Wednesday, April 19, 2017

Celebrating the Rich Diversity of Friends: Report on the FWCC Gathering in Stony Point for SCQM, 2017

Praying for those in our new traveling ministry corps
[This is a report for the spring gathering of the Southern California Quarterly Meeting, where I serve as clerk of the Peace and Social Order Committee. Our spring gathering takes place on Sat., April 29, 2017.]

This is a time when our country is deeply divided politically and religiously. The divide between Evangelical and mainstream Christians is especially deep and painful, reminiscent of the deep divide between Evangelical and liberal Quakers that took place in the 19th century and still persists today.  Fortunately, the Friends World Committee for Consultation has worked hard and successfully to bring about reconciliation among the many branches of Quakerism. It is the only place I know where you can find real diversity among Friends---ethnic and racial and theological diversity. I felt incredible inexpressible joy to be among such richly diverse Quakers!
Today I’d like to report briefly about the recent FWCC meeting that took place in Stony Point, NY. This was a meeting of the Section of the Americas. Over 120 Friends took part. 18 were from Latin America. Given the harsh anti-immigrant policies of our current President, we were very relieved that most of our Latin American brothers and sisters were able to get visas. Friends came from all the different branches of Quakers—Evangelical, Conservative, and unprogrammed. Non-theists as well as Bible-believing Christians took part. We worshipped in silence and also with joyful singing and sermons. During times of fellowship and worship sharing in our home groups, we got to know and appreciate each other as friends.
A highlight of the gathering was launching FWCC's new traveling ministry program. Seven Friends from North and Latin America were chosen for this program and we held them in the Light. 
Other highlights included hearing a radical sermon by a Cuban Friend who works for the Martin Luther King Center in Havana. Her talk was so powerful it convinced me I want to travel in the ministry to Cuba as soon as possible and get to know Cuban Friends better. Jill and I are thinking of going in December of this year. Please hold us in the Light! I was also impressed by the powerful sermons of Jonathan Vogel-Borne, a New England Quaker activist, and Carl Magruder, a beloved California Friend who now works as a chaplain.
There were many workshops dealing with a variety of topics. I was drawn to the workshops dealing with climate disruption.  Based on my experience with FWCC gatherings in Kenya and Peru, I have come to see that sustainability is as important to Quakers as peace in the 21st century. Since climate disruption has world-wide consequences, it affects and unites Quakers everywhere. Those who live in the global south often experience the effects of climate change more directly than those of us who live in the north. Droughts, floods and pollution are causing serious damage to countries like Peru, Bolivia and other places where Quakers live. We hear their stories and feel the need to redouble our efforts to work to be good stewards of our beautiful and fragile planet earth.
We worked on an addendum to the “Living Sustainably” minute that was approved in Pisac,  Peru. We realized that that the Pisac statement didn't include important elements like restoring the earth, supporting the resiliency and resistance of communities adversely affected by climate disruption, and deepening the spiritual basis of our work.
I am happy to share with you this report, which is on my blog and which I have copies of. I wish I could share with you some of the joy and enthusiasm and hope we felt coming together at the Stony Point Conference Center.  If you’d like for me to come to your Meeting and talk about FWCC, I’d be very happy to do so.

Here's a report about our meeting at Stony Point:

On Friday, March 24, 2017 seventeen Friends met at the Friends World Committee for Consultation (FWCC) gathering in Stony Point, NY, to discuss the sustainabilty minute approved at Pisac.  We had three working groups and here is a report on what transpired. We’d like to begin with a quote from Isaac Penington:
“Sink down to the Seed… and thou shalt find by sweet experience that the Lord knows.… and will lead….to the inheritance of Life.”
Powerful though it was in many ways, we felt the Sustainability minute at Pisac dealt mainly with mitigating anticipated climate disruption. We strongly feel Friends need to go further. Since climate disruption is already adversely affecting the earth as well as the lives of people and other living beings, we need to consider how we can act in solidarity with communities affected by climate disruption as they strive to respond, resist or adapt. We also need to consider ways in which we can help to restore the damage caused to the Earth.
We see a need for a collective as well as personal spiritual awakening leading to transformative spirit-led action. To be effective, we need to express joy in the changes we have made in our lives and share our joy with others. To be spiritually grounded, we need to deepen our relationship with nature and connect with God’s creation. We suggest that Friends traveling in the ministry through FWCC share FWCC’s material on sustainability and collect stories about the effects of climate disruption on local communities and how they are responding. We urge each one of us to carry out our Quaker testimony on earth care and lift it up to all the bodies we are part of.

How are we as Quakers living our lives as if climate disruption is real and really matters?

How are we showing solidarity with indigenous and marginalized peoples affected by climate disruption?

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