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Young Adult Friends Epistle, Sessions 2014
A time to throw away stones, and a time to gather stones together; a time to embrace and a time to refrain from embracing (Ecclesiastes 3:5)
To all Friends everywhere:
New England Yearly Meeting Young Adult Friends have gathered from August 2-7, 2014 in Castleton, Vermont for our annual sessions. We write to you with hope in our hearts.
There is so much life in our community. We see so much love for each other and so many wonderful gifts. Despite this, we are struggling. There is a heaviness to our gatherings because we are unclear of our way forward. We are burdened by our difficulty with the collective work our community is responsible for.
We are supported by a part-time coordinator but we are largely responsible for organizing our own gatherings and providing spiritual care for ourselves. For many years YAFs have had a Planning Committee and a Nurturing Committee. In January, we had to lay them down. There was no life to support these committees.
Nonetheless, there has been an outpouring of love and desire for our community to continue. We have such an ability to hold deep worship and to hold each other up. We love the times when we sing and when we laugh. Rich friendships are the basis of our fellowship. Joy is the reason we have come together.
The life in the YAF community is directed outwardly. We are accomplishing great things in so many different areas, in the ways we are individually led. Our Climate Working Group and our Wholeness Working Group are following their powerful ministries, affecting lasting change here with us and in the wider world.
YAFs can be found taking an active role in all levels of the leadership of NEYM. We are serving on and clerking many committees, holding offices, and working as paid staff. We are an integral part of the work our Yearly Meeting is doing. There are so many of us who are dedicated to NEYM's youth programs, and the energy and love they give us is tangible.
YAFs are bringing our voice to the international Friends community through their work with Quaker Voluntary Service, Friends World Committee for Consultation and the Quaker Youth Pilgrimage, and many other gatherings. We are sharing our vision to influence the world. So many of us have work and ministries beyond what we do here. We affect change everywhere, with Friends and in the rest of our lives. YAFs are giving over their lives to explore new ways of giving and serving the Light in order to challenge all of us.
Our energies may be focused outwardly but having the YAF community is vital to supporting our work and ministry. The burdens of our everyday lives are difficult, we struggle to take on more burdens in organizing ourselves. We are grappling with questions of how to honor our ministries and leadings, as well as keep our community vibrant and cohesive. We are wrestling with how to build our individual faiths and how to build our faith in each other.
As the New England Yearly Meeting body has been struggling with dysfunction in its structure, this process has reminded us that we in the YAF community are the same body, we are the yearly meeting. We see the wider struggles around organization and over business and we see how they also exist within our own smaller community. We have great difficulty in coming to unity. Our labored business drives away people who are younger and who are new to us. In our struggles, we do not know what our community will look like in the future.
Even in this uncertainty, we lift up our gifts. We celebrate the love we hold for each other. Our community’s abundance is clear in what we share with the wider Yearly Meeting, in worship together, and in the time we share with each other.
We so greatly appreciate the work and gifts of our coordinator. Her work has been incredible, without which our community would have faded away. However, our needs are beyond what our coordinator can do within the time she has for us. We are grateful for the support we receive from our Yearly Meeting and the resources that they provide us, financial and otherwise. Yet we are concerned that we are overburdening our coordinator and underserving ourselves.
We need spiritual guidance. While our gifts are vibrant and our community is full of love, we are unsure of the way forward. We do not yet know how to rebuild our internal structures to best support our life and gifts as a community. We long for times of cohesion when we can take action together. We ask you to pray with us as we live into our transformation. Please hold us in the Light.
Young Adult Friends
New England Yearly Meeting
Where there is no guidance, a nation shall fall, but there is safety in an abundance of counsel (Proverbs 11:14).