Yearly Meeting is a term used by members of the Religious Society of Friends, or Quakers, to refer to an organization composed of a collection of smaller, more frequent constituent meetings within a geographical area. These constituent meetings go by various names such as Quarterly Meetings, which meet four times a year, Monthly Meetings, Area Meetings or Regional Meetings. Quarterly meetings, in Yearly Meetings where they exist, are organizations usually composed of a group of Monthly Meetings.
Yearly Meetings derive their name from annual gatherings of members and attendees of the Religious Society of Friends—from constituent meetings—in order to transact the business of the Yearly Meeting.
Yearly Meeting gatherings are times for Friends from a wide geographical area to come together to worship, to discuss their concerns, and to seek God's guidance on issues facing Friends in that region. Yearly Meetings also oversee the constituent meetings, and publish the guiding principles, organizational processes and collected expressions of faith of Friends in that geographical area. These publications are often called (Quaker) Faith and Practice books, or are known by other titles.
Like many aspects of Quakerism the concept of the Yearly Meeting arose gradually. English Friends began to meet as a large group starting in the 1650s. However, the oldest Yearly Meeting in Britain, Britain Yearly Meeting (originally the London Yearly Meeting), considers the year 1668 its official founding. New England Yearly Meeting dates its founding from 1661. In the early days the business of the meeting was to receive answers to the Yearly Meeting's queries to the Quarterly Meetings, to read epistles from traveling Friends, and to discuss current events and issues. They also proposed and planned the establishment of Quaker institutions, such as schools.
As the Religious Society of Friends grew and spread around the world, new Yearly Meetings were established. While often influenced by the activities of other Yearly Meetings, each of the Yearly Meetings is autonomous.
A Yearly Meeting, as with all Quaker meetings, is considered a time of worship and contemplation, even when dealing with matters of business. The Friends who are gathered wait in silence, listening to the leading of God's spirit within them. Those who feel led to do so share their insights, while the others listen. Ideally a member takes time to listen to the Friend who spoke previously, before sharing his or her thoughts. Eventually a 'sense of the meeting' begins to emerge. The clerk of the meeting—a type of facilitator—tries to formulate a minute that reflects the sense of the meeting, and then more discussion follows. When it is clear that there is agreement, the sense of the meeting is recorded in the minute developed by the clerk. Some Friends at the meeting may have reservations about the matter but choose to defer to the others. Friends believe and hope that the minute is God's will on the matter. However, nothing is considered a permanent and inviolable law among Friends and every matter is open to future changes.
Before the close of a yearly meeting, Friends will agree on an epistle that will summarise the workings of the gathering. Yearly meetings publish the epistles that they receive from other yearly meetings, before their annual gathering. It is the custom to read out selections from these epistles during yearly meeting sessions.
All Friends who are members of a constituent Meeting are members of the corresponding Yearly Meeting and may attend and participate on an equal basis—there is no hierarchy within the Religious Society of Friends. Many specific issues of concern to Quakers are dealt with by committees selected by Yearly Meetings.
Yearly Meetings are named for a nation (e. g., Canadian Yearly Meeting), a region within a nation (e. g., New England Yearly Meeting), a state (e. g. Illinois Yearly Meeting), or a large city that serves as a hub (e. g., Philadelphia Yearly Meeting). The entire name of a Yearly Meeting usually includes the words 'of the Religious Society of Friends' (e. g., New York Yearly Meeting of the Religious Society of Friends) although some do not (e.g. Evangelical Friends Church-Mid America Yearly Meeting).
Many Yearly Meetings are part of larger groups. In the United States and a few other countries the three main groups of Friends are the Friends General Conference, the Friends United Meeting, and Evangelical Friends International. A broader group that crosses theological, organizational and national lines is the Friends World Committee for Consultation.
List of yearly meetings
See also Quakers in Kenya
- Bware Yearly Meeting, based in Suna
- Central Yearly Meeting, based in Kakamega
- Chavakali Yearly Meeting
- East Africa Yearly Meeting (Kaimosi), based in Tiriki
- East Africa Yearly Meeting (North), based in Kitale
- Elgon East Yearly Meeting, based in Kitale
- Elgon Religious Society of Friends (West), based in Lugulu Via Webuye
- Kakamega Yearly Meeting
- Lugari Yearly Meeting, based in Turbo
- Malava Yearly Meeting
- Nairobi Yearly Meeting
- Tuoli Yearly Meeting, based in Kapsabet
- Vihiga Yearly Meeting
- Vokoli Yearly Meeting, based in Wodanga
- Outside of Kenya
- Burundi Yearly Meeting
- Central and Southern Africa Yearly Meeting
- Congo Yearly Meeting
- East Africa Yearly Meeting
- Tanzania Yearly Meeting
- Uganda Yearly Meeting
See also Quakers in Latin America
- Iglesia Evangélica Amigos Central (Central Evangelical Friends Church)
- Iglesia Evangélica Unión Boliviana "Amigos" (Bolivian Union Evangelical Friends Church)
- Iglesia Nacional Evangélica Los Amigos de Bolivia (National Evangelical Friends Church of Bolivia)
- Iglesia Evangélica Misión Boliviana de Santidad Amigos (Bolivian Evangelical Mission Church of Holiness Friends )
- Cuba Yearly Meeting
- Iglesia Evangélica Embajadores Amigos (Evangelical Ambassadors Friends Church)
- Iglesia Evangélica Nacional Amigos de Guatemala (National Evangelical Friends Church of Guatemala)
- Junta Anual Amigos de Santidad (Friends of Holiness Yearly Meeting)
- El Salvador
- Iglesias Evangélicas de los Amigos en El Salvador (Evangelical Friends Churches in El Salvador)
- Junta Annual Amigos de Santidad (Friends of Holiness Yearly Meeting)
- Jamaica Yearly Meeting
- Asociación Religiosa de las Iglesias Evangélicas de los Amigos (Religious Association of the Evangelical Churches of Friends)
- Reunion General de los Amigos en México (General Meeting of Friends in Mexico)
- Iglesia Nacional Evangélica Los Amigos del Perú (National Evangelical Friends Church of Peru)
- United States
- Iowa Yearly Meeting (Conservative)——Meetings for Worship in Iowa, Minnesota, Missouri, Nebraska, South Dakota, and Wisconsin.
- North Carolina Yearly Meeting——Meetings for Worship in Florida, North Carolina, and Virginia Beach, VA.
- Ohio Yearly Meeting——Meetings for Worship in Georgia, Michigan, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Virginia, and West Virginia. This Meeting offers "affiliate members" for individual Friends or small congregations worldwide isolated from other Conservative Meetings. Affiliates are as far away as Midlands England and Athens, Greece.
- Evangelical Friends International
- Alaska Yearly Meeting——Meetings for Worship in Alaska.
- Evangelical Friends Church—Eastern Region——Meetings for Worship in Florida, Michigan, North Carolina, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, and Virginia.
- Evangelical Friends Church—Mid-America——Meetings for Worship in Colorado, Kansas, Missouri, Oklahoma, and Texas.
- Evangelical Friends Church—Southwest——Arizona, California, and Nevada.
- Northwest Yearly Meeting——Meetings for Worship in Idaho, Oregon, and Washington State.
- Rocky Mountain Yearly Meeting——Meetings for Worship in Arizona, Colorado, and Nebraska.
- Friends General Conference
- Alaska Friends Conference
- Illinois Yearly Meeting——Meetings for Worship in Missouri, Illinois, and Indiana.
- Lake Erie Yearly Meeting——Meetings for Worship in Michigan, Ohio, and Pennsylvania.
- Ohio Valley Yearly Meeting——Meetings for Worship in Indiana, Kentucky, and Ohio.
- Philadelphia Yearly Meeting——Meetings for Worship in Delaware, Maryland, New Jersey, and Pennsylvania.
- Piedmont Friends Fellowship (PFF is a fellowship of monthly meetings and a yearly meeting) —— Meetings for Worship in North Carolina, Virginia and Lyman, South Carolina.
- South Central Yearly Meeting——Meetings for Worship in Arkansas, Louisiana, Missouri, Oklahoma, and Texas.
- Southern Appalachian Yearly Meeting Association——Meetings for Worship in Alabama, Georgia, Kentucky, Mississippi, North Carolina, South Carolina, Tennessee and West Virginia.
- Friends General Conference and Friends United Meeting
- Baltimore Yearly Meeting——Meetings for Worship in the District of Columbia, Maryland, Pennsylvania, and Virginia.
- New England Yearly Meeting——Meetings for Worship in Connecticut, Maine, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, Rhode Island, and Vermont.
- New York Yearly Meeting——Meetings for Worship in Connecticut, New Jersey, and New York.
- Northern Yearly Meeting——Meetings for Worship in Iowa, Michigan, Minnesota, North Dakota, and Wisconsin.
- Southeastern Yearly Meeting——Meetings for Worship in Florida, Georgia, and South Carolina.
- Friends United Meeting
- Great Plains Yearly Meeting——Meetings for Worship in Kansas, Nebraska, and Oklahoma.
- Indiana Yearly Meeting——Meetings for Worship in Indiana, Michigan, and Ohio.
- Iowa Yearly Meeting (FUM)——Meetings for Worship in Iowa, Minnesota, and Wisconsin.
- North Carolina Yearly Meeting (FUM)——Meetings for Worship in North Carolina and Virginia.
- Western Association of the Religious Society of Friends (WARSF)——Meeting for Worship in Whittier, CA.
- Western Yearly Meeting——Meetings for Worship in Illinois and Indiana.
- Wilmington Yearly Meeting——Meetings for Worship in Ohio and Tennessee.
- Central Yearly Meeting — Meetings for Worship in Arkansas, Indiana, North Carolina, and Ohio. According to Quaker historian Ben Pink Dandelion, “Central Yearly Meeting has little or no contact with the rest of the Quaker world. It broke away from Five Years Meeting in 1926 and represents a Holiness Yearly Meeting.” 
- Intermountain Yearly Meeting——Meetings for Worship in Arizona, Colorado, New Mexico, South Dakota, Texas, and Utah.
- Missouri Valley Friends Conference
- North Pacific Yearly Meeting — Meetings for Worship in Idaho, Montana, Oregon, Washington, and Wyoming.
- Pacific Yearly Meeting — Meetings for Worship in California, Hawaii, Mexico, and Guatemala.
- Outside of India
- Cambodia Yearly Meeting
- Indonesia Yearly Meeting
- Japan Yearly Meeting
- Middle East Yearly Meeting
- (Nepal) Evangelical Friends Church
- Philippine Evangelical Friends Church
- Taiwan Yearly Meeting
Australia and Oceania
See also Quakers in Europe
- Britain Yearly Meeting
- Denmark Yearly Meeting
- (Hungary) Evangelical Friends Church
- Finland Yearly Meeting
- France Yearly Meeting
- Germany Yearly Meeting (die Deutsche Jahresversammlung or DJV)——Quaker communities were established in 1677 and 1678 in what is now Germany at Emden and Friedrichstadt (extinct in 1727). English and American Friends organized a Quaker colony in Friedensthal (Peace Valley), which existed from 1792 until 1870 in what is now Bad Pyrmont, a city in the district of Hamelin-Pyrmont, in Lower Saxony (Niedersachsen), Germany. Land was donated for a meeting house in January 1791 and the Quaker House (das Quäkerhaus) was built. (In 1933, it was reconstructed and relocated from its original site to Bombergallee 9, Bad Pyrmont.) The German Annual Meeting (Deutschen Jahresversammlung) was organized in 1880. Relief work following World War I revitalized German Quakerism. The Germany Yearly Meeting (die Deutsche Jahresversammlung or DJV) resulted from the 1923 mergers of the German Annual Meeting with the Friends of Quakerism (Freunde des Quäkertums) and, in 1925, the Federation of German Friends (die Bund der deutschen Freunde) and serves as an umbrella organization for the small liberal Quaker presence in Germany and Austria. This body uses a translation of Britain Yearly Meeting's current book of discipline Quaker Faith and Practice: The book of Christian discipline of the Yearly Meeting of the Religious Society of Friends (Quakers) in Britain entitled Quäker—Glaube und Wirken (das Handbuch der Quäker zur christlichen Lebensführung, übersetzt aus dem Englischen), 2010, 468 pp., price: € 25.00 plus postage, ISBN 978-3-929696-44-8 . Yearly Meeting website in German with some English.
- Ireland Yearly Meeting
- Netherlands Yearly Meeting
- Norway Yearly Meeting
- Sweden Yearly Meeting
- Switzerland Yearly Meeting
- Pink Dandelion. An Introduction to Quakerism. Cambridge, Eng.: Cambridge University Press, 2007, pp. 183, 237.
- Pink Dandelion. An Introduction to Quakerism. Cambridge, Eng.: Cambridge University Press, 2007, p. 222.
- Pink Dandelion. An Introduction to Quakerism. Cambridge, Eng.: Cambridge University Press, 2007, p. 163
Pink Dandelion. An Introduction to Quakerism. Cambridge, Eng.: Cambridge University Press, 2007.
- Friends (Quaker) Yearly Meetings and Broader Bodies on the Internet
- Yearly Meetings' Histories, Previous Names, Mergers, etc.