Yearly Meeting is the annual assembly of the Quaker church in Britain. It's when Quakers gather in worship to connect, explore current concerns and conduct business. At this year's event we'll be trying something new: an enormous meeting for worship that will bring together as many Quakers as possible from across Britain.
Some will be at Friends House in London, some gathered in Quaker meeting houses and other venues, while many will join us from their own homes. All together in what we are and when and how we worship, we are calling this session 'All-together worship'.
Connected by the spirit
But how?, you might ask. How do you hold a meeting of this size? We'll be connected online, but more significantly we'll be connected by the spirit. The technology is less important than the sense of togetherness.
By sitting down at the same time and bending our thoughts towards worship, we'll be a dispersed yet gathered community. Our bonds can be strengthened by meeting together in the spirit.
We're excited about embracing the technology that has held us together during the pandemic, and about using it to reach out from the physical space of Friends House to connect all of our local and area meetings.
- Siobhán Haire, Yearly Meeting Clerk (Designate)
Our Yearly Meeting Agenda Committee, which determines the business to be put before each Yearly Meeting, hopes we will all find something in it. That doesn't necessarily mean that everyone will find the same thing — with the diversity of approaches among Quakers, this is true wherever or however we meet.
Faith, community and action
This unique meeting for worship will begin with a piece of creative writing. Over the last few weeks, a dozen young people aged 12 to 18 have been working with a facilitator on the theme of 'faith, community and action'.
'Balance' would be a good way to describe the relationship between these three parts of our theme – each is essential, yet each is only a part of the whole. This isn't a linear progression. Instead, it's a process of constant refinement, readjusting and balancing in reaction to the changing world around us.
The piece of writing that's emerging from this collaboration will help us understand how faith, community and action fit together. We all have different senses of what this might mean, and by considering the theme in this way we hope to move towards discernment.
A collaborative effort
Transforming separate ideas into one coherent piece of creative writing, shaped by many voices, is an exercise in living adventurously. Part of the joy is that we don't yet know what's being written, because it's being specially created for Yearly Meeting. This collaborative effort might show us how we can find creativity in working together.
We want to make this the biggest meeting for worship ever. We want to reach out to other Quakers, wherever they are in Britain, and demonstrate that meeting is more than simply sitting in the same room. It's about worshipping and being together, united in the spirit.
All-together worship will take place on Sunday 29 May, from 10.30 to 11.30am. If your Quaker community wishes to join, please complete this form by 30 April. If an individual or family wishes to join, they should either join a local Quaker community in person or register to attend Yearly Meeting online. To find out what you need to take part, read our information sheet (PDF).