Hosted by Canberra Regional Meeting (CRM), this year’s Australia Yearly Meeting (YM2020) is coming to you directly, online and with new ways of doing business and connecting with each other.
While some parts of the AYM experience will be new, we believe that Friends will come away from the six days refreshed, renewed and rejoicing in the power of the Spirit to move among us, even in these times.
So, what’s new?
Since YM2020 is to be wholly on-line, the business of YM will be done in a different way, with additional pre-YM opportunities for Regional Meetings and Friends to be in touch with the YM committees about their reports in Documents in Advance. This should reduce the number of items coming to the business sessions for discernment.
In an effort to avoid Zoom fatigue, not all of our usual features of YM are being transferred to the online environment over the main week of 4-10 July.
There is scope for additional “meetings” to be arranged more spontaneously during the week, by committees or individuals, for specific meetings or socialising. Technical support for this can be arranged. Similarly, should interest groups want to meet beyond the week that could be made possible.
Wherever possible, the hosting group is taking into account the time differences across Australia to enable as much participation as possible.
And what’s familiar?
Friend Fiona Gardner will deliver the annual James Backhouse Lecture on Monday 6 July at 7:00pm. Her topic is Seeking Union with Spirit: Experiences of Spiritual Journeys.
The focus of Friendly School will help us to look at the spiritual and human dimensions of how Quaker business is done, and how to make our discernment processes work well. It will involve both a presentation by Murray Short, former Presiding Clerk of Aotearoa/New Zealand, and small group discussions.
Share and Tell sessions are opportunities for Friends to share with others their personal interests and concerns. This year three virtual sessions will be offered concurrently each day for 45-90 minutes. The Zoom host for each session will coordinate the technology, including the option to move people into smaller groups, and the Presenter will lead the presentation and manage discussions. Because it is likely that there will be many S&Ts offered, and limited sessions in which way they can be held, we may ask some to combine, or be unable to stage every one asked for. It’s also likely that the number in each session will be limited, so that the online group does not become unwieldy. If you are interested in presenting an S&T, please fill out the relevant space on the on-line registration (link below) no later than 31 May.
Children and JYFs are also part of our planning and will have virtual opportunities for fellowship and fun.
So, should I register? And what about technology?
Prior to YM we encourage Friends, especially those new to Zoom practices and etiquette, to participate in the many free Zoom learning sessions offered through Silver Wattle.
While most Friends have direct access to Zoom (including the additional security measures put in place by the company), we are aware that it is not the case for everyone. It’s hard to predict what physical distancing and isolation measures will be in place in different states/territories in early July. We’re asking Meetings to consider linking Friends with Zoom access with those Friends without such technology, or even gathering in small groups to participate – if possible.
During YM there will also be a help desk that will be contactable by phone (the number will be available closer to 4 July).
While AYM2020 will not be the same as in previous years, we are very excited about the many opportunities to try out new technologies and frameworks for improving the robustness of AYM going forward in the post-pandemic, but still climate crisis, future. We hope that many Friends will join us on this journey and we look forward to seeing everyone 4-10 July!
The AYM2020 website contains a great deal of useful information, including Documents in Advance reports and an evolving timetable as activities are added.