In this year’s Fall issue of the The Tote Bag: PYM Religious Education and Family Resources newsletter you’ll find events and resources to support getting ready for children and youth programs in meetings, including programs on welcome and safety for adults who serve religious education programs. Also shared below are ideas for celebrating our world family of Friends with World Quaker Day on October 1st and the upcoming 400th birthday of George Fox. The Anti-racism Learning & Action section of the newsletter focuses this time on Native Justice and recommended books that center Native American voices.
- Newly Updated! Under the “Resources” tab on the PYM website there is a section of Religious Education resources for all ages. Curricula, supporting materials for adults teaching and for parenting, handouts and articles!
- What’s Next? Planning Guide 2023 is a tool to explore where you’ve been and where you are led to go, to assist with planning children and youth programs.
- Planning Calendar for Religious Education Programs 2023-24 is a blank planner ready for your meeting program to fill it in; with resources online linked and special events/holidays noted for September 2023 to June 2024
- Are adults not in worship on Sunday morning because they are with the children’s program? Consider celebrating their service with the Youth Religious Education “Minute of Travel” for Religious Service
Fall Events for Friends Who Support Children & Youth Programs:
Quaker RE Collaborative Conversation Circles
August 29 (1:00pm ET) & August 31 (8:00pm ET) on Zoom; registration required
“Is your Meeting welcoming to families, children and youth?” Additional information, queries, and resources at website link above. Join this conversation to explore preparations needed to grow and sustain your meeting’s ministry with families and children. Speak with Friends who have deep experience in welcoming, including, respecting and learning from children and families.
Religious Education Community of Practice Check-in
NEW DATE: Wednesday, September 20, 7-8:30pm on Zoom
Gather with Friends who support Religious Education programs — First Day School, Children’s Meeting, Youth groups — in the local meetings in PYM. What’s next for how we offer spiritual formation and experiences of community to young people and families? This will be a space to share ideas and be supported and inspired by one another!
Child Safety in Meetings: A Conversation About Best Practices
Saturday, September 23, 2-5pm at Old Haverford Meeting
Please join a conversation about creating safe Meeting communities. We will consider what a safe community looks like, discuss best practices for designing a safety policy for a Monthly Meeting, and share thoughts and ideas. In order to grow in God’s Light — physically, spiritually, and emotionally — our children and youth must both feel safe and be safe.
Anti-racism Learning & Action
As we enter the fall, November is not far off and the focus on Native American Heritage Month and observation of the Thanksgiving holiday. One of the resources in the PYM Religious Education collection is “Choosing Excellent Children’s Books By & About American Indians” created by the The Indian Affairs Committee of Salem Quarter. More resources for how to approach these topics can be found in the Native Justice section of the Racial Justice resources on the PYM website.
We Are Water Protectors
written by Carole Lindstrom and illustrated by Michaela Goade, is a beautiful book that honors the particular relationship between indigenous Americans and the local environment, and is also an invitation into the work of protecting the water we have been given all around the globe. Recommended by the PYM Eco-Justice Collaborative! There is an excellent We Are Water Protectors activity kit to go with the book!
The First Blade of Sweetgrass: A Native American Story
by Suzanne Greenlaw and Gabriel Frey and illustrated by Nancy Baker, is an Own Voices Native American picture book story. A modern Wabanaki girl is excited to accompany her grandmother for the first time to harvest sweetgrass for basket making, as her ancestors have done for centuries, leaving the first blade she sees to grow for future generations.
There is also a middle/high school edition of Robin Kimmerer’s work, Braiding Sweetgrass for Young Adults. Upper Susquehanna Quarter is using the youth/young adult edition for the Book Club Discussion at their Fall Gathering!
Celebrating the World of Friends: Past & Present
Opportunities for worship and fellowship with Quakers in other places — whether inter-visitation with meetings in PYM, or travel in our world family of Friends — and experiencing new practices and contexts within our shared faith can be transformative. Friends World Committee for Consultation is helping us celebrate two events as part of the lead-up to the World Plenary in South Africa next summer. Here’s a handy map for “finding” Quakers around the world!
World Quaker Day is Sunday, October 1
This World Quaker Day Friends everywhere are invited to learn about ubuntu, pray for the world family of Friends and our neighbors, and take action for the environment. A film has been prepared by Southern Africa Yearly Meeting as a spiritual preparation for the theme of ubuntu. Please watch and share with your Quaker community! More ideas and how to share about your meeting’s celebration: fwcc.world/worldquakerday
George Fox’s 400th Birthday
Plans are underway to celebrate the 400th birthday of Quakerism co-founder George Fox in 2024 through intergenerational events and activities that share the stories that connect us. A special Birthday Pack includes stories, songs, pictures, a Bible study, and even a dramatic duologue which could be performed in period clothing. Start planning (or using) these resources now! Learn more and download the George Fox 400 Birthday Pack from the FWCC World Office.
Also shared here: the link to “Flat Fox & Fell: Adventures with George Fox and Margaret Fell”(think “Flat Stanley”) and the activity that accompanies this visual story exploring the places important to early Quakers.
PYM Youth Programs!
After a wonderful time together at Annual Sessions, Youth Programs staff are looking forward to their calendar of Fall events. You can find the printable flyer for the Fall and early Winter programs here.
Over the past few days, the children and youth had the opportunity to come together in-person to share fun and fellowship. Older youth achieved a better understanding of what it means to be a Quaker and we are looking to engage more in the future in the Quaker community. As a group, we feel ready to be more engaged with the wider body. We felt the effects of isolation during the COVID pandemic, and we appreciated being together again. We learned (or relearned) how to work together after a long time apart. We appreciated planning and leading Vespers, and we were very glad that the community participated and gave us a chance to connect with the entire Yearly Meeting. – from the Children and Youth Epistle 2023
The Tote Bag
Interested in receiving this information in an email format for sharing? Subscribe to “Religious Education” to receive The Tote Bag: PYM Religious Education and Family Resources 4-6 times a year.
The Tote Bag is for everyone in our Quaker community who holds space for the spiritual growth of children and youth, including parents, caregivers and guardians, religious education committees and youth workers, and Friends interested in supporting children and families. Submit ideas for topics of interest, lift up resources to include, or send a question they would like addressed!
Featured images from Pixabay.com and iStock