All day AM at Sheffield Central March 12

March 12th 2016 Sheffield and Balby Area Meeting

A year has gone by since we started the new style events for AM. So, as well as the minutes we thought it would be good to have a news item giving impressions of the March meeting.

We began with worship and reading of 23.52 from QFP. The reading invites us to value all the little things we are led to do for peace and justice, rather than thinking only big, dramatic things are useful. We followed worship with an exercise in which everyone wrote a sentence about how they live their faith in the world. We finally put these together in an epic poem which also appears here on the website. Children and young people also participated and everyone found it enjoyable and inspiring.
During the MfW for Business the children left us to go to their drama workshop. The attendance of children was low this time, but they all came out of their workshop buzzing and happy.
Our meeting was full and productive. Local meetings were asked to note a change of date for November AM, now set for 26th November at Nether Edge, so that needs circulating to Friends.

Following a report about safeguarding from Laura Kerr and Felicity Starr we agreed that

“….Each of the meetings, even the smaller ones with no regular children’s meeting, should identify a Friend with general responsibility for safeguarding arrangements should a child or children arrive at a meeting. Laura and Felicity plan to meet with those designated Friends to discuss this further, and have put together a brief summary for ease of reference….”

We also discussed the amount of money available to support friends wishing to go to Britain Yearly Meeting gathering. As a result the following was agreed:

“Currently there is a balance remaining in the fund used to support attendance at Yearly Meeting of approximately £1,800. This is usually topped up as needed from the Irene Gay Fund, however, this is also reduced to a fairly low level. At current expenditure levels, this fund will be depleted over the next year if it is not topped up further.”
Gillian Hind informed us that £600 of this £1,800 is already committed to other purposes.

We agree to suggest to Collectors that they promote Friends contributions to the AM general Bursary Fund as this is less restricted than the Woodbrooke Bursary fund. Without this we expect the funds available for supporting Friends to attend YM will be substantially exhausted during the year.
For 2016, we support the Trustees’ recommendation to Area Meeting to prioritise support for children and for Friends who haven’t attended YM in the past.

The final thing we want LMs to be aware of is the need to think of people whom they could nominate to be on AM Nominations committee, as this is in need of more people to do this important work.

After the MfW for Business we were nourished by a wonderful bring and share lunch including one of Gordon Ferguson’s legendary soups.

We offered 5 workshops during the afternoon session but only 3 of these were attended, and by few people at that. There is a report of some of the things that came out of the Northern Friends Peace Board workshop elsewhere on the website, which we commend to Friends, as it contains some really good ideas for future action by both LMs and AM.

Sallie Ashe led an art workshop creating a 3D impression of people’s vision of our community of the future. And Adam Howard presented some of his research into sustainability and energy use, part of his studies at the Centre for Alternative Technology.

Those who attended the day were very grateful for the sense of community promoted by the event and the inspiration they were able to take away from it.

We are concerned however that the initial enthusiasm and support for the new style AM has ebbed somewhat. The attendance was significantly down on the last all day event. Some of us discussed informally why that might be, although we cannot read Friends’ minds, so came to no firm conclusions. We are determined to press on with the changes we are making and hope that LMs will initiate discussion on people’s views and feed them back to AM clerks.

The next meeting will be a half day only at Hope Valley meeting, held at Bamford Community on 15th May at 1.15 preceded by a bring and share lunch.
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