Weekend Gathering at Powell House

Some of you may know that I recently attended a gathering of Quakers at Powell House. Powell House is the New York Yearly Meeting (NYYM) retreat, which offers weekends exploring various Quaker issues, topics, and events. The actual venue has similarities to our own home at the Network for Religious Communities, in that it was a family's home that was donated to NYYM. Thanks to Buffalo Meeting’s sponsorship, I attended several Powell House weekends during my early years as a Quaker. The retreats were on various topics ranging from an Alternatives to Violence workshop, a weekend discussing Agnostics, Atheists and Quakers, and a Quakers and the 12 Steps weekend, which is a yearly event.

This particular gathering was concerned with the structure of NYYM: does it need to be tweaked, totally redesigned (as Philadelphia Yearly Meeting recently experienced) or simply supplied more attentive nurturing? The issue at hand was concerning the Nurture Coordinating Committee. Basically the queries were: should it be laid down, encouraged, or should its functions be reassigned to other existing coordinating committees? How can NYYM most effectively serve the needs and priorities of individual Quakers and those Meetings under the auspices of NYYM?

There IS much that I can try to relay to my F/friends of Buffalo Monthly Meeting (BMM), but I feel inadequate to the task. I CAN say that I learned much about the NYYM, and that I am keenly aware that I can claim to hold only a small fraction of that which NYYM offers us. I was able to add several observations and ideas to this body, and I was most warmly welcomed and accepted into the gathering. I felt honored to have witnessed the many messages and thoughts that were shared—some of them very powerful!


However, the most significant thing that I can report from my own experience is what occurred the moment that I physically entered the space where the gathering was being held. It was as if I had opened a door to a room that was 140 degrees. Imagine the feeling of the immense heat that one would be struck with. Of course the room was not overly heated, but I did feel something profound. Within just a few minutes of my presence during that period of silent worship, I found myself standing with the message, "There is a HECK of a lot of Spirit in this room!" From that moment to this, I can claim to "own" the expression that I have heard among Quakers, that I am on FIRE!

I can only add that I feel incapable of adequately expressing the hope that all of us in BMM partake in at least some Yearly Meeting events. Towards the end of the gathering, I shared the message that I intended not to miss any future events.