All posts by Siobhan

Politically Engaged Young Friends

On Saturday 11 August, YFGM (Young Friends General Meeting) is holding a conference on politics.  Many young Friends work in politics or around political issues, whether for campaigning organisations, for NGOs, or as public servants.  When we meet for YFGM weekends, we find time over dinner and between our business sessions to discuss the arms trade, the merits (or otherwise) of directly-elected mayors, and the current government consultation on civil partnerships.

YFGM has booked Westminster Friends Meeting House, in the heart of London, for Friends aged 18-40 to talk about politics and political ideas.  We aim to use this as an opportunity to discuss topical political issues, share our own ideas, and find a way forward together.  Although the main sessions are on Saturday (to help people who might not be able to stay in London), we’re also offering a shared meal on Friday evening and a closing session after Meeting for Worship on Sunday.  This event is supported by the Joseph Rowntree Reform Trust, who have provided funding.  Both YFGM and the JRRT are seeking to encourage young Friends to be more involved in politics.


There’s more information at our website,, including how to book. We are asking for a donation of between £10 and £30 from those who attend, but if Friends don’t feel able to contribute then we’d be delighted to see them all the same! 

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Same-sex Marriage Epistle

As a follow up to our session on same-sex marriage in Bournemouth, here is the full text of the epistle.  If there are any questions points of clarification please contact Maurice Nagington on or 07739966197:


“Young Friends General Meeting is a group for Quakers (The Religious Society of Friends) aged 18 to about 30. It has existed for the past 100 years and currently provides fellowship and support for approximately 200 young adult Quakers.

As Quakers we aim for the starting point in all that we do to be equality. In relation to marriage we feel that the state should not be precluding same-sex couples from civil marriage. We therefore welcome the proposals that the government has made as the first steps towards marriage equality.

Although this consultation is focused on civil marriage we feel it is important to understand where marriage fits into our religious life. Our community supports same-sex and opposite-sex couples, and membership in our community forms an important part of their lives as individuals and couples. In addition, religious forms of marriage are seen by many in our community to be a deeply significant part of their relationships. Therefore, as a religious society, we are disappointed that the state is proposing to continue to impinge on a national decision by Quakers in 2009 to support and celebrate marriages between same-sex couples in the same way as we do for opposite sex couples. We are grateful to be able to recognise and report marriages in our community in accordance with our beliefs and value this ability. However, we strongly feel that preventing Quakers from reporting marriages to the state for same-sex couples is fundamentally unfair and goes against our religious liberty, conscience and commitment to equality. Similarly we feel that precluding opposite-sex couples from civil partnerships represents a parallel inequality.

We recognise that there are people and religious groups who have different ideas and beliefs. We are not trying to enforce our views on others and do not wish to compel other religions to act against their conscience. However we believe that all religions should have the right to perform same-sex marriages should they so wish.

We feel that maintaining separate legislation for recognising same-sex and opposite-sex partnerships will perpetuate inequality in our society and we believe that to be consistent the government should open marriage and civil partnerships to all couples. As a religious society we feel we are moving towards recognising a wide range of relationships where genuine tenderness, openness and love are the basis for committed relationships and that decisions around terminology such as ‘civil partnerships’ and ‘marriage’ may be better left to couples rather than the state.

Signed on behalf of Young Friend’s General Meeting,

Sally Nicholls and Ian Goggin (co-clerks)

May 2012”

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Never mind the IDF, what happened with the YFGM trustee structure?!

This week, we’re delighted to have a piece from Hannah Brock, a YFGM member for the past 3 years who is currently volunteering as an Ecumenical Accompanier in Isreal Palestine.

YFGM has got under my skin. It turns out that wherever I am in the world, and however busy I might be, I still get a bit glum when it’s a YFGM weekend and I’m not there! I found this out in February when, despite a difficult morning monitoring Checkpoint 300 (the checkpoint between Bethlehem and East Jerusalem, through which thousands of Palestinians have to pass through every morning, mostly having waited for at least 2 hours) I was still preoccupied by the decisions made in Nottingham by my YFGMer friends.

Some might call this just a little bit tragic, but I see it as testimony to the strength of the YFGM community, and the experiences we have together.

It’s an itinerant community; no two YFGMs are the same, either in terms of people attending, the sessions we run, the atmosphere, or indeed the location. But it’s also, I think, a strong one, where you can feel surrounded by support, even if you haven’t seen those supporters for three months.

Since I have been here working as a human rights observer with the Ecumenical Accompaniment Programme in Palestine and Israel, I have felt warmly upheld by the YFGM community. I’ve felt this both personally, through the emotional support I’ve had from the friends I’ve made here, and I suppose practically in the work that I am doing, because people are interested in the work that I am doing here and the people I am meeting. Continue reading

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A fresh perspective…

A response to YFGM, from Cat Hess – Who joined us for the first (but not last!) time in Nottingham, February 2012.

Many would wonder what makes an eighteen-year-old who, only having read about Quakers on the Internet, never having even been to her local meeting, travel 130 miles to a tri-annual General Meeting of Young Quakers.  Strangely though, that thought did not enter my own mind until the very moment I arrived at Nottingham Friends’ Meeting House, and by then it was too late – much too late.

I’ll warn you right now:  yes, there were embarrassing ice-breakers.  We even had a quiz.  But you know what?  It worked.  By the time we reached the pub on Friday night, and with the discovery of an encyclopaedia under our table (don’t ask) causing much hilarity, I felt very much at home.

During the course of the weekend, I went on a ‘treasure hunt’  around Nottingham, I wrote a poem about Quaker history which included the lines ‘we are big on equality and we have no priestly’ and I got a total of about six hours sleep.  I also learnt the Quaker business method, I found out what an ‘epilogue’ was; I learnt the value of silence and of words.

I think what drew me to Quakerism was its openness and acceptance.  And that acceptance, I feel, is really true.  It’s not ‘it’s okay that you’re different but really I’m going to try and change you to fit with what I believe.’  In my opinion, all the people I spoke to and all those I heard speak at YFGM are very similar, but that is by far from a negative thing.  I think that similarity is the desire to question, to be ‘radical’, as we heard in a talk from Simon Best during the weekend.  Every Friend is searching for something, and they are not content to just go through life with apathy, without caring, and without challenging the status quo.  And so that means that whilst there were and are differences among them, it interweaves with a seamlessness to make anyone and everyone welcome.

So, in conclusion, where can you find me on May bank holiday weekend?  Why, in Bournemouth at the next YFGM, of course.

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January planning weekend

Your faithful YFGM folks will be trekking off to sunny Exeter this weekend, to meet and plan an exciting gathering for February 2012 (17th-19th) when we’re hoping to be meeting lots of new faces at our Enquirer’s Gathering – which is FREE TO NEWCOMERS!

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