REFLECTIONS REGARDING THE FWCC TRIENNIAL IN DUBLIN, IRELAND —Orville Winters
Irish Friends were gracious hosts throughout the Triennial. During the opening remarks of welcome and orientation an Irish Quaker noted that Irish Quakers were divided between evangelical Friends and liberal Friends. While they openly discussed their theological differences they agreed to continue worshiping together as Friends. That brief note seemed to set the tone for the whole Triennial. The majority of Friends at the Triennial seemed to be “liberal” but they were quite pleased that we evangelicals were there. On the day Ken Comfort spoke, the other four representatives from NWYM were on the platform to read the scripture. One of the leaders of FWCC told us later that she wept for joy at seeing the evangelical Friends on the platform.
I sensed that many of the representatives are looking to evangelical Friends for answers to the severe loss of membership in unprogrammed Meetings. According to one study, the uprogrammed Meetings are experiencing an annual loss of 15%. They are beginning to address that problem and are looking to evangelical Friends for possible answers.
Another leader of FWCC said to me during dinner one evening that the lack of Bible teaching was a major issue among unprogrammed Friends. She recognized that evangelical Friends could address that issue.
On a train ride to the airport we were joined by an admittedly “liberal” Friend from Ireland who plied us with many questions about what evangelical Friends believed. She frankly said, “I really want to know what the difference is between what evangelical Friends believe and what liberal Friends believe.”
The only apprehension I heard expressed (this was in a private conversation) was that evangelicals saw that their main role in FWCC was to convert the “liberals”. While NWYM’s association with FWCC is not our most important association it is, I believe, a worthwhile one. Our influence can be significant if we are humbly open to learning from each other.
Orville Winters, Crossroads Community Friends Church