Reflection is significant in our worship. We practice listening. We seek acquaintance with the divine. We find that of God in others and respect that of God within ourselves. These and more have been living spiritual experiences in the life and work of the Long-Range Planning Group.
Nearly three years ago the Yearly Meeting charged the Long Range Planning Group to discern specific directions for the Yearly Meeting as an organization and means to evaluate periodically how our systems are working. Re-Kindling Our Fire: A Five-Year Plan for Philadelphia Yearly Meeting is LRPG’s response to that charge. The plan attempts to capture what LRPG heard in listening as Friends expressed dissatisfactions with the past or present and hopes for the future. A theme that emerged is the desire to keep our structures simple so that our primary bond may be to God. We acknowledge that some decisions are for all of us while others can be delegated to small groups we entrust with responsibility and authority to act on our behalf and be accountable to us. We yearn to be more visible, vibrant, diverse and spiritually rooted; and we seek new ways to connect with one another and participate in the life and work that serves God and our wider spiritual community.
Reading Re-Kindling Our Fire could lift your spirits if you know what to expect. Our yearly meeting has over 100 meetings and close to 10,000 members – we are a large organization! When members cherish the intimacy and familiarity within their monthly meeting and possibly their quarter, some may resist shifting attention to how the larger level of our religious society operates. What you will find in the plan are vision and actions for our central work. Consider the vision; are we there yet? The plan is a roadmap so we may get closer to achieving our vision.
I encourage you to read the one-page Synopsis of the plan on the PYM website. For more information, the complete plan is also available on the PYM website: we suggest that you start with the overview on pages 6-7 of the plan, which summarize the six strategic directions and proposed action steps. A transition plan beginning on page 17 shows us the way over the coming year to move from our current structures to ones that are proposed. There are also two short videos available for you to view: one with Friends speaking about New Strategic Directions and one explaining the Proposed New Organizational Structure.
When you prepare yourself by absorbing the advance materials, you are preparing for a centered spiritual experience as we come together in Session to discern our way forward as a yearly meeting. You are likely to have questions about the plan – please join us at Annual Sessions for after-lunch “Conversations with LRPG” on Thursday and Friday in the plenary room.
In Session on Saturday afternoon, July 26, we will seek divine guidance as a wide and shared community. The Long Range Planning Group recommends the Yearly Meeting move forward together with this plan. In such a complex endeavor as a five-year plan, it would be unlikely that any one of us would be enthusiastic about every item in the plan – or satisfied that every item we had hoped to be there could be found. Discernment isn’t about my or your personal preferences. It’s about what it means to be a Religious Society of Friends.
Trusting in the Guide,
Suzanne R. Day
Long Range Planning Group
For more information:
Synopsis of the proposed 5-year Plan for Philadelphia Yearly Meeting
Re-Kindling Our Fire: A Five-Year Plan for Philadelphia Yearly Meeting 2015-2020
Video: New Strategic Directions (16 min)
Video: Proposed Organizational Structure Explained (12 min)