The 200th session of Ohio Valley Yearly Meeting was held virtually June 17-21, 2020. The theme was “Embracing Our Call to Faith; Envisioning Our Shared Future”.
Wednesday, June 17 6:30pm to 9:15pm
1. Opening worship. Friends gathered via Zoom at the appointed time and entered into a period of waiting worship.
2. Opening remarks from the Presiding Clerk. The Clerk welcomed Friends to the initial business meeting of the 200th annual sessions of Ohio Valley Yearly Meeting of the Religious Society of Friends, held this year exceptionally via Zoom due to restrictions on gatherings associated with the COVID-19 pandemic. During her opening remarks, the Clerk shared the following words:
I want to acknowledge that I live on lands that were stolen from the Shawnee nation and their neighbors in a region that was built up using the stolen labor and the stolen profits of slavery. I want to acknowledge that everything that we recognize as mainstream US culture is built upon a foundation of violence and white supremacy. As Quakers, we face a grave challenge to live up to our testimonies of peace, integrity, and equality. At the very least, we must become aware of whether the actions we take are contributing to our journey to become anti-racist individuals and to building an anti-racist Society of Friends. May the Divine Light that is in each of us illumine and transform this body as we undertake the work of addressing racism and white supremacy.
The Clerk reminded Friends that we are seeking to conduct our business under Divine Guidance, even as we hold our Annual Sessions under unusual circumstances. She also explained guidelines for being recognized and indicating acceptance and approval via Zoom.
3. Roll call. The Recording Clerk called the roll of Yearly Meeting officers and administrators, Committee Clerks, Quarterly and Monthly Meeting Representatives, and Yearly Meeting staff. This minute was updated at each of the meetings for business over the course of the Annual Sessions.
Yearly Meeting officers and administrators
Presiding Clerk: Martha Viehmann
Assistant Presiding Clerk: Betsy Neale
Recording Clerk: Rex Sprouse
Assistant Recording Clerk: Terre Holada
Treasurer: Wilson Palmer
Assistant Treasurer: Dale Hayes
Monthly Meeting representatives
Bloomington: no representative
Campus: no representative
Clear Creek: David Garman
Community: Lisa Cayard
Dayton: Nikki Coffey Tousley
Eastern Hills: Wilson Palmer
Fall Creek: Marti Matthews
Fort Wayne: Terre Holada
Lafayette: no representative
Lexington: Richard Mitchell
Louisville: Barry Zalph
Miami: Tom Nowel
North Meadow: no representative
Oxford: Andy Garrison, Cecilia Shore
White Rose: no representative
Yellow Springs: Bruce Heckman, Annie Blanchard
Quarterly Meeting Clerks
Miami: Peter Hardy
Whitewater: Terre Holada
Braddock Fund: Wilhelmina Branson
Budget & Finance: Dale Hayes
Children’s: Susan Hyde
Faith & Practice: Rex Sprouse
Nominating: Rhonda Pfaltzgraff-Carlson
Peace & Social Concerns: Richard Mitchell
Personnel: Stephen Angell
Records: Susan Hyde
Religious Nurture & Education: Nikki Coffey
Yearly Meeting Planning: Carol Simmons
Young Adult Friends: absent
Youth Services: Jason Swank
Yearly Meeting staff
Administrative Secretary: Deborah Jordan
Youth Secretary: Kaia Jackson
Statistician: Bill Heilbron
Website Administrator: Daniel Day
The Clerk invited all those present to introduce themselves. The following Friends representing organizations from the wider Quaker world introduced themselves: Bobby Trice and Alicia McBride (Friends Committee on National Legislation) and Claire Cohen (Friends General Conference Visitor). The Clerk read a letter of introduction for Bobby Trice from Friends Committee on National Legislation. Jade Eaton and Jolee Robinson summarized their travel minutes from Baltimore Yearly Meeting, visiting under a concern for intervisitation among Friends.
4. Epistle Summary report. Rick Boyce presented some of the highlights of the Epistle Summary, the full text of which is published in the Minute Book [on page 59]. Rick lifted up the joy that Friends the world over experience in meeting together for their annual sessions. He also pointed out some commonly shared concerns around white privilege and all forms of bigotry, within the Society of
Friends and in wider society, making meetings more accessible to attenders, and climate change and care for the earth. Rick concluded with a prophetic quote from New England Yearly Meeting. Friends accepted the report.
5. Nominating Committee report. Rhonda Pfaltzgraff-Carlson presented the report. Rhonda pointed out that Nominating Committee was functioning well, but would benefit from greater representation from Whitewater Quarterly Meeting. Some crucial roles for which Nominating Committee was still seeking names included Assistant Treasurer, a member of Youth Services Committee (particularly a female Friend from Whitewater Quarterly Meeting), and one or more Friends to serve as Representatives to Friends General Conference. Rhonda then reviewed the slate of names being brought forward for Friends’ consideration and clarified a few points for Friends. Friends approved the names brought forward. Nominating Committee’s full chart appears in the Yearly Meeting Minute Book [following the report on page 29].
6. Approval of the budget for 2020-2021. Treasurer Wilson Palmer presented the proposed budget, noting that the proposed budget includes a loss of approximately $18,000. After brief discussion, Friends approved the proposed budget, which is printed in the Minute Book [following the report on page 15].
7. Budget and Finance Committee report. Dale Hayes presented the report, highlighting the availability of three under-used Yearly Meeting funds: the Peace Witness Fund, the Benevolent Fund, and the Capital Fund. Friends accepted the report.
8. Renaming of the Capital Fund as the Meetinghouse Resource Fund. Budget and Finance Committee proposed that the Capital Fund be renamed the Meetinghouse Resource Fund. Friends approved. Constituent monthly meetings are encouraged to apply for loans from this fund at favorable rates to purchase or repair their meetinghouses. Budget and Finance Committee is authorized to draw up guidelines for applications to make use of this fund.
9. Special contribution to Earlham College. On Fourth Month 4, 2020, Executive Committee approved making a one-time donation to Earlham College in recognition of the loss of income the College is likely to experience because of the cancellation of summer events and charged the Budget and Finance Committee with bringing forward a recommendation for the amount at the Annual Sessions. Budget and Finance recommended that the Yearly Meeting contribute $700 to Earlham College in addition to the already budgeted standard annual contribution of $300, for a total of $1000. After some discussion, Friends agreed that the Yearly Meeting would make a special contribution of $1700 to Earlham College, for a total of $2000 for 2019-2020. Friends clarified that this contribution reflects the Yearly Meeting’s special relationship with Earlham College.
Thursday, June 18 1:00pm to 3:10pm
10. Gathering Worship. Worship began over Zoom with a quote from Rufus Jones. We were reminded to listen for the Spirit as we gather.
11. Roll Call. The roll call was updated. Friends who had not yet introduced themselves did so at this time.
12. Administrative Secretary report. Deborah Jordan. The Report is printed in the Minute Book [on page 28]. There was clarification that monthly meetings can use the yearly meeting’s resource to do background checks. It is hoped that monthly meetings will reimburse the Yearly Meeting. The report was accepted.
13. Faith and Practice Committee report. Rex Sprouse. The report is in the Minute Book [on page 38]. The revision adoption process was explained.
14. Acceptance of revisions to the Book of Faith and Practice. The revised sections on The Monthly Meeting were read and discussion followed with special attention to some of the questions for preparing the State of the Meeting Reports. This led to attention to our failing for ourselves and our monthly meetings especially in terms of being welcoming, addressing the religious education needs of all and acknowledging and working to dismantle white supremacy. The entire section was approved, though some Friends stood aside.
15. Recognition of Friends’ service on the Faith and Practice Committee and celebration of the revision. The clerk recognized all the Friends who have worked on these revisions for many years:
Amanda Fraser, Barbara Robinson, Beth Parrish, Betsy Neale, Bill Shetter, Byron Branson, Carol Sexton, Christine Snyder, Eileen Pierce, Franchot Ballinger, J.P. Lund, Jan Sims, Karen Campbell, Lisa Cayard, Maie Klaphaak, Marian Alter, Mary Garman, Michael Birkel, Paul Buckley, Paul Kriese, Phyllis Martin, Rex Sprouse, Ron Haldeman, Sarah Emmer, Stephen Angell, William Shetter, and Wilson Palmer.
Friends joined in a celebration of the completion of this very important work. There are some details to be completed like indexing and preparing an Internet friendly version but none of these will require approval from the Yearly Meeting. Friends approved leaving the details to the Faith and Practice Committee and Executive Committee.
16. Proposed minute on racism. Peace and Social Concerns Committee. There was reading of the following minute from Peace and Social Concern on racism. Approval will be considered later.
We stand with the families of Breonna Taylor, George Floyd, Rayshard Brooks, Ahmaud Arbery, and all those who have suffered the pain of racism and its deadly consequence. We affirm Black Lives Matter and join with those insisting on radical transformation of our society.
The Religious Society of Friends (Quakers) can call on a long history of effort to dismantle the most blatant forms of racism that dates back to the founding of this country. At the same time, we confess to limited understanding, inadequate attention, and racist beliefs and behaviors within our religious society, including, for example, at one time segregating Black Quakers on a separate bench and preventing interracial relationships. In this time of widening awareness concerning social inequities, Friends’ commitment to justice and equality is bringing more White Friends to a recognition of their personal responsibility and to a growing commitment to change. We acknowledge that once again, now is the time in which action is critically needed.
As a “Peace Church,” we understand at a very deep level, that when there is no Justice, there is no Peace. We affirm our basic belief that there is “that of God in every person,” and we are called by the gospel of Jesus to “Love our Neighbor! No Exceptions.” We see this love as an active love and encourage the support of Black leadership, and the amplification of Black voices. We urge all to actively protect Black people from attack and arrest, and to work to dismantle systemic racism in all its forms. We stand together in love, calling for equality for all.
Sunday, June 21 10:00am
17. Opening worship. Friends gathered at the appointed time and entered into a period of waiting worship.
18. Roll Call. The roll call was updated. Friends who had not yet introduced themselves did so at this time.
19. Youth Secretary report. Kaia Jackson presented the report, highlighting ways in which Yearly Meeting youth had been engaging with issues of exclusion and racism. Kaia spoke of how their work as Youth Secretary had included not only working directly with the Yearly Meeting’s youth programs, but also with the relationship between Yearly Meeting youth and the broader Yearly Meeting community. Friends accepted the report.
20. Reading of the Epistles. Cecilia Shore and Marti Matthews read aloud the Yearly Meeting Epistle, and Susan Hyde read aloud the Children’s Epistle. Both epistles are appended to these minutes [starting on page 9]. Friends approved the Yearly Meeting Epistle and accepted the Children’s Epistle.
21. Religious Nurture and Education report. Nikki Coffey Tousley referred Friends to the report that appears in the Minute Book [on page 43] and announced that a date had been set for the Spring 2021 Retreat, at which Rachel Ernst-Stahlhut will lead a one-day retreat on Outreach & Weaving a Wider Welcome on Third Month 27, 2021 at Quaker Hill. The retreat will be a response to concern about outreach and inclusion in recent Ohio Valley Yearly Meeting sessions, and to a perceived need in many
22. Approval of minute on racism. Friends approved the text of the minute on racism, which appears in Minute 16 above.
23. Minute of appreciation for those concluding service. Friends approved the following minute of appreciation:
Ohio Valley Yearly Meeting minutes our appreciation for the invaluable service of the volunteers who keep our yearly meeting going. Thanks to all those who are now released from their committee service and other positions for devoting your time for the benefit of all of us. Thanks most especially to Terre Holada who served as Recording Clerk without an assistant and volunteered to continue her service until someone else felt the call to take on this duty.
Also special thanks to all who have served and who continue to serve on the Nominating Committee under the leadership of Rhonda Pfaltzgraff-Carlson. We are grateful for your unstinting efforts to recruit Friends to service.
Finally, we wish to express gratitude without measure to our Planning Committee, to our volunteers who worked with children, middle youth and teens, and all those who provided technical assistance so that we could meet virtually and still be enriched by the movement of Spirit among us. Your extra work is deeply appreciated.
24. Approval of consent agenda. Due to time constraints, several reports could not be presented orally during Annual Session. Friends accepted all of the reports that had been submitted to Reports in Advance and are now printed in the Minute Book.
25. Closing worship. Friends ended with a brief period of waiting worship before adjourning for the final meeting for worship of the Annual Sessions at 11:15am.