Durham Monthly Meeting Minutes, December 19, 2021

            Durham Monthly Meeting of Friends met virtually for the conduct of business on Sunday, December 19, 2021, with 18 people present.  Bob Eaton, clerk, opened the meeting by reading a poem by Kenneth Patchen.

1.The November minutes were approved as recorded in the Newsletter.  Appreciation was expressed for the current Recording Clerk who is “retiring.”

2. Nominating Committee: Linda Muller reported for the committee.  We approved with corrections the list of officers and committee members, adding the positions of Treasurer and Archivist, Katharine Hildebrandt, and Sarah Sprogell, Recorder.  it was suggested we add FWCC to the List of Representatives to Other Organizations.

3. Peace and Social Concerns Committee: Ingrid Chalufour reported that the committee will be focusing our efforts on lobbying for passage of LD 1626 in the months ahead. They request the meeting’s approval to submit the following letter to the Sun Journal newspaper in Lewiston:

            Letter to the Editor for the Sun Journal:

            The members of Durham Friends Meeting (Quakers) have a deep concern for the sovereignty of the Wabanaki people of Maine. Our commitment to social justice and equality are central to our beliefs and to our support of the civil rights of Maine’s Native people. Sovereignty was taken from Maine’s tribes by the 1980 Land Claims Settlement Implementation Act, essentially reducing their rights to those of municipalities.  Passage of An Act Implementing Changes to the Maine Claims Settlement Implementation Act (LD 1626) will restore sovereignty to the four federally recognized tribes in Maine, allowing them to be treated by the United States government, and the State of Maine, the same way as the other 570 federally recognized tribes. Passage of this bill will benefit everyone in Maine because when the Maine tribes prosper, we will all benefit. We strongly urge Governor Mills and the legislature to support full passage of LD 1626.

            Bob Eaton, Clerk, Durham Monthly Meeting of Friends 

4.  We approved sending the above letter to the Lewiston Sun Journal.  Wendy Schlotterbeck will circulate the letter to legislators in our various areas.

5.  Finance Committee: Sarah Sprogell reported that a new account has been set up with the NEYM Pooled Funds to hold the proceeds from the sale of the parsonage while the Meeting takes time to discern what to do with these funds.  $238,000 has been deposited into the Fund.

            The Finance Committee recommends that we make a donation to Friends Camp of $1000.  This amount was budgeted for Friends Camp tuition assistance this year, but was not used.  Friends Camp has experienced serious financial shortfalls during the last 2 years because of the pandemic, and the committee would like to support them by making this donation.

            The committee received a revised insurance proposal from Church Mutual following the sale of the parsonage.  They had expected a significant reduction, but because of new offerings and increased rates, the reduction has been negligible.  They will be investigating other companies to request additional quotes, but in the meantime have made an initial payment in order that we remain covered.

            The committee has developed a draft budget for 2022 (attached) to be brought to the meeting for approval in January. They project our income and expenses to be slightly under $50,000.  The current figures show a balanced budget.

            They would like committees to let them know of any changes in their budget lines, most of which are the same as last year.

            Contributions to other organizations are the same as last year.

            Meeting expense: Telephone and internet costs have been increased to pay for the improved internet access; they hope to reduce the insurance premium; they added a line for mowing.

            Meetinghouse physical plant costs are the same, with the exception of the Custodian, which they fully restored.

            The Meeting Care Coordinator and Youth Minister have been fully funded, leaving the meeting to make discernment as led. 

            The parsonage expenses have ben eliminated.

            We accepted this report with appreciation.  It was suggested that FWCC be added to the List of Contributions to Other Organizations.

6. The meeting approved donating the amount of $1000.00 to Friends Camp.

7. Communications Committee: Liana Thompson-Knight brought an extensive report clarifying their parameters and guidelines.  They try to see that meeting members and attenders are well informed about meeting affairs and events; that communications are accurate and trustworthy, are relevant to the meeting as a Quaker meeting, are communicated to everyone, and are sent in a timely fashion. 

            Current forms of communication they use are the Newsletter, Friends Notes, Website, This Week at DFM emails, and a Facebook page. The meeting recommends a guided tour of the website.  Various lists are used for communication. 

            The committee recommends that the meeting meet either before or after meeting for worship on Sunday to discuss questions the committee poses for our reflection regarding forms of communication, ground rules about what is appropriate to communicate, other committees’ concerns and individual concerns, committees communicating directly, and duplicating notices in various forms of communication.

            A full report will be attached to these minutes.   We expressed our gratitude for this committee’s work.

8. Ministry and Counsel:  Tess Hartford reported for Ministry and Counsel.  Pilot persons have been chosen for interviews through Zoom and/or in person for the Quaker Educational Media Project.  Joyce Gibson initiated this project to document the witness and faith journeys of members and attenders of Durham Meeting. 

            The support committee for Leslie Manning’s prison ministry continues in process.

            The Ezra Smith/Laura Donovan clearness committee for marriage had a fruitful meeting with the couple.

            Betsy Muench has requested that a care committee be formed for her needs.  Gene Boyington, Robb Spivey (Brunswick Meeting) and Joyce Gibson are serving on this committee for Betsy.   

9. Trustees:  Katharine Hildebrandt presented a report which follows:

            “Here is a progress report on items previously approved by Monthly Meeting:

With the successful sale of the Parsonage in September, Trustees have been able to focus on the care of our beloved Meetinghouse.  A small group volunteered to be part of the Window Dressers, to create window inserts for our wider community, including inserts for the windows in the Meeting room. They are now in place, thanks to Ingrid Chalufour, and all who participated in this inspiring community effort.

            In an effort to move forward with the move to hybrid worship, better internet has been installed in the Meetinghouse. We also continue to do maintenance inside the building.  We are addressing getting the inside deep cleaned, especially the Meeting room. Old buildings do not do well empty and unheated.

            The main heating system has been failing for some time, and the Trustees were charged with resolving the situation. We have spent a considerable amount of time researching and educating ourselves about the choices we have for this old building. The needs are unique.  We need to heat a large meeting space just once a week. The rest of the building is being heated with a heat pump, except on the coldest of days, when the current furnaces kick in as back up. The heat pump is mostly supplied by electricity produced by the solar panels.

            As we have reported before, over this past year or so we have consulted several energy specialists to help us with the best plan, as well as several heating companies. We have selected a company, Bright Heating and Cooling. They have recommended replacing our two failing furnaces with one energy efficient furnace.  This will cut our oil usage significantly. It will provide us with three zones, to address the need to heat the Meeting room quickly, once a week, and keeping the other plumbed parts of the building from freezing.  When we told them that we jacked the heat up the night before Meeting for worship, they said, ‘It should only take an hour with the right furnace.’  We are encouraged to realize how much of a difference this will make in our energy consumption.

            We are going to get a quote from Bright Heating within a week, in order to get this situation addressed as soon as possible.  Hopefully the old furnaces will not fail in the meantime.” 

            The meeting was reminded of the Greening of the Meetinghouse committee members: Bob Eaton, Sarah Sprogell, Ingrid Chalufour, and Katharine (Kitsie) Hildebrandt who continue to look into ways to reduce our carbon footprint.  Ann Ruthsdottir has been added to this small ad hoc committee.  The Meeting thanks this group for its continued efforts. 

10.  Bob Eaton reported for the ad hoc committee on Parsonage Funds.  Friends agreed on three guidelines:

            Intention: The almost $240,000 realized by the sale of the parsonage should be isolated from normal Meeting operations in a special fund while meeting discerns the best designations for the fund.

            Timing: It is important for this discernment process to move forward without delay, but time is not of the essence and careful deliberation is more important than speed.

      Process: The role of the ad hoc committee should be as a sounding board for the whole meeting.  The ad hoc committee will define a process in the coming months to maximize Meeting participation in the discernment process.

The ad hoc committee agreed that the parsonage fund challenges this Meeting to give careful thought to its vision for the future of the Meeting. The ad hoc committee agreed to invite Craig Freshley to its next meeting, in January, to consider the possibility of a new visioning process by Meeting to help ground discussions on the proper designation of the parsonage fund.

            After centering down in quiet worship, we departed to meet January 16, 2022.

            Dorothy Hinshaw, Recording Clerk