[saymaListserv] Registration for Western Gathering Closed

Penelope Wright pennywright at earthlink.net
Tue Mar 7 16:23:40 JEST 2006

Registration for Western Gathering ClosedAs one of SAYMA's appointed representatives to Friends General Conference I share the following with you. It is one of those good news/bad news stories, but be sure you read ALL the way through, for despite the subject line, registration is not totally closed.
Penelope Wright
Dear Friends, 

By now you may have heard that online registration for the 2006 Gathering has been closed.  To our great astonishment, we received registrations for almost 800 Friends in the first six days.  Since this Gathering is capped at 1,200 registrants, and we need to save spaces for 160 program leaders (workshop leaders, Junior Gathering staff, High School Counselors, etc) and their families, we have closed online registration as of March 6, 2006.  We will be accepting paper registration forms from the Advance Program and Friends from the online waiting list as long as spaces remain.  However, we expect to reach the maximum capacity for this Gathering very soon.  

While we are absolutely thrilled with this response to our first ever West Coast Gathering, we are also sad to realize that many Friends will not be able to attend.  As a member of Central Committee may I explain to Friends that the decision to plan a Gathering for 1,200 (as compared to our typical 1,500-1,700) was based on considerable research and painstaking discernment, with the best information that we could collect at the time. 

In 2003 and 2004 the Long Range Conference Planning Committee undertook two surveys, asking regular Gathering attenders and Friends from the western yearly meetings about the likelihood of attendance at a western Gathering.  Professional analysis of the results told us we could expect approximately 1,000 attenders.  On top of this, in the past few years the Gathering has been under enrolled.  Therefore, we were not concerned when the best site in the Pacific Northwest turned out to be Pacific Lutheran University, even though it could only accommodate 1200 people.

So, with all this info, LRCP chose PLU and directed the Gathering Committee to plan a Gathering for 1,200 Friends. PLU will provide some marvelous features for a Gathering, but it has only 1,100 beds and one dining hall.  Of course, we have looked for ways that we could include more people (e.g. more Friends staying off campus but attending workshops and programs each day), but the very tight limits on dining space, spaces for workshops and other Gathering events, the size of the auditorium for plenary sessions, not to mention the smaller number of workshop leaders, Junior Gathering volunteers, and other key volunteers lined up to help with this Gathering, preclude the kind of flexibility which we deeply wish we had at this point.  In fact, we have had to contract with an adjacent church to secure space for some of our children's program.

It is wonderful that interest in this Gathering is so strong.  It is an affirmation of the tremendous work that has been done by volunteers, committees, and staff.  We expect the 2006 Gathering to be a wonderful week with Friends of all ages from coast to coast coming together and getting to know one another.  Based on the response we have received this year, it is likely that LRCP will consider planning another West Coast Gathering sometime in the not too distant future. 

Thank you for spreading this important message about the 2006 Gathering.  Please hold us in the Light, as we prepare to go Swimming in Living Waters. 

In the Spirit, 

David Miller                            Lynne Phillips & Margaret Sorrell 
LRCP Clerk                              2006 Gathering Co-Clerks 

Bruce Birchard                          Liz Perch 
General Secretary                       Conference Coordinator 

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