Living Faithfully: Young Adult Friends Find Meaning in FCNL’s Priorities Process
A group of Young Adult Friends in New England Yearly Meeting (NEYM) were the first to participate in FCNL’s legislative priorities discernment process for the 117th Congress. They provided essential input for shaping FCNL’s legislative agenda and found meaning in faithful discernment.
Like many Quaker bodies, NEYM traditionally recognizes the season of midwinter by holding a spiritual retreat for Young Adult Friends. This year, NEYM’s midwinter retreat was titled, “Knowing and Not Knowing: Making Space for Trust and Uncertainty.” As FCNL’s priorities process fit the retreat theme of making space for uncertainty and trust in spirit’s leadings, the retreat coordinators welcomed me to hold a discernment session with participants.
As I drove through the snowy countryside of Deerfield, Massachusetts and began my ascent up Woolman Hill to attend the retreat, silence settled. The history of Quaker faith and practice at Woolman Hill made spirit’s presence tangible. I felt deeply grounded as I arrived at the retreat center to ask Young Adult Friends from NEYM for their discernment of FCNL’s legislative priorities.
Walking through the main house door, I was greeted by new and familiar faces. Instantly, I fell into comfortable conversation with my peers. I sensed strong community and care for one another emerge in those initial conversations. Even as an outsider from a North Carolina meeting and FCNL, I was easily accepted into the communal fabric of this gathering, and a small group of Young Adult Friends joined me in a priorities process discernment session.
Most of the Young Adult Friends who gathered were college students from various New England states. They each brought their individual leadings and local perspectives to bear on our discernment of national legislative priorities.
We started by reflecting on FCNL’s “We Seeks” and Young Adult Friends shared the concerns that were rising for them in relation to each part of FCNL’s vision statement. Individuals shared various priorities ranging from environmental sustainability and public transit to workers’ rights. After this initial discernment, the group distilled individual priorities into themes and identified language for each thematic priority. We seasoned and modified the language put forth for each priority until we came to a sense of unity.
Throughout this discernment, my peers grappled with tensions between FCNL’s prophetic vision and pragmatic work. Consistently, these Young Adult Friends discussed legislative priorities in terms of what FCNL should do and what FCNL can do to bring about the world we seek. As we closed our conversation, several Young Adult Friends expressed appreciation for the opportunity to be heard by FCNL and shared feelings of living faithfully and productively by participating in this priorities process.
Heartened and hopeful, I left Woolman Hill grateful for my Young Adult Friend peers. Their discernment filled me with renewed faith in Quakerism, FCNL, and our vision for a better world.