Around a thousand Quakers will be converging on London this weekend to take part in Britain Yearly Meeting – the annual meeting of Quakers in Britain. The event is used to discern the way forward for Quakers in Britain.
One of the key developments of this year’s yearly meeting is a continuing to make the involvement of young people integral to the whole event. Around 100 children and young people aged up to 15 will take part in programmes tailored to their age groups but they will all come together to join the other worshippers in an all-age worship on the Sunday.
Additionally, 15 to 18 year olds are encouraged to attend the main sessions and to have an adult accompanier. The accompaniment scheme aims to encourage young people’s independence within the yearly meeting and the hope is that they will feel confident to continue their participation in Quakerism.
The 15-18 year olds will also benefit from age-based social activities including picnics, discussions on the sessions they attend, bowling and informal chats.
The 11-15 year olds will be involved in activities on the theme of ‘trust me I’m a Quaker’!
Recording clerk Paul Parker said: “As well as looking at the issues that have occupied Quakers during the year, like our support for equal marriage, economic justice and sustainability, we’ll consider discipline and discernment. Yearly Meeting (YM) in which we conduct our business, is also a meeting for worship based on silence. It is the belief that God’s will can be recognised through the discipline of silent waiting which distinguishes our decision-making process from the secular idea of consensus.”
There will be exhibitions, including one on the Northern Friends Peace Board, celebrating its centenary with a conference and walk of witness from RichmondCastle, where conscientious objectors were imprisoned during World War I, to Menwith Hill, US base in North Yorkshire.
Mimi Barton, vice president of the National Committee of the Women’s World Day of Prayer, will attend as an interchurch visitor hosted by the Quaker Committee for Christian and Interfaith Relations (QCCIR). On Sunday, rabbi Laura Janner Klausner, will attend as the interfaith visitor of QCCIR. She is rabbi to the Movement for Reform Judaism and chairperson of the British Friends of Rabbis for Human Rights.
Twitter users have been encouraged to tweet using the hashtag #bym13 though people are requested not to use social media during worship. In recent years journalists external to the Quaker world have been allowed to attend sessions of yearly meeting, through prior arrangement with the media team of Quakers in Britain.