The World Gathering of Young Friends is a gathering of young adult Quakers from all over the world due to happen in 11 months time. It’s very exciting.
Quakers in Britain do what Quakers have always done and sit around in silence waiting for the spirit to move them to say something. That’s how we do our meeting for worship and how we do our business meetings. Many Quakers in Britain and especially younger Quakers are not Christians although that is where the movement very much came from. We have unwritten but lived testimonies to peace, truth, simplicity and equalilty, so in general we don’t like wars, don’t lie, don’t live exuberant lives and are happy for men to wear skirts. There is a lot of variety in how much people follow these testimonies.
When, in days or yore, the English powers decided they didn’t much like this sect who were against the inequalities of the monarchy they locked them up and tortured them and so many emigrated to North America. Back then Quakers were very evangelistic (at one point it is believed that 1/3rd of the English were Quakers) but at some point they found that it was easier to evangelise if you dropped the silly silence stuff and had a good hoe-down. So they split and evangelised and now you get quiet Quakers, happy clappy Quakers, quiet Christian Quakers and the odd homophobic militaristic Quaker, all spread over the world. But in Europe we remain in blissful silence.
The plan with the World Gathering is to get 400 of these very different young Quakers to the North of England where it all started 350 years ago. This is a very big challenge because it takes lots of money, lots of efforts for visas, lots of organising programming, lots of organising travelling and all the organising being done in a Quakerly manner. Except that just what is a Quakerly manner is different for all the worldly parts of Quakerism. Many of the more happy clappy ones just employ a “paster” e.g. a minister to organise them, in Britain we prefer to sit around quietly until the right way jolly well makes itself apparent.
However it may just work. The site it booked, the programmers and programming, the applications are being applied for and lots of people have things to do. The year ahead event, the only planning meeting with all the organisers from around the world in one place just took place and despite a slow start worked out quite well. Year Ahead Photos. Total Fox.