Friendship and enjoyment - how young adult Friends in Oxford sustain community
Young adult Friends in Oxford organised an enjoyable day of sharing spiritual journeys, lunch, dancing and more for their Bioregional Meeting in October. More than 70 people of all ages from the Area Meetings of Chilterns, Mid-Thames, Banbury & Evesham and Oxford & Swindon joined together.
The day started with a panel of Young Adult Friends sharing their spiritual journeys in a deeply personal way. They each talked about how they came to Quakers. Many had started to come when they were students, finding a place where they could be quiet for a while in the middle of a busy life. Their reasons were both spiritual and practical. The morning mid-week meetings offered an opportunity to meet with people from an age group other than students. Many talked of being attracted by the Quaker posters outside, by being able to define what their faith is in their own language and finding a group which 'show up with abundance', both material and spiritual. But overall they said it was about friendship.
Many have joined the Young Adult Friends (YAF) group not because of traditional outreach, but because they were brought by a friend. When the group re-started after the pandemic, they deliberately chose to take the Quaker basics really seriously. There were then 5 of them; there are now 30. They shared the importance of openness and that, like learning a language, the spiritual or religious life is only meaningful when shared. Their Quakerism gave them a shared spiritual language with which they could explore and share their differing beliefs.
The panel were asked if, as a group, they talk about issues such as climate change, reparations or economic justice. They said that these were not the Number One topic of conversation as these can be polarizing. Each person is called to different issues.
After a delicious shared lunch, and buzz of conversations. Young Adult Friends presented a skit, 'Religious Society of Friends goes to the doctor', in which the symptoms of the Religious Society of Friends ('but I call myself Quakers') are addressed by Dr God. Dr. God's recommendations included to be quiet and listen, and let Dr. Jesus 'open you up with his intense inward light'. Everyone enjoyed the opportunity to laugh at ourselves; as well as the food for thought it offered.
Throughout the day, children had their own programme, or joined with the adults. Part of this was making beautiful postcards which were then send to Friends who were not able to be with us today.
The day ended with a barn dance, and people leaving warm and glowing from the dancing and the buzz of the day!