BYM 2014

 Yearly Meeting Gathering – Bath 2014  [NOW FULLY BOOKED]Jude Whitby's graphic graphic

 The bookings are in, the draft timetable is in place, and almost two thousand of us will be descending on the University of Bath in early August. Is that all we need to do now - sit back and think about what to pack? Of course not, because we shall all be part of that gathering, whether we have been involved in planning, asked to speak, presenting a report, taking part in the groups fair, or equally importantly, a Friend on the bench. And those who can’t join us have just as much part to play as we consider the wonderful act of ‘Spiritual preparation’. This document, headed ‘What is means to be a Quaker today’ is already in our meetings, and the time is right to gather together in our local communities and do the real business of preparing our hearts and minds.

 For two Yearly Meetings we have dwelt upon our spiritual journeys, and now we come to the final chapter – how does membership affect your journey? Quakers believe in sharing our deepest beliefs and promptings, since this is the way to true discernment. Membership may be one of the manifestations of our commitment, and it may involve deeper attachment or possibly a personal transformation. How does being a member enhance our spiritual journeys? The more we share our thoughts and reflections, the better we shall be prepared for Bath. It can be in whatever community you feel you belong, or online at our forum The important thing is to do it.

Bath will also provide the opportunity to look forward, at how we live out our faith in the world. What can you bring and share? What is happening in your life and the life of your community that shows witness to our testimonies? We may not always realise how much our lives do show our beliefs, and it often takes an open discussion with another to appreciate just how our faith shines through. And if your witness is for peace, what can we learn from the experience of 1914?

 The planning committee have been quite clear in discerning that YMG will have time for you as well as corporate activity, and the programme has many slots when you will need to choose what to do. Not just the Wednesday get-away day, but also the Journeys sessions for which you may need to book a place, the Options that help build our joyous community, and much time to engage with the arts in a variety of forms. Do start thinking about your choices.

And finally, remember the governance of our Yearly Meeting. As usual, our governing bodies will be presenting their reports, with preparation sessions in advance. These documents will be in your meetings in June, and essential reading for all of us, to know what is being done in our name. Read in advance, and come prepared!

 Colin Billett – Yearly Meeting Agenda Committee
{Picture by Jude Whitby]


Earlier message:
Yearly Meeting Gathering 2014

YMG – just another Quaker abbreviation, or a fantastic event bringing together Friends, friends and families from around Britain for a week of joyful communion at a beautiful venue at the height of summer? Yearly Meeting Gathering in 2014 promises to deliver just that. The University of Bath, set on Claverton Down, which sits on the south-east hilltop edge of the city, provides the setting for our event, along with superb accommodation and the newly commissioned Chancellors Building for our younger gatherers' activities. A luxury big top and a tented village of marquees and covered walkways will be home for our Quaker business and our special times for getting to know one another as we grow in community and spiritual learning.

There’s much more than Quaker business at YMG, as those of who have been before will well know. Every waking moment is filled with opportunities for everyone: exploring the array of interests that make us such an eclectic group, learning about what we do in the world, and exploring spirituality through art and practical activities. Music, painting, gardening, being entertained and just relaxing are all part of the itinerary. And of course, we will be developing our understanding of what it means to be a Quaker today, a theme running through the previous two Yearly Meetings and culminating at Bath.

Inclusivity has been a major factor in all the planning. Families will find a full programme for children of all ages, from babies to Junior Meeting for 16-17 year olds who will be sharing the campus and some of the time with us. For the slightly older age group Woodbrooke will be running sessions from a new programme for young adult friends throughout the week. And for those of us at the other end of the age range, needing a bit of help with mobility, or maybe sensory enhancement, we hope to have learnt from previous events and facilities should be tip-top. The site has been chosen for ease of access to both accommodation and the events venue, with a flat walk between the two. For those of you who come alone there will be opportunities meet others, and for those of you who like the quieter moments there’s no need to join in everything! Wednesday will be very special in that local Friends have been busy for a long time putting together a most varied programme of activities – an ‘away-day’ for those who want to get off campus and enjoy a local attraction or place of special interest, or maybe just a trip to somewhere nice.

Cost is always a major consideration and every effort has been made to provide for every purse. Accommodation ranges from full-board to self-catering, with en-suite or shared bathrooms. For campers there is a field some ten minutes walk away, with toilets and hot-showers planned. And for those whose purse is rather light, there are a number of ways of getting help. All area meetings should be making provision for Friends who want to come but need support, for transport and accommodation – do speak to your local overseer. Bursary support is an important part of ensuring this is truly a gathering for all, and we should all encourage one another to consider this option. Friend – is there anyone you know who could use a little help, and just needs a gentle prod?

What happens now? Come along and view our website YMG sweatshirts and t-shirts are now available (click on the website’s shop tab). Have a look at the faces of the committee and our clerks, and those who have already logged in. See the pictures of the university, and what our village will look like. Watch our YMG film. Check the options for age ranges and for accommodations, and join in the discussion. And keep your eyes open for the booking forms – online versions will be up and running in December, and paper versions sent to local meetings. And don’t forget to tell all your F/friends!