FGC News from October Central Committee Meeting

Central Committee 2016 Highlights

As our governing board, Central Committee members have the joyous and demanding responsibility of gathering with other Friends from across the US and Canada to discern how FGC faithfully can serve its member yearly and monthly meetings with vitality and spiritual depth.

FGC has been through two years of contraction in response to budgetary challenges. Having done significant work to make FGC more financially sustainable, Central Committee celebrated the opportunity to turn our attention in the year ahead to strengthening ongoing programs, and to preparing for an institutional assessment focused on addressing systemic racism and fostering faithful inclusion.

Here are some highlights of the governing board’s time together in worship, fellowship, and discernment.

Institutional Assessment on Racism

Central Committee united around the need to undertake institutional assessment to uncover structural racism within our organization – and to prepare plans for dismantling such structures. We heard from many yearly and monthly meetings about the importance of taking this step. As part of our commitment to collaborate with our affiliated yearly and monthly meetings, we will be sharing our learnings from this assessment with Friends across the USA and Canada.

Although structural oppression doesn’t diminish the presence of the Spirit in us or the vision of a “great people to be gathered,” it does create barriers that are stumbling blocks to full participation by many in our faith community. In dismantling these stumbling blocks, we must tap into the power of the Spirit while acknowledging the truth that structural oppression and systemic racism does spiritual violence to us all. To be faithful in this time we must do more than admit that such oppression and attitudes of privilege exist. We must act to eliminate them if we wish to be fully inclusive in ways that are more than mere words.

After getting bids from anti-racism consulting firms and building a draft budget, it’s become clear that this assessment may cost as much as $60,000. We will need financial support from meetings and individual Friends on top of their regular support for the FGC’s ongoing programs and services. We do have some pledges in hand for this work, but we need many more.

Spiritual Deepening

After careful planning and preparation, our long anticipated Spiritual Deeping Program launched on October 24. The first eight week online Spiritual Deepening group is underway and the next will begin in December. A number of local meetings have embarked on the small group portion of the program. Three topics comprising the first set of the program are available for use of Friends of all ages. Meetings are invited to engage with the Spiritual Deepening Program, which is a pay-as-led program with a suggested donation of $20 per participant per set. We look forward to additional sets of topics becoming available on a quarterly or semi-annual basis throughout 2017 and beyond.

Those of us attending Central Committee enjoyed a taste of the Spiritual Deepening Program through an exercise using a Pennington quote as springboard into reflections about the seed(s) God is sowing in our hearts at this moment. We were excited about FGC sharing this type of spiritual reflection and community building with other Friends. We encourage meetings who are looking to reinvigorate their religious education efforts to explore whether the Spiritual Deepening program would speak to their needs.

FGC Gathering

The 2017 Gathering will be in Niagara, NY, with the theme “Ripples Start Where Spirit Moves.” Plenary speakers have been chosen and their names and topics will be available online before the end of the year. We were reminded that People of Color have often experienced the Gathering sites as unwelcoming or hostile. Because of that, the Gathering Sites Selection Committee has been reconstituted to include a majority of Friends of Color in hopes of addressing this issue.

Budget

We have made tremendous strides toward cutting our expenses. As we move forward, we are focusing on communicating with Friends about the quality and impact our programs.  We expect that this will increase engagement with FGC, and will also increase financial support.  We need that increased financial support so that we can further reduce the amount we are drawing from reserves each year.

Other Programs

QuakerBooks FGC continues to operate a walk-in bookstore at Pendle Hill and an online bookstore, http://www.quakerbooks.org. Over the past year, we have improved our inventory control and customer service systems. We depend on Friends patronage to provide this important service.

Quaker Press is actively soliciting proposals for new books and pamphlets related to FGC’s major goals and programs.

Our Christian and Interfaith Relations Committee brings Quaker perspectives to ecumenical and interfaith events. It also connect us with faith-based conversations about truth, justice, and reconciliation.

The Quaker Cloud has recently undergone a number of technical improvements and a new way of providing customer support as we seek to provide meetings with an easy to maintain, low cost, and feature rich website that includes a minute manager and member directory.

Our Ministry on Racism offers assistance and support to meetings and yearly meetings that want to develop their racial and ethnic awareness, increase their diversity, and strive to address the impact of racism on our Society. Specific projects include the Pre-Gathering Retreat for People of Color and their Families, and organizing Friends to attend the annual White Privilege Conference (WPC). Last spring more than 400 people from Friends meetings and institutions attended WPC.

Faith & Play™ volunteers continue to create new curricula to explore Quaker practice and faith via the powerful Faith & Play methodology. This group works autonomously with support from FGC.

Friends Meeting House Fund provides loans for meetinghouse purchases and remodels, and some limited grants as well.

These programs and projects are only possible due to the efforts of hundreds of volunteers and donors across the United States and Canada. We are grateful for this support. Together we nurture the spiritual vitality of the Religious Society of Friends and nourish one another’s lives.

Download a PDF of the Central Committee 2016 Highlights

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7-Day mindfulness meditation retreat – Pendle Hill Mar 26-Apr 2, 2017

Present in Every Moment: Waking Up to Love and Compassion in Our Lives

A seven-day Mindfulness Meditation retreat with Mary Grace Orr, Anne Briggs, and Larissa Kitenko

Mindfulness meditation is a simple technique offered by the Buddha for awakening the mind and heart. This retreat will be a time of silence, with periods of sitting and walking practice, opportunities to talk about your own practice, and formal presentations. It is suitable for both beginners and experienced meditators.

Full information

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Teen Weekend- Quake that Rocked the Midwest Jan. 13-16

It is time for The Quake that Rocked the Midwest – an annual gathering of high school aged teens from LEYM, OVYM (Ohio Valley Yearly Meeting) and ILYM (Illinois Yearly Meeting). Interested teens can register with Rose Dennis of ILYM and notify Robb Yurisko of LEYM so he can liaise with Rose and possibly aid in travel.  In years past this has been a wonderful opportunity for high school-aged Quaker teens to bond and spend time together.  Contact Robb for more information at (614) 286-4829 or rlyurisko “at” gmail.com.

Announcement & Registration Form

Permission Form

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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

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2016 LEYM Annual Records available

Lake Erie Yearly Meeting’s Annual Records for 2016 are now printed and available.  Copies have been mailed to individual monthly meetings.  Please pick up a copy from your meeting.

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New Year Retreat: The Music and Cultural Politics of 20th Century Latin America – Pendle Hill, Dec 28, 2016 – Jan 1, 2017

New Years: The Music and Cultural Politics of 20th Century Latin America

Experience the color and passion of Latin American music, art, and politics. Savor the rich cultural heritage and dramatic landscapes of Latin America, the pulsing rhythms and ecstatic melodies of its folk-music, and the cross-fertilizing influences of the Old and New Worlds. The exuberant expression in music from Central and South America has inspired composers around the world. While enjoying vibrant music in stunning videos and live performances, we will also try to understand the variegated cultures from which it springs. Sometimes, as with Gustavo Dudamel’s highly regarded ‘El Sistema’ program, the underlying politics are complex and controversial. Among the principal composers we will explore are Mexico’s Carlos Chavez, Cuba’s Paquito D’Rivera, and Argentina’s Alberto Ginastera.

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New Years Creative Retreat – Pendle Hill Dec 28, 2016 – Jan 1, 2017

New Years: Creative Reflection – New Year’s Arts and Spirituality

A creative retreat with Melanie Weidner

Embrace winter’s gifts of introspection, and give in to the sacred, creative rhythms of your inner life. Nourishing poetry, imagery, and meditation will invite you to celebrate the passing year and explore your longings, leadings, and intentions for the year to come. Express that inspiration and wisdom through fun, beautiful paper arts collage, and simple creative writing.

Limit 16

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2017 FGC Gathering information

The Gathering is a week-long Quaker conference organized by Friends General Conference (FGC) each year around the time of July 4. It offers a wealth of opportunities for workshops, socializing, making music, attending informational sessions, and so much more. It has robust programs for teens and children. It meets on a college campus in different parts of the U.S. and Canada in different years. Anywhere from 800 to over 1,000 Friends participate.

The 2017 Gathering will be held at Niagara University in Lewiston, NY. The theme is Ripples Start Where Spirit Moves. An exciting feature at the Gathering will be the celebration of 100 years of the American Friends Service Committee (AFSC), with workshops, a plenary speaker, and a party. The dates of the 2017 Gathering are July 2 – 8, 2017.

For more information, see FGC’s website.

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Becoming Vibrant Elders in Our Emerging World – Pendle Hill retreat Dec 9-11, 2016

The Great Turning:  Becoming Vibrant Elders in Our Emerging World

A weekend with Lynne Iser and Rabbi Mordechai Liebling

As we approach the second half of life, the question of “What gives our life meaning?” reemerges as we naturally consider the legacy that we are leaving for future generations. In this experiential workshop, based on the work of Joanna Macy and Rabbi Zalman Schachter-Shalomi, we will uncover the unique gifts that our years of life experience provide along with the opportunity to grapple with what is happening in our world. We will explore the idea of the Great Turning, recognizing that old systems and institutions are breaking down and that new possibilities are emerging, while honoring our own life experience, interests and passion.

We invite you to take this opportunity to decide how you want to go forth into this time of your life.

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Updated LEYM Policies & Procedures now available

A new version of LEYM’s Policies & Procedures Manual is now on LEYM’s web site.

It includes added committee descriptions and a couple of minor edits. For easy reference, you can print it out (back to back), 3-hole punch it, and
put it in a binder.

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