My plane leaves in just over seven weeks now. I've been doing a bit of reading, including the study booklet. The study booklet for this, the 6th World Conference of Friends, is pretty slim.
My grandfather died last month and in his bookshelves we found one of the study guides for the 4th World Conference of Friends, which took place in 1967 in Greensboro, North Carolina. The published at least two books and it sounds like they printed 12,000 copies. I don't know how my grandfather ended up with a copy since he wasn't a Quaker - and wasn't sure what to think of this bunch of pacifists.
I've read through much of that study book and was amazed that many of the issues and problems they were discussing 45 years ago are still being dealt with today. Do we ever solve anything? Or do we just create more complicated problems for ourselves?
I've been interested in how many of these worldwide conferences there have been, so here is what I've found out:
2012 - 6th conference, to be held in Kenya and expecting 1000 or so Quakers.
1991 - 5th conference, held in three different sites, Honduras, Kenya, and Netherlands.
1967 - 4th conference, held in North Carolina with 900 Friends attending (and 300 extra I guess!)
1952 - 3rd conference, held in England with 900 Friends attending
1937 - 2nd conference, held in Pennsylvania with 1000 Friends attending. One result of this conference was the formation of Friends World Committee for Consultation (FWCC)
1920 - 1st conference, held in London with 1000 Friends attending.
So... it's been 45 years since a World Conference was held on one site; 21 years since the last World Conference. When I look back at the history of FWCC, and gatherings of Friends across the branches (detailed nicely in Wikipedia) I feel a bit humbled. FWCC was formed around 1938, 74 years ago, in response to one of these conferences. There have been some very weighty Friends involved since the beginning, and even now. And now, I'm on the executive committee, the Board if you will. I certainly don't feel like a weighty or important Friend!
I've got more reading to do, and on an extra topic now. I've been asked to be on the Pastoral Care Team. I feel kind of excited about this, but also a bit nervous. What exactly it will require, I do not know!