1) Looking at your committee description in the BYM Manual of Procedure: What is the most meaningful, enduring or vital part of your committee’s charge? Where is the energy, the Spirit, in it?
YPC’s description describes many of the tasks for which the committee is responsible. While we willingly and lovingly carry out these tasks, this is only part of what we do.
A vital part of the mission of YPC is to help Quaker Youth grow in the light, be centered in their lives, and empower them to live Quaker values in a world often at odds with those values. We see our role/mission as creating space and opportunity for our youth to find their own voices and spirituality and to share Quaker values. We create an ongoing program of conferences where Quaker youth can form community based on caring, trust, and love. To this end, we provide ongoing religious education. We impart our values and support our youth and ourselves to become and live our values. Our work is that of matching gifts and engaging the right people. We recognize the gifts within our youth and within each other and we nurture those gifts. Youth are the future of our Yearly Meeting. We provide programs to support and address growth among our young people.
2) How does the Committee seek to accomplish this vital work? What vision does this move us toward?
We do the behind-the-scenes work that makes our youth conferences happen – we recruit and train FAPS, we do background checks, we offer ongoing support to conference planners and to our Youth Secretary. Our job is not about preparing our youth; it is about letting them flourish where they are. It is about creating a Quaker youth community where they are now. We act as advocates for our youth. We willingly share the truth of what happens at our conferences. The programs shine on their own.
We are not just programs –we want to reflect the enthusiasm and spiritual gifts that we bring. We see our task as unfolding vital leaders trying on responsibility. Conferences are practical opportunities for Youth – it is the offering and living of values. Our conferences allow for creative fun without chemical abuse. Kids can remember that they are kids and can take a break from trying to be “cool.” They are also learning independence so they can take their gifts out into the world. We offer mentorship and discipleship for our youth and they offer the same for us.
Youth Programs offers choices and creates the opportunity for youth to choose, rather than having choices made for them. We give our Youth space and allow them to make mistakes and to learn and to grow. [The YPC] provides space and support – the Youth create the community. They build it. They have deep friendship relationships with each other and with adults.
3) What can we do best at this level, rather than at our monthly meetings or through national or international organizations?
Given that most monthly meetings are a small group, we create the opportunity to support each other and come together to form a larger Quaker community and therefore a larger Quaker youth peer group. Baltimore Yearly Meeting creates a larger group that is geographically closer. National and international Quaker groups can create a one-time community, but not an ongoing community like BYM can. We create the training ground at a scale that is possible. BYM creates and expresses some diversity. It is the right size. It provides the opportunity for our youth to learn leadership so that they can take positivity into the world. Our programs help our youth to gain selfconfidence and to gain social skills in making new friends and living in community.
4) How does the work of your committee enrich, influence, or change Baltimore Yearly Meeting as a whole? Where do you see that work taking us as a Yearly Meeting?
Our Youth are the future of our Yearly Meeting. YPC recognizes that we work with young people, not pre-adults. Our youth are in the process of discovery. We encourage our youth to explore and understand spirit and Quakerism. We support them in being who they need to be. We are leading the Yearly Meeting in living the Equality Testimony. We give our young people a voice and a value in our larger Quaker community. Our youth elder us about Quaker values. We need to let them know how valued they are. Our youth enrich us. We are nurturing each other. We are all experiencing a community of caring, trust and love; a community of acceptance. This transcends everything. We invite everyone to come and experience with us. The value of our work is apparent.