It is a great joy for me to worship and interact with larger groups of Friends through PYM, most of whom are deeply committed to their spiritual lives as well as to Friends’ good work in the world. I am excited and inspired by being with them. PYM also has the capability to do wider work than we as individuals can, in working for peace, for the environment, for equality and justice. I have seen it done. Through the Spiritual Formation program, programs for children and teens, annual gatherings, PYM also has the ability to expand and deepen our spiritual lives and make us feel part of a larger Quaker community. PYM is us.
Financial contributions from members and others provide another form of recognizing the importance of Philadelphia Yearly Meeting, Quakerism in our lives and Quakerism as a voice in the greater community. In my personal life I have learned how to receive and to ask for help when I need it. I have received more support than I can possibly use during recent times of personal and medical challenges. I am confident knowing that support will always be there again if I need it, although I am usually in the position of giving. I know that true communities take care of their own. Some communities are built: our personal circles including family are the product of years of work and investment in each other’s well-being. Some communities, such as Birmingham and Philadelphia Yearly Meeting can be joined, and members accepted as commonalities are identified.
I was a teenager when I first came to Philadelphia Yearly Meeting as a part of a Junior Yearly Meeting experience. But it wasn’t until I was a member of a small worship group in Chambersburg that I began to realize the value of and responsibility for “Yearly Meeting”. We have received PYM support in many ways, from First Day School materials and opportunities for our young people, to inter-generational and adult courses and discussion topics. Through PYM we have made connection to others’ concerns and actions. We have grown inwardly and reached outside ourselves as a part of PYM. It is us.
I give because the work of our Yearly Meeting is valuable to my Meeting and to me personally. Philadelphia Yearly Meeting also helps us better relate to each other and to the world at large. Together we can make a difference.I believe the Yearly Meeting enhances the Monthly Meeting and Quarterly Meeting experience. Just as worshiping together brings a deeper connection to the workings of the Spirit, gathering together across a broader geography through PYM programs allows us to support and learn from one another in ways that importantly enrich our lives.
Just as we, as individual Friends are nurtured and enriched by the body of our Meeting, so is our Meeting nurtured and enriched by our Yearly Meeting. I can’t imagine our vibrant Meeting without Philadelphia Yearly Meeting connecting us to the 102 other Meetings in our region and offering us the myriad kinds of support that cannot be available within one middle-sized Meeting. I am grateful for the opportunity to worship and do business with Friends in the wider Quaker spiritual community of our Yearly Meeting. I leave these meetings feeling grounded and knowing the Spirit has moved among us. We contribute to the Annual Fund because we value the way PYM connects us to a wider Quaker fellowship and supports our beliefs and actions.
Lansdowne Meeting, and all the other meetings that define Philadelphia Yearly Meeting, enjoy the quiet and effective support of our parent organization. All of us who have benefited from Quaker education, sought financial assistance for physical plant, aging/infirm members, and other issues requiring experience and resources have received help in many forms from PYM. While we see our Meeting as a warm, loving and spiritual place worthy of support, it is important that we individually help sustain the financial health of Philadelphia Yearly Meeting which binds us to a wider Quaker fellowship.
I especially value the greater outreach PYM can provide. I am thinking of the Peace Gathering held two years ago. This was a concept initiated by our meeting, supported by our Quarter, and then embraced by Yearly Meeting which agreed to provide both financial support and the personnel to help with the planning. The gathering was a great success and enhanced our stature, I believe, in the broader religious community. PYM was responsive to a deeply held concern of ours, and I continue to be appreciative of this commitment to us.
It takes money to keep this community vibrant and we put the Meeting at the top of our list for contributions. As a representative to Interim Meeting, I sense a strong commitment at the Yearly Meeting level to provide vigorous programs in education, peace, social justice, religious education, care for elderly Friends, and many other important projects. Yearly Meeting, in many ways, gives us the opportunity to enjoy the benefits of fellowship with the larger Quaker Community.
When individuals or families in our meeting experience problems, our Care of Members Committee offers spiritual and practical help. There have been times when we, as nonprofessionals, did not feel adequate to know what action to take. We have turned to a Philadelphia Yearly Meeting staff person, a trained social worker, for guidance. We have appreciated being able to refer Friends to the Yearly Meeting’s Counseling Service. It is these important things, among others, that I think of when I make my annual contribution to PYM.