[The following texts were abridged from the originals, which are available at:
Dear Friends: BE BOLD!!!
Once again, we find ourselves in limbo, planning a two-track process for our annual gathering in June. We have every hope that Covid will allow us to gather in person, and are seeking ways that Friends will be able to safely and confidently gather together. Meeting in person will be complemented by equitable and reasonable access to meaningful programming on a virtual platform.
We look forward to creating an inclusive Spirit-led time for all Friends and others who join us, whether in person or virtually. Many of us have a deep yearning and need to see each other “live,” to hug each other (Covid permitting), and to renew our emotional and spiritual connections with each other. Others find that the safety and convenience of the virtual platform can serve the same functions (even if the hugs are only cyber-hugs).
Our planning this year seeks to center our youth and their ideas and desires. We will do all that we can to make our time together work for all Friends, young and old.
Our keynote speaker this year will be Ernest House, Jr. He is a senior policy director at The Keystone Center, a 2018 Gates Harvard Kennedy School Fellow, and an enrolled member of the Ute Mountain Ute Tribe.
Our theme, Celebrating the Divine in All of Us, was suggested by the Children’s Yearly Meeting coordinators. They feel that this will easily lend itself to children’s programming and understanding.
We hope you will join us to experience worship, fellowship, and deep learning, and that you will participate in business meetings to help with discernment on a variety of issues.
We expect registration to open in early March and to close earlier and more firmly than it has in the past. Fort Lewis College has a fixed deadline for our headcount. Please watch the IMYM website (IMYM.org) for registration information.
We have not yet determined what requests we may make of Friends regarding Covid precautions. It is our intention to have a process that includes all Friends who wish to join us, while making sure that all Friends feel safe. This year calls for special discernment on issues of safety and inclusion in our beloved community.
We acknowledge and recognize the possibility that we may have to pivot to fully virtual sessions. We also acknowledge that an inability to gather in person for a third year would weigh heavily on all our hearts, particularly the hearts of our younger Friends, for whom the in-person experience is particularly important. We deeply hope that we will be able to gather together in fellowship for close interactions, including “live” hugs, in safety, joy, and confidence.
A schedule of sessions and activities will be included in the registration materials, which will be found on our website at IMYM.org in the near future.
We look forward to fellowship with Friends this summer, and to deepening our spiritual connections with each other and with the Divine.
Gale Toko-Ross and Valerie Ireland
Presiding Co-Clerks, IMYM
Our Friend in Residence, Carl Magruder, has a message for us: Looking at the world as it is right now, we see a very bleak picture. People such as Friends, who develop a mystical awareness of themselves as part of the whole universe, are less afraid of dying and are liberated to courageous forms of witness and activism. This is what it is to be “Optimystical.” We can have hope in these times and live with a buoyancy that comes from our trust in the Divine and our connection with everything.
This is deep hope, not feeling hopeful because we are ignoring what is in front of us, but having the hope that comes from knowing that we are not alone, allowing us to go forward, even when we are not sure of the path. There is the deep hope of the transformation that comes when we have surrendered to the in-breaking Spirit. Howard Brinton said in 1943, also a challenging time, “For Friends the most important consideration is not the right action in itself but a right inward state out of which right action will arise. Given the right inward state right action is inevitable. Inward state and outward action are component parts of a single whole.”
Dear Friends, I invite and welcome you to this Annual Session gathering. Please come to worship together in small and large groups, to learn how the Spirit is present and working among us. May we open our hearts to those we see as different – in age, experience, interests, opinions – so that we can strengthen our community. We will also discern together in our Meetings for Worship with Attention to Business as we hold our business and each other in the Light, trusting that we will be guided to the place where we unite. Our ability to hold each other in love strengthens our discernment.
Carl Magruder, MA, Mdiv, BCC, is a “cradle Quaker” and palliative care chaplain, whose ministry is under the care of Strawberry Creek Meeting (Pacific Yearly Meeting). He reminds us “the core of our faith is this mystical experience.” In his Western Friend article “Desert Church” from March/April 2019, Carl asks “What does it mean to live in a multifaith, multiethnic, multicultural society? It means celebrating difference, engaging radical inclusivity, and a continued dedication to Truth-seeking. Hate, bigotry, fear, xenophobia, and nationalism have no place in the beloved community.”
We continue to learn about the barriers some Friends find in our gatherings that make this time and place feel unsafe and difficult. May we be aware that we do not all see Annual Session in the same way and be open to asking and listening to others’ experiences. NPYM must identify the barriers and take effective action to remove them. We do share together through Abundant Financing so that cost does not prevent anyone from attending Annual Session.
We hope that we will be able to meet in a hybrid/blended session this year. We particularly want to be able to offer programs for our young people to meet in person; few of our meetings have found ways to engage our youth during the time of the pandemic. We will have our Annual Session this July, and as I write this, we are still discerning where and how we will meet. Updates and registration information can be found at www.npym.org.
Jana Ostrom, Presiding Clerk
North Pacific Yearly Meeting
Beloved Community:What Does It Mean to Belong: to Ourselves, to Each Other, to the Earth?