FRIENDS GENERAL CONFERENCE (2012)
1216 Arch Street, Philadelphia PA 19107
Friends General Conference (FGC) is an association of Friends’ yearly meetings and associations (sixteen in 2012) and eleven independently affiliated monthly meetings that nurtures religious life and witness within its constituent groups in the United States and Canada. FGC draws together the resources of its member meetings to provide conference services, publications, book distribution, intervisitation, and other outreach to its constituent meetings, to seekers, and to the Religious Society of Friends at large.
Its goals are:
- Provide, and help its affiliated yearly and monthly meetings to offer, opportunities for worship and spiritual nurture to people ranging from the most seasoned Friends to the newest seekers.
- Nurture monthly meetings and worship groups, particularly those that are small and isolated, or are in areas where little support is available.
- Build and sustain an extended, loving community of Friends based on the experience of unity in God’s spirit while embracing and respecting great diversity.
- Articulate, communicate and model core experiences, values and principles of Friends, such as the direct experience of God, the miracle of the gathered meeting, the meeting for worship for business, the balancing of individual leadings with corporate discernment, and the call to live and witness to our faith.
Perhaps FGC’s most visible activity is the annual Gathering of Friends, a week-long conference for 1,500–2,000 Friends. In addition, FGC maintains a bookstore, publishes books, religious education curricula and outreach materials, sponsors lectures and workshops, communicates with other religious groups and, through the Friends Meetinghouse Fund, provides consultation and assistance for the development and expansion of meetinghouses.
The work of FGC is carried out by its committees and staff. The administrative committees include Finance, Development, Nominating, Personnel, Property and several smaller committees. Other work for the organization itself is guided by the Committee for Ministry on Racism, which works to enhance racial and ethnic diversity and eradicate racism within FGC and its affiliated meetings.
The program committees of FGC guide and carry out the programs serving Friends and their Meetings. These committees include: Advancement and Outreach, Christian and Interfaith Relations, Long Range Conference Planning, Ministry and Nurture, Publications and Distribution, Religious Education, Traveling Ministries, and Youth Ministries.
The Central Committee is the policy-making body of FGC, and the Executive Committee makes interim decisions.
Functions of Representatives
Representatives are expected to attend the annual Central Committee meeting, and to serve on at least one program or administrative committee. They keep FGC informed of the needs and concerns of New York Yearly Meeting, and inform New York Yearly Meeting about FGC activities. To the extent possible, all members of Central Committee are expected to promote and participate in the Annual Gathering, and other programs of FGC. It is hoped that as well as giving of their time and energies to support the work of FGC, they will be able to make financial contributions. However, limited financial resources should not be a barrier to Central Committee service.
Organization & Method of Appointment
Representatives are appointed for three-year terms, one-third each year. FGC’s policy manual stipulates that each yearly meeting appoints two representatives for each 500 members. Since New York Yearly Meeting counted 3,500 members in 2007, we currently appoint fourteen representatives. These representatives function as a committee within the Yearly Meeting and appoint from within their group a clerk, a representative to the Nurture Coordinating Committee, and one representative to FGC Executive committee. The Yearly Meeting clerk is an ex-officio member of the Central Committee.
Meeting Time & Places
The Central Committee meets for a long weekend in late October or early November. In recent years, this meeting has been held in New Windsor, MD. Program and administrative committees meet during that weekend, and each holds at least one other meeting during the year. The times and locations of these meetings are different for each committee.
Executive committee meets for a weekend in late January or early February, and another in late April or early May. Other meetings may be called as needed. These weekends are in widely varying places, usually hosted by a monthly meeting.
The New York Yearly Meeting representatives meet during yearly meeting sessions, during Central Committee weekend, and at other times occasionally if necessary.
The New York Yearly Meeting operating budget includes an annual contribution to Friends General Conference and an allocation for the expenses of the appointed FGC representatives.