Summer Sessions 2021
Three times a year, for a weekend each in fall and spring and for a week in summer, New York Yearly Meeting (NYYM) Friends gather to worship, conduct business, and form a community together. NYYM is the organization that gathers together the Quaker congregations in New York State, northern New Jersey, and southwestern Connecticut. These sessions are open to anyone in the NYYM area who is interested in Quakerism and experiencing Quaker community. We will meet via Zoom until it is safe to gather in person again.
Summer Sessions is July 24-31, 2021
Welcome to Summer Sessions 2021. Our virtual gathering in July will look different than it did in 2020. Many Friends let us know that having Summer Sessions over two weeks was taxing and the Sessions Committee responded with a different schedule that is only a week long. Our core activities, grounded in worship and prayer, are still at the heart of Summer Sessions.
As in 2020, there are no committee meetings scheduled. Interest groups, which many Friends enjoy, will be offered over the three weeks prior to Summer Sessions, starting July 5. Watch the weekly email from NYYM and the website for the call for proposals and, later, for the separate registration for interest groups.
Meetings for worship and for business will alternate between afternoon and evening sessions to enable those with different schedules to participate. During the week of Summer Sessions, there will be an opportunity for in-depth work and prayer around dismantling racism in our communities.
Please encourage Friends in your meetings to participate in Summer Sessions. This is a chance for those who are new to Quakerism or who have not tried a yearly meeting event to be part of this gathering, and to keep our Blessed Community thriving as we look forward to the day when we can meet face to face.
—Dawn Pozzi, Clerk of Sessions Committee
Anti-Racism and Becoming a Sanctuary Where Spirit Dwells
Do you hold a vision for our yearly meeting as a place of healing and nourishment for all? Are you curious about a vision to become an antiracist faith community? Do you grieve racism as an obstacle to community within our yearly meeting and beyond? You are invited to bring your concerns to two sessions facilitated by Friends who carry similar concerns around antiracism. The first session will be on Tuesday (1-5 p.m.) and the second on Thursday (1-5 p.m.) Both sessions offer a selection of themed breakout groups that address a variety of concerns. Each breakout group will prayerfully consider a query rising up within our body. On Wednesday, in between these two sessions, the meeting for business will likely include consideration of antiracism concerns. Thursday’s program will adapt to needs that arise from the preceding discussions and also include an outline of next steps. Expect openings as we worship together and ask collectively what it means to be in right relationship, what it means to become a sanctuary, what it means to work toward becoming an antiracist faith community. All are welcome!
To become an antiracist faith community the key question for a white majority community is not how do we get people of color to join our faith community, it is how can we make a prolonged, spiritually rooted, engaged commitment to uprooting white supremacy within our community and to take on collective action within our society.
— Chris Crass, organizer, educator, and writer working to build powerful movements for collective liberation
Are you interested in being part of the planning? Write to [email protected]
To prepare for the sessions on anti-racism, you may want to read this article from May 2021's Spark.
An Invitation from the Clerk
Dear Friends –
What a year this has been! Days have blurred together, we have been separated by the virus, we have been united by concern for what is happening in the streets, in the prisons, in the hospitals, and we continue to learn how to live in love for one another.
I look forward to welcoming you to Summer Sessions in virtual gatherings again this year. I long for the time when we can be together in person. I rejoice that we can have times to hang out for fun, times for deep worship, times to gather for business and earnest listening, times to be with Friends.
Please let me know how I can help you be part of Summer Sessions and part of all the work and fellowship that goes on in NYYM all year. Email me at [email protected].
—Elaine Learnard, Clerk of NYYM
Worship at Summer Sessions
Several forms of worship will take place during Summer Sessions. They vary in size and structure:
Worship Sharing Groups. These small groups meet regularly during Summer Sessions. Usually, a query or theme is provided. Participants are given the chance to explore the query in a sacred, worshipful space, and to share with each other in a deep and spiritual way. This year, worship sharing groups will meet during one of three one-hour-long time slots, starting at 8, 9, or 10 a.m. You will get to choose your preferred time slot on your registration form.
Business Meetings, also known as Meetings for Worship with a Concern for Business. At business meetings our Quaker practice is put into action. Everyone present is part of the decision-making body, which goes through discernment and the finding of the way forward together. Reports on the recent activities of committees and individuals are also heard. Business meeting is a great way to find out how Spirit is moving in the New York Yearly Meeting area.
Meetings for Worship. Periods of worship, usually unprogrammed, with Friends from all over the NYYM and guests from all over the world. Business meetings will be preceded by an hour of centering worship. Come and center down in expectant silence, over Zoom, with a large group of other Friends.
Worship Sharing Groups
Worship Sharing Groups meet for about an hour each weekday during Summer Sessions. They are an opportunity for connecting with others in a small group setting for sharing around queries, life circumstances, and/or how Spirit is working in your life. Participants are given the chance to explore a query in a sacred, worshipful space, and to share with each other in a deep and spiritual way. This year, worship sharing groups will meet during one of three one-hour-long time slots, starting at 8, 9, or 10 a.m. You will get to choose your preferred time slot on your registration form. Middle school and high school aged Friends are invited to join adult Worship Sharing Groups. Click here for descriptions of the 2021 Worship Sharing Groups.
The plenary will be brought by Emily Provance, a travelling and ministering NYYM Friend. Her travel minute says, "As Emily travels globally among Friends, she explores how diverse communities embody the Quaker spirit....She encourages people to see and know each other while embracing differences. She accompanies them as they discern their spiritual gifts. She sees herself as a teacher and learner; she invites us to nurture the spark at the heart of our meetings."
Emily regularly posts to her blog, Turning, Turning, Holy Experiments Among Friends, at quakeremily.wordpress.com. Since the beginning of the pandemic Emily has organized online Daily Devotionals for young children and families, and she is currently co-facilitating a weekly Bible Study on Genesis with Regina Baird Haag.
Interest Groups are a good way to introduce yourself to a topic or to dive deeper, to learn and to share, and can consist of a presentation, slide show, film, discussion group, or other activity. This year, interest groups will be held during the three weeks prior to Summer Sessions, starting on July 5. This schedule is a big experiment. It is hoped that spreading out the interest groups over three weeks, and not holding them during Summer Sessions, will make it easier for Friends to access and participate in them. Registration for interest groups will be separate from Summer Sessions and will open soon. Email [email protected] with any questions.
Meals with Meaning are somewhat similar to interest groups, though they can be more casual. They are mealtime presentations or discussions on a topic, and can be either programmed with a facilitator or open for conversation with anyone who drops in. Sometimes committees will facilitate a meal as an introduction to their work and to answer any questions Friends may have. Participants in Meals with Meaning are encouraged to bring and eat a meal!
Junior Yearly Meeting for Children and Teens
Junior Yearly Meeting this year is not to be missed, even—or especially!—if you or your children have had your fill of virtual Zoom meetings.
We plan to gather materials that will be fun and interesting to work with for grown ups and children and that will nurture the life of the Spirit among the entire family. We hope families will join us virtually to share their experiences with the activities and what they will carry forward, but this is certainly not required to enjoy the fun, spiritually nourishing activities we are preparing.
We eagerly welcome all children and families — those who have not participated in JYM before as well as Silver Bay regulars. We also hope our JYM activities will support monthly meetings in restarting their in-person children’s religious education programs in the fall.
We are looking for Friends to join us in preparing materials that will delight, inspire and connect us. If you would like to participate in planning, please write to [email protected] to contact Susan Stillman, JYM Clerk, and JYM Coordinators, Adria Gulizia and Ellie Rosenberg.
Notes on Registration
Registration for Summer Sessions is now open. NYYM staff and volunteers are currently working on the separate registration form for interest groups, which will be held the three weeks before Summer Sessions. You must register for Summer Sessions to receive the Zoom links for events. On the registration form for Summer Sessions you will be able to request a worship sharing time (8, 9, or 10 a.m.) and choose to be with an affinity group or in a general worship group. You will also be able to sign up for volunteer opportunities, including ways to join the tech team that makes these sessions possible. Summer Sessions 2021 is Pay as Led and a nominal fee will be suggested to help cover staff and office costs.
Newly Announced Presentation for NYYM Summer Sessions 2021
Quaker Advocacy: Where do we go from here?
FCNL General Secretary Diane Randall, the first woman to lead the Friends Committee on National Legislation (FCNL), will share reflections on her spiritual journey as head of FCNL for a decade. Named as a gender champion on nuclear policy and a faith leader to watch, Diane will share from her experience leading a Quaker advocacy organization through unprecedented times. Diane will share her views on the future of FCNL and the Religious Society of Friends.
Virtual Bookstore at Summer Sessions
On the QuakerBooks website, NYYM will have a page with a collection of titles relevant to NYYM’s interests and needs. It includes books by guest speakers, books pertaining to our theme, spiritual growth or deepening, and children’s books.
Friends who register for NYYM Summer Sessions will receive the link to the Virtual Bookstore page. A discount code will be available for representatives of Monthly Meetings and Worship Groups or individuals attending NYYM Summer Sessions purchasing books at QuakerBooks.org. The discount will not be limited to books on the NYYM page.
Meetings and individual Friends are encouraged to choose and purchase books during NYYM Summer Sessions at this Virtual Bookstore.
Funds for gifts to Monthly Meetings and most Worship Groups are no longer available in the YM budget. So, Meetings will need to set their own budget to purchase books this year.
Some funds are still available in the NYYM budget to purchase books for Prison Worship Groups and this will be coordinated by members of the YM Prisons Committee. Meetings and individual Friends are invited to consider donating books to Prison Worship Groups.