More than 60 Quakers from Britain have attended the 2012 world conference of Quakers in Kenya. Quakers, who refer to each other as Friends, heard reflections on the theme “Being Salt and Light: Friends living the kingdom of God in a broken world”.
Organised by Friends World Committee for Consultation (FWCC), this was the sixth world conference of Quakers since 1920. The last one took place in 1991.
Around 850 Quakers from 51 countries gathered at Kabarak University, near Nakuru, Kenya. They came from five continents from 17-25 April. As well as inspiring sessions and joyful song, there were stories of brokenness. The call to be salt and light in the world was received with a sense of urgency in these times of natural disasters, violence, global change and unequal access to basic needs.
The closing epistle concluded: “As Friends we feel called to try to return to the conviction and simple faith of our Quaker ancestors and their transformed lives, so that we may once again become a prophetic people, speaking to God's purposes in these times.”
Recording Clerk for Quakers in Britain, Paul Parker, described the world conference as a “once-in-a-generation opportunity to meet Quakers from all the branches of the Quaker family tree”. He said: “While there are many differences between our traditions, we found we had much in common: a commitment to putting faith into action; doing what we can to create the kingdom of heaven here on earth in our lifetimes.” Delegates had met the challenge to communicate across diverse communities and had “useful discussions on many aspects of our Quaker lives, from peace and reconciliation to economic justice; from sexuality to climate change.”
Nancy Irving, FWCC General Secretary said: “One great lesson that many of us from affluent societies can learn is to act corporately rather than just individually. Our affluent societies have taught us to think selfishly, individually. That's not what early Friends taught us; that's not what Jesus teaches us. If we are to have an impact as Friends and Quakers, we will be effective acting together and that takes discipline and surrender to Grace and divine guidance.”
Conference prayed for all facing conflict in the world and for Kenya as elections approach. Since Kenya’s 2007-2008 post-election violence, British and Kenyan Quakers have been working together to promote the understanding and use of nonviolence to actively confront injustice and bring about change without doing harm.