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Young Adult Friends Gather in Wichita, KS and FCNL was a Part of it!

June 7, 2010

Something’s stirring among Young Adult Friends.  During the last couple of years, young Quakers (Young Adult Friends or YAFs, generally considered Friends between the ages of 18-35) from diverse theological backgrounds have been gathering to worship and join together in fellowship while exploring their similarities and differences.

I had the privilege of attending such a gathering in Wichita, Kansas this past Memorial Day weekend.   More than 70 Friends attended from every major branch of the Religious Society of Friends: Friends General Conference (FGC), Friends United Meeting (FUM), Evangelical Friends Church (EFC), and Conservative Friends.  Twenty-three Yearly Meetings were represented.  The weekend was fully of exciting and trying times: we worshiped together; we studied scripture together; we had hard discussions in small groups; we gained new skills in workshops; and we ate delicious food that we prepared!

I also had the opportunity to talk with Friends about FCNL.  We discussed how FCNL is really a unique Friends organization.  FCNL’s ask for input from all Friends through the process of setting our legislative priorities.  Friends from all theological backgrounds are engaged directly in FCNL’s governing process, lobbying, and outreach work.

YAFs were also interested in discussing the way in which FCNL lobbies.  Grounded in Quaker testimonies, FCNL is committed to work as a nonpartisan organization with all members of Congress and engage by listening. These unique factors set FCNL apart both on the Hill with members of Congress and nationally as a public interest lobby group.

At the gathering, we explored different approaches to engaging in politics based on our religious convictions and how early Friends were some of the most politically active. Most importantly, we discussed how we as Young Adult Friends can carry on that legacy.

One distinct way that Young Adult Friends can continue the legacy of early Friends is by continuing this conversation within their meeting and church circles and in wider circles of Friends.  Gatherings such as this one will continue, as the spirit of healing the brokenness between Friends grows.  FCNL has the opportunity to be a strong partner in this conversation, as YAF’s explore what brining Friends testimonies to bear on U.S. policy looks like.

YAFs in Wichita say "War Is Not the Anwser!"

Find out more about the YAF gathering and read the epistle.

5 Comments leave one →
  1. Tom Ewell permalink
    June 14, 2010 6:51 pm

    I am delighted with the report from Wichita that YAFs are (again) leading the way to reconciliation and acceptance of the diversity of Friends. Some time ago I was told by the daughter of Rusfus Jones, Mary Hoxie Jones, that the Young Friends in New England were primarily responsible for New England Yearly meeting to be united with FCG and FUM in around 1948. The Young Friends communicated to the adults that they expected a resolution of their differences and the result was that New England soon became a Yearly Meeting that held joint membership with FGC and FUM, and that his held since. I am very pleased for the YAF initiative at the Wichita gathering to carry on this tradition. And I am especially grateful that Lizzie was able to present FCNL as one of the vehicles for carrying the Friends’ peace testimony on behalf of all Friends.

  2. Lizzie Biddle permalink
    June 16, 2010 6:59 pm

    Thanks Tom for your support! O to have the opportunity to speak with Rufus Jones’ daughter! I hope one day to be saying to some young-Quaker whippersnapper “I knew Tom Ewell!”

    The gathering had a little bit of the feeling that you talk about in reference to New England Yearly Meeting. The gathering took place in University Friends Meeting that has joint membership in EFC – through Mid-America Yearly Meeting – and FUM – through Great Plains Yearly Meeting. The building is almost a hundred years old and was built to hold all of Kansas Yearly Meeting. The building has witnessed the initial split off of Five Years Meeting, which later became Friends United Meeting (FUM). Several of us commented throughout the weekend that it felt like the upper balconies of the church were full with Friends from that time period,present to those major splits, and that they were watching over us as Young Adults in carrying out that tradition. I’m grateful to have been a part of the gathering as there is a strong Spirit moving among YAFs for this kind of work.

  3. Bob Schultz permalink
    July 19, 2010 4:11 pm

    Lizzie,

    I appreciate Jim’s referring me to this report on your Wichita gathering. Later this week I’ll be sharing the FCNL story with the Quaker Youth Pilgrims at Quaker Cove on Whidbey Island. At one level, reading your report reminds me to take some WINA signs and my camera to this gathering; at another level, this helps prepare me for the Quaker diversity in this group I’ll be meeting with. . . . And I love your line to Tom E. about telling some YAF whippersnapper you knew him! 🙂

    All good wishes,
    /Bob S.

    • Lizzie Biddle permalink
      July 19, 2010 4:21 pm

      Thanks Bob! Yes please take some WINA signs and a camera. I think sharing with the Quaker Youth Pilgrims will be very exciting. Michah Bales, one of the organizers of the YAF Gathering I went to in Wichita, and a resident here at the William Penn House in DC is one of the counselors of the Youth Pilgrimage so you should look out for him. He should be an expert on FCNL now!

      Enjoy and send us some pictures!

      Lizzie

      • November 3, 2013 7:54 am

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