Yearly and Quarterly Quaker Meetings

Quakers in the Reno area gather for silent worship each Sunday morning. Like most Quaker groups that worship weekly, Reno’s Quaker worship community is known as a Monthly Meeting.  Most of our members and attenders come from Reno and the surrounding area, including Lake Tahoe and Carson City.

Meeting is a term shared through the network of organizations that knits Quakers together across the world and within the United States. Once a year, Quakers from Nevada, California, Hawaii and Mexico gather in what is known as Pacific Yearly Meeting, a five-day event with speakers, workshops, committee meetings, worship and communal meals. There are regional “Yearly Meetings” across the United States, and most Monthly Meetings belong to one of them.

Reno Friends Monthly Meeting is also part of a regional gathering of Quaker Meetings in northern California and Nevada known as a Quarterly Meeting. Our Quarterly, College Park Quarterly Meeting, meets every three months except during the summer, when Pacific Yearly Meeting is held.  At Quarterly, we get a chance to commune with other Friends in our area.  When the Paradise fire devastated part of the Sierra foothills last fall, Chico (CA) Friends Meeting called on College Park Quarterly to help raise aid for fire victims whom Chico Friends were helping with meals and shelter. Quakers across the Sierras were happy for a way to contribute, and Chico Meeting felt supported in its efforts.

Most Quakers find Yearly and Quarterly Meetings critical to connecting with far-flung Friends and getting a chance to discuss our faith, to share in silent worship, and to find common ground on important issues of the day. Because most Quaker Meetings have no clergy, and there is no Quaker church hierarchy, these Yearly and Quarterly Meetings are vital to keeping smaller Meetings like Reno Friends connected to the larger universe of Quaker life and practice.

Many Quaker Meetings are relatively small gatherings. Sometimes I feel we sit here on the edge of the desert all alone; that’s why the Yearly and Quarterly Meetings are so important. The first time I went to a Quarterly Meeting – held at a retreat center outside of Grass Valley, California – I was thrilled to make new friends and hear different perspectives on Quaker issues. Years later, as I was serving as Clerk of Reno Friends, I attended another Quarterly and met a woman who was clerk of her local Meeting. It was profoundly helpful to share our struggles and successes at our Meetings, and our efforts to support our members.  We sat outside in the twilight for several hours that night, kindred souls, opening our hearts.

Among children and teens, Quarterly and Yearly Meetings can be central to their efforts to find other “kids like them.” Quarterly and Yearly Meetings often hold separate meeting events for little ones and “youth meetings” for teens so they can practice their Quaker process and talk about issues dear to their generation. These youth meetings often surface important topics that are then taken up by the adult meetings.

Each Monthly Meeting, including Reno Friends, encourages people to attend the Quarterly and Yearly Meetings, and most Monthly Meetings choose a representative to present issues and report back. “Reps” are usually reimbursed for their travel and Meeting costs.  If you are an attender or member at Reno Friends and are interested in serving as a representative so you can experience these large Quaker gatherings, please speak with our Clerk, Steve Wolgast.

Wendy Swallow, Reno Friends Meeting, wswallow54@gmail.com

The opinions expressed above are not necessarily those of Reno Friends Meeting.