For the past two years, the Young Adult Friends community in PYM has been having a weekend retreat each season. Organizing these retreats as way of creating spiritual community has been a priority for the Young Adult Friends Working Group. The YAF Working Group meets together once a month to do our business, and a major piece of that work is planning the Winter, Spring, and Fall retreats, as well as a young adult community at PYM Annual Sessions [check out our Epistle from this past July!] Though the Friends serving on the YAF WG are a much smaller number than the active YAFs in the Yearly Meeting, we are finding ways to listen for needs and ideas, gather feedback on the programs that we have run, and make it easy to get involved, even if your life is in transition. After each gathering, we have an online survey to gather feedback from participants about the retreat – what did they like, what should we change, and how they might like to volunteer in the future.
The Working Group selects themes & creates programs that are relevant to our lives as younger Quakers. Our Fall Retreat theme is “Arts & Spiritual Renewal”, and our tentative Winter Retreat theme is “ In the World but Not of it: Living out our Faith.” Past themes have included: “Does Thee Quake”, on inward spiritual identity, “Sexuality & the Spirit”, “Food, Money & Community: Spiritual People Navigating Earthy Matters” and “Exploring Vocation in Community”. Many of these topics were suggested by YAFs on their evaluations! We’ve chosen dates for our retreats that coincide with many school breaks, so YAFs in college or graduate school may more easily attend. Our upcoming Fall Retreat is October 12-14, and our Winter and Spring retreats are January 4-6 and May 24-26 2013, respectively. Our retreats are held at monthly meetings – we’ve been to Swarthmore, Newtown, and Yardley meetings so far, and are headed to Abington Meeting this October. We’re always looking for new meetings to host us (preferably accessible via public transit for the many car-free YAFs!)
Before each YAF retreat, the YAF working group meets for a planning weekend. We have an extended time for meeting, as well as a time for fellowship and sharing meals with one another, as a way of modeling the community that we are fostering AND making committee service fun! Coming together in this way has helped us with visioning, ironing out the details of retreat, and getting to know each other better. We have found when we know one another, and the gifts that we bring, we are better able to listen to Spirit & serve our community.
We have dedicated volunteers on the YAF Working Group, but we can’t do it alone! Here are some ways to get involved, and help shape the YAF community!
If you are a young adult:
- Come to the Fall YAF Retreat!
- Tell other young adults Quakers you know about the retreat – it’s great to come with a Friend!
- Help out at the retreat: as a cook, worship sharing group facilitator, time-keeper, etc!
- Help out before the retreat: as a workshop leader, transportation coordinator, menu planner, shopping helper, etc!
- Join the YAF Working Group for a meeting (there are always snacks!)
If you’re not a Young Adult:
- Let the young adults from your meeting know about Young Adult Friends retreats & programs.
- Let us know if your meeting would like to host a YAF retreat!
- If you know of a good resource person for our retreat theme, or want to volunteer your time & talent, send us an e-mail!
- Consider the needs of different generations in your meeting community.
By Elizabeth Piersol Schmidt, Young Adult Friends Communications Coordinator