News from Gathering and Annual Sessions 2014
Youth & Youth leaders, Photo: Vicki Carlie.
SEYM Epistle 2014
Fourth Month 20, 2014
Loving Greetings to Friends Everywhere:
Southeastern Yearly Meeting gathered in Fruitland Park, Florida, Fourth Month 16-20, 2014, with 172 participants, including two beloved members who have attended Gathering for more than 40 years, and 22 children. We joyfully celebrated our 50th anniversary with the theme Quakers in the 21st Century: How do we address our traditional testimonies in our modern electronically driven world. This is particularly appropriate since we just published the 4th edition of our Faith and Practice, in both print and eBook formats. Monthly meetings and worship groups brought posters of their histories, and we celebrated the anniversary with cake and a group photo.
Joining bird song beside the lake each morning in worship, we were opened to the power of love in the Spirit that renews. "Silence, especially in life's busyness, leads us through the whitewater of life to gentle pools of still and calm," wrote J. Brent Bill (New Meetings Project, FGC). Selected as Walton lecturer, he led us through workshops with humor and inspirational exercises to deepen our spirituality, build community, and envision the steps we need to take to lead us to the yearly meeting that we want five years from now. Brent Bill focused our attention on the future of Friends "Lost-and Found-in Space", urging us to be true to the testimonies we feel in our hearts, and tolerant of the differences in ways that Friends feel them.
During meetings for worship with attention to business, Friends were moved to:
- Support the work of Quaker House, in Fayetteville, North Carolina, near _Fort Bragg, the largest military base in the United States.
- Minute our deep concern for how we Friends address climate change as recommended by our Committee for Earthcare.
- Express our appreciation to ProNica staff and Board who reported that income from educational-service delegations cover operational expenses, so that 100% of contributions go directly to projects.
- Cheer our youth and youth leaders who created their "Tomato Crops to Mountain Tops" programs, working with the Coalition of Immokolee Workers and Mountain Justice in Appalachia. Our youth encouraged us to join them in an Earth Day demonstration with Earth Quaker Action Team at a PNC Bank Stockholders Meeting in Tampa, Florida, next week. We minuted support for this action.
We continued through our days together, with early morning worship at the lake, in worship sharing sessions, meetings for worship with attention to business, and a wide variety of workshops presented by Quaker organization staff, representatives, guests, and members. All workshops were nourishing, notably a double session on the topic of Eldership, inspiring to many. We experienced Grace: greeting old friends and meeting new ones, dining, singing around the piano, playing intergenerational games, camping, relaxing together, and dancing. Our Faith and No Practice Band provided music for our lively intergenerational dance, and we closed the evening with our traditional acapella round of "Oh Lovely Is the Evening."
We ended our Gathering with gratitude in our hearts and feeling more deeply connected to the Spirit and each other, aware of new ways to thrive as Southeastern Yearly Meeting engaged in the world.
In the Light,
Phoebe Biers Andersen, Clerk
Epistle Committee: Lyn Cope, Nancy Howell, Susan Taylor
SEYM Gathering & Annual Sessions 2014 Highlights
Friends of all ages, 148 adults & 23 youth, attended a joyful and energizing 2014 SEYM Gathering & Annual Sessions. The Epistles from our Annual Sessions & our Youth capture the spirit and essence of the Gathering.
More Highlights from the Gathering include:
- We celebrated 50 years of SEYM! Meetings & Worship Groups shared their histories in the form of posters displayed in the auditorium. A group photo of all Friends present Saturday night was taken to commemorate this event, and Friends enjoyed a 50th Anniversary cake.
- In two Retreat Sessions, Brent Bill led us in interactive sharing & exploration of vital experiences of our Quaker faith, group discussion of our wishes for the future, and ideas for practical things we can do to implement them. Friends were deeply engaged and energized!
- In the Walton Lecture "Quakers in the 21st Century: Lost-or Found-in Space?" Brent Bill invited us to envision a future of deepening spiritual connections & community, embracing Love as a testimony, practicing 'theological hospitality,' and focusing on what energizes us.
- SEYM Teens led a workshop "Tomato Crops to Mountain Tops". The Teens told about their recent immersion visit to Immokalee Workers, their outreach to other Quaker Youth and adults (at FGC, Brooklyn Meeting, Brooklyn Friends School and in Atlanta with SAYMA and Friends School of Atlanta). Jocelyn Benton & Cece Yocum told about their trip to West Virginia to attend "Mountain Justice Spring Break," where they saw first-hand the destruction caused by mountain top removal. Read Jocelyn & Cece's report here>>>.
- Teens and visiting EQAT Friends Matthew Armstead & Hannah Jeffreys led training in non-violent action and presented more information about the Mountaintop removal issue in a workshop on Saturday.
- Teens invited Friends to join them and members of EQAT in Tampa on Earth Day for a demonstration to peacefully persuade shareholders in PNC Bank to end their financial support of mountaintop removal mining in Appalachia. See report of the action here >>>
- ProNica: SEYM ProNica Board members, Friends, & staff presented a slide show that gave Friends an in-depth view of the grassroots, community-based ProNica partners and the people they serve. Herb Haigh, Kathy Hersh, Kurt Guenther, Nancy Tait, Marlene Springer, Johannes Werner and Teresa Campos (from Nicaragua & Miami) told about their experiences visiting these programs and their communities. Laura Hopps, Program Director, and Melissa Ajabshir, Stateside Coordinator, filled in more details. Operating expenses for ProNica are now fully funded by hosting delegations, which means 100% of all donations to ProNica are used for grants to their partner organizations. 10 college delegations are scheduled for the coming year.
- Havana Worship Group: Mercedes Soca brought us greetings and news of Havana Worship Group in with a slideshow. Friends were very moved to see and hear from these distant members of our SEYM community.
- Earthcare: We approved and adopted the Minute on Climate Change.
- FWCC: Eduardo Diaz told us about the FWCC gathering in Bolivia that he and Clara attended, along with 130 Friends from Bolivia, Peru, N. Ireland, and other countries. There are 6 yearly meetings in Bolivia!
- FCNL: Tim Barner of FCNL led a workshop "FCNL-The World We Seek." Karen Putney reported on FCNL and the experience she & Lou had doing FCNL lobbying in Washington D.C. FCNL is the largest peace lobby on Capitol Hill. Friends are urged to visit the local offices of their congressmen and get to know their staff people.
- Quaker House Directors Lynn & Steve Newsom shared what Quaker House is doing to help people in the military and their families. Based in Fayetteville, NC, near Fort Bragg, Quaker House provides counseling for Conscientious Objection, problems in recruitment and military service, PTSD, and domestic violence. They are now offering AVP. Friends were moved to include Quaker House among the Quaker organizations we support and keep in touch with.
- AFSC: Laura Boyce of AFSC led a workshop "AFSC Update." The AFSC Quaker Meeting/Church Liaison Program invites Meetings to have a direct connection to AFSC and become involved in AFSC's work.
- The in-depth, 3 hour workshop "Eldering" brought many Friends together to explore the role of the Worship & Ministry committee in nurturing the spiritual growth of members, the conduct of worship, and using loving care to resolve difficulties. Friends explored how actually living Love is a vital activism among Friends.
- Worship, Worship Sharing, and Workshops were part of our daily life together. There were 24 workshops in 5 sessions over Thursday, Friday, & Saturday, covering many dimensions of living our faith: spiritual experience, Quakerism, earthcare, testimonies, and Quaker organizations.
- Music, Singing, Dancing: Friends of all ages had a great time Friday night, with Gary Arthur leading us in folk dancing to music provided by the 'Faith & No Practice Band.' Friends also enjoyed singing in the dining hall after dinner.
See our 2014 Gathering Photo Gallery here>>
Walton Lecture with Brent Bill, Photo: Bill Carlie
Chicken Dance, Photo: Bill Carlie.