As I begin my third year as Gathering Youth Coordinator, I am beginning to learn the pace and pattern of this role. It reminds me of an ocean wave, which builds energy and surges at the height of Gathering – and slowing recedes after it crashes on the shore. Late summer is when the wave pulls back into the ocean, drawing in on itself. Our High School and Junior Gathering Committees spent much of the summer reflecting on 2020 Virtual Gathering and taking note of areas to grow this year. In the fall we began offering year-round youth programs as a way to stay in touch with FGC youth and create opportunities for community and fellowship throughout the pandemic. These programs have been a great success and wonderful opportunity for us to learn how to do online programming. We’ve so enjoyed the chance to see more of each other!
One theme that both Junior Gathering and the High School communities have spent much time discerning this year is our anti-racism work. Both programs have evolved different strategies to integrate these concepts and to create programs that celebrate and welcome the wholeness of each person who is a part of our community. In the High School program, we have made sure to offer Racial Affinity Group spaces at our year-round Youth Quakes and have featured workshop presenters on racial justice. We are also planning to offer an in depth anti-racism and liberation training for the 2021 High School Gathering community, following the leading at the 2020 High School business meeting. The High School staff will continue the work we began in 2020 to explore anti-racism education during staff meetings to make sure these topics are present in our hearts and minds. In Junior Gathering – we continue refer to FGC’s anti-racism query* as we design our 2021 programming. 2021 Junior Gathering participates will explore themes of identity, culture and place. We are thrilled to again co-host the People of Color Center Story Time, a cherished event for many at Gathering. We are also excited for Niyonu Spann’s Wednesday Intergenerational Plenary presentation – and to have Niyonu lead a Junior Gathering session on Thursday July 2nd. We know the work of uprooting racism and challenging white supremacy is constant and gradual, like the ocean waves working the rocks on the shore. We remain open to feedback and response from our communities as we continue towards liberation together.
Learn more about FGC Gathering 2021 Youth Programs here. We’d love it if you invited a Friend to join us this summer!
*FGC's anti-racism query is: How does this decision support FGC in its goal to transform into an actively anti-racist faith community?
This article originally appeared in the February 2021 issue of Vital Friends.