Quaker meetings of Iowa Yearly Meeting (Conservative) are spread throughout the Midwest, including Iowa, Kansas, Minnesota, Missouri, Nebraska and South Dakota. We look forward to times we can be together to catch up with each other’s lives, as well as to attend to the business of the Yearly Meeting. Our two annual gatherings include Yearly Meeting, which occurs in the summer and is held at Scattergood Friends School and Farm in Eastern Iowa, near the town of West Branch. These meetings last most of a week, and are where the business of the Yearly Meeting and updates related to faith and social justice work occur.
The other is Midyear Meeting, that occurs in the spring, and is held at my home meeting, Bear Creek, in the country outside of Earlham, Iowa. I just returned from this year’s Midyear Meeting. These meetings are related to a theme that varies from year to year, with meeting sessions on Saturday afternoon, evening, and Sunday morning. The weekend begins with meeting for worship on Saturday morning, and ends with meeting for worship Sunday morning.
There is usually a cycle of someone in the Yearly Meeting leading these sessions one year, alternating with an outside leader on the alternate year. This year Drew Smith, from the Friends Council on Education, led sessions related to Friends schools and education.
Operating Scattergood Friends School and Farm is one of the main responsibilities of Iowa Yearly Meeting Friends. Many members of Iowa Yearly Meeting (Conservative) attended the school, and continue to be involved in its work. We always enjoy opportunities to hear about the school, and to spend time with the students and staff. This year some Scattergood students were involved in the program, in keeping with the topic of Quaker education. During one session, Drew asked the students a series of questions related to their experiences and how they felt about the school and education, which was very interesting.
Saturday evening we broke up into small groups to come up with answers to complete “Iowa Yearly Meeting (Conservative) will ________ ” (related to the school). Again the Scattergood students were actively involved, this time recording the ideas being considered, and then doing the report back to the gathered meeting. Another great chance to interact with the students, who did an excellent job of working with us.
There are two committees that usually meet at Midyear Meeting. The Interim Committee meets to consider any Yearly Meeting business that requires attention before the Annual Sessions will occur.
The other committee that usually meets is the Yearly Meeting’s Peace and Social Concerns Committee, which I am the clerk of. We had really excellent reports of work being done in the monthly (local) meetings. There is a lot of concern related to immigration issues. Jon Krieg, of the American Friends Service Committee (AFSC) introduced Erica Johnson, who recently joined AFSC to work on these issues.
Christine Ashley, previously Head of Scattergood Friends School and now working for the Friends Committee on National Legislation (FCNL) was also able to be with us, and report on her work.
Here is a link to more photos from the Midyear Meeting, 2017