Yearly Meeting Gathering − “For our comfort and discomfort”
Quakers in Britain are planning their Yearly Meeting Gathering 2021 to nurture and inspire the Quaker community, saying “In these extraordinary and challenging times, we have seen that it is possible to make changes in our way of life. We have hope. We trust the leadings of love and truth will come right."
Not since 1668 has anything – not even world wars – prevented Yearly Meeting. This year, because of the public health guidelines around Covid-19, it will be a different shape. Possibly one thousand Quakers will meet online, knowing that will bring fresh opportunities to listen and learn from each other.
We have seen that it is possible to make changes in our way of life. We have hope.- Britain Yearly Meeting 2020 epistle
They also recognise that Quakers are not immune from the bad behaviour which seems to occur more often online than in person. They have drawn up a seven-point Community Agreement for everyone who takes part. It includes this, “Be mindful of how important or sensitive the subject may be when discussing views and beliefs you or others may hold. Respect the experiences and opinions of others even if they differ from your own. Be open to change."
The theme for the Yearly Meeting Gathering (YMG) is “For our comfort and discomfort: living equality and truth in a time of crisis". Sessions will focus on these areas:
- Anti-racism: our Quaker journey.
Tackling systemic racism is a spiritual imperative. Might Quakers commit to becoming an actively anti-racist church?
- Acknowledging and welcoming gender diverse people.
Quakers are at an early stage of discernment on gender diversity and there is a wide range of views and points of conflict in the Quaker community, as well as in wider society. Might the Yearly Meeting name the places where there is unity, acknowledge that there are trans people in Quaker communities and state that they are welcome?
- Faith-based action for climate justice.
Time to review ten years since Quakers committed to becoming a low-carbon community, look forward to COP26 and consider what faith requires in relation to climate justice.
Clare Scott Booth, clerk to Yearly Meeting Gathering 2021 said, “Yearly Meeting searches our spiritual depths and refreshes our spiritual lives. Being together reinforces our sense of community. We are planning an online, all-age, inclusive event, grounded in worship. Bookings will open in June."
She outlined an impressive three-week programme of events around the YMG theme. Quakers can chose a range of welcome events, special interest meetings, interactive sessions plus videos and podcasts. The third week will have two weekends of Yearly Meeting in session, from Friday evening 31 July, then from Friday afternoon, 6 August to come together as an all-age community and to hear minutes from the children and young people's programmes.