Durham Monthly Meeting of Friends met for the conduct of business on Sunday, October 15, 2023, with 12 people in attendance.
1. Meeting Opening
Clerk opened the meeting with a reading from Advices and Queries from the Religious Society of Friends, Great Britain: Advices 10.
2. Approval of Minutes of September 2023 — Ellen Bennett
Minutes were approved
3. Review of Agenda
4. Finance Committee — Nancy Marstaller
In response to the Meeting request that Finance take a broad look at the overall financial health of the meeting, the attached report includes a series of questions to consider moving forward.
Finance and Trustees will meet together soon to delve more deeply into the questions posed in the report.
The Meeting engaged in a listening session.
Clerk offered this over-arching question: What is the best stewardship of the funds in our care? It was noted that we are not currently covering annual operating expenses with regular income; we need to draw on interest from our investment accounts to meet expenses.
Summary of Friends’ comments and observations:
- There was a commitment voiced to keep the line item for childcare position.
- There was general agreement that there was no reason not to pool investment accounts.
- Some funds are invested in a CD. When it matures in the spring, the proceeds might be earmarked to support youth programs (such as childcare and summer camp scholarships).
The Meeting revisited the request from Trustees to Finance, made at last month’s Meeting for Business, to move $55,000 from pooled funds to cemetery funds. Conversation ensued about designations and use of the Parsonage funds.
The Finance Committee recommended that $55K be taken from the Parsonage Fund and added to the Cemetery Fund. This money will be added to the Cemetery Fund money invested with New England Yearly Meeting Pooled Funds. The NEYM Pooled Funds will pay out 4% per year, to be used for cemetery maintenance, this percentage prudently calculated so that the principle of the fund will be protected and preserved into the future. We record that the origin of these funds was through the sale of the parsonage.
The Meeting approved this request with one Friend standing aside.
5. Ministry and Counsel — Renee Cote, Tess Hartford
No new items were brought forward. Please refer to the report.
Clerk emailed Friends who attend Meeting primarily or solely via Zoom to ask them about M&C’s recommendation that 4th and 5th Sundays be in-person/tech-free only. Clerk read the responses. All conveyed appreciation for being queried, and many suggested that Meeting try to simply engage the Owl without active oversight.
Friends discussed considering meeting for worship a “no-tech zone” all the time. Tech is a distraction in the quality of worship for many. One idea offered is to have meeting for worship with Zoom audio only, and to bring the Owl into the gathering room so that those in attendance in person and those attending remotely can ‘Zoom-meet’ with one another.
Meeting approved 4th and 5th Sundays being tech-free starting in November, skipping December because of the holiday, and resuming for January and February.
M&C will take up the idea of going completely tech-free and return with additional ideas.
Meeting accepted the report noting that monetary support from the Charity account will be provided for a Friend in need.
6. Trustees — Sarah Sprogell
No written report. Clean-up at Lunt Cemetery went very well. Much was accomplished. Also, two trustees will be attending the Maine Cemetery Association conference on April 18th.
7. Peace and Social Concerns — Ingrid Chalufour
Please see attached report.
Clerk noted the importance of the ministry of bringing books used in the Social Justice project to Indigenous People’s Day events. The books touched many people; the quality of this kind of outreach was honored.
The Meeting minutes its deep appreciation for the Social Justice project, the work of the Committee, and of Ingrid Chalufour.
8. Nominating Committee — Linda Muller
No written report.
Recently, two Friends verbally agreed to serve on committees, and their names were brought forward for approval. Note that the approval is for committees service to begin in January 2024, but if okayed by the “receiving” committee, their work might begin earlier.
The Committee brought forward Doug Bennett to serve on Finance Committee.
The Committee brought forward Kim Bolshaw, to serve on Peace and Social Concerns.
Clerk noted that effective January 2024, we will be without a Treasurer and without a Clerk. The position of Treasurer is legally required by the state to do the work of the Meeting.
Clerk also noted that we are looking for help with the newsletter. Consider: is the newsletter still needed? May take this up in the Threshing Session next Sunday, October 22.
9. Closing Worship
Ellen Bennett, Recording Clerk