Taisoo Kim Watson, Queesland Regional Meeting
I feel very honoured representing the Australian Friends and attending the FWCC Plenary program at Pisac, Peru, from 19 to 27 January 2016. And I am thankful for the funds provided by AYM and the Thanksgiving Fund. It would have been very difficult to manage the registration cost and airfares without this financial assistance.
The daily program was very full. I was asked to be on the Pastoral Care group, which involved rostering ourselves to be on duty in the Pastoral Care Room and also always wearing a green sash so Friends could seek help at anytime, anywhere. This was a good opportunity to meet Friends individually who dropped in for cups of tea and talk. I have made a special connection with a few Friends through Pastoral care and Choir. When there are over 300 Members from nearly 40 countries, it is not easy to make connections with all.
I was so eager to hear the news from Korean Friends, I tried to sit with them at breakfast time. Also it was a good opportunity to make some suggestions to the itinerary of Lee and Kim who will be visiting AYM in July. It was lovely to hear the Korean bamboo flute played by Kim and the three of us sang a Korean folk song.
Home Groups were decided and compulsory, but we were encouraged to participate in other groups such as Consultation. I joined as many as I could manage until I developed a terrible cough.
I chose the FWCC Constitution Review Consultation Group as I have some experience working with constitutions and also I felt strongly that some issues needed to be reviewed. One recommendation was to hold World FWCC Gathering/Plenary sessions at least once in every 12 years instead of the current practice of every 5 years. The rationale was that FWCC has to find financial and human resources to plan and organise the World Meetings, but every gathering puts FWCC in great financial hardship. There are smaller numbers of full paying Friends and growing numbers of Friends needing help. The Meeting reached a kind of unity to hold it every 10 years.
The North American Section predicted a 15% reduction in contributions to FWCC in the near future. The British Friends are able to continue to support FWCC at the current rate because of their endowment/investment, and some increase from the European and Middle Eastern Section. But as we see the numbers of this Section, we should not expect a great deal more. The registration cost for some YMs/MMs in Asia West Pacific Section was over A$2000. No Members from Japan Yearly Meeting attended. Two Korean Friends received financial assistance from their Monthly Meetings.
Our Group studying the Constitution also have acknowledged that other important works need to be done by FWCC other than organising World gathering/meetings. We will be celebrating 100 years of FWCC in 2037.
I quote a part of the section Equipping FWCC:
… serving the world Quaker community, developing flexibility to face challenges while maintaining organizational integrity and sustainability, looking at meeting requirements and governance changes…
I always valued the early morning silent meeting for Worship. The program noted clearly “un-programmed Meeting for Worship”. I do not think some Friends from evangelical and programmed Quaker churches understood what Silent Meeting for Worship means. On the first morning, a Friend started to sing very energetically, and then another Friend started praying in Spanish. A Friend had translated every sentence to English. We did not have much silent time left. I changed to the Bible Study, led by Janet Scott. I have learned much from these early morning Bible studies. It was rather moving to share the Lord’s Prayer in Korean at the end of one study session.
When I was attending the AWPS gathering in India, a number of Friends expressed concern that we had very little quiet time. I have received some concerns again during this FWCC gathering: there was not enough quiet time.
It has been exciting to meet cousins and distant cousins from many places of the World. We have different ways of worshiping, in many different languages but we came together in spirit .
I feel more strongly than ever the importance of FWCC in the lives of world Quakers.
FWCC needs all our spiritual and financial support to meet the challenges of the next 20 years and longer.
Quakers around the world
For your information, I have listed the YMs and MMs and the numbers of Members. (Ref. FWCC Finding Quakers around the World, 2012)
Bolivia (22,300), Canada (1,300), Colombia (10), Costa Rica (90), Cuba (900), Dominican Republic (110), El Salvador (1,600), Guatemala (19,620), Haiti (1,000), Honduras (2,500), Jamaica (2,100), Mexico (1,400), Nicaragua (200), Peru (3,500), United States (76,360),
Albania (380), Belgium (40), Croatia (50), Czech Republic (10), Denmark (30), Estonia (10), Finland (20), France (70), Georgia (20), Germany/Austria (340), Greece (10), Hungary (4000), Ireland (1,600), Italy (20), Latvia (10), Lebanon/Palestine (70), Lithuania (10), Malta (10), Netherlands (120), Norway (150), Poland (10), Portugal (10), Romania (920), Russia (30), Serbia (50), Spain (20), Sweden (100), Switzerland (100), Ukraine (10), United Kingdom (15,800)
Congo(s) (10+3000), Ghana (10), Kenya (146,300), Madagascar (20), Nigeria (20), Rwanda (4,200), Tanzania (3,100), Uganda (5000)
Australia (1,000), Bangladesh (475), Bhutan (800), Cambodia (410), China (100), India (4,300), Indonesia (1,800), Japan (140), Korea (50), Nepal (6,000), New Zealand (660), Philippines (2,500), Singapore (10), Taiwan (5,000)