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- NEYM Home Page
Orientation of those coming to Yearly Meeting for the first time
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), etc.
How does business come to the Sessions? Through standing committees or quarterly meetings, or because the Yearly Meeting requested in a previous session that the matter come up again.
Other business matters include writing epistles (letters of greeting to the wider Quaker world); concerns which have been passed along by Yearly Meeting committees or quarterly meetings for possible action; hearing memorial minutes; and reports from our school, assisted living facility, and camp.
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 Yearly Meeting (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 is 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.
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 Clerks.
Take some time to look at the exhibits. You will find work by Quaker artists, descriptions of committee work, and information about Friends’ organizations and institutions. The scope of activity may be surprising; enlarge your knowledge of our Quaker world.
The Bookstore is a wonderful feature of Yearly Meeting. A committee of volunteers who know their way around library work and book selling 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.
Program events include Bible Half-Hour, Community Plenary, Anchor Groups, and committee meetings. The Yearly Meeting Program is planned by the Sessions Committee beginning in early fall. The committee evaluates how it all went. Your on-line and written surveys are carefully read. If you are able, please use the on-line survey, rather than the written evaluation. Immediately following Sessions, you will receive an email with a link to the on-line survey. Ideas for speakers and workshops are welcomed.
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 interested persons.
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 every evening.
The information desk is a great place to go when you have questions. You’ll find schedules and room assignments, a message board, a lost-and-found, a first aid kit, and friendly volunteers. Basic information you need to know is included in the main announcement and registration materials sent out to the thousands of individuals (members and non-members) who receive The New England Friend.
Much work goes into creating sessions every year. Preparing for and working during the sessions is an important part of the job of our salaried employees. We, not the college, do the registration. The registration fee is used to pay for all the expenses of holding these sessions. Yearly Meeting relies a great deal, also, on unpaid volunteers; perhaps you can help in some way! See the posted list of jobs at the info desk.
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 and Communications 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 check in Saturday).