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Calls to the Annual Sessions 2015 – Abridged

Sara Keeney, Tom Rawson, Steve Smith
On Knowing (March 2015)

Practicing Spiritual Discernment: Where Does the Light Lead Us Now?

Intermountain Yearly Meeting, June 7 - 14, 2015; Ghost Ranch, Abiquiu, NM

(Full text at: westernfriend.org/sites/default/files/documents/IMYM-Call-2015.pdf)

Dear Friends in Utah, Colorado, Arizona and New Mexico: You are warmly invited to the 2015 Annual Gathering of Intermountain Yearly Meeting. At this gathering, Friends of all ages will be able to engage in an experiential learning about leadings of the Spirit and Quaker spiritual discernment practices. Our Keynote speaker will be Diego Navarro of Pacific Yearly Meeting.

Diego’s own experiences with Quaker youth programming have deeply influenced his life path. He has developed and conducted a variety of workshops at FGC and Ben Lomond Quaker Center, drawing in part from his personal experience with following leadings. He teaches at Cabrillo College and for twelve years has been following a leading to develop a transformative program for community college students, which is being replicated nationwide. Diego will lead us in experiential exercises to explore what it means to turn our lives over to the Spirit, to live what Thomas Kelly calls a “God-intoxicated life,” linking our inner growth in the Spirit and our external witnessing.

Our seminars, interest groups, worship sharing queries, youth and art activities will take inspiration from these queries: How do we as a community and as individuals discern the leadings of Spirit? How do we get beyond “good works” to a deep sense of Spirit leading us? How do we share our discernment process with each other, with youth and newcomers, and with the wider community? How do we distinguish authentic leadings from the mis-leadings that can captivate us through self-righteous indignation, guilt, or egotistic enthusiasm?

Our attention will be on both individual and collective discernment processes, and how they interact, complement, and strengthen each other. We will draw instruction and inspiration from the experiences of early Friends as well as contemporary ones. We will see how Spirit-led action emerges from leadings and discernment processes, and how these processes continually nurture and guide Friends as we carry out our Spirit-led work in the world.

Youth programming will continue as in previous years. Junior and Senior Young Friends are designing group activities to deepen their Quaker experience – “fun in a Quakerly way” – along with use of Quaker process. Lively intergenerational activities will bring us together throughout the gathering.

Early Days are planned to include relaxation and down time in the afternoon. Art-themed activities, singing, dancing, and creativity nights are part of the week’s plans. On Friday night, come experience our most amazing IMYM Quaker contra-dance band.

Welcome to all who can come for any or all of our 2015 Annual Gathering.

– Sara Keeney, Clerk, Intermountain Yearly Meeting


Quaker-Craft: Becoming Quakers the World Needs

North Pacific Yearly Meeting, July 15 - 19, 2015; Whitworth University, Spokane, WA

(Full text at: westernfriend.org/sites/default/files/documents/NPYM-Call-2015.pdf)

Climate change. War. Hunger and malnutrition. Poverty. Injustice. The list goes on and on. Like the Quaker abolitionists and suffragists of long ago, we feel an intense desire to act on society’s ills. The Religious Society of Friends carries a rich history of Spirit-led activism for justice and peace. This challenges us to examine our busy lives today as we seek a path of action that is consistent with our passions and ideals.

Our queries for our upcoming annual session include: What can we learn from the experiences of previous generations of Quaker activists? What is unique to our own time in history? How are we guided as we discern our callings? How are we called to serve? How do we blend our hunger for action with our responsibilities to our families and our Meetings? How can our Quaker community support us in living into our leadings?

These are some of the issues we will consider together this year. Our Friend-in-Residence will be Robin Mohr, Executive Secretary of the Friends World Committee for Consultation, Section of the Americas. Robin has written extensively on her blog (robinmsf.blogspot.com) about convergent Friends and about her own struggle to blend motherhood and ministry. In a recent Friends Journal article, “In Celebration of Bivocational Ministry,” Robin addressed the challenge of balancing a call to action with responsibilities to family and community.

One of the functions of our Annual Session is to conduct the business of North Pacific Yearly Meeting through our Meeting for Worship with Attention to Business. As we worshipfully nurture our community and its structure, we will be open to surprises of the Spirit.

To highlight our connections with the larger Quaker community, we will have a “Quaker Fair” where individuals can have informal discussions with representatives from organizations such as American Friends Service Committee, Quaker Earthcare Witness, Friends World Committee for Consultation, Friends Committee on National Legislation, and Western Friend.

We have much to do in our time together. Besides our Meeting for Business, we will have worship sharing groups, interest groups, community night, and an open-mic time. The children and Junior Friends will attend their own programs, and they will also join the adult community in inter-generational activities.

Annual Session has been an important part of my life for many years. I always leave Spiritually nourished and inspired. As this year’s Presiding Clerk, I am excited about the opportunities we have as a Yearly Meeting to seek Light together in fellowship, worship, and business.

Please register at www.npym.org. I look forward to seeing you for worship, singing, play, and joyous renewal.

– Tom Rawson, Presiding Clerk, North Pacific Yearly Meeting


Fruits of the Spirit: Love and Justice

Pacific Yearly Meeting, July 13 - 18, 2015; Walker Creek Ranch, Petaluma, CA

(Full text at: westernfriend.org/sites/default/files/documents/PYM-Call-2015.pdf)

The commandment to love one another is at the heart of our Quaker faith. The Religious Society of Friends takes its name from a passage in the Gospel of John, in which Jesus declares, “This is my commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you . . . you are my friends if you do what I command you . . .I have called you friends, because I have made known to you everything that I have heard from my Father.” (John 15:12-15, NRSV)

Early Friends treasured this passage in St. Paul’s Epistle to Galatians (5:22), “The fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, generosity, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control.” Echoing this passage, George Fox wrote to Friends, “I pray that all your hearts may be knit together in love, and in one spirit to God.” (Ep. #19, 1652)  Fox referred frequently to “the Royal Law of Love.”

Early Friends also understood that loving-kindness, joy, and other fruits of the Spirit cannot be manufactured by good intentions, but arise spontaneously when we allow ourselves to become utterly vulnerable to the searching Light within our conscience. Yielding without reservation to the truth of our condition, we awaken to a new life – and are enveloped by an astonishing, redemptive love. William Penn wrote of the first generation of Quakers, “They were changed . . . [they changed] themselves before they went out to change the world.”

Facing urgent needs for justice, however, we easily become self-righteous, impatient, strident. Learning of the oppression of indigenous peoples, the harsh realities of racism today, the gravity of environmental decline, or violence of any kind, we may be overcome by outrage, which can block the healing power of love. Love is essential, not only for our spiritual health, but also for effective work for justice.

Love and justice will be the intertwined themes of our 2015 PYM Annual Session. Our keynote speaker will be Lloyd Lee Wilson, a member of North Carolina Yearly Meeting (Conservative) and a deeply grounded author on Quaker spirituality. His many writings include Essays on the Quaker Vision of Gospel Order and a recent Pendle Hill Pamphlet, Radical Hospitality (#427). Wilson has written eloquently of the need to center our Quaker activism in the gestalt of Quaker practice, faithful Quaker community, and the power of loving-kindness.

We will also hear a presentation by Jose Aguto of FCNL on the challenge of worldwide environmental decay; and from Paula Palmer of Intermountain Yearly Meeting, concerning right relationship with America’s Native Peoples.

I look forward to our time together at Walker Creek.

– Steve Smith, Presiding Clerk, Pacific Yearly Meeting

Annual Session Discernment love Justice truth Meeting for Worship

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