Yearly Meeting (YM), 2022

‘Here nothing mattered. Here everything mattered.’

'Siobhán Haire reminded Friends that they would be concluding some discernment on privilege and diversity.' | Photo: Siobhán Haire, courtesy BYM

Around 180 Friends met online for the first session of Yearly Meeting 2022, which opened with an introduction from clerk designate Siobhán Haire. Siobhán has also recently been appointed as deputy recording clerk to Britain Yearly Meeting (see News, 5 May), and some Friends were interested to see how she would manage both ‘hats’.

First, last year’s YM clerk, Clare Scott Booth, read from Whispers of Faith, a book from Friends General Conference in the US in which young Friends share their experiences of Quakerism. Clare quoted a fifteen-year-old from Baltimore who discovered that in Meeting for Worship ‘Here nothing mattered. Here everything mattered’.

In the worship that followed, one Friend read from George Herbert’s ‘Love (III)’: ‘Love bade me welcome. Yet my soul drew back / Guilty of dust and sin. / But quick-eyed Love, observing me grow slack / From my first entrance in, / Drew nearer to me, sweetly questioning / If I lacked any thing.’

Another Friend talked of coming to ‘feast on love and Friendship’, but also hoped that those attending would take this back out into the world, living lives of integrity.

After worship, Clare Scott Booth offered a reflection on ‘Why we’re here and what we do’. Quaker faith & practice, as most Friends know, talks of meeting once a year ‘to see one another’s faces…’ But Clare reminded those present that the passage goes on ‘…and open our hearts one to another in the Truth of God’. She talked about the importance of listening to one another and also to ‘the still small voice’. She hoped Friends would learn from the experience of doing business and take that back to their Local Meetings. Each of us brings something to Yearly Meeting, she said, whether that be silence, words, or service. All were equally important. Ultimately, Friends met to gain leadings, to create some energy, and ‘release it with hope’.

This opening session would also cover some practicalities, and Siobhán Haire reminded Friends that they would be concluding some discernment on privilege and diversity. Previous years had seen a move from understanding the issues to committing to deal with them; this year Friends would be considering how to hold themselves accountable to those commitments.

A blended Yearly Meeting, with some Friends online and some in person, would be complicated, she said, but there was a strong desire to ensure full participation for those in their homes. Digital attendance meant some people could take part when they might otherwise have been prevented.

The rest of the proposed clerking team was introduced, along with the convenors of the eldership team. These reminded Friends that it was paying attention to loving discipline that would allow them to come together in unity.

The pastoral care team was also welcomed, who acknowledged the challenges of a blended Meeting. It had been a difficult couple of years, and Friends would need to be kind to each other.

After a practice with the Zoom ‘raise hand’ function, Friends left for breakout rooms. There, they were asked to find one thing that brought them joy and share it with their group.

Friends would be tacking big subjects in the next week or so, but this sense of joy was felt throughout. Now, for some of us, to Friends House.

Next week’s issue wll cover YM in session as well as the ‘Faith in Action’ presentations. All YM documents can be found at

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