I don’t know about you but I spend a lot of my time thinking about COVID and doing risk assessment. Should I send my kids to school? Should we cancel the family reunion? Should I stock up on masks, at-home test kits, and toilet paper? The risk assessment feels like a chaotic continuing exploration because the situation is constantly changing. Making relatively small, everyday decisions has become exhausting. Making decisions about the FGC 2022 Gathering even more so. I’ve tried to use Quaker faith and practice to guide my work on this challenging task. I’ve even asked myself, How can the testimonies, simplicity, peace, integrity, community, equality, and stewardship, inform us as we plan to Gather in the summer of 2022?
Many of us are eager to return to the Gathering in person. Some of us are not ready for a large in-person Gathering. Some Friends might be at risk of serious disease from COVID or have at-risk loved ones at home to whom they might transmit the virus. In an effort to include as many Friends in the Gathering as possible, we are planning an in-person Gathering at Radford University and some online offerings that will be available to those who participate virtually. It’s disappointing that we cannot offer two side-by-side, full, in-person and online Gatherings in the summer of 2022.
In my continuing exploration of this, I’ve come to an understanding. Gathered Community is not a community in which every individual has each of their hopes and desires met. Gathered Community is one in which each individual does what they can to be in community. In this way we strive for wholeness. Also, Gathered Community includes those who serve, like the staff and volunteers working for FGC. And it includes recognizing the reality that FGC has finite resources. We do not have enough funds or human resources to create two Gatherings, a fully in-person and a fully online one. Despite this reality, I take comfort in continuing revelation. Long Range Conference Planning Committee (LRCP) is working on the long-term tricky question of, What will future Gatherings look like? As we explore, test, fail and succeed in this new normal, the Gathering will transform into the Gathered Community of the future.