Friends General Conference
|Purpose||Provide services and resources to individual Quakers, Quaker yearly meetings and monthly meetings primarily in the United States and Canada, and people interested in the Quaker way.|
|Headquarters||Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, United States|
|US$2.7 million (2015)|
Friends General Conference (FGC) is a North American Quaker association of 15 Quaker yearly and 12 monthly meetings in the United States and Canada that choose to be members. FGC was founded in 1900.
FGC-affiliated meetings are typically in the "unprogrammed" Quaker tradition, though there are a number of Friends churches, or meetings, with pastoral leadership who also belong. "Unprogrammed" means that such meetings take place without a designated pastor who leads the service, or a prepared order of worship. In 2013, there were approximately 35,000 members in 641 congregations in the United States affiliated with FGC.
FGC's programs include traveling ministries, religious outreach, interfaith relations, book publishing and sales, religious education, and an annual conference.
The main offices for the FGC are in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.
Structure and governance
As of February 2015, FGC is overseen by a Central Committee of 142 Friends, 69 of whom are appointed by affiliated yearly and monthly meetings. Members of this committee, known as Central Committee, are appointed on an annual basis. Central Committee is responsible for:
- Making final policy decisions affecting the Friends General Conference organization and program
- Approving the annual budget
- Making changes in the corporate by-laws
The work of the FGC is carried out by the staff members of its program committees and numerous volunteers.
FGC is managed by the General Secretary (similar to an Executive Director). The General Secretary provides spiritually grounded leadership for FGC, adhering to the vision statement, mission, and objectives as determined by Central Committee.
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 opportunities for political dialogue and action. 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 in July 2004, Shane Claiborne in March 2015, 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. Canadian singer/songwriter and playwright Evalyn Parry has also performed several times at FGC, including in 2002, 2006, and 2011.
FGC has two sister organizations within Quakerism, Friends United Meeting and Evangelical Friends Church International, that serve the allied branches of Quaker faith and practice. Each of these three organizations represent different branches within Quakerism. FUM encourages Quakerism through 31 yearly meetings and international mission work, while EFCI places greater emphasis on evangelical Christian beliefs. Some Quaker meetings are dually affiliated with both FGC and FUM.
Historically, Friends (Quakers) affiliated with FGC tend to be decidedly more socially and theologically liberal than Friends who identify with other traditions in Quakerism, though FGC welcomes Friends with diverse experiences and points of view. They tend to hold strongly progressive viewpoints on matters such as biblical authority, sexual mores, and attitudes towards public policy, with forms of worship, historic gender equality, and pacifism being FGC's chief distinctives.
History of conferences
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.
FGC biennial conference
From 1900 until 1963 FGC's annual conference was held as a biennial conference, generally in a different location each time. Between 1900 and 1922 its location changed for each Conference. The Conference was not held in 1918.
Biennial conferences between 1900–1922
The conference was held at the following locations between 1900 and 1922.
- 1900: Chautauqua, New York
- 1902: Asbury Park, New Jersey
- 1904: Toronto, Ontario
- 1906: Mountain Lake Park, Maryland
- 1908: Winona Lake, Indiana
- 1910: Ocean Grove, New Jersey
- 1912: Chautauqua, New York
- 1914: Saratoga, New York
- 1916: Cape May, New Jersey
- 1920: Cape May, New Jersey
- 1922: Richmond, Indiana
Biennial conferences in New Jersey (1924–1962)
FGC as an annual conference and as "the Gathering"
Beginning in 1963, FGC hosted an annual conference and once again changed locations 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". Although it was most often held in the Eastern United States, the Gathering has been hosted by college campuses in Stillwater, Oklahoma (1993), Hamilton, Ontario, Canada (1995), Parkland, Washington (2006), and Greeley, Colorado (2013).
Locations since 1963
- 1963: Traverse City, Michigan
- 1964: Cape May, New Jersey
- 1965: Traverse City, Michigan
- 1966: Cape May, New Jersey
- 1967: Stephens College – Columbia, Missouri
- 1968: Cape May, New Jersey
- 1969: Wilmington College – Wilmington, Ohio
- 1970: Ocean Grove, New Jersey
- 1972: Ithaca College – Ithaca, New York
- 1973: Earlham College – Richmond, Indiana
- 1974: Ithaca College – Ithaca, New York
- 1975: Berea College – Berea, Kentucky
- 1976: Ithaca College – Ithaca, New York
- 1978: Ithaca College – Ithaca, New York
- 1979: Earlham College – Richmond, Indiana
- 1980: Ithaca College – Ithaca, New York
- 1981: Berea College – Berea, Kentucky
- 1982: Slippery Rock State College – Slippery Rock, Pennsylvania
- 1983: Slippery Rock State College – Slippery Rock, Pennsylvania
- 1984: St. Lawrence University – Canton, New York
- 1985: Slippery Rock State College – Slippery Rock, Pennsylvania
- 1986: Carleton College – Northfield, Minnesota
- 1987: Oberlin College – Oberlin, Ohio
- 1988: Appalachian State University – Boone, North Carolina
- 1989: St. Lawrence University – Canton, New York
- 1990: Carleton College – Northfield, Minnesota
- 1991: Appalachian State University – Boone, North Carolina
- 1992: St. Lawrence University – Canton, New York
- 1993: Oklahoma State University – Stillwater, Oklahoma
- 1994: University of Massachusetts Amherst – Amherst, Massachusetts
- 1995: Western Michigan University – Kalamazoo, Michigan
- 1996: McMaster University – Hamilton, Ontario
- 1997: James Madison University – Harrisonburg, Virginia
- 1998: University of Wisconsin-River Falls – River Falls, Wisconsin
- 1999: Western Michigan University – Kalamazoo, Michigan
- 2000: University of Rochester – Rochester, New York
- 2001: Virginia Tech – Blacksburg, Virginia
- 2002: Illinois State University – Normal, Illinois
- 2003: University of Pittsburgh at Johnstown – Johnstown, Pennsylvania
- 2004: University of Massachusetts Amherst – Amherst, Massachusetts
- 2005: Virginia Tech – Blacksburg, Virginia
- 2006: Pacific Lutheran University – Parkland, Washington
- 2007: University of Wisconsin-River Falls – River Falls, Wisconsin
- 2008: University of Pittsburgh at Johnstown – Johnstown, Pennsylvania
- 2009: Virginia Tech – Blacksburg, Virginia
- 2010: Bowling Green State University – Bowling Green, Ohio
- 2011: Grinnell College – Grinnell, Iowa
- 2012: University of Rhode Island – Kingston, Rhode Island
- 2013: University of Northern Colorado – Greeley, Colorado
- 2014: California University of Pennsylvania – California, Pennsylvania
- 2015: Western Carolina University – Cullowhee, North Carolina
- 2016: College of Saint Benedict – St. Joseph, Minnesota
- 2017: Niagara University – Lewiston, New York
- 2018: University of Toledo - Toledo, Ohio
- 2019: Grinnell College – Grinnell, Iowa
- Conservative Friends
- Beanite Quakerism
- Friends United Meeting (FUM)
- Evangelical Friends Church International (EFCI)
- Central Yearly Meeting of Friends (CYMF)
- Friends Committee on National Legislation (FCNL)
- Friends World Committee for Consultation (FWCC)
- "Affiliated Yearly Meetings". Retrieved 2016-06-25.
- "Locations of FGC Conferences and Gatherings", FGC website.
- "2008 Yearbook of American & Canadian Churches". The National Council of Churches. Retrieved 2009-12-03.
- "Central Committee of Friends General Conference". Retrieved 2016-06-29.
- "About FGC". Retrieved 2016-06-25.
- "Staff Directory". Retrieved 2016-06-27.
- "Financial Stewardship". Retrieved 2016-07-01.
- "Balance Sheet" (PDF). Friends General Conference. 2015-09-30. Retrieved 2016-07-01.
- "A Significant Anniversary-And More". 2008-06-01. Retrieved 2016-06-27.
- "Brooklyn Monthly Meeting Newsletter" (PDF). 2006.
- "Regional Gathering with Shane Claiborne". Retrieved 2016-06-27.
- "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2015-02-28. Retrieved 2015-03-09.CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
- The Conference was described as "Liberal" in secular media: "Calendar". The Independent. Jul 13, 1914. Retrieved August 5, 2012.
- "Historical Locations of FGC Gatherings and Conferences". Retrieved 2016-06-27.
- "2016 FGC Gathering" (PDF). Friends General Conference. Retrieved 2016-06-29.
- "Other Gatherings". Friends General Conference. Retrieved 2016-06-29.
- "Other Gatherings". Friends General Conference. Retrieved 2019-07-08.