Friday, 4 May 2007

Newbies: Yes I Am The New Guy (But I am not alone)

This is my first official yearly meeting and I get to spend it in London at the Friends House, I must say I feel overly privileged. I have been to Evangelical Friends Eastern Region Yearly Meeting once but it was just for an hour or two one evening, that was back when I was youth pastoring at a small congregation in Barberton Ohio (about an hour south of Cleveland). But this, my friends, is very different and very exciting for me. So yes, I am the newbie - the one in the corner with a glazed look over his eyes or the goofy smile on his face; I can't help it I actually love meeting new people. Not only do I get the privilege of being a newbie, but also one with some responsibility (i.e. blogging here), note how scary this could be. It might be like giving the keys to your merchandise to your unlicensed teen, but it does give me an insider's look at the gears turning behind this big Quaker machine.

It's already shaping up to be an incredible experience because of the really great entry points created for new people just like me. I too can imagine there being a sense of pride in knowing you've got an Evangelical spending his first YM under your careful tutelage. Quite honestly, I am happy to be the understudy.

Here's what I've experienced so far:

First, there was tea and cake for all overseas visitors. Beware would be free-loaders this event is by invite only! In fact, I've got a special blue badge (overseas visitor) with a gold star (YM first timer) on it. This gathering was great not only because of the tea and cakes, but also because of the varieties of faithfulness represented in the room. There were some friends from France, Ireland, Norway, India, Canada, and many other places, even Canton Ohio was represented! Some of these people are here for the first time, some have been coming for years, and others still use their overseas connections (even though they now living in England) to get in to this exclusive gathering; yes the tea and cakes are that good.

But no matter why they were there on the surface, we were all there because God has called us to join together as Friends. And this calling seemed apparent to me from the beginning of the session when the Martin Ward, the clerk of Britain Yearly Meeting, talked briefly about allowing God to shape and mold us, and that is really what Friends are about.

Secondly, I went with Angelina (from Philadelphia yearly meeting) and Simon (from Telford meeting) to the YM first timers session (I don't remember if that was the official title, but we aren't really into titles now are we?). This was a kind of tutorial about what goes on during YM, how things work, and the nitty gritty about where to find things, who to call for help or get to get your questions answered. They also covered the basics, when not to get up and speak during the meetings for business, the importance of turning off your cell phones, and a moving explanation as to the importance of reading the Epistles and Testimonies. My favorite part of this was learning how the actually business session is ran. They covered who the clerks are, why it's important to have silence as a part of the business session, and why everyone is invited to speak during it.

Finally, I think my favorite part so far, besides just being here and being asked to blog about the weekend, is getting to meet all the other bloggers, and people associated with the YM. I've already met friends from all over the world (and most I may even remember their names), and have meet people I hope to keep in contact with for a long time. Oh, and my wife and I have already been invited to stay with one lady when we come back to visit London again. It's not that I am surprised that I feel welcomed, it's how much I feel welcomed that is tipping the experience off for me. Being 6,000 miles away it's good to know I am may be the new guy but I am still among friends.


Dan Morehead said...

Still among friends...nice end.

Chris M. said...

All blessings of peace and good to you, Friend Wess! Thanks for the report. We'll be holding you and Emily in the light.

-- Chris M.