Monthly Meeting July 2021

Ithaca Monthly Meeting of the Religious Society of Friends
Meeting for Worship with Attention to Business

July 11, 2021

(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.)

2021.7.1 Opening Worship

Ithaca Monthly Meeting of the Religious Society of Friends met on-line, using Zoom remote conferencing service, for Monthly Meeting for Worship with Attention to Business on July 11, 2021. At 12:40pm and after a technological hiccup, sixteen Friends settled into worship.

Gina Varrichio, Clerk, began by reviewing the agenda. Carolyn Kenyon was recognized for holding the Meeting in the Light.

2021.7.2 Worship Sharing: Preparation and opening to the Spirit

Clerk read:

“I had shown up for Meeting for Worship with an ideal image, an agenda of sorts. I had decided that I wanted Meeting for Worship to have a certain tempo, a certain fragrance, a certain flavor. I wanted a hyacinth, and I got a rose. And I spent the entire hour with my nose out of joint, telling God I was right about how things should be unfolding.”

—Elliott Robertson, in Preparing for Intimacy with God, Friends Journal, April 1, 2017

Friends were asked to consider:

  • Are our Meetings for Worship and Business held in expectant waiting for divine guidance?
  • How can we “keep our noses in joint” when things don’t unfold as we might wish them to? When worship doesn’t look/sound/feel the way we might wish it to?

Friends spoke with gratitude of how Meeting hears the spirit through our many ears. To keep our noses “in joint,” we must come with the expectation not that we will get what we want, but that we will hear from the Spirit. Using the metaphor from the quotation: sometimes we must let go of our own desire for a “hyacinth,” and welcome the “rose” that comes from a place that is larger than us as individuals.

2021.7.3 COVID Working Group: Proposed changes to COVID protocols

Carol Clarke read a brief report from the COVID Working Group that proposed moving some chairs more closely together to increase the seating capacity. The COVID Working Group does not want to move more quickly than the speed of trust. Friends acknowledged that we have different needs and have made different choices, even as some of those choices might not sit well with us. Friends approved moving chairs on one side of the room to 2-3 feet apart while maintaining a 6-foot distance between chairs on the other side of the room to accommodate those who desire the greater space. Friends expressed a preference that the chairs be set ahead of MfW time rather than moved on an as-needed basis when the room fills to capacity. Masking requirements will remain in place, and members from the same household are welcome to move chairs closer together. @

2021.7.4 Nominating Committee proposal for a pastoral care committee

Cai Quirk read a report from the Nominating Committee that grew out of a threshing session and Nominating’s extended reflection on the multifaceted pastoral care needs of the meeting. Nominating Committee observes that IMM is not doing all it could provide pastoral care, but that the breadth of pastoral care activities—ranging from spiritual nurture to transportation to assistance in navigating social support agencies—is a challenge for a single committee to manage.

To address this, Nominating Committee proposes creating a system of “Pastoral Care buddies” overseen by “IMMPACCT”—the Ithaca Monthly Meeting Pastoral Care Coordinating Team.

Pastoral buddy relationships are conceived as flexible. Buddy relationships could be reciprocal, or not. They could encompass a variety of needs—spiritual nurture and transportation—or be more specialized. Buddies might also mobilize a support team for buddies in crisis and/or with long-term needs.

IMMPACCT, in turn, would help Friends find buddies and help define the scope of these relationships. IMMPACCT would periodically check in with buddies and assist with the support they need as care providers.

Friends noted this as a somewhat new and untested idea. Concern was expressed that this might not actually meet our obligation to pastoral care; Friends are asked if they are individually willing to participate in this buddy system.

With the agreement that IMMPACCT report on its progress to Monthly Meeting after a six-month trial period, Friends approved the creation of IMMPACCT as a pastoral care committee.

Nominating asks Friends to consider how they are led in serving Ithaca Monthly Meeting, and shared a list of nominations as a starting place for this committee. The nominees are all people who have given the topic of pastoral care considerable thought and who hae given richly of their time in support of the Meeting and of individual Friends. A Friend raised a concern that committee members will be drawn into the administrative tasks of IMMPACCT and thus drawn away from actual tasks of pastoral care that have served the Meeting so well.

Friends approved the nomination of Bronwyn Mohlke, Antonia Saxon, Karen Friedeborn, and Dreia Spies to serve on IMMPACCT. @

2021.7.5 Sound system for the Third Street Meetinghouse

Melissa Travis Dunham read a report jointly prepared by the Third Street Meetinghouse Committee (TSMC) and the Communications Committee (Comm Comm) relating to a sound system for the meetinghouse.

On several occasions this spring, TSMC and the Comm Comm met conjointly to explore whether an appropriate technological solution could be identified that would achieve two goals: make hybrid Meeting for Worship easier to support and support hearing assistance for those who are hard of hearing.

The report briefly described: the recent history of the search for assistive hearing technology in the meetingroom; the current, the low-cost technology that has supported our hybrid Meeting for Worship experience during COVID; and conversations that have taken place with others in and beyond IMM.

The report describes that “the myriad of options can be overwhelming and each one produces more questions.” The group was unclear whether they should be focused on improving hybrid worship or assistive listening or both.

The report states that work on this issue will go forward only if there is a clear directive from the Meeting.

Friends who have provided technical support on Sundays during the pandemic shared some frustration over recurring problems with the current set up.

Friends spoke of technology as an enabler and noted that sound can be an accessibility issue.

Friends received the report.

2021.7.6 Ministry & Worship: Suspending Hybrid Worship and New Midweek Meeting Online

Nancy Riffer from Ministry & Worship read a report recommending two changes to our Meetings for Worship. First, a suspension of hybrid worship through the month of August and, second, the addition of an on-line-only midweek Meeting for Worship.

While hybrid meeting for worship has allowed us some flexibility in providing for a changing COVID situation, hybrid worship is not without drawbacks. Of special note, it has been a stressor to make our cobbled together system operate effectively each week. A break in hybrid worship will provide some respite from technical support issues and may allow us some time to consider other solutions.

The report asks meeting to reflect: “During this time period, it will be important for us to consider what place technology—whether streaming events, hybrid worship or religious education programs, online committee meetings—has in Ithaca Monthly Meeting. How do we take the lessons, opportunities, and failures of the past year and use them to move more consciously toward a plan for the future? How do we hold on to the core of our past practices while embracing some change?”

Friends expressed a need to better understand Friends’ needs and expectations for Meeting for Worship.

Friends received the report. @

2021.7.7 Closing

At 3:15, fifteen Friends settled in worship before adjourning. Our next regularly scheduled Meeting for Worship with Attention to Business will be August 8, 2021.

Respectfully submitted,

Marin Clarkberg