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Monthly Meeting January 2021

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

January 10, 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.)

2021.1.1 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 January 10, 2021. At 12:35pm, thirty Friends settled into worship.

Clerk shared the agenda and reviewed that the annual meeting of the corporation would precede the regular, monthly Meeting for Worship with Attention to Business.

2021.1.2 Annual Meeting of the IMMRSF Corporation

Present for the annual meeting: Tom Brown, Barbara Chase, Marin Clarkberg, Carol Clarke, Chris Dunham, Melissa Dunham, James Finlay, Nancy Gabriel, Jim Grant, Angela Hopkins, Dave Horton, Carolyn Kenyon, Elizabeth Keokosky, Judith Knight, John Lewis, Melanie-Claire Mallison, Jill Marie, Margaret McCasland, Bronwyn Mohlke, Steve Mohlke, Elsa Mohlke, Liam Murphy, Pat Pingel, Cai Quirk, Nancy Riffer, Ellie Rosenberg, Antonia Saxon, Elizabeth Schneider, Patrick Sewell, Mike Simkin, Gail Steinhart, Gina Varrichio, and Ruth Yarrow.

Tom Brown, Recording Clerk of Trustees and Secretary of the Corporation convened the Annual Meeting of IMMRSF, Inc., and read the President’s Annual Report to Membership followed by the Secretary’s Report to Membership. The President’s report noted the following changes in the membership of trustees: Gina Varrichio, as the Clerk of the Meeting, and Pat Sewell, as the Treasurer of the Meeting, both joined trustees in 2020. Marin Clarkberg was appointed to Trustees beginning January of 2021.

The Secretary’s report reminded friends that trustees approve contracts for expenses exceeding $3000. In 2020, the trustees approved such an expenditure for the floor refinishing.

Pat Sewell, Treasurer of the Meeting and of the Corporation, gave the end of the fiscal year budget report. The annual budget request to membership was nearly $80,000, but donations fell substantially below that number at approximately $69,000. Our actual expenses were also far short of anticipated, however, at closer to $57,000. Thus, our net income was roughly $13,000. Mike Simkin, a prior treasurer, noted that our net income is generally applied to our reserve fund.

Liam Murphy, trustee, noted that Trustees met on January 8, 2021 and nominated Marin Clarkberg and Liam Murphy, as co-conveners of Trustees and co-Presidents of the corporation, and Antonia Saxon, Recording Clerk of Trustees and Secretary of the Corporation. Pat Sewell, Treasurer, serves as Treasurer of the corporation. Other members include Gina Varrichio, in her capacity of the Clerk of the Meeting, and Carolyn Kenyon. Friends approved the officers.

Gina Varrichio adjourned the Annual Meeting of IMMRSF, Inc.

Clerk reviewed the agenda for Monthly Meeting for Worship with Attention to Business and recognized Kris Altucher for holding the Meeting in the Light today.

2021.1.3 Worship Sharing: Reflections on Brokenness, Part II

Clerk read reflections shared at December’s monthly meeting and posed three queries:

  • What impact, positive or negative, has this time of brokenness/openness had on our Meeting?
  • What pieces of our Meeting should be put back together?
  • What pieces should not be?

Friends shared from the Spirit on inclusion, “othering” those with whom we have a lot in common but not everything in common, listening to one another with a sense of curiosity, guilt as a barrier to connecting to Spirit, and the possibility for “radical extroversion” after the pandemic.

2021.1.4 Ministry & Worship Committee

Barbara Chase of M&W shared that M&W proposes:

  1. In-person Meeting for Worship at the Hector Meetinghouse at 10am on First Days will continue through January. Those most intimately involved with making this available in coordination with Ministry & Worship will make decisions about worship at Hector on a month-by-month basis.
  2. There will continue to be no in-person worship at TSMH through March 14th. M&W will bring a recommendation to March’s monthly meeting regarding the resumption of in-person worship.
  3. Zoom worship at 10:30 on First Days will continue for the foreseeable future.

Friends approved these recommendations. @

2021.1.5 Finance Committee: 2021 Budget

Pat Sewell, Treasurer, provided an overview of the 2021 budget, noting that our expenses in 2020 and projected for 2021 reflect the impact of the pandemic. Accordingly, the overall budget request for 2021 of $76,000 is down from nearly $80,000 last year.

Notable changes in the 2021 budget as compared to 2020 pertain to a reduction in expenses associated with in-person activities, reduced income associated with others’ use of our properties, and new technological expenses to support remote activities.

Friends approved the budget for 2021 with gratitude to the Treasurer and the Finance Committee.

2021.1.6 Naming Committee

The Naming Committee brought forward the name of Carolyn Kenyon for the Nominating Committee. Further, the Naming Committee suggested that this iteration of Naming Committee be laid down. Friends approved Carolyn Kenyon’s nomination and the laying down of this iteration of Naming Committee. @

2021.1.7 Annual Reports

Friends presented annual reports and answered questions for committees as follows:

Pat Pingel read the report of Third Street Meetinghouse Committee. Friends asked questions about the TSMC’s intentions for the sound system and intentions relating to the currently gas range.  

Jim Finlay read the Hector Meetinghouse Committee. A Friend appreciated the opportunities afforded through the Hector Meetinghouse.

Melanie-Claire Mallison read the report from the New York Yearly Meeting Representative. Friends appreciated Melanie-Claire’s enthusiastic representation and reflected on the observations stemming from New York Yearly Meeting.

Friends received these three reports.@

At 2:55, twenty-eight Friends settled in worship before adjourning. Our next regularly scheduled Meeting for Worship with Attention to Business will be February 14, 2021.

Respectfully submitted,

Marin Clarkberg

UN: Nuclear Weapons Illegal as well as Immoral

— Garry Thomas

At his sentencing on October 15, in Federal Court in Brunswick, Georgia, Kings Bay Plowshares activist Patrick O’Neill told Judge Lisa Godbey Wood: “This court, by its refusal to consider the lawlessness of weapons of mass destruction, is essentially declaring the end of the world to be acceptable.”

Just days later, on October 24, Honduras became the 50th nation to sign the UN Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons, this the threshold that was required in order for the treaty to become international law. The law requires signatories never “to develop, test, produce, manufacture or otherwise acquire, possess or stockpile nuclear weapons or other nuclear explosive devices.” It is important that the treaty calls for the prohibition of nuclear weapons rather than merely their non-proliferation. Plowshares activists, who have long felt the United States’ possession of a nuclear arsenal to be illegal as well as immoral, will soon have the backing of the United Nations.  The treaty goes into effect on January 22, 2021.

The International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons (ICAN) was awarded the 2017 Nobel Peace Prize for its “ground-breaking efforts” to achieve this very treaty to prohibit such weapons. Local Back from the Brink activists brought Dr. Ira Helfand, a member of ICAN’s International Steering Committee and co-chair of the International Physicians for Social Responsibility to Ithaca in March 2019. He ended his presentation at St John’s Episcopal Church saying, “It is not helpful to think, as a large percentage of the US population does, ‘In my heart I don’t believe it can happen here,’ and then go about our daily lives. That is what happened during the Holocaust ‘when it did happen here’.” Since his Ithaca visit, Helfand has added his name to the global petition to drop the charges against the Kings Bay Plowshares 7 alongside more than 100 other notables.

Ira Helfand commended Back from the Brink as the type of initiative that is required, saying “It is parallel to the Green New Deal in importance.” Four states and 50 cities and towns in the US, including the City of Ithaca (2018) and the Town of Lansing (2019), have adopted resolutions supporting Back from the Brink’s policy solutions: renounce first use; end sole authority of the president to order a nuclear attack; end hair-trigger alert; cancel enhanced weapons’ development; and press more nations to sign the UN Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons.

Significantly, none of the countries possessing nuclear weapons – the US, Russia, UK, China, France, India, Pakistan, North Korea and Israel – have signed the treaty. However, in a statement following Honduras’ becoming a signatory, ICAN said: “States that haven’t joined the treaty will feel its power too – we can expect companies to stop producing nuclear weapons and financial institutions to stop investing in nuclear weapon-producing companies.”

Our work is not done.

This article was first published in the Winter 2020 issue of The Magnificat, the Ithaca Catholic Worker community newsletter.

Friends Center for Racial Justice in 2020

Elizabeth Schneider

I asked Angela to sit down with me and share what the Friends Center for Racial Justice (FCRJ) has been doing this year, so it could be shared with our Meeting.  I wanted to do this because I observe that Angela does not compartmentalize the work of FCRJ and racial justice.  That work is part of her day-to-day life, wherever she goes.  Below is a quick review of what she was up to in this past year.

The start of 2020 seems far in the past.  It was before covid-19 when travel was safe.  For Angela it meant a chance to go to Florida for a visit with family, and also experience the warm sun.  While she was there, the Southeast Regional Gathering of the Friends World Committee on Consultation (FWCC) was meeting in Miami, and she took the opportunity to join them.  Part of the gathering was conducted in a Spanish-speaking Friends Church.  Angela found it comforting—it reminded her of the many languages and cultures which make up the Religious Society of Friends (RSF).   Participants were from programmed and unprogrammed Meetings, and it provided an opportunity to talk with those having problems with racism.

In January 2020 FCRJ was a cosponsor of the film that Carolyn Kenyon, as part of the Finger Lakes for New York Health, brought to Cinemapolis about how Medicare was used to mount a coordinated effort that desegregated thousands of hospitals across the country.  The film was well attended and followed by an informative panel discussion.

In February Angela started her drive back to Ithaca.  She stopped to meet with the Southern Appalachian Yearly Meeting and Association (SAYMA) in North Carolina.  In 2019 FCRJ had been invited to help resolve a racial justice concern through a listening project.  This was her second in-person visit with SAYMA.  In 2019 and 2020 there were also phone meetings where Angela was accompanied by a member of FCRJ’s Coordinating Committee to continue the listening project to address this concern.   Time was given, in hopes that both parties could hear each other, understand the root of the problem, and clarify the Quaker concerns that are rising.

At the end of February 2020, the first workshop/event of the spring was held at FCRJ’s home base:  Corporate Apologies/Corporate Forgiveness: Steps toward Building an Equitable Religious Society of Friends.  Participants looked at what constitutes an apology.  There are historical realities of broken treaties and broken promises.  What makes our words and actions now different from the past?  Participants left carrying that query.

Then, boom, COVID-19 arrived, and the remaining planned workshops were cancelled.  But the work of FCRJ continued.  The solidity of FCRJ may come from the fact that all the members of NYYM’s Task Group on Racism are part of the FCRJ Coordinating Committee—Friends who are used to working with each other on racism within the RSF.  The visiting program of that Task Group lead to the formation of FCRJ.  And Angela has a habit of bringing the concern of racial justice with her wherever she goes.

Angela’s and FCRJ’s involvement in the Meetings and Committees below is about addressing the issue of racial discrimination in the RSF. Addressing issues of equity needs to be part of every aspect of committee work, not just that of the Black Concerns Committee.  We all need to have concern for how we handle our finances, who gets heard, and who is represented.   Angela’s and FCRJ’s involvements include many aspects of Quaker life:

  • The Northeast Region of FWCC met in the summer.  FWCC-NE is composed of Canadian Yearly Meeting, New England Yearly Meeting, Philadelphia Yearly Meeting, and New York Yearly Meeting.  Angela is the Clerk of NYYM-FWCC.  Each Yearly Meeting addressed concerns on climate justice and racial justice, the gathering showed the warmth and richness in the diversity of Friends who attended.
  • NYYM’s Ministry Coordinating Council.
  • NYYM’s Steering Committee of the Meeting for Discernment.
  • Co-Clerk of Farmington Scipio Regional Meeting with Antonia Saxon.
  • Rochester Friends Meeting:  Frequent visits prior to covid-19.
  • Ithaca Monthly Meeting: Children and the Life of the Meeting, and the Library Committee.

Interestingly, Angela notes that this period of COVID-19 is having some positive effects:  our virtual Meetings for Worship, committee meetings, and social gatherings can include Friends at a distance, caregivers for the young and the old, shut-ins, and young people (who are very comfortable on Zoom!).

The new year brings opportunities.  You will be hearing from FCRJ about “Table for Ten”—small, focused working groups.  The gatherings can be virtual or in-person (once COVID-19 has fled). 

I hope this brief article gives you a sense of the ongoing work of FCRJ that I have gotten a chance to hear about when I visit with Angela weekly, either in person or on the phone.  Hope to see you (or hear you) at a Table for Ten.

Monthly Meeting December 2020

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

December 13, 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.)

2020.12.1 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 December 13, 2020.At 12:30pm, twenty-one Friends settled into worship.

Clerk recognized Steve Mohlke as holding the Meeting in the Light.

2020.12.2 Worship Sharing: Reflections on Brokenness

Clerk read a reflection on brokenness that began with lyrics from Leonard Cohen:

Ring the bells that still can ring
Forget your perfect offering
There is a crack in everything
That’s how the light gets in

Clerk reflected that amidst the pain of being broken, there is a promise: you have some say in how the pieces get put back together or if they get put back it all. Clerk posed these queries:

  • Where have you experienced the spirit speaking to or through you this year?
  • What new life have you seen take hold in your own crevasses?

Friends shared from the spirit on brokenness, healing, racism, pain, numbness, love, trust, and openness to Spirit.

2020.12.3 Nominating Committee

On behalf of the Nominating Committee, Ellie Rosenberg read the slate of Nominations for 2021. With one correction to the report, Friends approved the Nominations. The committee will ensure that full list of committee members is updated on the website. @

2020.12.4 Earthcare Committee: 2020 Donations

Elizabeth Keokosky from the Earthcare Committee reminded Friends that IMM budgets $1000 for this committee to make donations. Half of this amount requires meeting approval (MA in the list below) and the other half may be given from the committee’s discretionary funds (DF in the list below). The donations were presented in categories of: local, in another state, and national or outside the country. All donations were in the amount of $100 except for the Florida Rights Restoration Coalition for $200, an organization that pays fines for former felons in order to clear the path to voting.

Local:

  • Project Abundance (MA), an organization supporting community gardens in Ithaca on land owned by religious organizations.
  • Project Growing Hope Community Garden (MA), the community garden near us across Route 13 that acts as a food hub for the Friendship Donations Network, an organization that serves in excess of 2100 people weekly.
  • Groundswell Center for Local Food and Farming (MA)
  • Ithaca Children’s Garden (DF)
  • Cayuga Lake Watershed (DF)

In other states:

  • Florida Rights Restoration Coalition (DF)

National or outside the country:

  • La Via Campesina (MA), an organization that promotes food sovereignty and farmers’ rights to use, develop, and reproduce their own seeds.
  • Indigenous Environmental Network (MA)
  • Earthjustice (DF)

Following a consideration of the words we use to describe others, Friends approved these donations with gratitude to the work of Earthcare in identifying and bringing our attention to these important organizations. @

2020.12.5 Ministry & Worship: Meetings for Worship December 20 – January 10

Nancy Riffer from Ministry & Worship read a report regarding in-person Meeting for Worship recommending the following:

  1. The Hector Meetinghouse will remain open for worship each First Day in December at 10am. Those most intimately involved in making that worship possible, in concert with M&W, will determine on a month-by-month basis whether Meetings for Worship will be continued.
  2. In-person Meeting for Worship at the Third Street Meetinghouse will not occur December 20, 2020 – January 10, 2021. M&W will bring a recommendation to January’s Meeting for Worship with Attention to Business recommending whether this hiatus be extended or if in-person worship at TSMH should resume.
  3. Zoom worship at 10:30am will continue for the foreseeable future. We also want to acknowledge the faithful efforts of Friends to clean, clerk, host, notify, firebuild, troubleshoot, and technicalize in support of our desire for corporate worship, without whom we would not even have these choices to make.

A Friend asked about the legal limits for in-person worship indoors. Clerk reminded us that we had adopted the limit of fifteen for the Hector Meetinghouse, well below the New York State limit. Friends approved the recommendations of Ministry & Worship with gratitude to the COVID Working Group.

2020.12.6 Finance Committee: Year End Report and 2021 Budget

Patrick Sewell, Treasurer, provided a financial summary for 2020. He noted that we spent less money on activities related to in-person activities such as childcare. On the other hand, we spent more money on technology and supporting our remote worship activities. Highlights of the budget include the following.

We spent $2700 at the Burtt House to remove a tree and rebuild a retaining wall.

We spent just over $6000 on refinishing the floors and $2160 on removing a tree at the Third Street property.

The Treasurer also noted that have something called the “Special Needs Fund” that can support individuals and families in times of need. It currently contains $2831 and has not been drawn upon recently.

In a similar vein, the Mutual Support Fund was set up to help Friends with issues related to the COVID-19 pandemic. That fund has not been used at this point.

Friends received the report.

2020.12.7 Finance Committee: 2021 Budget

The Treasurer moved on to the subject of the 2021 IMM Budget, highlighting some of the changes. First, he highlighted that income relating to building usage is projected to be down. Second, he noted that the budget for “AVP – Local Area” that is associated with workshops in Elmira and Cayuga correctional facilities is reduced since the in-person workshops were stopped due to the pandemic. (There are two other AVP budget lines: AVP New York and AVP International.) Third, he noted that the Communications Committee has requested a budget of $1000, largely for technology (e.g. software and hardware associated with our emerging needs).

Friends came to the realization that the budget had not been shared prior to our gathering today, but the link was shared through the “Chat” window.

Treasurer scrolled through the budget noting that many individual budget lines remain the same in 2021 as they were in 2020. However, there are many changes to the “Nurture” budget category, including reductions to Child Care, Greeters, Hospitality, and First Day School.

The net result is the budget request is 4% less for 2021 than it was for 2020.

Friends asked questions about the expenses related to the COVID Working Group and the finances associated with the Library committee.

Due to the late reveal of the detail, the approval of the budget will be held over for to the January 10th Monthly Meeting for Worship with Attention to Business. @

2020.12.8 Ithaca Area Clergy Request

Nancy Gabriel described a bit about the informal group Ithaca Area Clergy. This group has proposed taking out a newspaper ad that would appear on or around December 20-21 (the shortest day of the year) and that would read:

As the longest of nights gives way to ever-lengthening days, remember … things will get better!

A message of hope from the following faith organizations whose (virtual) doors remain open to all desiring support and hope as we weather these difficult times:

[Signed, perhaps twenty to thirty area congregations]

Friends noted that improvement comes from action rather than from assurances. While we yearn to stand with other progressive congregations and to articulate a message in the public sphere, Friends we were not fully united behind this expression. To offer hope without help falls short, especially during these very difficult times. We observe that this is not the first time we have wrestled with the issue of singing onto a statement written by another congregation or group of congregations. Friends should seek ways to name our concerns when we work with other groups and to share our Quaker values within diverse religious communities. @

At 3:11, twelve Friends settled in worship before adjourning. Our next regularly scheduled Meeting for Worship with Attention to Business will be January 10, 2021.

Respectfully submitted,Marin Clarkberg