Saturday, 22 November 2014

Å is for Årsmötet (pronounced Ohrsmoetet)

The English for Årsmötet is Yearly Meeting – an important annual event in a Quaker’s diary. In Sweden, Årsmötet is usually held around Ascension Day, which is on a Thursday, is a public holiday, and therefore easy to extend to a long weekend.  It  also usually takes place at the Quaker Retreat Centre, located some 60 km north of Stockholm, with easy access to Arlanda airport and rail and ferry centres for our international guests.

This pattern sometimes varies, though. About once every four years we hold a Nordic Quaker Gathering, at a conference centre in Sweden or Norway, for Quakers of all ages from Denmark, Finland, Norway and Sweden. During this 3-day gathering we have a common theme to guide us in study and worship and each country holds its own Årsmötet. These are rich occasions, where we can be serious and also have fun.

In 2015 Sweden's Årsmötet will experiment a little. Instead of being held at the Retreat Centre near Stockholm we will gather at a conference centre near Gothenburg. We hope that by meeting in larger premises more Friends and friends of Friends will be able to come. The proposed theme (translated into English) is “Equality: Disposition and Application with Martin Wilkinson from London as speaker. According to the proposal the theme may include aspects such as our attitudes to people (those with no power and the powerful), whether Quakers should try to counteract the tendency to judge people in economic terms and instead emphasise other kinds of driving forces, and should we Quakers, with our tradition of equality, talk more about scientific results, such as those presented in the book “The Spirit Level”.

In Sweden, as in other countries, Årsmötet is a time for getting together – for business, study, walking, talking, worship and fun. As our Årsmötet is small, it is more like a family gathering. Here we have a chance to catch up with each others’ lives and meet both new and potential members. But whatever we do, and wherever we meet, it is always an enriching experience.

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