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Summary of Query Responses

Responses to the Fall Queries from Continuing Committee.  December 2009

Query responses have been received from 15 monthly meetings and are summarized below:

Query #1 Regarding service

Only 2 meetings felt that the Yearly Meeting should sponsor a service program, and one of these qualified their response by saying that the project(s) should be “much closer to home.”  Colorado Springs expressed a unique perspective stating that “we understand the Yearly Meeting to be a Meeting in and of itself and not an administrative collection of Monthly Meetings.  Therefore…we believe it is fundamentally important for the Yearly Meeting to continue to express our Quaker Testimonies through service work.”
 
Despite a general feeling that the Yearly Meeting should not and cannot support a renewed service program similar to the Joint Service Project, there were varying levels of support for and/or calls to continue to explore how we can support involvement of our members in Quaker service.  It was pointed out that the JSP was established, not in response to a call to service, but in an effort to forge a more satisfying relationship with the American Friends Service Committee and that it had succeeded in that regard. 

Friends suggested that the impetus for service needs to bubble up from within the membership and that we need to be clear about our goals for any renewed effort.  There were some specific calls for an ongoing exploration of this question and even more willingness to labor over how we can meet needs for service as well as a need for involvement in what is being done in the wider Quaker community.  Several meetings suggested that IMYM provide information about and scholarship support for participation in other service projects. 

The use of some portion of the $24,000 budgeted for the JSP to provide scholarships or to create some type of service fund had broad support, but one meeting requested that some or all the money be refunded to the Monthly Meetings while another wished to have it forwarded to William Penn House to support their work projects.  Mention was frequently made of the desirability of Monthly Meetings joining together for a service project or of the Yearly Meeting doing something as a whole, perhaps in connection with the annual session.  It was pointed about by several meetings that the Yearly Meeting does not have the structure to oversee projects itself.

Query 2.  Regarding the budget shortfall and disposition of the appropriation earmarked for the Joint Service Project

While Friends found it difficult to seriously address our fiscal situation with $24,000 budgeted to the JSP and certain not to be spent in 2010, several conclusions can be suggested from the responses to this query.  Several points also need clarification.

1. The assessment for 2010 has not yet been made.  There are no “leftover funds” from the Joint Service Project.  All monies committed for 2009 have been forwarded to the American Friends Service Committee including funds from the fourth quarter, as they were already committed.

2. The current assessment level of $45 per member was arrived at by adding $10 per member to a $35 assessment to assure that adequate funds would be available to meet our commitment to the JSP.  This accounts for a little over $10,000 of the budgeted $24,000.  The remainder comes from the general portion of the assessment.  Before adding the $10 per member for the JSP, About $10,000 per year had to be raised by soliciting individual and group (mostly Monthly Meeting) donations.

3. Many Friends support using some of the $24,000 budgeted for the JSP to balance the 2010 budget.  Some support using it to add to the reserves as well.  These Friends generally want some portion of the $24,000 to be placed in a “service fund” of some sort.  When specific amounts are mentioned, between $10,000 and $17,000 is suggested for the fund in 2010.

4. One meeting requested that the $24,000 “already in the care of IMYM” be refunded to the Monthly Meetings.  Note that this money does not exist.  If the 2010 assessment were reduced to $35 per member, the effect would be similar to a “refund” but would result in about a $10,000, not a $24,000 decrease in income to the Yearly Meeting.

5. Three Monthly Meetings would approve an increase in the assessment, reflecting in part their desire to see a robust “service fund’ retained in the Yearly Meeting budget.

6. No Monthly Meeting answered the part of the query that asked about where the budget should be cut to balance income and expenditures except for those that wanted to reduce the $24,000 to service.

One suggestion that seemed to capture the spirit of the responses was to cease collecting the $10 for the JSP but to add $7 to $10 per member to the $35 assessment to cover balancing the budget and restoring the reserves.  This suggestion did not address retaining some funds in a line item for service.

A “service fund” might be used to cover expenses of a committee further exploring how the Yearly Meeting wishes to address service, to provide scholarships for Friends to participate in existing service projects, and as a fund for loans or grants to Monthly Meetings to support a specific service initiative, as well as potentially to donate to other Quaker service programs such as those offered by William Penn House.

A strong plea was made for the Yearly Meeting to demonstrate fiscal responsibility and specifically to balance the budget and replenish and maintain the reserves.

Query #3  Regarding dates for the annual session

Although Ghost Ranch withdrew the offer for August dates, several Monthly Meetings expressed a preference for June dates and indicated that their school calendars made June preferable.  Despite appreciation of many aspects of Ghost Ranch, Pima Meeting suggested that because of multiple problems with the Ranch, we should find a venue in each major state in the Yearly Meeting and rotate our annual sessions between them.

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