We just finished our Northwest Yearly Meeting sessions this evening. It's been a great week! We had events from Sunday through Thursday. The picture is of the auditorium during evening worship. My husband was the director of high school yearly meeting, where the youth have their own business meetings, do a service project, go to the beach, and learn about Quaker business process.
I did the adult stuff. I helped facilitate worship during the business meetings, which was fun and seemed to go well. I also organized our annual Young Adult Friends dinners on two nights, where we get together for free food (very important for YAFs!) and talk about what's going on in YAFdom. So it was a busy week, but fun to see people and good to be together and do the work of meetings for worship with a concern for business. I'll mention a couple highlights.
One of my favorite things was that we had three visiting young adult Friends form other yearly meetings: one each from Britain YM, Philadelphia YM, and Canadian YM (here's her post on NWYM). It was great to hear about their yearly meetings, their passion for Friends, and their impression of NWYM. It was also just fun to make some new friends and reconnect with an old one.
Another highlight was helping facilitate worship during the business meetings. We met for business four times, each weekday morning from 8:15-12:00. During that time we interspersed worship elements with our business items, trying to remind ourselves that we are also worshiping through working on our business stuff. I think it worked pretty well! We had a great sense of worshipfulness throughout a lot of the business sessions, it seemed to me. In addition to music, we did a prayer exercise together each day, and we reflected at the beginning on what we were bringing with us to the meeting, and at the end on how we'd seen God at work in our meeting for worship for business. The prayer practices were: use of a prayer song to lead us into silence; doing lectio divina together on a passage from Acts, quoted from Joel; looking at images around our week's theme of "Go Light Your World" and allowing God to speak to us through them as we entered into silence, and reading a responsive reading together and meditating on its words.
The business this year wasn't as divisive as some years, so it was nice to have a kind of a Sabbath year--time to just spend together and look toward the future. Last year we overhauled our whole structure: committees, boards, etc., and revamped our budget process. The goal is to not just do what we've always done, and not just work with the people we agree with, but to try to integrate the work we're doing of teaching the gospel and doing social justice stuff. So this year the new boards came up with ministry plans and dream budgets, new staff positions and new goals. We approved a budget less than their dream budget, but of course that's life!
Overall this year our sessions seemed hope-filled as we looked toward the future. The verse that we did lectio divina on for the last business session was this one:
“In the last days it will be, God declares,
that I will pour out my Spirit upon all flesh,
and your sons and your daughters shall prophesy,
and your young men shall see visions,
and your old men shall dream dreams.
18Even upon my slaves, both men and women,
in those days I will pour out my Spirit;
and they shall prophesy. "
It's found in Acts 2:17-18 and Joel 2:26-28. To me it was my prayer for our yearly meeting, for all Friends, and for the whole world. I desire for God to pour out God's Spirit so powerfully that we all get carried away in its wholeness and life--so swept away that we forget our petty differences, so swept away that we overflow with God's love toward those we consider "oppressed" and "outsiders," so swept away that we stop waiting for someone else to take the lead and just start living out our beliefs with joyful abandon.
Let it be so, for me and for you.