Monday, July 10, 2017

Report of the March, 2017, Friends World Committee for Consultation (FWCC) Gathering in Stony Point, NY

FWCC Section of the Americas brings together Quakers from diverse theological and geographical backgrounds, from "Alaska to the Andes," according to our executive secretary Robin Mohr. While FWCC cannot make decisions on behalf of its constituent yearly meetings, it can and does reflect how Spirit is at work among Friends world-wide. In March, 2017, 127 Friends, including 18 from Latin America, at Stony Point, NY, to worship, listen to speakers, and consult together. There were numerous interest groups, including two dealing with Sustainability.
Emelyn Buskirk, Hulda Muaka, and I were there as Pacific Yearly Meeting representatives and were very glad we attended. In this age of divisiveness, we were thrilled to see pastoral and unprogrammed Friends find common ground and connect in meaningful ways.
For me, a highlight was working with Chuck Kleymeyer, Geeta Jyothi McGathey and other Friends to craft an "addendum" to the Living Sustainably minute approved in Pisac, Peru.
In 2015 Pacific Yearly Meeting approved this minute, which has been circulating among our constituent Monthly Meetings. Among other things, it calls for two concrete actions on the part of Quaker Meetings toward living sustainably.
From FWCC’s statements in Kenya and Piac, it has become clear that climate disruption and living sustainably have become priority concerns for Friends around the globe--in many ways, a testimony as important as our traditional Peace Testimony. 
Chuck helped us to see 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.
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?

FWCC Traveling Ministry
By Hulda Bithia Muaka, Palo Alto Meeting

”The gifts he gave were that some would be apostles, some prophets, some evangelists, some pastors and teachers, to equip the saints for the work of Ministry, for building up the body of Christ, until all of us come to the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to the measure of the full stature of Christ.” (Ephesians 4:11-13)

Friends World Committee for Consultation,(FWCC) has now launched a Travelling Ministry and has so far trained  seven travelling  ministers.  Four in North America and three in Bolivia.I’m glad to announce that requests by meetings, churches and yearly meetings, (YM) have started streaming in and visits are already taking place.The aim is to revisit the old Quaker practice of connecting meetings, churches and yearly meetings despite the distance, different ways of worship and culture via visitation.
“Visitation is the essential work of FWCC. Visitation is like opening windows and letting the light of understanding shine in. Through visitation, Friends meet ‘face- to -face and heart -to -heart’ to share both that which unites and that which divides us in the life of the Spirit. With God’s help, open exchange builds understanding, respect, trust and love, and renews awareness of a worldwide family of Friends.” (Vision of the FWCC Traveling Ministry).

Traveling Ministry
There is a need in the 21st Century for Friends to renew our minds and remain connected rather than isolated.  One of the Travelling Ministry members, Kenya Casanova from Cuba said that Cubans were isolated from Friends for 30 years and when they received a Travelling Minister after the isolation, they were happy and welcomed a new viewpoint and are keeping abreast with what Friends are doing in other parts of the World. We had a good presentation of Friends from Cuba at the Stony Point session and one of the keynote speakers was Kirenia Criendo of Cuba YM.
We also had our own Carl Magruder (PYM ) a key note speaker and Jonathan Vogel-Borne of New England YM. The theme was Living Peace (Viva La Paz in Spanish). All the speakers emphasized the importance of Peace and the work that is involved in maintaining it.
The key verse was, “I have told you these things, so that in me you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the World.” (John 16:33).
 In a Quaker Speak Video, Jim Anderson notes that it is a healthy opportunity for us to welcome guests. He says, “When a visitor comes, we learn from them and we give them our own experience to carry to the next place.”
A travelling minister will bring freshness to a Meeting; this gift helps us understand things in a new way. The minister gives us a chance to look at ourselves again and reexamine our acts.
At out sectional meeting in Stony Point, New York, where the first training took place, we decided that the next group will focus on the youth. When we were in Peru during the world conference (2016), the youth said that they are not just leaders of tomorrow, they are leaders of today too and stepped up to their word to lead most consultations at the conference. We need to equip them for now and the future to ensure that the Society of Friends continues. We have come a long ways and we are not stopping here.
For those who have a call to Travelling Ministry and can make a two year commitment, arrange for discernment process in your home Meeting  and apply. Travelling costs only will be met by FWCC. Applications deadline is September 30, 2017.  Application forms and forms for requesting a Travelling Minister and other details are available at the WWW.FWCCAMERICAS.ORG

Report from the new member of the FWCC representative team
by Emelyn Buskirk, Live Oak Meeting

It is always a joy to be in a multi-cultural gathering of Friends.  That's what made the gathering at Stony Point significant for me.  Some were from as far away as Bolivia, including the presiding clerk of INELA (National Evangelical Friends Church).  We gathered both in small groups and plenary sessions.  The small groups were conducted as worship sharing sessions, and included members from all the four branches of Friends: Liberal, Conservative, Friends Church and Evangelical. Much time was devoted to these groups, four sessions over all four days of the conference.  This concentration on personal connections flowered in our worship together.  For me, the high point of the event took place during unprogrammed worship.  Out of the silence someone began singing "How Great Thou Art."  As some of us joined in I noticed that the Cuban lady next to me was singing in Spanish.  Someone asked that we sing it in Spanish, which we did.  It was a time of sweet unity in song.

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