The Quaker Witness against "hireling Clergy" but not released Ministers

I for one do not find the cuts in staffing to be in the best interests of thelocal meetings and their members. This what I thought made up a Yearly Meeting, When I came from the Midwest, Ohio, I was surprised to hear the yearly meeting staff at 1515 Cherry being referred to as the yearly meeting. There are at least three different things called Philadelphia Yearly Meeting, staff, Annual Session, and Members of local meetings affiliated as PYM. The staff has grown beyond what is necessary for the facilitating of local meetings and their membership. The income for the support of staff has gone down over the last few years but the cost of PYM staff has consistently gone up even though numbers are about the same . It has been known that the Yearly Meeting Staff was "living" as a corporate entity beyond its means but nothing was done.
The local meetings and their membership are not living beyond their means and receive little help from Staff at a local meeting level. Most yearly meeting programs that have to do with local meetings have been started and are cared on by non-staff groups and some have even been laid-down because of interactions with staff was detrimental to the work of the group. I must admit that leadership and willing hands have not come forth from the members of the Yearly meeting, but isn’t this motivation part of what the staff is for?

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Comment by Tom Smith on 4th mo. 11, 2011 at 5:49pm
I believe "Quaker Institution" is an oxymoron. When the institution becomes the focus, it seems the nature of Friends communities becomes at risk. When individuals are "released" from within the community to serve the group there can be growth and development. When individuals are "hired" to do what others should be doing, then often the work that is being done becomes the focus rather than the community.
Comment by Henry Beck on 5th mo. 2, 2011 at 2:22pm

I've been struck, over the past few years, what it has been like to worship primarily with a small worship group that has no budget, no interactions with PYM and only minimal interaction with our sponsoring Meeting.  PYM, in this context, seems somewhat irrelevant.  We also seem to have a deeper sense of connection with each other and with the spirit than many of us have felt in larger more corporate gatherings.  


Some of the reductions at PYM staff seem to be sad, others inevitable, but it has clearly evolved to a place that is not sustainable by the existing membership.  I think that we shall move on and maybe even grow in spite of that loss.

Comment by Christine Manville Greenland on 6th mo. 7, 2011 at 8:15am



Thanks for stating this. This is also my experience of smaller meetings and worship groups in this and other yearly meetings.


When I first came to Friends (in a relatively new monthly meeting with no existing yearly meeting) an older Friend who had served in a responsible position here directed my attention to a pamphlet entitled  Quakerism, a view from the back benches.  It was co-authored in 1966  by a group of then young adult Friends, who felt that the yearly meeting (Philadelphia) didn't pass their "use test". This was 1966.  These Friends saw hope for smaller monthly meetings and worship groups, and suggested that larger monthly meetings might well consider dividing up into smaller meetings. They saw the benefits of quarters. 


Fourty-five years later, at least one of the Friends is active in his monthly meeting;  his counsel is sought on matters such as "leadership", particularly since he focused his efforts on his witness rather than on yearly meeting as an institution. 






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