All members of its constituent monthly meetings are members of the Philadelphia Yearly Meeting of the Religious Society of Friends and should feel under the weight of duty to attend the annual sessions and participate in its deliberations and decisions. In meeting for worship for business and other forums, members come together in annual or special sessions for assessment of the life of the Society, the conduct of business, spiritual refreshment and commitment, and the renewal of the bonds of friendship.
Information, insight, and concern are received in a worshipful spirit and often evoke deeply felt responses. The yearly meeting may be led to unite in an expression of concern or in a decision for specific action. Since such expressions or actions speak for the entire membership, responsible bodies should carefully review in advance any concerns or proposals for action which are to come before the annual or special session.
Annual sessions can also play a role in the chain of assessment and oversight through the reception of and response to the annual reports of the quarterly meetings.
An annual session may have before it many actions to consider or few, but each year one of the weightiest is the budget. Budgetary proposals are given wide circulation well in advance of the annual session, with ample opportunity for comment. The discussion of the budget is most useful when it explores the spiritual and testimonial implications of budgetary decisions and elicits and weighs ideas that will influence future budgets.
Sessions are for everyone—individuals and all kinds of families! Members and attenders of all ages from PYM monthly meetings are encouraged to participate. Members of other yearly meetings and other interested persons are also welcome and often join us.
In annual sessions we get to know ourselves as a whole community. We worship together, practice spirit-led discernment in Meetings for Business, recreate in age specific and multigenerational programs, and enjoy fellowship in quiet times. There are many opportunities to share witness from our meetings and the wider world. Friends may stay on campus full time, attend for just a day or two, or commute from home.
“As Spirit accompanied us in Meeting for Worship for Business, afternoon conversation groups, evening workshops and morning worship-sharing, Spirit was also present among those Friends who sat outside the dining hall writing in journals, talking quietly, or walking around the campus. The cicadas sang throughout the morning and into the night while young Friends rode scooters, played dress-up, and listened to guitar music under the tents outside Taylor Hall. At night, children and their parents caught and released fireflies: a picture of our past, our presence, and our future.” From the PYM Annual sessions Outgoing Epistle, 2013.