Three times each year, Friends in local and quarterly meeting leadership (clerks, assistant clerks, treasurers, committee clerks) gather online with the presiding clerk and General Secretary. The gatherings include timely announcements and shared conversation, and are one way that we connect across meetings in the yearly meeting. The January 2024 gatherings included several announcements to share back to meetings, and small group discussions around topics of interest.
At both events this month, the PYM Strategic Directions were lifted up and we were reminded of the opportunity to participate in the FGC Gathering this summer at Haverford College. Reflections from the small groups are shared below, followed by the announcements. The next leadership gatherings are in May! If there are changes in clerk, treasurer, committee clerks, etc. for your meeting, please visit the “Meeting Updates” section of the website to update for communications from the yearly meeting.
The Quarterly Meeting gathering on January 16 had a time for three breakout groups. In one, Friends explored how meetings connect in their Quarterly meetings, and lifted up experiences like Quarter retreats and considered the question of how to increase participation by getting past assumptions that the same people will carry the engagement perennially. In another group, questions and ideas for the Thread Gathering focused on property and burial grounds were lifted up. A third small group followed the leadings of spirit and enjoyed getting to know one another more deeply! As always, it was a time of sharing and learning from one another across Quarters and meetings.
At the Monthly Meeting gathering on January 23, there were four breakout conversations where many ideas were shared. Topics for the small group conversations are gleaned from suggestions shared on the event registration.
Peace in Current Times: News was shared of meetings reviewing and discussing the Peace Testimony, and both new and ongoing peace vigils happening in local communities. Connections to the witness of Alternatives the Violence Project and Friends Committee on National Legislation were lifted up. Local actions and outreach, as well as learning on current issues, are focuses among Friends.
Financial Stability in the Long-term: Friends shared questions and experiences about ongoing stewardship of resources. Many ideas were generated about the process of grant applications and support offered from those with experience. Suggestions for how to structure meeting roles with care of finances and property were shared, and the importance of planning; Friends Fiduciary was mentioned as a resource for planning and investments. It was suggested that our integrity testimony requires that we address finances responsible.
Clerking & Eldering: Themes that emerged in this conversation included the idea of eldering as building community, and eldering as building relationships. Eldering requires support for both the person being cared for, and those doing the eldering. Conflicts in meetings, challenging relationships, addressing racism, and school-meeting care relationships are all areas where an eldering presence is helpful.
Spiritual Nurture: Friends expressed a shared yearning for adult religious education experiences and sharing in our spiritual journeys. The group discussed some of the challenges around scheduling, frequency, and tech issues; they lifted up the importance of personal invitation and making these programs accessible for adults who have young families. Existing ideas in meetings include: Spiritual Care Groups, Adult Religious Conversations, Meeting for Learning, “Margaret Fell Study Group,” and meeting retreats and camping trips together. [Note: there is a selection of Adult Religious Education and “Quakerism 101” materials in the Resources section of the website!]
We were also reminded that information about the Spiritual Formation Collaborative’s spring retreat at Pendle Hill, “Listening One Another Into Wholeness,” can be found on the website calendar.
Announcements for Meetings:
Tuition Aid for Quaker Children in Friends Schools
The deadline for applications to be signed by clerks of meetings and reach schools is February 15, 2024. There is a story on the PYM website with all the needed information to share with families. The news story includes a video message from members of the Quaker Education Granting Group. Please note that meetings should update their tuition aid contact with the yearly meeting as needed.
A Message to Clerks from the Addressing Racism Collaborative
Hi Friend – In this new year, we on the Antiracism Collaborative (ARC) of PYM wish you well and want to touch base with you. We will be reaching out to Meetings and Quarters to hear what is happening on your antiracism journey and how we can be of assistance. This is going to you as clerk, but if there’s someone else we should use as a contact in your stead, such as the clerk of your Social Justice Committee, let me know with a quick email or phone call.
Em Hotep – Wanda Wyffels, ARC Clerk, email@example.com
A Message to Clerks from the Aging Support Coordinator
As I begin my 3rd year with PYM, I am interested in learning more about what Meetings and Quarters have experienced with their aged members. It would be valuable to share the historical and present initiatives with other Meetings and Quarters. Aging concerns go beyond those needing support from Aging Assistance Granting Group and Greenleaf. Being thoughtful and listening to the interests and needs of aging friends has grown to ongoing working groups, series of presentations and videos, supportive programming for social and spiritual interactions. Sharing these experiences with PYM through a series of articles in the PYM News, entitled “To Brighten Your Day” has been an ongoing effort. I’d welcome your feedback with identified contact persons for follow-up. Looking forward to learning from your initiatives and sharing throughout PYM. Sincerely, Sheila Sorkin, Aging Support Coordinator, firstname.lastname@example.org