YMG 2017: a new ‘look and feel’

Noticeable changes planned for Yearly Meeting Gathering at the University of Warwick

Yearly Meeting Gathering (YMG) begins this weekend at the University of Warwick in Coventry, the fourth YMG in the past nine years.

This year there will be noticeable changes from previous YMGs.

There will be no scheduled special interest meetings at meal breaks. Friends can pause between events to share meals with others and engage in impromptu community building activities, such as conversations, singing, board games or crafts, if they wish.

Two afternoons have no separated children and young people’s programmes. Many of the workshops on these afternoons will be suitable for a wide age range, and there will also be sports activities, outings and crafts.

Most of the workshops offered during the afternoons relate to the main theme of ‘Living out our faith in the world, working with others to make a difference’.

Deborah Rowlands, clerk to Yearly Meeting, explained the discernment behind the changes to the Friend: ‘Each time we have tried to integrate more closely the elements of community building with those of holding our annual sessions of Yearly Meeting.

‘The discernment for the “look and feel” of this year’s event started immediately after the last Gathering in 2014, when we looked at the feedback we had received on what Friends had particularly liked. We were struck by the number of times when it was the chance encounters over a coffee, or round the table in the accommodation block, which people had found life-changing and inspiring.

‘So, in one session of agenda committee we came up with a word picture of what we hoped the event could be, living and working together as a loving, joyful, all-age community, to live now as if the Kingdom of God were already fulfilled (Quaker faith & practice 24.57). The vision was turned into reality through the hard work of staff and small groups.’

Deborah Rowlands added that this is the third and final year of consideration of the theme, ‘Living out our faith in the world’, looking at it from different aspects and angles. ‘We are not looking for any particular outcomes. But we hope that this week of living and worshipping together will help us to build a better world, both as individuals and as a community of Quakers in Britain.’

Along with the essential business of Yearly Meeting in session, the extensive and varied programme includes an opportunity to meet George Lakey, who is involved with the Earth Quaker Action Team, a US group working for a just and sustainable economy.

Friends will also have the chance to find out about Central and Southern Africa Yearly Meeting and the Quaker Peace Centre in Cape Town. Cécile Nyiramana, clerk of Rwanda Yearly Meeting; Emma Condori Mamani, director of Friends International Bilingual Center in Bolivia; Merryl Titus from India; and Nokuthula Mbete, assistant clerk of the Friends World Committee for Consultation Africa Section, will talk about Quaker work in their regions.

Closer to home, Friends will have the opportunity to engage with the work of the Book of Discipline Revision Preparation Group, ahead of the issue returning to Yearly Meeting in session in 2018.

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