Epistle from FGC with news about work on internal racism Nov. 2016

To Friends Everywhere,

Greetings from the 115 Friends gathered at Pearlstone Conference Center, Reisterstown, Maryland for the Central Committee meeting of Friends General Conference, Tenth Month 27-30, 2016.

In this beautiful pastoral setting of gardens and woodland, chickens, sheep and goats, our hearts have been heavy as we remember the suffering in the world, and especially the emotional pain and fear experienced by Friends of Color at the 2016 Gathering. We ask forgiveness for being part of a domination culture that permits such cruelty. We ask forgiveness for our own insensitivity in failing to notice the suffering in our midst. We pray for the wisdom, compassion, and faithfulness needed to make FGC a beloved community in which all of God’s children are embraced.

We have committed to undertaking an institutional assessment around issues of white privilege and white supremacy, as requested in the petition circulated at the Gathering and beyond. Several yearly meetings and monthly meetings have already offered financial support for such an assessment, reflecting their deep commitment to the work of racial healing. We have heard that Long Range Conference Planning Committee Site Selection Subcommittee now has a majority of Friends of Color, and is hard at work looking for a safe and welcoming site for our 2018 Gathering. We look forward to real transformational changes in our beloved FGC.

We are also considering proposed changes to the governance structure of FGC, and beginning a reconsideration of our vision statement. In both of these we hope to be more responsive to the needs and leadings of our member yearly and monthly meetings. With great joy we celebrated the launch of the first phase of our new Spiritual Deepening program, which is now available online, offering resources suitable to Friends of all ages. Much additional content will be added in the coming months and years. We envision these tools being used by Friends from all our yearly meetings and beyond, as they gather in small groups to engage in deep, experiential exploration of Quaker faith and practice.

We are moving forward in hope and faith. We invite your participation and your prayers.

In the Spirit,
Frank Barch, Presiding Clerk

Approved October 30, 2016 at the Annual Meeting of Friends General Conference’s Central Committee