Yearly Meeting

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Yearly Meeting is a term used by members of the Religious Society of Friends, or Quakers, to refer to an organization composed of constituent meetings or churches within a geographical area. The constituent meetings are called Monthly Meetings in most of the world; in England, local congregations are now called Area Meetings, in Australia Monthly Meetings are called Regional Meetings. "Monthly" and "Yearly" refer to how often the body meets to make decisions. Monthly Meetings may be local congregations that hold regular Meetings for Worship, or may comprise a number of Worship Groups (and equivalent congregations with other designations). Depending on the Yearly Meeting organization, there may also be Quarterly Meetings, Half-Yearly Meetings, or Regional Meetings, where a number of local Monthly Meetings come together within a Yearly Meeting.

There are also parallel Yearly Meetings for young Quakers, Junior Yearly Meetings.

General description[edit]

Yearly Meeting gatherings are times for Friends from a wide geographical area to come together to worship and to seek God's guidance on decisions and on issues facing Friends in that region. Yearly Meetings publish guiding principles, organizational processes, and collected expressions of faith of the constituent Friends. These publications are called Faith and Practice, and/or Books of Discipline.


Like many aspects of Quakerism, the organization into Yearly Meetings arose gradually. English Friends began to meet shortly after their beginning in a large group starting in the 1650s. The oldest Yearly Meeting in Britain, Britain Yearly Meeting (originally 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 seek God's guidance on actions. 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 session of a Yearly Meeting, as with all Quaker business sessions, is considered a time of worship in dealing with matters of business. When a matter has been presented and explained, 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. Eventually a "sense of the meeting" begins to emerge. The clerk of the meeting (a type of facilitator) or the Recording Clerk (a person who writes the minutes) tries to formulate a minute that reflects the sense of the meeting. More input may follow. When it is clear that there is agreement, the sense of the meeting is recorded in the minute. 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 change.

Before the close of a yearly meeting, Friends write an epistle to communicate to other Friends world-wide. It is the custom to read out selections from epistles the Yearly Meeting has received from other Quaker bodies 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 appointed by Yearly Meetings.


Yearly Meetings are named for where they meet: a nation (e.g., Canadian Yearly Meeting), a region within a nation (e.g., New England Yearly Meeting), a state (e.g. Indiana 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., Northern Yearly Meeting).

Larger groups[edit]

Many Yearly Meetings are members of larger groups. In the United States and a few other countries the three main groups of Friends are Friends General Conference, Friends United Meeting, and Evangelical Friends International. A broader group that crosses theological, organizational, and national lines and encourages communication and cooperation of the different groups is Friends World Committee for Consultation.

List of yearly meetings[edit]


See also Quakers in Kenya

  • 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


  • India
  • 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[edit]


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.[3] The German 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)[4][5]
  • Ireland Yearly Meeting
  • Netherlands Yearly Meeting
  • Norway Yearly Meeting
  • Sweden Yearly Meeting
  • Switzerland Yearly Meeting


  1. ^ Pink Dandelion (2007), pp. 183, 237.
  2. ^ Pink Dandelion (2007), p. 222.
  3. ^ Pink Dandelion (2007), p. 163.
  4. ^ Quäker—Glaube und Wirken (das Handbuch der Quäker zur christlichen Lebensführung, übersetzt aus dem Englischen (in German). 2010. p. 468. ISBN 978-3-929696-44-8.
  5. ^ "Deutsche Jahresversammlung" [German Yearly Meeting]. (in German).


Pink Dandelion, B. (2007). An Introduction to Quakerism. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press.

External links[edit]