Information for First Time Attenders
Orientation of those coming to Yearly Meeting for the
The Yearly Meeting itself is an organization that exists
year-round, and holds plenary sessions once a year. During the rest
of the year, any important decisions that can’t wait for next
year are handled by the Permanent Board, a large committee with wide
representation from all parts of New England (click here for "NEYM:
A brief description").
Purpose of Yearly Meeting Sessions: worship,
business, and fellowship.
It can be a somewhat different experience from our home meetings. We
hear new voices. There are many worship opportunities, programmed
and unprogrammed: early morning worship, First Day worship, worship-sharing,
and brief periods of worship following scheduled speakers.
We hear reports from committees which have business to present, including
the Finance Committee (the budget), the Permanent Board (decisions
made during the past year and recommendations for Sessions), Ministry
and Counsel (the State of the Society), the Nominating Committee
(nominations of officers and committee members for the next year),
Meetings are asked to appoint up to five representatives—not
to vote, of course, but to assure wide representation in the meetings
for business where decisions are made. if you are one, please find
out where to sign in.
Nearly a third of those attending Yearly Meeting are children
and young people. Three age groupings (Junior YM, entering
grades K through 6; Junior High YM, entering
grades 7 through 9; and Young Friends YM,
entering grade 10 through graduating High School seniors) hold their
own parallel Yearly
Meetings on campus, appoint officers, take minutes, and write epistles.
Young Adult Friends, while part of the adult Yearly Meeting, and
very helpful as volunteers, also take the time to meet. Parents or
accompanying adults are responsible for the younger children when
they are not in regular programs. Pre-K child care by volunteers
is offered during the day, but volunteers are needed! Parents have
to make arrangements among themselves for child care at other times
so they can attend meeting events.
Sessions are Also a Religious Conference
A lot goes on, and we are
not expected to do everything that is on the schedule! Some of us have
been known to disappear for afternoon naps.
Bible Half Hour: each year someone is invited to
give a series of half-hour talks based on Biblical themes and references;
this year it takes place Monday through Thursday mornings.
Keynote address: this year it will be given on Sunday
Committees meet to organize, introduce new members, and plan ahead
for next year. Membership on committees is at the invitation of the
Nominating Committee, and confirmed by the Yearly Meeting in session.
The Nominating Committee welcomes suggestions of experienced, possibly
Clerks of Yearly Meeting are appointed by the Yearly Meeting on recommendation
of the Permanent Board. Clerks take office at the close of Sessions.
They are the Presiding Clerk, two Recording Clerks, and two Reading
At some time look at the exhibits of the work of committees and Friends
organizations and institutions. The scope of activity may be surprising;
enlarge your knowledge of our Quaker world. Artists also have an exhibit.
The Bookstore is a wonderful feature of Yearly Meeting. A committee
of volunteers who know their way around library work and bookselling
organize a large selection of Quaker and related books for sale, sent
on consignment by Quaker booksellers and publishers. Perhaps you should
get there soon before some of your favorite books are sold out. Bring
back something for your meeting and First Day School. There are also
some popular craft items.
The Yearly Meeting program is planned by the Sessions Committee, starting
soon after the one just past. The committee evaluates how it all went.
Your written evaluation notes are all carefully read; please fill out
the sheet before leaving. Ideas for speakers and workshops are welcomed.
Every few years Sessions move to a new site, for
various reasons; any new site is first carefully investigated by a
site selection committee
and approved by the Sessions Committee. The Field Secretary has primary
responsibility for negotiating and making arrangements with the college.
We, not the college, do the registration. As you know, the program
fees, in addition paying the cost of room and meals, is used to
cover all the expenses of holding these Sessions. Preparing for and
working during the Sessions is an important part of the job of our
salaried employees. Yearly Meeting relies a great deal, also, on unpaid
volunteers; perhaps you can help in some way: see the posted list of
The information desk will also handle Lost and Found. Basic information
you need to know is included in the main announcement and registration
material sent out to the thousands of individuals (members and non-members)
who receive The New England Friend. (If you are not on that mailing
list, ask your meeting clerk tactfully why your name and address was
not sent to the Yearly Meeting Office).
The Yearly Meeting Office is in Worcester, year-round,
but moves itself temporarily, probably at great effort, to the site
of Yearly Meeting
Sessions. The Administrative Secretary with the help of volunteers
handles the many office details necessary in the course of the Sessions.
A daily news sheet, the YM News is produced. Be sure to get
a copy at breakfast. (The first issue, however, is given out when you