Hope and Future – FUM Part 5
On Sunday I attended the closing worship of North Carolina Yearly Meeting-Conservative. I had a chance to have a nice visit with Liz Opp before the meeting. The meeting was centered and joyful. During their sessions they had wrestled with issues of how we can live in harmony with the earth and be its stewards. During the worship it was clear that people had wrestled with issues and were not the same people that they had been when they arrived. I did not have this feeling at the FUM triennial and I mourn the lost opportunity.
This is not to say that the Triennial was a failure. I think the emphasis on missions was an attempt to focus on work that Friends are more likely to unite in. The question of the role of FUM is still very much up in the air. Is it a denominational body? Is it a voluntary association of Friends from the Orthodox tradition? Is it a missions board? There were opportunities to meet and talk with people from across the spectrum. I was enriched by this and I know that others were as well. Certainly there was a temptation to take meals with Friends I already knew. I was aware of clumps of New England Friends or Baltimore Friends eating together. I suspect the same was true for Iowa Friends or Indiana Friends but I don't know them well enough to have identified them.
It is perhaps unfair to compare a Triennial session of an international body with a Yearly Meeting. In a yearly Meeting it is much easier to grapple with issues. There are already established relationships and connections so that there is a higher level of trust from the beginning. Trust is required to undertake any difficult spiritual work together. Secondly a yearly meeting has a certain amount of business that it must accomplish. FUM has organized itself so that there is very little business that needs to come before the body. Mostly it hears reports on what has happened during the past 3 years and what is being planned for the next 3. In fact the one piece of business that needs to get done is the appointment of the new clerks for the next triennium and that was not completed. Traditionally the Nominating Committee does its work during the Triennial Sessions. This year they were not able to find someone to accept the position in such a short time. So Gary Farlow, the current assistant clerk will serve until the October General Board meeting at which time the General Board will receive the recommendations from the nominating committee. We also approved a change in procedure so that Yearly Meetings will be asked to name their representatives to the Nominating Committee a year before the Triennial sessions so that they have an opportunity to meet and start the search and discernment process well before the Triennial starts. This seems like a healthy change in process.
This concludes my reports on the FUM Triennial. Next week I will be attending the annual sessions of New England Yearly Meeting. I don't expect to blog from the sessions but I plan to make some sort of report when I return. I have also been accepted into the Way of Ministry program of the School of the Spirit. My first residential session starts on August 27. I will be doing a lot of reading and writing for that program. Some of that experience is likely to show up here as well. Even with Barclay done, I don't expect to be running short of things to write about soon.
Blessings to all