About 40 Friends gathered in person and online for our 2023 Fall Interim Business Meeting, held at the Sarasota meetinghouse on Saturday, October 14th. Sarasota Friends provided warm hospitality and a truly delicious breakfast and lunch.
The Meeting and Worship Group Forum has become a regular part of our SEYM business meetings. These hour-long sessions are always rich with news and inspiration — and our gathering on Saturday was no exception. The impacts of the pandemic are still being felt: some meetings are still trying to come back together, several have lost members who moved away to be closer to family, and some are still without a place to meet. Some groups are growing, some have shrunk in number. Ft. Myers Meeting is planning to build a meetinghouse, leasing land on a Unitarian Universalist church campus; plans are in the permitting stage. They will have opportunities to coordinate with the UUs on peace and social concerns issues, as well as use some of the UU facilities. Havana Worship Group feels isolated and would welcome visitors. They struggle with lack of money, food, and medicine. (To help Havana Friends, send a check with “International Worship Group Support Fund” in the memo line to: SEYM, PO Box 1062, St. Petersburg, FL 33731.)
Here are some highlights from the business meeting:
The Nominating Committee reported that there are still some key positions that are unfilled; volunteers are needed. Contact Ed Lesnick, Nominating Clerk. firstname.lastname@example.org
A Committee of Care was appointed for Jacksonville Quaker Worship Group.
Treasurer Joel Cook (Treasure Coast) reported that there is a shortfall of funds, largely due to the expense involved in catching up on staff pay and cost of living increases, which were put off during the pandemic. The take-home message: “Send money!” (You can contribute to the General Fund here.) In further discussion, concern was expressed for how we connect with Meetings and Worship Groups who we don’t see at events, and who don’t contribute to SEYM.
An ad hoc committee was formed to create a proposal to hire a Youth and Young Adult Coordinator, the position vacated by Kody Hersh in 2022.
An ad hoc committee was named to craft a policy on responding to harassment and abuse.
Field Secretary for Earthcare Beverly Ward added some information to her report in the DIAs:
- She will be leading a Bystander Training workshop for Orlando Friends on November 5th at 11:45 am. The event will be hybrid; SEYM Friends are welcome to join online; see Orlando’s Quaker Notes for the Zoom link.
- QUNO is greatly concerned with the Israel-Palestine conflict. AFSC staff is on the ground in Israel/Palestine. See 5 things you need to know about what’s happening in Israel and Gaza.
- There are 14 Direct Action centers in Florida. A major concern right now is housing.
Worship and Ministry reported that the 2024 Michener Lecture will be presented by Ann Jerome (Deland Worship Group), who is currently a Friend in Residence at Pendle Hill. They also restated their concerns for us to find ways to grow and nurture our Meetings and Worship Groups. Meetings can contact the committee.
Friends who attended the Peace and Social Concerns committee Saturday morning discussed promoting AVP, the importance of Get Out The Vote campaigns, and other issues.
The Ad Hoc Reproductive Rights Committee has been working with organizations such as Floridians Protecting Freedom to get abortion rights on the ballot, gathering signatures on petitions. (If you have not already, please print out, sign, and send in your petition) Each meeting is encouraged to have a contact person to this committee; please contact Lynn Carol Henderson.
The Ad Hoc Retirement Community Committee was laid down; in its place, a new committee, the Quaker Call Committee, was formed to discern vision, leadings, and directions for SEYM.
Friends General Conference has asked SEYM to co-host the 2025 FGC Gathering, which will be virtual. Friends expressed various concerns, especially our shortage of volunteers who would be able to do this work. Two Friends came forward to serve on an FGC naming committee; discernment on whether we could be co-hosts was laid over for further discernment.
The theme for the SEYM Gathering will be The Friends We Are Becoming: embracing our longings and leadings. Our speaker will be Hilary Burgin of Quaker Voluntary Service.
The FIBM Minutes will be posted soon!