Emily Dervisevic was at Bristol Redlands in October and thought about what YFGM is doing well and what it could do better.
Whether it’s getting creative in the kitchen due to a lack of big pans or stepping in to man the front desk, the community spirit at YFGM is both immediate and infectious. In Bristol, it was energised by having twenty-seven newcomers at the weekend. They were supported by a fantastic newcomers program led by a caring Outreach team, who ensured that everything was explained clearly – including all the Quakery jargon!
Our guest speaker was Bristol resident, historian and activist Roger Ball. He gave a thought-provoking presentation drew on his experiences as part of the campaign to counter the memorialisation of Bristol slave trader Edward Colston, and I would have loved to have been able to attend a follow-up Special Interest Group to continue the discussion further and find out more. Instead, I decided to get some fresh air and joined the walking tour of Bristol. Others attended special interest groups (SIGs) on Challenging White Supremacy, Envisioning a Better Charity Sector and YFGM´s Mental Wellbeing Concern, all of which sounded really interesting and left me wondering if we could organise future YFGMs so that it’s possible to take part in the excursions without having to miss all the other SIGs.
YFGM has fewer, leaner business meetings these days, so there is more time in the weekend for young Friends to explore issues that they are passionate about. However, that means fewer opportunities to practice using the Quaker business method, and at times business meetings seemed to lapse into more of a discussion. I was left feeling that young Friends needed to support each other a bit more with upholding the spirit of the Quaker business method, perhaps by refreshing everyone’s memories at the beginning of the weekend in an entertaining way such as a skit, or interactively by discussing it in small groups.
Friday night’s epilogue of a simple Meeting for Worship provided a much-needed space for quiet reflection after a hectic, noisy evening. On Saturday, the spirituality session provided a welcome space for young Friends to discuss their faith. We also had a beautiful Epilogue inspired by the festival of Diwali. The meeting room was lit with fairy lights we listened in a spirit of worship to a traditional Hindu tale.
While there is always room for improvement, YFGM is a clearly vibrant and thriving community, and with so many newcomers, its future look is looking very positive.
Were you at YFGM Bristol? What would you like to see you at the next YFGM? Let us know!
This morning we have shared meeting for worship and tea with Friends from Bristol Redlands meeting, and will close with a short business meeting before lunch, as we say our goodbyes and look forward to meeting again for YFGM in Brighton in February. Love and Light,
Recording Clerk´s Office Intern
PS: More about the Countering Colston campaign -> Here