Purpose and Priorities of the Yearly Meeting
At Annual Sessions in 2015, the Yearly Meeting approved the following statement of core purpose:
New England Yearly Meeting of Friends connects the people of the Religious Society of Friends across the six New England states. New England Yearly Meeting supports and strengthens a vibrant and growing web of monthly meetings, quarterly meetings, and other Friends communities under our care, helping us do together what we cannot do alone. In all our work, we strive to obey the promptings of the Spirit to bring healing, wholeness, and transformation to ourselves and to the world.
Sessions additionally named and affirmed the following five priorities of our Yearly Meeting, lenses the organization of the Yearly Meeting can use to best support and nurture local meetings:
Spiritual Development and Religious Education
As local meetings, we want help in being prepared to hear and heed the leadings of the Spirit, and to support one another in living with greater joy, authenticity and courage. Friends have inherited a transformative way of life supported by precious disciplines and practices of listening, discernment, encounter with the living Presence, and sacred work in the world. We yearn to educate and train one another to help keep the flame of our faith and practice alive and thriving in our time and in our region.
Outreach, Welcome, Inclusion, and Witness
In our meetings, we also want assistance from our wider Quaker community in strengthening and growing our presence in the world. We want to draw in active and diverse seekers who can find a spiritual home among Friends. And we want help in knowing how best to welcome, educate, orient and encourage newcomers when they visit our monthly meetings. Friends want support in witness when we feel we have Truth to share, on climate change, racial justice, and other urgent needs for healing and wholeness in our world.
Relationship and Communication
Friends throughout the Yearly Meeting want to connect with each other, and spend more time together. We want to deepen and strengthen our relationships in ways that nurture and challenge us. We want to know who is doing what and what is going on across the Yearly Meeting. We want more solid, effective, and efficient ways to share information, best practices, and resources, and strengthen the network of local meetings and individuals.
Leadership and Administration
In reviewing the documented prior discernment of the Yearly Meeting, our Committee heard a desire among New England Friends to identify and support leaders: those who see clearly the work that needs doing among us, and who have the gifts to communicate their vision and harness the talents and the willingness of Friends to act together to realize our goals.
We want to cultivate and strengthen the emerging leaders among our youth. We want our clerks and committee members, at all levels, to be effective at helping us listen to the Spirit and get our work done. We need to deepen our understanding of how leadership can free the gifts of the whole in a community in which all are called to ministry.
Local meetings want the Yearly Meeting to provide administrative services and other support that monthly and quarterly meetings cannot provide efficiently for themselves—financial and insurance services, legal services, technology and communications infrastructure, training and education—for the benefit of the whole.
Stewardship, Integrity, and Accountability
New England Friends have said that we need to be clear about what work we engage in, and why. We need to revisit our activities regularly to ascertain whether we are actually moving forward toward achieving our goals in faithful, healthy, and productive ways. If after careful discernment we resolve to do things, integrity requires that we follow through and do them. Sometimes we will have to decide not to do things, or to stop doing things.
We must be wise stewards of all our resources, and must live within our means, investing our energy and attention in that which is essential.