This is the 343rd Annual Sessions of Philadelphia Yearly Meeting! We’re sharing the Mott Memo daily recaps here on the website, a loving tribute to the august Quaker, Lucretia Mott. Each Mott Memo is a brief look-back on the day’s events. We hope you enjoy taking part in Annual Sessions through this tradition. Shared below is the news from Wednesday, July 26.
The College of New Jersey is buzzing with preparations for online and onsite programs! Staff arrived today on campus to set up tech spaces, childcare and youth rooms, tents for conversations on the lawn, tables for registration and welcome, and more. In this time of preparation, special attention is being given to how we will gather in hybrid ways when Friends arrive on campus on Friday. Three years of online Annual Sessions and our Continuing Sessions programs in the past year have set the stage for us to connect both across Zoom and in person as a blended community. Close to 400 Friends are registered for this year’s Annual Sessions, joining on Zoom, as commuters to TCNJ, and staying on campus in the dorm.
This afternoon’s Spiritual Formation Retreat was hosted by the Spiritual Formation Collaborative and facilitated by Tom Gates (Lancaster Meeting). The Annual Sessions theme of “Living with our Neighbors. Growing into Beloved Community.” was explored in relationship to the question that Jesus is asked at the beginning of the parable of the Good Samaritan, “And who is my neighbor?” One of the themes that emerged in the discussion was around being bold — “How will you be bold today?” It was a grounded and spiritually nourishing time for participants and you can join the continued conversation on Thursday, during the Spiritual Formation Program from 10:00 am to 12:00 pm (use the main Sessions Zoom link). Watch for the queries lifted up during worship sharing on Thursday (12:30-1:30 pm) to echo the themes of the retreat and program.
The evening program began with warm greetings and a land acknowledgement shared by presiding clerk Melissa Rycroft (Upper Susquehanna Quarterly Meeting). Melissa noted how happy it is to see one another, and to be together again. Our opening keynote speakers, Tucker and Sameer Manchanda (Newtown Meeting), led us in an exploration of “Love Thy Neighbor.” The evening was an interactive space that balanced sharing and reflections by Tucker and Sameer with the opportunity in breakout spaces on Zoom to gather with 2-3 others and explore queries crafted to lead us through the program themes — love, challenge, integrity, relationships. Times of shared group reflection in between the breakout discussions deepened the exploration of love in community. Tucker and Sameer asked us to consider: How is love the basis of ministry and where do love and integrity intersect? Slides used in this evening’s keynote will be shared!
An addition to communications this week are “Mott Minutes” (think: “hot minute”) which are 60-second-ish messages shared at the end of each day to reflect back and look forward. Catch presiding clerk Melissa Rycroft in the Wednesday edition on PYM’s Facebook and Instagram!
Remember, even though Annual Sessions has begun, you can still register to attend online. Please check out the schedule for the week and agenda for meeting for business. Join in our shared worship, fellowship, and witness!