In one way or another, for centuries, our yearly meeting has had a way manage our business between Annual Sessions. Faith & Practice shares that “In the year 1756 the Meeting for Sufferings was established in Philadelphia to represent Philadelphia Yearly Meeting between sessions and to carry out its work.” Meeting for Sufferings included twelve Friends appointed by the yearly meeting and four Friends from each of the Quarters. At some point this came to be called Representative Meeting. In the 1970’s for the first time attendance at Representative Meeting was open for anyone. In 1996 the name was changed to Interim Meeting. In recent years Interim Meeting has met six times annually. Anyone is welcome to come in addition to the the Friends who are appointed by their meeting to attend.
As a result of our continuing to seek for the most vibrant and connected ways to be in community and serve God, our manner of conducting business between Annual Sessions is again shifting. In the Fall we will have our first Continuing Sessions (read more in Implementation Committee’s news). To make room for Continuing Sessions, the last Interim Meeting was held on Saturday, May 9th. there were many Friends in the room who have attended Interim Meeting for years and who attended Representative Meeting before that. Interim Meeting has been the place where new General Secretaries have been approved, where we’ve struggled through conflict around our budget and where we’ve heard many stories of the growth and vitality of our community. Many people come to Interim Meeting to see their Friends and have years of memories of friendship on those benches. I remember attending Interim Meeting nearly a decade ago with one of my friends. She leaned over and whispered to me – look around at all the people who have been friends for years and years. I can imagine us sitting together on these benches when we are 70.”
Interim Meeting ended with Meeting for Worship with attention to our final meeting. There were one or two messages that expressed great pain at the ending of something that has been so meaningful. There were also messages of great excitement and anticipation at coming together in a new way – some of these from Friends who have been active in the community for a reeeaally long time (see Chris Nicholson, Germantown Meeting, in the picture!). I’m grateful to be part of a community that can hold a range of experiences and emotions while continuing to be faithful and move forward. I believe when I am 70 I will be sitting with my friends on benches making decisions about our community. The essential core of making decisions together that express our corporate experience of the Divine is not changing. We will be meeting less frequently with more people and in different locations – but we will be doing the work (and play) of the Spirit together.
We concluded the morning with cake to celebrate the occasion.