Loving Greetings to Friends Everywhere:
Southeastern Yearly Meeting gathered in Fruitland Park, Florida, USA, Fourth Month 12-16, 2017 with 162 Friends in attendance, including 21 children. There were many first-time attenders at our sessions, as well as Friends who we had not seen in recent years. Visitors from Quaker organizations and other Yearly Meetings enriched our gathering and reminded us of the bonds of love that bind us to Friends the world over.
The beauty of the Life Enrichment Center, situated on the shore of Lake Griffin made us appreciate how fortunate we are to meet here. Early morning worship was in the natural cathedral formed by the towering live oaks. Every morning the ministry of the breeze in the trees and the singing of the birds brought the closeness of God to the remembrance of our souls.
Our Friends community held our beloved ProNica in the Light as they struggled with complex issues within their organization. After worship sharing with a concern for ProNica, Friends continue holding ProNica in the Light and are available to offer spiritual support and guidance.
Story-teller, Bible scholar, performance artist Peterson Toscano delivered the annual Walton Lecture titled “Discerning our collective calling: love, hope, & climate justice.” This unique three (3) act lecture/performance brought to us an understanding that climate change is not only a reason for despair. Rather than being paralyzed with fear, we can see ourselves as honored to be living in this time and being a part of the movement for climate justice. Climate change effects people of color, women, and people lower on the economic ladder more severely than white people, men, and those whose economic situation is better. Addressing climate change is not only a matter of technology, it is a matter of justice.
In the workshops led by Peterson, ”Beyond Lightbulbs and Polar Bears. Overcoming Shame and Fear: Leading in a Time of Climate Change” and “You Already Have Skin in the Game—Justice, Pets, and Coffee Beans”, SEYM Friends heard stories from several of Peterson’s characters to bring us out of guilt and shame about climate change to a place of hope. We formed pods (small groups) and explored our stories and how we might reach others to open the sometimes difficult dialog about climate change.
Friends were excited to receive the first report from our Field Secretary for Earthcare. Beverly’s first six months in this new position have been very active. We look forward to moving forward together in discerned action for the care of our planet and each other.
Friends described powerful worship sharing sessions. It is one of the things that many of us love most about our gathering. Queries and quotes about our earth and our personal relationship to it were inspiring.
We are deeply grateful for the many Friends who shared their gifts and leadings through a variety of informative and inspiring workshops. The breadth and depth of the spiritual gifts of SEYM Friends and Friends who travelled to be with us are a blessing to our community. A great difficulty for many Friends attending Yearly Meeting is having to choose between workshops being held at the same time.
SEYM Friends feel renewed in our call to be faithful. Guided by Spirit we can look forward to walking cheerfully over the world, answering that of God in everyone, sharing what we have learned and being a blessing to all.
In the Light,
Southeastern Yearly Meeting of the Religious Society of Friends
Phoebe B. Andersen, Clerk