Durham Monthly Meeting Minutes, July 19, 2020

[Draft 2]

            Durham Monthly Meeting of Friends convened for the conduct of business on Sunday, July 19, 2020, with 19 people present.  Clerk, Martha Hinshaw Sheldon, opened the meeting by quoting the late John Lewis, member of the United States House of Representatives, and civil-rights leader: “Do not get lost in a sea of despair.  Be hopeful, be optimistic.  Our struggle is not the struggle of a day, a week, a month, or a year, it is the struggle of a lifetime.  Never, ever be afraid to make some noise. Necessary noise.”

1. The June minutes were approve.

2. Representatives to Falmouth Quarterly Meeting, which meets July 25 at 10:00 a.m., Joyce Gibson and Sarah Sprogell, were approved.

3. We were saddened to learn of the death of Susan (Sukie) Rice who had been ill for some time.  Liana Knight-Thompson, Sarah Sprogell, and Tess Hartford volunteered to write a memorial minute.

4. Trustees:  Donna Hutchins sent a report.  They have an estimate for the cost of repointing the meetinghouse bricks, and we asked that they obtain a second estimate for comparison.  The kitchen has been painted. Window sills have been scraped and painted. Other plans are to refinish the front entry floor and paint the walls; refinish or replace the back hall floor and paint the walls; and paint the horse shed doors and posts. Andy Higgins will be asked to remove some trees too close to buildings, remove dead tree at the parsonage, move sand in Lunt Cemetery to make a parking lot for the green burial area, and fix damage in Lunt Cemetery.

            We discussed the usefulness of the phone land line in the meetinghouse in the era of cell phones.  Kristna Evans will consult with Katharine (Kitsie) Hildebrandt regarding alternates for a phone connection in the meetinghouse. 

5. We approved that KItsie and Kristna will follow up and use their discretion in changing to a less costly phone connection.

6. Peace and Social Concerns Committee: Ingrid Chalufour reported that the committee is planning a forum designed to deepen our understanding of the presence of racism in ourselves and our communities. Using readings as a stimulus for conversation, The committee is planning a series of discussions, each with a different focus. There will be more information about this project in the newsletter and again mid-August. The newsletter will have a list of recommended books and articles. In August they will give dates and topics for the discussions, which will begin in September. They hope many will participate in this important exploration.

            The committee has also written a Letter to the Editor for local papers.  They ask our permission to submit it to Portland, Lewiston, Bangor, and Brunswick newspapers. The letter is as follows:

            “Recent events have shed new light on the many ways racism is embedded in our society. While whites benefit from opportunities; people of color find hurdles, doors closed, and all kinds of barriers. Racism exists in health care, education, housing, policing, and voting rights.

            We recognize that our silence makes us complicit with injustice and violence. To quote Martin Luther King Jr. Nov. 17, 1957 The Trumpet of Conscience, “In the end, we will remember not the words of our enemies but the silence of our friends.” We Quakers are called to better understand our complicity and to end it. We ask ourselves how we have supported racism in our communities, our state, and our country. To find the answers we must listen and learn about the experiences of others – people of color, the poor, the incarcerated, and the Native population of our state. Only with new understanding can we effect the changes we are called to make.

            Let us open our hearts and minds to the tragic effects of systemic racism, the loss of generations of black and brown leaders to unjust incarceration and the intractable poverty of the caste system we have allowed to flourish. Let’s let the protestors into our offices and boardrooms, to tell us of their hopes. Attend city/town council meetings to encourage thoughtful responses to the calls for a more just society. With new clarity we can legislate and live our ideals of justice and freedom for ALL Americans.”

            The committee also discussed posting a Black Lives Matter sign at the meetinghouse.

7. We approved sending the above letter to various newspapers, signed by the clerk representing Durham Friends Meeting.

8. We approved posting a Black Lives Matter ready-made sign at the meetinghouse.  Margaret Wentworth suggested that we read The Hate You Give by Angie Thomas.

9.  Meeting Care Coordinator Search Committee:  A positive and interesting all-meeting virtual interview with Mey Hasbrook was held on July 5.  Mey is a Quaker from Kalamazoo, Michigan.

            The committee would like to amend the Meeting Care Coordinator job description to include oversight by a three-person committee.  Martha Sheldon, Leslie Manning, and Wendy Schlotterbeck volunteered to serve.  To further describe the tasks of the MCC, they will meet with the Communications Committee, Ministry and Counsel, the Clerks group, and others as time allows.

            The Treasurer, Katharine Hildebrandt, suggested that the Care Coordinator salary be $10,200 per year.

10. The meeting approved the amendment to the job description, a three person oversight committee consisting of Martha Sheldon, Leslie Manning, and Wendy Schlotterbeck. 

11.  The meeting approved hiring Mey Hasbrook as Meeting Care Coordinator, to begin as soon as practical arrangements can be made, with a salary of $10,200 per year.

12. Finance Committee:  Sarah Sprogell presented the quarterly financial report which is attached.  She reported a total income of $27,696.58, and the total expenses of $17,902. 77 as of June 31, 2020. Our weekly contributions are lower than usual, but we have done well in limiting committee expenses, and there haven’t been any large expenses for the meetinghouse and parsonage.

            We spent almost $10,000 from the capital account for improvements in both the meetinghouse and the parsonage; this doesn’t show up in our operating budget. There is a new water heater at the parsonage, a number of plumbing improvements for the meetinghouse kitchen sinks, replaced the water filter system, and painted the meeting room, kitchen, and exterior windows.

13.  Ministry and Counsel: Doug Bennett presented a report regarding our method of worshiping as a group.

            “Since March 22, Durham Friends Meeting has been conducting worship via Zoom rather than in our Meetinghouse.  We have been gratified to see good participation in Meeting during these months of physical isolation from one another. 

            We know that there are some members of the Meeting who are eager to have us return to the Meetinghouse to worship together.  At the same time, we know there are many among us for whom catching the virus could be life threatening — a risk not worth running. 

            For the foreseeable future we believe the Meeting should continue to worship primarily via Zoom. 

            At the same time, we have started experimenting with a hybrid form of worship in which we will worship via Zoom and some people will worship in the Meetinghouse using electronic devices to connect to Zoom. 

            As we move forward, we will let you know when it is possible for some to return to worship in the Meetinghouse and what you should do if and when you do come to the Meetinghouse.  Everyone who comes to the Meetinghouse will be asked to wear masks and maintain safe social distance from one another.  There will continue to be no shared refreshments. 

            We are likely to continue holding worship primarily via Zoom until a vaccine or proven anti-viral medicines are developed.  All future decisions and formats are dependent on CDC recommendations. 

            Finding ways to worship together and at the same time ensuring the safety of all of our members continue to be our two guiding stars.  We appreciate the assistance New England Yearly Meeting and others have given us as we learn the possibilities and potential pitfalls of such hybrid worship.” 

13.  We approved this plan for the for-seeable future, and thank Ministry and Counsel for their thoughtful consideration of meeting attendance.

14.  Martha Sheldon reported that Leslie Manning, Clerk of the Permanent Board, requests that the meetinghouse be used to view New England Yearly Meeting annual sessions, August 1-9.  Appropriate precautions are required.  Leslie will host many of these sessions..

15. We approved the use of the meetinghouse for viewing NEYM sessions.

16.  Christian Education Committee: Wendy Schlotterbeck, Youth Minister, reported that 9 persons enjoyed the Cox Pinnacle hike last Sunday, July 12th.  She announced a game night on August 15, at 6:30 via Zoom.  Please send her trivia questions. She also reminded us to register for New England Yearly Meeting. Wendy has reported that she is cutting back her hours while the pandemic is ongoing to five hours a week due to the lack of activity, to be reconsidered when social distancing is no longer necessary.

17. Clerk Martha Sheldon reminded us that the Durham Meeting Handbook needs to be updated.  Committees are encouraged and requested to update their sections.  It was suggested that the Clerks Committee tackle this project.  A friendly discussion ensued regarding our need for more Quaker faith and practice education.  Resources were suggested.

            The meeting ended with a short prayer from Clerk, Martha Sheldon.

Dorothy Hinshaw Recording Clerk