SEYM Breaks New Ground with Field Secretary for Earthcare
This April, Southeastern Yearly Meeting gathered and among other decisions Friends took a huge leap of faith. They established a new, full-time position under the care and guidance of SEYM and its Earthcare Committee: Field Secretary for Earthcare. This position will have a salary and benefits. Its work is outlined by the minute posted on the SEYM website (http://www.seym.org/earthcare-committee.html).
This new position is the outcome of many Friends’ efforts to bring Earthcare issues and climate change in particular to a level of attention commensurate with its urgency and need. The bioregions within the area of SEYM are all particularly vulnerable to climate change and its effects on sea rise, water, and more.
Some time ago SEYM Friends began sending representatives to Quaker Earthcare Witness meetings and established an Earthcare Committee. Three years ago the Earthcare Committee offered a Minute on Climate Change which went through a year of seasoning. At last year’s SEYM gathering, the Minute on Climate Change was approved. When it was, Phoebe Anderson, the Clerk, asked that we all consider how to implement the Minute. She reminded us that often we, Friends, are good at writing elegant and beautiful language and then letting it go at that. She challenged us to find a way to turn the words into productive action.
The Earthcare Committee undertook writing a working set of Minutes to implement a position for a person led to this work. Over the year, these Minutes were threshed by Monthly Meetings and the committee brought those results to this year’s SEYM Gathering.
After the first reading, there were many valuable comments that needed to be considered. Lunches were given over to the work, and weighty Friends thoughtfully and spiritually reshaped the Minutes into five separate and interdependent Minutes to establish the Field Secretary for Earthcare (FSE) position as a full-time role; to set up a restricted fund for donations specifically for the financing; to ask the Trustees to put in money to seed the fund; to evaluate the work of the FSE at the next Gathering to determine whether the position should continue.
Each of the five Minutes were brought to the fourth plenary and offered one at a time. As each Minute was discerned and approved, we felt the room alive with spirit and Light. Each step unfolded this beautiful blossom. It was truly an exercise in Quaker spirit-led process.
What had come out of the Earthcare Committee as a humble recommendation for a part-time volunteer as Field Secretary for Earthcare through the nurturing and care of Friends in action bloomed into a full-time position, with seed money beyond initial requests and expectations. It was emotionally, spiritually, and physically challenging to experience. It is clear that we were held in the Light by the Gathering.
Before we left the Plenary, we had added nearly $3,000 to the fund established only minutes prior with donations from those present. There was a buzz of excitement that we had accomplished the first steps in a very important movement toward doing our moral part in caring for Earth and future generations.
Now new tasks lie before us. We must quickly build the fund to the minimum we have set for the position, find a spirit-led individual to fill the position and get the real work of the Field Secretary for Earthcare into motion. To this end, we have raised about one third of the money and we are seeking donations and grants to help find the rest. Our target is a modest $30,000 to cover salary and benefits.
We will update our progress with other articles as our preparations continue to unfold, and we hope that other Yearly Meetings will find a way open to a similar action. Anyone who is interested in the particulars of the process to this point can visit the SEYM Earthcare webpage or contact one of the SEYM Earthcare Committee co-clerks: Barbara Letsch at email@example.com or Brad Stocker, firstname.lastname@example.org We are anxious to share this with others as we feel deeply the pains of Earth.
If you are so led to help fund the position, checks can be made to SEYM with a memo or note on the check that it is for FSE. Send them to:
P.O. Box 4024
Winter Park, Fl. 32793