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2013 Epistle of NEYM Young Adult Friends
“He said to them, ‘Whoever has ears, let him hear. There is light within a man of light, and he lights up the whole world.’” —Gospel of Thomas 24.
To all Friends everywhere:
From August 2–8, 2013 New England Yearly Meeting Young Adult Friends gathered in Smithfield, Rhode Island at Bryant University.
This Sessions continues our work from recent years of YAFs feeling, following and supporting leadings in our members. In the last several years, YAFs have taken on large responsibilities within our broader NEYM body. We also called on YAFs to make our presence as active and integral members of New England Yearly Meeting felt in the wider community by nominating YAFs to NEYM Committees. We want to be recognized not as a token presence, but as full-fledged members of this community.
YAF Rachel Stacy, having delivered the annual Weed Lecture at the Beacon Hill Friends House, brought her presentation to the YAF community. She spoke of ecology in our time and the metaphor of Gospel Order, and the implications of modern science and philosophy in understanding nature and conflict. We were blessed to have her deliver this talk and lead a lively conversation following the presentation.
Rebecca Sullivan, the Sessions Children’s Peace Maker, visiting NEYM from her recent work in Atlanta, led us through a discussion based on our personal experiences of living in, or experiencing, intentional community. Rebecca just completed a year-long fellowship with the Quaker Voluntary Service that fosters social activism and intentional Quaker community.
Tom Hall, pastor of Smithfield Friends Meeting, delivered a crash course in biblical narrative, ranging from the book of Genesis to the Gnostic Gospel of Mary Magdalene. He also drew on sources from the Jesus Seminar investigating the historical accuracy of the Gospels. Tom gave us an unexpected glimpse of one pastor’s approach to scripture.
On Tuesday evening, YAFs kidnapped Young Friends graduates while disguised as trash-eating raccoons and/or their trash. In our evening of fellowship with these rising YAFs, we discussed topics such as our personal plans for the next year, and what we have most recently eaten out of the trash. We also began a brand new tradition for our outgoing YAFs. Older Adult Friends, disguised as Older Adult Friends, violently abducted Will Jennings-Hess, who is graduating from YAFs to be more available to his work with the wider Yearly Meeting. He will be dearly missed from YAF programming.
For over two decades, Puente de Amigos has sown the seeds for bringing Cuba Yearly Meeting and NEYM into active spiritual partnership. Last year, six YAFs traveled from Sessions to Cuba YM to share their ministry and fellowship. This week, Cuban and Bolivian Friends visited our Sessions and re-emphazised the importance of this new connection between these YAF communities divided by geography and politics. YAFs were invited to participate in an upcoming Quaker Youth Pilgrimage to Bolivia and Peru—the first of its kind in the history of Friends World Committee for Consultation. Our YAF community has a strong and deeply felt leading that it is time to nurture our blooming relationship with Cuban YAFs, and recognizes that this process requires greater investment from YAFs.
During our business meeting, we used worship sharing to explore ways we can serve and actively include YAFs with parental responsibilities. We feel that this is an integral step forward for the YAF community to grow and to support young Quaker families in this Yearly Meeting.
YAFs recognized the significance of this Sessions’ financial discernment and the evolving strategies for financial stability. YAFs stepped up to participate in the financial planning, and in the budget discussions of the broader Yearly Meeting. We recognize that having a sustainable financial plan is critical to the spiritual and temporal health of this community.
Anyone who wandered into YAF gatherings this weekend may have witnessed worship by the pond, outdoor games, affinity groups, labyrinth walking, Alma Sánchez-Epplers’ concert, group singing, mad-libs, or Spanking Yoda. A few Friends visited a lake for an afternoon in the sun.
This Sessions, the various leadings of YAFs to do work in the wider Yearly Meeting drew us in and out of the YAF circle more often than in years prior. Despite this, we feel that the spirit within our YAF community has life and direction.
“When you come to dwell in the light, what will you do?” —Gospel of Thomas, 11.