Geeta McGahey noted that the proposals brought forward today were done after the initial version was circulated to all monthly meetings and all monthly meetings responded. The second version went out again and only one individual responded. The version today incorporates all the changes.
The committee proposed the following changes to the material already presented (see Appendix C). The paragraph on Junior Yearly Meeting follows with the changes underlined and in italics, or crossed out:
Junior Yearly Meeting (JYM) - Its voluntary staff, supervised by the JYM coordinator provides a safe place and enriching program which allows adults to participate in Yearly meeting activities. Existing for children through age twelve during yearly meeting it seeks to explore aspects of the gatherings theme to nurture young Quakers. During yearly meeting, teaching and assisting these youth through age twelve, under the supervision of a coordinator, is both rewarding and essential to the full functioning of the whole yearly meeting.
The new sections on Ministry and Nurture and Nominating Committee are not being brought forward today.
Minute -- Friends approved the presented sections of the document including the above changes.
35 - 33 Nominating Committee
Sharon Annis presented the following nominations:
Assistant Clerk - Sallie Prugh 6/05 - 6/07 Finance committee clerk -
Recording Clerk - Christina van Regenmorter 6/05 - 6/07 Dennis Gregg 6/05 - 6/7
Treasurer - David Ciscel 6/03 - 6/07 Member - Susan Phelan 6/05 - 6/07
Ministry and Nurture Clerk - Ecological Concerns Network
Bob McGahey 12/04 - 6/06 Co-clerk Roy Taylor, 6/05 - 6/07
Nominating Committee SAYF oversight committee is currently
Nicole Rennie 6/05 - 6/07 on hold with no members.
Peace and Social Concerns Committee Newsletter editors
Convener- Steve Livingston 6/05 - 6/07 Kim Carlyle Susan Carlyle 6/05 - 6/06
Member - Deanna Nipp 6/05 - 6/07 The term for this position will be three years.
Personnel Committee SAYF Steering
Clerk - Sallie Prugh 6/05 - 6/07 Adrienne Labotka, co-clerk 6/04 - 6/06
Connie LaMonte 6/05 - 6/07 Mark Wutka 6/05-6/07
Judy Prince 6/05 - 6/07 Ceal Wutka 6/05-6/07
Yearly Meeting Planning JYM Ad Hoc Committee
Adult Program Coordinator - Carol Nickle 6/05 -6/07 Convener Ron McDonald
Worship Sharing - Penelope Wright 6/05 - 6/07 Robin Well
Local Arrangements - Steve Livingston 6/05 - 6/06 Jane Goldthwait
Young Adult Rep Maggie Hess 6/05 - 6/07 Beth Meyers
AFSC Corp Carol Lamm 6/05 - 6/07
SERO Exec Ginny Baumann 6/04 - 6/07 Faith and Practice Revision Committee
FCNL Joyce Johnson 6/05 - 6/08 Clerk - Free Polazzo 6/05 -
Quaker Earthcare Witness Roy Taylor 6/05 - 6/07
Friends General Conference Julie Sibley-Jones 6/05 - 6/08
We are entitled to a third representative to FGC and a young adult Friend has been identified who is interested in serving in this position. Do we want to fill this position?
Minute -- Friends approved the addition of a third position of a representative to FGC.
FGC Elaine Ruscetta 6/05 - 6/08 Right Sharing of World Resource - Jennifer Walker
FWCC Tim Lamm 6/05 - 6/07 William Penn House - Errol Hess 6//04 - 6/06
Quaker House Geoffrey Pratt 6/05 - 6//7
Electronic Communications ad hoc committee
Clerk - Bill Reynolds Ron Nuse Charlie Slade Sharon Annis
Mark Wutka Susan Phelan Jim McKeever Sharon Phelps
Missy Ivie Steve Livingston
Minute -- All Friends nominated for the above positions were approved with thanks to the nominating committee and those undertaking responsibilities for our yearly meeting.
35 - 34 Registrar's Report
Presented by Ceal Wutka, Atlanta Monthly Meeting:
My year started a bit rough when we lost the co-registrar. I had only been to two SAYMAs myself and felt a bit panicked at first. But my little voice inside reminded me that the Spirit said that I could do this. And, lo-and-behold, everyone got registered, people survived my mistakes, and we had yearly meeting. The May 20 deadline for dorm rooms worked well and I think next year I will be able to send folks their dorm room numbers ahead of time.
Total adults - 181 JYM - 26 registered, 23 attended
SAYF - 52 16 Young Adult Friends
Monthly meetings/worship groups - 34
Representatives from Alternatives to Violence, Earlham College, Quaker Earthcare Witness, Friends General Conference, Friends World Committee on Consultation, Pendle Hill, traveling Ministries
We thank Ceal for all her hard work both before and during YM.
35 - 35 Site Selection
It is possible for us to continue coming to Warren Wilson College indefinitely. There is also a possibility of going to Berea College.
Minute -- Friends agreed to return to Warren Wilson through June 6 -10, 2007.
35 - 36 Young Adult Friends Epistle
The characters in this story are fictional, but their experiences are based on our own.
Once upon a time, Quaker Joe and Quaker Joanna went to SAYMA. Quaker Joe had been a Quaker all his life and LOVED going to Warren Wilson College every year. He loved to see his Quaker mommy, and Quaker daddy, and Quaker brother and sister after being away at college. Quaker Joanna had never been to SAYMA before, but was excited to see the lovely Warren Wilson College campus. But, she was a little nervous to be entering a new spiritual community. The prospect of being in a Quaker community with other Quakers her age was baffling!
Quaker Joe and Quaker Joanna arrived early Thursday evening. Quaker Joe wandered around the room giving old Friends big hugs until he stumbled upon Quaker Joanna who timidly extended her right hand and introduced herself. Quaker Joe took her hand and pulled her into a warm Quaker hug.
After introductions and chatting for a bit, getting to know each other, Quaker Joanna and Quaker Joe skipped off to the Panel Discussion.
The next morning at breakfast, Quaker Joanna couldn't stop her excited babble about her new found knowledge of the wider Quaker organizations' work in the world. At the YAF Business Meeting, she talked to other Young Adult Friends about how to include FCNL's work in their Quarterly Gatherings.
Two Adult Friends attended the YAF Business Meeting to inform them about the opportunities to serve on SAYMA committees. Quaker Joe was excited to learn about the E-communications Ad-Hoc Committee. He'd already created a web page for his Monthly Meeting. Other Young Adult Friends were enthusiastic to have the opportunity to serve on a plethora of SAYMA committees.
Later that evening, Quaker Joe and Quaker Joanna slid down the slippery slope to the Pavilion where they sat in a silent circle praying adults would join them for Worship Sharing. Their prayers were soon answered as adults and more YAFs braved the wind and rain to join together under dim lights to meditate on the transitions each had undergone in his or her lifetime.
Afterwards, Quaker Joe and Quaker Joanna meandered across campus to the SAYF hideout. On the way, Quaker Joe explained the phenomenon that is Wink.
A sweaty hour and a half later, with many more red marks and bruises than before, a smiling Quaker Joanna and Quaker Joe engaged in a wild cake fight with some SAYFers before stumbling home with icing in their ears.
Saturday arrived another cloudy day, but Quaker Joe and Quaker Joanna didn't let the dim sky keep them from Business Meeting. They were soon glad they hadn't stayed in bed, as cozy as the Vining rooms were. (Ha! Ha! Ha!)
Quaker Joe presented some of his experiences with other YAFs during the year. He reported on a consultation he attended to explore issues about generation gaps and youth ministries in FGC.
For Quaker Joanna, this Business Meeting was only her second, full-length, adult Business Meeting. She was moved to see the process of the Meeting for Worship with Attention to Business in action. She saw Friends put their hearts in to their messages and come away feeling they owned the approved Minutes.
Both YAFs were very touched by the unity that was found on FGC's Central Committee's Minute concerning lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and queer Friends. As Quaker Joe approved the Minute, he realized he was not only expressing his unity with the Meeting, but he was also acknowledging the work of the Sprit within him as a gay friend.
Later that evening, after laughing and enjoying the talents of many in the community, Quaker Joe, and Quaker Joanna settled into comfy couches in the Vining Lounge fore the second YAF-led Worship Sharing. They were blessed to share a heartfelt worship with a large group of Quaker Adults, Young Adults, and Warren Wilson College student. They heard Friends open their hearts to express their joys and concerns, their fears and hopes for the community and the world today.
Quaker Joe and Quaker Joanna congregated in the kitchen after the worship to help prepare food for the SAYF graduates. The food the YAFs chose was meant to symbolize a transition for the SAYFers. Instead of the familiar pile of Cheetos, caffeinated soda, and chocolate cookies, the YAFs prepared bananas and organic strawberries to be dipped in homemade, vegan, chocolate sauce, and fresh guacamole to go with blue, organic tortilla chips: a selection designed to please the world, as well as the pallet.
When the food was prepared, Quaker Joanna and Quaker Joe settled in to wait and wait and wait until at 2:00 a.m., after the SAYFers had been sharing their memories and appreciations with their grads for four hours, the YAFs began to feel their age. They were EXHAUSTED! If the kidnappings were to occur, they had to be done immediately!
With the other YAFs, Quaker Joe and Quaker Joanna interrupted the SAYF ritual and slipped shirts of the graduates' heads to blind them. Quaker Joanna led the line of YAF initiates on a short walk. They held onto a rope and each other. They had to depend on trust and quite communication to make the journey safe.
The walk ended at Vining where the older YAFs and the new YAFs played get-to-know-you games, enjoyed the delicious food, and shared a moment of silence.
During this weekend of SAYMA, Quaker Joe and Quaker Joanna were a part of the Epistle writing team. Rather than write a long, boring letter or narrative (Ha! Ha!), they decided to share this song with you. It is a song that came out of one of their YAF-led Worship Sharings. They've asked their YAF friends to help with the verse and hope all of you will join in on the chorus.
The Earth is the Lord's and the fullness thereof
Its streets, its slums, as well as stars above
Salvation is here where we laugh, where we cry
Where we seek and love, where we live and die
When true simplicity is gained
To bow and to bend we shall not be ashamed
To turn and to turn it will be our delight
Till be turning, turning we come round right.
The Young Adult Friends ended by singing the following and asking everyone to join in on the chorus:
The earth is the Lord's and the fullness thereof
Its streets, its slums as well as stars above
Salvation is here where we laugh where we cry
Where we seek and love, where we live and die
When true simplicity is gained
To bow and to bend we shan't be ashamed
To turn, turn will be our delight
'Till by turning, turning we come round right.
35 - 37 Friends for Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, and Queer Concerns
Gary Briggs has information he would like to share about an affirming action that is planned for the FGC Gathering about the issue of Virginia's stance of making illegal any contracts, such as powers of attorney, made in other states between Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, and Queer Friends.
35 - 38 Yearly Meeting Epistle
Peter Buck presented the epistle.
Epistle of SAYMA -- Year 2005
Returning again to what seems like home, we gathered together 8th - 12th Day, Sixth Month, 2005, for our 35th annual session at Warren Wilson College in Swannanoa, North Carolina.
As we have increased the length of time we are together, the tension between fellowship and business seems to be subsiding. With this expanded time the business itself has become an opportunity for fellowship and a building of the body. We were blessed by the blossoming of many blue dots on the nametags representing first time attenders, the vitality of the vibrant group of teenagers, and the joy of our Junior Gathering participants.
Our business sessions were imbued with a growing awareness of the palpable presence of the Spirit among us. This deep current of living water carried us as we progressed through our agenda.
After a couple of years of seasoning, we were able to come to unity on the Earth Charter. We minuted our endorsement of the Earth Charter, noting that although not perfect, it is "an invitation for spiritual practice and social action, recognizing that this may require us to make changes in the way we live."
We heard a minute forwarded to us by the Central Committee of Friends General Conference about their experience of gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender and queer Friends. We were asked to go deep to see how the minute spoke to our condition.
As we labored to respond, we affirmed a deeply felt sense of unity and blessing while not knowing exactly what this will require of us, yet trusting that both the Spirit and the process will transform us and the work will be carried out. As our witness, we include the fruit of our labor here.
SAYMA's experience has been that our work has been immeasurably enriched over the years by the full participation and spirit-guided leadership of gay lesbian bisexual transgender and queer Friends. We will not go back to silencing those voices or suppressing those gifts. Our experience confirms that we are all equal before God as God made us and we feel blessed to be engaged in the work of SAYMA together.
We call upon ourselves as individuals and in our monthly meetings to take this minute into our hearts and take action as we are led.
Through our work with these minutes we affirm both the value and need of seasoning concerns, and the imperative of being faithful to the Spirit in the moment. Further, a growing understanding of Friends is that our work is not done when we commend the minute to paper. We must also write it on our hearts and live into it.
The service of Young Adult Friends continues to deepen in our meeting. This year they assisted at the Clerk's table during business sessions. The presence of YAFs and teenagers in worship sharing and workshops added richness and new perspectives. Teens are also exploring the possibility of serving on yearly meeting committees. In lieu of the usual report from the SAYMA appointed representatives to Friends General Conference, three of our Young Adult Friends shared their experiences from attending the FGC-sponsored consultation on youth ministries. Our hearts were opened by the burning truths that they learned and shared with us. Among these were the sense of isolation and grief that Friends feel when no longer in their home meetings, loss of past communities while moving into new life phases, and the desire for YAFs to be of service as well as served. Most significantly, we heard the realization that Friends of all ages yearn to be known at the deepest level.
At our first plenary session we heard some of our wider Quaker organization representatives speak with deep feelings and tenderness of the mission and work of those organizations, and how that work fits with the priorities and values of our yearly meeting. We were grateful for the reminder that these organizations are so intimately connected with the work that we are led to do. With each organization's unique mission, they are able to extend that work beyond our capacity. The representatives also shared the joys, challenges, and spiritual rewards of service to both wider Quaker organizations and SAYMA. Surprisingly, many representatives were initially called to service simply because they had been asked. (Friends, let us affirm our nominating process!)
At our second plenary session, Keith Helmuth, of Canadian Yearly Meeting and Philadelphia Yearly Meeting, spoke to us from his work, "The Angel of History, The Storm of Progress, and the Order of the Soul." Despite the gravity of the trajectory we are on towards the destruction of humanity and the earth's biosystems, Keith offered hope beyond fatalism. This hope is based upon the Life in the Spirit with attention to natural history. He favored us with terminology and expressions that made fresh our testimonies by applying them to an ecological world view. We were relieved and uplifted to hear that humankind can escape the trap of fatalism engendered by the "history of Moral Will" by embracing the option of "mutually enhancing human-earth relationship."
In closing, we find great inspiration in the story of a Young Friend who viewed his relationship to his Meeting as sitting on a rock in the sea. Solidly supported by this foundation, he was able to look around in security and peace while viewing the wonders of the surrounding scenery. At some point, a transformation occurred when he felt the Spirit moving in a powerful way. In his sensing of the power of continuing revelation, his old image of his relationship to his Meeting changed. It was revealed to him that the rock he had been sitting on, was actually the solid back of a swimming whale, carrying him through the deep current of the Spirit into an unknown and anticipated future.
Minute -- Friends approved the epistle as presented with great thanks to the epistle committee.
35 - 39 Additional reports
We did not have time for the presentation of some reports. The following reports are in appendix D:
Ad Hoc e-Communications Committee FCNL Representative
Friends Peace Team Representative FCNL - Conscientious Objection Minute
Web Manager's Report FCNL - Minute on Moral Values
William Penn House Representative Ad Hoc Committee on Worship Groups
Quaker House Representative SAYF Steering Committee
Quaker Earthcare Witness Representatives Junior YM Ad Hoc Committee
FWCC Representative SAYMA June 2005 Census
Kristi Estes, Clerk Lee Ann Swarm, Recording Clerk
(archive copy signed) (archive copy signed)