Record numbers of Quakers are heading to Bath for Yearly Meeting Gathering (YMG) 2014, from 2 – 9 August.
The Gathering is like a festival in a tented village, for all ages. Two thousand Quakers, including 300 young people, will be at the University of Bath campus for a mixture of worship, business, interest groups, and significant lectures, exploring ‘What it means to be a Quaker today’. Junior Yearly Meeting, for 14 to 18 year olds, runs alongside YMG. Babies to 18 year olds will engage with the theme in age-appropriate and fun ways and will be included in the main Yearly Meeting sessions.
YMG coincides with the anniversary of the centenary of World War 1 and Quakers will launch the online stories of conscientious objectors, The white feather diaries. New thought-provoking peace education resources will be launched, marking Quakers’ continued commitment to constructive alternatives to violence.
Paul Parker, Recording Clerk for Quakers in Britain said: "We know that amazing things can happen when Quakers gather to worship and do business together. In the 'edge-of-your-seat' silence of a Quaker meeting, we can hear what God and the world need of us in the years ahead.
"This year, 2000 Quakers from Britain, joined by visitors from Quaker groups around the world, will consider exploring ‘What it means to be a Quaker today’. The whole wonderful kaleidoscope which is the British Quaker community will be represented.
"This is so much more than a meeting: it's a chance to come together, worship together, explore our faith together, reflect and remember together, and commit ourselves to action together. I'm looking forward to a challenging, invigorating and revitalising week."
Quakers’ online project serialising the diaries of conscientious objectors who lived in and opposed World War 1 goes live on Monday 4 August. Quaker writer and broadcaster Geoffrey Durham will read extracts at the launch of The white feather diaries 9.00pm to 9.45pm, Monday 4 August at Bath Quaker Meeting House, York Street, BA1 1NG. Attendance at the launch is by invitation because of space restrictions.
Quakers’ resistance to war and increasing militarisation and commitment to peace will be creatively expressed in YMG through worship and storytelling, poetry, art and film, drama and an address from the Friends Historical Society. On 4 August, the anniversary of the centenary of the war, from 5.00pm to 6.00pm some Quakers will join other peace groups outside Bath Abbey in a silent vigil, to which all are welcome.
Peace Education resources will be launched. Conscience and Conviction are powerful resources focussed for primary and secondary levels. Historical documents, letters, posters and images, enable children to understand the dilemmas of war and to develop their own moral compass.
The YMG programme includes four key lectures:
The Swarthmore Lecture is at 3.15pm to 4.45pm on Sunday 3 August. Quaker author and academic Ben Pink Dandelion, explores the theme Open for transformation: being Quaker. The Swarthmore Lectureship, established in 1907, is under the care of Woodbrooke Quaker Study Centre trustees. The lectureship provides for both the publication of a book and for the delivery of a public lecture.
The George Gorman Lecture, will be on Monday 4 August at 7.30pm to 9.00pm, entitled “Equality: Is it really what we think it is?” given by Jessica Metheringham, who was, until recently, a trustee of Young Friends General Meeting.
The Retreat Lecture will be on Tuesday 5 August, 7.30pm to 9.00pm, given by Jane Muers, a Director of The Retreat who has worked as a clinical psychologist in the NHS specialising in mental health and the elderly.
The Salter Lecture on Thursday 7 August at 7.30pm to 9.00pm will be given by Richard Murphy, founder of the Tax Justice Network. Under the auspices of Quaker Socialist Society, this is entitled ‘Tax Justice – challenging the liturgy of neoliberalism’. Richard Murphy will examine the global tax system, including tax havens, in the context of Quaker testimonies. Richard is a Quaker from Norwich, a chartered accountant and an economist.
Interfaith and inter-church visitors will be attending YMG: Reverend Dr Inderjit Bhogal, the Methodist Church; Farzana Saker, West Wiltshire Multifaith Forum; and David Pendle, Churches Together in Bath.
* Follow Yearly Meeting Gathering on Facebook and Twitter www.quaker.org.uk/sm @britishquakers #ymg2014
* Media welcome: accreditation with firstname.lastname@example.org essential because of space restrictions.