World Quakers to Gather in Kenya
By Diane Randall on 04/10/2012 @ 03:00 PM
What country is home to more Quakers than any other?
In fact, more Quakers live in Africa than in North America and Europe combined.
So it is not surprising that next week Quakers from around the globe will convene in Kenya for only the Sixth World Gathering of the Religious Society of Friends. It may be propitious that nearly 1,000 of us who hold peace as a core testimony of our faith will be meeting in Kenya. Although the purpose of the Friends Gathering is spiritual and religious in nature, not political, the theme of the Gathering asks participants to consider what role Friends have in global change.
I am thrilled to be representing FCNL at this World Gathering and to talk about FCNL’s view of how Friends and those who share our values of peace, equality, simplicity, community and integrity are actively engaged in the public policy debates in the United States by lobbying. The Clerk of our General Committee, A.T. Miller, will also be representing FCNL and other members of our governing body will participate in what promises to be a lively opportunity for worship, fellowship and discussion within Quaker theological, cultural and linguistic diversity.
In addition to the time at the World Gathering, I am particularly interested in seeing firsthand what is happening in Kenya regarding civilian peacemaking. Kenyans are preparing for presidential elections early in 2013 amidst concerns of implementing a new constitution and avoiding a recurrence of the deadly violence that claimed 1,000 lives during the last presidential election in 2007.
As reported by Cassidy Regan, our Kenyan Project Associate, the civilian peacemaking being led by Friends Church Peace Team and other Kenyan Quaker organizations are important methods of promoting peaceful prevention of deadly conflict. As part of our collaboration with these and other Friends, FCNL has been researching, writing and discussing the range of peacemaking tools that our US State Department and other civilian agencies can promote in our foreign policy with Kenya right now, underscoring the critical opportunity for peaceful elections.
FCNL sees Kenya as an important case study for the peaceful prevention of deadly conflict; and Cassidy, Bridget Moix and Mary Stata have all been talking to policy makers in Washington about the practice of peacemaking: using the effective tools of diplomacy, emphasizing the strengths of community peacebuilding and civil society, and promoting reform and focused assistance in strategic areas (such as civic education and comprehensive justice) as means for averting violence and a militarized response. In the year ahead, FCNL hopes that our work on Kenya might demonstrate how US policy can help support--rather than undermine--the progress Friends in Kenya have made towards building peace in their communities. See Cassidy's recent blog post on the budget to learn more.
Stay tuned for more writing about the World Gathering and Kenyan peacemaking on this blog in the coming days. To find out how you can become engaged with FCNL’s Kenya Project, contact Cassidy@fcnl.org.