Monthly Meeting August 2020

Ithaca Monthly Meeting of the Religious Society of Friends
Meeting for Worship with Attention to Business
August 9, 2020

Clerk: Gina Varrichio
Recording Clerks: Marin Clarkberg, Blair Jennings

(The @ signifies that the minute has been read and approved during Meeting. Copies of all written reports are on file with and available from the Clerk or Recording Clerk.)

2020.8.1 Opening Worship

Ithaca Monthly Meeting of the Religious Society of Friends met in Monthly Meeting for Worship with Attention to Business on August 9, 2020. At 12:30 P.M., 20 Friends gathered via Zoom and settled into worship. Clerk shared the following reading:

The history of religion through the ages reveals the fact that there have been multitudinous ways of worshipping God, all of them yielding real returns of life and joy and power to large groups of [people]. At its best and truest, however, worship seems to me to be a direct, vital, joyous, personal experience and practice of the presence of God.
– Rufus Jones, The Inner Life (1916)

Clerk recognized Barbra Bleecker who was holding the meeting in the light.

2020.8.2 Peace and Social Justice: Ithaca Sanctuary Alliance (ISA)

On behalf of the Peace and Social Justice Committee, Elizabeth Schneider reported on the genesis and activities of the ISA, highlighting IMM’s participation and support of these efforts. Having become a sanctuary church, First Congregational Church of Ithaca’s (FCC) intent has been to have individual faith communities participate on an ongoing weekly basis in direct volunteer support activities for sanctuary residents. Despite a continued desire to support ISA, the committee is clear that providing volunteers to fulfill the specific coverage & support requirements of individual’s in sanctuary at FCC is not possible at this time. She then read a proposed letter to be sent to ISA informing them of IMM’s inability to participate in a coordinated, volunteer role; the letter reinforces IMM’s continued desire to stay involved via written communication and/or fundraising outreach.
Ministry arose about exactly how IMM structures itself to fulfill its very real desire to do “good work in the world” so that it can be achieved; it was coupled with ministry around how best to identify, manage and honor our human resources and leadings.
Friends approved sending the letter to ISA.@

2020.8.3 Nominating Committee: Laying Down CALM

On behalf of Nominating, Pat Pingle shared the following:
Nominating Committee received a letter from the Committee on Children and the Life of the Meeting (CALM). The letter explains the recent history of CALM’s work in trying to carry out their charge, which includes a broad range of offerings to children and families and engagement of the community as a whole in multi-generational activities. The letter also names several factors which contribute to the insurmountable difficulties they have experienced, and remarks, “We wonder whether there may be better ways to build an all ages IMM community than via CALM.”

In light of this, Nominating Committee brought the following minute to the Meeting for approval:

Following the request of the Committee on Children and the Life of the Meeting (CALM), Nominating Committee recommends that Ithaca Monthly Meeting lay down CALM.

The report concluded that functional next steps are not clear at this time, but the overall task of creating and sustaining an all-ages inclusive meeting will requires a process of discernment with participation of our Meeting as a whole as it is beyond the purview of any one committee.

Clerk indicated that Nominating and the Clerk are currently reviewing the overall manner in which participation of friends in the life of the whole meeting is encouraged, organized and supported. A report on these efforts is forthcoming.

Upon request, CALM’s Charge was read aloud and acknowledged to be both aspirational and ambitious. The contributions of Angela Hopkins to the work of CALM were gratefully acknowledged.

Concern arose about how the meeting will continue to fulfill its duty to provide what is seen by many as an essential service in terms of outreach and growth of the IMM community. Hope was expressed that the whole community will consider and determine together the best way to right-size and therefore fulfill IMM’s desired roles and services in a realistically balanced manner, in other words, discern with joy what we can do together. Difficulties related to the extraordinary, prolonged public health crisis were also acknowledged. All agreed this moment represents but the beginning of a much larger, wide-ranging conversation.

Friends approved Nominating Committee’s recommendation to lay down CALM.@

2020.8.4 COVID Working Group: Reopening the Hector Meeting House

On behalf of the working group, Carol Clarke described a comprehensive plan to reopen Hector Meeting House beginning today and continuing through the usual Hector Meeting House season. The plan was created with input from the Hector Meeting House Committee and regular attenders; the requirements and processes are similar to those approved/adopted for reopening the Third Street Meetinghouse.

Those who regularly attend Meeting for Worship at the Hector Meeting House are planning to actively support social distancing and other requirements as articulated in the plan. Because of the generally low number of attenders, there is no requirement that attenders sign up in advance. COVID Pods (also known as COVID Bubbles) of people will be allowed to sit together in order to help maintain proper spacing.

Friends approved the reopening plan as presented in the report.@

2020.8.5 NYYM Witness Coordinating Committee: Revision of the 13th Amendment

On behalf of the NYYM Witness Coordinating Committee, Cai Quirk reported on the inspiration, origination and history of this effort. As of now, New York Yearly Meeting has endorsed a minute brought to the Yearly Meeting by Fifteenth Street Monthly Meeting of the Religious Society of Friends. The minute asks for an amendment to the United States Constitution that revises the 13th Amendment. The minute is seeking to remove the exception clause that allows the institution of slavery to continue in the United States through imprisoning people.
They read the minute that follows:
“Minute 2020.6.3. Fifteenth Street Monthly Meeting Friends considered a statement regarding the United States Constitution. Section 1 of the 13th Amendment that states: Neither slavery nor involuntary servitude, except as a punishment for crime whereof the party shall have been duly convicted, shall exist within the United States, or any place subject to their jurisdiction.
We propose a new amendment to the constitution that amends Section 1 to state the following: Neither slavery nor involuntary servitude shall exist within the United States, or any place subject to their jurisdiction.”
Additionally, they read a letter (the entirety of which can be found in the committee report) that Friends have been asked to send to our congressional representatives on behalf of Ithaca Monthly Meeting. (Friends are also invited to send a version of this letter as individuals.)
They clarified the process by which this amendment is being brought before Congress.
Questions, concerns and clarifications were shared. Specifically, the language of the proposed amendment and letter in the context of the US Constitution proved particularly challenging for its broad applicability and potentially unintended consequences in practice. Particularly a concern arose that the proposed amendment is not clear on the impact this amendment might have on the status of the prison and jail system. Additionally, it does not address issues of privilege, equitable distribution of appropriately-applied punishment and more.
Friends agreed the language of the proposed amendment as well as the letter needs clarification and/or revision and determined a process by which to achieve this. Liam Murphy, Cai Quirk, Gina Varrichio and Pat Sewell will consider this language and bring it before Meeting for Worship with Attention to Business at a later time. Interested friends are encouraged and invited to join them in this effort.

Friends agreed to continue this conversation to reach clarity and unity on the language and process related to both the minute and the letter.@

2020.8.6 Treasurer’s Report

In light of the lengthy discussion around agenda items, this report has been held over until September’s Meeting for Worship with Attention to Business. Pat Sewell, Treasurer encouraged friends with any questions or concerns in the meantime to please contact him directly.

2020.8.7 Closing Worship
12 Friends settled into silent worship at 3:07 P.M. before adjourning. Our next regular Meeting for Worship with Attention to Business will be held at 12:30 P.M. on September 13, 2020.
Respectfully submitted,
Blair Jennings