AGM 11.00, Saturday 12 Sept 2020, on Zoom

Minutes

2020 AGM 1

We are meeting on Zoom and have 15 F/friends present.

020 AGM 2

Clerk’s report

We heard a report of the activities over the past year, including the current membership number and Friends serving on the committee. We heard a reflection on the richness of the Westminster gathering in February, and our looking forward. In relation to Pride, we want to acknowledge its importance for campaigning as well as celebration and will change the word ‘parade’ to ‘march’ in the report.

2020 AGM 3

Treasurer’s report and accounts

Zemirah Moffat presented the accounts for the year 2019, which have been independently examined by Doreen Osborne.

Due to donations and the lack of travel expenses this year, the account shows a healthy balance, but we welcome donations as we do not have a subscription charge. We noted a generous donation from Sheffield LM and one is anticipated from Geneva meeting. The bank accounts have new signatories for the handover from Mary to Zem. We thank Mary Aiston and Zem Moffat for their work.

During the Covid-19 restrictions, we noted that fund should be used to enable the engagement of members. The committee has agreed to establish a bursary fund to ensure everyone can engage in our planned activities.

2020 AGM 4

Communications report

Jarom presented a report on development of the website and the newsletter which has taken place over the past year, enabling members to be more engaged and informed. We noted that items in the newsletter should be treated carefully as public even though it is a subscription-only newsletter. We considered whether the newsletter might have a members section to access newsletters, noting that we must protect members confidentiality in website articles. We anticipate that newsletter articles will be shared on the website. We noted that accounts and reports can be attached to webpages as pdfs for members’ information. We thank Jarom and Peter Grant for their valuable work on communications.

2020 AGM 5

Linked groups reports

We heard reports from our link groups Quaker Lesbian Group, Young Friends General Meetng Midlands, Chichester Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity Inclusion Group, Scottish Gallivanters, the ‘With Full Conviction’ project. We celebrate the energy and engagement and outreach of these activities and recognize that QGSDC is part of a Quaker network of upholding Friends. We noted that the committee will establish a link with the Quaker Disability Equality Group.

All the reports heard today will be put in the newsletter.

2020 AGM 6

Constitution

We heard that the constitution has been updated to accompany QGSDC becoming a Quaker Recognised Body in November 2018. The constitution has been developed from the original constitution for Friends Homosexual Fellowship in the early 1970s. We thank Michael Booth for his support in preparing this. We noted the elements of the constitution relating to aims, activities and membership. We noted the following changes:

We would future-proof the document by saying ‘the groups presently known as’. We noted that the constitution can be amended at future AGMs.

In ‘Activities‘ – ‘Providing Quakers and Quaker Meetings with information and opportunities to consider, discuss and explore sexual orientation and gender diversity issues and experience, particularly challenging prejudice and bias, and to celebrate our joys within the context of the Quaker testimony to equality.…

We agreed to adopt the constitution for QGSDC.

Close.


Clerk’s report

The last AGM was at BYM at Friends House in May 2019.

QGSDC currently has 256 members. This has increased by about 65 over the year. We receive enquiries via our email address and members sign up via the webpage, giving their name, address and Quaker meeting. Each agrees to our data protection and confidentiality practice.

The committee members are:

Zemirah Moffat – co-clerk, treasurer,

Yvonne Wood – co-clerk

Jarom – membership, website and newsletter,

Chloe Scaling – YFGM rep

Neil Macdonald.

Yvonne Wood will stand down from committee after the AGM. Zem Moffat will serve as treasurer but will not continue as co-clerk. We would like a rep from Quaker Lesbian Group.

The committee has seen some changes – Mary Aiston and Rob Francis stood down at last years AGM; Michael McClaren resigned form Quakers, Deirdre Haslam stood down as QLG rep, Julia Richardson served the committee briefly. We thank these Friends for their service. 

We held two gatherings in 2019 – 2020:

Quaker Lesbian Voices, on 2 Nov in Coventry MH:

We welcomed thirteen Friends to our QGSDC gathering Quaker Lesbian Voices at Coventry Meeting House, 2nd November 2019. We heard moving testimonies from three Friends reflecting upon their sexual realisation; coming out to families, religious and social communities; the sense of loneliness; the finding of joy and belonging in loving sexual relationships, in new communities and in worship.  We have seen how experiences have both changed and stayed the same, across generations.

Working for Inclusion, on 1 Feb, Westminster MH

Over twenty friends gathered at Westminster meeting house to celebrate Quaker work for inclusion. We heard talks from Michael Booth and Edwina Peart, from Friends House. We heard about the journey to equal marriage, through learning about each other, testing concerns and the way Quaker discernment surprised us and influenced the law. We heard about Quaker work on exploring diversity and inclusion, starting from race and class.

Minutes for both gatherings are on the website. 

The committee had planned gatherings in Glasgow in May, at Yearly Gathering in August, and Liverpool in the autumn. These did not happen because of Covid 19 precautions.

Last November, QGSDC was a co-supporter of an interfaith LGBT+ evening, organized by the Faith and Belief Forum. Several Friends attended this event, where we shared food and conversation across many faith traditions.

We have been heartened by fellowship between Friends in Young Friends General Meeting, Quaker Lesbian Group, the Midlands Quaker LGBT+ Fellowship, Scottish Gallivanters, Chichester Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity Inclusion Group, the With Full Conviction project. We hope we can all feel part of a network of fellowship and support.

Since April, following an initiative by Abigail Maxwell, there have been weekly Zoom QGSDC meet-ups to connect, enable reflection and offer mutual support. Abigail has hosted a session each Monday evening and Mike Jones has hosted a session on Friday afternoons. This has enabled Friends to get together, who might otherwise not travelled to a gathering. Each session had between 2 and 10 people, with several regular attenders and constant new faces.

On 23 August, we held a Zoom meeting for worship attended by 15 Friends.  There was a majority of older Friends, as commented upon by a young Friend.

We had booked 50 places for QGSDC in the parade for London Pride. The event was cancelled and our booking will be held over for the new date. We have not been asked for payment yet. We were included in a Pride display on the giant Piccadilly Circus advertising screen in early July.

This report is before you Friends.


Communications Report

Newsletter:

QGSDC has issued 10 newsletters to a gradually growing readership since last year’s AGM – currently our mailing list has 242 subscribers. Our newsletter is issued electronically via Mailchimp, a free mailing platform.

We do note on our website that paper copies can be supplied if preferred, welcoming a voluntary donation toward the cost of printing and postage. There have not been any requests for posted copies to be sent this year.

Paper copies were at one time issued via Quaker Prison Chaplains for distribution within prisons for anyone interested in our group. Along the way this contact has been lost, however an email has been sent to the Chaplaincy Support Officer at Friends House, Marleen Schepers, requesting relevant contact information to be supplied. I note Marleen is furloughed along with many others at Friends House at present.

As well as keeping members informed of events and activities, the newsletter is intended to promote engagement and dialogue, for example on issues affecting the community. We hope also to make this a space where more members feel they can contribute and share with the community, be it personal news, writing, photos, or artwork.

Website:

The website has been revamped this past year, with some improvements made and still more to come. New content has been added covering a range of topics and we continue to encourage new articles and personal stories and testimonies from across the community.

A continuous process, we hope to make the website easier to navigate and generally more accessible to a wider audience, and hope this will be a useful resource on the group’s history, our work, and experiences. 

We are grateful to all who have contributed their stories and articles for inclusion on the website, and hope very much that our website can be more fully representative of our community in all its diversity and that all are made to feel welcome to be engaged, to contribute, and to make suggestions for content or improvement.

Social Media:

We have a private Facebook group with 268 members which is well used, and a Twitter account with 674 followers, which we have rarely used this year.


Report on SOGII

SOGII – or the Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity Inclusion Group, to give the full name –met every two months in the Chichester Quaker Meeting House until the arrival of lockdown prevented this. Since then Maria Martin, our convenor, has put together an excellent monthly newsletter made up of contributions from members of the group, and providing information and news.

Yvonne has given regular reports on developments at QGSDC, and I have reported in my capacity of Area Meeting Alternate on relevant matters that are being considered by Meeting for Sufferings

A letter of support was sent to Hannah Brock Womack following the decision by Churches Together in England to ask her not to take up her appointment as the fourth President of CTE because she is married to a woman; this had a very appreciative response.

SOGII Friends attended the Transgender Day of Remembrance candle lit vigil at Chichester University where the 311 (known) people killed worldwide during the past year were remembered.

There has been an ongoing discussion “Being Allies~Being Friends”, in which Friends have shared accounts of their own ‘coming out’, how allies had helped them on their personal journeys and how that had affected their own view of Ally-ship. These included information about support groups found through ‘Time’ Magazine; the Mermaids organisation; family members and friends in faith groups.

SOGII has received regular reports from me on the progress of the “With Full Conviction” drama project, and Friends have given considerable support to this.

Sadly, there has been no opportunity during 2020 for SOGII Friends to be involved in local Pride events, as in previous years.


Report on Scottish Gallivanters 

The Scottish Gallivanters are an informal group who usually gather around 4 or 5 times per year. There are currently 19 on the mailing list with somewhere around 5 to 10 who actively attend meetups, which mostly happen in Glasgow, although the group sometimes travels further afield to Scotland’s deep south or east coast where some members of the group are based.

Meetups generally start with Meeting for Worship, followed by a shared lunch and (in the spirit of adventure and spontaneity) some discussion about what to do next – this could be an exhibition or event, or simply a trip to a café for a catch up.

Since last AGM we have managed just three gallivants:

On 2 June 2019 in Glasgow, this was an informal meetup including 3 new faces and lunch at a café. The following gallivant was planned for August at a remote location at one Friend’s home, there unfortunately were some issues which prevented this from going ahead.

On 13 October 2019, again in Glasgow, Gallivanters attended an Interfaith Event on the subject of Music and Faith. We heard members of Glasgow’s Sikh and Alevi communities speak on the significance of music in their respective traditions and perform music on traditional instruments.

The Gallivanters’ outings depend on travel and physical presence which, sadly, during much of 2020 has been not been possible.

The most recent gathering was on 16 February at Glasgow Meeting House, where Mary Woodward spoke on the work of the Quaker Faith & Practice Revision Committee followed by a discussion on what role QGSDC had to play in this.


Report on Midlands QLGBT+ group

Midlands QLGBT+ has been carrying on healthily for decades, since the days when it was Friends’ Homosexual Fellowship.

Attendance at events is usually about one dozen. We sometimes have joint events with local members of the Quaker Lesbian Group and “Movable Feast”, a local women’s group.

We cover an area, mainly West Midlands, roughly centred on Birmingham, including Kidderminster, Telford, Leicester and Lutterworth, recently extended to Nottingham with a contact from the national QGSDC Zoom meetings.

Events, before the lockdown, included:

  • Visits to Open Gardens.
  • Roughly yearly to Birmingham Museum and Art Gallery, where we might spend as much time in the Tea Room as in the Gallery.
  • In each others’ homes, a Plant and Book Sale (with Tea), or a Quiz (with Tea).
  • With so many Quakers being retired teachers or social workers and the like, a fairly intellectual quiz goes down well.
  • For meetings with a speaker, and the AGM, we’re more likely to use a Friends’ Meeting House, often Wolverhampton (with Tea).

At meetings with a speaker, we have a collection to cover speaker’s expenses and a donation to the Meeting House. Money raised at events such as a Plant and Book Sale goes to a chosen charity, such as Severn Hospice. At the AGM, we choose a charity to receive the usual surplus in our bank account.

The lockdown has pretty well halted our activities, but we had our first Zoom meeting in the middle of July, and members have provided quizzes and details of other organisations’ online arts festivals/events for circulation by email. We have a Zoom meeting planned for October.

Attendance includes several lesbian couples, but only one gay couple are able to come regularly. A variety of single lesbian and gay people, but so far no trans, although that may change, especially if anyone here wants to join us. It’s a very friendly and welcoming group. Unlike the national group, we do have a yearly subscription, but it’s very small, since the treasurer never seems to have any expenses. Please have a look at our (relatively new) Midlands QLGBT+ website on which you can find initial details of our next Zoom events, and a Contact Form.