When I went to Guatemala in 2006 for the Annual Meeting of Friends World Committee for Consultation, Section of the Americas, I bought a little stuffed elephant covered with a brightly colored Guatemalan fabric.
I sometimes take my little elephant with me when I visit among Friends because he reminds me of the story of the blind man and the elephant, but in this case the question is, “Who are the Quakers?” Are the Quakers Unprogrammed, Evangelical, Friends United Meeting, Conservative? Do they worship out of the silence or do they have pastors? Do they worship out of the silence with a pastor? My little elephant tells me that the answer to all of these questions is “yes, yes, and yes.”
Those of us who have had the opportunity to worship and work with other kinds of Friends have come away from that experience with the knowledge that our own lives have been enriched and our faith in whom we are more firmly grounded.
I recently traveled among Friends in Arizona and New Mexico. I flew to Arizona to attend the Quaker Youth Pilgrimage Committee Meeting and then spoke to Phoenix, Pima, and Albuquerque Meetings about FWCC and the diversity of Friends. I also was able to visit with many Friends individually which is always such a pleasure. Unfortunately, I did not manage to visit Phoenix Friends Church or Northwest Community Church in Tucson. I regret that.
The Quaker Youth Pilgrimage Committee had three tasks to work on. The Committee looked at evaluations from last summer’s Pilgrimage in Scotland, England, and Ireland. It considered the future direction of the Pilgrimage: should it remain the same (high school youth 16-18, form a community to travel among Quaker sites for a month), or if it were to change, in what direction would it go?
The Committee also started planning for the 2010 Pilgrimage in the Northwest. Do be thinking about whom in your Quaker community will be 16-18, summer of 2010, and would be appropriate for this experience.
Last, but not least, don’t forget that the Annual Meeting of FWCC, Section of the Americas, will be in Canby, Oregon (near Portland), March 19-22, 2009. YOU are welcome.