Friends United Meeting General Board/North America-Caribbean met June 6 through June 9, 2013 at Worthington Friends, Kingston, Jamaica. Nearly all FUM yearly meetings were represented. There was special excitement to have FUM representatives from Cuba, East Africa, Canada and Jamaica at this gathering.
During business sessions, the General Board approved transferring the titles of ten properties to the Board of Trustees of Jamaica Yearly Meeting. They are: Snow Hill, Cascade, Albany, Fort Stewart, Highgate, Quaker Hill, Happy Grove, Swift Purscell, Lyndale and West Retreat.
Also, the executive committee of the General Board brought forward a recommendation to include the New Association of Friends as full members of Friends United Meeting now that the Indiana Yearly Meeting reconfiguration process is complete. In the recommendation, the executive committee stated:
While the association is new, several of the churches involved predate the formation of Friends United Meeting. Members of these churches were involved in the original formation of Indiana Yearly Meeting, the drafting of the Richmond Declaration of Faith and the founding of the Five Years Meeting (now FUM). We recommend accepting this New Association as a full member of FUM— as an association—in a seamless transition as Indiana completes its reconfiguration in July . . . In this case we are choosing not to ask for a period of education and acquaintance.. We also see that the General Board has the authority to welcome new groups into membership: “Upon acceptance by the General Board as full members, the yearly meeting shall name members to the General Board and assume the other rights and responsibilities of membership. At the next Triennial Session, the new member yearly meeting shall be recognized as a full member.”
Reports from Cuba, Kenya and Jamaica
Cuba — Board members were reminded of the importance of God’s word in mission work. Cuba Yearly Meeting is a small yearly meeting with a total of nine meetings comprising 500 members. It hopes to have 600 individual members by end of 2013. Cuban society is becoming increasingly aware of the work of the Friends church, particularly that of the Peace Institution, which exists to train pastors and other church officials of Cuba and Latin America. The Peace Institute strives to alleviate social problems such as domestic violence. Interventions have helped reduce the regrettably rampant ills of crime and violence, which require not only interventions but a proper, long-lasting program. One of the focuses of training involves gender and equity. The institute also trains community leaders in Quaker practice, peace, prevention of violence, spirituality and Quaker values. The institute works closely with the Cuba Ministry of Justice on prevention of crime.
Kenya — Kenya experienced a challenging period during recent elections. Peace teams served as observers during this process, and despite challenges, the elections were successfully concluded. One election related case was filed at the Kenyan Supreme Court, and happily the electorate respected the verdict.
Zadock Malesi has been hired as Education Secretary for all yearly meetings and is expected to liaise with government of Kenya on issues of education. The Friends Theological College constitution is awaiting approval. Challenges in Kenya include too many yearly meetings that may not be sustainable.
Coordination of mission work is challenging and there is need for prayer.
Jamaica — Bevar Moodie and Nelly Malloy offered a brief report about places visited by General Board members while in Jamaica. It is hoped that it will be possible to refurbish and renovate Lyndale Girls School and Swift Purscell Boys Home high schools to the extent that they can perform their original purposes. A program addressing this desire is being spearheaded by several benefactors. Three sessions of fasting and prayer were held in 2013: January 5 at Happy Grove; Quaker Hill on February 23 and June 1 at Worthington, all with the aim of reviving the Quaker church in Jamaica.
Evangelization is taking place throughout the country, including to the sick in hospitals. Fourteen local meetings exist, but only eleven are really active. Friends from North Carolina Yearly Meeting have been a great blessing in Jamaica, providing pastoral and leadership training and helping with buildings and Vacation Bible School programming. Within Jamaica a conversation concerning water baptism has been taking place. Many people have requested this rite it and find it meaningful. Christian faith is vibrant despite the small numbers of congregants. Fundraising for renovations work has already commenced with $50.00 to be channeled through North Carolina.