Reflections from the 2021 Virtual Gathering
Way Will Open and the 2021 FGC Gathering
Way Will Open is not a passive thing that happens to us. We must seek it, listen for it, be in relationship with the Divine and with one another, and act faithfully. We did, and Way Opened.
I’ll admit that I was skeptical. The road to the 2021 Gathering was one of continued uncertainty and social, political, personal, and even spiritual strife. As it became clear in the last months of 2020 that we would not be able to gather in person for the 2021 Gathering it was … disappointing. But the dedicated and faithful Gathering committee and staff began planning in earnest for another virtual Gathering. Friends were committed to creating a spiritually and socially fulfilling experience and didn’t shy away from trying new things in an online format. Together, Friends lived into the Gathering theme, Way Will Open.
The 2021 Gathering offered more opportunities for casual and unstructured time together. There were Open Hang-Out times morning, mid-day and night. There were 50 workshops to choose from. Bible Half-Hour, drop-in and on-going worship sharing groups, a Jr. Gathering talent show, “Lunchtime affinity groups”, the all-ages story time, and the FLGBTQC Cabaret all offered ways for us to connect spiritually and socially. Friends met in pre-gathering retreats for Quakers in Business, People of Color and Their Families, and Adult Young Friends. We offered Spanish interpretation at many events and Spanish speakers enjoyed a cohort to connect and reconnect with. Children and High Schoolers met daily to explore their Quaker roots, strengthen their community, and have fun together.
Altogether, 1063 people attended the 2021 Gathering, our highest attendance since 2017. 243 First Time Attenders joined us and 59 First Timers from 2020 returned. And because of your generosity, the Gathering broke even!
There is much to look forward to and lots of opportunity for transformation in 2022. As we envision our next Gathering, we must also consider what we’ve learned about inclusion and accessibility that we can carry forward into the future that we will create, together.
Lori Piñeiro Sinitzky