Intermountain Yearly Meeting affiliated with FGC in 2009, and this year hosted its first Gathering in beautiful Greeley, Colorado, June 30 through July 6. FGC is especially appreciative of the engagement and enthusiasm of IMYM in organizing and supporting the Gathering. This year saw record attendance from western Friends and first time attenders, and attendees from western yearly meetings made up fully a third of the Gathering while in past years they have averaged about 9%.
1146 Friends and seekers came together for a week of fellowship, discussion, worship, and music. With more than fifty workshops and a cornucopia of activities, there was something for every seeker. The Gathering opened on Sunday with an All-Gathering Worship and Welcome, where Friends were invited to dialogue in small groups about the theme, At the Growing Edges of our Faith. “We wanted the queries to get people to reflect on what 'growing edges' means to them and how this growth impacts them on both a spiritual and practical level. We wanted the queries to be challenging and not easy to answer,” says Andrew Banks, one of this year’s Gathering co-clerks. The dialogue became a powerful community-building experience as Friends listened to one another and gave voice to their reflections. “We started talking about the things that are hard to talk about, and people really engaged. It was really inspiring: 80-year-olds talking with 19-year-olds, western Friends with Eastern Friends... One older Friend shared with me that it was the first time she’d had an in-depth conversation with a 12-year-old in over a decade!”
On Thursday evening, Dr. Vincent Harding, the civil rights activist who drafted Martin Luther King’s “Beyond Vietnam” speech, continued this theme of challenging questions with his talk about reconciliation. With his colleague Dr. “Tink” Tinker, Vincent created a space for dialogue around the question of Native lands and how to reconcile a bloody and unjust past with hopes of a just future. “It was not an easy-to-hear speech,” says Andrew. “It challenged Friends and left us troubled. That’s where growth comes from.”
As we celebrate a successful and resonant Gathering, we are already hard at work on next year’s Gathering, at CALU, south of Pittsburgh, PA, Let Love Be the First Motion.