Across the Yearly Meeting, Friends gathered on March 11 and 12 for Spring Continuing Sessions. This year we tried something new, and rather than be at one meeting on Saturday, we gathered at six meetings in three states! As we seek to gather in new ways this year, all of our Sessions events are working to blend hybrid and onsite experiences so that Friends can participate in a variety of ways. Spring Continuing Sessions was our most recent experiment – and it was a hit! Worship and Meeting for Business were based at Arch Street Meeting House in Philadelphia in the morning with Friends joining on Zoom. In the afternoon, meetings opened their doors and hosted six regional gatherings for an afternoon of uplifting activities led by PYM Community Engagement and Youth Programs staff.
The morning meeting for worship with attention to business was held in the care of presiding clerk Melissa Rycroft, who shares a message below about connecting with her for follow-up from the weekend or to invite her to visit your meeting. Minutes from Saturday are posted in the Sessions section. When we gather for worship and business, the body is also being held in the care of the yearly meeting elders, and a pastoral care team; thank you to those Friends for their service over the weekend.
It was wonderful to see so many of you at Continuing Sessions. Thank you for your comments, questions, and feedback both online and in person. If you shared a request with me during our time of worship, fellowship, or business, please follow up with an email message to firstname.lastname@example.org. Several Friends have already reached out on behalf of their meetings to invite me to visit and offer hospitality. Thank you! If your meeting is similarly moved, the best way to reach me is by email. I look forward to spending time in worship and fellowship with you.
— In peace, Melissa Rycroft, Presiding Clerk
Sessions planners thought carefully about the thirteen Quarterly Meetings and the geographic spread of PYM. We reached out to possible host meetings at Arch Street, Harrisburg, Kennett, Lehigh Valley, Mickleton, and Third Haven — and they all said, “yes!” Each host meeting offered wonderful support and hospitality, inviting Friends and neighbors with open arms. Participants at several locations shared that being able to attend more locally helped them feel able to participate in the Yearly Meeting either for the first time, or for the first time in quite a while.
The intergenerational afternoon program was an exploration of the current Sessions theme, “Living with our neighbors, growing into beloved community.” It was kicked off with a baked potato lunch (and many other yummy additions provided by meeting hosts!) and fellowship. Next, Friends were delighted by “Silent Squares” — a game that invites participants to move around the room in walking worship and pause to answer queries in small groups. The directions and suggested queries for Silent Squares are available in this document( .pdf).
Friends also explored the parable of the Good Samaritan, either with the Bible passage in The Gospel of Luke 10:25-37 or the picture book, Who Is My Neighbor?, by Dr. Amy-Jill Levine and Rabbi Sandy Eisenberg Sasso. The books were given to host meetings as a gift. Discussion with queries and worship sharing brought Friends into conversation and spiritual community.
Throughout the day, Friends shared comments like these:
“I had no idea what to expect when I signed up. I thought maybe it would be a learning experience. But I LOVE that it felt like a retreat. I feel uplifted!”
“I’m so grateful for the regional locations. Now that I’m older, having somewhere close by makes it possible for me to participate.”
All Together Worship
On Sunday morning, March 12, twenty meetinghouses and more than a hundred other Zoom participants gathered for our third All Together Worship. The intergenerational waiting worship began with a short slideshow of images from the Saturday afternoon gatherings, and ended on the joyous note of a very young Friend’s “Good morning!”
Give us Feedback
It is clear that the regional locations made this year’s Continuing Sessions a success. Will it become our new tradition? Might your meeting be willing to host next year?
Sessions Coordinating Committee and Sessions staff (email@example.com) are interested in feedback from Spring Continuing Sessions participants, and from all members of the PYM community about future Sessions. The evaluation survey for March 11 can be found here.
Onward to Annual Sessions
July 26-30, 2023 we return to The College of New Jersey for what will be a blended program, online and onsite at TCNJ. Watch for information in coming weeks and registration to open before June 1.