Bethesda Friends Meeting

PAST ad hoc Committees

BFM Clerks form ad hoc Committees as they are needed. BFM's most recent (past) ad hoc committees are listed below. 

(Return to Current ad hoc Committees)  

Ad hoc Committee on the Disposition of a Gift to Help Palestinians

    Charge: In early January 2024, Bethesda Friends Meeting charged this committee to support BFM in an urgent Meeting-wide discernment process for identifying the best uses of a recent monetary gift. The donor requested that all of the money be “use[d] ... to help Palestinians wherever most needed,” and the Ad Hoc Committee will honor that restriction, with preference for those organizations and individuals that clearly advance Quaker values. Organizations and individuals with which Bethesda Friends Meeting has an existing relationship should be considered, but the disposition need not be limited to such organizations and individuals.

    The Charge also specified that the Co-Clerks, in appointing the members of the Committee, should draw on the “diverse gifts needed for such an undertaking” and include representatives from the Peace and Social Justice Committee, the Ministry and Worship Committee, the Helping Refugees Group, and the Stewardship and Finance Committee. Given the

    humanitarian disaster faced by Palestinians, the Committee was asked to work urgently and, if possible, to report its recommendations at the Meeting for Worship with A Concern for Business on 4 February 2024. 

    The ad hoc Threshing Preparation Group (2021-2022)

    Mission: In February, 2021, Bethesda Friends Meeting (BFM) agreed to move forward on a Threshing process to discern whom we wish to become as a Meeting (as it pertains to systemic racism) and which of the BFM-wide ideas generated will be taken up by the Meeting as a whole with an action plan.  The Meeting agreed: 

    1. to seek external expertise and support to help us with blind spots and with the organizational identity change we seek to clarify; and  
    2. to sanction the formation of a self-organized Threshing Preparation ad hoc Committee to investigate external options and shape an approach to the Threshing effort, with input from many sources, that will be imbued with Spirit and Quaker process.

    A 2015-2021 timeline of BFM milestones, as we have examined our testimony of equality

     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. Click here for a timeline giving an overview of some of our journey milestones at BFM. 

    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. 

    please click here to see activities from 2021 through july 2022  

      Ad hoc Racial Justice Donation Committee (laid down in April 2021]

      The group's purpose was to discern the best use for a monetary gift given to our Bethesda Friends Meeting in October 2020 by an anonymous donor wanting to “support racial justice.” 

      • On Nov. 15, 2020, BFM co-Clerks named to the committee Ron Akins, Alex Bell, Lauren Brownlee, Frank Greve, Ann Procter, Jillaine Smith, Michael Wallace, David Whitford, and Lu Molenje (clerk/convenor). The group met ten times between Dec. 13 and the selection process’s completion on Feb. 28, 2021.
      • The final report explains how the ad hoc committee went about responding to that request, the goals set, which groups were chosen as recipients and why, and what the committee discovered that might be useful to Bethesda Friends Meeting in the future. [If you want a copy of the final report, please use our Contact Us form.]
      • On April 11, 2021, Friends approved making the grants as recommended, including expressing the intent to find ways for BFM to maintain meaningful connections to these organizations. Friends then laid down the ad hoc committee with appreciation for the thorough deliberations involved in making their recommendations.  

      The ad hoc Committee on Assessing Racial and Generational Inclusion (laid down in 2017)

      Background to the formation of this ad hoc committee

      Baltimore Yearly Meeting's (BYM's) Diversity Initiative
      (from the BFM Clerks in June 2016) 

      Discernment on Growing Diversity (BYM)

      HISTORY of BYM's Growing Diversity initiative: In 2015, Baltimore Yearly Meeting (BYM) formed an ad hoc Growing Diverse Leadership Committee (GDLC), which was charged with discerning how BYM and local Meetings can work together to strengthen our faith and communities by increasing the participation of and quality of experience for young adults and people of color in our local and yearly meetings. As of 2019, Peirce Hammond of Bethesda Friends Meeting (BFM) is a member of BYM's GDLC.  [At Third Month 2019 Interim Meeting, BYM approved making the GDLC a standing committee of the Yearly Meeting.] 

      As one of its first acts in 2015, the GDLC requested information from individual Meetings of their current demographics (specifically age and racial identity), so that BYM can chart its progress.

      [As of 2016, BYM’s annual Community Statistics report asks for details of membership (though not individual members) by age and racial identity.]   

      BFM has, over the years, collected age data for its members (not attenders), but we have never collected the racial identity of members and attenders. If collected, this information would only be shared with BYM in aggregate form.

      BFM's discernment process in 2016:  In fall 2016, BFM began a discernment process regarding its response to the GDLC’s request.  The following lists the elements of our 2016 discernment process

      Some of us may feel uncomfortable talking openly about racial identity and may be reluctant to ask our members and attenders to provide that information. However, Quakers have long understood that there can be value in putting conscious attention on a topic and allowing ourselves to sit with and wrestle with it.

      If we agree with the principle of the GDLC’s request, the logistics of collecting this information would need to be determined. We hope that the Meeting will both read the supporting documents on our website and think deeply about this topic over the summer to prepare for this discussion.

      A good way to start would be to review the excellent materials the GDLC has prepared, especially the Diversity "Survey FAQs” document.

      In April 2017, as a result of considering the BYM Diversity Initiative, the BFM co-clerks appointed an ad hoc Committee on Assessing Racial and Generational Inclusion.

      This committee, its mission, and the results are outlined below.

      The ad hoc Committee on Assessing Racial and Generational Inclusion [laid down in 2017]

      Formed in April 2017, this ad hoc Committee submitted an interim report and a proposal on June 4, 2017.

      • Their proposal was to "...invite and encourage all who come to Meeting for Worship over a period of weeks from mid-June through September [2017] to respond anonymously, as they are led, to two questions, worded on a postcard..."

      The proposal was accepted by Meeting for Worship with a Concern for Business. Please click here to read the full report (PDF).  

      • The postcard used in 2017 is represented below.
      2017 POSTCARD

      Bethesda Friends Meeting is interested in including a diversity of people in our meeting activities, especially young adults (ages 18 through 35) and people with various racial and ethnic identities.

      • The first question is worded as follows: “We understand that race is a social construct and that all human beings share a common ancestor; nevertheless, how would you describe your racial and/or ethnic identity?”
      • The second question is worded as follows: “Are you between the ages of 18 and 35 inclusive?”

      [This ad hoc committee was laid down 2017, but the survey was reenacted in July 2019, see below]

      2019 Demographic Request from Baltimore Yearly Meeting (BYM):  At the April 2019 Meeting for Worship with a Concern For Business, the BFM co-clerks brought forward a request from BYM that monthly meetings repeat the demographic survey done in 2017.  The co-clerks reminded us of the process by which we responded to the request in 2017.  Friends approved using the same approach of an open-ended postcard system as was done in 2017 to accomplish this task with appropriate updates and edits. The co-clerks convened a small group to edit the postcard and to accomplish this task.

      Update in June 2019:   From the Clerks of BFMWho Are We?

                 Baltimore Yearly Meeting has again asked us to gather data about the racial/ethnic and generational composition of our BFM community. At the April Meeting for Worship with attention to Business, BFM approved the Co-Clerks’ recommendation that a survey be carried out in a way that is in harmony with a similar exercise in 2017. We do this with the understanding that it is only one step in our communal reflections on the opportunities and challenges of becoming the diverse community we wish to be.

      Accordingly, beginning on June 16 and continuing through the end of September 2019, all who attend our Meeting for Worship will be invited and encouraged to answer three questions on a postcard as they are led (or to decline) to answer some or all of the questions.

      The first question is worded as follows

      • “We understand that race and/or ethnic identity is a social construct and that all human beings share a common ancestor; nevertheless how would you describe your race and/or ethnic identity?”

      The second question is worded

      • “Are you between the ages of 18 and 35 inclusive?”

      A third question has been added since 2017 at the suggestion of the Ad Hoc Committee on Inclusion and is worded as follows

      • “Do you consider yourself a Person of Color?”

      The cards will be collected in a box on the credenza and will be anonymous. Thank you for your participation in this endeavor.  

      The ad hoc Committee on Opportunities for Our Future (AHCOOF) [laid down 2016]

      On 11/6/2016, at BFM's Meeting For Worship with a Concern for Business, a member of the Ad Hoc Committee on Opportunities for Our Future read the following minute, which was approved at the called meeting for discernment on the 8th day of the 10th month, 2016

      Bethesda Friends Meeting joyfully and gratefully accepts the invitation of Sidwell Friends School to move to the consolidated Wisconsin Avenue campus.

      Friends expressed great appreciation for the hard work of the committee in preparation for this decision.

      Click here to read the final report of the Ad Hoc Committee on Opportunities for Our Future, dated 12/4/2016. 

      • As AHCOOF has completed the tasks assigned to it by the Meeting, Friends approved laying it down (as of Meeting for Business dated 12/4/2016.)
      • Click here to go to the archival web page for AHC-OOF activities and FAQs, including the AHC-OOF Charge.  

      Ad hoc Committee on the Future of the Library Committee  [laid down 2016]
      The Ad Hoc Committee on the Future of the Library Committee was charged with “helping the Meeting discern the best way forward in structuring the [Library] Committee so as to protect and develop the resources of the library and to maximize its usefulness to the community.” It was formed in June 2016. 

      The ad hoc Committee report was submitted in October 2016, and is available in a short or longer format:

      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
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