Monthly Meeting April 2023

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

April 9, 2023 

Clerk: Barbara Chase

Assistant Clerk: Marin Clarkberg

Recording Clerks: Marin Clarkberg, Antonia Saxon

(The @ signifies that the minute has been read and approved during Meeting. Reports shared during this meeting were emailed before the Meeting, and can be viewed on Google Drive.)

2023.4.1 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 April 9, 2023. This was also Easter Sunday. At 12:35pm, fourteen Friends settled into worship.

Clerk recognized Margaret McCasland as holding our gathering in the Light today and Gina Varrichio for providing technical support for Zoom. Clerk reviewed the agenda.

2023.4.2 Clerk’s report

Barbara Chase, Clerk, reminded friends that last month we approved taking the marriage of Cai Quirk and Joshua Quirk under the care of Ithaca Monthly Meeting. We did not, however, approve the full minute documenting the discussion leading up to that approval. Since that time, Clerk worked with the Recording Clerk, the Assistant Clerk, and the Clerk’s support committee on refining the minute. The Clerk now asks for approval of the following minute:

Minute 2023.3.3 Clearness Committee for the Marriage of Cai Quirk and Joshua Quirk Under the Care of Ithaca Monthly Meeting.

Gina Varrichio presented the report of a Clearness Committee for Marriage convened at the request of Cai Quirk and Joshua Quirk. The committee met with the couple by Zoom on February 10th. Cai and Joshua are gender-fluid, queer, and polyamorous. The committee understands their request for marriage invites the meeting to consider aspects of relationship the Meeting hasn’t considered before.

Friends expressed an enduring love and support for Cai who has been a part of our community since their earliest days. We welcome Joshua to our Meeting and celebrate the love and commitment that Cai and Joshua bring to their relationship. Friends raised questions and concerns about polyamory, including and how different relationship structures relate to power, and whether and how other Meetings have addressed this.

For many Friends, a polyamorous marriage is a new concept, and perhaps an uncomfortable one. We are being asked to expand our definition of marriage, perhaps as we did when our Meeting began to marry same-sex couples. A Friend noted that agreeing to take this marriage under the care of our meeting is not the same as saying polyamory is good for everyone, just as taking any marriage under the care of the meeting doesn’t suggest that marriage is good for everyone. Our feelings around polyamory in general do not have to affect the support we offer to Cai and Joshua as a couple.

Cai and Joshua experience the Spirit in this relationship, and they are committed to following Spirit even into places which are uncomfortable. Polyamory is not the relationship’s central truth. The central truth is that this relationship is Spirit-led, and that it is a relationship that they intend will last the length of their lives.

Friends see integrity in Cai and Joshua’s relationship. Love is the heart of all things, and we seek to honor love where we find it. With joy, Friends approved taking the marriage of Cai and Joshua under our care.

Friends approved the minute for March. @

2023.4.3 Nominating Committee.

Nancy Riffer, a member Nominating Committee, shared that several people have stepped off of committees. Friends who have stepped off: Nancy Riffer off of Communications Committee, Miguel Piery off of Ministry and Worship; Drew Varrichio off of TSMH Committee, and Antonia Saxon off of the Pastoral Care Team. In addition, Barbra Bleeker has rotated off being Representative to NYYM Meeting for Discernment (that role remains vacant) and Steve Phelan has replaced Simon St. Laurent as Historian. Friends received the report.

The Nominating Committee brought forth the following names to serve on the Hospitality Committee. Bronwyn Mohlke, Miguel Piery, and Pat Sewell. All three were appointed for terms that run through 2025. Friends approved the nominations. @

2023.4.4 Treasurer’s Report

Pat Sewell, Treasurer, provided a summary of the first three months of 2023. In short, Ithaca Monthly Meeting’s overall fiscal health remains strong. Over the last year few years, our income has either met or slightly exceeded our expenses. It appears that this holds true for 2022 as well.

The 2022 budget request was for $73,400 in donations. We received about 5% less than that, but we also spent signficantly less than we budgeted. Accordingly, we ended 2022 with a net surplus of approximately $3000.

The Finance Committee notes that annual donations have slightly declined, possibly due to the passing of a few key donors. Finance Committee shared that just three donors were responsible for more than 50% of our overall donations in 2022. Our reliance on a handful of individuals may not be sustainable for the long run. Finance Committee has begun the work of long-term financial planning and plans to continue thinking about this issue in 2023.

After three years, Asha Sanaker will be stepping down as the bookkeeper and we are transitioning to LAP accounting services. Pat noted that checks will be deposited later than usual as result.

A Friend with experience in nonprofits relayed that this pattern of giving—where many give a little and a few give a lot—is typical among nonprofits. Another Friend indicated that our pattern of donations used to be more evenly distributed across our community.

In response to Friend’s question, the Treasurer noted that donations stemming from use of the Third Street Meetinghouse in 2022 were higher than 2021. Friends received the report. @

2023.4.5 Ministry and Worship: State of the Meeting Report

Ellie Rosenberg read the second draft of the State of the Meeting Report for 2022. (The first draft was read in March.) This report is shared with our region, Farmington-Scipio Regional Meeting, and with New York Yearly Meeting.

A Friend reflected how different the State of the Meeting Report for 2022 is from the reports from 2020 and 2021 when the Meeting was actively managing its response to the pandemic. A Friend offered to provide a little copy-editing. Friends accepted the offer of editorial support and approved the State of the Meeting Report for 2022. @

2023.4.6 Ministry and Worship: Naming Committee

Nominating Committee needs additional members. Naming Committee serves the Meeting in proposing members for the Nominating Committee. Ministry and Worship brings the names of Marin Clarkberg and Bronwyn Mohlke to serve on Naming with the Clerk and Treasurer.

Friends discussed our historical practice and referenced an IMM Minute of February 12, 1996 which stated that Naming Committee will comprise the Clerk, the Assistant Clerk, the Treasurer, a member of the “Ministry & Oversight Committee” and a representative from Trustees. This practice, however, was not used in the last several years. A Friend observed that a five-member Naming Committee would be larger than many of our standing committees.

A Friend asked whether this issue should be referred to someone for further consideration. The Clerk of Ministry and Worship offered that M&W will discuss.

Friends approved Ministry and Worship’s nominations for this Naming Committee. @

2023.4.7 Ministry and Worship: Return to Pre-pandemic seating plan

Carol Clarke from Ministry and Worship shared a proposal to return to the pre-pandemic chair arrangement in the Meetingroom, effectively increasing the number of chairs and decreasing the space between chairs over our current arrangement. Ministry and Worship has drafted placards that Friends can place on chairs directly adjacent to themselves to create social distance if they so desire. Friends noted that the camera (used for Zoom) may be a consideration in how chairs are placed. Friends expressed appreciation for this creative accommodation of difference. Friends wondered when we might return to the shaking of hands to close worship in a way that is similarly accommodating of different comfort levels. Ministry and Worship will discuss the closing of worship.

Friends received this report. @

At 2:05, fifteen Friends settled in worship before adjourning. Our next regularly scheduled Meeting for Worship with Attention to Business will be May 14, 2023.

Respectfully submitted,

Marin Clarkberg