Meeting for Business Reports

If you would like a copy of our most recent newsletter, please contact Amy Cooke at amylisette(at)gmail(dot)com.  Thanks!

Current Reports:

12th Month (December) 2017


  1. Friends General Conference Central Committee report
  2. Interfaith Nevada County
  3. PYM Report
  4. Woolman Report
  5. Ministry & Oversight Report


  1.  Report on October Meeting of Friends General Conference Central Committee

at the Pearlstone Conference Center, Reisterstown, Maryland.

Don Kewman, GVFM Representative

Central Committee is the main decision making body for Friends General Conference (FGC). It is composed of approximately 100 friends representing affiliated yearly and directly affiliated monthly meetings such as GVFM who is represented by Don Kewman.

At this year’s Central Committee, Friends charged that FGC make programmatic decisions and pursue fundraising opportunities in order to continue our financial progress in 2018 and 2019, in order to achieve a sustainable budget for the 2020 Fiscal Year. This will likely necessitate a reduction in annual expenses of approximately $140,000

During Central Committee, clarity emerged on future strategic priorities. They are:

  • Continuation of the FGC Gathering. 
  • Ministry on Racism– This program is doing important work (including the Institutional Assessment on Race).
  • Clearinghouse/Yearly Meeting Connector– FGC should establish and enhance existing programs through which yearly and monthly meetings learn from each other. This includes cross-yearly-meeting fellowship and sharing.
  • Religious education (an umbrella for Spiritual Deepening, Welcoming Friends, Outreach, Faith & Play)– It is hoped that the Spiritual Deepening eRetreat platform could become be a tool to connect Friends across yearly meetings in a multitude of ways for sharing and learning around a variety of topics.

2.  Interfaith Nevada County 11/21/17

Attendees – Mike Dahle , Don Baldwin, Kevin Tarsa, Marilyn Nyborg (visitor from Indivisible Women), Jerry Ferrell, Eva Hamm-Ruben, Becky Goodwin, Barbara Walley, Lorie Adams, Mary Jane Ryan Connelly, Dianne Marshall

Everyone checked in.

Unity having an event for kids Dec. 2 Falling into Winter. Book they are studying “You can’t sleep through your awakening” .

Jewish Community celebrating with   Hanukah party December 17 at the Love Building from 2 to 5 pm.

Becky Goodwin said the Christian Unity Committee of United Methodist is very excited about the Homeless Summit and hopes to open Day Center on Monday soon.

Barbara Walley gave us cards to share to invite people to meditate one hour a day. They are hoping to get commitments for 1 million hours of mediation a day.

Mary Jane let us know that the hospital is looking for a full time chaplain and invited us to pray with her for that to happen.

We discussed distribution of the money collected for the fire victims – $400. We voted to divide it among the 5 families affected.

The Season for Peace and Non-Violence begins January 30 and goes until April 4 commemorating the memorials of Mahatma Gandhi and Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. We discussed having an opening and closing event. The opening would be either the Sunday before or after January 30 with speakers, music, prayer. We need to connect with the Peace Center and UNA for participation. More to follow.

We are invited to donate bus tokens and fast food coupons to Hospitality House

Marilyn Nyborg described the Living Room Conversation process and invited us to try it out in our communities. Kevin suggested that we host a monthly living room conversation in each of our communities. It would start as part of the Season for Peace and Non-Violence. We could sign up for a date and a topic. See


3.  PYM Representative Report to Grass Valley MM

December, 2017

The Annual Session will be July 9 – 13, 2018 at Walker Creek Ranch near Petaluma, CA

The theme is Radical Vulnerability. The call from the clerk will be out early in 2018 and will include who the keynote speaker will be.

In the past PYM once a year gathering (now called Annual Session) was a meeting with several sessions of meeting for business with a period of daily worship-sharing (a time where small groups met to consider a set of queries and spoke out of the silence, with silence between speakers.)   The Annual Session is evolving to include more time to explore continuing spiritual growth based on the experiences of Quakers of the past and continuing revelation. Many of the decisions are coming to Representative Committee, a gathering of all the officers of PYM and Meeting representatives, usually the first weekend of March. Rep Com meets this March in Orange Grove MM in southern CA.

For the past year, the clerks of both Quarterly Meetings, the clerks of both Quarterly meeting M&O’s, the clerk and assistant clerk of PYM, and the two co-clerks of PYM M&O have been meeting by conference call to begin discussions of how to reduce redundancy between Quarterly Meetings and PYM and to better serve Monthly meetings. If you have any suggestions or questions please email or call me, you rep.

Sandy Kewman

4.  News from Woolman at Sierra Friends Center

There is a lot happening here on these precious 236 acres in the Sierra foothills.  The restoration of Madrone Hall is nearing completion and will soon house the offices, labs and classrooms for the Sierra Streams Institute.  We are excited about collaborating with Sierra Streams, the local Nisenan tribe and others as we plan and pilot The Woolman Outdoor School.  Another new program, the Jorgensen School for Nonviolence, is in the planning stages and will support both budding and experienced activists in carrying out nonviolent direct action campaigns.  We have already begun working on Camp Woolman 2018, and eagerly anticipate the campers, ages 9-16, who will come and backpack under the stars this summer.

The Western Young Friends New Year’s Gathering will take place here from December 28-January 1, and FGC’s Development Committee will be here in March.

Our Annual Report was released last month.  With all of the changes that have happened here, we are sensing that we are entering a new era of vitality.  Your generosity helps us to take care of this land, bring kids to camp, and design new programs.  We are deeply grateful to the many Friends, near and far, old and new, who are reaching out to support this work.  Thank you!

Amy Cooke, Director

5.  Report for M&O – December

  • Ministry and Oversight (supports and) approves the letter written by Don Kewman, to Diego Navarro, clerk of PYM, in support of PYM’s affiliation to FGC.


  • We welcome your feedback on sessions on Aging and Racism (from November) and we are in the works on some follow up sessions on Aging in the late winter and possibly a parallel session on families with young children in the meeting later in the Spring


  • We will be hosting the FGC Development Committee in March (Thurs 3/15-Sun 3/18). There is an opportunity to take advantage of the experience of the Friends of that committee to host an Adult Ed. session on many possible topics. More to come.


Topics probably covered by others elsewhere in the Meeting for Business agenda:

  • Ornaments – M&O approves of Dianne Marshall hosting an ornament fundraiser for Hospitality House at the GVFM Christmas Party.
  • Letter of thanks to bring closure to the transfer of our remaining land-mine removal funds from ___________ meeting in New Jersey.


November 2017  APPENDICES:

  1. Ministry & Oversight Report
  2. Report on “Quaker Center Consultation”
  3. Sierra Friends Center Report 

Ministry and Oversight Report to November Meeting for Business

  • Don and Anita McCormick’s request for membership has been seasoning and comes for approval this
  • There will be a session after meeting on 11/19 on Queries will be asked of our elder Friends on their experiences of aging and the needs and lessons that arise as capacities decline. The session will include a chance to talk about what other further sessions our Meeting community may need around issues of aging.
  • Sharon Davisson and Sandy Kewman will be 2 or (at least) 3 people serving on the Arrangement Committee for the Marriage of Nora Cooke and Michael Meede (5/27/18 date). We are contacting Hospitality Committee to solicit a 3rd Other volunteers will be sought as the needs become more clear.
  • Ministry and Oversight is looking for names of people who would be willing to be speakers at the two Quaker Quest sessions happening early next year during the Season of Peace, for Placer County Worship Group. We will be asking some Friends if they will serve, but we are also looking for other names of folks who are interested in helping with this
  • Dean and Karen Olson attended Quaker Center Consultation in October. Both were moved and inspired by the sessions and other conversations they were a part of over that weekend. Dean is submitting portions of his report to the newsletter. We will be inviting , from Berkeley Friends Meeting who facilitated some of the sessions at the consultation, to come to GVFM to hold a session after meeting in Jan or Feb 2018, and want to offer an honorarium to cover travel, and we want to offer hospitality during his
  • We continue to work our way through our directory to reach out to Friends we have not seen much this year to reach out, connect, and use the question of whether they wish to remain in the directory as a conversation opener to ask them about their relationship to the

Report on “Quaker Center Consultation”

 Over forty participants came for the weekend event at Quaker Center, coming from five different states and Canada, each representing their monthly meeting. British Columbia, Northern and Southern California, Nevada, Oregon, Washington, and New Mexico.

Friday evening, after supper and introductions, our first exercise was to line up on a continuum of the smallest meeting to the largest. One was a worship group with around 10-12 all the way up to over 100 participants. Most of us fell along the middle area. Then we were directed to see the four notes, one on each of the walls surrounding us. The one continuum was personal, what our personal experience was: so one wall sign read “I’m engaged and active in our Meeting”, while the other side “I’m disengaged, waning interest in our Meeting”. The other continuum was our corporate Meetings experience from our perspective: the note on one wall read “Our Meeting is engaged and exciting”, while across on the other wall was note reading, “Our Meeting is disengaged, unexciting.” As we did each continuum, placing our self along it and then offered opportunity to share.

Over the weekend, we participated in six different events like this. We had different facilitators for each. It moved along fast and both Karen and I found it to be exciting, energizing and worth the drive.

It provided opportunity for each of us to go into our self and become aware of what is going on in our different meetings. Because this was done in a variety of ways, for one of the activities, led by the editor of Western Friends, it helped us focus on what was actually happening in our meeting and what that is expressive of. From the details I wrote down, I became aware of saying to myself “we are a healthy, vibrant Meeting, with a growing number of older people.” Later, in another program, due to it’s focus with queries like “What are the facts in our meeting that Friends might disagree about?” and “What are things unspoken at your meeting which you think it would be helpful to speak about?”, we were asked to write down a list of potential/actual conflicts /disagreements/divergent viewpoints/stress points we are aware of in our meeting. I was surprised at the list I wrote out.

In addition to the opportunities to go “in” and become aware of what is going on in our Meetings, we also interacted with each other – becoming aware of what other meetings were excited about and what they were struggling with.

This was were Karen and I felt our self becoming engaged and connected with other Friends. One example, a man from Santa Monica Meeting shared how he likes to go and visit other Quaker Meetings. This one time, he forgot to check ahead of time and when he arrived, he found the door locked. He knocked an a person opened it and shared this was the Sunday their meeting was on retreat. That they always had one person stay at the Meeting house, the guest suggested “since Jesus suggested wherever two or three are gathered in my name, maybe we could sit in worship?” And they did, and it was profound for both. Another Quaker shared how visiting Meetings around the country, seeking “what draws/doesn’t draw young Quakers and new participants to a Meeting?” He visited a Meeting in Cambridge and asked an elderly woman, “do you want to see young Quakers participating in your Meeting?” And she responded, “Oh yes! We need to learn how to work computers from them!” While when he visited a Meeting in Colorado, the same question to an older member there elicited the response “Why do we need young people coming? To challenge us!!” He shared how he experienced this Colorado Meeting as vibrant and alive.   A member at the San Francisco Meeting shared how she always interjects a contemporary query into the announcements after Meeting, like “Can you be Quaker and not be Christian?” She also provides a table every Sunday for one to one discussions, with the banner behind it reading “How is God moving in your life?”

And, as we felt closer to participants, we also experienced our ability to share deepening. We also were introduced to resources available, like events at Quaker Center, Quaker Speak, Quaker Quotes (which Bob Runyan has done and made available on line at Quaker Center web site). Karen became aware of the Epistles of George Fox and was excited for they were clearer than his Journal writings. We were introduced to Western Friends and the archives they also have, which go beyond the magazine and archive older Quaker material dating back into the 1800s. Literally, the actual material and photographs.

And as usual, the food was WONDERFUL! Like here at Sierra Friends and our potluck events, it was a group effort of preparation of the food, under the direction of Todd (who has been the cook their for the past twenty years).   And, the clean up afterwards. Sign up sheets were provided at the beginning of the retreat for all the needs chores.

We went from 8 in the morning to 9 at night, with breaks and time to meditate, walk, or catch some sleep — and being in the midst of HUGE redwoods! I felt to adequately “see one”, I needed to lay on the ground to look all the way up. And the terrain was either “up hill” or “down hill.” And when too steep, up the steps (or down). It’s breathtaking to be their, among these magnificent, majestic trees. And the out buildings are rustic and cozy.   In one we met for a ½ meeting, lined with rough sawn wood siding and a hand built door and a wood burning stove, I turned to Karen and said “I could see us living in this space.” Like here on Sierra Friends campus, they too have wild animals, and warned of being sure your windows are rolled up as “raccoons like to get into closed spaces.” And, “one evening, right out that window, the group meeting saw a mountain lion walk by.” When you turn off the highway to head up their drive, it is one mile of a twisting, turning, climbing black topped narrow road.

Sunday, after noon chores were completed, we got into our packed car and headed back down this narrow road, on our way home, very glad that we took the time to go, appreciative of this opportunity and energized from the experience.

Dean and Karen Olson

Sierra Friends Center Report, November 2017

Rebecca Sage Brune, JWS ‘85, recently remarked,

“This beautiful community and land has changed so many people’s lives, and is continually reinventing itself to serve and educate as many people from as many different backgrounds as possible. Being a part of this community has shown me the authenticity and ability to change in many people. I see people open up to each other and themselves in such a short amount of time. Every time I return it’s like drinking in soul water, being replenished and reminded of what a wise loving community looks like in form and function.”

This land and this community have nurtured individuals of all ages for the past 54 years. As we approach 2018, the board and staff of Sierra Friends Center are committed to continuing that legacy while creating new programs that are deeply rooted in our mission to, as Rebecca reminds us, create a wise and loving community that will continue to serve and educate many peoples from diverse backgrounds for years to come.

As you know, we piloted the Woolman Outdoor School last May and several more schools are in dialogue with us as we develop this program in partnership with Sierra Streams Institute. (if you haven’t seen it yet, check out the YouTube video on our website!).  Sierra Streams will be moving onto the land in January, moving their offices, labs and classrooms into the renovated Madrone Hall.   There are many possibilities blooming as the result of this partnership.

Camp Woolman and Teen Leadership Camp finished their 13th year this last summer, with enthusiastic campers backpacking on the Pacific Crest Trail and celebrating the inclusive culture of camp.  Another program, The Jorgensen School for Nonviolence, is in its gestation phase, with several visionary people helping us to bring this program into focus.  Named for two of our founders, Russ and Mary Jorgensen, this program is inspired by their pioneering work in supporting change through the powerful methods of nonviolent social action.

The board is also considering placing the land in a conservation easement through the Bear Yuba Land Trust. To that end, Marty Hunt-Coleman, the director of BYLT, gave a two hour presentation and Q&A to the our board. This would result in the development rights being extinguished, while the land itself would remain as owned by the CPFEA.

With your help, we can continue to nurture the spring of “soul water” that has nourished so many. Please help support us as we reach out to schools for the Woolman Outdoor School, strengthen our camp programs, host educational retreats and support social justice activism.  We believe that the world needs Woolman now more than ever.

Our board has created a matching fund for our Annual Fund Campaign – your dollars can be matched through December 31.

The board expressed gratitude for the loving presence of Grass Valley Friends Meeting. Your presence here, on this land, grounds all the work here in Quaker practice. On behalf of the staff, board, residents and community of Sierra Friends Center – thank you for your support!

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