2023 Annual Sessions

“Finding Our Way - Your Gifts Are Needed!”

Wednesday, June 14 through Sunday, June 18, 2023
Mount St. Joseph University, Cincinnati, OH

The Planning Committee is excited to welcome our OVYM community back to the intimate setting of the Mount St. Joseph campus in Cincinnati. Together, we will share our joys, face grief and uncertainty, celebrate each other’s gifts, and deepen our ties to each other and Spirit.

Volunteers Needed!

Healing Center

Are you a healing practitioner with gifts to offer during Annual Sessions? Please contact Deborah Jordan to assist with the healing center. Djordan@fuse.net or 513-328-8178 (cell)


Photographers needed to capture images of our Annual Sessions! Send any photos to OVYM’s Administrative Asst. Susan Lee Barton (admin@ovym.org). Photos may appear in a future Quill issue or on our website.

Virtual Programs

Zoom assistants needed to operate cameras, assist virtual participants, etc. for business meetings, selected workshops and more. Contact Ben Griffith at BenOVYM@icloud.com.


As of June 1, rooms are now full and food requirements are set.

Contact Registrar Eric Wolff directly if you need special consideration for room and/or board at MSJ.

Virtual attendees may still register at the link below. 

Welcoming Activity

A welcoming activity will be held during Wednesday evening, the first day of annual sessions. Please bring a small, wrapped gift (or two) to share anonymously with other Friends. The gift can be new, home-made or a gently used, recycled item from your home.

Plenary Speakers

Thursday, June 15, 2023

Cai Quirk
A Rainbow of Spiritual Gifts

Imagine a rainbow with red blending to orange, yellow, green, blue, indigo, and violet… all colors coming together to reflect the beautiful array of this world. Blue is no more or less important than yellow or green, and just because red is on the edge doesn’t mean rosy hues are forgotten. The colors come together in harmony, just like the various songbirds at twilight or the many instruments of an orchestra, each individual part creating a vibrant divine whole. What would the rainbow be like without blue, or the orchestra without the woodwinds? Many people cherish spectrums in color and music but begin to hesitate when it comes to celebrating the vibrant diversity of humanity. What do our communities lose when we only support some of the gifts and identities Spirit has given people among us? More specifically, how does supporting and nourishing the people most often marginalized by society truly help us all grow, both as individuals and as Quaker meetings?

Cai (they/them or ey/em) is a lifelong Quaker with passions for Witness, personal discernment, and diverse methods of spiritual deepening. With a gender that transcends binaries, Cai is practiced at deeply questioning societal expectations and norms and in shifting towards roots of individual and group integrity. Spiritual deepening, Witness, and integrity are expanded in Cai’s music and photography practices. Their photography series and book Transcendence connects themes of spirituality, mythology, and gender diversity as related to global and timeless patterns. See more at caiquirk.com.

Friday, June 16, 2023

Gretchen Castle
Finding Our Way…Through God All Things Will Be Made New

Finding our way out of Covid continues….and it is by using our gifts and living by our faith that we will find new ways towards more healthy, inclusive communities. The life of the church has changed, not only for Friends, requiring meetings to be responsive to what people need. There is little tolerance for that which is not immediately relevant. What has Covid taught us?  What is spiritually relevant for us? How able are we to change?  What do we have to offer the world?

Gretchen is the Dean of the Earlham School of Religion at Earlham College. She grew up in Iowa, and has served many Quaker organizations including presiding clerk of Philadelphia Yearly Meeting, and the General Secretary of Friends World Committee for Consultation. Her primary work has been in effecting organizational change, board development and strategic thinking.  She carries the concern for the vitality and growth of the Religious Society of Friends worldwide.


Click here to download the full printable schedule.

(A Zoom schedule will be available soon.)

Daily Meal Times

Breakfast: 7:30-8:30 AM
Lunch: 12:30 – 1:30 PM
Dinner: 5:30 – 6:30 PM

Children & Youth Programs

Click here to download a printable schedule for the children and youth programs.

Children's Program

The Children's Program at OVYM is for children ages 0-10. We have activities planned for all children to partake in at any time they are at OVYM. We will have arts and crafts, singing and games, playdough and bubbles, sewing and more! We will take walks in the parks and go swimming on hot afternoons. We will lead worship sharing discussions and plan a service project that the children can choose, such as visiting an animal shelter and taking them some treats.

We hope everyone will join us for all or part of OVYM. We will have staff and committee members interacting with the children and leading them through the wonderful experience of the annual yearly meeting gathering of Friends.

Parents should plan to meet with the staff of the Children’s Program when they come to drop off their child / children on Thursday morning (around 8:30 am), or whenever they arrive.

The Children’s program is located in a second floor lounge in the Seton Center, and we have enough staff and volunteers to meet the needs of children of all ages.

Youth Program

At Yearly Meeting, youth ages 11 to 18 (10 year olds with permission; contact Adam Funck at youth@ovym.org) are served in the Youth Program which is run by staff and supported by the Youth Committee.

OVYM's youth program focuses on building a sense of community, introducing Quaker concepts and practices, and nurturing the spiritual development of each young person. Each day begins with worship sharing and a youth-led business meeting during which the group plans their day and addresses any concerns. The group is visited by guests, including plenary speakers or visitors from Quaker organizations, who provide age- appropriate activities to inform and foster reflection.

A highlight of annual sessions for Youth is the rafting trip, held on Friday (bring a bathing suit and closed-toe shoes), and the preparation of a skit for the Saturday night talent show.

All of the Yearly Meeting Activities will be held in Seton Hall while we are on Mount St. Joseph’s campus. Middle Youth share rooms with their families. Teens are housed together, with staff, in one part of Seton Hall. The group has a designated lounge area on the 3rd floor of Seton, where they have plenty of space for hanging out, making music, crafts, and playing games. The Youth will engage in a variety of indoor and outdoor activities each day.

All Youth must have a parent/guardian/or sponsor. A parent or legal guardian must complete the OVYM Youth Information Form for every Youth attending. Send the completed form back to Adam.

Also, all Youth need to complete the Whitewater Canoe Rental Waiver, which you must print from the website and bring (send with your child) to Annual Sessions. Find it here: http://www.whitewatercanoerental.com

A parent or sponsor should plan to attend the Wednesday evening meeting with the youth in their care. The meeting takes place in the Seton Hall youth area lounge following welcoming worship (after 8:30pm). For families who arrive later in the weekend, please check in with Adam. Also, the member of the Planning Committee serving as “day coordinator” will have their cell phone listed on the adult schedule and can help families reach Adam if needed.

Remember, Youth attend OVYM Annual Sessions at no charge and are encouraged to bring friends! We look forward to seeing you soon!

Young Adult Friends Program

PLEASE JOIN in with the youth canoeing trip on Friday! (Contact: youth@ovym.org). Bring a bathing suit and closed-toe shoes. Print, complete and bring the Whitewater Canoe Rental Waiver: http://www.whitewatercanoerental.com

Friday night 9:30 p.m. Hang out and meet up (Contact: u-brewington@hotmail.com)

Saturday at lunch. Meet up and discuss future plans.


Friday, June 16

Queer Restoryation: Weaving New Narratives

with Cai Quirk


We grow up with many narratives fed to us about how the world is supposed to be, but so often these tales are limited or false versions of deeper truths. Oppression has narrowed gender to a binary, but together we can weave new narratives to invite healing and freedom for us all.


Using poetry and photography from Cai Quirk’s series Transcendence and ‘Beyond Pink and Blue’ as catalysts, we will explore aspects of gender that are far more expansive than the binary. Visual and written metaphors use new ways of thinking to help people reach deeper into their subconscious to stretch and expand limiting beliefs that hold us all back, no matter our gender. These methods can then be used to heal other such wounds caused by various forms of oppression. Restoryation — creating and learning healing narratives to replace harmful ones — is imperative for communities that want to be truly welcoming. People of all genders are welcome in this workshop.


There will be a section of the workshop with themed small groups. If you would like to do the following prompt for taking self-portraits ahead of time, you’re welcome to (don’t worry, it can be fun!), and if you don’t wish to do the prompt, there will be an alternative theme for small groups at the same time in the workshop and you don’t have to read any further.


Self-portrait prompt: with any photo-making device (a phone, digital camera, disposable camera, grandkid’s phone), please make two self-portraits (or as many as you need until you like two of them)... one that includes your body in some way (could be your whole body, only head and shoulders, even just your hand), and one that is representative of you but doesn’t have your body in it (the photo may include favorite clothes or items, a place that is special to you, several objects arranged together, etc.). If you would like additional guidance, you may consider the following: “What color in the rainbow does my deepest self connect most with right now in this moment? How can this color become part of my photo?” Please bring your photos with you to the workshop in some format (on a device or printed).

Coming to Unity the Quaker Way

with Cindi Goslee / Religious Nurture & Education


As Friends we believe that Spirit-led meetings for business are a path for finding our way and for identifying and using our gifts. Cindi Goslee, a member of Louisville Friends Meeting, will facilitate.

Faithfully Bringing Forth Justice in Organizations

with Rhonda Pfaltzgraff Carlson


Institutionalized injustice fuels conflicts that arise in organizations creating multi-dimensional conflicts. While eradicating structural and institutionalized injustice may appear impossible, Friends can use their gifts to make a difference by understanding and addressing these conflicts in the contexts where they work and serve.


The purpose of this workshop is to help leaders, staff members, and volunteers understand and address the multi-dimensional conflicts that institutionalized injustice creates in organizations. The workshop will begin with a presentation that provides a broad overview of structural and institutionalized injustice. Then, it will discuss the ways that institutionalized injustice influences and manifests itself in organizations. Next, pathways that help people understand and respond to multi- dimensional conflicts in organizations will be shared so these conflicts can be meaningfully resolved. After the presentation, participants will be encouraged to test, critique and develop the proposed pathways through consideration of examples of the multi-dimensional conflicts that they have witnessed or experienced.


Rhonda Pfaltzgraff-Carlson, PhD is a convinced Friend and member of Campus Friends Meeting, which is dually affiliated with Ohio Valley Yearly Meeting (OVYM; FGC) and Wilmington Yearly Meeting (WYM; FUM). In this workshop, Rhonda will share knowledge from organizational studies that she believes will add value to the on-going call for greater diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) in the workplace and society. She believes this conversation is consistent with Friends’ testimonies of integrity, equality, peace, and community. Rhonda carries a multi-faceted concern for spiritual well-being and religious wounding. She provides spiritual direction for people who seek to deepen their relationship with the Divine.

Community Stewardship of Our Spiritual Ecosystem

with Diann Herzog


We will examine what is needed for a healthy and well-functioning spiritual ecosystem, including the gifts and talents provided by Spirit. We will begin with large group reading and presentation, move into break out groups for discussion, have quiet time for writing and reflection and regather for group sharing. Diann encourages Friends to bring any book or writing that they have found inspirational on the subject of stewardship. She also encourages Friends to bring a pen or pencil and some paper or a journal in which they can write.


Diann Herzog, member of Fall Creek Meeting (through thick and thin) for 23 years and affiliate member of Ohio Yearly Meeting, Conservative for 20 years. She has served on several YM committees, including Children's Committee, Planning, Religious Education and Nurture, and Nominating. As well, she has also served as clerk of Whitewater Quarter, Joint Quarterly Planning and FGC Worship Committee.

Saturday, June 17

Quaker Diversity: To Know One Another Across the Theological Spectrum and Across the World

with Gretchen Castle


Our Quaker communion is small, yet theologically diverse. Having worked at Friends World Committee for Consultation in the London world office, Gretchen traveled extensively among Friends. We will view a slide show and a video in order to bring the diversity of Friends into the room.


We will focus on the value of our openness to one another, to cultural differences, and the variety of ways we express our Quaker faith. We will consider what we have in common. We cannot afford NOT to know each other in that which is eternal.  Our theological diversity is our strength, but how do we get there?


Come share your experience among Friends and find yourself in the pictures of Friends around the world. Consider together some of the barriers to loving one another just as we are, as we open ourselves to seeing that of God in each other. In the spirit of generosity, let us call one another Friends.

Lectio Divina: An Ancient Approach to Reading Scripture

with Karen Francis


Lectio Divina enriches our ability to deepen the way we “sit” with Scripture to enable us to “hear” the Word as it directly relates to our life and how Spirit may be leading us here and now. Workshop will consist of Quiet reflection; Journaling; Faith sharing.


Karen Francis is a member of Oxford Friends and on the Religious Nurture and Education Committee. She has been a spiritual director and workshop/retreat leader for 35 years. Karen is also an editor and writer. Her book, On the Edge of the Known World: Prayer and PTSD, tells of her spiritual journey following a nearly fatal car accident in 2005. Karen holds a master’s degree in transpersonal psychology.

AFSC, Finding Its Way- Past, Present and Future

with Sharon Goens-Bradley


This workshop will provide an overview of AFSC’s history, current work in the Midwest region and will detail future plans for the implementation of AFSC’s strategic plan and how Friends can engage with AFSC. This will be an interactive workshop with opportunities for Friends to share ideas and ask questions.


This workshop will provide an overview of AFSC’s history, current work in the Midwest region and will detail future plans for the implementation of AFSC’s strategic plan and how Friends can engage with AFSC. This will be an interactive workshop with opportunities for Friends to share ideas and ask questions.

We Belong to the Earth: Finding our Place in the Living World

with Al McGrew


The workshop will involve a mindfulness walk through the beautiful and biodiverse environment of Bender Mountain near the site of the Yearly Meeting on Mount St. Joseph’s. The workshop will focus on noticing the beautiful diversity of our Earth and its many beings and nurturing a spirit of belonging, gratitude and reciprocity with the gifts of our natural environment. We will explore the colors, shapes, smells, sounds and patterns of nature, both animate (birds, mammals, insects, flowers, trees) and inanimate (land, water, rocks), and use our human gifts of creativity and consciousness to respond to these gifts of the natural world to which we belong.


I envision an active and participatory workshop of 90 minutes with a blend of small group “break-out” type activities and larger group “report-backs.” People of all ages from children to our elders will be welcome and able to participate. Though the workshop will involve a nature walk, breaking into smaller groups will make it accessible to the physically challenged who may wish to participate. As the first part of the trail is road, workshop participants who are entirely unable to walk may also be able to participate by being driven or wheeled to the first stop by a helpful f/Friend.

Healing Center

The Healing Center is a space to lay down your burdens and Lighten your heart. Whether you are new to Yearly Meeting or a longtime Friend, we invite you to come and sit or move or – we’ll see what the offerings are this year. What would you like to offer?  We need healing practitioners, Friends who want to hold the space in prayer, and, of course, those who want to receive. Giving and receiving often co-mingle as we open ourselves to channel the Divine. Friends who serve the Yearly Meeting or their Monthly Meeting are especially welcome to partake.

The times will be: 4:30 to 5:30pm Friday and 3:15 to 4:15pm Saturday in the Interfaith Chapel. 

Gloria Stearns-Bruner and Deborah Jordan first organized the Healing Center at Yearly Meeting in 2019. Deborah has started a Healing Center at her Meeting, Circle of Friends, Cincinnati which is now in its second year. 

COVID Safety Policy

Even as the threat of COVID-19 diminishes, dangers remain and dictate annual sessions policy.

Read the 2023 COVID Safety Policy here, and please be aware that changes may be made prior to the start of annual sessions.

Other Things to Do

In addition to official OVYM activities, there are a number of things to see and do on or near the Mount St. Joseph campus.