New Yearly Meeting formed in Europe

Friends in the Central European Gathering made the decision to become a Yearly Meeting last month

The Central European Gathering (CEG) made history last month when it became a Yearly Meeting (YM). The decision was made at the twenty-sixth CEG in May in Gdansk, Poland.

‘We can say, without exaggeration, that Quaker history was written here’, said Friends, in an epistle that can be read on the Friends World Committee for Consultation (FWCC) website.

Michael Eccles, FWCC Europe and Middle East Section (EMES) executive secretary, who was at the meeting in Gdansk, said: ‘I was thrilled to be at this special occasion and am glad to see the confidence of Central European Quakers grow and to see their structures develop to support their new Yearly Meeting. I welcome this development and will continue to work with Friends in Central Europe to support them in this next stage of their lives as a Quaker community. It is exciting for all Friends to see a new Yearly Meeting in our section and should give us all hope for the future of Quakerism.’

Michael Eccles told the Friend that group members have been thinking about their status for several years. ‘EMES has been supporting them with this discernment. We recently carried out a review of worship groups and other Quaker groupings in EMES which prompted the CEG to put this issue on their agenda – the current process began a year ago.’

According to Michael, the main ‘benefits’ are that the group will be able to have their own membership. ‘At the moment members of the CEG are technically international members via the FWCC world office. Once their new YM has been recognised by EMES and the international membership applications committee, we will begin the process of transferring members to the new YM. Worship groups and international members in a number of countries will be invited to join the new Central European Yearly Meeting (CEYM), so until that process has happened we can’t say definitely which countries will be included in the CEYM, but it’s likely to be countries like Czechia, Hungary, Poland, Ukraine, Latvia etc.’

The theme of the weekend from 25-28 May was ‘Diversity is our strength’, with Friends sharing their thoughts on diversity during a special Meeting for Worship. The weekend also included music, singing and walking in silence along the beach.

On Saturday the main event was a public Meeting for Worship for peace in front of a medieval prison in Gdansk old town where Quakers had been incarcerated in the seventeenth century. Friends said they were ‘delighted to see members of the public… joining us for some time’.

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