Children’s Program Epistle
To All Friends Everywhere, from the Children of Philadelphia Yearly Meeting.
We gathered for our Annual Sessions in Zoom rooms, July 29 to August 2, 2020. Our time together included playing, singing, laughing, and being close to Spirit.
The artist in residence Zenaida Peterson helped us to deepen our relationship with God through poetry and games. We wrote poems and made zines. We laughed a whole lot. Together we wrote this poem:
We are young people, Pokémon trainers, some of us are 5. We are fun, joyful, big kids. We are the color sky blue, a kiwi fruit, a sweet potato, animal lovers, happy people. We are in quarantine. We are us!
We gathered for a Playshop to play and talk about the challenge of speaking in meeting. We practiced listening for God’s messages together.
City Love joined us on Saturday to consider big questions, and encouraged us to use our voices and change the world. We learned the significance of sticking up for another and we danced and sang a whole lot.
We send greetings to all Quaker children in the world. We send our love and we send our hope.
Middle School Friends Epistle
Dear Friends Everywhere,
We are the Middle School Friends program of Philadelphia Yearly Meeting. We are the youth and we have something to say.
During these Sessions, July 29 to August 2, we had two workshops with Zenaida Peterson where they taught us about poetry. We learned to write our own poetry using their prompts. We also had a workshop with City Love, wrote our own songs, and made a presentation for everyone. We listened to a youth-led presentation about immigration justice. We thought about how we feel about immigration issues and we voiced our opinions about what we can do. We played games and had fun. We joined the rest of Annual Sessions during All Together Time in the mornings and we hosted one of those times. We sat in silence and reflected on the world around us and what is going on currently. We reflected on the protests.
We have learned more about the inequalities in the world. We have learned about what is going on that will influence the world that we are living in. We learned about immigration and oppression, and here are our concerns:
- We feel it is unfortunate that persons who come to the U.S., and in some cases are here for many years, may be forced to leave due to a technicality. We think that this policy should be re-imagined.
- We are concerned for all the families that have been separated. We don’t want families to be separated from each other, or family members being killed.
- We need to help other people know about this issue and recognize it as an issue, so that we can move toward it being solved.
- We are interested in possibilities of working toward socially-distanced vigils in the Philadelphia area, and also doing smaller things in local groups.
We want to be heard. So we are asking for the adults’ support while we fight against these injustices. We ask for them to just be available for supporting us and we ask for constant support. We hope the adults will take time to learn about racial injustice and the issues at the border. We think that it might be helpful to give the youth-led presentation that MSF heard to the adults as well. We want adults to get educated around these issues, so that they have a place to start. We also think that it is best to not organize one big protest. We ask that we all start by contributing in small ways on their own.
Middle School Friends of Philadelphia Yearly Meeting
Young Friends Epistle
Dear Friends Everywhere,
We, the Young Friends of Philadelphia Yearly Meeting, a group of high-school-aged Quaker kids from the Greater Philadelphia area, met from Wednesday, July 29th to Sunday, August 2nd, 2020 for the 340th Annual Sessions of Philadelphia Yearly Meeting. This year, due to the pandemic, we met using a virtual format that allowed us to be in a shared community from inside our homes.
The theme for this year’s Sessions was, “Letting ourselves be known”. We welcomed a new group from Middle School Friends to their first Young Friends gathering at Annual Sessions. It was wonderful to adapt to our new virtual platform with every member of our group. We learned that while the world is changing very quickly around us, in both good ways and bad, our community has stayed the same.
Throughout the week, the theme “Letting ourselves be known” was present in our activities that helped us bond as a community. The poetry workshop led by Zenaida Peterson was very powerful and helped us to find our voices through writing. Hearing poetry about racism and other issues in our country helped to open our eyes to the systemic racism that so many people in our country experience every day. Another way we let ourselves be known was through worship sharing groups that allowed us to reflect on queries and relate over shared experiences. Our youth-led committees — Native Justice, Program, Discernment, and Nurture — all met to discuss different topics that affect our community.
Business meeting on Thursday, July 30th was a very productive time to discuss our community. During this meeting, the body approved three new Young Friends clerks who will serve a one-year term. We are very thankful for their agreement to serve our community through these times of change.
The Black Lives Matter movement has been heavy on our minds. Young Friends have been working hard to become more involved in this movement, as we believe that all people deserve to be treated equally regardless of skin color.
One of the ways we have been involved is through a partnership with an organization called “Youth for Black Lives Matter.” This group has partnered with high schools, universities, and youth groups in the Greater Philadelphia area. We were honored that they reached out to us, and we are excited to attend the Youth for Black Lives Matter march on Sunday, August 2nd. We prepared a minute of support that will be read by a Young Friend at the protest:
The Young Friends of Philadelphia Yearly Meeting feel a strong calling to stand in solidarity with the Youth for Black Lives March, and the wider movement for Black Lives, to fight white supremacy and violence against the Black community. Quakers have a very complicated relationship with racism, and white Quakers, specifically, continue to benefit from white supremacy and systemic racism. As young Quakers, we are committed to fighting for the movement for Black lives, most especially because our fundamental beliefs and values as Friends lead us to see the Divine in all people, and we are committed to acting upon this belief. We are grateful for the invitation to stand with the Youth for Black Lives Movement in this vitally important work.
As a group, we are proud to be representing Quaker Youth everywhere with this minute. We are the next generation, and we are ready to make the world a better place where racism does not exist.
Continuing with this work, the music group City Love led a workshop for us around racial identity. We listened to their beautiful music on the topic of race and learned about ways to use words to make change in our separate communities. Hearing friends talk about their identity was a moving experience, and by listening to others’ stories we will be able to make lasting change.
We created songs about activism and race that will be shared in an open space, allowing people from every generation to hear our voices, it also gives us the chance to learn from them. Learning about impactful activism during COVID-19, and protecting ourselves from burnout will allow us to make a more positive change for every person around the world. This workshop was very insightful and we were happy to be a part of a workshop with music, conversation, and activism.
Help us make change; go out and vote, sign petitions, listen to youth, and remember that Black lives will always matter.
Young Friends of Philadelphia Yearly Meeting