Tuesday, January 14, 2014
Epistle from Young Adult Friends- Summer Sessions, 2013. Silver Bay, NY
We, the young adult friends of New York Yearly Meeting, are experiencing an intense and escalating sense of spirit, community, and purpose. Throughout this week, the deepening spirit of this Yearly Meeting has enriched us, while our worship and gatherings as a smaller community have brought us together in ways that revealed common Faith and many means by which we live out our Faithfulness. We have labored together this week, wrestling with our personal experiences and the experiences of our community as a whole. We have listened deeply to each other, considering how our lives, our practices, and our Quaker selves work in and through one another and the world. We are keenly aware that this Yearly Meeting is divided on many fronts, and we have worshipfully reflected on how some of our practices may contribute to the further fragmenting of our community. We hope that our gifts and experiences can be used to drive healing and a unified shift in culture here at Summer Sessions and beyond.
We are also challenged with division amongst ourselves, as our group by definition includes Friends of diverse experiences and backgrounds. We are parents of young children, JYM leaders, Quakers by birth and newcomers, Powell house veterans, and committee members. Our diversity is one of our greatest assets, but the consequence of our many differences is often a sense of competing priorities and differing needs. Meeting these needs is difficult, and we recognize that we have not done a perfect job this year—perhaps for many years. For this summer session, only about twenty of the forty-seven registered CYF Friends participated in our gatherings, including worship sharing and intergenerational discussion. Those forty-seven are the people who checked the box, but we imagine that there are other young adult Friends who did not identify as such for one reason or another. We therefore know that there is much work to be done and would also like to note that this division means that this epistle is inherently incomplete, with many of the views and experiences of young adults not being represented. Some of us labored together, some of us worshipped together, but we have yet to know what we stand for as a complete community. We are eager to do deep, spirit-led work in the coming year to lovingly support all members of the young adult community, in addition to the Yearly Meeting as a whole.
We are energized and touched by Friend Gabi Savory-Bailey and her devoted work to the causes that are important to us. Perhaps more importantly, we are grateful for her support as we discern our own individual leadings, gifts, and needs. Her wisdom and love nurture our work and we sincerely appreciate her willingness to hear us and guide us, not as young people who are useful because of our age, but as exceptional Friends who are necessary because of our gifts. We are thankful to the larger body for hearing her message this week, and we are overwhelmingly hopeful that radical hospitality will become the standard as we move forward in reviving our Faith together.
It is our vision and our hope that this next year will be one of great spiritual renewal as we work diligently together to become a more whole and accommodating community. We ask for your prayers and support as we discern our path, and urge you to stay in touch as we discover the myriad ways we are alive and called to share and practice the radical witness of the Religious Society of Friends.