Southeastern Yearly Meeting

of the Religious Society of Friends

Unprogrammed Quaker Meetings in the Southeastern USA

P.O. Box 4024, Winter Park, FL 32793 office@seym.org 407-739-4150

Spring 2015
Gathering

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Gathering & Annual Sessions, 1-5 Fourth Month 2015
United Methodist Life Enrichment Center, Fruitland Park, Florida

EPISTLE

to 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

See the Gathering Photo Gallery >>>

Spring 2015
Headlines

photo: by Liz Jenkins

The Concert & March for Fair Food

See Also: Marching for Farmworkers: we must keep going! >>

Almost 30 Friends from Sarasota, Tampa, St. Petersburg, and Orlando Meetings joined Farmworkers and their supporters for the Concert & March for Fair Food in St. Petersburg on March 21st. Organized by the Coalition of Immokalee Workers (CIW) and the Fair Food Campaign to raise consumer's awareness of Farm Labor Justice issues, the March and Concert drew crowds estimated in the thousands. Friends who met up at the St. Pete meetinghouse marched together as a Quaker contingent, carrying banners & signs on the 3-mile route through downtown St. Pete. Orlando Friends who arrived later marched with the CIW, meeting up with the Quaker group at Vinoy Park. Cece Yocum writes "...it was three miles and it was about 85 degrees. It took two hours because we slowed down in front of Wendy's and the Publix stores. There were numerous police surrounding Publix."

Arriving at Vinoy Park;photo: Liz Jenkins. Lou, Cece & Karen from Tampa; photo:Cece Yocum.

Liz Jenkins writes: "My overall impression of the parade was that it was a genuinely peaceful demonstration (unlike some I have been on), very united and rich and that it prompted a lot of positive interest from a wide variety of people along the way. At the celebration, it was striking to see the farmworkers families really enjoying the park, the music and relaxing together, as well as sharing their story and their goals. After walking three miles in pretty warm weather carrying a sign almost as big as myself, I was reminded how very hard the farmworkers work.

Cece adds that the crowd "appeared to be a wide cross section of the U.S., with people of many different ethnic groups and age...Besides 4 year old Henry and his parents Josh and Sarah from St. Pete, a whole bunch of parents with strollers or parents carrying their children walked in front of us. One mother had come all the way from Washington, D.C., just for this. On the other end of the age spectrum were some quite elderly supporters."

See Karen Putney's story: Marching for Farmworkers: we must keep going! >>

Prior to the march, Friends gathered at the St. Petersburg meetinghouse to meet with Eileen Flanagan, Clerk of Earth Quaker Action Team (EQAT), who explained how the involvement of SEYM youth and support from the Yearly Meeting helped turn the tide in getting PNC to back down from investing in mountain top removal. She noted how youth can bring excitement to a movement; and that was certainly in evidence at the March for Fair Food. "Just listening to Lis and Kate you can see and hear their enthusiasm, which was contagious!" writes Cece Yocum (see videos below). SEYM youth will be continuing their work with the Coalition of Immokalee Workers (CIW).

Various Quaker organizations worked together to create a successful and visible Quaker presence in the parade. SEYM Teen Clerk Kate Sundberg received a grant from Circus McGurkis to design and print 30 "Quakers Support Fair Food" t-shirts, with permission from the Fair Food Alliance to use the new Fair Food logo. This set of dark green t-shirts represents a "lending library" for Fair Food actions ... they were used for the St Pete parade and then collected to be used in future Fair Food Actions." St. Pete Friends provided hospitality for SEYM Quakers, as well as space and support for building CIW floats for the march.

To find out more about the CIW, visit their website: http://ciw-online.org/. To find out how you and your Meeting can join the Fair Food campaign, see their website: http://www.fairfoodprogram.org/.

Kate & Lis share their excitement about the March:

https://www.facebook.com/video.php?v=1185499398133319&set=o.57711537874&type=2&theater https://www.facebook.com/video.php?v=1185501671466425&set=o.57711537874&type=2&theater

Photo Gallery

L: SEYM teens made a great banner; photo: Cece Yocum. R: Miguel & Liz from Orlando.

L: Farmworkers speak at concert; photo: Liz J.

Building floats at St. Pete Meeting; photos: K. Putney

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