Approximately 30 friends gathered for the weekend before the FGC Gathering at Western Carolina University in Cullowhee, NC.
We kicked off Friday with a presentation from acting clerk Karen Tibbals about her research into early Quaker businesses. Her main conclusions were that early Quakers were working hard to apply their faith to their business life, and wrote advices to be clear about what was expected. Despite those advices, there was trouble. After each set of trouble, new advices were created.
In the early 20th century, the British Quaker employers were facing censure by the Socialist Quaker Society and from the Eight Foundations of a True Social Order, passed by London Yearly Meeting. They met in 1918 to try to figure out ways to apply these principles to their businesses, but were not successful. A major factor behind that lack of success may have been lack of clarity over what it meant and how to apply it. But in addition, the adverse business conditions of the time that resulted in whole industries closing down in Britain, so many Quaker businesses went out of business. This may have been the beginning of the end for Quaker businesses. Karen ended by suggesting that working with the three key Bible verses used by early Quakers may help clarify a way forward. There was concern expressed by one participant that the Bible verses may be too Christocentric for some.
Most of Saturday was spent learning Action Learning principles from Mike Marquart, watching them being demonstrated and then applying them ourselves. For the application phase, we worked in small groups, which were loosely organized by affinity—people who were in similar types of work, or who were at least interested in that type of work. Each group developed individual action steps (summarized elsewhere). The process was not natural and took getting used to but it was felt to be a useful process. The group discussed using it again in the future. The slides will be distributed to participants to help us continue to use it.
Saturday night was spent on the “One slide challenge”. We had many—around 30—presentations from the participants, including some who didn’t prepare a slide. This helped to draw the group closer together and we learned more about each other.
We started Sunday by learning about the action items from last year’s Conference and what has happened with them. Some of the accomplishments were publications in Friends Journal by Richard House and Dan O’Keefe, and a list of resources complied by Lisa Smith. We also have a website, and a Facebook group. We discussed whether we wanted a conference next year (YES!) and perhaps a conference the following year to be associated with the FUM Triennial. Three committees were formed for the future:
2016 Conference organizing committee, Q&B Visioning Committee and 2016 Workshop Committee.