Dear New York Yearly Meeting community,
It has become clear to the Liaison Committee (composed of the yearly meeting clerk, assistant clerk, and the clerks of the General Services, Ministry, and Witness Coordinating Committees) and to the clerks of Sessions and Trustees that NYYM will not be able to gather in person for Summer Sessions 2020. A task group is being assembled to consider alternatives for each of the many valuable experiences that we share at our summer gathering. If anyone would like to offer their expertise or experience in creating virtual or other alternatives to an in-person gathering, as a possible member of the task group or as a resource person, please contact Elaine Learnard, the convener of the task group.
Registrations for our 325th annual gathering at Silver Bay will no longer be accepted. Those who have registered already will be contacted regarding the cancellation. This decision, as difficult as it was, was unavoidable. It is unlikely to be safe to gather in large groups by the end of July, and we don’t want to create a space for the virus to spread within our community or at Silver Bay. This is a painful decision, because, as Friends in Great Britain wrote in 1668: “We did conclude among ourselves to settle a meeting, to see one another’s faces, and open our hearts one to another in the Truth of God once a year, as formerly it used to be.” (Quaker Faith and Practice, Britain Yearly Meeting, 1995, section 6.02) Gathering in the Spirit has always been an important part of our year. It will be missed. We are fortunate to have technology to help us through the change in plans that has been thrust upon us.
A group of us met with Silver Bay personnel to confirm the cancellation and to inquire about their situation. They are currently legally closed as a non-essential business until at least April 29, though their facilities may later be used by the region for hospitalization of non-COVID-19 patients in order to relieve the load on small local hospitals. They made the gracious offer to host any individual Friends from NYYM during our Summer Sessions week (July 19-25) at our conference rates, if the pandemic is over and they have re-opened. All you would need to do is call Silver Bay YMCA and register for a room, advising them that you are affiliated with NYYM.
As Jeffrey wrote to you when inviting Friends to register, “This year’s theme is Embracing our Past, Envisioning our Future. We are a yearly meeting in transition, and we are facing many different changes, as is the rest of the world. Change can be difficult, but our Quaker process, rooted in deep listening to all voices, helps us move forward in the Light with love for each other and for our community. As a community, we have much to offer to each other and to the wider world.”
This all remains true, and even more so as we negotiate how to move forward in a stressful time. We have added a new line to our theme: Living into our Present. Let us find creative ways to keep hope alive, to see one another’s faces even if not in person, and to support those in need, both within our beloved community and throughout our one world.
Jeffrey Aaron, Clerk, NYYM
Elaine Learnard, Assistant Clerk, NYYM
Melanie-Claire Mallison, Clerk, NYYM Sessions Committee
Steve Mohlke, NYYM General Secretary
Roseann Press, Clerk, NYYM Trustees
And here’s the announcement from FSRM:
Join us at the
FREE! VIRTUAL & SMALL GROUP!
Farmington-Scipio Spring Gathering
May 15-17th, 2020!
Loving One Another and the Earth:
Living into the Future as Friends
Something new! Yes, Spring Gathering is still happening May 15-17″, but not as we expected, and not at Watson Homestead!
In Friends’ tradition of experimentation, testimony and continued revelation, this year we will experiment in living more lightly on the earth and caring for one another during times of suffering by holding Spring Gathering virtually and in small groups, rather than as one large group at Watson Homestead.
Friends planning adult, young adult, teen and youth programs are excited about the possibilities for gathering together, even as we are also holding a concern for including those for whom participating may be a challenge. Plans are in the works for
- · Friday evening intergenerational community building
- · Saturday youth, young adult and intergenerational activities
- · Saturday morning plenary
- · Saturday afternoon interest groups
- · Saturday evening intergenerational talent sharing
- · Sunday morning intergenerational worship
- · Sunday Meeting for Worship with a concern for business
Friends are invited to consider creative ways of participating in Spring Gathering, from being part of an online plenary panel reflecting on how our theme has been working in your life, sharing your talents virtually, presenting an online workshop or interest group, offering an online Bible study or children’s message during worship, or something we haven’t thought of yet!
For now, please keep May 15-17th on your calendar and look for registration materials soon!
Please contact the Spring Gathering planning committee via Lu Harper (email@example.com) or Suzanne Blackburn (firstname.lastname@example.org) to share your thoughts and suggestions.