Every three years, the 34 member Yearly Meetings and Associations of Friends United Meeting name representatives to serve on the General Board. Together, these Friends work in partnership to provide essential governance for our global fellowship. Like every good board, they help set direction, make policies, and provide accountability for the staff, as FUM ministers in many places and in varied ways.
With the new 2017 – 2020 Triennium now underway, new members of the General Board have been receiving past minutes, finance reports, and other orientation materials to prepare them to serve effectively and faithfully. A first meeting of the North American-Caribbean Region of the Board will be held in Richmond in late October. The Africa Region will meet in early February in Kenya. An Executive Board, comprised of 14 members who represent the entire global community, meet regularly with the FUM General Secretary by conference call.
At the 2017 Triennial gathering in Wichita, Kansas, new officers were approved for the next three years. Ron Bryan (Iowa Yearly Meeting) is the new Presiding Clerk. Sara Lookabill (Western Yearly Meeting) and Richard Sitari (Nairobi Yearly Meeting) are Assistant Presiding Clerks. Hellen Kulundi (Chebuyusi Yearly Meeting) and Rosemary Zimmerman (New England Yearly Meeting) are Recording Clerks. Jim Crew (Western Yearly Meeting) continues to serve as Treasurer for FUM.
The new Board will continue exploring how to expand the work of FUM in a sustainable way. Colin Saxton, outgoing General Secretary, states that “a more robust North American ministry remains a very high priority.” He also celebrates potential areas of expansion among Friends in East Africa, and says that FUM “continues to recieve requests from Quakers in other parts of the world to join FUM.”
Part of the Board’s work in this Triennium will be figuring how, with God’s guidance, to build healthy, mutually-supportive connections across our beloved community and out into a world in need of love.
On a more short-term basis, the Board is focused on finding a new General Secretary, helping to sharpen the focus and direction of our relaunched Friends United Press, and discerning how to support Yearly Meetings that are in conflict, as well as how best to collaborate with and assist Yearly Meetings that may be struggling.
From his own experience, Colin writes: “It has been a great joy to work with the FUM General Board the past six years. The members are thoughtful and discerning. Their willingness to stay engaged with one another—even around controversial or difficult issues—is tremendously helpful for FUM, the organization, and a great example for FUM, the community. It has been especially gratifying to see the Board make huge strides toward becoming and functioning as a global partnership. I think one of the great gifts of FUM is connecting Quakers around this world in fellowship, service, and mutual support—and it begins by having a Board that embraces this vision.”