Friends General Conference Interchange Reports
To Friends Everywhere,
We send you greetings from the Friends General Conference Central Committee, meeting Tenth Month 16-19, 2014 at Pearlstone Retreat Center in Reisterstown, Maryland. We have felt blessed in our work and worship together, as we sought to be faithful to where the Spirit is leading us. During this weekend we wrestled with our call to challenge structural racism, we affirmed the value of long-standing FGC ministries, and we opened our minds and hearts to new possibilities. Our plenary sessions and committee meetings were seasoned with periods of deeply settled worship, where we could experience what it means to be a people knitted together in God.
During this past year, amazing amounts of good work have been done by the volunteers and staff serving FGC. The ministries of FGC have touched thousands of people, from those who attended the 2014 Gathering in California, Pennsylvania, to the dozens of monthly Meetings actively using the Quaker Cloud, to those who have participated in Quaker Quest workshops, or in gatherings for Friends of Color, or in the consultation on Spiritual Deepening held last March, to those we meet through the World Council of Churches and other ecumenical outreach.
In our time together this weekend, we focused on three areas in particular: spiritual deepening, preparing for a possible fund-raising campaign, and discerning and piloting ways forward for QuakerBooks of FGC. We came to clearness to take the next steps with developing modules for a Spiritual Deepening program to “make the full depth, joy, and fire of Quaker faith and practice highly available, teachable, and experiential for all those who are or will become part of our faith communities.” We hope this will bear fruit in years to come by helping Meetings deepen and strengthen their own worship communities, and answer the question: “What do we have to offer?” to seekers, to our communities, and to the wider world. We also came to clearness to move forward with a feasibility study to lay the groundwork for a major fund-raising campaign. The feasibility study would involve interviews with many potential donors, and would help to answer the questions: Are these the right programs? Is this the right time?
We are delighted to announce that our new QuakerBooks.org website is working beautifully. We encourage Friends to make use of this new website to download e-books, order printed books, and read interviews with Quaker authors. Our Quaker e-books collection has been greatly expanded, to include most of the in-print titles. We have heard that the ministry of QuakerBooks, especially the book tables, is greatly valued by Friends, especially in far-flung meetings that may not have ready access to the other Quaker resources. During the coming year, we will be looking closely at how we can have a sustainable QuakerBooks operation.
Friends General Conference is in a time of major transition, a time of great challenges and great opportunities. We know that God is with us, and we cherish each other. We look forward with joy to the journey ahead.
FGC Begins New Meetings Project
Friends General Conference is pleased to be embarking on a project to nurture new worship groups and meetings in the United States and Canada.
The New Meetings project is being developed in response to inquiries from Friends asking for support in starting new worship groups and Meetings. Sometimes the requests have been from existing Meetings that have become too large and want help in creating satellite worship groups. Other times, the request has come from Friends and seekers in areas where there is no established Meeting and they want guidance on how to nurture a flourishing Quaker faith and practice community. In yet other cases, the request is from Friends who believe they live in densely populated areas that can support additional worship groups and Meetings that might be more local for them. Given these requests and evidence that there are many seekers who want to explore Quaker faith and practice, the Executive Committee of Friends General Conference approved the formation of this project. To keep updated or learn more, check the following websites: http://www.fgcquaker.org/services/new-meetings-project and http://www.fgcquaker.org/faqs-about-new-meetings-project.