YPC Epistle IV – September 2011

1 September 2011

Dear Pacific Yearly Meeting Friends,

One month ago I officially stepped into my new role as PYM’s Youth Program Coordinator (YPC). My, how things have changed in the last few years; more individual Friends seem to be stepping up to participate in our collective Youth Program experiment, and I sense a cultural shift underway toward creating the vibrant intergenerational community of Friends we envision. After having served this program in a variety of ways since 2008 –first as the temporary Youth Coordinator and then as a member of the planning and supervisory committees— I’m eager and open to see where Spirit leads us next.

During PYM’s annual gathering in Claremont in July 2011, I volunteered as a Friendly Adult Presence (FAP) with the teens of Junior Yearly Meeting. It was a good way to transition into my new job as Coordinator, as it gave me the opportunity to connect with many teens, young adults, and older Friends and consider with them their visions for this program and position. Conversations ranged from how to effectively involve youth in committees, to the nature of God, to the parallels between racial justice and age justice work, to how to make it possible for more young adults to attend the annual gathering.

At the gathering, the YPC Supervisory Committee, the outgoing Coordinator (Sarah Beutel), and I delivered a joint report (http://www.pacificyearlymeeting.org/2011/yearly-meeting-docs/ypc-reports-to-pym-2011/). As Sarah noted, “PYM created this position of Youth Program Coordinator … because Friends of many ages felt a longing to be truly seen, held, and challenged by PYM, and believed that stronger intergenerational understanding would help.”

Toward that end, I’ve recently had deep and wide conversations with approximately 100 of these “Friends of many ages” and 15 groups within PYM, representing 25 Meetings and Worship Groups. I’ve begun to work with groups such as:

Claremont Meeting to involve more young people in a Meeting event on gender identity and equality;

PYM’s Peace & Social Order Committee to reach out to and support the peace and action interests of younger Friends, who are especially invited to join their monthly conference calls like Cara Arcuni (Palo Alto) and I did in August – contact Clerk Jeff Kroeber, jeffkroeber [at] juno [dot] com;

Quaker Center and Sierra Friends Center / Woolman Semester to better coordinate their complementary youth programs, camps, and workshops for all ages; and

Friends Committee on Legislation of California (FCLCA) to engage more PYM youth in their legislative advocacy and social networking (they invite you to ‘like’ them on Facebook, join their Action Network, and share their Action Alerts!);

Meanwhile, I’m supporting College Park and Southern California Quarters in planning the upcoming Fall gatherings.

Do you (or your Meeting, committee, or Quaker organization) want help involving youth? Are you a teen or Young Friend with an idea or concern that needs support? Let’s talk.

Below are some upcoming intergenerational and youth-focused activities that will be of interest to Friends in PYM. I will be attending many of these events, and I hope you will join us!

● September 24: Woolman Semester Harvest Work Day http://woolman.org/events/2011/harvest-work-day

● September 24: 45th Annual FCLCA Harvest Festival at Palo Alto Friends Meeting http://www.fclca.org/harvestfest/

● October 9: Claremont Friends Meeting Transgender Panel and Discussion on Gender and LGBTQI Identity & Equality, Organizer: Karen Vance, birdbance [at] yahoo [dot] com

● October 14-16: College Park Quarterly Meeting http://collegepark.quaker.org/

● November 5-6: Southern California Quarterly Meeting http://scqm.org/

● December 2-4: A Music and Dance Weekend at Quaker Center http://www.quakercenter.org/programs/program-schedule/

Young Friends and teens especially: please make sure to ask for financial assistance, including for transportation, if you need it. (I can help you figure out how to ask your Meeting and/or the particular gathering.)

Does your Meeting or organization have an event coming up? Please let me know, and feel free to post it on our Facebook Page: “Pacific Yearly Meeting Youth Programs”. (Please ‘like’ our page, and invite other PYM Friends to join the online community, too!)

*** Speaking of online community, I will be working with Don Bean to build a Youth section on the PYM website. If you have ideas for the website or want to help, please contact me.

In Sarah Beutel’s time with PYM, she helped us understand that “rather than being an event planner or a program manager, the Youth Program Coordinator needs to be a resource, an interpreter, and a catalyst.” As the YPC Supervisory Committee reported, we have “achieved greater clarity that the job of the YPC is not to host activities, but to encourage and coordinate all the resources of our monthly, quarterly, and yearly meetings, and our Quaker organizations, to support the spiritual growth of our youth and the full integration of the PYM community as a manifestation of our Testimonies on Equality and Community.”

While my position as PYM’s Youth Program Coordinator is primarily focused on addressing the needs of younger Friends and on creating a more vibrant intergenerational community, one of the most exciting parts of the job for me is working in concert with Friends who are taking the challenge – and challenging one another – to live more fully our Testimonies on Community and Equality in every way. The Youth Program work is part of a larger whole, a community effort. I look forward to working with you all as we experimentally strive to stretch and live out these testimonies in our everyday lives.

Peace & Love,

~ Alyssa

Alyssa Nelson
Youth Program Coordinator, Pacific Yearly Meeting
(530) 563-6369 (cell)
pym.youthcoordinator@gmail.com
Facebook Page: “Pacific Yearly Meeting Youth Programs”

YPC Epistle III – June 2011 (Corrected)

Note: this version replaces a draft that was erroneously put on the PYM website in September 2011.

June 2011

Dear Friends –

Greetings from PYM’s Youth Program Coordinator.  Springtime is truly a season of change.  Winter has reluctantly given way to the warmth of longer days, the garden sprouts are taking on an air of adolescent maturity, and the energy of growth and transformation buzzes like electricity.  The last three months have been full of rich conversations, deep fellowship and bittersweet planning for the welcoming of a new Youth Program Coordinator. I’d like to share with you some of the highlights and themes from these past three months.

  • The Friendly Adult Presence (FAP) workshop was a highlight in March. Seventeen people attended, representing 5 CPQM monthly meetings. Key discussions centered on building intergenerational relationships, qualities of a Friendly Adult Presence (FAP), and envisioning ways to improve our systems for supporting FAPs.  The afternoon was spent in role-plays of difficult situations.  Participants developed some concrete ideas for the JYM committee to implement this summer. Attendees gave helpful feedback on how to improve the next workshop, which is scheduled for July 9 at the La Jolla Meetinghouse.
  • Several meetings are considering how to collaborate with other geographically close Meetings in order to create critical masses of teens. A few South Bay meetings have taken the plunge into experimenting with this structure, with the support of some committed adults.
  • Quite of few PYM Meetings are in close proximity to colleges and universities and seek greater engagement with students there.  I have explored a range of approaches with several meetings, including: having a nominated position tasked with outreach and relationship-building with students, hosting Quaker Quest-style discussions on campus, tabling at student registration, and ensuring that Meeting information is listed in campus resource guides.
  • Several Monthly Meetings have used some of the time in my visits with to guide them in considering ways to bolster theirFirstDay Schoolprograms.  Some promising approaches that various meetings are trying include: empowering teens and preteens to invite speakers to their class and to plan lessons for younger children; restructuring First Day School committees to lighten the burden on parents; and including youth on religious education committees.

Meeting visits and events, March – May 2011:

  • RepCom
  • Palo Alto
  • Napa/Sonoma
  • FAP Workshop atSan Francisco
  • Sacramento Valley Cluster Meeting
  • Claremont
  • Orange Grove
  • SCQM Young Friends Retreat
  • InlandValley
  • SCQM Spring Quarterly
  • CPQM Spring Quarterly
  • Reno
  • Conversations with 63 Friends

In addition to visiting meetings and facilitating discussions about teen programming, I have also been busy supporting teen gatherings over the last few months. Teens gathered for an overnight retreat in conjunction with Santa Cruz Meeting’s annual spring retreat.  I enjoyed brainstorming with Santa Cruz teens and adult leaders as they walked through the planning of this event. Teens at Southern California Quarterly hiked to the US-Mexico border, led by AFSC, gaining awareness of border and immigration issues. Facebook networking proved successful as College Park teens (including some who had never been to a previous gathering) turned out en masse for Spring Gathering at Quaker Center. They took great leadership, facilitating chat boxes, engaging with children’s program and participating in worship sharing.

I’m looking forward to sharing one more annual gathering with you before I transition out of the position of Youth Program Coordinator.  My partner and I will be moving back toColoradoto get married and live near family. During the next two months, I will continue to visit Monthly Meetings and will focus also on three key tasks: the upcoming FAP Workshop in Southern California, a service trip for teens during the weekend before Yearly Meeting and creating a resource guide to facilitate a smooth transition for my replacement.

As I think about transitioning out of this ministry, it’s impossible not to reflect on the last 13 months. This is difficult work and I feel honored to have been a part of the process. Many people have opened their hearts and shared with me their dreams and visions of a dynamic teen program. I have learned so much about what it means for a community to take a huge step of faith, learning together and trusting Spirit to lead the way.

-Sarah Beutel

Pacific Yearly Meeting Youth Program Coordinator

Introducing PYM’s New Youth Program Coordinator

As many of you know, our current Youth Program Coordinator (YPC), Sarah Beutel, is leaving to get married and return to Colorado.

It is with pleasure that I write to let you know that Alyssa Nelson (Davis Meeting) will replace Sarah as the new Coordinator.  In order to ensure a smooth transition, both Alyssa and Sarah will be present with our community at the upcoming annual gathering in Claremont, CA.

As of August 1st, Alyssa will be reachable at the same contact information that Sarah has used: pym [dot] youthcoordinator [at] gmail [dot] com

We hope that Friends will join us in welcoming Alyssa to her new position, and in thanking Sarah for her service.

Kate Watkins
Clerk,
Youth Program Coordinator Supervisory Committee

YPC Supervisory Committee Letter To Meetings May 2011

May 4, 2011

 

Dear Friends,

 

It is with both joy and sadness that we have accepted Sarah Beutel’s resignation as the PYM Youth Program Coordinator, as of this summer.  The way is opening for Sarah to marry Andrew Banks and to return with him to their home in Colorado.  We have been blessed by Sarah’s work, and her leading to share her gifts of ministry with us over the past year.  We wish Sarah and Andrew joy and encouragement in this next stage of their lives.

 

In her time as Youth Program Coordinator, Sarah has consistently made teens’ spiritual development her foremost mission.  She has reached out to all levels of Quaker Youth and those concerned with Quaker Youth issues.  She has visited many monthly and Quarterly meetings, conversing with friends of all ages and concerns.  In her conversations with Friends of all ages, she has addressed issues related to the needs of middle-school-age youth, the spiritual well-being of teens, and the needs of Young Adult Friends in college and beyond.  She has also developed workshops for concerned friends to become Friendly Adult Presences, encouraging adults to engage more fully with the youth community.  In addition to her work in outreach, she has worked with the committee to develop the needed employment and financial management infrastructure for PYM.

 

The supervisory committee reaffirms our commitment to the spiritual growth of our teens and young adults and to fulfilling PYM’s mandate.  While unexpected, we see Sarah’s departure as an opportunity to reflect and build upon what we have learned.  Sarah is an active part of this reflection, and we will work with her to ensure a smooth transition.  Sarah will continue to be with us during the summer months, and we hope to have a replacement that can transition into the position before she returns to Colorado.  We have begun the search for her replacement, and will keep you informed as we labor to discern how the teen/youth program can best meet the spiritual and practical needs of the PYM  community.  We welcome your involvement in this process; feel free to contact  us with names of potential applicants.

 

Sincerely,

 

Kate Watkins, Clerk

Youth Program Coordinator Supervisory Committee

 

 

 

 

Sarah’s Letter To PYM May 2011

May 4, 2011

Dear Friends,

I want to share with you about my decision to transition out of the PYM Youth Program Coordinator position within the next few months.

One of the most exciting and life-giving parts of this job has been traveling around and meeting you in your homes and Meetings. While I have loved being part of such a large and varied community, doing so has often required that I be away from home as much as 50% of the time. As my partner, Andrew, and I have proceeded in our clearness process for marriage, it has become apparent to me that I cannot give this work the energy and attention it deserves and at the same time care well for a new marriage.

I care deeply about the youth of PYM and the success of this program and am committed to making this transition as smooth as possible. In the meantime, I will continue moving forward on our program goals and objectives, visiting Meetings and working with teen committees to plan upcoming gatherings. As always, I love to hear from you and look forward to continuing our work together through the summer.

Blessings,
Sarah Beutel

pym.youthcoordinator@gmail.com
530-563-6369

 

 

YPC Quarterly Epistle Spring 2011

March 5, 2011

Dear Friends of Pacific Yearly Meeting,

Greetings from wet (and snowy) Sierra Friends Center in Nevada City! It has been three months since I last wrote to fill you in on the happenings of PYM youth programs and it’s time for another update on what I have been doing and my upcoming plans. I have now been with this job long enough that it is really sinking in how large PYM is – in terms of miles and in terms of a vast array of interests and needs– and how hard it is to connect personally with as many as I wish I could. I am reminded again and again that this journey we are on is a process.

Part of my job is to create a stronger network among our Friends of all ages who have a concern for the lives and roles of young people in our Society. Some of my favorite conversations in the past couple months have been exciting brainstorming sessions with adults who are wondering how to resolve particular issues or embark on new adventures with teens in their meetings. Hearing your passion and knowing that there are others doing this work is so encouraging to me.  Please continue to contact me with your ideas, questions or just to talk about Quaker youth.

Meeting visits and events to date:

  • CPQM Spring Quarter 2010
  • YAF Gathering, Wichita KS
  • Davis
  • Strawberry Creek
  • Ben Lomond Senior Camp
  • PYM Annual Session
  • Teen camping trip to Big Sur
  • Grass Valley
  • La Jolla
  • Korea Town
  • CPQM Fall Quarter
  • SCQM Fall Quarter
  • San Francisco
  • Chico
  • Quaker Heritage Day
  • Santa Barbara
  • Conversations with 143 Friends

I am putting the final touches on the upcoming “Friendly Adult Presence Workshop” on March 19 at the San Francisco Meetinghouse. Working together with members of PYM’s Junior Yearly Meeting, workshop participants will start to brainstorm ways to create the youth-adult relationships that we all long for.  We will be thinking about how to structure our FAP programs to support more positive experiences for all the teens and adults involved, in particular at the annual gathering, but also at other events throughout our Monthly, Quarterly, and Yearly Meetings. This workshop is open to anyone who has been a FAP before, or thinks maybe they’d like to be a FAP, or has strong opinions about why they’ll never be a FAP.  Teens interested in this dialogue are also welcome—we need your voice. I’m looking forward to beginning this rich discussion and continuing it in the years to come. A second FAP workshop in Southern California is in the works (though of course SCQM folks are also welcome to come to San Francisco). For more information or to RSVP, contact me (see my info below).

One of the great joys of my ministry is visiting Friends in their homes and local Meetings; we get to know one another better, and amazing, creative things happen. In the coming months, I will be visiting at least seven Meetings, as well as attending Spring Quarterly gatherings and the Sacramento Valley/Northern Sierra cluster meeting.  Most of my weekends are already scheduled through May, but I am still available to plan visits with Meetings that are open to a mid-week gathering. My goal is to visit most of the 43 Monthly Meetings and Worship Groups in California and Nevada by the end of the calendar year. The order of visits depends on many factors, including who reaches out to me with specific requests. So if you or your Meeting/Worship Group is interested in a visit soon or has a special event, please contact me asap!

Upcoming visits and events:

  • RepCom (3/5)
  • Palo Alto (3/6)
  • FAP Workshop at San Francisco MM (3/19)
  • Strawberry Creek (3/20)
  • Davis (3/27)
  • Sacramento Valley Cluster (4/1-3)
  • Napa/Sonoma (4/10)
  • Tentative FAP Workshop at Orange Grove MM (4/16)
  • Claremont (4/17)
  • Orange Grove (4/24)
  • SCQM Young Friends Retreat (4/28-29)
  • SCQM Spring Quarter (4/30)
  • CPQM Spring Quarter (5/13-15)
  • Reno (5/22)

At the same time, I have been working diligently with the Youth Program Supervisory Committee and PYM Treasurer to add structure to this often nebulous job. We have finalized a concrete list of goals and objectives for my work, which I would love to share and discuss with you (you can find that document attached to the report to RepCom). We have made great strides in creating a transparent and usable budgeting system. I am always working toward creating a better communication system, utilizing email, Facebook and soon the PYM website.  If you haven’t been getting emails from me and want to, let me know and I’ll add you to my list!

Finally, I’m working with teens to organize a gathering over Memorial Day weekend. Unfortunately, the plan to bring College Park teens to the SCQM Joshua Tree campout in January fell through because both the other adult leader and I were very sick, and we were unable to find replacement FAPs on short notice. Teens and adults who would like to help with our next gathering: Call me! Text me! Facebook me! Email me! Walk up and talk to me! 🙂

Thanks so much for your participation in this good work. I am loving the journey and excited to see what is in store for us.

 

Sarah Beutel

Pacific Yearly Meeting Youth Program Coordinator
530-563-6369 (cell and office)
pym.youthcoordinator@gmail.com

 

 

YPC Quarterly Epistle Fall 2010

December 2, 2010

Dear Friends of Pacific Yearly Meeting –

Upon completing my first half-year as PYM’s Youth Program Coordinator, I write to share with you some of the accomplishments, delights, and challenges that I have faced – with my supervisory and support committees – in creating and filling this new position. My intention is for this letter to be the first in a series of brief quarterly epistles to everyone in PYM.

I love being on this journey with you. Over the past six months, I have visited and worshiped with one yearly gathering of PYM, three quarterly gatherings, five monthly meetings, and six ad hoc gatherings of adults and youth in PYM. I’ve held one-to-one conversations with adults and teens from all corners of California, Reno, and Las Vegas, and every conversation has been filled with ideas and excitement and hope about what PYM youth programs can be. This community cares deeply for its young people. Some themes that have come up again and again are: teens deeply value this community and want to continue strengthening those relationships, adults and teens would like more relationships with each other but at times aren’t sure how to proceed, and Monthly Meetings desire to support teens and want help knowing how to do so.

So far, the highlight of my time as PYM’s Youth Program Coordinator was a moment during the teen camping trip to Big Sur in August. We were sitting around a campfire after a period of worship, and one of the teens asked, “What goes on in your head during Meeting for Worship? Who do you pray to?” It was bliss…sitting back and watching the spiritual curiosity arise in a natural setting and listening to the group wrestle with those questions. That’s what this job is about for me—creating spaces and opportunities for youth to engage in spiritual exploration within the safety of community.

One challenge has become evident to me through a multitude of conversations: teens and adults in PYM have high expectations of each other. People of all ages have expressed a desire for more intergenerational engagement at Quarterly and Yearly gatherings, but sometimes feel disappointed with how those events turn out. I’m excited to be in a position to help facilitate communication and building of these essential relationships.

To that end, my supervisory committee and I are planning a workshop for Friendly Adult Presences (FAPs) and for anyone who wants to explore their potential inner FAPness. Our tentative plan is to hold this workshop in this upcoming February in Northern California and in April in Southern California. Contact me if you are interested. Our youth and intergenerational gatherings depend on having willing, able, and involved adults.

It is clear to me that PYM shares my belief that relationships between young people and adults are important. Teens who have told me that they are getting what they need from their Monthly Meetings have also said that the reason for this is that they know particular adults in their Meetings who will serve as their allies and will support them in asking for what they need. I look forward to working with you to make this scenario the norm throughout PYM, and I also look forward to devoting increased attention to the particular needs of young adult Friends as well.

I eagerly await the opportunity to write you again in a few months. In the meantime, please feel free to contact me with any questions, suggestions, or concerns. I would love to hear from you.

In peace,

Sarah Beutel
pym.youthcoordinator@gmail.com