Friends General Conference

Nurturing faith and Quaker practice

FGC Friends: Northern Yearly Meeting

Quaker News
By Piper Lewis | 9/22/16

 

Northern Yearly Meeting is one a fairly young yearly meeting, only forty-one years old. This gives them the unique position of having some of their founders as community elders. Northern Yearly Meeting covers a wide geographic region of North Dakota, South Dakota, Wisconsin, Iowa, and Minnesota. Beyond just new in years, Northern Yearly Meeting could be defined by its youthful vitality. Of their typical annual session on Memorial Day weekend, one third of the on average 300 participants are children and youth. Northern Yearly Meeting values their young families and continues to make their children and youth programs a priority. Northern Yearly Meeting sees their gatherings as a valuable opportunity for children from their broad geographic area to come together and connect with their peers and their faith. Northern Yearly Meeting has been blessed with great discipline in the process of their business, through a succession of skilled clerks, and are grateful for Arthur Larrabee’s clerk training. Their focus on clear unity and not letting business drift into a morass of good intentions has been a strength for the many areas the Yearly Meeting is working through.

 

Friendly Facts:

 

  • Northern Yearly Meeting now has a single location for their Annual Sessions. They feel blessed to have found a handicap accessible camp through the Lions Society with both options for staying in buildings or camping in a beautiful location. This has allowed for Annual Sessions to grow and has solidified the Yearly Meeting through a consistent location.  Their interim sessions still vary in location, but offer a great opportunity for inter-visitation as they are hosted by different monthly meetings each time.

 

  • Northern Yearly Meeting’s Faith and Practice has been in process the last 20 years, with approval one chapter at a time. In 2016 the whole of the document was approved and Northern Yearly Meeting is hoping to publish it in the next 6-8 months. Northern Yearly Meeting hopes that this published document will further ground their process, they see their Faith and Practice as a living document and will be updating chapters online and in paper pamphlet additions to allow for continuing revelation even after this first edition is printed.

 

  • Northern Yearly Meeting’s finance committee has been deeply considering use of resources. The committee visited every monthly meeting and worship group within the yearly meeting to conduct interviews with their members to discern what was most important to the yearly meeting. They brought the data from this experience back to the yearly meeting outlining four high priorities. Northern Yearly Meeting agreed as a body to direct their resources to those areas, allowing for a simple, clear budgeting practice. Northern Yearly Meeting had been stretched over many good works, but have now been able to consolidate to their core values and priorities and create a stronger core of who they are and who their work needs to serve. This has been spiritual financial process allowing the Yearly Meeting to rise to the testimony of living simply.

 

  • Northern Yearly Meeting carries a concern for racial injustice in America. As a majority white group Northern Yearly Meeting has striven to engage with their own white privilege and societally ingrained white supremacy. In 2006 Northern Yearly Meeting supported 6 members to attend the Beyond Diversity program, they reported to interim session with a direct call to focus on issues of race and racism for the yearly meeting. The Yearly Meeting accordingly changed the theme and focus of their annual session for that year, hearing the invitation to further focus on this work. Since then, members of Northern Yearly Meeting have been supported to attend the White privilege conference many years. Part of this continuing work has been in reviewing the previously approved chapters of Faith and Practice for any unintentionally racist writing and updating them to reflect the continuing revelation of unlearning racism prior to the forthcoming printing later this year. This year, Northern Yearly Meeting hosted the FGC Gathering in Minnesota. The yearly meeting heard the epistle from Friends of Color and has been sitting with the weight of that, forming a small committee to determine their recommendation to FGC’s Central Committee. This committee has also taken on the work of looking deeply at the yearly meeting itself and seeking how Northern Yearly Meeting can be more inclusive as well.