Annual Sessions gathers Friends of all ages. It draws new and long-time Quakers who are curious, active, peaceful, earnest, activist, reflective, compassionate, and faith-seeking. Some among us have come every year for a dozen years, others are new to Sessions.
After checking into housing—and settling in for a warm and welcoming lasagna and salad supper in the minimalist and modern Brower Student Center—Friends began Sessions with worship and song, then a shift back into silence. A sweep of rain washed the windows, and clouds skimmed the trees.
Those who could not be with us, or were no longer physically present, were missed. Messages were shared. One Friend said,
“I came to listen, pray and be vulnerable. I brought an empty glass with the expectation that the living water (of our faith and our community) could fill it…We will be at our best when we can be as empty vessels. And we can know when that living water has flowed…That living water is our foundation. It is how we—as a spiritual body—do our work.”
At 7:40 children and young Friends shuffled in, taking seats on two patchwork quilts set down on the gray tile floor of our Plenary room. They brought the future of our Faith with them, and a reminder that to remain relevant, a faith must give hope and nurture resilience even as it addresses the issues that surround us. Friends said:
“When I think about music, I think about how it opens my heart. Opens my connection to God.”
“I’ve been thinking a lot about the concept of home…what constitutes my home meeting? (I think) when I start to think of a place as home…is when I start to take care of it. How much is my taking care of a place, a building, some people, (how much of that is) obedience to God’s will?”
We sang songs, returned to worship and Friends gave more messages. Then we closed, to walk or golf cart, home to our townhouse rooms on rain-soaked sidewalks. After some fire drills that went on far too long for the South Townhouses, we all went to sleep.
Meeting for Business began with introductions followed by dedicated time to honor Penny Colgan-Davis, our Yearly Meeting Clerk. Friends recalled her work, character, leadership, and love of community. Nominating Council Clerk, Melissa Rycroft, presented resignations and appointments, and a nuanced report about the discernment the Nominating Council is doing as they search for our next clerk.
This was followed by a detailed presentation on our budget, and questions about how our budget supports our strategic directions. The budget was approved and Friends with questions were encouraged to talk with Linell McCurry, Associate Secretary for Finance, and Andrew Anderson, Treasurer.
Lynne Calamia reported that the Arch Street Meetinghouse Trust has doubled its income, broadened its outreach, launched a new interpretive plan, hosted 11,000 visitors (including 6000 students), and is developing a marking and communication plan. She encouraged Friends to step forward to volunteer, both as docents and researchers for new interpretive exhibits.
The morning session closed after the epistle committee was appointed, minutes were approved, and a brief period of worship convened.