My beloved, Monica Tetzlaff, and I are participating in planning the Illinois Yearly Meeting 2009 Annual Gathering. The next Illinois Yearly Meeting annual sessions will be held June 17-21, 2009, at the historic Illinois Yearly Meeting house in McNabb, Illinois. I am seeking comments and observations from you all. We are setting up workshops now, and suggestions for workshops are welcome on that theme.

Here is the notice that is being sent out:

Illinois Yearly Meeting: 2009 Theme: Simplicity

As this year’s organizers sat in waiting worship, considering the theme for the 2009 Yearly Meeting, many of us were struck by the harder economic times facing us and the challenges and gifts we might find therein. We found ourselves returning to the testimony of simplicity and our desire to join with other Friends in exploring the meaning of this testimony for our times and our experiences. There is beauty and peace, as well as sacrifice and struggle to be found in this theme.

Quaker writer Fran Taber tells us that the early Friends did not have a testimony for simplicity. She writes that they “came upon a faith which cut to the root of the way they saw life, radically reorienting it. They saw that all they did must flow directly from what they experienced as true, … to keep the knowledge clear and the doing true, they stripped away anything which seemed to get in the way .. and it is this radical process of stripping for clear-seeing which we now term simplicity.” (Frances Irene Taber, “Finding the Taproot of Simplicity,” 5.)

How are Friends experiencing that radical reorienting today? We call on Illinois Yearly Meeting Friends to gather at the historic Meetinghouse and campgrounds in McNabb, Illinois for worship sharing queries on this topic and for speakers and workshops on different experiences living out the testimony of simplicity. Please hold us in the Light as we prepare and carry out the various ministries of Illinois Yearly Meeting, from feeding the multitudes and caring for young children to conducting meeting for worship with attention to business. In the everyday life of caring for community, the sacred can be sought and found.

Our speakers are as follows:

Wednesday Evening: Panel: How do you experience and seek to practice the testimony of Simplicity?

Alice and Bill Howenstine (Upper Fox Valley ILYM Friends) and Jim and Ginger Kenney (Midwest Field Representatives for Friends Committee on National Legislation and Regular ILYM attenders)

Thursday Evening: Hollister Knowlton, “Quaker Earthcare Witness and the Testimony of Simplicity”

Hollister is clerk of Quaker Earthcare Witness of the Americas. She has long carried a deep concern for the earth, gave up her car and became a vegan in 1994 for reasons of conscience, and is now transitioning to being a non-dairy “localvore” to further shrink her ecological footprint. She took early retirement in 2004 to devote her life to Quaker service for the earth

Friday Evening: Square Dancing and Fellowship on the Green

Saturday Evening: Joanna Hoyt, “Being Freed Into and Through Simplicity”

Joanna is a member of Portland, Maine Friends Meeting. For the last eight years she has lived and worked as a full-time volunteer at St. Francis Farm, a Catholic Worker community in rural New York that seeks to practice material and inward simplicity through prayer, sustainable agriculture/forestry, and presence/listening/practical help to neighbors and guests. Joanna will be with us for the entirety of Yearly Meeting and she invites you to her workshop on Friday as well. Her spoken ministry will arise from her own experience and she will seek to speak to the condition of ILYM Friends.

Sunday Morning: Plummer Lecture: Janice Domanik of Lake Forest Friends Meeting (ILYM) will speak about her spiritual journey. Meeting for Worship will follow the lecture.

Views: 128

Comment by Richard B. Miller on 4th mo. 21, 2009 at 11:11am
I don't like to disagree with Fran Taber but I think simplicity was a testimony for early Friends and it remains so. The disagree, I think, involves differing understandings of what it is to be a testimony. Take the peace testimony as an example. Quakers have a peace testimony not a peace philosophy or a peace principle. We testify that God directly and personally instructs us to be peaceful. This is not a theory we have about the best way to live. We are reporting our personal experience of God as a God of peace and not war.

Similarly Friends then and now report that God is a God of simplicity. He instructs us to remove complexity, clutter and ostentation from our lives. This is not a theory we come to by thinking about how people should live. It is a report of what God tells us about how to live. It is not a universal principle from which we draw conclusions about how to live. It is a generalization we make about God based on the particular instructions he gives in concrete situations.

This past year our Earthcare committee in NCYM-Conservative has been considering how we can positively encourage each other to listen better to God's guidance on how to live simply and harmoniously with the earth and how we can avoid nagging each other and being negative about possibly harmful practices.
Comment by Bradley Laird on 4th mo. 21, 2009 at 11:34am
Thank you for your comment, Richard. Monica and I will sit with your feedback.

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