8th, Sixth Month, 2008
Epistle from Great Plains Yearly Meeting (formerly Nebraska Yearly Meeting)
To all Friends everywhere,
We send greetings to Friends in all parts of the world from Central City, Nebraska, which to some of us feels like holy ground. In the shadow of the stately Old Main, which was the center of Nebraska Central College, a small Quaker educational institution of a century ago, we gathered together as a yearly meeting. This beautiful campus is now the site of Nebraska Christian School, which has grown out of the heritage of Quakerism into a thriving institution where young people still learn and grow.
The theme of our time together was, “Looking to the future while sharing in the joy.” We were privileged to have Paul Lacey of Earlham College and the American Friends Service Committee among us, who shared with the gathered body his own reflections on the meaning of joy. We as a yearly meeting considered what joy means to us as a small, sometimes weary fellowship of Friends on the prairie. We were asked to consider the passage from 2 John:12, “…but I hope to see you and talk with you face to face, so that our joy may be complete.” We reflected together on ways that we can be more connected as a community, striving to be with one another and see each other face to face on a more regular basis. We were blessed to have among us Mary Ellen McNish and Sonia Tumna of AFSC, Joe Volk of FCNL, Margaret Fraser of FWCC, Sylvia Graves of FUM, Michael Wajda of FGC, Margaret Stoltzfus of Iowa Yearly Meeting, Richard Sours of William Penn University, Rod Zwerner of Quaker Earthcare Witness and Maria Bradley and Linda Coates of Baltimore Yearly Meeting.
As we explored the history of our yearly meeting in this our one hundredth year, there was a mixture of nostalgia and gratitude for those Friends who worked so diligently and faithfully in the past to keep our hopes and dreams and searchings alive and well. We have been grateful for the labor of Ron Mattson of Central City Monthly Meeting in reminding us of our unique history and hertiage as a yearly meeting, as well as our deep roots in the Quaker and Christian tradition. How awesome to consider this glorious past! And how important to consider our own place in this present day, in the midst of a still beautiful world, but a world beset by challenges the likes of which it has never seen before. We considered our unique historical circumstance in a spirit of joy and grateful fellowship.
During our time together, we had ever in front of us the challenge of the present moment, and what God is calling us to in this new century for Friends on the Great Plains. We feel a sense of urgency, a sense of God’s call to reach out to a world in pain. At the same time, we are aware of our own inability to do anything under our own power, dependent as we are on the power of the Holy Spirit not only to show us way forward, but to prepare and empower us as individuals and as fellowships to follow in the footsteps of Jesus. This year, Friends at Great Plains Yearly Meeting have felt moved to deepen our commitment to participation in the wider Religious Society of Friends. At the same time, we seek to be more intentional in tending our own fragile fellowship, reaching out to one another and building each other up. We desire to be with one another, to see each other face to face as we seek to live the Kingdom here on the Great Plains.
We pray that Friends will experience the loving presence of the One who is above all names.
Friends assembled at Great Plains Yearly Meeting’s centennial celebration