Friends General Conference

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Friends General Conference
Friends General Conference (logo).jpg
Abbreviation FGC
Formation 1900
Type religious organization
Purpose To serve affiliated Quaker yearly and monthly meetings primarily in the United States and Canada
Headquarters Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, United States
  • United States and Canada
General Secretary
Barry Crossno

Friends General Conference (FGC) is a North American Quaker organization primarily serving the Quaker yearly and monthly meetings in the United States and Canada that choose to be members. FGC was founded in 1900.[1]

FGC-affiliated meetings are typically in the "unprogrammed" Quaker tradition, which means that such meetings take place without human pastoral leadership, or a prepared order of worship. In 2013, there were about 35,000 members in 641 congregations in the United States affiliated with FGC.[2]

FGC's programs include a traveling ministries, religious outreach, interfaith relations, book publishing and sales, and an annual conference.

The main offices for the FGC are in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.

Mission statement[edit]

The Friends General Conference is a Quaker organization in the unprogrammed tradition of the Religious Society of Friends which primarily serves affiliated yearly and monthly meetings. The statement of purpose reads:

Friends General Conference, with Divine guidance, nurtures the spiritual vitality of the Religious Society of Friends (Quakers) by providing programs and services for Friends, meetings, and seekers.

Major Goals

  • Nurture meetings and worship groups.
  • Provide resources and opportunities for meetings, Friends, and seekers to experience the Light, the living presence of God.
  • Help meetings guide Friends to discern the leadings of the Inward Teacher and to grow into ministry.
  • Transform our awareness so that our corporate and individual attitudes and actions fully value and encompass the blessed diversity of our human family.
  • Work to grow and sustain a vital, diverse, and loving community of Friends based on a shared search for unity in the Spirit.
  • Articulate, communicate, and exemplify Friends' practices, core experiences, and the call to live and witness to our faith.
  • Promote dialogue with others, sharing with them our corporate experience of Divine Truth and listening to and learning from their experience of the same.[3]


The FGC is overseen by a committee of 149 Friends, 81 of whom are appointed by affiliated yearly and monthly meetings. The work of the FGC is carried out by the staff and volunteer members of its program committees.[3]

The Gathering[edit]

A key program of FGC is the annual Gathering of Friends held at a different college campus every July. The event usually attracts 1,200 to 1,500 attenders from around the world, but most participants come from the United States and Canada. The event features 40–60 workshop and a slate of plenary speakers. Topics covered include Quaker faith and practice, arts and crafts, multigenerational programming, and political activism. The Gathering hosts both Quaker and non-Quaker speakers focusing on messages of interest to Quakers. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. offered a Plenary presentation in 1958. More recently, the Gathering hosted Lester Brown, Shane Claiborne, and Ben Pink Dandelion.

In addition to workshops and plenary sessions, the gathering often features special events such as concerts. Renowned folk singer Pete Seeger performed a concert in 1997. Evalyn Parry, older sister of FGC attender Richard Parry - of the Arcade Fire, has also performed several times at FGC, including in 2002, 2006, and 2011.

Other organizations[edit]

There are two other similar organizations within Quakerism, Friends United Meeting and Evangelical Friends Church International; each of these three organizations represent different branches within Quakerism, with the FUM occupying a more-or-less centrist theological viewpoint and the EFCI representing an admixture of Quakerism and conservative evangelicalism.

From early on,[4] Friends (Quakers) in FGC tend to be decidedly more socially and theologically liberal than Friends from other parts of Quakerism. In many respects, they are analogous to mainline Protestants who hold strongly progressive viewpoints on matters such as biblical authority, sexual mores, and attitudes toward public policy, with pacifism perhaps being the FGC's chief distinctive.

History of FGC[edit]

FGC's history can be traced back to a series of precursor conferences held between 1868 and 1900. These conferences included the First Day School Conference, the Friends Union for Philanthropic Labor, the Friends Religious Conference, the Friends Educational Conference and the Young Friends Associations. The precursor conferences were officially joined together as the Friends General Conference at Chautauqua, New York in August 1900.[1]

FGC as a Biennial Conference[edit]

From 1900 until 1963 FGC was held as a biennial conference, generally in a different location each conference. Between 1900 and 1922 its the location changed for each Conference. FGC was not held in 1918.[1]

Biennial Conferences Between (1900–1922)[edit]

FGC was held at the following locations between 1900 and 1922.

Biennial Conferences in New Jersey (1924–1926)[edit]

The 1924 and 1926 Conferences were held in Ocean City, New Jersey. From 1928 until 1962, the Conferences were held in nearby Cape May, New Jersey.[5]

FGC as an Annual Conference and as "the Gathering"[edit]

Beginning in 1963, FGC became an annual conference and once again changed location more frequently. In the late 1970s in "order to make room for emphasis on the other important work of Friends General Conference, the annual conference began to be called the Gathering".[1] Although it most often held in the Eastern United States, gatherings have been held as far as Stillwater, Oklahoma (1993), Hamilton, Ontario, Canada (1995), and Parkland, Washington (2006).

Locations Since 1963[edit]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b c d "Locations of FGC Conferences and Gatherings", FGC website.
  2. ^ "2008 Yearbook of American & Canadian Churches". The National Council of Churches. Retrieved 2009-12-03. 
  3. ^ a b FGC about page
  4. ^ The Conference was described as "Liberal" in secular media: "Calendar". The Independent. Jul 13, 1914. Retrieved August 5, 2012. 
  5. ^

External links[edit]