Monday, June 4, 2012

Southeastern Yearly Meeting 2012

By Steve Angell

Friends at Southeastern Yearly Meeting gathered outside of Leesburg, Florida, on Easter weekend as has been their custom for many years. It was a tremendous pleasure for me to represent ESR at SEYM this year. Before I joined the faculty at ESR in 2001, SEYM was my yearly meeting. I was the Clerk of SEYM from 1999 to 2001.

The lead presenter at SEYM was Quaker songwriter Tom Neilson. He did a great job in getting everyone involved in the music making! The first evening (Wednesday, April 4) of the yearly meeting was a songwriting workshop. I ended up collaborating with a Young Friend on a song about a flying squirrel. We got to rehearse and perform our song the very next day! Tom gave a concert later on in the yearly meeting and performed a good number of his songs, most of which focus on social concerns and their connection to spirituality in a way that is close to many Friends hearts.

The spirit at Southeastern Yearly Meeting was wonderful, very close and very supportive. I would wish the same for all yearly meetings. I presented a workshop on the Quaker Theology of the Light, based on a chapter I have written for the Oxford Handbook of Quaker Studies, edited by Ben Pink Dandelion and myself. Friends engaged in a terrific discussion on the Quaker theology of the Light, and its many varieties, focusing especially on the seventeenth century. I very much enjoyed attending a session of the Quaker Earthcare Witness and the workshop by Michael Wajda on Yielding: The Gifts of the Gathered Condition.

One rather unique feature of SEYM is Worship Sharing for Haircuts. Master barber and hair stylist Pam Haigh does not charge for her hair cuts, but she does accept donations for the longrunning project of SEYM, Pro-Nica, which sponsors a variety of exceptionally important development projects in Nicaragua. Lillian Hall in Managua, and various Friends in Florida, have been providing very capable leadership for Pro-Nica for many years.

Steve AngellSteve Angell is the Geraldine Leatherock Professor of Quaker Studies at Earlham School of Religion.

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