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An Epistle from USFWI

Be on your guard; stand firm in the faith; be courageous; be strong. Do everything in love. — 1 Corinthians 16:13-14

Greetings to Friends worldwide from the 44th Triennial Sessions of the United Society of Friends Women International, held July 4-7, 2013, at the Radisson Hotel in Indianapolis, Indiana, United States of America. Western Yearly Meeting United Society of Friends Women and Quaker Men hosted the Triennial Sessions. Participants representing 24 yearly meetings from Africa, Cuba, and North America spent the weekend exploring our theme, “Take Courage.”

A number of Friends Women led early morning Worship Sharing Groups in which the Triennial Daily Devotions written by Marlene Morrison Pedigo were used. Plenary Sessions were presided by USFWI Presiding Clerk Patricia Shrock. Doreen Aluda from Lugari Yearly Meeting in East Africa taught Bible Study each morning. Workshops about Global and Local Volunteering; Human Trafficking; the Alternative to Violence Program; and the Peace Curriculum were available to participants. Evening Programs included speakers who explored and shared one of the commands from the verses in 1 Corinthians, Chapter 16 — Be on Your Guard, Stand Firm in the Faith, Be Strong, and Do All in Love. Each session included a time of music; the singing of hymns was especially enjoyable. Christian Singer-Songwriter Don Moen’s piece “Be Strong and Take Courage” was used as our theme song.

Reports from Friends United Meeting Field Staff are always a welcome part of the Triennial Sessions as it gives those present an opportunity to see and hear from missionaries and the programs supported by monies contributed through USFWI. Various staff shared about work in Ramallah, Palestine; Belize City, Belize; Kaimosi, Kenya; and, Kisumu, Kenya. In addition, women heard from a Native American Center Worker, and a member of Cuba Yearly Meeting. Greetings were received from affiliate organizations. Displays were also provided which included visuals and other materials.

During the Plenary Sessions, two areas of concern were shared. One is the need to encourage USFW participation by Friends Women of younger ages. The other concern is about the printing and distribution of our bi-monthly publication The Advocate. Friends Women will need to spend time during the next triennium discussing both of these important issues. The use of technology, websites, and social media by our organization and participants as a means of communication was also mentioned.

We were excited to receive applications for membership from Chebuyusi and Tongaren Yearly Meetings. Triennial representatives joyfully approved receiving them into USFWI membership. Clerks and members from both yearly meetings celebrated by African singing!

Meeting in conjunction with Friends Women are Quaker Men from various yearly meetings. And, a Young Friends Program is also available. The women and men share meals together, as well as the evening sessions.

The host committee offered tours of the area including the Indianapolis Motor Speedway, the Conner Prairie Interactive History Park, and a Local Quaker History Tour. These off-site excursions provided not only an opportunity to explore the area, but also a time to fellowship amongst USFW and Quaker Men F/friends.

Our theme song proclaims. “Be strong and take courage. Do not fear or be dismayed. For the Lord will go before you and His Light will show the way.” Perhaps you leave this place as a local society member; a yearly meeting society clerk or department secretary, a member of the USFWI Executive Board, a dedicated FUM Field Staff member, a representative of a Friends organization, a pastor, whatever roles you are blessed to fill and serve . . . Take Courage.