World Plenary Meeting: Your Questions Answered

27 February 2023

In 2024 FWCC will host the first World Plenary Meeting for nearly nine years. All Yearly Meetings and Quaker bodies associated with FWCC are invited to send nominees.

Below is a list of frequently asked questions about the event which will regularly be updated. If you have a further question, clarification or correction please email [email protected]

What is the FWCC World Plenary Meeting?

The FWCC World Plenary Meeting (WPM) is a meeting for representatives from all four FWCC Sections to undertake FWCC business, surrounded by worship and fellowship with Friends from around the world. All Yearly Meetings and other bodies associated with FWCC are invited to send nominees, and individuals are welcome as well.

When is the World Plenary Meeting? 

5-13 August 2024.

For those attending the physical meeting, arrivals and registration will begin on 5 August 2024 with the official opening taking place on the morning of 6 August.  The closing ceremony will take place on the morning of 13 August 2024.  

The online meeting will also take place from the 5-13 August 2024.

Why do we have a World Plenary Meeting?

FWCC began in 1937, following a world conference, and has periodically held them ever since. Some decisions can only be made by the International Representatives Meeting of FWCC – the World Plenary.

While the business is essential, there is much more to a Plenary Meeting. Past participants have often referred to the experience as transformational, because dialogue and worship with Friends from different countries and traditions has a tendency to strengthen all in the faith.

Where will the FWCC World Plenary Meeting take place?

The venue for the 2024 World Plenary Meeting will be in Gauteng province, around an hour from Johannesburg in South Africa. It will also be possible to take part as an online participant from where you are, either individually or with others gathered together in the same place joining through a single internet connection. 

The event is hosted by Southern Africa Yearly Meeting, which brings together Friends and Quaker Meetings in Botswana, Lesotho, Namibia, South Africa, Zambia and Zimbabwe.

What is the theme of the World Plenary Meeting?

The theme of the event is “Living the Spirit of Ubuntu: Responding with hope to God’s call to care for creation and one-another”. Strongly echoing the ‘Golden Rule’ (Love your neighbour as yourself), the Zulu word ubuntu refers to the deeply held belief, morality and custom that every person is worthy of being recognised, respected and heard, and that we as human beings are all interdependent. 

It implies a collective responsibility to ensure that all members of the community have the means of subsistence and learning and participation. It further extends to care for the environment, since people are part of the same divinely given creation that is an interdependent whole.

How much does it cost to attend the World Plenary Meeting? 

The base-fee for in-person participants from Meetings and Friends Churches in Europe, the USA, Canada, Australia and New Zealand is £1000, which is approximately ‘cost price’ for the accommodation, food, and conference costs.

The base-fee for participants from Meetings and Friends Churches in Africa, Latin America, the Middle East and Asia is £100, subsidised by FWCC. There are also places for under 35s from any country at £100. Day tickets are £10 a day.

These are described as ‘base-fees’ because places are ‘pay as led’ with these as minimums, so if you or your Quaker group is able to pay more you will be invited to do so. 

Online places are also pay-as-led, with a recommended fee of £100 in Europe, the USA, Canada, Australia and New Zealand, and £10 in Africa, Latin America, the Middle East and Asia.

Do I need to be nominated by my Yearly Meeting to attend the World Plenary Meeting in person?

Every yearly meeting in the world is encouraged to send at least two nominated representatives: one in-person, one online. To use a ‘Yearly Meeting Nominee’ place you must be nominated by your Yearly Meeting, and will be asked for the minute and a contact email address in the application form. The invoice will them be sent to your Yearly Meeting. Your place will be confirmed when it is paid. 

In addition to this however there are 100 in person-places designated as ‘open places’, open to Friends travelling on behalf of monthly meetings, area meetings, worship groups, local or village meetings, sections, other Quaker groups and yearly meetings sending a number of representatives, as well as individuals. 50 of these will be subsidised and half will be cost price (see above). To use an open place you will need to fill in the online application form.  

Can I donate to help fund somebody else to attend?

Yes please. FWCC will subsidise around half the physical places, and also help with travel and technology in many cases, but the costs of this commitment to inclusive participation are significant, for which we need to fundraise. This includes a target to significantly improve the online infrastructure of a number of Quaker Meeting Houses and Friends Churches in the Global South, which would have a positive impact long after the event has finished. To make a donation of between £100 and £1000 please go to . To make a donation of a greater size please email [email protected] or contact your section secretary.   

If your place is being paid by someone else, either a Quaker group like a yearly meeting or another Quaker group, please indicate this on your booking form and we can arrange an invoice. 

How do I book my travel to the World Plenary Meeting?

If you are booking an open place from any part of the world, or are a nominee of a yearly meeting in Europe, the USA, Canada, Australia or New Zealand, you will need to arrange and pay for your own travel to South Africa. 

If you are a nominee of a yearly meeting in Africa, Asia, Latin America or the Middle East, FWCC may be able to arrange your booking for you, and where needed, cover the cost. In Africa, contact clerk Bainito Wamalwa on [email protected] and for the rest of the world contact the World Office (email at top of this document) who will be able to advise.

Once Friends arrive in Johannesburg (Oliver R Tambo airport) we plan to welcome you in person, and are in the process of arranging regular, safe and reliable transport for all from the principal arrival point (OR Tambo airport) to the venue on 5 August. Once bookings have closed for the WPM we will be back in touch to ask for your travel plans.  

How many representatives should yearly meetings send?

Every yearly meeting is asked to send at least one nominee in person, and one online. However if a yearly meeting wishes to send more than this, they may be able to come, by applying for an open place. 

How many Friends can attend in person and how many online?

There are places for 270 Friends to attend the full event in person, and space for at least 500 online.  In addition, day tickets will be available for local Friends. 

Can I attend just part of the event?

Yes. For Friends wishing to visit but not to take part in the whole event, day places (no accommodation) are available for any day of the gathering. If you plan to only take part in one day of the event as a whole, either in person or online, Sunday 11 August 2024 may be a particularly good day to do so, as this combines ‘all together’ open worship with Friends around the world and a plenary session weaving together the different strands discussed on the previous days.   

When do bookings open and close?

Bookings will open in very early July 2023, and close at the end of 2023, if places do not fill up before then. A dedicated online booking form will be made and shared for this purpose. 

Who organises the World Plenary Meeting?

The World Plenary Meeting is organised by the FWCC International Plenary Committee (IPC), which combines nominees from every section, co-clerks and the FWCC General Secretary. It reports to the Central Executive Committee.

Many Friends from around the world are already working together to prepare the World Plenary Meeting. This includes Friends meeting together on the WPM worship, finances, language services, technology, and communication. A committee of Young Friends from around the world are also preparing a World Young Friends Meeting, which will take place on the 2-4 August 2024, also near Johannesburg, South Africa. 

Friends from Southern Africa Yearly Meeting are also working to prepare the WPM, and to give us a warm African welcome to the WPM. 

What languages will the World Plenary Meeting be in?  

The official languages of the World Plenary Meeting will be English, French and Spanish. 

What kind of worship will there be at the World Plenary Meeting?

Mornings will offer opportunities for Bible study or unprogrammed Meeting for Worship, and each day will finish with an ‘epilogue’ reflecting prayerfully on what has happened.  

Worship sessions will be held in the early morning, mid day and in the evening. Worship will include many of the forms used by Friends worldwide. This will include unprogrammed expectant ‘waiting’ worship, programmed worship featuring pre-prepared hymns and sermons, and semi-programmed worship combining the two.

What key areas are likely to be talked about during the WPM?

Three strands will run through event, one about ubuntu/community (which will inform the others), one about addressing historical injustice, and one about the environment. Friends will be asked to choose one strand and follow it through the event. On the penultimate day of the event a plenary session will seek to bring the strands together.    

How can I prepare for the World Plenary Meeting?

This World Quaker Day (1 October 2023) Friends everywhere are invited to learn about ubuntu, pray for the world family of Friends and our neighbours, and take action for the environment. A short guide is being prepared to support this, as well as a film featuring Friends in Southern Africa.

A study guide will be produced in 2024 for participants to the World Plenary Meeting, to reflect on before the WPM.  

Are there opportunities to be of service to FWCC in the WPM preparations?

Yes. Once bookings are closed we will be seeking a number of Friends to help serve in different roles at the event itself, including with home groups, crafts, and pastoral care both on site and online. We are also planning a World Plenary Meeting choir, so if you enjoy singing please let us know on your booking form.  

Please also spread the word about the event, and explore whether you or your Quaker community could donate to support the costs of running an inclusive event.

How will the outcomes of the World Plenary Meeting be shared and acted on?

FWCC is ready to act on outcomes of the World Plenary Meeting, and is recruiting for a Justice and Peace Secretary to support this. World Quaker Day 2024 will be an opportunity to spread the word of whatever is decided.  

FWCC has strong commitments to sustainability. How is this being considered in the planning for the World Plenary Meeting?

With its hybrid form, this is likely to be the most sustainable World Plenary Meeting that there has been for a very long time. The relatively small in-person element will mean fewer travel emissions. The shift to holding these events every 7 or 8 years also helps with this (previously they took place as triennials every 3 years).

The online investment includes a commitment to help improve facilities in Quaker spaces which would struggle to connect with such an event otherwise will help the international communication fostered through this event long after it has finished.

Having said that there will by necessity be some air travel involved in this event. At this point we don’t think it is possible to achieve the goals of a World Plenary Meeting as an online-only event. We encourage those Friends who can to arrive by land or sea, but recognise that air will be the only option for others.

How do I attend the World Plenary Meeting online?

Online participants are likely to have access to most of the plenary sessions in addition to online-only options. The online WPM programme is being developed.

Simply sign up using the same booking form, and select an ‘online only’ place. 

What is an online ‘hub’ and how do I join one?

A ‘hub’ is a place where three or more people join the event through a single internet connection. It could be a Friends Church, Quaker Meeting House, retreat centre or private home. Further information on hubs is being developed and will be shared soon.

Can I join just some of the WPM if I join online? 

Yes.   We understand that online participants will in some cases be balancing other responsibilities. We hope some sessions can be recorded to watch at a convenient time. 

We would advise though that if you join a home group that you try to attend this ‘live’. Your home group is a daily online international community sharing and reflecting about your experience of the event. To maintain continuity and build community it would be good to plan to attend most of these.

If you are coming only for one day we recommend the Sunday, which will include a big international act of worship, hosted by the Africa Section. 

I am part of a Quaker interest group – can I meet with others at the event?

Yes. There is currently space on the agenda for Quaker Interest Groups* to ‘set out their stall’ and meet others. Exactly how this will work is still being developed.

*In this phrase, a ‘Quaker Interest Group’ is any group of Quakers with international membership or relevance which connects with others through a shared interest, for example music, the arts, healing, social action or peace. 

I have more questions – who should I send my questions to?

Email any additional questions to:  [email protected] and we’ll do our best to answer. If you are part of a Yearly Meeting, Area Meeting, Monthly Meeting, Interest Group, or other Quaker group meeting thinking of sending a Friend to the gathering, and/or donating to support someone else to do so, do consider inviting FWCC to your next meeting. We would be happy to meet online, or have a phone discussion to respond to your questions.

World Plenary Meeting in Pisac, Peru, 2016
World Plenary Meeting in Pisac, Peru, 2016