My first FWCC experience was the 1999 Section of the Americas Annual Meeting in Whittier, California. The theological and cultural diversity among Quakers at that gathering did not surprise me. Although I am a member of an FGC yearly meeting, my time in Indiana and Ohio had given me considerable exposure to both FUM and Conservative Friends. What did surprise me was the openness I found among FWCC Friends to talk about our faith journeys and the willingness to share deeply with people quite different from ourselves.
Too often in my monthly and yearly meetings I perceived a reluctance to speak candidly about one’s religious convictions for fear of offending someone who believed differently. Most of the Quakers I know are kind, gentle people who want everyone to feel loved and accepted. As a result, we tend to shy away from personal statements that might be construed as judgmental of others.
At the FWCC meeting, I experienced love and acceptance among Friends who did not let our differences become barriers between us. We shared about deeply personal faith matters amidst a variety of theologies, worship styles, and cultures. Yet nobody seemed critical or judgmental. In place of an arrogant assumption that "I’ve got it right," I sensed a collective humility, an acknowledgment that none of us has all the answers and that we each can learn from one another. Instead of striving to change somebody else, we were open to being transformed ourselves.
Clear Creek Meeting in Richmond, Ind.