Since spring last year, YFGM’s meetings and events have been held entirely online, due to both the legal restrictions imposed due to Covid-19 and our shared desire to keep members of our community, and the general public, safe.
At the YFGM in May 2021, we discussed whether to hold our next YFGM in person, having booked the Quaker Meeting House in Sheffield to host a YFGM gathering from October 29-31. Friends spoke of their hope and desire to meet in person, but also voiced uncertainty about what the public health situation would be in October, and how important it is to include people who couldn’t or wouldn’t feel comfortable attending in person. With the event still so far away, the meeting asked trustees to decide whether to go ahead with an in-person event in October, to cancel it, or to call a special (online) General Meeting to decide.
Trustees considered this further in late July, allowing enough time to call a special General Meeting before the cancellation deadline for the booking. With continued uncertainty about public health, and reflecting on the ministry heard in May, trustees were willing to proceed on the assumption that an in-person gathering would take place in October. A final decision on this will be made at the Planning Weekend, which will take place online from 18-19 September. At that point, if it feels necessary to cancel and hold an online event instead, we’ll do so, accepting the modest loss of the booking fee. Whichever type of event we do, we’ll try to make it as inclusive as possible, and will make sure that at least some sessions are available to join from home.
For this reason, we warmly invite Friends and friends to our October gathering in Sheffield. At the present time (and unusually!), we encourage you not to book transport yet as there is still a possibility that we will not be able to meet in person. After Planning Weekend we will provide confirmation of whether the event will be in-person or online.
In love and friendship,
The full trustees’ minute 2021-07-28.3:
Trustees have considered at length the question of whether October’s YFGM should take place in person, subject to trustee minute 2021-06-30.6 and YFGM minute 2021.5.3. We are mindful of the desire to meet in person and want to minimise people feeling excluded from our events. We are aware that some people feeling excluded is likely with either in-person or online events.
October is still far away and we cannot clearly foresee the situation or its risks. If we called an extraordinary General Meeting for late August, so as to have time to cancel our booking at Sheffield Quaker Meeting House without incurring a cost, that meeting may be in the same position, and retreat old ground from May’s discernment rather than revealing new light.
Having heard that the booking fee which is at stake is around £500, we are willing to accept this loss if it becomes necessary to cancel at a later date. We will make the final decision at Planning Weekend (18-19 Sep) and advise YFGMers not to book travel to Sheffield before then.
YFGM Minute 2021.5.3, May 2021:
We see the wish and the need for a YFGM in person, and we will try the possibility of holding one in October. At the same time, we accept that it may not be possible to return at once to in-person gatherings being just as we remember them.
We acknowledge the need to clarify our position with BYM on the level of support we will have by the autumn. We also note the need to step up communication within our community as a whole. We recognise the challenges that organising such an event will bring. But we have good hope that friends might be happy to be co-opted to help bring about our first in-person gathering in so long a time.
As we cannot now know what the situation will be in the autumn, we leave the decision of whether to go ahead with an in-person meeting, decide against it, or call for an extraordinary general meeting to discern the matter, with committees and Trustees.