To Friends everywhere,
We send you greetings from Ireland Yearly Meeting met in Kings Hospital School, Dublin from 28th April to 1st May 2011.
‘Let your life speak’ was the theme for this Yearly Meeting. We were challenged to allow ourselves to live adventurously, enabling our gifts to be used for the service of God and the community. The summary of the Yearly Meeting Epistles from around the world encouraged us in this and gave us a feeling of being united with Friends from many different places.
As we began to move through the Yearly Meeting sessions, various speakers gave us examples of outreach in their communities and this suggested an underlying message that our outreach begins from our presence in a place.
The Meeting House is the obvious starting point for outreach. It is the physical evidence of our presence in the community. It is an invitation to those who might pass by, to linger a while and perhaps come amongst us. It is often the first point of contact and it is the manifestation of home for those who stay.
Our outreach is not measured by increased numbers but by increased dialog and communication but we cannot expect to go unchallenged; indeed we must not only face the challenges, but invite them. Outreach requires us to listen, as well as to speak and help can come from unexpected quarters but we must be open to receive it.
We are called to be Friends, showing the mark of Christ as we go about our daily lives. Although it has become common practice in recent years to refer to ourselves as ‘Quakers’, this has limited potential in terms of outreach. There is a familiarity with the term and the listener may presume understanding and inquire no further. The use of the word ‘Friend’ however, requires us to give an explanation of who we are.
We were uplifted by the description of Sweden Yearly Meeting, which manages to engage in a wide range of activities despite the fact that they have only 100 members. There are many examples of small groups or individuals making a difference in the world. As Friends we believe that God has given us all the resources we need, and if we use these gifts we can do all that is required and more.
“A friend is one to whom you can pour out the contents of your heart, chaff and grain alike. Knowing that the gentlest of hands will take and sift it, keep what is worth keeping and with a breath of kindness, blow the rest away.”
Signed on behalf of Ireland Yearly Meeting,
Felicity A McCartney, Clerk