Called Meeting March 15, 2020

(The @ signifies that the minute has been read and approved during Meeting. Please note that copies of all annual reports provided during this Meeting are on file with and available from the Clerk or Recording Clerk.)

2020.2.1 Opening Worship

Ithaca Monthly Meeting of the Religious Society of Friends met for a Called Meeting on March 15, 2020 with participants gathering both in-person in the Third Street Meetinghouse as well as joining us on-line, through Zoom.  Sometime shortly after noon, a total of thirty-seven Friends—twenty in the room and seventeen friends joining by Zoom—settled into worship as technical issues relating to Zoom were addressed.

Melissa Dunham read a quote posted to New York Yearly Meeting’s Instagram account:

Virtual is not the opposite of real. It is the opposite of physical. They are both real. This means your virtual church service is still a very real church service as it connects with real people in their real lives.

—Jim Keat

Clerk read a report prepared by Ministry and Worship and previously shared through the listserv as a Google Doc. Clerk interjected during her own reading of the report to comment that the circumstances of the Covid-19 pandemic described by the report drafted just a few days prior had already changed.

Ministry and Worship’s report brought forth a proposed minute to temporarily end in-person Meeting for Worship as a respond to the growing thread of Covid-19.

Friends asked questions about how this would work, about dates, and about Easter (April 12th). Friends expressed a sense of loss over in-person connection, and asked questions about what it is to be selfish, what is to be compassionate, and what it is to be selfless. Meeting electronically satisfies some of our need for connection, but probably not all our need for connection. Friends asked whether there might be other opportunities to be together, such as gathering outdoors, either in worship or in activity. We need connection, especially at this challenging time for humanity. 

Friends acknowledged that any decision we make may have consequences that we don’t fully understand, especially in this time of great uncertainty. We must understand that our decisions are made in love.

Friends came to approve the following:

In-person Meeting for Worship in the Third Street Meetinghouse is suspended at least until our April Meeting for Worship with Attention for Business. Friends are invited to gather for worship on First Days at 10:30am via phone and/or computer. During this time of the suspension of in-person meeting, Ministry and Worship will seek to identify other opportunities for connection and fellowship. Ministry and Worship will continue to confer regarding next steps. @

Clerk revisited two elements of the Ministry and Worship report:

  • First, Ministry & Worship will offer a daily on-line (or by phone) check-in opportunity. Clerk will be available tomorrow, Monday March 16th, on-line (through Zoom) from 6-7pm. Once established through Ministry & Worship, a regular schedule of check-in times will be circulated through our email listserv.
  • Second, while there is no Pastoral Care Committee in our Meeting at present, Antonia Saxon and Bronwyn Mohlke have offered to coordinate the needs of people and how Meeting friends can help. In this period, Friends needs may range from shopping and errands to technical support. Please be in touch with Antonia and Bronwyn if you need assistance or can offer assistance.

A Friend asked whether the building will be closed to the public. Clerk indicated that Ministry and Worship and the TSMC have decided to close the meetinghouse as of the end of the day (that is, March 15, 2020).

Friends spoke about ways of meeting outside while minimizing opportunities for contagion.

A Friend asked about how to use the listserv at this time. Clerk described the appropriate uses of the listserv as minuted by the Meeting previously. Marin Clarkberg and Melissa Dunham, members of the Communications Committee, spoke about their committee’s consideration of as a possible discussion venue, and invited Friends’ input on how that forum could be used.

A Friend asked whether the Meetinghouse might be of use to the Red Cross, the Health Department and/or another entity directly managing the Covid-19 pandemic. Friends expressed an openness to considering such uses should they come before us, but there is no information about such a possibility at this time.

Friends expressed gratitude for the Clerk, for Ministry and Worship, and others leading us at this time. @

The Clerk welcomes regular communication and visitation with members. Email Gina at or call her at home at (607) 272-2512 for any reason.

At 1:40pm, twenty-six Friends—fourteen through Zoom and twelve in the meeting room—settled in worship before adjourning.

Respectfully submitted,

Marin Clarkberg