Monthly Meeting October 2021

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

2021.10.1 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 October 10, 2021. At 12:40pm, sixteen Friends settled into worship.

Gina Varrichio, Clerk, began by reviewing the agenda. Tom Ruscitti was recognized for holding the Meeting in the Light. (Later in the Meeting, Tom Ruscitti left and Margaret McCasland held Meeting in the Light.)

2021.10.2 Worship Sharing: Worship as Refuge or Refreshmen

Clerk read an excerpt from “The Meeting as Covenant Community,” which appears in the collection Essays on the Quaker Vision of Gospel Order by Lloyd Lee Wilson (North Carolina Yearly Meeting).

Friends were asked to consider the following queries:

  1. Do we treat our Meetings for Worship as places of personal retreat or places of spiritual refinement?
  2. Have you had the experience of being grown and shaped through your relationships with others? Through your relationship with the Meeting? Through your relationship with the divine?
  3. How can we lean into our identity as a “Covenant Community” rather than as a club of like-minded individuals? Is this even important

Friends reflected on the reading and considered the ways that they grow in relationship with other, the Ithaca Monthly Meeting, and the Divine.

2021.10.3 Trustees: Memorandum of Understanding with Friends Center for Racial Justice

Antonia Saxon read a report from the IMM Trustees. Since 2016, the Burtt House has been used by the Friends Center for Racial Justice (FCRJ). A Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) between IMM and the FCRJ has existed since March 2019, and the agreement currently runs until December 31, 2022. Previously, Friends expressed desire to give FCRJ at least a year’s notice about plans to extend, modify or discontinue the MOU. Meeting that timeline would mean that IMM would have to make decisions related to the MOU within the next two months.

Previously, Friends have expressed a variety of thoughts, feelings, and leadings about possible next steps regarding the Burtt House and the MOU with FCRJ. In order to explore the fullness of this discussion while also ensuring FCRJ has the ability to plan effectively for the future, Trustees is recommending:

  1. We will offer to extend the current MOU between FCRJ and IMM for an additional year, until December 31, 2023, and
  2. A MOU Working Group be established to assemble all the comments and concerns about both the building and IMM’s relationship with FCRJ. This group will propose a plan for discernment that offers Ithaca Friends the opportunity to ask questions, to speak to be heard, and to listen to each other.

Friends asked questions about how FCRJ will be included in discussions that pertain to the relationship between IMM and FCRJ. Friends offered that a distinction should be made between IMM’s relationship to the Burtt House and IMM’s relationship to the FCRJ. Friends pointed out that there is currently no entity providing oversight of the MOU or the relationship between IMM and FCRJ. The Clerk cannot effectively manage this discussion for the entire Meeting by herself.

Friends approved the extension of the MOU until December 31, 2023. Friends asked Trustees further consider the proposal for a Working Group and report back to Monthly Meeting in November.

2021.10.4 Communications Committee: Improved A/V System

Nancy Riffer read a report from Communications Committee, revisiting the topic of A/V issues in the Meetinghouse that have been raised in Monthly Meetings from July, August, and September. Since the early months of the pandemic, our hybrid Meeting for Worship has been enabled by a patchwork technology setup that is piecemeal and finicky. Many Friends are eager for a better solution.

The report describes that Communications Committee has consulted with a local audio expert with broad and extensive experience and now has a proposal from this expert, Paul Acosta, for a comprehensive A/V system. This system includes pendant-style ceiling microphones, a mixer/amplifier, wall-mounted speakers, an infrared assistive-listening system, and a wide-angle high-resolution camera. In preparation for today, Communications Committee also prepared answers to frequently asked questions. These were shared over the listserv.

Meeting approves hiring Paul Acosta to install the audio/visual system described in this report, with the understanding that Communications Committee will coordinate with the Third Street Meetinghouse Committee on scheduling and installation

2021.10.5 Closing

At 3:01, fifteen Friends settled in worship before adjourning. Our next regularly scheduled Meeting for Worship with Attention to Business will be November 21, 2021.

Respectfully submitted,

Marin Clarkberg