Shshsh – I’m going to let you in on a little secret, but don’t tell anyone! Want to know what is the best and most fun committee in Baltimore Yearly Meeting? It’s the Program Committee!
We get to choose the theme and the speakers each year for Annual Session. We get to meet four times a year to make lots of decisions. And there is always lots of food at our meetings – some great and some good and healthy. Everyone is wonderful.
Preparing for Annual Session is a great deal of work. Each person on the Committee has at least one job to help make your time at Annual Session a good one. One person is responsible for preparing and sending out the workshop proposal form. After getting the proposals back they need to be put together for the Committee to approve. Then they get typed up for entering into the Spring Interchange. Then comes assigning rooms for each workshop according to the audio/visual needs.
One of the ex officio Committee members is the clerk of the Ministry and Pastoral Care Committee. That Committee is responsible for choosing the leader for the Pre-Annual Session retreat. Several other responsibilities fall under the care of the M&PC Committee: naming people to lead the worship sharing groups; finding Friends to do the morning and the afternoon Bible Study; asking two people to serve as greeters each day; and asking two others to hold the Meeting the Worship with a Concern for Business in the Light each day.
Another ex officio Committee member is the Junior Yearly Meeting Clerk who has the wonderful opportunity to put together the staff, most of whom are returnees, for our young attenders from 0 to those in eighth grade. They then put together a great program for our young people. Please take the time to thank them for all their work. Also take some time to talk to one of these young people and ask them what they are doing in their program. You most likely will get a big smile and an enthusiastic answer.
Okay, what are the other Committee members doing? One coordinates the shuttle service that takes those who will benefit from a ride to meetings, the dining hall, and the dorms. This includes finding drivers and putting up schedules. Another assigns rooms for the interest groups and committee meetings and sees that all the information gets to the editor of the Daily Minute for the next day’s issue.
Some of our Committee members act as host or hostess for the speakers, greeting them, seeing them to their room, making sure they know where the different buildings are, and answering any questions the speaker may have. Still others may introduce a speaker, which means they need to talk with the speaker prior to the talk to find out if there is something specific the speaker would like to have said.
Let’s not forget the Committee member who works with the food service director. Each year we try to help the director provide healthier and locally grown food that meets the needs of Friends, not always an easy task considering all the food likes and dislikes among us. While reading this, don’t forget to thank all the food service staff – the cooks, the servers, and the clean-up people. They do a great job.
Usually there is a smiling face at the Information Table to help answer any question you might have. There are always programs, copies of the Daily Minute Wednesday through Saturday, JYM information, workshop lists with room number, and other interesting information you didn’t know you needed!
Do you read the Daily Minute each day to find out what is happening that afternoon? Many thanks go to the editor who spends many hours each evening/night writing and making sure the information is correct and clear.
If you are new to BYM, or even if you are not, you might want to attend an orientation session on either Wednesday or Thursday evening right after dinner and before the evening program. It might help you understand Annual Session a bit better and know where different rooms are located.
When you have entered the dining room have you been greeted by a Young Friend wearing a red hat or a red cone ask if you need help with a tray or anything else? These Young Friends may also be around the Registration desk to help with your luggage. They are our next generation of Quaker leaders. Great thanks go to them.
Have you heard those melodic voices singing hymns? We greatly appreciate those who lead the singing and playing the piano. This happens every evening between 6:15 and 7:15. Ask at the Information Table for the location so you can join them, if not to sing then at least to listen and maybe tap a foot or hand.
Meetings for Worship with a Concern for Business, plenary sessions, and Meeting for Worship would be very difficult, if not impossible, for those having difficulty hearing without the excellent audio technician. This person also asks people to be a mike walker to take the mike to the next person to speak. Our plenary sessions are taped by this person so that those who are unable to attend Annual Session might enjoy them.
There are very few Friends who are able to resist a bookstore, especially the one at Annual Session. Not only are there many Quaker and other books for sale, there are many other items to tempt one to take out their check book or credit card: pottery, clothes, 10K Village items, and numerous small items.
Once the overall planning is finished, the Interchange has been sent out, either electronically or on paper, the Registrar takes over, ably assisted the Administrative Assistant who prints out needed reports. Each registration form needs to be gone over, special requests or needs noted, roommate choices checked off, days each person is attending, child age and grade, whether Young Friend or Young Adult Friend noted, then dorm rooms can be assigned. That is not the end! Now comes printing the name tags and inserting them in the holder, putting them and information sheets into the envelopes for each person or family, name label on outside of envelope that tells how much money is owed and if the person has ordered linens. This is no small task and besides all that, the Registrar needs to know the answers to all questions!!!
It is a great pleasure to serve Baltimore Yearly Meeting through this Committee. The majority of the evaluation forms from last year were very appreciative of the work done by the Program Committee, which is gratifying.
Sheila Bach, Clerk