The lazy days of summer! I went to Yearly Meeting Gathering. It was a huge undertaking, and you can imagine how much organization it took to get 1600 people accommodated, fed, looked after and occupied, with so many fringe events and special-interest groups. York Quaker volunteers had no chance to go to more than a very few events, they were busy answering queries and organising tickets. I believe next time certain problems should be ironed out, because of course this was the first year that the three events – Yearly Meeting, Junior Yearly Meeting and the Gathering – have been combined. The general feeling was that it went well and should be repeated. The ticketing was difficult and many people were unable to go to the events they would have liked, and it may be that that will be solved, but the reason was really that certain events were very popular and the rooms available were not big enough.
A rabbi who visited the gathering was very impressed with our business method. He said it hit him between the eyes. It was impressive that the sense of the meeting in such a big gathering was clear and was so ably interpreted by the clerks. Of course it was the civil partnerships, now called marriages, which took up most time, and we saw Quakers’ minds being changed by what we heard and what was said. But you might say that 22 years is a long time to come to such a conclusion about the matter. It was this long since the subject was first mooted at Meeting for Sufferings. The young people were suprised that there could still be those who opposed. The publicity Quakers received for their decision was I believe pretty positive, though perhaps there were papers which considered it immoral.
Lindsey March, August 2009