Bethesda Friends Meeting
  • Home
  • 2021-Threshing-Prep-Activities

threshing prep activities  2021 through september 2022

Below are details of the threshing prep and diversity change group's events from 2021 through september 2022.

please click here to return to the group's current activities and mission statement.

On July 18, 2021, Meeting for Business approved the use of Anti-Racist Queries for Decision Making at BFM 

  • The BFM Change Group encouraged the BFM co-clerks to follow the Baltimore Yearly Meeting (BYM) example and create anti-racist queries that can be applied to our decision-making process at Meeting for Business and during committee meetings.  As a result, and drawing upon the BYM queries and modifications made by other Monthly Meetings, the co-clerks drafted two anti-racist queries for use at BFM.  These were approved at Meeting for Business on July 18, 2021. 
  • Please click here to see the queries and a summary of how they evolved

On Sunday, October 24, 2021, BFM gathered via Zoom for a Threshing Session.  

  • We listened to the Spirit working within and through us to discern what type of community BFM is, and who we wish to be, as we sought to be an institutional instrument of peace. 
  • For more details, please read the event listing and the October 2021 Newsletter article.  
  • For questions, please email us at or contact Gale T. (see BFM Directory).

Background and invitation to our Sunday, October 24th event

For several years and in many ways individuals and groups within the Bethesda Friends Meeting (BFM) community have sought to uplift our testimony of equality, especially as it relates to race. To see a timeline of key milestones, please click here.  There is much work and discernment left to be done.

  • The Threshing Session invited all to come together to discern whether BFM, as a Meeting, wishes to undertake an exploration of our identity regarding racism, what approach may be used to reflect on where we are as individuals and as a Meeting, and what transformative steps we are willing to take. 
  • As part of such reflections, we invite you to consider next steps, including whether the Meeting will need the support of an external facilitator. 
  • Depending on our commitments, we will need to consider how willing the Meeting is to raise funds required to compensate this person. 

On October 24, 2021, we gathered by Zoom for a Threshing Session. Click here for the invitation and details. We listened to the Spirit working within and through us to discern what type of community BFM is and who we wish to be as we seek to be an institutional instrument of peace.  We gathered in response to Baltimore Yearly Meeting’s June 2020 Call for Action against Systemic Racism, which can be viewed here The Religious Society of Friends, like all groups, has been damaged by historic racial injustice and our members and neighbors are harmed by persistent inequalities.  We are called to do better.    

  • Our gathering was facilitated by a weighty Friend to consider any queries that were provided in advance.  
  • For more information and links to our reports, please click here

~ Alex B., Margaret B., Jackie D., Peirce H., Gale T., Aura T. P. 

summary of the october 2021 threshing session

The Threshing session described above and held in October 2021 posed several questions to the wider community.  60 people attended and 21 spoke.  A brief summary of the session suggested: 

  • There is interest and willingness from a broad cross-section of the Meeting to address systemic racism. 
  • There is recognition by many that racism is pervasive and present everywhere, including within our Meeting – both in the socialization of those of us who attend and perhaps even in our patterns of behavior. 
  • There was roughly equally expressed desire to do the inner emotional and spiritual work that racism calls for and a desire for action involving Friends working side by side with others to advance the effort of combating racism in the world 
  • There were some, but not many, who commented specifically on the benefit of having external expertise. They shared experiences they had had on their own journeys and in the collective journeys of other organizations as they sought to grapple with blind spots and adopt new mindsets and behaviors. 
  • We did not hear much discussion on the topic of funding such expertise. 

Action in Montgomery: In response to the stated desire by some at BFM for externally-oriented activities, the Change Group recommended working with Action in Montgomery (AIM).  AIM is perceived as a vehicle for building skills and relationships with other religious organizations in the County to lay groundwork for subsequent initiatives that might emerge from the further Threshing Process. That engagement is currently resulting in a county wide agenda that includes collaborative efforts in climate change, affordable housing, accessible and affordable pre-K/childcare, as well as affordable and accessible care for adolescent mental health needs and immigrant/low-income individuals’ dental needs. 

External experts: In response to the lack of clarity on the nature and value that external experts could bring to BFM, the Threshing Prep Group developed and issued a Request for Proposal (RFP) to elicit more clarity on who might guide us, what the journey would look like, and how much it would cost BFM.  

After the October 2021 threshing session (see details above), the Threshing Prep/Diversity Change Group developed and issued a Request for Proposal (RFP) to elicit more clarity on who (as external experts) might guide BFM on a proposed journey to redress systemic racism, what the journey would look like, and how much it would cost BFM.  

Sunday, July 10, 2022, 9-10 a.m.: Threshing Session on the June 5 proposal

  • BFM held a Threshing session on July 10, 2022 at 9-10 a.m. via Zoom.
  • The topic was the proposal to engage external experts to guide BFM on a journey toward BFM’s collective identity and commitments as it pertains to redressing systemic racism in ourselves, our community, and the wider world.

July 2022: Next Steps in Our Collective Journey to Redress Systemic Racism

The Diversity Change and Threshing Prep groups are pleased and grateful to share that our proposal for “A Collective Journey to Redress Systemic Racism,” which was originally presented at the June 5, 2022, Meeting for Worship with a Concern for Business, was approved at the 17 July Meeting.

Our next steps from July-September, 2022, were

  • We sought to get a sense of who already knows they wish to participate and who is still contemplating taking the journey with us, and who wishes to have further questions answered so they can make an informed decision.
  • Since the fall 2021 initial Threshing session, Friends have been engaged in learning more about the proposal and the internal work we’ve proposed to undertake. Many have committed early to this journey, based on an expected time commitment of roughly a two-hour large group session on a weekend day and a one-hour small group session scheduled at the convenience of the group per month for 6-9 months. This included a participant fee with an option of "what I would be led to contribute."
  • After pre-registration, formal registration was set up in September 2022. For those who signed up, there was an opportunity to take a more active role in supporting the implementation, such as with the contract or relationship management or convening the small group work.

Implementation statement: Although we recognize that not everyone in the Meeting will choose to participate in this work, given the time and energy commitment, it is our hope that the entire Meeting will greatly benefit from it. We encourage both participants and the Meeting to view it as work being done on behalf of the whole Meeting. The Diversity Change group will continue to find ways to communicate and reach out to engage those who want to stay close to the work as we evolve towards an anti-racist community. If you have suggestions on how we might best do that, we’d be interested to hear from you.

  • Please click here to read the "NEXT STEPS in our Collective Journey." 

      Bethesda Friends Meeting

      Mailing Address:
      P.O. Box 30152, Bethesda MD 20824

      Our Meetinghouse is on the campus of the Sidwell Friends Lower School at the intersection of Edgemoor Lane and Beverly Road in Bethesda, Maryland

      We are a member organization of the Religious Society of Friends
      Contact Us

       | Login | Logout

      Powered by Wild Apricot Membership Software