Chapter 8


The Yearly Meeting



As a yearly meeting we are restless to take corporate action to change the unequal, unjust world in which we live. We are also called to be a community of Friends as a yearly meeting, pushed toward the important things we can only do together. We have a body of experience we can draw on and maintain. We are in this for the long haul.

Epistle of Britain Yearly Meeting, 2015



 

Mission & Vision

The purpose of North Pacific Yearly Meeting of the Religious Society of Friends is to provide a means for Friends to strengthen and support one another in a common search for

divine Truth and Light.

North Pacific Yearly Meeting, both as an organization and as an Annual Session, supports and encourages Friends, as individuals, monthly meetings, and worship groups, deepening their spiritual center and moving into Spirit-led action.

North Pacific Yearly Meeting will:

NPYM; providing opportunities for education, service, and spiritual enrichment; encouraging visitation among Friends; publishing Faith and Practice and other resources; and supporting meetings and worship groups to make Quakers a more visible presence;

The yearly meeting is composed of the members of its monthly meetings, including those in preparative meetings and worship groups, whose privilege and responsibility it is to participate in and support the yearly meeting and its Annual Session. NPYM’s affiliated groups and individuals are located in the states of Idaho, Montana, Oregon, and Washington.

The right ordering of the yearly meeting requires care, thought, and prayer. This right ordering depends not only on individual strengths and abilities, but on the leading of the Spirit. Preparation for and participation in the Annual Session is an opportunity for the body of the yearly meeting to enjoy and benefit from the many gifts of individuals in its widely scattered meetings and for the yearly meeting to be of service to them.

We welcome to our Annual Session attenders of monthly meetings, preparative meetings, and worship groups; Remote Friends in our region; members of other yearly meetings; and all interested persons. We gather to search in the Light, to find renewal, and to celebrate our joy in coming together again. We have faith that all who attend do so as part of their personal seeking of God’s truth. Friends of all ages benefit from and contribute to the Annual Session. Although there may be programs for children, Central Friends, Junior Friends, and Young Adult Friends, all are an integral part of this experience.

The yearly meeting holds its Annual Session in the summer, rotating locations throughout our region. Annual Session provides


many opportunities for deepening fellowship and the life of the Spirit. The plenary sessions, occasions for dealing with business, also provide opportunities for spiritual growth. They consider reports from NPYM committees and Friends organizations, give attention to communications, including preparation of an “Epistle to Friends Everywhere,” and deal with appropriate business and concerns. In addition to corporate worship, other opportunities for spiritual enrichment include worship-sharing groups, interest groups, programs for children and Junior Friends, meetings of Young Adult Friends, the presence and inspiration of visiting Friends, and Friendly visiting.

NPYM makes its major decisions in plenary session at the Annual Session. Other decisions may be made between Annual Sessions by the Coordinating Committee or Executive Committee.


 

Bringing Concerns before the Yearly Meeting

A genuine concern is a spiritual matter. Usually a concern arises in the conscience of an individual and is initially seasoned in a local meeting or committee. A concern may come to Annual Session from a variety of sources:

Regardless of where a concern starts, it is seasoned before being considered at Annual Session. It is expected that concerns that come before the yearly meeting will be considered widely throughout the yearly meeting before placement on an Annual Session agenda. To help with the discernment process it is suggested that Friends use the following queries as a basis for preparing a concern that may come to the yearly meeting. Responses to these queries may be provided as a separate document.

To allow adequate time for Friends to season the matter, the presiding clerk is notified five months prior to Annual Session. In the intervening time the presiding clerk will work with those presenting the concern to discern the best possible course of action. The final decision may include any or all of the following:

NPYM committee, or individual support group level.

If the concern is ready for yearly meeting consideration, a draft of the proposed minute, along with background material including responses to the queries, is given to the presiding clerk one month before the Annual Session.

In exceptional circumstances the presiding clerk may entertain a minute or concern from the floor of a plenary session. If so, it should be presented briefly and heard without discussion. Before such a concern is laid before the plenary session for its consideration, the presiding clerk usually consults with the clerk of the Coordinating Committee and refers it to the appropriate yearly meeting committee for consideration. The concern may then be acted on in a later plenary session or may be referred for seasoning and consideration at another annual gathering.

When a concern is placed before a plenary session and unity is reached, the yearly meeting is under the burden to follow through with action appropriate to the concern.



 

Relationships with Wider Friends Organizations

North Pacific Yearly Meeting is an independent yearly meeting. Although we attempt to keep in touch with all Friends, we have formally affiliated with the following organizations:

  1. American Friends Service Committee (AFSC). The yearly meeting appoints four Friends, serving overlapping three-year terms, to become members of the AFSC Corporation (AFSC’s representative body).

  2. Friends Committee on National Legislation (FCNL). The yearly meeting appoints six Friends, serving overlapping two-year

terms (starting September 1), as representatives to the General Committee of FCNL.

  1. Friends for Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, and Queer Concerns (FLGBTQC). The yearly meeting appoints two Friends, serving overlapping two-year terms, as correspondents to FLGBTQC.

  2. Friends Peace Teams (FPT). The yearly meeting appoints two Friends, serving overlapping three-year terms, as representatives to FPT.

  3. Friends World Committee for Consultation (FWCC). The yearly meeting appoints four Friends, serving overlapping three-year terms, as representatives to FWCC’s Section of the Americas. Terms begin on the January 1st following appointment. The newly appointed representatives are encouraged, both by the yearly meeting and by FWCC, to attend the annual Section meeting immediately following their July appointment even if that occurs before their NPYM term starts.

The yearly meeting may send representatives to the FWCC Triennial Meeting, to be appointed at the NPYM Annual Session prior to the Triennial.

  1. Friends Bulletin Corporation. Friends Bulletin Corporation publishes Western Friend (formerly Friends Bulletin), a periodical by and for Friends in Pacific Yearly Meeting, North Pacific Yearly Meeting, and Intermountain Yearly Meeting. NPYM appoints three directors, one from each quarterly meeting, to the Western Friend Board of Directors, which guides both editorial and business aspects of publishing the periodical and other works.

  2. Quaker Earthcare Witness (QEW). The yearly meeting appoints one representative and one alternate to the QEW Steering Committee.

The yearly meeting selects suitable individuals – based on their interest, ability, experience, geographic distribution, and capacity to work with the particular organization – to be our representatives to the larger groups. The chief responsibility of these representatives is maintaining two-way communication

between the organization and members of the yearly meeting. Representatives are encouraged to attend meetings of the organization, but it is sometimes more effective, as well as more economical of finances and energy, to bring to the Annual Session a person representing a particular organization.

Job descriptions for these representatives and correspondents are available from NPYM. A summary of the responsibilities of yearly meeting representatives to each affiliated organization is given to the representative at the time of appointment. The yearly meeting budget includes travel funds for representatives to attend meetings of affiliated organizations.

Affiliation with Organizations. NPYM is cautious about affiliating with other bodies, wanting to be clear that such action is both compatible with our understanding of Quakerism and within our capacity to carry out our responsibilities with integrity given our small financial and personnel resources. Accordingly, NPYM has a policy for considering affiliation with other organizations. The procedure starts with a request to affiliate (or to review an existing affiliation). Coordinating Committee then appoints an ad hoc committee of experienced Friends to explore the practical and spiritual dimensions and bring a recommendation to an Annual Session for decision. Continuing affiliations with outside organizations are reviewed periodically using a similar process.


 

Yearly Meeting Finances

The primary financial support for North Pacific Yearly Meeting comes from member meetings. The NPYM treasurer uses each meeting’s annual statistical report to calculate the meeting’s contribution based on a per-member rate called an assessment. Each monthly meeting determines whether it will contribute for all its members or only for its faithfully participating members and attenders.

The Finance & Legal Committee prepares a budget for the organization each year and presents it to Annual Session for approval. Typical components of the budget include committee

expenses; administrative expenses; support for NPYM representatives to other organizations; funds for Central Friends, Junior Friends, and Young Adult Friends; and contributions to other organizations plus a subsidy for the periodical Western Friend.

If memorial funds are received without a designation for a specific use, the NPYM treasurer consults with the family or Coordinating Committee within six months to identify a use for the money appropriate to the interests of the individual.



 

Central Friends, Junior Friends, Young Adult Friends

NPYM has adopted the following terms to describe specific age groups:

Other Friends organizations may use different definitions.

Central Friends, Junior Friends, and Young Adult Friends all write their own epistles “to Friends everywhere” at Annual Sessions.


Central Friends

In NPYM, “Central Friends” is the middle-school age group, including young people who have just finished fifth grade (or equivalent) through those who have just finished eighth grade. If families and group leaders find it wise for a child at a transitional age to participate with a younger group of children or to move on to Junior Friends, they are included in those groups. Central Friends participate in a self-contained program during Annual Session. They may also go on a camping trip before or after Annual Session.

Junior Friends

In NPYM, “Junior Friends” is the high-school age group: young people who have just finished eighth grade (or equivalent) through the age of those who have just graduated from high school. Junior Friends choose their own officers and committees. They hold their own meetings for business, following the good order of Friends. They manage their own budget with general direction from their advisors and technical assistance from the NPYM treasurer as needed. Their program at Annual Session is self-contained although it usually includes participation in intergenerational worship-sharing and other activities with the larger group. Junior Friends plan their own activities at Annual Session and throughout the year. They traditionally organize a camping trip before or after Annual Session and a ski trip in winter.

Junior Friends suggest nominees for Junior Friends Advisors to the NPYM Nominating Committee. The advisors assist Junior Friends with scheduling, arrangements, budgeting, and other logistics; serve as resources about Quaker process and the good order of Friends; and act as liaison between Junior Friends and the rest of NPYM. Junior Friends also invite others to serve as “Friendly Adult Presences” (FAPs) at events.

Junior Friends send representatives to the Coordinating Committee and the Annual Session Planning Committee.

Junior Friends maintain a Code of Conduct at all events, under the care of the Junior Friends Wellness Committee.


Young Adult Friends

In NPYM, “Young Adult Friends” refers to the college and post- college age group, from high school graduation through about age 35. Like the Junior Friends, Young Adult Friends choose their own officers and committees and hold their own meetings for business following the good order of Friends. Their program at Annual Session is self-planned and largely self-contained although they share some activities with Junior Friends and participate in intergenerational worship-sharing and other activities with

the larger group. Young Adult Friends typically meet at Annual Session in summer and at New Year’s.

Young Adult Friends nominate representatives to the Coordinating Committee and the Annual Session Planning Committee, and are encouraged to participate in NPYM standing committees as interests lead and circumstances permit.

NPYM helps host electronic communication for Young Adult Friends.


 

Officers

Yearly meeting officers are nominated by the Nominating Committee and appointed by NPYM in plenary session during Annual Session. The Coordinating Committee may make appointments between Annual Sessions, or the Executive Committee may do so between Coordinating Committee meetings. Most terms of office begin on October 1. Outgoing officers are expected to complete responsibilities related to the Annual Session and to orient new appointees who are responsible for new business. Officers are selected with regard for their qualifications, their ability to serve, their geographical representation, and their resources for leadership, present and potential.

The presiding clerk, rising clerk, Coordinating Committee clerk, Coordinating Committee associate clerk, and treasurer must be members of monthly meetings within NPYM. All other positions may be held by any members or attenders.

Complete position descriptions for all yearly meeting offices are available electronically from NPYM via the internet or by request from the NPYM secretary. Summary descriptions follow here.


the Annual Session Planning Committee and clerks the Friend-In-Residence Committee. The presiding clerk is also a member ex officio of the Coordinating Committee and shares responsibility for seeing that the instructions of the Annual Session are carried out.


 

Yearly Meeting Committees

Except for those members of the Coordinating Committee who are appointed by monthly meetings, all members of yearly meeting committees are nominated by the Nominating Committee and are appointed at Annual Session (or by the Coordinating Committee if between Annual Sessions or by the Executive Committee if between Coordinating Committee meetings). Most terms of service begin on October 1. Outgoing members are expected to complete unfinished business.

Complete descriptions for all yearly meeting committees – with notes on members, terms, responsibilities, and typical annual timelines – are kept up to date on the NPYM website and are also available from the NPYM secretary or the Nominating Committee, which is responsible for keeping the descriptions accurate. Summary descriptions follow here.

The Coordinating Committee or the yearly meeting may set up other committees as need arises. When considering changes to the committee structure, Friends take care that each committee is an aid, not an encumbrance, to strengthening and supporting each other in our common search for Truth and Light.

Standing Committees of NPYM

Coordinating Committee

The Coordinating Committee (CC) supports and enriches the life of NPYM. It is the venue through which NPYM standing committees and monthly meetings share their work and inspiration. The committee identifies and links converging and emerging issues, and offers support to groups within NPYM. In addition, the committee provides support and guidance to NPYM standing committees and appoints a Pre-Nominating Committee each spring (see Nominating Committee, below).

The Coordinating Committee handles decisions that do not involve changes to policy, that are necessary to carry out the work of the yearly meeting, and that do not require full NPYM attention at Annual Session. The first step is to determine whether the decision should be referred elsewhere. Discernment is necessary to identify which decisions can be handled at Coordinating Committee and which decisions rightly belong at Annual Session or in an NPYM standing committee, monthly meeting, or quarterly meeting.

Executive Committee

The Executive Committee consists of the Coordinating Committee clerk, NPYM presiding clerk, clerk of Ministry & Oversight Committee, treasurer, Coordinating Committee associate clerk, and the rising clerk.

The Executive Committee can make decisions that are necessary to carry out the work of the yearly meeting. In particular, these include approval of nominations or expenditures (within the framework of the budget). The Executive Committee is also authorized to approve the hiring of staff. The Executive Committee can make decisions on behalf of NPYM as may be required outside of Annual Session and between Coordinating Committee meetings. The Coordinating Committee clerk may consult the Executive Committee to determine where to refer the matter or whether Executive Committee needs to make a decision. All Executive Committee decisions are reported at the next Coordinating Committee meeting.

Faith & Practice Committee

The Faith & Practice Committee is responsible for the development and revision of Faith and Practice, our book of discipline.

The Faith & Practice Committee reviews the entire book regularly in light of current NPYM practice, organizational changes, and minutes passed by NPYM in Annual Session. The committee also considers comments received from other NPYM committees, quarterly meetings, monthly meetings, preparative meetings, worship groups, and individual Friends.

The committee will express and represent the diversity of our yearly meeting in geography, spiritual expression, and size of meeting. The committee grows and shrinks in size as the needs of the yearly meeting warrant. A small committee, meeting annually, may be sufficient during the years between substantive revisions of Faith and Practice.

See “Revisions to NPYM’s Faith and Practice” below.

Finance & Legal Committee

The Finance & Legal Committee provides stewardship of financial and legal matters for NPYM, and support and guidance to the NPYM treasurer. This committee prepares the annual budget for the yearly meeting, to be approved at Annual Session; develops policies and procedures involving fiscal and legal matters; makes recommendations on insurance and legal affairs; and provides oversight and support for other NPYM entities with annual budgets (e.g., Annual Session, Junior Friends).

Information Technology Committee

Information Technology (IT) refers to the methods, processes, and tools for generating, sharing, and storing information, along with the policies and procedures to protect the information from loss and misuse. The Information Technology Committee provides technical support and guidance for the IT needs of NPYM.

Ministry & Oversight Committee

The Ministry & Oversight Committee (M&O) fosters the spiritual life and good order of the yearly meeting as a whole and at Annual

Session. Responsibilities include encouraging communication among meetings and worship groups; serving as a resource for local M&O committees; coordinating with other standing committees about trends and needs within the yearly meeting; and planning retreats and other educational opportunities.

Responsibilities during Annual Session include orientation for first-time attenders at Annual Session; presentation of the State of Society reports; meeting for memorials; care of the spiritual needs of individual attenders as needed; and care of the closing meeting for worship.

Nominating Committee

The Nominating Committee carefully considers the needs of the yearly meeting positions and asks appropriate people whether they will accept nominations to yearly meeting and Annual Session positions. The Committee prepares as full a slate as possible for approval at Annual Session. At other times of the year, nominations may be approved by the Coordinating Committee or the Executive Committee.

Pre-Nominating Committee. The Nominating Committee does not nominate itself. Instead, a Pre-Nominating Committee proposes new members of Nominating Committee to be approved at Annual Session. The Pre-Nominating Committee is an ad hoc group chosen by the Coordinating Committee in the spring of each year. It consists of two or three experienced Friends, usually members of Coordinating Committee, who carefully consider the needs of the Nominating Committee and NPYM as a whole. Each year’s Pre-Nominating Committee is laid down after the new members of the Nominating Committee have been approved.

Outreach & Visitation Committee

The Outreach & Visitation Committee seeks ways to provide and stimulate personal visitation and other forms of communication throughout the yearly meeting, with a particular concern for preparative meetings, worship groups, and Friends remote from any organized group. The work of the committee is meant to coordinate with and support monthly meetings, quarterly

meetings, and NPYM’s Ministry & Oversight Committee in their respective responsibilities in this area.

Peace & Social Concerns Committee

This committee’s main purpose is to facilitate communication and networking among meetings, worship groups, and other Friends on social and peace issues and emerging concerns. To do so, it networks with meetings and worship groups, NPYM representatives to Friends organizations working on peace and social justice issues, and other regional and national organizations that address issues of concern to NPYM Friends. This committee helps season peace and social concerns minutes to come before the yearly meeting as a whole.

Personnel Committee

The Personnel Committee hires and supervises the yearly meeting staff. The committee consists of the Coordinating Committee clerk, the Coordinating Committee associate clerk (who clerks the Personnel Committee), and the presiding clerk of the yearly meeting. The rising clerk is invited to participate.

Site Committee

The Site Committee is responsible for exploring and making site recommendations to NPYM about where future Annual Sessions might be held typically on a six-year rotation (two years at a site in western Washington, two years in western Oregon, two years east of the Cascades). The committee reports to Coordinating Committee and works closely with the presiding clerk and the general arrangements clerk.

Youth Committee

The Youth Committee supports meetings and worship groups in their work with children, youth, and young adults. This committee nurtures spiritual development and a sense of community for our children and young people, and supports their transition to adult participation in the life of Friends.

This committee administers NPYM’s Youth Opportunity Fund for young people ages 12 - 35, to support activities that promote their spiritual growth as Friends. See npym.org for details.

Committees related to Annual Session

Annual Session Planning Committee

This committee plans and runs Annual Session. The presiding clerk of the yearly meeting and the general arrangements clerk convene the group, which includes:

The Annual Session Planning Committee appoints other positions necessary to the event, including food coordinator, transportation coordinator, hospitality coordinator, creative activities coordinator, worship-sharing group coordinator, interest group coordinator, “Daily Bulletin” editor, and bookstore manager.

Epistle Committee

The Epistle Committee helps keep NPYM connected with the wider world of Friends through the use of epistles. The Epistle Committee writes an epistle “to Friends everywhere” describing the spirit of our Annual Session, which is then sent to yearly meetings around the world. The Epistle Committee receives and reviews epistles from other yearly meetings and shares these with NPYM Friends.

Friend-in-Residence Committee

Each year the yearly meeting invites a Friend from outside its membership to attend and address the Annual Session. The person, nominated by the Friend-in-Residence Committee, is

one whose experience and spiritual gifts are expected to enrich Friends at the Annual Session. The Friend-in-Residence gives a plenary session presentation and visits and interacts with Friends of all ages throughout the Annual Session.


 

Yearly Meeting Staff

Most work for the yearly meeting is done by volunteers. NPYM employs a secretary (hired and supervised by the Personnel Committee), an Annual Session Children’s Program coordinator (hired by the Personnel Committee and supervised by the clerk of the Youth Committee), and a webkeeper (hired by the Personnel Committee and supervised by the clerk of the Information Technology Committee).


 

Revisions to NPYM’s Faith and Practice

North Pacific Yearly Meeting conceives of Faith and Practice as a gift and a living, evolving document rather than a finished product and final word. It reflects the growing experience of NPYM Friends as we seek to know and follow the Inner Light. Friends are encouraged to read and use Faith and Practice in this spirit.

Changes to Faith and Practice come about in different ways. Revisions in Part I (Faith, Chapters 2-4) may arise from emerging spiritual disciplines and testimonies and from new Light on how we describe our experiential faith.

The Faith & Practice Committee ensures that Part II (Practice, Chapters 5-11) accurately reflects structural changes in NPYM (offices, standing committees, etc.). Other revisions in Part II may arise from evolving practices within NPYM on issues such as membership or formation of new meetings, or from new challenges facing the Quaker community.

Any Friends group or individual within NPYM may suggest changes to NPYM’s Faith and Practice. Suggestions that have been seasoned through group discernment are particularly valuable. All

suggestions are given in writing to the Faith & Practice Committee for consideration.

The Faith & Practice Committee collects minor “housekeeping” edits to Faith and Practice and updates the book when there are enough such changes to warrant it. If, after discussion with the Coordinating Committee, the Faith & Practice Committee discerns that some issue requires wider review, it follows the pattern for substantive changes.

When the Faith & Practice Committee discerns that substantive changes to a chapter of Faith and Practice are needed, the committee first consults with the Coordinating Committee and then communicates widely with Friends to prepare an initial draft for review and comment. It may at the same time request additional committee members to aid the work. A chapter may go through several draft-and-review cycles. The committee then presents a working draft of the revised chapter at one Annual Session for seasoning throughout the yearly meeting and again (further revised, if necessary) at the following Annual Session for acceptance. After the revised chapter is accepted, it is incorporated into the print and online versions of Faith and Practice. If broader revision of the whole book of discipline is required, the process of draft and review may take considerable time.


























Lucy Garnett

Salmon Bay Meeting