Friends United Meeting Annual Reports
The text of recently received Annual Reports of Friends United Meeting are below, with the most recently received at the top and older reports below. To jump to a particular report, simply click the year listed below.
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This is my personal report after having served three years as your representative to the General Board of Friends United Meeting. Your other current representative is Walt Fry. I will discuss two interrelated observations in this report. The first is how FUM is slowly changing regarding diversity. The second is my teaching in Kenya.
FUM has been steadily evolving over the last nine years, for which I again thank our former Board representatives, Howard Fullerton, Rich Liversidge, Mary Lord, J.E. McNeil, and Riley Robinson (who just finished his eighth year of service to FUM). Walt Fry and I have worked hard to consolidate and build on the clarity and good-will that our former BYM representatives helped to bring to the organization. FUM is not yet where we, as a yearly meeting, would like it to be. But I think this is true of every yearly meeting and association in the United States and Canada. However FUM has reached a good level of stability and productivity in terms of administration, finances, and service.
I have two stories to share. First let's remember back to 2002 in Nairobi, Kenya. Our Presiding Clerk had been asked to lead a Worship Group at the FUM Triennial. Unfortunately, his acceptability was questioned because he was a gay man in a committed relationship. Because of this, he did not lead a Worship Group in 2002. News of such gross disrespect toward our much respected and beloved Clerk hit us like a ton of bricks. As a yearly meeting we were overcome with pain, anger, and confusion.
Now let’s fast-forward to 2017. The FUM Triennial, which just ended, was held in Wichita, Kansas. Worship Groups were replaced by Anchor Groups and scheduled for three afternoons, Thursday, July 13 through Saturday. Last April, our recent General Secretary, who is also a gay man in a committed relationship, was asked to lead an Anchor Group. He said "yes" without thinking, because he supports Friends whenever he can. A few hours later, he remembered 2002. He suggested that the Anchor Group Coordinator should check to see if his leadership would be acceptable. She immediately talked to the Presiding Clerk of FUM. He is also a pastor. What did he think?
The Presiding Clerk belongs to a small yearly meeting, composed of seven churches and meetings. The church he pastors is also affiliated with Evangelical Friends International. Seven or eight years ago he had come to our Annual Sessions as a guest of our Intervisitation Program. He had jokingly told us that we were the very Quakers his parents had warned him about. In 2017 his wife was the Presiding Clerk of his yearly meeting. His response to the concern of the Coordinator of the Anchor Groups was that if anyone at FUM complained about our former General Secretary leading a Group, his yearly meeting would stand with our former General Secretary. End of discussion. End of concern. And so it happened.
From July 13-15, 2017 our former General Secretary led his Anchor Group on three afternoons at the recent FUM Triennial. Lightening did not strike. Later in the evening of July 13th there were thunderstorms in the vicinity as the clouds gathered to break the 102° F heat wave we had been suffering. I did hear thunder in the distance during our plenary, but no lightening struck near the campus, neither that night nor the next two days. And the nearest earthquake was in Oklahoma. Change has occurred within FUM—modest change, but more importantly, healing change. Can we change in our attitudes toward other Friends?
Here is my second story. In 2016, also as part of our Intervisitation Program, I visited with the FUM Presiding Clerk at his yearly meeting and attended his evangelical Quaker church. Afterward he and his wife took me to brunch before driving me to the airport for the journey home. The discussion got around to the subject of sexual and gender diversity. The Presiding Clerk reminded me that his yearly meeting, composed of pastored churches and unprogrammed meetings, had more theological diversity than we do in Baltimore. He said, in a questioning way, not in a challenging way, “Georgia, BYM just spent 10 years rewriting your Faith and Practice but you couldn't come to unity on the draft. Can't you give us more time?"
So Friends, can we give other Quakers more time? Our East African Friends, in particular, need more time. I am both grateful and proud to represent a Rainbow Yearly Meeting. Can we trust that our lived reality is so deeply rooted in the Light and has so permeated own being, that we can wait in living, loving witness to all of God’s Creation? Can we especially stand up, as an affirming and welcoming presence, for the lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender Friends who live in yearly meetings that are not welcoming and affirming? Our “witness of presence” is needed. Hostility still lingers, even within the FUM General Board. We have members who simply will not look at their colleagues on the General Board who are known to be gay or lesbian. The fifteen years since 2002 has brought us much hope but not perfect harmony.
The early Quakers were evangelists. We have records of them bringing a person to the tipping point of convincement—but then backing off. They did not believe that their work was to convert someone else. They felt that the notion of conversion was inadequate because the push for conversion is external. They firmly believed that their work was to bring someone "to the Inward Teacher and leave them there."
Our Quaker ancestors believed that true convincement must come from within. Convincement is partly a matter of the heart. And frightened hearts can only open slowly and only in an atmosphere of love. This is especially true of our Friends in Africa, who have suffered from centuries of Western colonialism and post-colonialism. Down through the generations they have acquired a reflex. Based on their own experience, their instinctive reflex is to oppose Western ideas about what is right and wrong. Think of the ideas they get about us from our movies and television shows.
I believe that if we want other Friends to be more open and accepting, we have to model openness and acceptance for them and to them. They are part of our Quaker diversity. First we have to live the change we desire for others. We have to "preach with our lives," as the early Friends did. God has brought us together in a way that gives us the freedom and privilege to show the wider Quaker world that the change we embody, in being a Rainbow yearly meeting, is loving, joyful, and profitable to our souls.
Friends United Meeting is moving away from the colonial missionary model and toward a global partnership. Almost 90% of the members of FUM live in East Africa. Does our witness to inclusion burn fiercely enough that we are willing to bear this burden for as long as it takes for LGTB Quakers in the rural areas and small towns of the United States and East Africa to live and worship as freely and joyfully as we do here in Baltimore Yearly Meeting? I firmly believe that the discriminatory personnel policy of FUM, left over from 1988, will change. Perhaps it will not change in my lifetime. And if this is the case, I ask that you include this firm conviction in my memorial minute.
Now let’s move to my second topic for discussion: Why do I teach in Friends Theological College in Kenya? On a personal level, teaching at FTC is a vital part of my life. I am convinced that God has been preparing me for this ministry for the last 55 years, ever since 1962 when I was an exchange student in Indonesia. As a teenager I learned to adjust to mosquitoes, third-world plumbing, lack of electricity, and different cultural values. On a community level, East Africa is a looming present reality for Quakers. About 250 Friends registered for the Triennial that was convened last month. About 50 of these were from Kenya. The 2020 FUM Triennial will be in Kenya. We will probably find the numbers reversed. Perhaps East African Friends will comprise 80% of the attendance and we European Americans will be the 20% minority.
East African Friends also give us a picture of our future. Just look at the numbers. Over 40% of Friends world-wide live in East Africa. As Friends we have a testimony to equality. If we live out this testimony within our own organizational structures, we can anticipate that by the year 2070, over 40% of the leaders in the Religious Society of Friends will come from Kenya, Uganda, Tanzania, Rwanda, and Burundi. If we want a significant place for our children and grandchildren in the Quaker world, we must engage with East Africa. Today a logical place to engage our future is at Friends Theological College in Kenya. FTC has students from Uganda and Tanzania. It sends teachers to Rwanda.
I believe it is vital that we engage with Friends in East Africa. If we do not, our brand of Quakerism will become overshadowed and quaint—perhaps only a footnote in the year 2150 when a new Quaker history is written. Not only will our children’s and grandchildren’s spiritual home be poorer for being so marginalized, but the Quakerism of 2150 will also be poorer. It will be poorer because we have an important portion of Light to offer other Friends. I believe this and I hope you do too. One important place to offer our perspective and vitality is at Friends Theological College.
Some of us have allergic reactions to certain words—for example “pastors” and “Christianity.” This is largely because we only understand these words in terms of our own culture and personal experience. At FTC I teach in the intensive program that is offered when the public schools are on vacation. The students who come have been pastors for 10, 15, and even as much as 40 years. Generally they only have a high school education. Their gifts have been recognized and tested by other Friends, not by an academic examination or a bishop. They come to FTC because they want to be better servants for Christ. Being a pastor in Kenya is not a lucrative career move. The pay is about 20%-35% of a living wage.
In other words, pastors in East Africa are not professional church leaders. They are multi-vocational. They all have one or two other jobs. They might be teachers or government workers or they might run a little stall in the village that sells airtime for cell phones and internet. More than likely a pastor or his or her spouse also tends their own small farms to provide food and needed income for their families.
Let’s look at the word “Christian.” The ideal of what it means to be a Christian Quaker is also a little different in Kenya. In a Christian Quaker family, a husband does not beat his wife or his children. While polygamy is accepted in the wider culture, it is not accepted among Friends. Boys are circumcised under more sanitary conditions. Women have more equality. There were 19 pastors in the class I taught last April. About 60% of them were women—some quite young and some middle-aged. Of course, Kenyan Quakers, like the rest of us, do not always adhere to the ideal. This is why it is important to train pastors. Training gives Quaker pastors more confidence to be strong teachers, elders, and promoters of Quaker values.
Perhaps the most important thing I offer at Friends Theological College is respect for the experience which our African Friends have gained from having lived their understanding of the faith of George Fox and Margaret Fell for three or four generations. The first missionaries came to Kaimosi in 1902. Kenyans have a longer and more familial Quaker heritage than most of us. I also offer my students tools for reading the Bible and doing theology from their own experiences and cultural perspectives. I invite them to ask questions. This is in direct contrast to their colonial and post-colonial indoctrination. I teach that if they do not ask their own questions, they will not be able to do their own theology. If they don’t do their own theology, they will not have the authenticity and grounding to help their community when crises occur.
We have a lot of discussion and give and take in my classrooms at Friends Theological College. I’ve learned a lot from Kenya Quakers. I hope that in the next ten years, you will have similar opportunities.
Georgia E. Fuller, (Langley Hill)
BYM representative to Friends United Meeting
Peace and joy to you from the Friends United Meeting staff and board. We trust your 2016 gathering will be blessed and joy-filled!
FUM is a growing, vibrant collection of Quakers from 34 Yearly Meetings and Associations. Though we are spread far and wide around the world, we are joined together in the living Power and Presence of Christ and through a variety of shared ministries and activities. We are enriched by your partnership in this community and we are grateful for all you do to make our work and witness possible.
Below are reports from FUM’s two department directors, Dan Kasztelan (Communications) and Eden Grace (Global Ministries). These are followed by a brief update on the FUM Campaign and plans for the 2017 Triennial.
Communication Department—Dan Kasztelan
Since I began in my role as Communications Director in January 2016, the Communications Department has undertaken several new initiatives, some of which we are progressing toward more quickly than others.
Perhaps the most obvious work we are doing is a re-creation of Quaker Life. The new version of Quaker Life will be a quarterly, debuting in July 2016. The content will be experiential, oriented toward storytelling, with a wide variety of expressive modes. We are designing a periodical for long life, in the form of a small book that can be placed on a shelf for future reference. We are also introducing new subscription rates and new ad prices; we’re confident that when people see the new format they will feel they are holding a quality publication which is worth its price.
Also in publishing, we’ve made ambitious plans for Friends United Press and the Quaker Hill Bookstore. First, we intend to publish a Bookstore catalog this year containing both Press publications and books from a variety of other publishers. We intend to carry around 200 titles that we believe can be useful resources for FUM Meetings and Churches. Many of these books we can sell through our book supplier without having to store inventory at Quaker Hill. Our aim is to become a one-stop supplier for Children’s and Adult Sunday School/First Day School planners, for various committees in their work, and for individuals looking for ideas and instruction in how to deepen their own spiritual life.
To this end, we also have plans for updating and re-publishing some of our older curriculum, as well as plans to develop new curriculum—we tentatively hope to publish two curriculum pieces per year. We are also planning to update our two most popular pamphlets, and to develop one or two new pamphlets for Meetings/Churches to use as introductory material. In one to two years, we hope to initiate a new series of introductory pamphlets.
We’ve also made an internal commitment to digitize, in the future, all publications that originate with us—beginning this summer with Colin Saxton’s Study Guide for the Eternal Promise. By late this year, we intend to digitize our Howard Thurman books and any FUP books among our top ten sellers, in order to make all of these titles available for download from Amazon and other e-book sellers.
We are also stepping up our publishing plans, and our search for manuscripts and authors. We want to begin publishing three to four titles a year, and already have four books in various stages of consideration for publication this year. Because we are able to publish on demand, publishing is not nearly as expensive for us as it used to be, so we’re optimistic about publishing more without dragging down the bottom line.
On a parallel, slower track to our publishing activity are fundamental changes to our web site and internet presence. The static, unchanging segment of our web site is still rudimentary after the major crash in October, but the site plan continues to evolve. Most of my web work since January has been aimed at the dynamic, changing portion of our web site. Two areas include:
- friendsunitedmeeting.org/news, which hosts reports on events throughout the FUM world of interest to other Friends—from gaining possession of the Wilmington Colegio building in Cuba, to the FUM Campaign whistle-stop tour in North America, to the Palestinian Model United Nations event in Ramallah. When the new version of Quaker Life debuts, /news will become FUM’s primary news vehicle, although some other avenues will remain: In addition to the Ramallah Friends School newsletter which is published semi-annually, plans are afoot for publishing a semi-annual Friends Theological College newsletter. In addition, news is distributed through the monthly Connections bulletin insert, and through a weekly subscription email newsletter, which we encourage Friends to print for those in their Meetings who are not connected to the internet.
- friendsunitedmeeting.org/dailyjournal, has started slowly, but will soon be hosting stories, poems, reflections, essays, and images by Friends about the intersection of faith and life in their own part of the world.
Global Ministries Director—Eden Grace
Here are a few of many highlights from the Global Ministries Department!
- In October, the FUM General Board approved a 4-point ministry plan for Belize, focusing on expanding the school, planting a church, launching community-based ministries, and identifying a suitable new facility to house these diverse activities. Dale Graves will complete his work as Interim Director at the end of June, and the search continues for both a Pastoral Minister and a new Director.
- This year’s Summer Mission Project – “Power for Pastors” – aims to raise $20,000 toward an estimated $70,000 total cost of installing solar power for all the main buildings at the Friends Theological College campus. Jim and Donna Hoeksema of College Ave Friends in Oskaloosa Iowa spent six months in Kaimosi lending their professional expertise to this exciting project.
- We were able to create a new staff position in Kenya: a Business Manager who is shared between Friends Theological College and the Africa Ministries Office. Having a well-qualified professional overseeing FUM’s financial operations in East Africa has allowed us to correct some problems and put strong new systems into place.
- We continue to search for a North American to work alongside our African staff in the Kisumu office. The position combines project management and communications; Friends are asked to encourage any potential candidates to contact Eden Grace.
- The Chairman of Friends Church Peace Team, Joseph Mamai Makokha, passed away in December 2015. The FCPT Board has been reorganized with Chrispinus Sifuna as the new Chairman. A grant from AFSC has allowed for expansion of the peace work in secondary schools, and the launch of a peace program in Samburu. FCPT is organizing now for the next cycle of general elections in Kenya (currently scheduled for August 2017); already there are signs of an increase in ethnic and political violence.
- Stoking the Fire 2016 took place May 13-15, 2016 in Sophia, North Carolina. There were 47 participants, including about 8 young adult Friends. This program for spiritual deepening and renewal among North American Friends continues to be very well received. Next year’s gathering will take place as a pre-Triennial event in Kansas.
- In Ramallah, we are preparing to search for a Quakerism Coordinator for the Friends School. In addition, we anticipate some other significant changes that will be announced later this Summer.
- Since last year’s report, Terri Johns left the FUM staff and Lisa Scarpelli was hired as Global Ministries Program Assistant.
Energize, Equip and Connect—The FUM Campaign
By mid-summer 2016, we will be moving into the final year of our three-year Campaign. This is FUM’s first major effort like this in nearly 30 years and we are so pleased at the way it is unfolding. We are on track to exceed our financial goal of $3,000,000 in gifts and pledges. More important, the series of small groups and personal visits is helping to strengthen our community and enable us to better listen to the needs of our various local meetings, churches and regional groups. A great highlight so far in the Campaign has been the amazing and generous response from East African Friends who are giving directly to support FUM’s world-wide efforts. As several African Friends have communicated, “it is our time to join in supporting our church!” They are doing so in sacrificial ways!
Planning continues for the 2017 Friends United Meeting Triennial. It will be held in Wichita, Kansas on the campus of Friends University. The dates are July 12-16. We will be gathering under the theme “A Living Flame” which is taken from a passage in Thomas Kelly’s The Eternal Promise. Registration information will be available soon!
Friends, the global community of FUM is grateful for your presence, prayers and partnership. Together, as we act in the Power and Presence of Christ, we are enabled to do some pretty amazing things. Thank you for all you do to help make this possible.
The Friends United Meeting staff and General Board members are grateful for the partnership we share with this community. The financial support, volunteer work and participation in FUM programs and events help bring life and vitality to the global fellowship of Friends. Thank you for each way you share in the common work and witness of FUM!
Some people think of FUM as an umbrella organization linking our 34 yearly meetings and associations for the purpose of preserving historic ties. Others see FUM as a North American mission organization focused on sending people and resources to do ministry in other parts of the world. While these ideas about FUM may have been practically true at different points in our history, we believe God is calling us to be much more now and into the future. Instead, FUM is a beloved community — joining Friends in a mutually-supported, global fellowship. Together, we seek to energize, equip and connect Friends in their local meetings/churches, through their yearly meetings/associations and by the programs and projects partner in all around the world.
This work happens in many different ways. Here are some examples we wish to highlight:
- Hopefully you are becoming familiar with the new Connections insert that is available in hardcopy or digital format. Each month, we highlight a different part of our community or shared work in a way that offers avenues for further exploration and growth.
- Quaker Life magazine continues to be available in print and digital formats offering news, inspiration and challenge. In an effort to expand our reach within the community, we will be creating a Quaker Life blog in the coming year. This will feature another set of writers in a more inter-active format and will focus on the practicalities and peculiarities of living as Friends in the world.
- An ongoing concern we hear is the need for creative and engaging educational curricula and spiritual formation resources. Over the next several months, we are actively working on best ways to meet this need through a revitalized and refocused Friends United Press.
- If you are reading this report during your annual gathering, you will find a wonderful and colorful FUM booklet on our display table. It highlights, primarily in picture form, some of the wonderful programs, projects and people across FUM. Please pick one up or find it on the website.
- We expect to hire a new Communication Director for our Richmond (US) office later this year. We are looking for a creative, gifted and passionate person to lead our communication team and vision into the future. A job posting is available on our website at www.fum.org.
- Many digital resources are available to Friends by signing up to receive them. These include e-newletters, weekly devotions and prayer concerns, inserts and Quaker Life. You can sign up for any or all of these by contacting our office at email@example.com or checking out the website.
- We have just launched a renewed initiative aimed at facilitating cross-cultural service and strengthening connections across our community. The Living Letters program facilitates a wide variety of travel in the ministry: for service, for prayer, for learning, for solidarity, for teaching, for discernment, for encouragement, for witness and more. Organized opportunities will be on the FUM website. Our current focus is on finding Friends to be part of our regular work teams to Cuba and to serve as three to nine month Friends in Residence in Ramallah.
- Ramallah Friends School has hired Nancy Sanderson Swartz to serve as Academic Dean. Nancy brings years of experience in International Baccalaureate education and will focus on training and developing the 100+ teachers who serve at the school.
- Within the Caribbean region of FUM, our primary focus is on re-visioning our work in Belize. A discernment team has been working over the last year to consider possible next steps for an expanded ministry. A new outreach through adult education is ready to begin and exploration into starting a Friends worshipping community continues.
- North American Ministries recently held a Stoking the Fire retreat in Cincinnati, Ohio. Quakers from all over the country came together for worship and sharing. This is one of many efforts aimed at kindling renewal among Friends and equipping local meetings and churches to be healthy and vibrant.
- Africa Ministries continue to flourish and expand through the work of our Kisumu office staff, project partners and in collaboration with yearly meetings. At Friends Theological College, Robert Wafula and the staff are actively working to expand the size of the student body as they also work through the next steps toward accreditation. FUM is currently seeking to fill two important ministry staff positions in Africa. We are currently looking for a Business Manager to split time between FTC and the African Ministries Office. This Kenyan Friend will oversee the financial and business operations of both offices. We also continue to search for a Communications Officer, a North American Friend who will enhance our story-telling and information sharing in Africa and cross-culturally. Both job descriptions are on the FUM website.
Energize, Equip, Connect: The FUM Campaign
- Last summer, FUM quietly launched a three-year, $3,000,000 campaign to deepen the connections within our community and raise funds to launch new initiatives and build a more sustainable support base. Through outright and planned gifts, we hope to exceed this goal before the 2017 Triennial. To-date we have around $1,000,000 raised or pledged.
- We are so grateful to the generous Friends who have contributed so far. Each gift, whether large or small, is making a huge impact on our capacity to do ministry. Over the coming year, there will be a series of small group gatherings in which Friends will be invited to come and hear more about FUM and the Campaign. Please consider attending one in your area.
2017 and 2020 Triennials
- Great Plains Yearly Meeting has agreed to host the 2017 FUM Triennial in Wichita, KS. The dates for this gathering of Quakers from around the world will be July 12-16. We will meet on the campus of Friends University.
- Over the last year, FUM has been in discussion with the United Society of Friends Women International and Quaker Men International about the possibility of aligning our Triennial schedules. An agreement was reached to begin doing this in 2020. A joint planning team will work together to coordinate a shared place and time so that the gatherings can be held back-to-back. This will reduce some of the cost for international travelers and encourage a deeper partnership between the three groups. At this point, we are anticipating hold these gatherings, with an overlapping day for joint fellowship, in Kenya.
On behalf of the global community of Friends United Meeting, I want to thank you for your partnership in our shared work and for the generous human and financial resources your yearly meeting, local meetings and individual members contribute to FUM. You are so appreciated!
If I were to describe the past year in one word, it might be “transition” Here is why…
- FUM’s long-standing investment in Kaimosi Hospital has come to a conclusion. After years of FUM successfully managing the hospital and working to improve the facility, East Africa Yearly Meeting decided to end their relationship with us in order to enter into a new partnership with the National Council of Churches in Kenya. In this transition, we pray for the success of this new, for-profit medical facility. At the same time, FUM now has the opportunity to refocus our commitment to holistic health-care in a new area and in a more sustainable way.
- Ann Riggs, Principal of Friends Theological College in Kaimosi, concludes her service as an FUM Field Staff. We bless and thank Ann for her creative and persistent effort to bring a higher standard of academic achievement to FTC and explore indigenous sources of support for the college. Over the next few months, FUM is working to fully fund our new Principal and FTC-alumni, Robert Wafula. We are excited about the prospect of a Kenyan Friend in this important leadership position. We are also using this transition to implement new policies with Field Staff to make sure they are fully and sustainably funded before being deployed for on-field service.
- Transition is also on the horizon in Belize, as FUM begins first-steps in a new and broadened ministry focus in this country. We celebrate and appreciate the work of Sam and Becky Barber and their children as they now prepare to return to the US. As FUM begins to lay the foundation for a more comprehensive ministry in Belize, we also must rebuild a sustainable funding base for this work. Unfortunately, Belize has been inadequately funded for many years. Dale Graves (Western YM) has been appointed to serve as our Interim Belize Director. Dale will work closely with our school staff to keep the Belize Friends School functioning at a high level and explore new opportunities for outreach in Belize City.
- For the first time in many years, FUM also has a Global Ministries Director working in the Richmond office and connecting with our Field Staff around the world. Eden Grace, former African Ministries Field Officer, has been in her new role since August 2013. Eden’s experience and expertise provide a new level of focus as we develop new programs, improve our systems, and a more connected sense of global partnership within FUM.
- Ramallah has long-been the location for some of Friends best work in education. More recently, we have been asking, “what else are we called to do in Palestine?” This conversation continues and we look forward to shifts in the work we do in this region and as we open up new opportunities for Friends to serve there.
- There is also a shift in FUM, away from viewing and experiencing it as an “organization that carries out projects someplace else”…to being a “community” into which we are all gathered. Across our international borders, yearly meeting divides and beyond our local meetinghouse walls, we are connected in a global partnership. We are knit together by the indwelling presence and power of Christ. We have a common work and witness to carry out in the world. We have needs, gifts and resources we can share with one another. FUM, if it is to have a vital future, must be a resource to the yearly meetings and local churches/meetings as you carry-out the work and witness of Friends on the ground and in your context. In this transition, FUM will focus on energizing, equipping and connecting all Friends in more practical ways.
- During our June 2014 Triennial gathering in Marion, Indiana, we will be discerning several matters that will impact the future of FUM for the next few years. These are very significant transitions, as we change our governance structure, take steps to transform FUM into a more authentic global partnership and create more opportunities for Friends to be actively engaged in the work of FUM on a regional basis. Of equal importance, FUM is poised to implement changes in our North American outreach, as we focus more intentionally on leadership development and practical resources to support vital local meetings and churches. You will be seeing transitions in our communication strategy, as we better tell the story of what Friends are doing around the world and more clearly articulate who we are called to be as the Friends of Jesus. At the Triennial, we are also very pleased to welcome Chebuyusi YM (Kenya), Highland YM (Kenya), Tanzania YM, and the New Association of Friends (US) into our growing fellowship.
These kinds of transitions, of course, are not always easy. They can upset our sense of normalcy and create feelings of uncertainty about what is going on or what may happen next. It is also much easier to talk about change than it is to actually carry it out. Because of these realities, many groups never get around to transitioning because it is just too hard or scary. I hope we will avoid being hindered by fear, uncertainty or endless discussion.
You see, in these moments of transition, we also have the opportunity to increase our dependence upon God, realign our priorities and commitments around our unique sense of call and leading. These moments in time can encourage us to trust one another and commitment to one another—if we are willing—as we walk together into a new and unfolding future. As your general secretary, I am so grateful for the FUM General Board members and their strong resolve to make transitions and changes that will better serve your Yearly Meeting, local meetings/churches and the individuals Friends who are part of the FUM community. Friends have a hopeful future and I am looking forward to working alongside you to see it realized.
Blessings and peace from Friends United Meeting! As a collection of 31 Yearly Meetings, thousands of local meetings/churches and hundreds of thousands of individuals, the FUM community and influence stretches many places. We are so grateful for your partnership in the work and witness of Friends around the world.
Over the next 12 months, Friends will be preparing for the Triennial Sessions to be held in Marion, Indiana on the weekend of June 11-14, 2014. Friends from across FUM will gather on the beautiful campus of Indiana Wesleyan University for inspiration, business and to be more fully equipped and energized to impact their communities. Under the banner of A Great People to Be Gathered, we expect to be challenged and encouraged by workshop leaders and terrific speakers, including Richard Foster and James Bryan Smith. More information about the Triennial can be found at http://fum.org/friends-united-meeting-triennial-2014.
Over the past few years, the FUM General Board has concentrated their energies on refocusing project and program priorities as well as the organizational structure. Their work will culminate with a complete report and recommendation to be presented at the 2014 Triennial Sessions.
Responses from the FUM Day of Discernment continue to help shape the future ministry of FUM. An overwhelmingly clear message that emerged from the report expressed a desire for new and expanded resources to revitalize churches/meetings in North America. Through a growing series of workshops, trainings, and written/digital materials, the North American Ministries committee of FUM is working to address this need.
Another focused area for revitalization is centered on the work in Belize. The Belize Friends School continues to meet an important need in this country. The FUM staff and board are also exploring ways other needs such as church planting opportunities, gang-violence and under-employment can be addressed. An assessment team is currently working on a proposal.
Ramallah Friends School continues to thrive. Joyce Ajlouny, Director for the school, has been working in the U.S. this past year and will continue to do so this year. Under her leadership, a combination of academic excellence and Quaker values is creating a transformational educational experience for students.
Growth and new opportunities for ministry continue to mark the work of FUM in East Africa. Exciting outreach to Uganda, Tanzania and South Sudan move forward as Friends in Kenya are increasingly equipped and mobilized for ministry. This year’s Summer Mission Project is dedicated to enhancing and expanding the work of FUM's new Education Secretary, Zadock Malesi. Zadock is working on the development and implementation of the peace curriculum meant to be used in the 1200+ Quaker schools in Kenya. In addition, he is focused on leadership development and ensuring Christ-centered Friends values are taught in each of the schools.
Several changes in the FUM staff are also taking place over the next few months. Eden Grace, who has served as the Field Officer for the African Ministries Office (AMO) in Kisumu, Kenya, will relocate to Richmond, Indiana this summer. She is assuming the role of Global Ministries Director for FUM, and a search for a new AMO Field Officer is currently underway.
In addition, Dr. Ann Riggs, Friends Theological College Principal, will be concluding her service in the summer of 2014. A search process for a new FTC Principal is also ongoing.
Both Ann and Eden have served FUM extremely well. Replacing them is not an easy task. Please hold this effort in prayer as we consider the best candidates to continue the work.
The support of your yearly meeting, local churches/meetings and individuals make all of this possible. Thank you, again, for the generous and faithful gifts of time, energy and prayer!
Friends United Meeting commits itself to energize and equip Friends through the power of the Holy Spirit to gather people into fellowships where Jesus Christ is known, loved and obeyed as teacher and Lord.
Since January of this year, it has been my joy and privilege to serve as the new general secretary of Friends United Meeting. It is exciting and invigorating to be connected to this global community of Quakers. Everywhere I go, I meet inspired and inspiring individuals, meetings/churches and yearly meetings seeking to deepen their life with Christ, engage one another in vibrant community and be salt and light in their corner of the world. Thank you for the work you are doing and the many ways you support our shared ministries through FUM!
Within the web of relationships that connect FUM, we have the opportunity and responsibility to nurture, energize and equip one another in the life and work we are called to do. As the FUM general board and staff have been discussing the future of our global community, we realize that this organization needs to sharpen our focus on being a resource to the people who make up our local and yearly meetings. Instead of being another organization to support, FUM is repositioning itself to support Friends in their efforts to faithfully embody and effectively express the life and message we have been given by God.
Over the course of the current Triennium (2011-14), we are uniting under the theme: We are a Great People to be Gathered — In Christ, In Community, For Mission! In very practical and we hope compelling ways, FUM will center on being gathered and gathering, as we call one another to a deep and transforming encounter with Christ and an active engagement in the world we inhabit.
As we look toward the coming year, here is both a report on the existing work we are doing in this area and things you can look forward to seeing:
• 40 Days of Prayer for Friends: This Fall (October 10 - November 18), FUM will be inviting all Friends to participate in a season of dedicated prayer, listening and conversation. Using a widely distributed devotional guide, Friends will have the opportunity to reflect on writings, queries and action steps that call us into a deeper experience and obedience. Along the way, there will be guided opportunities for small group discussions and web-based platforms as we engage one another in what we are hearing and learning.
• FUM Day of Discernment: The 40 Days of Prayer culminates in a day (November 18) for Friends to gather around the globe to reflect worshipfully on a set of queries about the future direction of FUM. Responses from the Day of Discernment will be collected and used by the board and staff as part of our strategic planning and restructuring process.
• Communications: Along with hiring new staff within the communications department of FUM, we will be launching a new and interactive website later this summer. You will continue to find it at www.fum.org but will notice huge changes in its accessibility, design and usefulness. You can connect with a wide variety of FUM ministries (FUM, Quaker Life, Friends United Press) on Facebook, as well. Also watch for offers coming your way from Quaker Life, as we seek to expand readership of this important inspiration and information link to who Friends are and what we are doing in the world.
• Africa Ministries Office (AMO): Along with their current support for our seven partner projects in East Africa, the hard-working members of the AMO (John Muhanji, Eden Grace and Judy Ngoya) are finding ways to broaden and deepen the effective outreach and witness of Friends in that region. Recently, they helped publish and distribute a Swahili/English version of the East Africa Faith & Practice that serves to reinforce Friends’ identity and develop more healthy cohesion between the 16 FUM yearly meetings in Kenya and one in Uganda. Additionally, they have worked extremely hard in the area of leadership training. Both within and beyond the borders of Kenya, Friends are flourishing and engaged in important work. Some examples include:
o Friends Church Peace Teams — Creative and practical peace-building efforts as Kenya braces for an upcoming presidential election.
o Peace Curriculum and Education Secretary — Both biblical and practical in approach, the peace curriculum will be used to influence a new generation of Kenyans as it is utilized in over 1,000 Friends primary and secondary schools. A new AMO staff person is currently being recruited to help coordinate this effort and to enhance the overall effectiveness and Friends identity of these schools.
o Uganda Yearly Meeting — This growing collection of Friends are being encouraged and equipped through leadership training, practical mentoring for bi-vocational pastors and through deepened connections and support by Kenyan Friends.
o South Sudan — John and Grace Moru (Turkana Friends Mission) are beginning an exciting outreach in this new country. Building on work started with refugees, there is an opportunity to gather a whole new group of Friends in this region.
• Friends Theological College: Under the leadership of Ann Riggs and Lon Fendall, FTC continues to make strides toward full-accreditation. Creative efforts at income-generation allow us to both meet the needs of the accreditation process and better equip emerging pastors for bi-vocational ministry. In my recent six-week trip to East Africa, I heard person after person report how vital a strong FTC is for the future of Friends in this region. With over 2,000 village meetings in Kenya, high-quality pastoral training is a huge need.
• Ramallah Friends School: RFS continues to thrive by offering high-quality education for Palestinian children. Bringing both Muslim and Christian young people together in one of the most conflicted places on earth, RFS is an exceptional institution that was recently named an “IB World School” — the only such school in Palestine and one of only a handful in the Middle East that offers the International Baccalaureate curriculum in grades 6-12. Currently, we are close to breaking ground on a commercial property development that will generate scholarship funds for future students.
• Belize Friends School: Sam and Becky Barber continue to provide oversight of the school and serve as an incarnational presence in their community. Recently, the Barbers helped coordinate an Alternatives to Violence Project training in their area of Belize, which is ripe with violence.
• North American Ministries: As previously mentioned, we will be refocusing FUM’s work in North America to be a more practical resource and vital support to the work being done by local and yearly meetings. Through education, encouragement and visitation, FUM will work to inspire unity, partnership in ministry and the sharing of resources in the expectant hope of revitalizing our ministry in Canada and the U.S.
There is much more FUM is doing, of course, through Kaimosi and Lugulu hospitals, Lindi School, Turkana and Samburu missions. As I listen to Friends, I hear there is also much more we could be doing — curriculum development, encouraging outreach, leadership development, building connectivity. It is my hope these will, indeed, by part of FUM’s bright future.
From Cuba to Canada, Belize to Ramallah, Nairobi (Kenya) to Mbale (Uganda), Tanzania to South Sudan, Whittier (CA) to Deep River (NC), Albany (NY) to Oskaloosa (IA), and many places in between, Friends are being gathered into a powerful fellowship. Your faithful and generous partnership within FUM makes this possible. Thank you! In a time when so many are polarizing and dividing in our world, may we come together in that Unity which transcends our diversity and empowers us to be faithful witnesses in the world.
Peace and blessings! Colin Saxton, FUM General Secretary
Annual Report to Yearly Meetings
“Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is --his good, pleasing and perfect will.” Romans 12:2
This theme of the July 2011 gathering of Friends United Meeting in Wilmington, Ohio was selected because the tagline on our some of our publications indicates FUM is in the business of transforming lives. Well, we know it is God who does the transforming, but we also know there are steps we can take to position ourselves and others so God can make changes that result in people coming closer to being in his “good, pleasing and perfect will.” We are glad to report the following evidence that lives are being transformed because of your participation.
Communications: Even though way too few people subscribe to Quaker Life magazine, the feedback we are receiving is very positive. We get notes, calls, and email messages from our readers that comment about how certain articles strike a chord, inspire, or shed new light on an issue for them. Our Quaker Life Advisory Committee is taking a serious look at increasing the number of readers so the work being done to produce this quality magazine will be worthy of our investment and Friends may grow spiritually when they read Quaker Life.
Friends United Press has made available an on-line version of “The 23rd Psalm in Your Own Words.” We’ve had many requests for printed copies as well.
As we try to be good stewards of your contributions, we are limited in time to keep our website as good as we’d like, but our Communications staff of two tries to keep it updated and friendly for your reference, for news, and for ordering materials. We now have an FUM Facebook page and a Quaker Life Facebook page so you can interact with us. We are grateful to Carl Williams who posts every Friday a devotional with the FUM Prayer List for those who are interested in keeping current with prayer needs by email. You can find this list by clicking the link at the bottom of the FUM webpage and/or submitting your email address in the box next to the link.
Global Ministries: You may be surprised that just over 1.3 million dollars was received and disbursed for the work FUM did globally in the past fiscal year! This includes donations sent to support our six Field Staff workers and over 100 funds restricted for various aspects of our ministries in Belize, Cuba, Ramallah, and Kenya/Uganda. Four of those ministries are considered to be “Primary” in that FUM hire’s the directors, appoints members to the Board of Governors, and oversee the financial records of Kaimosi Hospital, Friends Theological College, Belize Friends School and Ramallah Friends School. The other ministries you support are considered “Secondary” in that FUM acts to endorse and advocate for the work, collaborates with those who manage the project, and channels funds as appropriate to empower the ministries. Here are very brief updates for our primary ministries:
Belize Friends School: All six members of the Barber family participate in the work of giving a second chance at education to youngsters in Belize City who have not succeeded the first time. The enrollment at the beginning of this year was about 25, though later dwindled some. However, the Belize Dept. of Education has requested that FUM expand the program so the Belize Support team and the FUM staff are looking at ways that might be feasible. There have been four work teams visit the school this year to do painting and repairs.
Ramallah Friends School: Thanks to yet another ASHA grant from the US Government (and funded by a tiny portion of US tax dollars) the Ramallah Friends Boys School is undergoing more improvements in facilities. This grant (the 8th in 19 years for a total of over $5 million) is furnishing the new classroom building which was built with an ASHA grant two years ago. The new grant is also being used for the development of a sports field, and updating some access to utilities. Because of these improvements and the implementation of the International Baccalaureate curriculum, students at RFS are excelling at very high levels. Joyce Ajlouny, director, is also building relationships with alumni who have recently contributed funds to complete a kindergarten center and auditorium for the elementary school. By having these sources to improve facilities, funds that are contributed by individuals, monthly and yearly meetings can go to the operating fund and/or scholarships. Last fall, Joyce traveled among Friends in New York Yearly Meeting to build awareness of this historic ministry among the Palestinians.
Kaimosi Hospital: Since 2006 when FUM signed an agreement (Memo of Understanding) with East Africa Yearly Meeting – Kaimosi to manage Kaimosi Hospital many encouraging steps have taken place:
• The Kaimosi Hospital Task Force was organized to oversee the FUM relationship with the hospital and work with FUM staff to implement the MOU.
• Hospital staff salaries that were badly in arrears up to that point have been kept current. This is largely possible because of the Adopt-A-Nurse program.
• Renovation of half the main hospital building was completed.
• A new ambulance was purchased and plays a significant role in the accessibility to the hospital.
• The patient count increased by a third in the past year.
• A bequest will allow the rest of the main building to be renovated and a resident doctor to be hired.
• A management team serves collaboratively to improve integrity and accountability in the everyday activities of the hospital. Eden Grace serves on that team which meets weekly.
Still there have been some setbacks with the dismissal of now two administrators since the MOU was signed. The funding for the Comprehensive Care Center to treat AIDS and malaria patients has been terminated due to cutbacks in the global economy. The hospital also struggles with finances due to the number of patients it serves who cannot pay their fees. And, payments from the health insurance company for those patients who carry insurance, is almost always delayed so cash flow is always a challenge. We are constantly reminded that Jesus calls us to take care of the sick and that this is indeed a ministry that serves the poorest of the poor.
Friends Theological College: Now with over 90 students, FTC is offering four programs: Certificate, Diploma, Bachelors Degree and Chaplaincy. Principal Ann Riggs is being assisted by Lon Fendall who is in charge of staff development, curriculum revisions, and the accreditation process. Last year, FTC received “affiliate status” from ACTEA (Accrediting Council for Theological Education in Africa). This year we have received notice that in order for FTC to continue on tract for full accreditation, at least 50% of the operating fund needs to come from African sources. So, Ann and other staff members have extended efforts to develop more business enterprises in which students can work to earn their own fees. Such initiatives as increasing the dairy herd, establishing a tailoring business, setting up greenhouses for plant and produce sales, and the 2011 Summer Mission project to establish a goat herd are some of the ways we are addressing this requirement. Also, the Africa yearly meetings are being asked to contribute financial support and see that they help pay fees for the students they send for training as pastors. We still need support from the US, but more of it will have to be in the form of capital investment that will allow students to work as they study.
The 2010 Summer Mission Project to increase sources for clean water in Kenya was a huge success! We are rejoicing in the contributions of over $30,000 (Our goal was $10,000) to purchase bio-sand water filters, tanks for rain water collection, repair some plumbing at Kaimosi Hospital and to drill a second well in Turkana. Your donations have truly brought the water of life to thousands of thirsty people.
We hope all Friends will consider attending the Triennial Conference at Wilmington College July 27-30. We look forward to welcoming Colin Saxton as the new General Secretary. He will begin his service January 2012. Let the transformation begin!
Sylvia Graves, General Secretary