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Half of the world’s Friends live in Africa; Kenya alone has almost twice as many Friends as the United States. East African yearly meetings’ beginnings in 1902 as a mission of U.S. pastoral Friends created a founding divide with unprogrammed, silent-worshipping Friends in the U.S. Take those founding theological differences and add in different cultural norms and the distance sometimes seem monumental.
And yet: we are all Friends. There’s a lot that unites us. Take concerns around peacemaking and sustainability: East African Friends have had to work to respond to recurring election violence, genocides and political instabilities.
Facebook and the internet make it even easier to communicate across the distance. The U.S.-based Friends United Meeting has been centering more of its ministries work around its African members in recent years and organizations like FWCC continue to bridge Friends around the world.
And while programmed East African Friends are the largest group on the continent, we’d love to hear from Friends elsewhere as well. Southern Africa Yearly Meeting has its own strong peace history, especially in its witness against Apartheid. There are isolated meetings and churches around the continent and we’d love to hear their experience of being Quaker too. We’re also open to U.S. Friends who might have stories and tips on getting more involved in the spiritual and social work of African yearly meetings.