Presbyterian author and theologian Frederick Buechner writes,
“The place God calls you to is the place where your deep gladness and the world’s deep needs meet.”
Greg Woods opened a workshop with this quote when young adults from across the yearly meeting gathered at Haverford Friends Meeting in early May. During our time together, young adults supported each other in deep discernment around who we are called to be in the world. The Spring retreat was the first overnight retreat since the pandemic shutdown in early 2020, and from the strong attendance and thoughtful reviews shared after, it is clear the young adult community hungers to gather, go deeper in Spirit, and learn from each other.
We started Friday night with dinner and introduction games and slept overnight in the First Day school rooms on lumpy air mattresses, meetinghouse cushions, and spare couches. On Saturday, we participated in a three-and-a-half-hour workshop led by Jennifer Newman and Greg Woods from the Beacon Hill Friends House Vocational Discernment Project. We talked about values, listened deeply for the still small voice, and figured out next steps. Greg reflected on these workshops: “I love when people have lightbulb moments and get clarity for their next steps after feeling stuck before the workshop.”
During Saturday afternoon, we took hour long walks around duck ponds, napped gloriously, and laughed. Some folks were drawn to Bananagrams for hours on Saturday while others were in the spring sunshine, singing and playing the guitar. Meeting for worship with attention to business ended in giggles and plans to hang out at the beach in June. We wrapped up our time together on Sunday in a spirited meeting for worship with the members and attenders of Haverford Meeting. Hugs were given, leftovers were claimed, and carpools of friends left the meetinghouse at the rise of meeting.
Similar to when young people are asked the question, “What do you want to be when you grow up?,” some young adults are also asked to speak to the needs and conditions of our whole community. With such a large age range in what Quaker programs often consider to be “young adult,” ages 18-35, it’s hard to describe. Conversation Circles focused on “Young Adults Friends-Forming a Community of Practice” were hosted May 16 and 18 by the Quaker Religious Education Collaborative (QREC). In the two sessions, over 25 folks invested in young adult community and building and nurturing young adult ministry gathered in Zoom to learn from each other and discuss challenges, joys, and concerns. The energy was palpable and inspiring. Young adult needs are varied, and our spiritual approaches are experimental. The young adult community is a dynamic network co-creating the future, learning, and growing together. Whether it’s preparing for a panel on faith, sexuality, and purity culture, growing organizations to new heights, performing in fundraisers, running races, facilitating retreats, the young adults are always up to something.
The next Young Adult event is a gathering at Caspian Beach in Atlantic City. It is accessible via public transit. Carpools are leaving Friends Center at noon. Everyone is encouraged to register. If you can’t make it to the beach, catch us at Annual Sessions, July 26-30. The days are an opportunity to greet returning Friends and welcome new Friends. For all ages, it is a time of spiritual renewal, community connection, and intergenerational worship and fellowship. Bring the whole family! Programs for young people entering K-12 in Fall 2023, and childcare for the littlest Friends, are available onsite so that families with children and youth can attend together.