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Young Friends Annual Report 2018
This past year started off with an air of uncertainty regarding what Young Friends would look like due to the issues that arose in our community during this past Sessions. We were left unsure how Young Friends would recover, and what steps would need to be taken in order to rebuild trust within our community and the larger NEYM community going into the year.
In place of the annual Ministry and Counsel retreat at the beginning of the year, Young Friends had a one-day gathering open to the entire Young Friends community where we could address the issues that had come up during Sessions.
During this gathering, we discussed what the purpose of Young Friends is and how it can best serve the members of our community. We also discussed what role we felt the adults in our community (RPs) should play in supporting us, and what the relationship between RPs and Young Friends should be in order to maintain a safe and sustainable community. During this discussion, Young Friends, along with Nia, decided to restructure the way we look at rules in the program. We created a bipartite system of imperatives (rules that we need all Friends to follow in order to maintain the community) as well as commitments (actions that our community has committed to strive to perform in order to strengthen our community and help everyone feel included and safe).
In December, we braved the cold to gather for the midwinter retreat. Discussions continued over the Young Friends community and how we can help it grow and evolve in these times of change. We noticed that we had been welcoming an unusually small number of Young Friends to the past few retreats. During this gathering we looked at how Young Friends has evolved in the past, and how it has had to change as the members of the community have changed. We also welcomed Maggie Nelson going into the rest of the year as our new retreat coordinator as Nia left on maternity leave.
In March, we gathered at the Hartford meetinghouse for our Gender and Sexuality retreat. On Saturday, Young Friends made a trip into the city for the March for Our Lives rally at City Hall. At the end of this retreat, Young Friends encountered some issues when we forgot to take down a poster that we had put up on the wall of the meeting room which had some of the sexuality topics that we had covered during the retreat. Some adult Friends of Hartford meeting expressed their disgruntlement over the poster being visible during meeting for worship, and one Friend expressed that they found it distracting and inappropriate and they didn’t want visitors to the meeting to feel uncomfortable or feel as though this poster was representative of Hartford Meeting’s normal meeting for worship. We left this with a feeling of embarrassment and regret. We are very grateful to the meetings that let us use their spaces and we hope to always better care for the surroundings and be mindful of the ways we impact others.
We look forward to improve and grow our community. We are excited to welcome new members as well as say goodbye to our seniors as they continue into their lives. We look forward to Sessions where we will be able to continue strengthening our community.
Quinn Nortonsmith and Zosia Szatkowski
Young Friends co-clerks