You may have already noticed that if there is one thing that Quakers love almost as much as silence it’s complicated structures, committees and acronyms. Every so often in our Business Meetings someone will say something like: “Did the LAP Coordinator send their SGF report to EMES or should CC have another look at it before AM?” This is why we have compiled this overview of how EMEYF works and what all the acronyms mean.
If you’re looking for a more general description of what EMEYF does, our website can help you out.
Important note: EMEYF is fun! Don’t be intimidated by all this information, and don’t think you need to know all of this to attend our meetings. See it more as a list for reference!
Let’s start with a general overview of EMEYF’s place in the Quaker world and then zoom in on EMEYF itself. Feel free to skip ahead!
The world according to Quakers
Quakers have split the world into four sections. These are tied together by one umbrella organisation: FWCC, the Friends World Committee for Consultation. You can read more about their work on their website. The four sections are:
- Africa section (website)
- Section of the Americas (website)
- Asia-West Pacific section (website)
- Europe and Middle East section
We often abbreviate our section within FWCC as EMES: the Europe and Middle East Section. EMES has its own organizational structures and committees, just like EMEYF has. EMEYF, the Europe and Middle East Young Friends (that’s us, yay!), is like a little sister to EMES. Organization-wise we are completely autonomous, but we have a special place in our hearts for EMES. A lot of people who have been in EMEYF are now attending EMES events, and we have an EMEYF representative on their decision making committee.
Find the EMES website here.
Two organizations in our section who help us make change in the world
QCEA: The Quaker Council for European Affairs is a lobby group based in Brussels that works to influence EU decisions in ways that Quakers find important. Their work currently focuses on peace and human rights. These are the lovely people that let us use Quaker House Brussels for our Annual Meeting every two years and also provide us with a secretary (see ‘How EMEYF works’). Read more about them on their website.
QUNO: The Quaker United Nations Office is also a lobby group, based in Geneva and New York and influencing the United Nations in a Quakerly way. They are concerned with a variety of topics that reflect our testimonies, such as peace building & disarmament, helping refugees and sustainability. Read more about their projects on their website.
How EMEYF works
The highest authority in EMEYF (as in any Quaker group) is us: all EMEYFers together. Therefore, we make our most important decisions at our gatherings: AM (Annual Meeting, usually in the Autumn) and SG (Spring Gathering). However, sometimes a decision can’t wait till the next meeting. This is why we have CC: our Communications Committee. They keep EMEYF running between gatherings.
There are usually 8 people on Communications Committee, and they each have their own roles:
- Two Co-Clerks. Clerks convene CC, are responsible for finding the sense of the meeting in business sessions and write minutes.
- Two Elders. Elders look after the spiritual well being of CC and EMEYF as a whole.
- A Gatherings Coordinator. They help with the organization of gatherings and are a link between CC and the Spring Gathering Planning Committee.
- A Treasurer. They look after our money.
- A Fundraising Treasurer. They make sure we get money.
- And our Secretary, who is one of the people who work at QCEA (did I mention how great QCEA is?). This is very handy for us, because that means that we have a consistent address, a European bank account and other administrative support.
The Treasurer, the Fundraising Treasurer and one or two other people are part of the Trustees. These are the people who are legally responsible for whatever happens at EMEYF and make sure we are registered as a charity (as well as many other scary money-related things).
Then there are some EMEYF roles who are not part of CC but still very important:
- Our representative to EMES,
- and our representative to QCEA. These people help sustain our relationship with these organisations, attend their events, tell them what is going on in EMEYF and vice versa.
- Our Living Archives Project coordinator (see below).
The people who serve in the roles mentioned above are usually appointed for three years (although they can step out earlier if they want to, of course). Apart from them, we have two committees that exist for shorter periods of time:
- The Spring Gathering Planning Committee. These people organize our Spring Gathering (duh ;)) with help from the Gatherings Coordinator. The SG PC is usually appointed at Spring Gathering the year before.
- Of course, no one can be in a role forever. We therefore appoint a Nominations Committee at each of our events (Annual Meeting and Spring Gathering) to serve for the duration of that gathering. They carefully consider names for any open positions and bring back their nominations to the rest of the gathering. The gathering then appoints (or not) the new role holders.
The Living Archives Project (LAP)
EMEYF is more than 30 years old, and has seen a lot of interesting people and developments in that time. (It’s older than the internet!) For a long time, we thought that any record of this was lost or that there simply never was an archive. Bummer. However, two years ago, QCEA cleaned up their cellar and found a collection of boxes marked ‘EMEYF’. Whatever could those be?!
This was just before our Annual Meeting, so at AM 2015 we had a good dig through the boxes and discovered they were a treasure chest of gems. Handwritten letters, reports of interesting projects, old magazines, the list goes on. “AMAZING,” we thought. “We need to share this with everyone and also make sure that we don’t lose it again because that would be embarrassing.” So, we started the Living Archives Project to organize all the papers we found, but also to share it with current and former EMEYFers. To learn more about ourselves and strengthen our community. This is why it’s called ‘Living’: we don’t want an archive in a box somewhere, we want to keep using and adding to it.
Fun fact: this website is actually one of the things that came out of this project. (Read more about this in our welcoming chat.)
It’s always helpful to have someone prod you every so often and remind you to work on something. This is why we have a Living Archives Project Coordinator. If you feel like working with the archives or hearing more about the project, please send a message through our contact form. (We LOVE talking about it.)
Some more things we like to talk about
SGF: The EMES Small Grants Fund. We are receiving a grant from this fund for our Living Archives Project. (Yay!)
YFGM: The national community of young adult Quakers in Britain. We have some overlaps as quite a few British EMEYFers are also part of YFGM. Read more about them here.
The World Committee of Young Friends: This committee was set up at the World Plenary Meeting where Quakers from all over the world came together to worship, form connections and do some business. The Young Quakers at this gathering experienced a very powerful meeting together and decided that they wanted to stay in touch. Hence this committee to support this. We currently have two European representatives to this committee.
If you have any questions or terms that should be included in this list, please comment below!