2016 International Representatives Meeting Minutes

Friends World Committee for Consultation

International Representatives Meeting

held during

The World Plenary Meeting

at

Royal Inka Hotel

Pisac, Peru

19-27 January 2016

 

Wednesday, 20 January 2016

IRM 16 – 01. Welcome and Introduction of CEC. The opening business session of the 2016 World Plenary Meeting gathered with open worship. Due to the indisposition of Presiding Clerk Ramón Gonzalez-Longória (Cuba YM), Assistant Clerk Simon Lamb (Ireland YM) presided. He welcomed participants and introduced Gretchen Castle (Philadelphia YM), FWCC General Secretary, and Elizabeth Cazden (New England YM), serving as recording clerk as well as Clerk of the Central Executive Committee.

The clerk then asked the interpretation team to explain the method of consecutive interpretation that will be used in our business sessions, as it is in the Section of the Americas. The recording clerk clarified the procedure to be used for minuting.

IRM 16 – 02. Appointments. On recommendation of the Central Executive Committee (CEC), we have named the following Friends to serve during this meeting:

(a) as an Agenda Committee to assist the clerks’ table, the clerks of the four FWCC Sections: Sue Glover Frykman, Patricia Macgregor, Benigno Sanchez-Eppler and Joshuah Lilande.

(b) as an Epistle Committee: Annika Hollsing (Sweden YM); Pleasaunce Perry (Ireland YM), Simon Best (Britain YM), Ben Watts (Aotearoa/New Zealand YM, convenor), Haeng Woo Lee (Seoul MM), C. Wess Daniels (Northwest [USA] YM), Doris Guardado (El Salvador YM), Christine Songole (Nairobi YM), Justine Limpitlaw (Central & Southern Africa YM), Lavender Mukuzani (Central [Kenya] YM), Susie Ndany (Nairobi YM).

(c) as Elders: Hans Weening (Netherlands YM), Jane Rose (Finland YM), Crisanto de la Cruz (Philippines Evangelical Friends International Mission), Jo Jordan (Australia YM), Kenneth Comfort (Northwest [USA] YM), Nataniel Guachalla (Bolivia Central YM), John Sabwa Sagala (Chevachali YM), Nokuthula Mbete (Central & Southern Africa YM); alternates Helen Fanning (Ireland YM), Kim Cho-Nyon (Daejong MM). We welcomed the newly-appointed Elders to sit on the platform to uphold this meeting in prayer.

The Clerk clarified that we are not asked to appoint a Naming Committee at this time because the new Constitution, if approved, will have a different method for constituting the FWCC Nominations Committee. If it is not approved, we would then need a Naming Committee.

IRM 16-03.  Central Executive Committee report. Elizabeth Cazden (New England YM), Clerk of the Central Executive Committee, spoke to the written CEC report distributed in advance. She asked all Friends to help the CEC discover the best ways to inform the broader Quaker community of the CEC’s actions, and to hear concerns and vision rising among Friends worldwide. She also highlighted the CEC decision to eliminate fossil fuel companies from the organisation’s investment portfolio. In the comments following the report, Friends expressed gratitude for this decision, and raised the question whether additional Quaker concerns should be added to FWCC’s investment criteria. We received this report with thanks for the CEC’s work.  The full written report of the CEC is attached to these minutes.

IRM 16-04. World Office Report. Gretchen Castle (Philadelphia YM), General Secretary, opened her report by reading Romans 8:38-39, which sustains her in this work. She noted that FWCC serves and supports yearly meetings and local meetings and churches. She emphasized the FWCC slogan, “Connecting Friends, Crossing Cultures, Changing Lives.” She then introduced the World Office staff who are with us this week: Harry Albright (communications consultant), Tas Cooper (database manager), Elaine Bright (bookkeeper), and Olivia Hewitt (plenary coordinator). She highlighted two accomplishments during the past eighteen months, the two “World Quaker Day” celebrations and an increasingly active World Office Facebook page. A Friend noted that in worldwide ecumenical circles, the General Secretary represents us with dignity in a manner fully consistent with Friends’ ways. The full written report is attached to these minutes.

IRM 16-05. Forthcoming nominations. The General Secretary read the names that will be considered later in the week for nominations to various FWCC positions (see IRM 16-16). She noted that the final configuration of positions will be dependent on whether this body approves the proposed Constitutional revision.

IRM 16-06. Section Reports. Section staff and clerks have spoken to their written reports.

Section of the Americas. Robin Mohr (Philadelphia YM), Secretary, and Benigno Sanchez-Eppler (New England YM), Clerk, noted that in 2014 the Quaker Youth Pilgrimage (a joint program of the Section of the Americas and Europe and Middle East) took place for the first time ever in South America; a number of leaders, pilgrims, and hosts are present among us at this meeting. This is one way of equipping leadership within the Section. In early 2014, instead of an Annual Meeting, the Section held four consultations, in different locations, on the theme “Let the Living Water Flow,” which came out of the 2012 World Conference. This brought the FWCC experience to a much wider range of Friends who would not otherwise be able to travel to a World Plenary or Section meeting. The Section has developed a new Strategic Plan, entitled “Weaving the Tapestry,” to guide the Section’s activities for the next five years; the text is available on the Section website in both English and Spanish. The Section is delighted to be hosting this World Plenary Meeting, and encourages other Sections to take advantage of the experience of hosting. Hosting does not require you to complete the task with the resources you think you have, but rather with the resources the Spirit will provide.

Asia West Pacific Section. In the absence of Section Secretary Ronis Chapman (Australia YM) due to illness, Patricia Macgregor (Aotearoa/New Zealand YM), Section Clerk, assisted by Saskia Schuitemaker (Aotearoa/New Zealand YM) as interpreter, presented an oral report to supplement the written report that was circulated in the Plenary documents. A Section gathering was held in January 2015, hosted by Hong Kong meeting. Given the vast distances and cultural differences within the Section, communication is both essential and challenging, whether through electronic means or face-to-face visitation. The Section holds a strong concern for the environmental impact of travel. The Section website is in process of redesign.

Europe and Middle East Section. Marisa Johnson (Britain YM), Secretary of the Europe and Middle East Section, spoke to her written report. She read Romans 12:9-16, which for her encapsulates why we do this work. The entire region faces challenges from wars, civil unrest, terrorist attacks, and migration of refugees. The Quaker community is small, but does substantial work in addressing these issues. The Section’s role is to bring Friends together for mutual upholding and to help them do their work more effectively.

The Africa Section report was deferred pending the expected arrival of the Section Clerk and Secretary later this week. The written reports from each Section will be attached to these minutes.

IRM 16-07. Introduction of Proposed Constitutional Revision. Elizabeth Cazden, Clerk of the Central Executive Committee (CEC), introduced the proposed revision to the FWCC Constitution, which will be considered later in these sessions. She emphasized that the CEC aimed for a less detailed document that would maintain a firm framework for the organisation, while allowing flexibility to adapt to changing circumstances (including changing technology for communications) and to respond to callings and concerns rising among Friends, rather than being compelled to hold large expensive meetings simply to accomplish routine governance tasks. Friends were encouraged to study the proposed changes, discuss them informally and in the Consultations this week, and bring concerns and suggestions to members of the CEC. The matter will come back later in the week for further seasoning and discernment.

Monday, 25 January

IRM 16-08. Letters of greeting. Presiding Clerk Ramón Gonzalez-Longória (Cuba YM) reminded us that our business meeting is held in worship, seeking God’s guidance and direction. We have received warm greetings via social media from many Friends and Quaker organisations, including Friends United Meeting, Uganda YM, New York YM, the Friends Center at Guilford College (North Carolina, USA), Woodbrooke Quaker Study Centre (UK), and many individual Friends around the world holding this meeting in prayer. The clerk read a letter of greeting to this Plenary Meeting from the Council of Churches of Dublin, Ireland, praying that Christ Jesus, who called us his friends, accompany this meeting and urge us on as we seek to discern and deeply welcome the peace and transformation God offers us, and – through us – to the whole of creation.

IRM 16-09. Peace video. Patricia Macgregor (Aotearoa/New Zealand YM), Clerk of the Asia West Pacific Section, introduced a video brought by Korean Friends about an ongoing demonstration, supported by Seoul MM, against construction of a naval base that is damaging sensitive natural habitats, cutting off access to local fishing grounds, and threatening to increase military tensions in the region. We are grateful for this faithful witness to our testimony on peace.  

IRM 16-10. Proposed Constitutional revision. On behalf of the Consultation held this week on Equipping FWCC, co-facilitators Michael Eccles (Britain YM) and Elizabeth Duke (Aotearoa/New Zealand YM) spoke to the proposed revision to the FWCC Constitution. The Consultation united in support of the revision in principle. They have presented some comments and proposed redrafts for clarification that have come from many Friends here and have been seasoned by the Consultation group. These will be posted so that Friends have an opportunity to examine them before being asked for decision.

Friends raised a number of questions and concerns regarding the proposal. Some of these have been responded to. The discernment has been laid over until a later session.

IRM 16-11. Financial reports. Treasurer Alastair Reid (Britain YM) invited members of the International Finance Committee to the platform. He noted that our accounts reflect our care of the resources that God has provided. He has presented a report, in graphs, charts, and notes, of the financial condition of FWCC for FY 2014, the last year for which full audited reports are available. In recent years, income to the World Office from the Section of the Americas has declined, as the Section’s own income has declined; more than 50% of our total income comes from Europe and Middle East Section, especially Britain. We appreciate donations of any size, from small gifts to a recent substantial gift from the family of a Friend who was long active in FWCC. The World Office’s expenditures have been quite stable; one variable is travel costs, including the costs of holding the required annual meeting of the Central Executive Committee.

The projected budgets through 2018 were presented in the advance documents. They reflect further reductions in expected income from the Section of the Americas. These budgets do not take into account any recommendations that may come from our fund-raising consultant for expanding income across all segments of FWCC. Unless we can make changes in income and/or expenditures, these budgets would result in a gradual erosion of our General Fund reserves well below the recommended level.

The Treasurer also presented information on the approximate cost of holding this World Plenary Meeting, although final figures will not be available for several months. The Plenary was intended to break even. The total estimated cost of this meeting is about ₤500,000 ($700,000). The total costs to the World Office, exclusive of the time of permanent staff, total about ₤300,000 ($430,000); the time spent by permanent staff would add about ₤100,000 ($144,000); additional travel costs for those whose travel is not funded through the World Office would add a similar amount. We expect ₤214,000 ($306,000) to be paid from participant fees. About ₤66,000 ($94,000) was raised in restricted donations to the travel fund, plus about ₤20,000 ($29,000) in other special donations.

In addition to these planned costs, we have spent an extra ₤20,000 ($29,000) to purchase last-minute tickets for Friends whose visas arrived very late. Simon Lamb (Ireland YM), Clerk of the International Planning Committee, encouraged those here to make a special donation to help defray this unanticipated extra cost, and to ask their local and yearly meetings to do so. A flyer has been distributed informing Friends how best to contribute to FWCC.

We have received this report of the Treasurer and will discern a decision on the budget at a later session.

Tuesday, 26 January

IRM 16-12. We have gathered for the morning business session by singing together the hymn “Leaning on the Everlasting Arms” / “En Los Brazos de mi Salvador”.

IRM 16-13. Appreciations. The clerk introduced Plenary Coordinator Olivia Hewitt, who expressed her pleasure at seeing all of us who have been in her heart these past six months. Olivia introduced Ilicana Ponce de León (“Chenita”), spouse of Efrain Aller, the proprietor of the Royal Inka Hotel who has hosted us this week. Chenita has been the dining room hostess and facilitator. Olivia presented her with a small gift from the World Office. Chenita thanked us for our patience and love especially around mealtimes.

The clerk then recognized Augustín Benito Tuso, Presidente (Clerk) of INELA Peru YM, who have been our hosts for this meeting. Augustín expressed his great pleasure in seeing us, and gave thanks to God and to all who have worked so hard to enable us to meet at this site, especially the Local Arrangements Committee. Olivia also presented Augustín with a gift from the World Office.

IRM 16-14. Constitution.  We returned to consideration of the new Constitution, using the revised text presented by the Consultation, which has been posted for Friends to examine. The Clerk recognized that Friends may not be of one mind with respect to section 2(a) relating to the frequency of Plenaries. He asked if Friends had any serious reservations or concerns about the rest of the document. A concern was raised whether the provision for at-large appointments to the CEC should require that at least one position be filled by a young Friend. Instead of embedding such a requirement in the Constitution, we ask the Nominations Committee to continue to give attention to including one or more Young Friends in its recommendations for officers and at-large positions on the Central Executive Committee.

We recognize that our Constitution does not have (and has never had) a specific provision for removal of officers for misconduct. We were reminded that the CEC serve as Trustees under English charities law, which does have provision for removal if occasion should arise.

With two minor amendments to wording, we have approved the Constitution except for section 2(a).

We then turned our attention to section 2(a) concerning the frequency of Plenary Meetings. Many Friends expressed deep hesitations about the proposal to extend the interval between Plenary Meetings to as long as twelve years. Elizabeth Duke, former General Secretary of FWCC, spoke to the demands that meeting planning makes on the World Office Staff, in addition to financial demands and the impact on the environment. In seven-and-a-half years in the office, she was involved in the planning of four plenary (Triennial) meetings. This work made it difficult to carry on other work that FWCC feels called to do. She asked that Friends give the CEC discretion to discern prayerfully when a Plenary Meeting is in right ordering. A Friend encouraged all participants to look for opportunities to create cross-cultural and cross-branch experiences – to bring FWCC to our local meetings – instead of just talking about what a wonderful experience the Plenary was for us.

Most of us fervently hope that full Plenary Meetings can be held more often, and encourage the CEC to consider holding the next Plenary Meeting no later than six to eight years from now, as financial and other resources permit, with ten years as the absolute outward limit. We also encourage the CEC and the office to encourage other opportunities for intervisitation, cooperation between Sections, and other ways to bring Friends together.

With this understanding, we unite with the text of section 2(a) as the legal requirement for holding Plenary Meetings, changing the number “12” to “10.” The full revised text as approved (subject to editing for grammar and punctuation) will be attached to these minutes and will be made available to our constituents.

We thank the Consultation, the small working group, and other concerned Friends for their careful discernment and helpful suggestions.

IRM 16-15. Employment of General Secretary. Elizabeth Cazden, Clerk of the CEC, presented the CEC’s recommendation that Gretchen Castle (Philadelphia YM) continue to serve as General Secretary of FWCC for a further two-year term beginning 1 January 2017 (following on the end of her current appointment) and ending 31 December 2018, with the possibility of extension beyond this or until a successor is duly named and appointed. We approve the CEC’s recommendation.

IRM 16-16. Nominations. The General Secretary introduced members of the International Nominating Committee who are present among us. The Nominating Committee has brought forth the following names for service to FWCC for three-year terms beginning 1 January 2017:

FWCC Clerk                             Simon C. Lamb (Ireland YM                    (Term 1)

FWCC Assistant Clerks          Elizabeth Cazden (New England YM)    (Term 2)

Ramón Gonzalez-Longória (Cuba YM)  (Term 3)

FWCC Treasurer                     Alastair Reid (Britain YM)                       to 31 Dec 2017

CEC at-large:                            Nalini Titus (Bhopal YM)                         (Term 1)

Myron Guachalla Montano (Bolivia Central YM) (Term 1)

Judith Ngoya (Elgon YM)*                       (Term 1)

The Nominating Committee further recommends John Leighton (Hong Kong MM) to represent the Asia West Pacific Section on the Quaker UN Committee – New York for a three-year term beginning 1 January 2016. We approve these appointments.

We thank the outgoing Nominating Committee who have served since the 2012 World Conference: John Norris (Indiana YM), clerk; Emma Condori Mamani (Bolivia Santidad YM), Elizabeth Duke (Aotearoa/New Zealand YM), Bronwyn Harwood (Britain YM),  Christine McCartney (Ireland YM), Henry Mukwanja (East Africa YM-North), Mary Mutsami (Kakamega YM).

* Due to compelling circumstances that were not known at the time this appointment was made, this appointment was subsequently rescinded by the Central Executive Committee.

IRM 16-17. Completion of service. The General Secretary named Friends who will be completing their service to FWCC by the end of 2016:

John Fitzgerald (Ireland YM), CEC at-large

Cristela Martinez (El Salvador YM), CEC at-large

Dorothy Selebwa (Kakamega YM), CEC at-large

Foote Lunde (Ohio Valley and Wilmington YMs), Clerk, International Finance Committee

Seineke Martin (Australia YM), QUNO-NY

Justis Mudavadi (Nairobi YM), QUNO-Geneva

We are grateful for the faithful service of these Friends.

IRM 16-18. Reports from Consultations. We have heard reports from several of the Consultations that have been meeting throughout these sessions.

 Leadership and Ministry. Leo Wieldraaijer-Vincent (Britain YM) and Rubén Maydana (INELA Bolivia YM), co-facilitators, reported on the work of the Consultation. There was some interest in beginning the planning process for another World Gathering of Young Friends, which has been taken forward by a group of Young Friends at this gathering. The Consultation has heard the need for more communication between Young Friends within and across sections; Jonny Poole (Ireland YM) agreed to coordinate creation of a dynamic online space that would help Young Friends share news, strengthen connections, and enable travelling in ministry. The Consultation also considered the future of the Quaker Youth Pilgrimage, with the goal to include all of the FWCC Sections and a larger number of young people whilst being mindful to the legal, financial and environmental impacts of this work; a small group has agreed to pursue ways to move this concern forward, coordinated by Leo Wieldraaijer-Vincent (Britain YM) and Elias Sanchez-Eppler (New England YM). The Consultation has raised the question whether a mechanism could be developed within FWCC for membership that is not tied to geographical boundaries; young adults especially find these structures inconsistent with their identity as Friends. They would like FWCC to find ways to further this conversation, leading to a possible consultation. The Consultation’s working groups welcome feedback from other Friends on these issues.

Living Ministries Communities. Rachel Guaraldi (New England YM) and Yanet Velázquez Hernández (Cuba YM), co-facilitators, showed a video illustrating the participatory process their Consultation used during its time together. They discovered that God is calling us not to worry about numbers, but to concern ourselves with the life and vitality of our communities, and to recognize the rich brightly-illuminated life that is already present among us. Their work produced hundreds of ideas, written on small note-cards, for nurturing and growing that living faith. They hope to distribute a distilled list at a later time, and invite Friends to add to the list and share stories of God’s work among us.

IRM 16-19. First reading of proposed Epistle. Doris Guardado (El Salvador YM) has read a draft of the Epistle. Friends were encouraged to offer suggestions and comments to the committee. We will hear the final Epistle in our closing business session.

IRM 16-20.     Sustainability.  The Consultation on Sustainability, facilitated by Jonathan Woolley (Mexico City MM/Pacific YM; Staff, QUNO-Geneva), Rachel Madenyika (Staff, QUNO-NY), and Charlotte Gordon (Aotearoa/New Zealand YM) has presented a minute for our consideration:

Living Sustainably and Sustaining Life on Earth

The Light of Christ has inspired Quakers throughout the generations.  As we gather together in Pisac, Peru in 2016, we feel this light stronger than ever in our calling to care for the Earth on which we live. It is calling us from all traditions: programmed, unprogrammed, liberal, and evangelical. It calls us to preserve this Earth for our children, our grandchildren and all future generations to come, working as though life were to continue for 10,000 years to come. Be ready for action with your robes hitched up and your lamps alight. (Luke 12:35, Revised English Bible)

Our faith as Quakers is inseparable from our care for the health of our planet Earth. We see that our misuse of the Earth’s resources creates inequality, destroys community, affects health and well-being, leads to war and erodes our integrity.  We are all responsible for stewardship of our natural world. We love this world as God’s gift to us all. Our hearts are crying for our beloved mother Earth, who is sick and in need of our care.

We are at an historical turning point. Internationally, the Paris Agreement and the Sustainable Development Goals oblige governments to take action. Faith groups and other civil society are playing a major role.  As Quakers, we are part of this movement. The FWCC World Conference approved the Kabarak Call for Peace and Ecojustice in April 2012, while the FWCC World Office was a signatory to the Quaker statement on climate change in 2014 and divested from fossil fuels in June 2015.

We recognise that the environmental crisis is a symptom of a wider crisis in our political and economic systems. Our loving and well informed environmental actions as Friends, consistent with our spiritual values, must therefore work to transform these systems.

Many of us all over the Quaker world are taking practical actions as individuals and communities. At this Plenary, a consultation of more than sixty Friends from all over the world worked to build on these leadings with further practical action. The Annex attached to these minutes shows examples of what Friends are doing already or propose to do.

We must redouble our efforts right now.  We must move beyond our individual and collective comfort zones and involve the worldwide Quaker community and others of like mind.  Just as Jesus showed us, real change requires us to challenge ourselves to be effective instruments of change.  We can do more.

On recommendation of the Consultation, and after some discussion, we adopt this statement as a statement of the Plenary Meeting, together with the following minute:

In this effort for sustainability, and mindful of the urgency of this work, this Plenary asks the FWCC World Office and Central Executive Committee to:

  1. Invest FWCC World funds ethically.
  1. Share Quaker experiences with other faith groups to inspire them to action, especially through the World Council of Churches.
  2. Seek ways of connecting Friends worldwide that are sustainable.
  3. Facilitate dissemination of training materials on sustainability issues for Quaker leaders, pastors and teachers.

This FWCC Plenary Meeting also asks all Yearly Meetings to:

  1. Initiate at least two concrete actions on sustainability within the next 12 months. These may build on existing projects of individuals or monthly meetings or they may be new initiatives. We ask that they encourage Young Friends to play key roles. We ask that meetings minute the progress and results, so as to share them with FWCC and Quaker meetings.
  2. Support individuals and groups in their meetings who feel called to take action on sustainability.
  3. Support the work done by Quaker organisations such as the Quaker United Nations Office and the Quaker Council for European Affairs to ensure that international agreements and their implementation support sustainability.

This FWCC Plenary Meeting asks individual Friends and groups (such as Monthly Meetings, Worship Groups and ad-hoc groups within Meetings) to Share inspiring experiences of living sustainably on the new “sustainability webpage” of the Quakers in the World Website (http://www.quakersintheworld.org/). This webpage can be used as a source of ideas, inspiration and action.

Wednesday, 27 January

IRM 16-21. As we gathered for our final business session, we joined in singing “Open mine Eyes” / “Abre mis ojos” and “Vivir la Transformación,” the latter composed for this gathering by Noé Alanguia Canaza (INELA Peru YM).

IRM 16-22.  Consultation report. (Michael Eccles (Britain YM) and Elizabeth Duke (Aotearoa/New Zealand YM), co-facilitators, presented a short report from the Consultation on Equipping FWCC:

Report from Equipping FWCC Consultation

Our consideration moved from our experiences of Connecting Friends, Changing Lives and Crossing Cultures, through our visions for FWCC in the future, to practical ways of implementing such visions.   Here is a summary of some visions and practical suggestions:

  • Smaller gatherings with a particular focus, e.g. theology, faith and order, peace, mission and service, women Friends, young adult Friends.
  • Networks on similar topics
  • Events for young adult Friends, e.g. work camps, world gathering of young Friends, YQCA (Young Quaker Christian Association – Kenya)
  • Quaker Youth Pilgrimage or other memorable experiences for this age group
  • Connection between Friends’ Schools around the world
  • Getting FWCC better known, e.g. representatives have responsibility to make FWCC better known on return, circulate epistle, Facebook and other social media, bring FWCC into our meetings, World Quaker Day (subcommittee to organise it), multilingual materials (including online) explaining FWCC
  • Quakerism 101 in many languages, web-based primarily
  • Cross-communication between Sections
  • Intervisitation
  • Twinning between Meetings within Sections / between Sections / between Quaker traditions –  develop / use existing guidance and good practice

IRM 16-23. Report from the International Planning Committee. Simon C. Lamb (Ireland YM), Clerk of the International Planning Committee, noted that the IPC for this meeting included Section representatives other than the Section Secretaries, all of whom were under age 35, which profoundly influenced the planning. He reminded Friends that in order to hold the next Plenary Meeting, the World Office needs invitations from yearly meetings, taking into account location, possible sites, and visa issues. Ideally this process begins four to six years before a Plenary, to permit adequate planning. The work is intense, especially in the final year.

We thank the International Planning Committee and the Local Arrangements Committee (especially LAC Clerk Noé Alanguia Canaza) for their immense work on our behalf.

IRM 16-24. Budget Approval. We have returned to consideration of the FWCC World Office operating budgets for 2016 and 2017 and preliminary projections for 2018, as presented by the Treasurer and the International Finance Committee. The Treasurer stressed that most of FWCC’s programming takes place at the Section level, with the World Office providing communications and coordination among Sections. He also noted that the CEC has engaged fund-raising consultant Michael Wajda, who is here this week to meet with Friends as he advises us on how to increase resources throughout the organisation. A Friend reminded us that the projected figures mean increasing our reliance on funding from one Section, largely from a single yearly meeting within that Section, which is not a sustainable model for our organisation.

IPC Clerk Simon Lamb repeated his plea for donations to offset the extra costs for airfares for this meeting, noting that about ₤2,500 (in many currencies) had already been contributed. Simon also asked all participants to take the excitement of this meeting home and use it to generate more financial support for the organisation. A Friend encouraged us to raise money that is not restricted for this purpose, but is available for all the needs of FWCC. We are also asked to consider including FWCC in our wills. Perhaps we need training in fund-raising basics to help all of us be more effective.  A number of meetings held special fund-raising events to support representatives to this gathering; we can be creative in how we raise money for FWCC while also raising awareness of FWCC’s work.

We approve the proposed budgets, understanding that the Central Executive Committee has authority to revise them as circumstances warrant. Friends were reminded that the audited accounts for 2014 (and 2015 when available) are included in the Trustees’ Report that is filed annually with the Charities Commission of England and Wales and is available on the FWCC website.

IRM 16-25. Africa Section Report. Section Clerk Joshuah Lilande (Lugari YM), Section Secretary Churchill Malimo (Nairobi YM), and Section Assistant Clerk Nokuthula Mbete (Central & Southern Africa YM) have presented a report from the Africa Section. Joshuah thanked the meeting for the warm welcome African Friends received when they arrived here, as members of the family filling out the table. Churchill said they felt humbled at realizing what a financial liability they had become to this meeting. In the prayerful period that followed, a Friend expressed the sentiments of many that when we are not complete, when one Section is not fully present, we are not truly the Friends World Committee.

In its formal report, the Section highlighted the emergence of new leadership within the Section, including the first woman clerk of a Kenyan yearly meeting. The Section is deeply concerned by the ongoing political crisis in Burundi, and seeks ways for Friends to contribute to peace-building. In 2015 World Quaker Day was celebrated in 14 yearly meetings, up from 3 the previous year, and raised KSH164,150 (₤1,129/ $1,608) to support the Section and the World Office.

The written Section report will be attached to these minutes.

IRM 16-26. Young Adult Friends Report. Renke Meuwese (Netherlands YM), Jean Hubert Hirwa (Rwanda YM), and Milena Villca (Iglesia Unión Boliviana Amigos) reported on business meetings held by Young Adult Friends during these sessions. They have considered whether it is time to convene another World Gathering of Young Friends. They have formed a committee to further season this concern, and to strengthen links among young people within each Section and across Sections.  They ask our prayers and suggestions, trusting in God’s power to carry forward God’s work.

IRM 16-27. Minute of Record

We have spent more than a week together in what has long been known as a Sacred Valley, surrounded by steep mountains. Friends have shared deeply in worship, song, quiet conversations, and meetings of various sizes and configurations.

Early morning worship included Bible study or unprogrammed worship, with one group meeting outdoors surrounded by the mountains. The main morning worship was led each day by Friends from a particular part of the world, enabling us to experience, in silence, words, and music, the diversity of worship styles among Friends. We have found that even when the words came in an unfamiliar tongue, we could enter together into the place where the words come from.

One evening plenary consisted of a presentation by the two Quaker United Nations Offices, which represent FWCC and the worldwide family of Friends at the UN in New York and Geneva and provide a Quaker presence that enables diplomats and staff to come together around areas of Friends’ concern, such as climate change and sustainability, refugee and immigrant rights, peace-building, and economic justice.

An excursion day enabled many Friends to see local sights or hike in the mountains, while others simply rested. During the weekend, approximately 60 additional Friends from Peru and Bolivia (many of whom travelled many hours to attend) joined our gathering.

Workshops on a wide variety of topics enabled Friends from different parts of the world to share experiences and ideas on topics such as the Alternatives to Violence Program, “Godly Play” materials for youth education, Fair Trade schemes, combating racism and imperialism, evangelisation, and the financial structure of FWCC. Home Groups of about twenty Friends met each day, enabling us to come to know each other more deeply. Four Consultations met throughout the week to thresh issues of common concern: Ministry and Leadership, Living Ministry Communities, Sustaining Life on Earth, and Equipping FWCC. These provoked thoughtful and energetic discussions, some specific recommendations, and some ad hoc groups that hope to continue their conversations as they can over the coming months. We are grateful to those who served ably as facilitators of Home Groups and Consultations, and to all those who participated with clear minds, listening ears, and generous hearts.

IRM 16-28. World Plenary Meeting Epistle. We have heard the final epistle from this meeting, as follows:

Se contenta el Corazón ensanchándose de amor; todos a una voz a Dios gracias damos.

¡Bienvenidos Amigos!

To all Friends Everywhere,

We send loving greetings to you from Pisac in the Sacred Valley of the Incas. We were blessed with both sunshine and rain. As we gathered together we lifted our eyes to the mountains and lifted our hearts to God

From 19 to 27 January over 320 men and women from 37 countries, 77 Yearly Meetings, 8 independent Monthly Meetings, and 2 worship groups, speaking dozens of languages met to consider the theme “Living the transformation: creation waits with eager longing for the revealing of the children of God (Romans 8:19).”

Our time together started in sadness at those who were delayed in their journeys or prevented from joining us – we felt a gap in our gathering the shape of God. Later, as we were joined by Friends from Kenya and welcomed local Friends from Peru and Bolivia, we felt the full fellowship among us. We were complete.

Many of the messages shared in our worship, speaking to the theme of transformation were both moving and uplifting: we were challenged to be transformed in ways leaving us more faithful to God’s purposes individually, as meetings/churches and as a World Family of Friends.

Our speakers emphasised the process of transformation. One spoke of spiritual transformation using the image of a heart transplant and what it means to be given the heart of Jesus. In this transplant of the heart we become agents of change who show the love of Christ in the world. Another image we were given was that of a seed pod. Each pod contains the past, present and future, showing us how we remain connected to our past even as we look to the future, as God gathers us into one grand story.

We heard the message that we must be open and available to God, making space in our hearts, our communities and our churches/meetings. Transformation often finds us when we’re not seeking or expecting it. We must be willing to be vulnerable and open our hearts in order to undergo the change we want to see.

As we gathered we not only spoke of transformation, we invited it and created spaces for God to make it happen. Many of us experienced it while we were here. We found ourselves broken open and touched by the Living Spirit of Christ.

We are the children of God. We are who creation has been waiting for. We are called to reveal ourselves in our lives and in the work we do with our hearts and our hands. Although God can fill our hearts, God has no hands but ours to heal this broken world. We can be salt and light shining to the world and declaring the love of God.

As Quakers our faith is inseparable from our concern to care for all life on earth. We are reminded of the Kabarak call for Peace and Eco-Justice and the need to redouble our efforts now. We call on Friends everywhere to take practical actions to sustain life on Earth.

Listening together in our home groups, workshops, and consultations, where two or three languages were spoken, opened up countless opportunities to pray, sing, ask difficult questions, learn, cry and laugh together. We have hurt each other with our words when we have spoken without love but this is a human failing and we have also experienced the healing power of Christ’s love.

We learn from each other’s ways of connecting with God; each offering of worship held within it the opportunity for the Spirit to move and speak and sing. Sharing worship in this way enables us to recognise that we must both listen to, and speak to God.

The presence of so many young adult Friends among us has been a blessing. We heard their moving testimony and experienced their inspirational leadership. As we go back to our churches and meetings we must allow this ministry and leadership to flourish.

We are different. We came together as a diverse collection of Friends. We were challenged by our differences. This challenge is not always comfortable but it is one we welcome.

We are one. We are one in the spirit of God which does not wash away or hide our differences, but allows us to celebrate them and enables us to move beyond the spiritual boundaries that may separate us. We are able to do this by coming together in worship where, while its form may be unfamiliar, God was present throughout. Through listening deeply and tenderly to each other and to God we reached a place where we can hear and sense where the words come from even when we may not understand the tongue they are spoken in.

We are Friends. In making the choice to come together and be willing to share deeply, pray boldly, and listen lovingly together, we seek to move beyond our differences, see beyond our labels and find ways to connect with each other. The work of FWCC depends on us all. In order to continue it, we encourage Friends, meetings/churches and Yearly Meetings to contribute financially to and participate in building connections between Friends.

As we leave here we will carry the love we have received from each other and from God in our hearts.

Copies will be distributed electronically as quickly as can be achieved, so that Friends may share it widely with their meetings as they return home.

IRM 16-29. Closing minute. The clerk thanked the Elders who have sustained us with their prayers, all who have participated in these sessions, the others serving at the clerks’ table, the team of translators and interpreters, the Local Arrangements Committee, those who greeted arriving Friends at the airport and staffed the reception tables, those who have led singing, the facilitators of the four Consultations, and all those who have facilitated the holding of this meeting.

We can be transformed by the work of God in our hearts, and then – only then – can we help transform the world. Let us go forth to our homes, carrying this transformative power.

Ramón Gonzalez Longória (Cuba YM), Clerk

Simon C. Lamb (Ireland YM), Assistant Clerk

Elizabeth Cazden (New England YM), CEC Clerk (Recording Clerk for these sessions)

 

Annex to the Minute: Possibilities for practical sustainability action

 from the Pisac consultation

Individuals can:

  1. Dedicate personal time to nature.
  2. Reduce consumption and use your consumer buying power to create change.
  3. Cut down on meat consumption, be aware of energy costs in production and transport of all foods and methane from ruminant animals, support sustainable agriculture.
  4. Travel – cycle, walk, use public transport or alternatives to private cars, keep air travel to a minimum.
  5. Grow your own food and plant trees.
  6. Be politically active in promoting sustainability concerns.
  7. Share environmental concerns through books, publications, conversations, electronic media
  8. Reduce energy use.
  9. Use less water and harvest water.
  10. Make time for spiritual connection with God.

Monthly Meetings, Worship Groups and small groups within Meetings can:

  1. Live in a community, share housing, participate in a transition town movement.
  2. Educate yourself and others.
  3. Share transport and equipment.
  4. Develop urban agriculture, community gardens, community supported agriculture, tree planting.
  5. Love nature and encourage others to do so: we protect the things we love; get children out in nature; take care of nature around your meeting house (e.g., picking up trash/litter).
  6. Invest ethically and divest from fossil fuels.
  7. Ensure meeting houses are carbon neutral.
  8. Build alliances, seek visibility, approach legislators.
  9. Share sustainability skills.

Yearly Meetings can:

  1. Support the sustainability actions of Monthly Meetings.
  2. Build solidarity with local people.
  3. Support Quakers in politics and international work.
  4. Form support networks and alliances to make more impact – we can only do so much on our own.
  5. Invest ethically, including on sustainability issues.
  6. Practice what we preach.
  7. Discern and move concerns to action.
  8. Set targets for increased sustainability.
  9. Connect and share with other YMs, direct or via FWCC Sections and World Office

We recognise that different actions are relevant to different Quaker meetings in different parts of the world.