Learning and Doing Anti-Racism at Annual Sessions

Addressing Racism, Annual Sessions, Peace & Social Concerns, Quaker Life Council, Religious Education, Worship and Ministry

Towards Transformation

We strive as Quakers to live our daily lives grounded in the center of our beings. In this striving, we gather as a community away from everyday challenges to strengthen our spiritual practice. As we strengthen our practice, ever deeper insights emerge, and we ready ourselves to embrace their transformative power.

Philadelphia Yearly Meeting Friends have continued to experience ever deepening insight into how gravely racism and white supremacy persist in the Religious Society of Friends and beyond. As this insight grows, so does a shared sense of urgency; there are many things to learn and do, because the work to end racism and white supremacy is truly a matter of life and death.

At our 2016 Annual Sessions, the learning and doing carries on. Please find below a brief review of the elements we have put in place to engage and support each other around anti-racism work this year. It is hoped that Friends will find this review helpful as we prepare to gather at Muhlenberg College, Wednesday, July 27 through Sunday, July 31.

We collected demographic information in registration.

This will help us see better the impact of racial identity on Friends’ experiences at Annual Sessions.

There will be three affinity group spaces again this year.

Affinity groups provide safe environments for people who share similar racial identities to explore the dynamics of race for their racial group. There will be three race-based affinity groups; one for people of color/Indigenous people, one for white people, and one for people who identify as mixed or multi-race.

There will be Undoing Racism Group Resource People.

These Friends are our elders in ending racism and white supremacy. They make themselves available to the community to support anyone in need of listening or questioning around issues related to racism and white supremacy. Because we had the painful experience during the 2015 Annual Sessions of some white people intentionally entering the affinity group space for people of color, this year Undoing Racism Group Resource People will also make themselves available specifically to ensure that white people do not disrespect this space reserved exclusively for people of color.

During Meeting for Worship for Business, we will address racism and white supremacy in several ways.

  • We will track patterns of diversity during our business sessions. These are patterns of behavior within group dynamics that often map onto various social roles, positions and identities.
  • We will consider a multicultural organizational development continuum and reflect together about how far along Philadelphia Yearly Meeting is on its journey toward becoming an anti-racist institution.
  • We will imagine what an anti-racist Philadelphia Yearly Meeting will look like.
  • We will hear about the work of our Undoing Racism Group, including several invitations and some struggle as we discern a way forward in identifying a place for our Undoing Racism Group within our governance structure.

Workshops will facilitate focused learning and doing.

There are many workshops being offered this year with topics pertaining to the work of ending racism and white supremacy.

Find out more on the Annual Sessions page of the PYM website.

The Annual Sessions page of the PYM website is pym.org/annual-sessions. There, you can find most of this information, with a few more details.

Do you have questions?

Call the PYM Help Desk, and we will find you an Undoing Racism Group Resource Person, 215.621.8481.

A Continual Practice

Ending racism and white supremacy is a continual practice, extending beyond the particular moments when we are singularly focused on it. Worship sharing, meeting for worship, business sessions, conversation spaces, and informal fellowship during meals represent important opportunities for learning and doing in every moment. We share what is on our hearts, and we seek divine guidance and support from each other. Through a discipline such as this, may we be transformed.