The 201st session of Ohio Valley Yearly Meeting was held virtually June 16-20, 2021. The theme was “From Revelation to Revolution: Walking Together in Radical Love”.
Sixth Month 16, 2020, 6:30pm to 8:55pm
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 201st 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 am located in the Cincinnati area.
This is the traditional homeland of the Shawnee Nation and the Myaamiaki, or Miami Nation. The US government removed these indigenous nations from their homelands, pushing them first into northern Ohio before removing them to the west. The Myaamia and Shawnee people were put on flatboats, and white settlers would have seen them as they passed on the Miami-Erie canal and the Ohio River, but this is not taught in our schools.
I pray that we who are not from an Indigenous community will learn to see not only the history of genocidal acts on which our country is built but also the perspectives of past and present Native people who are in our communities, serving in the US government, creating Pulitzer prize winning works of fiction and poetry, and so much more. I hope we learn from them.
My community and our nation are also built on the stolen profits of enslavement of and discrimination against people of African descent. That stolen property produced and sustains a persistent gap in wealth and well-being.
I pray that we who are not African American learn to understand Black perspectives, as Damon Lynch III has reminded us.
And may we all become more aware of how we unwittingly perpetuate white supremacist culture as we wrestle with the challenge of living up to our Quaker beliefs. By this, I mean all Quakers, not only those of European descent.
May the Divine Light that is in each of us illumine and transform this body as we undertake the work of decolonization and anti-racism.
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: Rachel Ernst Stahlhut
Recording Clerk: Rex Sprouse
Assistant Recording Clerk: Lisa Cayard
Treasurer: Wilson Palmer
Assistant Treasurer: (office currently vacant)
Braddock Fund: Stephen Angell
Budget & Finance: Stephen Angell
Children’s: Susan Hyde
Earthcare: Carol Simmons (representative)
Faith & Practice: Rex Sprouse
Nominating: Richard Mitchell (convenor)
Peace & Social Concerns: Carol Simmons (convenor)
Personnel: Stephen Angell
Religious Nurture & Education: Nikki Coffey Tousley
Yearly Meeting Planning: Carol Simmons
Young Adult Friends: absent
Youth Services: absent
Quarterly Meeting Clerks
Miami: Peter Hardy
Whitewater: Terre Holada
Monthly Meeting Representatives
Bloomington: Elizabeth Terney
Clear Creek: David Garman
Community: Lisa Cayard
Dayton: Nikki Coffey Tousley
Eastern Hills: Wilson Palmer
Fall Creek: Marti Matthews
Fort Wayne: Terre Holada
Lexington: Betsy Neale
Louisville: Chris Harmer, Cindy Goslee, Barry Zalph
North Meadow: Eric Halperin-Lausch
Oxford: Stephen Angell
White Rose: absent
Yellow Springs: Bruce Heckman, Carol Simmons
Yearly Meeting staff
Administrative Secretary: Deborah Jordan
Youth Secretary: absent
Statistician: (currently vacant)
Website Administrator: Daniel Day
Records Coordinator: Susan Hyde
Quaker Quill Editor: Cecilia Shore
Publications Coordinator: absent
The Clerk invited all those present to introduce themselves. The following Friends representing organizations from the wider Quaker world introduced themselves: Susan Taylor (Tallahassee Meeting, Southeastern Yearly Meeting) (Friends General Conference Yearly Meeting Visitor); Alicia McBride (Sandy Springs Meeting, Baltimore Yearly Meeting) (Friends Committee on National Legislation); Bryan Bowman (Friends Committee on National Legislation); Hassan El-Tayyab (Friends Committee on National Legislation).
4. Annual Sessions business practices and procedures. The Clerk explained business practices and procedures for this year’s Annual Sessions, including guidelines for being recognized and indicating acceptance and approval via Zoom.
5. 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 40]. Rick reviewed challenges posed by the COVID-19 pandemic as well as the strength that our Quaker faith has provided in meeting those challenges, in addition to unanticipated blessings that have arisen in the process. He also pointed out some commonly shared concerns around racism and bigotry, as well as climate change. Friends accepted the report.
6. Nominating Committee preliminary report. Richard Mitchell presented the report, pointing out a range of service opportunities for which the Committee has not yet identified names to bring forward. For immediate service during the 2021 Annual Sessions, Friends approved the names of Paul Buckley and Betsy Neale for the Epistle Committee and Richard Mitchell as convenor of the Memorial Meeting.
7. Approval of the budget for 2021-2022. Treasurer Wilson Palmer presented the proposed budget, noting the potential confusion resulting from two years of Annual Sessions exceptionally held via Zoom, together with the gap between the receipt of registration and housing fees vs. the receipt of the bill from Earlham College. The proposed budget assumes that the 2022 Annual Sessions will be held in person. After brief discussion, Friends approved the proposed budget, which is printed in the Minute Book [following the Treasurer’s Report that begins on page 18].
8. Web Administrator’s report. Daniel Day presented the report, highlighting some recent changes to the Yearly Meeting website, as well as the plan to release the new e-book version of the Book of Faith and Practice in the near future. Friends accepted the report.
9. Presentation of a proposed Minute on Nuclear Weapons. Peggy Squires presented the Minute on Nuclear Weapons, which had been approved at the First Month 2021 Whitewater Quarterly Meeting session. The minute includes background and context for this concern, concrete steps for the reduction of the likelihood of the use of nuclear weapons, and specific actions for Friends to take. The text of the minute had appeared in the Quaker Quill in spring 2021 and in Reports in Advance. The minute was now being brought forward for consideration by Ohio Valley Yearly Meeting Friends at these Annual Sessions.
10. American Friends Service Committee Representative report. Jana Schroeder presented some of the highlights of the report, the full text of which is published in the Minute Book [on page 37]. Jana highlighted some of the concerns and challenges that had confronted American Friends Service Committee during the past year, as well as opportunities for broader engagement that meeting via Zoom had opened. Jana shared the recent announcement of new programs designed to encourage participation by younger Friends and new initiatives around anti-racism. Friends accepted the report.
11. Ad hoc Hiring Committee report. Rachel Ernst Stahlhut presented the report of the committee seeking a replacement for Deborah Jordan, our current Administrative Secretary. The new position will be known as the Administrative Assistant. The committee is hoping to be able to hire a new Administrative Assistant by the end of summer 2021. Friends accepted the report, a written version of which is appended to these minutes [on page 29]. Friends approved budgeting for one month of overlapping paid service by the retiring Administrative Secretary and the new Administrative Assistant.
12. Closing worship. After a few announcements, Friends concluded the evening session with a brief period of waiting worship.
Sixth Month 17, 2021, 1:00pm to 3:00pm
13. Opening worship. Friends gathered via Zoom at the appointed time and entered into a period of waiting worship.
14. Clerk’s welcome. The Clerk welcomed Friends and reviewed aspects of Friends business process as well as specific procedures for this year’s Annual Sessions via Zoom.
15. Roll Call. The roll call was updated. Ohio Valley Yearly Meeting Friends who had not yet introduced themselves did so at this time. The Clerk invited all those present to introduce themselves. The following Friend representing an organization from the wider Quaker world introduced herself: Sharon Goens (Twin Cities Meeting, Northern Yearly Meeting) (American Friends Service Committee).
16. Faith and Practice Committee Report. Rex Sprouse shared that the revised Book of Faith and Practice has been printed and distributed to monthly meetings. There are still funds available for additional copies to be printed, and meetings are encouraged to request as many copies as they may need for the coming years. An e-book version will soon be available on the Yearly Meeting website. The committee is willing to serve for an additional year to seek input from monthly meetings and develop a proposal for revising the process for future revisions of the Faith and Practice. The fund for printing the Faith and Practice would then be laid down and rolled back into the General Fund at Annual Sessions in 2022. The Faith and Practice Committee would also likely be laid down at that time. Friends approved these recommendations. Friends also minuted great appreciation to the Faith and Practice Committee members for the decades of work on this revision process.
17. Nominating Committee. Richard Mitchell shared an updated Nominating Committee Report, and he reviewed the corrections and changes made since yesterday’s sessions. There are still a good number of positions that need to be filled. It was noted that current committee members are listed on the Yearly Meeting website. A few additions and corrections to the proposed slate were provided from the floor. The Clerk noted that several committees have been understaffed through the past challenging year, and the Nominating Committee will seek to fill these openings throughout the year. Names brought forward to be considered at this time include Al McGrew to continue as Quaker Earthcare Witness representative, Al McGrew to serve on Earthcare Committee, Susan Hyde to continue on Children’s Committee, David Hyde to continue on Youth Services Committee, Gloria Bruner to continue on Planning Committee, Uta Brewington to continue on the Young Adult Committee, and Susan Hyde to continue on Records Committee. Friends approved these nominations.
18. Minute on Nuclear Weapons. Peggy Squires shared the Minute on Nuclear Weapons, appended in the Minute Book [on page 11], which was approved by Bloomington Friends Meeting and Whitewater Quarterly Meeting. The minute proposes actions for individuals and monthly meetings to take to advocate for the reduction or elimination of nuclear weapons. Some Friends expressed concerns that the minute presents a persuasive argument against the evils of nuclear weapons, but it does not express the spiritual basis for this position or the Quaker perspective on this issue. Other Friends shared a strong commitment to working with other peace organizations to support this important goal, and that the minute expresses our aspirations consistent with our testimonies. Appreciation was expressed to Bloomington Meeting and Whitewater Quarter for bringing this important concern to our attention. We were cautioned that approving a minute is not enough, and that the next steps would include Peace and Social Concerns Committees taking meaningful actions. Friends approved the minute, with Bruce Heckman standing aside from the decision.
19. Final Review of Minutes. Friends approved these minutes.
20. Announcements. Deborah Jordan announced that Yearly Meeting directories are printed and will be distributed to Monthly Meetings and representatives. Please contact Deborah by email to receive a copy.
21. Closing Worship. The meeting closed with silent waiting worship.
[Note: Minutes 16 through 21 were recorded by Assistant Recording Clerk Lisa Cayard.]
Sixth Month 20, 2021, 10:00am to 11:15am
22. Opening worship. Friends gathered via Zoom at the appointed time and entered into a period of waiting worship.
23. Clerk’s welcome. The Clerk welcomed Friends and reviewed aspects of Friends business process as well as specific procedures for this year’s Annual Sessions via Zoom.
24. Youth Secretary report. The Clerk highlighted sections of the Youth Secretary’s written report, which is printed in the Minute Book [on page 28]. The Clerk admonished all monthly meetings to examine how they can prepare themselves to welcome children of all ages to their meetings.
25. Minute of appreciation for Kaia Jackson. Friends minute their gratitude for Kaia Jackson’s faithful and tireless service as Youth Secretary over the past three years and asked the Clerk to compose a minute of appreciation:
Ohio Valley Yearly Meeting is grateful to Kaia Jackson for their faithful service as our youth secretary, especially during the last year and a half, when Kaia found ways to continue to serve our youth when in-person gatherings were too risky. Kaia’s sensitivity and creativity have been a blessing to young people, their parents and caregivers, and the yearly meeting as a whole. We wish Kaia the best as they move into the next chapter of life.
26. Roll Call. The roll call was updated. Ohio Valley Yearly Meeting Friends who had not yet introduced themselves did so at this time. The Clerk invited all those present to introduce themselves.
27. Records Coordinator report. Susan Hyde presented the report. Susan encouraged monthly meetings to inform her of any changes in their meeting archivists and encouraged monthly meetings to submit monthly meeting histories. Monthly meeting histories are available on the Yearly Meeting website. Susan announced that Elizabeth House is now the Quaker Archivist at Watson Library at Wilmington College. Friends accepted the report.
28. Registrar’s report. Eric Wolff presented the report. 109 Friends registered for this year’s Annual Sessions. For the purpose of comparison, 170 Friends registered for Annual Sessions in 2013. Friends accepted the report with gratitude. A written report appears in the Minute Book [on page 14].
29. Minute of appreciation for Eric Wolff. Friends minute their appreciation for Eric’s faithful and innovative service as Registrar over the past twelve years and asked the Clerk to compose a minute of appreciation:
Two years of online annual sessions has made it more difficult for OVYM Friends to show our appreciation to Eric Wolf for all the work he does to make annual sessions possible. For many years, Eric has served as our Registrar, working with the Planning Committee, the College, and every attender. Since we cannot each thank him in person this year, we minute our appreciation with gratitude.
30. Yearly Meeting Epistle. Paul Buckley presented a draft of the Yearly Meeting Epistle for 2021. With a few additions, Friends approved the text of the epistle, which is appended to these minutes.
31. Consent agenda. Friends accepted all those reports that were printed in Reports in Advance but could not be presented orally due to time limitations. These reports appear in the Minute Book.
32. Minute of appreciation for Carol Simmons. Friends minute their appreciation for Carol Simmons’s role in the planning of Annual Sessions for twelve years and asked the Clerk to compose a minute of appreciation:
Carol Simmons has officially served on the Planning Committee for six years, but in fact she has served for many more, as she attended meetings and assisted with planning for many years in her role as Teen Secretary. Our annual sessions have been enriched by her love of our yearly meeting and her engagement with the wider world of Friends. Thank you, Carol.
33. Minute of appreciation for Deborah Jordan. Friends minute their appreciation for Deborah Jordan’s faithful service as Administrative Secretary for the past fourteen years and asked the Clerk to compose a minute of appreciation:
For fourteen years, Deborah has served as our yearly meeting’s communications hub and all around expert on any number of details that have been carefully preserved because of her attention to detail. As new people step into a variety of roles—presiding clerk, Quill editor, committee clerks, and more—Deborah has provided a guiding hand, helping us understand our responsibilities and keeping us on task and in touch. We might fear a loss of institutional memory when she retires in the fall, except that Deborah has compiled an organized list of duties, dates, addresses and more to help a new person take on this service. Deborah, we are so grateful for your able assistance for all these years.
34. Closing worship. After a few announcements, Friends concluded the final session with a brief period of waiting worship.