Between the 2nd and 9th of August I was most privileged, with the generous help of the Area meeting, to attend Junior Young Meeting, a youth section within YMG orientated for 14-17 year olds. The theme for the week was “The Changing Face of Quakerism, where are we going?” This theme was designed to fit in with the theme of YMG as a whole which was “What does it mean to be a Quaker today?” This is a useful discussion to have, with the decline of traditional Quaker values such as belief in God and traditional Quaker dress, as well as the growth in technology challenging the Quaker testimony to simplicity.
On the way to the campus we met Leena, an associate of Marjatta, who was at the gathering as a representative for Finland yearly meeting. We reflected together on the life and work of Marjatta and during the week it felt as if Marjatta’s spirit hung over us mutually as we went through the week of spiritual exploration.
During the week we took part in numerous sessions, from fun and games organized by the Socials, to discussions of Simon Best’s research into the views of Young Quakers. One of the highlights of the week was the speaker session with Ben Pink Dandelion, a Quaker researcher who taught about the problems brought about by increased secularization within the Quaker community and the lack of ability to talk about “God” in Quaker meetings.
On Monday evening Quakers, young and old, came together to commemorate the centenary of world war one. We did this by each holding a torch or bright object to the night sky and then turning it out and quietly reflecting on the legacy of the war. We did this in order to epitomise Edward Greys statement “The lamps are going out all over Europe, we shall not see them lit again in our life-time” which he remarked on the 3rd of August 1914. However at the end of the session, which was about 20 minutes long, we lit the lamps again, as a sign of hope that Quaker efforts will one day be able to end war.
There was plenty of freetime during the week for reflection on the sessions, which I found useful as it gave me space to think as an individual about the many different ideas and contributions different Quakers made as to what they thought it meant to be a Quaker today. I have found this week very helpful as it has helped me to reflect on how dedicated to Quakerism I am, and what I can do in order to in order to become more involved with the Quaker community. I thank the Area meeting for their funding so that I could go on this life changing and reaffirming week.