Piedmont Friends Yearly Meeting (PFYM)
Piedmont Friends Yearly Meeting (PFYM) is a newly-formed yearly meeting whose first annual sessions will be held in March 2015. To date, there are six affiliated monthly meetings and worship groups: Charlotte Friends Meeting, Upstate Friends Worship Group, Fancy Gap Friends Meeting, New Garden Friends Meeting, Raleigh Friends Meeting, and Salem Creek Friends Meeting. Each affiliated monthly meeting and worship group has appointed representatives to the yearly meeting, and representative body meetings are being held to prepare for the first annual sessions.
In the December 13, 2014 PFYM representative body meeting, the following Vision Statement and Core Elements were approved as the guiding principles for interim representative body work, and to be recommended for approval by the new yearly meeting at annual session:
Piedmont Friends Yearly Meeting
VISION STATEMENT AND CORE ELEMENTS
The Vision Statement and Core Elements are intended to clarify the guiding principles of the new Yearly Meeting and its affiliated monthly meetings and worship groups. This document launches us on a new spiritual adventure. We seek to be guided by spirit, through continuing study and prayer, to broaden our understanding of Quaker history and principles; to deepen our experience of Quaker worship, faith, and practice; to foster a loving and inclusive fellowship; to provide opportunity to connect with the wider Quaker community; and to strengthen our service and witness in the broader world.
As a Yearly Meeting of the Religious Society of Friends, we seek to foster a loving community of affiliated monthly meetings and worship groups by increasing and strengthening connections among members, attenders, and seekers and with other Friends' organizations. Our primary goals are to nurture monthly meetings and worship groups by supporting spiritual growth and to witness to our collective truth in the wider world.
SPIRIT – The Yearly Meeting is led by the inward experience of the spirit regardless of the metaphor or descriptive language that is used to express it.
Quakerism began in the 17th century as a Christian movement; Friends often referred to spirit as “Christ within” or “the inward light.” While Christian expressions of spirit continue to be central for many Friends, in the 21st century other Friends feel led to describe their experiences in a variety of ways. Being led by the spirit means that we strive to cultivate that sense that moves us to interact with each other in a loving way, that guides our decisions with openness to change and seeking a larger truth. We worship with an expectation of being “in the spirit,” which allows us personally and corporately to recognize both higher truths and connectedness. Cultivation of spirit compels us to work in the world with compassion and care for all of creation.
QUAKER PRACTICE – The Yearly Meeting's practice is guided by the spirit, based on historical traditions and continuing revelation tested through corporate discernment.
Quaker faith and practice has identifiable though not dogmatic characteristics. A long-standing tenet of the Quaker faith is that the revelation of truth has not been completed in the past and that new understandings arise. Discernment of clarity and truth is arrived at through worship and is based on a tradition of testimonies and queries and on living this faith as an outward expression of the inward experience. Our decision-making practice is characterized by discernment through listening, waiting for way to open, openness to multiple solutions, and fearless attention to truth as revealed in the present in order to arrive at a sense of the meeting.
INCLUSIVENESS – Recognizing that inclusiveness enriches our spiritual lives, the Yearly Meeting welcomes and affirms individuals, monthly meetings, and worship groups from a wide variety of social and theological backgrounds and experiences.
Rather than prescribing any creed, the Yearly Meeting encourages individuals to become part of the corporate experience of Quaker faith and practice. The authenticity of the experience is based on inclusiveness, which in the 21st century, welcomes individuals and families from a wide range of religious traditions and practices and is affirming of diverse genders, ethnicities, racial identification, sexual orientations, ages, and beliefs. The Yearly Meeting is composed of monthly meetings with various modes of Quaker worship, understanding that there are multiple legitimate ways to seek and experience the spirit.
COMMUNITY & WITNESS – The Yearly Meeting fosters community within and between monthly meetings and worship groups, strengthens relationships with other Quaker organizations, and witnesses our truth to the wider world.
The Yearly Meeting intends to create a community that honors all who seek both individual and corporate spiritual truth; where there is a supportive environment for individuals and monthly meetings and worship groups to take on challenges; where we follow in the footsteps of George Fox as we “walk cheerfully over the world, answering that of God in every one.” The community provides the support that allows individuals to test leadings and to witness to the wider world. Belonging to the Yearly Meeting strengthens monthly meetings and worship groups in local, regional, national, and international recognition both within and outside the Quaker community. The Yearly Meeting also provides individuals opportunity for service and for witness through strengthened engagement with issues of concern.
STRUCTURE –The Yearly Meeting has a simple and sufficient structure to serve the evolving vision of the Yearly Meeting constituents.
The Yearly Meeting's establishment arises from the need of monthly meetings and worship groups for the benefits provided by a broader organization. The monthly meetings and worship groups are the source of both the people needed to do the work, and the group that determines what work needs to be done in support of Quaker practice. Its structure is designed to serve the needs of constituent monthly meetings and worship groups in growth and engagement with other Friends’ organizations. The Yearly Meeting actively invites all to participate in decision-making and action, remaining flexible and acknowledging that all individuals carry truth and a responsibility for discerning and speaking their truth.
TRANSPARENCY & OPENNESS – Both in practice and in appearance, the Yearly Meeting will demonstrate transparency and openness.
The Yearly Meeting serves the needs of the monthly meetings effectively when all are made aware of the activities and actions of the Yearly Meeting and when activities and actions are undertaken in response to needs of the monthly meetings and worship groups. The Yearly Meeting facilitates open communication in a variety of modes and styles, being mindful that individuals differ in technological abilities and inclination, and learning styles, as well as familiarity with Friends' acronyms. While the Yearly Meeting encourages the use of various media for communication, it also recognizes that personal and corporate relationships are strengthened by face-to-face gatherings.
-- as approved 12-13-14 by PFYM Representative Body as interim guiding principles and for recommendation at PFYM annual sessions