See the Gathering Photo Gallery >>>Gathering & Annual Sessions, 1-5 Fourth Month 2015
United Methodist Life Enrichment Center, Fruitland Park, Florida
EPISTLEto Friends everywhere:
Loving greetings from the 51st sessions of Southeastern Yearly Meeting (SEYM). 172 Friends, including 19 youth gathered at the Life Enrichment Center in Fruitland Park, Florida, from the first to the fifth day of Fourth Month, 2015. The beautiful campus on the shores of Lake Griffin, under the shading canopy of live oaks, Spanish moss, and palm trees, was an inspiration to our time together.
Old friendships were renewed and new friendships made. Our loving community was knit closer by worshiping together, attending to our business, and expanding our horizons in many exceptional workshops. Time to sit together and get to know one another in that which is eternal is a hallmark of our Yearly Meeting sessions.
Over the past several years the youth of our Yearly Meeting have inspired us with their Spirit-led activism. They have supported the Coalition of Immokalee Workers on the Fair Food Campaign, bringing significant progress toward a living wage for agricultural workers in Florida. They've collaborated with Earth Quaker Action Teams to pressure PNC Bank to cease investing in mountaintop removal mining. Friends at these sessions rejoiced in the news that on March 2nd, 2015, PNC Bank announced its commitment to divest its holdings in mountaintop removal. Our youth's faithful practice of nonviolent protest has opened our minds and hearts to greater possibilities than we had imagined.
During these same years, the SEYM Committee on Earthcare has been helping the Yearly Meeting to season a minute creating the position of Field Secretary for Earthcare for SEYM. Galvanized by the example of our youth, we move forward from approving this minute with faithful expectation of way opening for its staffing and ongoing funding.
SEYM representatives to Friends organizations reminded us of the Spirit-led social justice work being done around the world and in our own Yearly Meeting. We continue to nurture ProNica and to support the Havana (Cuba) Unprogrammed Worship Group with our loving care. We committed our prayerful and financial support to the Friends New Underground Railroad project of Olympia Monthly Meeting of North Pacific Yearly Meeting, providing safe passage to lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgendered, and queer Ugandans. We minuted our intention for Yearly Meeting Friends to read and discuss the Pendle Hill pamphlet by Patience Schenck, "Living Our Testimony of Equality: A White Friend's Experience" during the next year as an examination of our own privilege.
Our Walton Lecturer, Nancy Irving, reminded us of the centrality of community to our faith and practice. Her workshops and lecture titled "Creating Space for Community: Both Inside and Out," challenged us to move beyond the societal notion of rugged individualism and practice commitment, willingness, intentionality, and trust in opening the spaces essential to our deeper relationship with Spirit and one another.
Our time together included a balance of laboring to seek clearness and connecting joyfully through conversation, study, worship, and intergenerational play. We concluded our gathering with a sense of what is possible when we remain faithful to the call of Spirit by following our leadings.
Drafted by Joel Cook, Ann Jerome, and Stephanie Preston