2011 Annual Sessions – Young Adult Friends Epistle

Annual Sessions, Epistle, Young Adult Friends

Young Adult Friends of Philadelphia Yearly Meeting send their love to all members of PYM and Friends everywhere. We are grateful for this time of accompanied seeking, support, and growth at Annual Sessions.

We are in a struggle to become or remain fully engaged in Philadelphia Yearly Meeting. While our individual experiences with this year’s budget-making process and outcome are varied, we are left with serious questions about our future as Friends in PYM. During this budget process and these sessions, we have felt a divide between the professed priorities and interests of the yearly meeting in regards to Young Adult Friends and the lack of institutional support as expressed through budget decisions. Despite these concerns, we as a community are steadfast in our intention to retain and strengthen our commitment to the yearly meeting. Though many of us are in an unsettled stage of life, we feel that Spiritual community is based on more than geographic location and affiliation; we need a Spiritual home.

The budget process over the past several months has felt disillusioning and dis-empowering. Many of us have tried to make our concerns known, and we have not been heard, not only because we are YAF’s, but because we are often Led to say things we sense others do not want to hear. Philadelphia Yearly Meeting must strive to remain open to Spirit-Led wisdom from all voices, even when those voices come from surprising places, express uncomfortable truths, or challenge the established and entrenched wisdom of our leaders. This spring has shown us a process controlled by politics, personal agendas, non-transparent decisions, and lacking in love, trust, and Spirit. Despite our sadness that such a process has resulted in the elimination of our staff support, the Young Adult Friends community is committed to co-creating a better process for the future.

The young adult community is struggling, not only with the financial fallout of the budget process, but with the implication we heard in the decision about our value to the yearly meeting. That message is difficult to accept. Young Adult Friends make invaluable contributions to the yearly meeting, in both volunteer and staff roles. We understand that our value does not lie in budget decisions, but rather our own Spirit-Led involvement, the gifts and creativity we have to offer, and our desire to continue be part of the whole.

Although much pain surrounds the decision that was made to eliminate the YAF Coordinator position, the YAF Working Group is seeking a structure to move forward. We want and need support from PYM and other Friends organizations. Some of that support needs to be financial. Some needs to be making a greater effort to know and work with this population, name and nurture the gifts that exist in it and connects us and strengthens our relationships and spirit.

Young Adult Friends are not the future of the Yearly Meeting, but the present. The wider PYM community needs its Young Adults just as much, if not more, than Young Adults need the wider PYM community. Outside of business sessions, many Older Adult Friends expressed interest in engaging with Young Adult Friends and hearing our needs and concerns. For that, we express our gratitude. The YAF working group is committed to organizing YAF events and retreats throughout the coming year. As a community, we are determined to take these setbacks as an opportunity to grow stronger and build our program through adversity; as members of the wider yearly meeting, we are led to help PYM in seeking the same guidance for the rest of its programs. We believe that the YAF community has a bright future, as we seek to be faithful to that which we are called.

With love and peace,

The PYM Young Adults Friends.