Thank you for entrusting me with the role of FWCC General Secretary, beginning this week. The prospect of working for the global community of Friends, that enables so many to know God’s love through the Quaker experience is a profound joy.
I am also aware of the phenomenal challenges of the times we are living through, described by Marie Odendaal of Southern Africa Yearly Meeting as the ‘three pandemics’ of coronavirus, human violence and global heating. All our work takes place in this context, as we experience the effects and seek to tackle the underlying causes.
My work to date has mostly been involved in campaigning; for peace, climate justice, equality and human rights. As a part of my role with FWCC, I hope to keep working for these causes, but in a way which is distinctive to Quakers.
I know that the individual change each of us makes will at times be difficult to assess. Nevertheless, I believe that if we act in faith doing the right things for the right reasons then we will be part of the great movement which will address the world’s great problems.
I remind myself as often as I can of the Parable of the Sower which speaks of good seeds growing in fertile ground. The world isn’t short of good ideas to get us out of the crises we face. What we do have is an overabundance of ‘stony ground’ – where people don’t have “eyes to see or ears to hear”. I believe though, that the global community of Friends can be the good earth, from which plants grow which gently break up the hard ground, and return it to nature again.
Giving ministry in a shared worship session with Kenyan and British Friends last year, FWCC Africa Section clerk Bainito Wamalwa cited Job: “There is hope for a tree if it is cut down, that it will sprout again…at the scent of water it will bud and bring forth branches”. This powerfully underlines for me the importance of our global community – in ancient woodlands trees do connect their roots underground and sustain, revive and rejuvenate one-another, but they cannot do so without water – which in our context is the living water of Christ.
We could think of ourselves as living through pandemics – or alternatively as living through storms (and some of us literally are living through storms). And how do trees weather storms? They connect, they reach out, and uphold one-another with their roots underground. In our Quaker community, those connections are built through love, joy, community and friendship, all of which are cultivated through FWCC.
Continuing the work of Gretchen Castle, Susanna Mattingly and so many others, this is what I hope to keep doing. It starts with saying hello, which this letter begins, and will be the priority for my first few months. If you would like to email me (en inglés o en español), my contact details are now on the staff profiles page. I look forward to hearing from you.
General Secretary, Friends World Committee for Consultation