Without writing, writing down words on stone or papyrus or parchment or paper or microfilm so they can be kept, we wouldn’t have any history. And without history there isn’t any future.
(Madeleine L’Engle, A Ring of Endless Light)
In the summer of 1995, Friends of New York Yearly Meeting gathered for their three hundredth summer session. They anticipated a week of celebration.
What followed was grief (after a bus accident that affected many Friends); a surge of love and support (in response to that accident); loss (at the withdrawal of one monthly meeting from New York Yearly Meeting); rejoicing (at the long-worked-for approval of Faith and Practice); and, yes, celebration and remembrance.
It is a true story of our people. It seems worth remembering. Here are the minutes—unedited, exactly as they were published in our yearbook.
NEW YORK YEARLY MEETING MINUTES 1995
Sunday, July 23, 1995, 7:00pm
- Clerk Steven Ross opened the 300th session of New York Yearly Meeting with a call for quiet worship.
- After meeting for worship, the Clerk introduced Harold Risler, Clerk of the Sessions Committee, who explained the logistics of dining together.
- Diana DeBlois, Clerk of Junior Yearly Meeting Committee, described a Junior Yearly Meeting project for commemorative candle-boats. She then introduced Junior Yearly Meeting coordinators John Cooley and Judith Inskeep, who welcomed the children of the Yearly Meting. After introductions of the Junior Yearly Meeting staff, the children left with their group leaders to begin their program.
- The Coordinating Committee for Ministry and Counsel led a period of extended worship that focused on the tragic crash of a bus carrying the Farmington Friends Church choirs that same day, as they traveled to offer their ministry of music to the Yearly Meeting at Silver Bay. In word and song, Friends spoke of grief, pain, the hope of understanding, and God’s enduring presence.
- The minutes of the session were read and approved.
Monday, July 24, 1995, 10:15am
- Friends gathered in quiet worship.
- An epistle was read from the Evangelical Friends Church in Burundi reporting on their first yearly meeting since tragedy engulfed their nation in 1993. Despite the heartbreak and horror of their recent past, and despite continuing crises in the present, Friends in Burundi are reaching toward hope, reconciliation, and peace.
- Clerk Steven Ross described the ministry and hospitality under way to support the injured and their families from yesterday’s bus accident.
- In honor of New York Yearly Meeting’s tercentenary, William Kriebel, past Clerk of New England Yearly Meeting, read the original minute approved in 1695 by New England Yearly Meeting establishing New York Yearly Meeting:
“At a general Yearly Meeting at the house of Walter Newberry’s in Rhode Island, the 14th day of the 4th month of 1695 . . . the meeting continuing the 15th day . . . the next morning following: it is . . . agreed that the meeting at Long Island shall be from this time a Yearly Meeting, and that John Bowne and John Rodman shall take care to receive all such papers as shall come to the Yearly Meeting at Long Island, and correspond with Friends appointed in London.”
(Note: 4th month in 1695 would correspond with June.)
- Harold Risler, Clerk of the Sessions Committee, introduced Mark Johnson, Director of Silver Bay Association, who warmly welcomed Friends to Silver Bay.
- The Reading Clerk read a series from the Nine Partners Quarterly Meeting reporting on Clintondale Meeting’s withdrawal from New York Yearly Meeting. Nine Partners Quarterly Meeting has released Clintondale Meeting from membership in New York Yearly Meeting. In so doing, provisions were made for the preservation of records, for transfer of membership by individual Clintondale members to another meeting of New York Yearly Meeting, for prorating of Clintondale’s 1995 budget allotment, and for release of any potential Yearly Meeting claims on Clintondale’s property.
Friends received this report and expect to explore it more fully at a later time.
- The Reading Clerk read the roll call by Regional Meeting and Friends stood in response.
- Guests were asked to rise and give their names and affiliations: Gretta Stone, Friends General Conference; Christopher Haines, Adelaide, Australia; Thomas Bassett, Friends World Committee for Consultation, Section of the Americas; Bobbi Kelly, Pendle Hill; Arthur Berk, Middletown Meeting, Ohio Yearly Meeting; Eva Leibman, German Yearly Meeting; Cliff Harrison, Friends United Meeting; Roger Sturge, World Office of Friends World Committee for Consultation; Gloria Kershner, Grass Valley Meeting, Pacific Yearly Meeting; Christina Smith, Friends Meeting at Cambridge, New England Yearly Meeting; William and Anne Kriebel, Friends Meeting at Cambridge, New England Yearly Meeting; Andrew Grinnel, Dean, Earlham School of Religion; Mary Hopkins, Friends General Conference; Hope Wallis, American Friends Service Committee, Syracuse Office; Marge Schlitt, Friends Committee on National Legislation.
- Mary Foster Cadbury, Clerk of the Coordinating Committee for Ministry and Counsel, introduced Steven Davison, who read the summary of monthly meeting reports that forms the State of Society Report. Friends responded in worship.
- The minutes for this session were read and approved.
Tuesday, July 25, 1995, 10:00am
- Friends began the meeting with a period of silent worship.
- Mary Ann Percy, of the Epistle Committee, read the epistle from the London Yearly Meeting held on April 29 through May 2 and July 29 to August 2, 1994. The epistle reported that Friends there have been doing a revision of their Book of Discipline and that in the process of doing so “our Quaker business method has been tested to its limits.” They also reported that the new name of the London Yearly Meeting will be “The Yearly Meeting of the Religious Society of Friends (Quakers) in Britain.”
- The Reading Clerk read a travel minute for Arthur Berk, of Middleton Monthly Meeting of Ohio Yearly Meeting. Friends approved endorsement of the minute by our Clerk.
- The Reading Clerk read a letter of introduction from South Australia Representative Meeting for Christopher Haines and Dimity Haines. Friends approved endorsement of this letter by our Clerk.
- The Reading Clerk read a letter of introduction from Grass Valley Monthly Meeting, Pacific Yearly Meeting, for Gloria Kershner. Friends approved endorsement of this letter by our Clerk.
- Mary Foster Cadbury, Clerk of the Coordinating Committee for Ministry and Counsel, read the following minute of Clintondale Monthly Meeting as well as a brief statement explaining some of the thinking of Clintondale Friends.
“In the light of our faith in Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior, the Clintondale Friends Church has come to a crossroad. In order for our fellowship to grow and bear fruit we must remain in the vine who is Jesus Christ. We therefore have chosen to step out in faith. We find it necessary at this time to end our official relationship with New York Yearly Meeting. We take this step with the pain at our failed relationship with Yearly Meeting. Our hope is in the sustaining promises of God.”
She urged concerned Friends to read the state of the meeting report from Clintondale Meeting and to seek out Daniel Whitley or Cheryl Whitley when they arrive at Silver Bay.
- Mary Foster Cadbury reported on opportunities to minister to those injured in the bus accident Sunday and to their families and loved ones. She stated that Friends will also have an opportunity to make contributions to the voluntary ambulance companies who responded to the emergency. In addition, she reported the sense of those who have been close to the accident victims that they are conscious of the love and care of Friends and of the help of God in this time of trouble.
- Walter Haines reported for the Committee to Revise Faith and Practice. He asked for second and final approval of the chapter called “Outreach – Publishing the Truth.” Friends approved.
- Walter Haines went on to report that some changes have been made in the section now called “Children in Our Families and Meetings,” and asked for second and final approval of that section. Several Friends suggested other changes that they felt would improve the document. Others urged that the chapter as written be approved as having our substantial agreement. The Meeting approved the chapter as written. This was done with the expressed understanding that we are in need of (and will have the opportunity for) further searching about our responsibilities to children and young people among us, and about the respect and attention they need from us. Joan Nicholson asked to be recorded as standing aside.
- The Reading Clerk read the section on Covenant Relationships. Friends considered it at some length. Some Friends who expressed satisfaction with the text emphasized that it does not settle for monthly meetings the question of whether they should celebrate same-gender relationships. Friends approved this section. Joan Nicholson asked to be recorded as standing aside.
- The minutes were read and approved.
Tuesday, July 25, 1995, 1:30pm
- Friends gathered in a Meeting for Memorials to remember and celebrate the lives of 48 Friends who died in the past year. Thaddeus Dziekonski, along with Kenneth Davidson and Maurice Coleman, read from memorial minutes for Jerome R. Hurd, Mary Smedley Kimball, William Harold Walker, Winifred Fisk Courtney, Marion Jenkins, Mary Louise Kelly Edmonds, Melvin D. Carey, Winifred Matthews Holt, Ruby Ross, Susan Marie Whealdon, and Ruth Trimble Cope. The complete memorial minutes will be filed in the Haviland Records Room.
As we spoke of these and others, we made discoveries along with our reminiscences, telling stories of dedication, adversity, originality, great good humor, and the lively embodiment of Quaker principles. Whether they served their lives in local meetings or on intentional projects, these Friends taught us what it is to be Quakers.
Tuesday, July 25, 1995, 8:15pm
- Friends settled in silent worship.
- A minute of the Meeting for Memorials held earlier in the day was read and approved.
- A letter of introduction for Angus Winchester was presented from Lancaster Monthly Meeting, Britain Yearly Meeting. Friends approved the Clerk’s endorsement of this letter of introduction.
- Letters of greeting were read from the following organizations: Baltimore Yearly Meeting, Britain Yearly Meeting, Friends General Conference, Friends United Meeting, Friends World Committee for Consultation, and American Friends Service Committee.
- The Clerk read a letter from Junior Yearly Meeting noting that on the front of the stage there was a timeline consisting of Quaker “action figures” representing 300 years of New York Yearly Meeting Friends. Friends were asked to help produce the rest of the figures needed to complete the display.
- A minute from Cornwall Monthly Meeting in support of Nadya Spassenko was read. She is beginning a mission to Friends in Eastern Europe. Friends approved the Clerk’s endorsement of this minute.
- Linda S. Houser, Acting Clerk of Nurture Coordinating Committee, introduced Alan W. Pike, who reported for the Task Group of Friends United Meeting and memberships in the World Council of Churches and the National Council of Churches of Christ in the USA. Yearly meetings had been asked to consider whether the membership in these councils should be continued. Twenty-four monthly meetings have responded to the questions posed by the Task Group. Thirteen monthly meetings minuted support for reestablishing membership. One monthly meeting considered that there was not enough participation or benefit to the New York Yearly Meeting to be part of these groups. Two meetings could not come to unity. The rest of the meetings who responded either did not actually discuss the matter or did not report to the task group on their discussions. Friends approved asking the Clerk to send the task group’s report to Friends United Meeting along with a report of the discussion on the floor this evening.
- Linda S. Houser introduced Stephen L. Angell, who asked New York Yearly Meeting to approve the hosting of the 1997 Annual Meeting of the Friends World Committee for Consultation, Section of the Americas. Friends approved.
- A report of the 18th Triennial of the Friends World Committee for Consultation held at Ghost Ranch, New Mexico, August 15-24, 1994, was given by Friends who attended. The details of this enriching and inspiring experience were shared with us by these Friends, who described the business sessions, the worship, the communication among Friends of different ages and cultural traditions.
- Philip F. Gilbert, Clerk of the Advancement Committee, asked for approval of the granting by the Trustees of $750 from the Lockport-Brinkerhoff Fund to help with renovations to the Orchard Park Meeting House. Friends approved. Philip Gilbert also drew the Yearly Meeting’s attention to money available from the Lafayette Avenue Meeting Fund to help individuals prepare for service among Friends.
- Resignations were accepted as follows: William Hendricks, Family Life and Human Relationships Committee and Advancement Committee; Kathryn Much, Family Life and Human Relationships Committee; Elizabeth Hurd and Nadya Spassenko, Committee on Sufferings; Marjorie Weisel, General Services Coordinating Committee and Personnel Committee; Loren Fay, Records Committee; Roseanne Harris, Sessions Committee; Merrill Skaggs, Friends Council on Education; Jon David Katz, Powell House Committee; Amy Lomele, Religious Education Committee; Cheshire Frager, Tercentenary Committee; Charlotte Frantz, Friends Committee on National Legislation; Tom Orr, Friends Committee on National Legislation; Becki Cramer, Indian Affairs Committee; James Cramer, Indian Affairs Committee; Edwin Pell, Peace Concerns Committee; Melvin Hurd, Wider Ministries Committee.
- The nominations to the following committees were approved: Coordinating Committee for Ministry and Counsel, Epistle Committee, Committee to Revise Faith and Practice, Council of Ministerial Advisors – NY State Department of Corrections, Committee for the Fund of Sufferings.
- The minutes were read and accepted as corrected.
Wednesday, July 26, 1995, 10:00am
- Friends gathered for business with a period of silent worship.
- Glenn Mallison, of the Epistle Committee, read the epistle from Central and South Africa Yearly Meeting, gathered from December 10 to 15, 1994. The epistle noted that at “Yearly Meeting we all rejoiced together in the birth of the new South Africa.” It also stated that “Frriends find their peacemaking skills are more in demand than ever in the new South Africa.”
- Richard Goodman rose to thank Friends for the prayers and the support given to him during his illnesses at the time of Yearly Meeting in 1994.
- Mary Foster Cadbury, Clerk of the Coordinating Committee for Ministry and Counsel, reported that Friends in the hospital as a result of Sunday’s accident are in good spirits. Many have expressed concern for the bus driver and have stated that they do not blame him for the accident.
Rochester Monthly Meeting is coordinating visits by Friends to Farmington Meeting. Harry Lloyd, Clerk of Farmington Meeting, and Cynthia Nado, plan to visit the bus driver. Others may do so as well.
Harry Lloyd and Ruth Kinsey, Clerk and Pastor respectively of Farmington Meeting, are preparing a letter of thanks to all in the community who have given help and support to the injured.
Friends have an opportunity to donate blood to hospitals in the region, thus helping meeting an acute local need.
- Alice Gilbert, Clerk of General Services Coordinating Committee, introduced Treasurer, Paula McClure, who presented a “Comparative Statement of Operations” for June 30, 1995 and 1994. Year-to-date expenditures exceed income by $8,430.32 as compared to a shortfall of $58,156.78 at the same time last year. Regional and quarterly meetings have so far contributed 41% of their expected 1995 contribution, in contrast with the 29% which was contributed as of this point last year. The report was accepted.
- John Bishop, Clerk of the Financial Services Committee, reported that the Committee is exploring ways to be in touch with monthly meetings and to answer questions about how Yearly Meeting makes use of the funds that Friends contribute. He reminded Friends that the Financial Services Budget Weekend is an opportunity for all Friends to express any concerns about the Yearly Meeting budget.
- The Yearly meeting approved a request that regional, quarterly and half yearly meeting treasurers be named ex officio to the Yearly Meeting Financial Services Committee. A regional, quarterly, or half yearly meeting may, at its option, name another Friend to serve in the treasurer’s place. The Clerk of the Yearly Meeting will extend this invitation by letter to the clerks of these bodies at the close of Yearly Meeting sessions.
- Hazel Haines presented a report on the work of the Nominating Committee, reminding Friends that being asked about willingness to serve is not the same as being nominated. She stated that it is appropriate for Friends to let Nominating Committee know of interests they may have in particular appointments. She also requested that Friends who request release from committee service notify the Yearly meeting as soon as possible after Representative Meeting, rather than wait for Yearly Meeting sessions.
- Kathleen Lawson reported for the General Services Coordinating Committee. She summarized the history of the Task Group on New York Yearly meeting Staff Structures, its original charge, the work it has done, and the recommendations it developed. She then presented a proposal, on behalf of General Services, that the Yearly Meeting direct the General Services Coordinating Committee to form a search committee to find a second field secretary, intending to have this position filled by July 1996.
In the course of deliberations about this proposal, several concerns were expressed by individual Friends and by Friends reporting the concerns of their Meetings. One concern was the need to make Yearly Meeting services more available throughout the large geographical area of the Yearly Meeting. Another concern was that the activities envisioned for a field secretary should be coordinated with the work of Powell House. Still another concern was that the size of the Yearly Meeting budget should not be limited. Notice was taken that employing a second field secretary will not increase the 1996 or 1997 budget. Some Friends also felt that more clarity is needed on the overall proposal for a new structure before the Yearly Meeting can act on the matter of searching for a field secretary.
After considerable searching by the Meeting, the Clerk discerned that the meeting was not yet ready to act on the proposal. The matter was accordingly held over for a later session.
- The minutes were read and approved.
Wednesday, July 26, 1995, 1:30pm
- Friends gathered in quiet worship.
- Margaret Carlough, of the Epistle Committee, brought us greetings from the 1994 yearly meeting of Switzerland Yearly Meeting, which focused on the theme “To Be a Refugee.” In the serenity overlooking Lake Geneva, Swiss Friends Considered how to respond as Quakers to the plight of the world’s refugees, always mindful of “the spirit of God which never lets us go.”
- The Reading Clerk read letters of introduction for Eva Liebman, a member of Cologne Monthly Meeting in German Yearly Meeting. Friends approved the Clerk’s endorsement of the letters.
- Deborah Wood, Clerk of Witness Coordinating Committee, presented the travel minute from Stephen L. Angell of Bulls Head-Oswego Monthly Meeting originally approved in 1993 and now bearing 42 signatures from Friends’ groups around the world. Friends accepted the return of the minute.
Steven Angell spoke of hope and global community that can be encouraged through such ministry.
- Deborah Wood introduced Phineke Brugman, of Quaker Street Friends Meeting, who has been working for three years with children in an orphanage in Romania.
Phineke Brugman spoke of her initial response three years ago to a call to serve in a three-week work camp in Romania, and how those weeks changed her life. When she discovered the harshness of the conditions in an orphanage of 300 neglected children, she organized a response that grew into a series of miracles. As the scope of the project expanded, so did the support in Romania and in the United States. Yet the need remains great.
Deborah Wood reported that over the past three years Phineke Brugman called on members of her monthly and regional meetings for support as she became more deeply involved in this leading. At Representative Meeting in December 1994, Phineke asked Witness Coordinating Committee for assistance. An oversight committee was formed that met with Phineke several times during the first part of 1995 and determined that Phineke’s leading has strong spiritual grounding. At its final meeting in May, the oversight committee laid itself down and asked Witness Coordinating Committee to find another organization to take on responsibility for this work.
Witness Coordinating Committee requested that New York Yearly Meeting commend to the care of Friends United Meeting Phineke Brugman’s project to provide improved living conditions for orphans in Romania, and further requested that a minute of commendation be forwarded to that body by New York Yearly Meeting’s representatives to Friends United Meeting’s World Ministries Commission. Friends approved.
- The Reading Clerk read a travel minute for Phineke Brugman from Quaker Street Friends Meeting. Friends approved the Clerk’s endorsement of the minute.
- Mary Way, Clerk of the Latin American Concerns Committee, introduced
Elaine Chamberlain, of Buffalo Monthly Meeting, who spoke movingly of the suffering of poor Indian people in Chiapas, Mexico, and of the importance of the Hospital San Carlos that serves those people. As a result of increased repression of the Indian people, conditions have worsened to a heartbreaking degree. Elaine Chamberlain, a nurse who has spent her last 8 summer vacations working at Hospital San Carlos, read a letter from the hospital expressing gratitude for support and appealing for prayers and help so they can continue to minister to the poor with “a living faith, a solid faith, and an ardent charity.”
Friends were moved by these words and suggested that the story of the hospital and opportunities to help be described in Spark, and be communicated to other yearly meetings. The Latin American Concerns Committee agreed to act on those suggestions.
- Madeline McClure, Clerk of the Sharing Fund Committee, reported that contributions are up slightly from this time last year, but that the number of donors is only half of what it was in 1991. She described several upcoming opportunities for Friends to participate in the Sharing Fund, which supports a wide range of Friends projects, including the Hospital San Carlos in Chiapas. We then heard a remarkable musical invitation to become Sharing Fund donors, with Friendly thanks to Gilbert and Sullivan.
- Nominations for the following committees were read and approved: General Services Coordinating Committee (at Large); Audit Committee; Financial Services Committee, Publications Committee, Records Committee, Sessions Committee (at large), Trees of the Lindley Murray Fund, New York Yearly Meeting Trustees, the Personnel Committee, Junior Yearly Meeting Committee, and New York Yearly Meeting officers for 1996.
- Minutes of the session were read and approved.
Thursday, July 27, 1995, 10:00am
- Meeting began with a period of silent worship.
- Julia Giordano read the epistle from Ohio Yearly Meeting which reported that members have been participating in the New Call to Peacemaking and have been traveling in the ministry to seek reconciliation and healing. The epistle reminded us that we must avoid surrendering to the temptation to admonish people in our own power. Rather we need to seek guidance in prayer that is open to the tendering spirit of Christ.
- A letter from David Herendeen, pastor of Adirondack Meeting, was read expressing his deep gratitude for the outpouring of love that his family and all the other Farmington Friends have received from New York Yearly Meeting Friends in the wake of their terrible accident. He reported with gratitude on the care they have received from Friends and neighbors in the Farmington area. He asked us for our continued prayers for his mother and their family as they try to make sense of this tragedy.
- Mary Foster Cadbury, Clerk of the Coordinating Committee for Ministry and Counsel, reported on the present condition of injured Friends, and on the visit of Friends to the bus driver in jail, and on the care given to him as a direct result of their visit.
- Linda Houser, Acting Clerk of Nurture Coordinating Committee, introduced Janice M. Greene, who presented Carlos Smith, Tanya Robie, Bruce Adcock, and David Perry, all of whom were participants in YouthQuake, 1994. These Friends reported on their experiences at that gathering. They spoke of the diversity of the group of young Friends they had met and the ways in which their beliefs were shared and challenged by this experience. A number of New York Yearly Meeting participants asked why Friends who worshipped in a manner different from theirs also called themselves “Quakers.” Their question was not always answered completely for them, but Friends of different traditions were able to become good friends on a personal basis. Young Friends had to think deeply about their beliefs.
- Linda Houser introduced Margallen Fichter, Clerk of the Powell House Committee, who described the staff changes occurring at Powell House. Terry Dix, Assistant Director, will be leaving, and Rebecca MacKenzie and Kenneth Davidson, who have served as interim youth directors, have also completed their formal service to Powell House. Appreciation was expressed for the many contributions of these staff members. A search committee for new Youth Directors was not able to find permanent directors, so an exciting plan to have three teams of two leaders for each of the age groups served by the Youth program will be implemented in the year beginning in September. The new leaders will be Kathryn Wood and Christopher Parker for the 5th and 6th grades, Christine Koster and Kevin Day for the Junior High, and David Keiser and Erin Clark for the Senior High. A new search committee is being appointed to seek permanent Youth Directors.
- David Swartz, President of the Board of Managers of Oakwood School, introduced Lila Gordon, head of School at Oakwood, who presented Cindy Pope, new director of admissions, and told of two new scholarship programs that have been established. She described the successes and difficulties of the two-year-old middle school, pointing out that the stability of such a small program required that at-risk students not be admitted. She reported on the necessity of reducing the size of staff to keep the budget in check without reducing programs. The name of the school has been changed to Oakwood Friends School. A new Quaker in Residence program is being implemented and the first person to be on campus for this program will be Paul Lacey, professor at Earlham College.
- George Rubin Clerk of Personnel Committee, presented the committee’s recommendation of the following New York Yearly Meeting staff appointments for calendar year 1996:
General Secretary, Joseph Vlaskamp;
Field Secretary, Janice M. Green;
Asst. to the General Secretary, Helen Garay Toppins;
Keeper of the Records, Elizabeth H. Moger.
This was approved.
- The nominations for the following committees and representatives were presented for approval: Nurture Coordinating Committee, Advancement Committee, Disability Concerns Committee, Friends Council on Education, Friends General Conference Representatives, Friends United Meeting Representatives, Representatives to Friends United Meeting Triennial, Alternates to Representatives to Friends United Meeting Triennial, Committee on Expenditure of the H.H. Mosher Fund, Oakwood School Board of Managers, Powell House Committee, Religious Education Committee, Tercentenary Committee, Women’s Rights Committee, Witness Coordinating Committee, Alternatives to Violence Project, Inc., American Friends Service Committee Corporation, Barrington Dunbar Fund for Black Development, Friends Committee for Black Concerns, Friends Committee on National Legislation, Indian Affairs Committee, Latin American Concerns Committee, Prisons Committee, Right Sharing of the World’s Resources Committee, Sharing Fund Committee, William Penn House Representative, Committee on World Ministries, New York Yearly Meeting Representatives at Large.
Friends approved these appointments.
- Adrienne Ochis, of Philadelphia Yearly Meeting, was specifically approved for service on the Religious Education Committee.
- Friends accepted the appointments to the corporation of the McCutchen-Yearly Meeting Friends Home.
- The meeting was reminded, in a message from the floor, that the Ad Hoc Committee on Renewal had urged us to look at the size and function of each of our Yearly Meeting committees and to appoint only as many members as were truly necessary for the work of the committees.
- The Clerk reviewed the history of the considerations on staff structure and summarized the present situation before the body of New York Yearly Meeting. He noted that the General Services Coordinating Committee has requested permission to continue the work of planning a new staff structure and to begin a search for a new field secretary. He also pointed out that initiating a search did not necessarily commit the Yearly Meeting to any new course of action, and that giving permission to begin a search now would give sufficient time for a process to identify a candidate who could begin serving in mid-1996.
Following discussion, the Yearly Meeting approved the establishment of a search process in the expectation of hiring a second field secretary. It requested that the General Services Coordinating Committee continue working with the proposed staffing model and that it explore the financial implications of the direction being proposed, as well as of alternative models.
Friends continued to offer ministry on this concern.
- Ruth Kinsey, Pastor of Farmington Meeting, addressed the Yearly Meeting to bring the thanks of Farmington Friends for the prayers and concern of Friends in this body. She recounted for us the many miracles that have happened and the wonders God has wrought out of this terrible event. She left us with the observation that Farmington Meeting, after much struggle, had recently created a handicapped ramp for the Meeting House, which would receive considerable use.
- Friends approved these minutes as read.
Friday, July 28, 1995, 10:00am
- Friends settled in silent worship.
- Mary Anne Percy read the epistle from Ireland Yearly Meeting. The theme of their Yearly Meeting was service. Speaking of Spirituality and service, they said that without the Spirit there can be no service. The words that bind them together are love and caring (Galatians 5, verse 14, “Love your neighbor as yourself”). They have been greatly encouraged by the cessation of violence in their land and by the beginnings of peace and reconciliation. After 25 years of conflict, death and destruction, they can hope and pray that there will be a continuation of the building of peace.
- The following Friends were released from appointments to service in the Yearly Meeting at their request: Madeline S. Clure, Sharing Fund Committee (at large); Karen Reixach, Junior Yearly Meeting Committee.
- The following appointments were approved: Board of Managers of Oakwood School, Religious Education Committee, Young Adult Concerns Committee, Latin American Concerns Committee, Financial Services Committee, Advancement Committee, Friends General Conference Representative, Representative to the Meeting Ministries Commission of Friends United Meeting, Friends World Committee for Consultation Representative, Friends World Committee for Consultation Section of the Americas.
The appointment of Christopher Parker of New England Yearly Meeting to Young Adult Concerns Committee was approved.
- Claire Simon, of the Epistle Committee, read the first draft of the New York Yearly Meeting Epistle for 1995. Friends made suggestions for the committee’s consideration.
- A letter of introduction from Schenectady Monthly Meeting for Dorothy and Carroll Garner for their travels to Costa Rica and particularly to the Monteverde Friends community was presented. This has already been endorsed by Northeastern Regional Meeting. Friends approved the Clerk’s endorsement of this minute.
- Walter Haines, of the Committee to Revise Faith and Practice, presented two matters for the Meeting’s approval.
- A) The Yearly Meeting gave final approval to the text of “Acceptance of Death” and the second paragraph of page 58 of the “Proposal for Faith.” These passages were given first reading approval in 1993 (minute #88) and included in the text prepared for 1994 Yearly Meeting.
- B) The Yearly Meeting recognized that it has now given final approval to all material for a 1995 edition of Faith and Practice as follows:
- Advices and Queries (31 July 1987)
- Practices and Procedures (31 July 1987)
- The entire text of Faith and three pages of revision to Practice and Procedure as written in the “The Proposal for Faith…prepared for…26 July 1994” (minute #32) with the following exceptions, which were approved subsequently, as noted:
- Glossary (29 July 1994, minute #76)
- “Covenant Relationships” and “Children in Our Families and Meetings” from the proposals submitted by the Committee to Revise Faith and Practice to the Yearly Meeting in a separate document dated 1st May 1995 (approved 25 July 1995, minutes#24 and #25).
- “Acceptance of Death” and the revised second paragraph on page 58 of “The Proposal for Faith…..” prepared for 26 July, 1994 (approved 28 July 1995, minute #82).
The Yearly Meeting authorizes the Committee to Revise Faith and Practice to gather all of these changes and publish them in a 1995 edition of Faith and Practice. With expressions of reverence and joy from many Friends, this minute was approved.
- The minutes of this session were approved.
Friday, July 28, 1995, 1:30pm
- The meeting began with silent worship.
- Walter Haines read the 1994 epistle from the 8-12 year-olds of Canadian Yearly Meeting. Their theme was non-violence and community They changed the ending of traditional fairy tales such as “The Three Little Pigs” and “Little Red Riding Hood” so that at the end the wolf was accepted and felt part of the community.
- Karen Way read an epistle from the adults of Yearly Meeting to Junior Yearly Meeting.
Dearest Young Friends,
We came here to celebrate our 300th year as a yearly meeting, thinking that’s how we’ll make this week special – we’ll remember the other 299 times we met. But this turned out to be a week that would stand out in any 300 – a week too full of things terrible and wonderful ever to be forgotten.
We started with tragedy. Quakers from Farmington Meeting were coming to share their ministry of music with us, when their bus jumped off the road and down a steep hill. One man was killed and everyone on the bus was hurt. It was terrifying and sad, and the grownups have been worrying and praying about it all week. But you can also hear them talk about how quickly help came, how the neighbors ran to the scene, how 15 ambulances and 2 helicopters rushed the injured to hospitals where doctors were waiting. And they’ll tell you how cheerful and strong the Quakers were at the hospital, and how they are getting better.
And then on Monday night, as a rainbow faded from the sky, the grownups gathered in the Auditorium to remember another tragedy – the pain and courage and heartbreak of World War II, 50 years ago. And while we drew closer in grief and sharing, you sailed boats of peace and light onto the dark lake. After most of you had gone to bed we sat on the shore and watched the boats – little candles afloat, glimmering behind carefully drawn messages of hope.
Was it a coincidence? The next morning we finished writing a book we’ve been working on for 18 years – Faith and Practice. None of you were born when this book was started. The next one you will write, with us.
It was after we finished writing the book that the 300 Quaker Action Figures appeared around the edge of the stage in the Auditorium. Maybe we earned them. They guarded and encouraged us as we heard Phiney Brugman talk about rescuing orphans in Romania and Elaine Chamberlain describe the desperate needs and amazing bravery of a hospital in Chiapas, Mexico. The action figures and the grownups also listened carefully as four of you explained the surprising opportunity and religious challenge of YouthQuake.
We have so many things to do. We have money to raise and people to hire and reports to write, and 3 centuries of Quaker history to live up to. Proud of our past and so busy in our present, we might seem to forget at times that you are our future.
So, if we seem not to be paying attention to the joy of Silver Bay, too entranced by our meetings and worries to join in the life you bring here and find here, remember what the Junior High kids taught us at Café Night: that even a Quaker asleep for 300 years can be wakened with a kiss . . .
So, give us a kiss, and have a great year. We love you. See you next summer.
- Judith Inskeep reported for the Junior Yearly Meeting staff and led Friends in singing a song about elephants who sit on clerks.
- John Cooley introduced the senior high young Friends, who read us their epistle.
- John Cooley introduced Junior High participants in JYM, who read us an epistle and demonstrated a “trust exercise,” which they used among themselves. In the trust exercise, individual JYMers allowed themselves, one at a time, to fall trustingly from a height into the arms of the other waiting JYMers.
- The fourth to sixth grade group read their epistle, broken down into the form of short individual messages from each child. One of them appeared to consider doing the trust exercise, using the clerks as “catchers,” but then thought better of it.
- Margaret N. Keiser reported on the activities of the second to third grade group.
- They spent some time making Quaker action figures representing 300 years of Quakerism and also making bumper stickers for the Fund Fair.
- They were visited by “Lucretia Coffin Mott.”
- Asa Watkins visited and talked about his experience as a conscientious objector working in a mental hospital. He showed some of his drawings.
- Carol Mallison showed the second and third graders the prosthesis in her arm and answered a lot of questions.
- The first and second graders worked in small groups to solve problems without needing adults to do it for them.
- They also enjoyed many stories and games and all-around fun times.
- A poem by Marissa Badgley was read.
- The kindergarten and first grade children showed us outlines of their soles (pun on souls) made by tracing around their feet.
- Claire Simon of the Epistle Committee read the following epistle from New York Yearly Meeting:
To Friends Everywhere:
As we arrived at Silver Bay on Lake George to celebrate New York Yearly Meeting’s tercentenary year, we were stunned by the news that a bus carrying the choirs of Farmington Friends Church had overturned on the highway nearby. Many Friends began immediately to minister to the injured, their families, and the caregivers. We heard about serious injuries and the death of one Friend. Instead of listening that night to Farmington’s ministry of music, we gathered in worship to pray for our friends and to struggle with this terrible event. We cried out to the Lord, and we did not understand. Throughout the week, we heard more about the accident and its aftermath. “It has been a tragedy,” Farmington’s pastor told us, “but God has truly worked wonders among us, providing miracle after miracle after miracle.”
We heard suffering in other places, too. One friend informed us of the Indians’ struggle for survival in Chiapas, Mexico. Another told us about the plight of orphans in Romania. She was filled with wonder that she, “just an ordinary woman, no one particularly special, could make a difference.”
In a commemorative ceremony, we listened to personal stories reminding us of all those who suffered in the violence that marked World War II. Then those in the auditorium joined the children in launching small memorial candle boats on Lake George.
One evening after rain, a beautiful double rainbow reminded us of God’s covenant with Noah and all the creatures of the earth. It was for us a sign of reconciliation and peace.
The tenderness we felt for the suffering of others put into perspective the need for peaceful resolution in revising the remaining sections of Faith and Practice. After eighteen years, with expressions of reverence and joy by many Friends, we approved it, and we will publish the new edition during this tercentennial year. In our deliberations, we were reminded that every arrival is also a point of departure, and we need to continue to attend to issues involving marriage, families, and the importance of children in our lives. We hope that we can bring to the discernment process around these issues compassion for each other in our differences as well as mutual love in the Light.
Several young people spoke of the importance of such love in the midst of differences when they reported on the spiritual impact they felt as they met Friends from other traditions during the last Youthquake. The participation of so many younger people throughout Yearly Meeting contributed to our sense of renewal.
Our tercentenary Yearly Meeting, with 688 attenders, including 155 in Junior Yearly Meeting, celebrated the history of New York Yearly Meeting’s three hundred years by welcoming the publication of Quaker Crosscurrents, the first comprehensive account of the Yearly Meeting, and by an intergenerational pageant involving more than seventy Friends who rehearsed all week.
In the Bible study, Daniel Smith-Christopher had presented two Hebrew responses to the Babylonian exile: exile is punishment and suffering has transformative power. He challenged us to consider how these models inform our faith. As we move forward, we pray that each day we may renew our faith and our practice by asking the question the prophet Micah posed: “…what does the Lord require of thee but to do justly, and to love mercy, and to walk humbly with thy God?”
After a solemn and weighty hush, the epistle was approved without any amendment.
- Harold Risler reported for the Sessions Committee.
Attendance at Silver Bay was 688, including 155 in Junior Yearly Meeting. The gift to Silver Bay library was Quaker Crosscurrents: Three Hundred Years of Friends in the New York Yearly Meetings, and a children’s book, Luke’s Summer Secret, by Randall Wisehart.
Representative Meeting will be hosted by Purchase Quarterly Meeting on December 2 & 3, 1995 at a place to be announced and by Long Island Quarterly Meeting on April 13 and 14, 1996, at Friends Academy.
The next Yearly Meeting sessions will be held from July 21 through July 27, 1996, at Silver Bay.
Sessions Committee has started planning for Yearly Meeting 1996 as well as future Representative Meetings and Yearly Meetings. Margaret Hope Bacon will be our speaker at 1996 Yearly Meeting.
Sessions Committee will meet on September 30, 1995, to evaluate this Yearly Meeting in preparation for Representative Meeting and Yearly Meeting sessions. At our January 20, 1996, meeting the week “at-a-glance” and program will be approved.
Approximately $3300 thus far has been collected for volunteer ambulance/emergency groups which responded to the bus accident. (Note: The final amount was $3500.) 38 people are giving blood this afternoon.
- The Clerk remarked that he would not attempt to summarize for Friends the meaning of the week we have spent together. Rather, it will be the results of our work here when we leave which will reveal its meaning.
- The minutes of the session were read and approved.
- Then, after a period of silent worship with vocal ministry, the Meeting was adjourned.
Steven W. Ross, Clerk
Cynthia Anne Nado, Assistant Clerk
Richard Accetta-Evans, Recording Clerk
Joan Oltman, Recording Clerk
Karen G. Way, Recording Clerk