FGC is an association of local and regional Quaker organizations primarily in the United States and Canada. FGC is a volunteer led association. Its focus areas and related projects are determined by volunteers representing our affiliates and consistent with FGC’s organizational vision. FGC holds conferences and consultations, provides religious education material and opportunities, and hosts programs and initiatives on behalf of its members. Website: fgcquaker.org
Friends General Conference (FGC) continued its virtual programming with the 2021 Gathering, themed “Way Will Open,” in late June and early July. Pre-Gathering retreats were offered for young adult Friends and Friends of Color along with their families. More than 1,000 Friends registered for worship and fellowship for the second time during the global pandemic. Nearly 250 were first-time attenders.
Gathering evening programs for the week featured Lisa Graustein on the topic of “Sacred Vessels—Quaker Practices for Holding Us All”; Community Connections, where attendees could participate in seven different facilitated conversations on a wide variety of subjects; Niyonu Spann, who led an artistic, intergenerational plenary called “Show Me the Way”; Clinton Pettus and Friends, who led a plenary called “One Black Man’s Journey in a World of Othering”; and Tara Houska, who led a plenary called “Indigenous Wisdom and Living With Our Mother.”
Bible Half-Hours returned to Gathering, led by Benigno Sánchez-Eppler. Those recordings, as well as the evening programs, are available on the FGC website.
Workshops were held throughout the week on many topics, including race and justice, clerking, spiritual gifts, and Quaker history.
FGC is planning to return to an in-person Gathering next year at Radford University in Radford, Va., in July 2022. The theme will be “. . . and follow me.”
The COVID-19 pandemic has transformed how Friends General Conference (FGC) is serving individual Friends, spiritual seekers, and Quaker communities throughout North America.
In April, FGC began holding Saturday evening worship virtually and expanded web-based opportunities for Friends of Color (including Wednesday afternoon worship and a biweekly Friday open house). In response to growing demand for more virtual events, FGC plans to continue offering virtual worship opportunities for the foreseeable future, and to host more Spiritual Deepening offerings this fall.
The pandemic also prompted a transformation of the FGC Gathering from an in-person event to a virtual conference. Over 1,000 Friends from North America and around the world participated in virtual workshops, afternoon activities, evening plenaries (including presentations from Amanda Kemp, music group City Love, and Valarie Kaur), and Carl Magruder’s Bible Half Hour. Videos of available plenary recordings and the Bible Half Hour are on the website.
In July, staff member Ruth Reber retired from FGC. Reber became conference coordinator of the Gathering in 2015, though she previously served as the Gathering assistant for two years beginning in 2000 and was a volunteer for many years. During her tenure, the Gathering deepened its commitment to creating an actively antiracist community of Friends. Her calm, approachable demeanor made her a beloved colleague. She is succeeded by Lori Sinitzky, who has worked with Reber since March.