News, May 2017

Philadelphia young adults reenvision lecture series

The Young Adult Friends program of Philadelphia Yearly Meeting (PYM) in Pennsylvania has recently adopted changes to the group’s ongoing lecture series. Previously titled the William Penn Lecture, the new Seeking Faithfulness Series was reenvisioned after concerns arose about the event’s title. William Penn was a slaveowner, and using his name felt contradictory to the undoing racism work that PYM has begun.

The William Penn Lecture series first started in 1916, and young adult Friends ran the series until 1966. In 2011, PYM reintroduced the event, under the care of the young adult Friends community. The event historically had been a time when teen and young adult Friends from the yearly meeting gathered to hear a speaker on a topic connected to faith, witness, or justice. Concerns about the structure and title of the event arose in the spring of 2016. That summer, a discernment process began to define a way forward for the event.

Clerks of the Young Adult Friends group were approached by members of PYM’s Undoing Racism Group with a request to change the name of the lecture series. The Undoing Racism Group informed clerks that a young adult Friend of color declined to participate in a panel, citing the name of the event as a concern. Additionally, the event planning committee had previously entertained the concept of restructuring the series. At the 100th anniversary of the first William Penn Lecture, 2016 marked a time to reevaluate the series in the context of changing needs of the community. The new structure and name were finalized by the PYM YAF community in October 2016.

The Seeking Faithfulness Series will remain an annual event hosted by the PYM Young Adult Friends community. Each year, a guest will be invited to “challenge [PYM] to explore new ways to practice [the] Quaker faith.” The event is to serve as a call to witness and an opportunity to grow in spiritual connection to Friends and the world.


FLGBTQC heads into year of jubilee

Friends for Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, and Queer Concerns is preparing for a year of jubilee. FLGBTQC will be using this year to consider and reenvision their work and community. At the 2016 summer FLGBTQC gathering, a program that takes place at the FGC Gathering each year, clerks asked Nominating Committee for a radical proposal on how to move forward. The committee proposed a year of jubilee, suspending typical business for one year to focus on examining the values and structure of FLGBTQC. At the midwinter gathering in February, the body began the preparation process.

During the gathering, meeting for worship with attention to business spent time in discernment about what attenders value and look for in their involvement with FLGBTQC. After business meeting, the clerks and members of Nominating Committee met to summarize the responses, and discuss a preliminary plan for moving forward. The clerks and Nominating Committee identified specific themes and events that are of core importance to the FLGBTQC community. The various FLGBTQC committees have been asked to convene before May to discern how their committee supports the six themes that were identified.

The focus of FLGBTQC’s year of jubilee is not necessarily of laying down work. Instead, FLGBTQC is engaging in a year of “business as not usual.” The clerks, committees, and body as a whole will spend time identifying how the work they engage in supports their values and mission. This will allow the organization to determine how best to structure their work and organization to uphold its values. Clerks and Nominating Committee will move forward in an attempt to discern a vision of how to move forward.

Important ongoing work of FLGBTQC will continue to be addressed. At the midwinter gathering, Friends approved an expansion of the Bayard Rustin Fund, which supports Friends of color in traveling to Quaker events including gatherings, retreats, and committee meetings. FLGBTQC will also continue to review possibilities for participation in amicus (friend of the court) briefs. Ongoing work supporting Friends in Zimbabwe will also continue during the year of jubilee.

The FLGBTQC midwinter gathering was held February 17–20 outside of Portland, Ore. In addition to meetings for business and the consideration of the jubilee year, the event included workshops, interest groups, and other programming. Programming was provided for children, along with intergenerational events such as Bicycle Face—“Radical children’s music for adults.”

Friends Laurie Rocello Torres and Jed Walsh presented the keynote speeches on Saturday, February 18.


QuEST appoints new director

Promise Partner

QuEST, a service program for young adults, recently announced the appointment of its sixth executive director. Promise Partner will be moving to Seattle, Wash., from Eugene, Ore., where she was active in Eugene Meeting. QuEST is a program of University Friends Meeting in Seattle.

The year-long program for young adults provides an opportunity for service work and intentional community. Participants are matched with a local organization to provide service and support. QuEST participants also engage in trainings and other events throughout their service year.

Partner has worked with youth in schools, serving as a mentor for high school youth, as well as a teacher, advisor, and administrator. She will bring this experience as well as her own time living in community while attending Bryn Mawr College to her work with QuEST. Partner is a Christian Friend, and first began attending meeting while at university. She has also engaged with Convergent Friends as part of the Way of the Spirit: Contemplative Study in Community program. Partner affstarts as QuEST director in May.

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