In October, Pacific Yearly Meeting’s request to join Friends General Conference (FGC) was accepted by the FGC Executive Committee.
“We are inspired by the faithfulness of Pacific Yearly Meeting’s years-long, careful process to come to the point of requesting affiliation,” read the FGC minute recording the decision.
Pacific Yearly Meeting (PYM)—made up of about 1,200 members in 50 unprogrammed monthly meetings in the Western United States and Mexico—has a long history as an independent, unaffiliated yearly meeting. The proposal for FGC affiliation, approved at its July annual sessions, noted that at its founding in 1947 “Pacific Yearly Meeting declared its intention to remain in contact with all branches of Friends and to remain independent of any bodies associated with any one ‘branch’ of Friends.”
But this intention has shifted over the last 70 years. “We began to think that maybe being attached to no one isn’t a virtue,” reflected Shan Cretin, co-clerk of PYM’s Ministry and Oversight Committee, which brought the proposal to the yearly meeting. “Over time more and more Friends were participating in the [FGC] Gathering and using [FGC] materials. PYM monthly meetings were asking for independent affiliation, and it didn’t seem like we were acting with integrity. We were exploiting this organization. I think that motivated the body to decide to [request to formally join FGC].”
Concerns about the cost and carbon footprint of sending representatives to FGC Central Committee meetings on the East Coast persist, but Cretin believes these can be addressed through videoconferencing and possibly hosting meetings closer to the West Coast.
Pacific Yearly Meeting is the seventeenth yearly meeting to join FGC.
Founded in 1900, FGC is an association of local and regional Quaker organizations primarily in the United States and Canada. In addition to its annual Gathering, FGC offers religious education resources and programs for its members.