New England Yearly Meeting

A community of Quakers and Quaker meetings across New England.

2017 Annual Report

Jun 20, 2017
Roy Veatch, clerk

Young Friends enjoyed another year of our community in its many intermingling forms: beloved weekend retreats, quiet Meetings for Worship, frolicking at Friends Camp, regional Quaker Youth Groups, and other practices.  We started out the year with some trepidation about our Ministry and Counsel Committee and our choice to switch back to a single clerk after having had two successful years of co-clerks.

During our first retreat, the water mysteriously stopped running.  We found this oddly appropriate given the retreat’s theme of climate consciousness.  Many of us helped fill up every container we could spare with water from a kind and generous neighbor who opened their doors and faucets to us.  Not having running water served as an important reminder of what we were reflecting on at the retreat and helped us understand just how critical and taken for granted basic resources like running water are in our culture.

Over the year we had many joys big and little.  We played frisbee with friends barefoot in the grass, still dewy in the late morning; We took walks up hills and down dales, enjoying the colors of the seasons, the smell of the trees and vegetation, and the views from the vantage points we hiked.  Friends taught and joined in games of wit, speed, and laughter throughout the year, making the time go by much too fast every time we gathered together.

In November we discovered divides in our community as we struggled with the outside hate that had barged into our community and continued to rear its head in retreats and in other sacred spaces.  Friends worked to make retreats a space where we all could safely and without fear express our authentic selves.  Some friends sent us inspirational messages to help guide us through these rough times. [1] [2] 

February was a time for experimentation; we tried using stickers on our nametags to denote how comfortable we were talking about politics and with having a designated spot for using electronics when necessary.  Both have been repeated despite some growing pains and we have continued discussing the role of phones & devices at retreats.

In March we again had an amazing time exploring Gender and Sexuality through sharing of personal experiences, a safer sex talk, and a renewed focus on positive consent and using inclusive language.

At our final Business Meeting before sessions, we worked to figure out what we really want Young Friends to be.  In pursuit of this, we decided to let go the responsibility of running the Coffee House that had become an onerous task for those Young Friends involved and formed a Working Group to continue the work of discerning our direction.  As part of this work, we reflected on obstacles to making decisions that truly reflect the consensus of Young Friends given that many of us who attend retreats are not at the annual NEYM summer sessions and vice-versa.  Compounding these issues of representation is that every year, the makeup of Young Friends rotates as we move up grades.  Just as we have learned the most about Quaker process and understand the community the best, we must sadly say “Good-bye.”

New England Yearly Meeting of Friends

901 Pleasant Street, Worcester, MA 01602

(508) 754-6760 - [email protected]