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A Meaningful Weekend

Geoff Sturr
On Loss (May 2023)

Dear Editor: I know Western Friend has focused on what our yearly and regional meetings can do to sustain and enhance their respective communities and wanted to share a bit about the spring meeting of Arizona Half Yearly Meeting (AHYM) this past March. We were blessed to have Francisco Burgos
from Pendle Hill as our keynote speaker.

Francisco was extraordinary. He participated in an entire weekend of activities. His keynote was moving, powerful, and relevant. He gave us queries for worship sharing. He spoke to our Young Friends. And then he led a workshop in which he asked our meetings to share what has worked (and hasn’t worked) in efforts to develop spiritual practices and community.

I thought the workshop was particularly effective. The sharing among meetings was really good. One of our meetings, Flagstaff, has done exceptional work as a community in developing spiritual practices, and its members shared what they have done. The most important perspective for me (about to begin a term on Tempe’s Worship and Ministry Committee) is that interactive opportunities, such as Experiment with Light or spiritual friendships, were more meaningful and engaging than planned in-person programs, and they work well online. We of course have the same problems as other regional and yearly meetings – finding persons willing to serve on committees and to participate in our gatherings – but being able to have a meaningful shared experience left us with much hope. 

Francisco joined us for dinner that evening and worship on Sunday. And he thanked us – before we could thank him! He recently wrote about his AHYM experience on Pendle Hill’s website.

We had very good attendance. The meeting that hosted had not done so for many years and I hope the experience will cause the meeting and its members to become more engaged with AHYM. Many commented that this was the best gathering we have had. I think Francisco had much to do with those sentiments, but it was also a chance for us to gather in person. I know members of my meeting felt a renewed sense of energy and community. I am sure Francisco Burgos would welcome the opportunity to work with other meetings in the West.

– Geoff Sturr, Tempe Friends Meeting (IMYM)


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