Fall 2019 Queries Summation
- About the schedule for our Annual Gathering
“We envision the annual gathering as a time for worship and fellowship, when younger and older people exchange ideas of the ‘durable satisfactions’ of life and, under a sense of Divine Presence, explore ways to experience and share them – precious times of living and loving, praying and learning.” (Paraphrasing Clarissa Cooper in her 1974 history of IMYM)
Some years ago, we expanded the annual gathering of Intermountain Meeting to be a full week by including “early days” into the schedule. Early days begin on Sunday afternoon run through Wednesday morning. For three days, we offer multi-meeting workshops where we can dive deeply into topics. The early days also provide additional time for restorative hiking, bird watching, and socializing, and for our children to mingle in a Quaker community. But they add expense for those attending and taking a week away can be difficult.
“Regular days” begin with committee meetings on Wednesday afternoon and go through worship on Sunday morning. Regular days include plenary meetings for our welcome, our speaker(s), for the Senior Young Friends Listening Session, for meetings for worship for business and for meetings for worship. Worship sharing, interest groups, committee meetings, and evening activities fill our time together.
As we prepare to move to a new location and in response to concerns voiced in our evaluations, it is time to reevaluate the schedule of our annual gathering, particularly the Early Days. Please tell us your thoughts about the role of Early Days in the yearly meeting. Possible questions to consider include the following, but please go wherever Spirit leads you. Please be sure to include all populations in your meeting, including Senior Young Friends.
- Do we want to continue having the Early Days for four days?
- Are we done with Early Days?
- Would we like them to become part of the regular days of the annual gathering?
Of the questions asked about Early Days the easiest one to answer is the second one. Most meetings felt that they are not ready to put down the Early Days. Many spoke of the importance of having fellowship for the youth and for adults. And the oft’ repeated desire to make the most of the travel time to be together also underscored the importance of Early Days for many. A few meetings noted that having the Early Days is taxing for the planning people and officers of the meeting and the focus of the annual gathering should be on the business of the yearly meeting. It may be time to lay down Early Days or at least move the Ft. Lewis without them to make the move easier.
The other queries about Early Days and the queries they provoked range widely. I encourage representatives to read the full texts in this folder. But a few summary lines can be gleaned. Waiting until we have some time at Ft. Lewis before we change the schedule is a common thread. There were many possibilities suggested for changing the schedule, including moving the time for seminars to the later part of the annual gathering. This schedule would speak to the complaint that that those who arrive on Wednesday for the business meetings and children’s programs feel left out. This schedule will allow for everyone to arrive at the same time, and those who chose to can stay for seminars. Another suggestion for the schedule was to have the youth hold their own “early days.” Maybe we could have just one Early Day to kick things off and then several days for seminars after the business meetings. Another suggestion is for the registration to be simplified by having half week and full week registration as FGC does.
Several recognized that taking a week off for the annual gathering is not an option for some families, and there is an added expense (though the cost is mitigated by Pay as Led). Some suggested having business meetings in the afternoon and seminars in the morning and run the whole gathering as a combination of early and regular days. Others were concerned about the financial costs of using pay as led for the early days. Is that sustainable? Some won’t come for early days at Ft. Lewis College whereas they would come to Ghost Ranch.
We have discerned that we will continue using Pay as Led to finance our annual gathering for the foreseeable future. Using this method, Friends prayerfully consider how much they wish to pay for their room and board at the gathering. And then pay as they are led by Spirit – either more or less than the actual cost. This first year of using this method, we had 10% more attenders, 51% more young adult friends and came within 4% of covering all of our costs. As we plan for next year, your feedback will be very helpful.
- How did your monthly meeting experience pay as led?
In general, pay as led was a positive experience. Many said that they were appreciated that they didn’t have to ask for a scholarship. Others liked that they could come because of it, and still others were glad that more people could come to the annual gathering. However, several commented that the registration process was confusing. Other were unclear if pay as led applied to campers and meals at the cafeteria. A few worried if pay as led is sustainable. Generally, Friends felt this was a reasonable first-year experiment. We should keep pay-as-led. And we should be clearer about deadlines and responsibilities for payment.
This year we created an equalization fund to cover our costs by asking monthly meetings to contribute the amount of money they normally spent to support those attending the annual gathering. Going forward, are there other ways your monthly meeting would like to pay for it?
- Would your meeting rather add to your assessment payments than make a separate contribution to the equalization fund?
- Would you like to encourage individuals in your meeting to support the annual gathering?
- Do you have other ideas?
Most meetings commented that they were fine with the current system or really did not want to increase the assessment to support pay as led. There were a variety of reasons for this, including keeping the finances of the annual gathering separate from the yearly meeting, clearer bookkeeping for monthly meetings, not burdening monthly meetings that do not send anyone to the annual gathering.
Few were willing to encourage individuals to support pay as led instead asking them to contribute to their own monthly meeting for the purposes supporting attendance at the annual gathering. One idea for fundraising was to hold an auction of crafts and other stuff at the annual gathering to raise money for the equalization fund.
- About relationship between IMYM and MM.
Do you have any concerns about how your Monthly Meeting relates to the Yearly Meeting (not just the Annual Gathering) throughout the year? Are there programs or other things you wish the Yearly Meeting could offer or provide?
Have a visiting Friend travel to all the regional meetings with information about what meetings are doing in social justice.
Support Traveling Ministers to bring knowledge and a breath of fresh air to smaller meetings.
We need a way to record our Friends with gifts o ministry at the Yearly Meeting Level so that friends can call upon “subject area experts.”
We could have a a caravan of Friends to travel around and visit meetings to address a specific concern.
Welcome a way to have a coordinator to support and facilitate faith-based social action.
Offer a weekend clerk’s retreat for IMYM clerks.
Yearly Meeting Newsletter
Create an information packet for establish an identity as a conscientious objector.
The relationship between IMYM and MM is one way. MMs respond to IMYM with attendance
Bring in a Brinton Visitor, perhaps.
Use the model of Baltimore Yearly Meeting and get the youth together during the year. Maybe get a b us and gather them all up to attend a meeting.
Are meeting’s involvement with tmusic and dance at the annual gathering is important.
Clerks of committees might travel to monthly meetings and regional meetings helping to support efforts to revitalizine meetings at all levels.
We are grateful for the energy, efforts, skills and dedication that many Friends contribute to leadership and support of the yearly meeting’s activities.
Zip file of documents from all meetings who responded:
Fall Queries 2018 – Responses + Summary (401 KB)
Individual meeting responses (clicking will download a document):
El Paso + Las Cruces