PYM Annual Sessions 2021‘s affinity groups continue to be an integral part of Annual Sessions every year. They are important because affinity groups offer a space to connect, and strengthen community by bringing people together to support each other in safe spaces.
Ministry & Care
One of the experiences of the pandemic has been the incredible strain placed on people parenting school-age children. This was acute during times of isolation and work/school from home, but the residual trauma may be felt by children and youth for some time. While no shared experience is the same for everyone, in many ways the circumstances of the pandemic uncovered or underscored an isolation and need for support being felt by families in our society today. This includes our Religious Society; when a family walks through the door of a meeting, there are three sets of needs we should be prepared to support: the spiritual formation of their children, the spiritual journey of the adults as individual seekers drawn to Quakerism, and the family unit as they search for a spiritual community for their family to grow and contribute in. [Read more…] about Support for Families in the Circle of Meeting Life
June was a big month for the Friends community as it emerged from pandemic conditions. A number of meetings have been “open” in one way or another for a time, others have met only via Zoom. Those that have been meeting in person for some time (including Centre, Quakertown, Little Egg Harbor, Plumstead, Horsham, and Third Haven) found that as (mostly) smaller communities they could find ways to safely meet. Some set up outside worship, developing and sharing safety protocols that were appropriate to meeting under the wide open sky. Numbers of communities–large and small–accessed indoor in-person worship once local restrictions eased by keeping windows open, or functioned safely by having plenty of space between people and requiring masks.
Philadelphia Yearly Meeting shares this resource to guide others in their process of re-opening. As is our Quaker practice, we have produced a series of queries to consider. After each set of queries, a few resources are included for further exploration. No matter what, follow CDC, state, and local guidelines. [Read more…] about PYM Guidance on Re-Opening
We’ve scrambled our plans for Annual Sessions and made something new! Register here for all programs described below!
Queries from PYM Faith and Practice are read at the beginning of worship each month at my meeting; one of the youth in our Young People’s Group is the reader. In May, they were the ones about religious education: Nurturing Our Community: Religious Education in the Home and Meeting. As we think about returning to weekly programs for our children and youth, what guidance do these queries offer? This summer is a moment to pause and consider the experiences and lessons of these past months and how they might shape our programs and support for young Friends and families in our meetings. The PYM queries ask us is place in the center of our religious education programs preparation, formation, and belonging.
[Read more…] about Part 2: Where are we going? Supporting Families and Religious Education
Johanna Jackson (she) is a member of State College Friends Meeting. She travels in the ministry with JT Dorr-Bremme, a Friend with a gift for eldering. They formed the Listening Project, a series of creative conversations rooted in love. Johanna writes about the spiritual community that sustains her, imagining how similar groups could help sustain others, too.
As part of Runway to Annual Sessions, ‘We Are the Radical Monarchs’ is a two-part event for all ages (10-100!). The first event will be a community viewing of the documentary on June 11, followed by a facilitated discussion on June 13. Friends unable to join on June 11 can register and receive the link to view the film on their own time June 12-13 and join the conversation on Sunday!
This documentary film tells the story of a different kind of “scout troop” — a group of BIPOC girls in Oakland, CA who coalesce personal leadership around environmental, LGBTQ+, and disability issues of their time and community. The Radical Monarchs co-founders and leaders, two queer women of color, shape and motivate their work. Below is an interview with Melinda Wenner Bradley, PYM’s Youth Religious Life Coordinator, who describes “fierce sisterhood” and “multigenerational joy” as motivations to host these events.
This is the first of a two-part story focused on local meetings and their experiences with programs and support for children and youth, and their families, in the last fourteen months of “pandemic times.” Families in our local meetings come in all different varieties; these stories are focused on families with children and the people parenting them (who also come to that relationship in a variety of ways, including foster parents and grandparents).
The people who support children and youth programs in meetings, in their Quarter, and the Yearly Meeting have expressed many feelings in this time — sadness at separation, joy in creativity, mourning for connections lost, delight in new ideas, frustration with lack of support, fear that families will not “return” when others resume community in person. I’ve written about the liminal time we’re in, and the opportunities this disruption/interruption provides to think in new ways. I’m also holding a keen awareness of the exhaustion and longing to return to “normalcy” that Friends may be feeling; it feels important to balance encouragement about new possibilities and succor for what feels lost or overwhelming. [Read more…] about Part I: Where have we been? Where are we going? Supporting Families and Religious Education
How do Friends experience the fire of the Holy Spirit? What questions and images do we offer in religious education to contemplate the inner Light? How does Pentecost help us to come close to these ideas? Pentecost was absent from my own religious education in an unprogrammed Friends meeting, and it was through work in another church that I came close to this story and found how it resonated for me as a Quaker.