Friends World Committee for Consultation
International Representatives Meeting
The Sixth World Conference of Friends
17-25 April 2012
Friday, 20th April 2012
IRM12 – 01 Welcome and Introduction of CEC
We gathered with open worship and were welcomed by Duduzile Mtshazo, Clerk of FWCC. She read from Britain Yearly Meeting’s Advices and Queries on the conduct of business to help set the stage for our session. Jocelyn Burnell, Clerk of the Central Executive Committee, then reminded us of the CEC’s role in the life of FWCC and introduced the Central Executive Committee members.
IRM12 – 02 Nomination of the next General Secretary
On behalf of the CEC, Jocelyn Burnell brought forward the name of Gretchen Castle of Philadelphia Yearly Meeting to serve as General Secretary of FWCC starting 1 January 2013 and serving until the end of 2016. We gladly give our approval of her appointment, with gratitude to all the Friends who participated in the selection process for their careful discernment.
IRM12 – 03 Nominating Committee Report
We received the report of the Nominating Committee with gratitude. We give our approval to the following appointments:
Clerk Ramon Gonzalez Longoria to serve until 31/12/16
Cuba Yearly Meeting
Assistant Clerk Simon C. Lamb to serve until 31/12/16
Ireland Yearly Meeting
Clerk, Central Executive Elizabeth Cazden to serve until 31/12/16
Committee New England Yearly Meeting
Treasurer Alastair Reid to serve until 31/12/16
Britain Yearly Meeting
Member at Large, John Fitzgerald to serve until 31/12/16
Central Executive Committee Ireland Yearly Meeting
Member at Large, Dorothy Selebwa to serve until 31/12/16
Central Executive Committee Kakamega Yearly Meeting
Member at Large, Cristela Martinez to serve until 31/12/16
Central Executive Committee El Salvador Yearly Meeting
Member, Quaker United Nations Justus A. Mudavadi to serve until 31/12/15
Committee, Geneva (Africa Section) Vokoli Yearly Meeting
Young Adult Friends Committee Karla Moran to serve until 31/12/16 Western Yearly Meeting
Young Adult Friends Committee Rachel Stacey to serve until 31/12/16
Baltimore Yearly Meeting
IRM12 – 04 Central Executive Committee report
In her oral report, Jocelyn highlighted the benefits of the Central Executive Committee’s new pattern of meeting alongside Section gatherings each year. This has helped members of the CEC have a better appreciation and understanding of each Section; it is hoped that this pattern can continue, but financial realities and time constraints may prevent this. The 5-year gap since the last International Representatives Meeting has given the World Office staff more time between large gatherings, allowing them to undertake new initiatives, but has also meant that many CEC members have felt a second term of service beyond five years was not rightly ordered. There will be a large turnover in membership this coming December. We received this report with gratitude. The full written report of the CEC is attached to these minutes as an appendix.
IRM12 – 05 Appointment of Naming Committee
The names of Kenya Casanova Sales (Section of the Americas), Kenneth Co (Asia/West Pacific Section), Sue Pim (Europe and Middle East Section), Anna Baker (Section of the Americas), George Rubin (Section of the Americas) and Mary Mutsami (Africa Section) were brought forward to serve on the Naming Committee, the group charged with proposing individuals to serve on the Nominating Committee until 2016. We approve these names and ask that they report back during our next business session.
IRM12 – 06 Financial Report
In his written and oral reports, Roger Sturge, FWCC Treasurer, gave an overview of FWCC’s finances from 2007-2011. While FWCC is in much better financial shape that it was in 2004 (when our reserves were only £179), the global financial situation has had a negative impact on our income and expenses and we do not expect this situation to improve. At the end of 2011 the general reserves were £68,381, significantly less than in 2010. Roger drew our attention to an error and some omissions in the financial documents distributed in advance; a corrected version of that document is attached to these minutes.
The International Finance Committee has been considering FWCC’s financial challenges carefully and the CEC has set up a working group to consider the short-term future. In addition, a group meeting at this World Conference has been working on a vision for the work of the World Office over the next 5-10 years. The new General Secretary and newly constituted CEC will need to carry this work forward.
We received the Treasurer’s report with gratitude.
IRM12 – 07 World Office report
Nancy Irving, General Secretary, explained that the laws governing charitable organizations in Great Britain have changed in many ways. Despite having authorization from the 2007 Triennial to pursue becoming a Charitable Incorporated Organization, the Charity Commissioners in England & Wales only recently produced the relevant documentation and there has not been sufficient time to prepare the required changes to our constitution for this meeting. It is hoped that this will be brought forward at the 2016 meeting.
Nancy also reported briefly on the progress of the Global Change Consultation process initiated in 2008. Since the last International Representatives Meeting, the World Office staff has been restructured to improve their communication capabilities. The World Office staff has continued work to ensure that the international voices of Friends are heard in the QUNO offices.
Nancy’s written report is attached to these minutes. We received the report with gratitude.
IRM12 – 08 Section of the Americas report
Jane Snyder, North Pacific Yearly Meeting and Clerk of the Section of the Americas, reported on the tremendous changes that have taken place in the Section since the Triennial in Dublin. In 2007 the Section celebrated the 70th birthday of FWCC; here at Kabarak we celebrate FWCC’s 75th. The Section’s new website Voices of Friends (http://www.voicesoffriends.org/) offers many online resources to Friends around the world. The Section looks forward to having a Quaker Youth Pilgrimage in Latin America in the near future. In preparation for this World Conference, more than 55 local “Salt and Light” events were held around the Section.
The Section’s written report is attached to these minutes. We approve this report with gratitude.
IRM12 – 09 Asia/West Pacific report
Patricia Macgregor of Aotearoa/New Zealand Yearly Meeting and Clerk of the Asia/West Pacific Section reported that the AWPS newsletter is now published in Hindi. She also reported that 2011 marked the first year of an AWPS essay competition; they hope to hold another competition in the future. The Section has been developing a Quaker educational network to help Friends across the Section develop a greater understanding and knowledge of Quakerism.
The Section’s written report is attached to these minutes. We approve this report with gratitude.
IRM12 – 10 Europe and Middle East Section
Rachel Bewley-Bateman, Ireland Yearly Meeting and Clerk of the Europe and Middle East Section, reported on a number of changes in leadership in the Section in the past five years. Julia Ryberg, Ministry and Outreach Coordinator, set up, organized and ran in the online study groups in preparation for this World Conference. Among the Section’s many activities, there have been new connections developing with Evangelical Friends in the Section. Work at the Amari Play Centre in Ramallah, Palestine, continues.
Many more details of the Section’s work are included in the written report is attached to these minutes. We approve this report with gratitude.
IRM12 – 11 Quaker United Nations report
Andrew Tomlinson reported that both he and Jonathan Woolley, directors of the Quaker United Nations Offices in New York and Geneva, particularly value the close relationship between the QUNO offices and FWCC and the wider world of Friends. He also noted that over the past five years they have deeply appreciated the contributions Nancy Irving has made to the work and life of the QUNO offices and the ways her contributions have strengthened their ability to hear the voices of Friends around the world.
The written report is attached and was accepted with gratitude.
IRM12 – 12 Young Adult Friends report
John Fitzgerald, Ireland Yearly Meeting, presented the report on behalf of the Young Adult Friends Committee. He read the charge given to YAF Committee at the 2007 Triennial and reported that they have had a slow beginning. He asked Friends to help to spread the word that the committee exists and that they would like to be connected with Young Friends across the Sections.
The report was received with gratitude and approved.
IRM12 – 11 Overview of International Membership
Harry Albright, reported that the International Membership Committee is still in a state of flux as they try to discern how to best help isolated Friends. While they have had some success in the past five years working with Friends in all four sections, he asked that Friends continue to hold the committee in the light as they discern the way forward.
We accepted the report with gratitude. We also received greetings were received from Peter Eccles, Clerk of the International Membership Applications Committee
Tuesday, 24th April 2012
IRM12 – 12 Opening Worship and Remembrance of Departed Friends
We opened with worship during which we shared the names of Friends from around the world who contributed to the life and work of FWCC and who passed from this world since we gathered in Dublin in 2007. We give thanks to God for the lives of these dear Friends.
IRM12 – 13 Africa Section report
David Bucura, Rwanda Yearly Meeting and Clerk of Africa Section, reported on the changes in Section leadership and growth in the Section since 2007. They now estimate that there are 600,000 members in Africa Section. He also spoke of the Section’s future plans, including their hope to build a Quaker Centre in Western Kenya.
The written report is attached to these minutes. We received the report with gratitude.
IRM12– 14 International Planning Committee report
Elizabeth Gates, co-clerk of the International Planning Committee, reported briefly on the work of that committee in preparation for this 6th World Conference, noting especially the contributions of the many Friends who helped make this event possible.
We received the report with gratitude.
IRM12 – 15 Next International Representatives Meeting in 2016
On behalf of the Central Executive Committee, Nancy Irving reported that at its last meeting the CEC agreed that the next International Representatives Meeting is scheduled to be held in 2016, four years from now. The location will be determined by the CEC. One invitation has been received thus far; the CEC is open to more invitations, but they need to be received soon.
We received the report with gratitude.
IRM12 – 16 Report from the Naming Committee
Kenya Casanova Sales, Cuba Yearly Meeting, presented the report of the Naming Committee. We give our approval to the following appointments to the Nominating Committee, with thanks to the Naming Committee for their work:
Ishmael Chanzu, Kaimosi Yearly Meeting
Mary Mutsami, Kakamega Yearly Meeting
John Norris, Indiana Yearly Meeting, Clerk
Emma Condori, Bolivia Santidad Yearly Meeting
Elizabeth Duke, Aoteoroa/New Zealand Yearly Meeting
Chris McCartney, Ireland Yearly Meeting
We note that their term of service commences from today and runs until the International Representatives Meeting in 2016. We give thanks for their willingness to serve.
IRM12 – 17 Report from the Thread Group considering the Future of FWCC
Mike Eccles, Britain Yearly meeting, read the following minute from Thread Group meeting together at this World Conference to consider the future of FWCC.
The future of FWCC thread group has met three times during this conference and considered what we might like the work of the World Office to look like in 5-10 years. 30-40 Friends have been present representing all four FWCC sections. We have been reminded of the current work of the FWCC World Office. A number of different scenarios were introduced to the Thread Group and were considered in the sessions.
In today’s business session we present a summary of our discussions until now; we have worked in a worship sharing format. Key points that came out in our worship sharing were:
- God will sustain us and we can look to our future with confidence.
- The work of the world office needs to be sustainable both financially and environmentally, and necessary to be done at the World Office level rather than at the Yearly Meeting – or other – level.
- The work should be visible, engaging, well communicated and unifying.
- Some lack of enthusiasm is felt for the report – it is unrealistic to do more than we do at present, in the near term.
- At present our expenditure exceeds our income so we have to either spend less, raise more money or do both. It is clear that the World Office will need to do both over the next few years. In order to do this, the World Office needs a clear set of priorities of what work will be done over the next 10-15 years.
- The work of the World Office is ministry. If it is doing the right ministry, then resources will be forthcoming. The calling of the World Office needs to be tested over the coming years to know that it is doing the right work.
- The new general secretary of FWCC has previously reviewed and restructured the work of organisations and will be well placed to carry out the work.
- We were reminded that being a sign of the Kingdom of Heaven on earth is a purpose of FWCC which we have experienced this at this World Conference.
- Friends have survived over three centuries, we have been persecuted, isolated and had to overcome bigger trials than this one. God tests us for which we are grateful.
- Friends in some countries contributed to a travel fund to allow Friends from other countries to attend this World Conference. For this there is a tremendous sense of gratitude. This is God’s work and has allowed us to meet here this week.
- If we wait on God’s will, we will have what we need at the right time. We may have to wait a long time for this.
- We move forward in unity and always keep seeking.
- We need to remember that as Friends we have a profound message.
- We felt a collective sense of joy and appreciation for the gifts we receive from FWCC.
We agree on the following areas which should be considered as priorities for review by the World Office during the next 5 years:
- Size and location of the World Office
- Number and nature of gatherings
- Ways of working
- Project basis of work
More details of these are available in the supporting documents, which are available on request.
We received the report with gratitude. A Friend has asked if the CEC can consider reviewing the statement of the role and purpose of FWCC and strengthening it in terms of our influence on the outside world though our work. Another Friend hoped that Young Adult Friends could be included in the priorities. Elizabeth Duke, former General Secretary, reminded us that the work of FWCC is for all of us to do, that without us FWCC does not exist.
IRM12 – 18 Budget
Roger Sturge presented a tentative budget for 2013. He was pessimistic about the financial future of FWCC; if we continue our current pattern of spending more than we take in, we will quickly deplete our reserves. We need to take action to reverse this trend. A final budget will need to be approved by the CEC.
We received the Treasurer’s report with gratitude. We note a desire from some Friends in Africa Section (and other Sections) to increase their financial support of FWCC’s work. Nancy Irving explained how the World Office and the Sections raise funds and how dependent the World Office is on support from the Sections. A Friend described the importance of having a compelling vision of the work and building relationships in successful fundraising. He urged us to discern new and creative ways for the World Office to do more active fundraising without competing with the Sections. The question was asked, has the time come for FWCC to have a new name and new brand?
IRM12 – 19 Minute on Global Change: The Kabarak Call for Peace and EcoJustice
David Millar, Canadian Yearly Meeting, reported on the Global Change Consultation FWCC has been conducting for the past three years. At this World Conference, one of the Thread Groups worked hard in three sessions considering the results of that process. They presented a proposed minute for approval; following discussion in the body of the Business Meeting and prayerful consideration by the Clerks, we united around the following minute:
In past times God’s Creation restored itself. Now humanity dominates, our growing population consuming more resources than nature can replace. We must change, we must become careful stewards of all life. Earthcare unites traditional Quaker testimonies: peace, equality, simplicity, love, integrity, and justice. Jesus said, “As you have done unto the least… you have done unto me”. We are called to work for the peaceable Kingdom of God on the whole earth, in right sharing with all peoples. However few our numbers, we are called to be the salt that flavours and preserves, to be a light in the darkness of greed and destruction.
We have heard of the disappearing snows of Kilimanjaro and glaciers of Bolivia, from which come life-giving waters. We have heard appeals from peoples of the Arctic, Asia and Pacific. We have heard of forests cut down, seasons disrupted, wildlife dying, of land hunger in Africa, of new diseases, droughts, floods, fires, famine and desperate migrations – this climatic chaos is now worsening. There are wars and rumors of war, job loss, inequality and violence. We fear our neighbors. We waste our children’s heritage
All of these are driven by our dominant economic systems – by greed not need, by worship of the market, by Mammon and Caesar.
Is this how Jesus showed us to live?
- We are called to see what love can do: to love our neighbor as ourselves, to aid the widow and orphan, to comfort the afflicted and afflict the comfortable, to appeal to consciences and bind the wounds.
- We are called to teach our children right relationship, to live in harmony with each other and all living beings in the earth, waters and sky of our Creator, who asks, “Where were your when I laid the foundations of the world?” (Job 38:4)
- We are called to do justice to all and walk humbly with our God, to cooperate lovingly with all who share our hopes for the future of the earth.
- We are called to be patterns and examples in a 21st century campaign for peace and eco-justice, as difficult and decisive as the 18th and 19th century drive to abolish slavery.
We dedicate ourselves to let the living waters flow through us – where we live, regionally, and in wider world fellowship. We dedicate ourselves to building the peace that passeth all understanding, to the repair of the world, opening our lives to the Light to guide us in each small step.
Bwana asifiwe. A pu Dios Awqui. Gracias Jesús. Jubilé. Salaam aleikum. Migwetch. Tikkun olam. Alleluia!
We approve this minute and ask that it be attached to the outgoing epistle. We ask Friends everywhere to take its message into their hearts and to carry it forward.
IRM12 – 20 Weaving the Threads – a Minute of Exercise
Elizabeth Cazden, New England Yearly Meeting, presented the following minute of exercise as a summary of our proceedings at the Plenary Weaving sessions:
During this Conference Friends have met in forty-two “thread groups” (or “spinning groups”) to consider various aspects of the theme, “Being Salt and Light: Friends living the Kingdom of God in a Broken World”. Descriptions and reports from these thread groups will appear in the Conference Report. A “weaving committee” then took the strands that emerged from the Thread Group experience and reports and formulated some queries for consideration at three “weaving” plenary sessions. The queries, slightly edited, are also reproduced elsewhere in this report. We did not reach conclusions, but record a summary of the contributions during the plenaries.
Spiritual framework: Our work in the world rises from God’s calling. God speaks one Truth, but gives many instructions. God gives each one of us our particular tasks. We need to discern and test what God’s call is for each of us, today, knowing that as we are changed more into God’s likeness, more may be required of us.
Responses to violence and peace with justice: In many Thread Groups, and in many of the pre-conference activities, Friends have considered how we are called to respond to violence in our many societies, and to work for a just peace. Friends have lifted up transformative work such as the Alternatives to Violence Program, “Healing and Rebuilding our Communities” workshops, the Quaker United Nations Offices, and projects promoting peace through the World Council of Churches and other ecumenical bodies.
Violence happens at many levels, from violence within homes and families to wars between nations. Friends in many countries are grieved by lynching and other forms of vigilante violence against criminals or those perceived of as unacceptable. All the levels are interconnected. Unless we model as Friends how to walk in peace, we have nothing to teach the world. We are called, as George Fox said, to live in the virtue of that Life and Power that takes away the occasion of all wars.
In order to achieve nonviolence, each of us needs to be transformed in our character and in our behavior. When we get cross or brusque with someone, or fail to ask forgiveness one of another, we are planting the seeds of violence. We need to model alternative methods for responding to injustice and violence so that we can work against injustice without using violence. We heard an account of a former criminal who said that all the reform programs that he had been assigned to did not do him any good or transform his life, and that “the only thing who has ever changed any member of our gang is the love of Jesus.”
Violence arises from injustice. All types of inequality, such as divisions of race or ethnicity, privilege, and social class, tend to lead to violence. Violence begins when we begin to define someone or some group as evil, as “them” or “the other”, when in reality they are persons just like ourselves struggling to live in the world. Our meetings and churches and Quaker institutions need to truly witness to equality.
Violence can take place in our thoughts and words as well as our actions. Silence can also be a kind of violence, if a person or group uses power to prevent others from expressing their ideas.
Our global economy includes both cooperation among peoples and exploitation of the people or natural resources of one region by entities elsewhere. Our Quaker organizations and contacts may enable Friends to share information about these systems of exploitation, to help us work more effectively in our local context and jointly.
Those among us with greater financial resources need to heed Jesus’ call not to lay up treasure on earth and to be willing to give all we have to meet the needs of others, not just to give out of our surplus.
Faith in Action: We are grateful for the many diverse ways that Friends groups around the world are putting their faith into concrete action to heal the broken world. We rejoice in seeing an underlying consistency in how Friends approach issues and in the things we choose to do.
As a prophetic people, we have a message to deliver about the need for fundamental changes in the ways we live our lives, to achieve an economy and environment closer to what God intends. We must be willing to speak the truth, to speak the word of God. When we compromise our testimony to the Truth for the sake of popularity or convenience, we lose our “saltiness.”
We yearn for a radical and challenging transformation that forms the basis for our hope for the future. We wonder if there could be one or two projects in which all Friends around the world could unite, each in our own context. What is our common project and how are we known as Friends?
The work of loving our neighbors, building peace, or creating something with our own hands can involve risks and require courage, but should also lead to great joy.
Environment: Several Thread Groups considered environmental aspects of God’s kingdom, and the need for justice and healing in the physical world. The whole of creation yearns for regeneration and wholeness (Rom. 8:22.). Many Friends are working in their communities to sow the seeds of environmental restoration. For example, a new type of inexpensive water filter, easy to produce locally, can supply essential clean water, saving thousands of lives. Following the 2011 earthquake/tsunami in Japan, Friends have worked with others to close nuclear power plants, and “green” the economy to use less electricity. In areas suffering from deforestation, planting trees restores ecological balance.
Addressing environmental issues also requires attention to economic fairness and power structures, and a willingness to confront those who oppose changes to the global economic system. Military activities are a major contributor to pollution and energy consumption, and environmental problems in turn cause conflicts that can turn violent.
Healing: Friends yearn for healing of divisions and conflicts among us, especially on the subjects of racism, human sexuality, gender equality, and other hidden unspoken inequalities.
Many Friends have participated in programs of truth and reconciliation within their countries, and with prison and criminal justice models that promote reconciliation and restoration of the offender to the community rather than just punishment and exclusion.
Healing and peace require that we acknowledge our sinfulness, the places where we are broken and have treated our neighbor badly. Otherwise we are lying to ourselves. When we ask for forgiveness, we will receive it. God loves us all. But love does not mean continuing in the same sinful ways. Like Jesus said to the adulteress (John 8:11), we have to “Go and sin no more.”
When we recognize and name our own brokenness, we may be able to offer that brokenness to others in God’s service, to contribute to the healing of others.
Interfaith work: In many contexts, we have found that effective work to heal a broken world is easier if we work with other Christians or those of diverse faiths.
We have come into the Quaker community by many different doorways. As we move deeper into that community, and encounter Friends very different from ourselves, we need to acknowledge our difference, and then say, as Jacob did to the angel, “I’m not going to let you go until you bless me.”
What keeps us from engaging with others is fear of being corrupted or of having to give up our beliefs or testimonies. When we encounter those different from ourselves, whether among Friends or with other faith communities, we can choose to dance around cautiously without truly meeting. It takes time and courage meet in things that are eternal. In moments of deep sharing of joys and grief, we find love, tenderness, and mutual understanding. Friendships form, and seeds of future partnerships are planted.
In this World Conference, many of us have encountered others whose theology and practice of religion are strange to us. In a sea of love, we have been able to let go of judging, to look through the eyes of another, to meet others with respect and an open heart. When we encounter the “other” with a full and open heart, God’s love can join us and melt the differences and ignite the wholeness. We have been encouraged to carry this blessed experience into our home communities, reaching out to Friends in different branches and to non-Quaker faith communities. Conferences like this, travel in the ministry, and visits to other meetings allow face-to-face opportunities for these encounters.
As we return home each of us needs to discern carefully how God may be calling us to live more obediently and to live out our faith in action. We then test those leadings within our communities of faith. The friendships we have formed here may help us envision and carry out more collaborative work.
Conclusion: The Weaving Plenary requests that this minute of exercise be published with the Conference Report, together with the queries that were presented by the Weaving Committee and reports from the thread groups. There were some suggestions that the queries be edited slightly before publication for clarity of language, and several Friends have volunteered for that work.
We received the minute of exercise with gratitude, knowing that the queries and reports generated out of our Thread Groups will be included in the World Conference report along with descriptions of each Thread Group and each Thread Group’s work.
IRM12 – 21 A second report from Young Adult Friends
John Fitzgerald, Ireland Yearly Meeting, reported that Young Friends have not been able to unite around an epistle at this point in time. This has caused some pain, but many Young Adult Friends feel undivided, even without a written epistle. They feel that their epistle has been written on their hearts.
We ask Friends everywhere to uphold them as they seek unity together.
IRM12 – 22 Epistle
Members of the epistle committee read our outgoing epistle aloud in three languages – Spanish, English and French.
24 April 2012
To Friends Everywhere,
We greet you amid the beauty of the Rift Valley, surrounded by the welcoming embrace of Kenyan Friends. From April 17 to 25, 2012 close to 850 men and women from all the streams of Friends, coming from 112 yearly meetings and groups in 51 countries have gathered at Kabarak University near Nakuru to consider the theme “Being Salt and Light: Friends Living the Kingdom of God in a Broken World.”
The colours, songs, movements, rich diversity and joyful spirit of Friends here gathered have inspired and uplifted us all. We have heard Friends from around the world, including several young, prophetic voices, speak on the theme. They gave a wide variety of interpretations of salt and light in a biblical context and also in how we can apply its meaning to life in our world today.
The call that brought us together was to be salt and light as we live out the Kingdom of God. We received this call with a real sense of urgency in these times of natural disasters, violence, global change, and unequal access to basic needs. We have been reminded that we are sometimes too preoccupied with being heavenly to be useful on Earth. We see this as a challenge to not detach ourselves from the wider society in hope that this will bring us closer to God. Rather, we need to be present and engaged in our communities, while remaining attentive to the Still, Small Voice, in order to allow the Spirit to work through us.
‘The Religious Society of Friends–the Friends Church– is about nothing if it is not about transformation’ in the words of one of our speakers. As Friends we feel called to try to return to the conviction and simple faith of our Quaker ancestors and their transformed lives, so that we may once again become a prophetic people, speaking to God’s purposes in these times.
We first have to look inward, both as individuals and as a religious society. Can we end our internal strife? Can we reach out in love to one another as Jesus commanded? We may not understand liberal/evangelical/programmed/unprogrammed Friends but we are all Friends. The diversity of Friends at this conference has provided us with an opportunity to live out our testimonies to equality and truth. Our ability to do so has been put to the test. We found ourselves reluctant to go beyond polite acceptance and avoidance of difference. We are not united in all of our attitudes and beliefs, yet we choose to come together to listen, to share, and to hear things we may find uncomfortable and upsetting. As we choose to seek connection in the midst of our differences, we witness the power of God to bless and heal. We may not always understand each other fully, but we are united in our yearning for transformation. We are united in God.
We live in a broken world. We were moved to realise that so many of us here carry a sense of grief, loss, failure or hurt. We were forced to recognise the brokenness in us and in our Religious Society. A speaker challenged us to consider that brokenness may also be opportunity. We are uncomfortable with feeling brokenness and seeing it around us, yet from it we gain strength, empathy and compassion. Rather than trying to heal our brokenness as quickly as possible, we challenge ourselves – and Friends everywhere – to consider what God’s plan could be for a hurting individual, and for a hurting community.
We know that the Kingdom is come and coming. We pray that we may experience the Kingdom of God within ourselves here and now, so that we may live it more fully in transforming this world. In this we anticipate the everlasting Kingdom, in which the world will be made whole.
Here in Kenya, we remember the post-election violence that shook this nation in 2008, and the courageous stance taken by our brothers and sisters. We invite all Friends to join us in prayer for Kenyan Friends who are working even now for the prevention of conflict, and for their whole nation as their elections approach. We pray also for all people facing conflict and violence in the world.
Early on in our time together, we were asked the same question that God asked Elijah on Sinai: “What are you doing here?” In the latter half of the conference we have considered many queries that have come out of our work together in small groups. Each of these queries asks, in one way or another, “What will you do after you leave here?” We bear these queries with us, as they are for all Friends to discern how God is leading.
The inward voice of Christ Jesus is what will answer these questions for us. May we be faithful in listening to that voice once we have returned from this gathering. As Christ leads all of us, we can become the salt of the Earth and the light of our broken world.
We approve this epistle with gratitude and ask that it be distributed to Friends around the world.
IRM12 – 23 Minute of Record
Our gathering here in Kenya has reflected well the rich diversity of the extended family of Friends. We have shared time together in worship, in small home groups, at meals, over cups of tea, in discussions, in interest groups, singing and praying, talking quietly under the trees, even on the bus. We are thankful for all we have learned and the new connections that have been forged. It has been a rich time of sharing and renewal.
In our morning worship we have experienced the wide variety of approaches Friends bring to worship and have been moved by the reflections our speakers shared with us. We continue to be inspired and challenged by the messages brought by these Friends:
Esther Mombo, Bware Yearly Meeting
Karen Gregorio de Calderon, Santidad Yearly Meeting, Guatemala
Noah Baker Merrill, New England Yearly Meeting
Pradip Lamichhane, Nepal Yearly Meeting
Carmela Lao, Philippines Yearly Meeting
Thomas Owen, Aotearoa/New Zealand Yearly Meeting
Ramon Gonzales Longoria, Cuban Yearly Meeting
Jocelyn Burnell, Britain Yearly Meeting
Nancy Irving, General Secretary
Sizeli Marcelin, Rwanda Yearly Meeting
David Niyonzima, Burundi Yearly Meeting
Forty-two different Thread Groups met over three days, delving more deeply into a wide variety topics related to our theme. A small group of Friends endeavoured to discern what themes were emerging from those groups; they were led to write a series of queries encouraging Friends to go deeper, to bring new light to the world. During three plenary sessions, Friends reflected on those queries and raised even more issues for consideration.
Midway through the conference, many Friends took part in a variety of excursions organized by the Local Arrangements Committee. It was a day to experience new things and a day to rest.
We are especially grateful for the work of all those Friends who volunteered their services to enable these activities to take place. We are particularly thankful for the labours of the Local Arrangements Committee, the International Planning Committee, the World Office staff and our Conference Coordinators.
IRM12 – 24 Friends Completing Service
We record with gratitude the service given to FWCC by Friends who will be completing their tems of service at the end of this year:
Duduzile Mtshazo, Central and Southern Africa Yearly Meeting, Clerk
Elizabeth Gates, Philadelphia Yearly Meeting, Assistant Clerk
Jocelyn Burnell, Britain Yearly Meeting, Clerk of the Central Executive Committee
Roger Sturge, Treasurer
Kenya Casanova Sales, CEC member at large
Nancy Irving, General Secretary
IRM12 – 25 Concluding Minute
We close this 6th World Conference of Friends united in love and the sure knowledge that God has been with us. We ask Friends everywhere to consider these questions:
Are we living out God’s Kingdom in this beautiful, precious, broken world?
Are we salt-seasoning?
Are we light-bearers?
Can you, will you, open your heart to God’s still small voice, to God’s guidance?
What work does God have for us Friends in the 21st century?
How can we change?
We close with hope, intending to meet again in 2016, God willing.
Duduzile Mtshazo, Clerk
Elizabeth Gates, Assistant Clerk [Recording Clerk]