June Business Meeting Minutes

Blair Jennings

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

June 13, 2021


Clerk: Gina Varrichio

Recording Clerks: Marin Clarkberg, Blair Jennings


(The @ signifies that the minute has been read and approved during Meeting. Copies of all written reports are on file with and available from the Clerk or Recording Clerk.)


2021.6.1 Opening Worship

Ithaca Monthly Meeting of the Religious Society of Friends met on-line, via Zoom remote for Monthly Meeting for Worship with Attention to Business on June 13, 2021.


At 12:33PM, 13 Friends settled into worship with 7 more Friends joining during this introductory section.


Clerk reviewed the agenda for Monthly Meeting for Worship with Attention to Business and recognized Cai Quirk for holding the Meeting in the Light.


2021.6.2 Worship Sharing: What Do We Want From Worship?

Considering the variety of ways people are participating in worship at this time (online or in person at the Third Street Meetinghouse & Hector Meetinghouse), the many reasons for their choice to do so, and the fact there are many more who are not worshipping regularly with us at all, IMM seems to have reached another inflection point, where we get the chance to ask: what now? To facilitate spiritual consideration, clerk posed three queries:


·      What is most essential to you about Meeting for Worship?

·      What are you doing to prepare your heart and mind for worship, regardless of where you

are worshiping right now?

·      How would you describe the quality of vocal ministry (given by yourself or others) in the

past year? In what way has it contributed to your spiritual life?


Friends offered reflections and ministry out of the silence.


2021.6.3 COVID Working Group: Proposed Changes to COVID Protocols

On behalf of the Working Group, Barbara Chase shared the following:

A. Gratitude for the significantly improved COVID-19 situation in Tompkin’s County balanced with ongoing concern for populations who are disproportionately affected and places around the world where the pandemic still rages


B. Recommendations for revising IMM’s COVID protocols based on clarification from Tompkins County Health Department on exactly how updated COVID guidance from the CDC, NY State Department of Health and Tompkins County Health Department relates to places of worship in general & IMM in particular


C. Specific changes to current practice:

1.     The upstairs of the Third Street Meetinghouse is open for use. TSMC will arrange for cleaning of the upstairs as appropriate. Although not COVID related, we remind people of the previous guidelines of not eating in the carpeted areas upstairs.

2.     People are allowed to eat in the TSMH. There is no evidence showing that COVID-19 is spread by food. Please bring your own dishes for now. Consideration of opening the kitchen will be addressed in a future report.

3.     According to the Tompkins County Health Department, we are no longer required to screen people as they enter for symptoms of, or exposure to, COVID-19, and we are not required to collect names for contact tracing. We will no longer have people fill out COVID screening forms or ask people to let Carol know ahead of time if they are coming to Meeting for Worship at TSMH.

4.     There is no need to use one specific door to enter the meeting room and a different door to exit.

5.     For now, indoor Meeting for Worship at TSMH and Hector Meetinghouse and other indoor meeting-wide events will continue to follow the CDC guidance for non-vaccinated

individuals. (At this time this includes mask wearing and 6-foot social distancing.) Further discernment from the IMM community is required for making changes to this.

6.     We respect the various choices that Friends have made/are making regarding COVID

precautions. If Friends are in the building in a small group, any Friend may request

permission of the others present to remove the requesting Friend’s own mask. For example, “Friends would you be comfortable if I removed my mask?” If permission is not given, precautions stated in #5 shall prevail; Friends who decline to offer permission shall be respected for their choice.

7.     The chances of transmitting and catching COVID-19 outside are very small. The airborne

virus is rapidly diluted in the atmosphere outside when an infected person exhales, so that it is very hard for a nearby person to inhale enough virus to become infected. Therefore, we are not setting any COVID guidelines for outdoor IMM events. We recommend each Friend use the COVID precautions such as masks or social distancing that allow them to feel safe at these events. Anyone planning a large outdoor event at TSMH or Hector should contact the COVID Working Group for guidance.

8.     Groups including youth, such as First Day school, TEEN DAY, or tutoring programs, may use the CDC guidelines for social distancing and masks for schools for the appropriate age group instead of the adult guidelines. (For example, current guidelines for middle and high school students are for 3-foot social distancing.)

9.     Outside groups are again invited to submit proposals to use the TSMH within these revised guidelines. TEEN DAY has already submitted a proposal for the 2021-2022 academic year that is consistent with these revised guidelines, and IMM is happy to continue our relationship with TEEN DAY. The Catholic Worker group using the TSMH may now follow these updated guidelines.

10.  All these guidelines may be revised if the pandemic situation improves further or worsens

again and the CDC, NYSDOH or TCHD issue new guidelines.


 Friends settled into silent worship to consider what they heard before asking questions and/or sharing ministry. All were recognized, suggested revisions were incorporated, it was acknowledged that these guidelines go beyond those recommended by CDC, etc. and that these challenging times require us to respect people’s feelings around life, death, illness & vulnerability. Gratitude for the whole community as well as for the work of this group was expressed. 

Friends approved the changes.@


2021.6.4 Earthcare Committee: New York Yearly Meeting Minute On Earthcare

On behalf of the committee, Margaret McCasland described the history, process and IMM’s Earthcare Committee involvement/text adjustment of the NYYM minute. Margaret & Elizabeth Keokosky read this revised Minute on Earthcare, the full text of which was distributed with the reports for this business meeting (NYYM’s original minute can be found in NYYM’s minutes from Spring Sessions 2021). NYYM’s minute originated and was approved by New Brunswick Monthly Meeting on May 17, 2020 with revisions from Manasquan and further approved in succession as follows:

·      Shrewsbury-Plainfield Half-Yearly Meeting, September 26, 2020

·      NYYM Witness Coordinating Committee, October 17, 2020, with revisions

from the NYYM Climate Justice Working Group on November 6, 2020 & March 4, 2021

·      NYYM April 11, 2021, with revisions proposed April 10, 2021.

·      IMM’s Earthcare Committee w/revision of text related to Friends’ creation of community-based initiatives – April 2021


Earthcare recommends that IMM also approve this revised minute and commit itself - through both individual action and committee work - to find ways to embrace and enact the principles it


Many Friends have asked “what can I do, specifically” – looking for more detailed, local information and suggestions. Ideally, this minute will inspire IMM to seek out & share specific actions Friends can take to make this minute real in their life and/or community.

Friends approved the IMM Earthcare Committee-revised minute as presented.@


2021.6.5 Naming Committee (Reprised): Naming Michelle Brimage To Nominating Committee

On behalf of the committee, Pat Sewell reviewed the history and circumstances surrounding this unusually timed nomination as well as a review of the standard process. For this nomination, the last Naming Committee (officially laid down in February of this year) reconvened to consider and heartily recommends Michelle Brimage’s appointment to the Nominating Committee.


Friends approved the nomination.@


 2021.6.6 Finance Committee: Moving Funds To Friends Fiduciary Account

On behalf of Finance, IMM Treasurer Pat Sewell referred to a discussion related to long term financial planning that took place during IMM’s April 2021 Meeting for Worship with Attention to Business & provided a detailed description of Friends Fiduciary. In light of its review of the organization’s business model (including specific details about account management and fund accessibility) the committee recommends IMM move $50,000 (out of our currently combined checking/savings balance of $125,000) from Alternatives Federal Credit Union (AFCU) into a Friends Fiduciary account. This would leave more than enough cash readily available to fulfill budgetary needs. As a 501(c) entity, IMM pays no capital gains tax on this withdrawal.


The committee has two requests: one, approval to move the money; and two, that Friends choose where the money be placed   The Quaker Growth & Income Fund (QGF) or the Quaker Green Impact Fund (IMPACT). QGF is geared toward increasing our financial assets; IMPACT is geared toward proactive investment in environmentally sustainable businesses. Both funds utilize socially-responsible investing and will give a significant return relative to AFCU.


Margaret McCasland shared some history on Friends’ work to make Friends Fiduciary investments more representative of Quaker values, as well as an invitation to join NYYM’s Climate Justice Working Group in its ongoing efforts to help make Friends Fiduciary an even better choice for Quakers.


Friends approved moving $50,000 into a Friends Fiduciary Account.@

Friends empowered Finance to transfer these funds from AFCU into the IMPACT fund managed by Friends Fiduciary.@ 


2021.6.7 Third Street Meetinghouse And Communications Committees: Sound System For Third Street Meetinghouse

Because of time, this item was held over for consideration during July’s MfWw/AtB.

2021.6.8 Closing Worship

16 Friends settled into silent worship at 3:00 P.M. before adjourning. Our next regular Meeting for Worship with Attention to Business will be held via Zoom at 12:30 P.M. on July 11, 2021.

Respectfully submitted,

Blair Jennings