During the 1970s and 1980s residential Yearly Meetings (6.16) were becoming increasingly popular, with Friends appreciating the events alongside the sessions as much as the business. Hence it was decided to try out a gathering without the formal Yearly Meeting business, answering the needs of Friends to live together in community and to explore issues and activities for which there was little programmed time at a meeting for church affairs. Summer Gatherings have clearly answered this need and they are now a valued part of the Britain Yearly Meeting schedule.
The aims of Summer Gatherings are:
to strengthen and support the witness and activity of Friends by continuing the personal friendships, spiritual inspiration and momentum that residential gatherings provide;
to provide time, at a more leisurely pace than is normally possible during Yearly Meeting, for the exploration of those issues and concerns which by their nature require such time;
to provide the space for exploration of issues and concerns in groups or other diverse ways;
to provide the time and facilities for study and real learning;
to involve as many Friends and attenders of all ages as possible in active participation; this should include activities for all ages.
Attendance at a Summer Gathering is open to all Friends and attenders by application, within the numerical limits agreed beforehand.
The events are organised by a Summer Gathering Planning Committee appointed by Yearly Meeting (6.21) and working in liaison with the Agenda Committee (6.18). A copy of the terms of reference of the Planning Committee may be obtained on application to the Recording Clerk.
The clerks of Summer Gatherings are appointed by Yearly Meeting on the nomination of the Committee on Clerks (6.19), and serve also as the clerks of the Planning Committee.
The Summer Gathering may communicate by minute to Yearly Meeting via the Agenda Committee, or to Meeting for Sufferings.