Saturday, July 11, 2009

My Fourth Trip to NCYM-C

This was the fourth time attending the annual gathering of the North Carolina Yearly Meeting (Conservative). I originally wrote "visiting" in the previous sentence, but we certainly don't feel like visitors, we are always treated like family members. As I mentioned previously, we had to come home early, so we missed a number of exciting happenings, such as the consideration of Davidson Friend Meeting for membership, the choosing of a new clerk, Brent Bill's plenary address, and the closing worship.

Before we left home, I had remarked that while I was initially so overjoyed at the freedom of being around other Quakers who embrace their Christianity so openly, I am finding that what really makes the difference for me is the intentionality of this group. I noticed this particularly in the ministry offered during the many worship opportunities.

Friends, as a religious group, seem to be more active than a lot of groups. I know that Friends at NCYM-C are involved in many causes - Earth care, peacemaking, social concerns. The intentionality comes into play in that these causes don't tend to dominate worship. It isn't just that these Friends understand that the actions come as a result of the leadings of the Holy Spirit, but that they understand that worship is the place where we corporately deepen our relationship to God so that we are able to respond faithfully to whatever it is we are called to do. Much of the ministry is centered around our faithfulness to God, around hearing what we are being asked to do, and very little to do with what someone heard on NPR yesterday, or about particular bills coming up in Congress. Yes, people have those concerns, but they are willing to lay them aside until the time comes to take them up again. You get the sense that the reason these people are here together is not because they have found people who share common concerns and ideals. They are here to commune with God together, not as individuals, but as one body united in and through God.

Coming home early was extremely difficult, it is as if I can feel the yearly meeting going on, and I have an overwhelming longing to be there. I hope it will pass when the meeting concludes tomorrow. I do still feel a peaceful calm that is very sweet. I also came home with a great quote, courtesy of Jeff Ginsberg (via her husband Eric) "Are you listening, or are you just waiting to speak?"


  1. Mark, Thanks for writing so clearly about the quality of worship that is focused on our relationship with the Lord. I have tried many times to explain the difference to those whose vocal ministry centers primarily on the "what needs to be done" rather than on "for Whom we live."

  2. Late last night Mary read me the note you sent us. It's great news to hear that the boy did survive the accident. Hope to see you again in Tenth Month.

  3. Hi Richard,
    We had a mid-week worship this past fourth day and we talked a lot with Erin Schroeder, who was just arriving at NCYM-C around the time we were leaving. She filled us in on the Davidson meeting (YAY!) and you becoming the new clerk (YAY!). She was also bubbling with enthusiasm over the yearly meeting, and all the lovely people she met. We hope to visit Davidson on our way back from Charlottesville next weekend. Where will representative body meet in 10th and 4th month? I don't remember hearing.

    Raye, it's great to hear from you again! It has taken me a while to be able to put words to the distinction, maybe now I will be able to speak to others about it in more specific terms instead of phrases like "very deep worship".

    With love,

  4. Mark,

    Tenth Month Representative Body is at Rich Square. I'm not 100% sure but I think that Fourth Month Rep Body is at West Grove.