Friends General Conference

Together we nurture the spiritual vitality of Friends

Coronavirus and the Gathering

October 22, 2020 Update

The 2021 Gathering, Way Will Open, will be held online, June 27 - July 3. Learn more about the decision to hold a Virtual Gathering in 2021

May 22 Update

Sink Down to the Seed Sown in the Heart, the 2020 Virtual Gathering, will be June 28 - July 4, and will offer a rich schedule of events online. Registration will open late May.

We will gather in worship seeking the spirit, listen to Evening Program speakers and find new ways to be in community with one another. There will be Pre-Gathering retreats, workshops, Adult Young Friends, High School, and Junior Gathering programs. Learn more about the Virtual Gathering programs and events.

May 7 Update

The Virtual Gathering schedule is up!

April 16 Update

FGC is organizing ongoing opportunities for worship (Saturdays at 9pm EDT/ 5pm PDT) and worship sharing (various days/topics.) You can learn more and sign up here.

April 1 Update

FGC staff & volunteers are beginning to plan a Virtual Gathering for this summer. There are many options for how we can create a shared space - we want to know what you would value. We’ve created a Virtual Gathering survey to help us gather your input on how to shape our time together this summer. Please submit your feedback by Sunday, April 5!

We are inviting Friends to gather with us in worship as we release the in-person 2020 Gathering. We are offering three times to worship together:

Friday, April 3 at 7 pm Eastern Time (EDT), 4 pm Pacific Time (PDT)

Saturday, April 4 at 1 pm Eastern Time (EDT), 10 am Pacific Time (PDT)

Saturday, April 11 at 9 pm Eastern Time (EDT), 6 pm Pacific Time (PDT)

You can sign up here for any or all of these times, and we will send you the Zoom login information. You'll be able to join with the Zoom app on a computer, tablet, or smartphone, or you can call in for audio-only. Please join us!

March 27 Update

Watch Friends Journal's interview with Gathering staff and volunteers about the cancellation of the in‐person 2020 Gathering, and the planning a Virtual Gathering for this summer. Ruth Reber (Conference Coordinator), Tony Martin (Co-Clerk of the 2020 Gathering), Marvin Barnes (Rising Clerk of FGC and member of the Long Range Conference Planning committee), and Lori Sinitzky (Rising Conference Coordinator) are interviewed by Friends Journal senior editor Martin Kelley.

March 23 Update

Dear Friends,

After several meetings with a number of committee clerks, staff, and Gathering volunteers, it has become clear that we cannot safely hold the in-person FGC Gathering this year in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic. We share the experience that the Gathering is deeply important for so many Friends. At the same time, the health and safety of our family of Friends must be paramount. We bring this disappointing news, while at the same time seeking how Spirit might lead us to embrace online tools to create remote Gathering offerings this summer to bring our community together in this time of challenge. While change is neither easy nor comfortable, let us take time to celebrate what has gone before, mourn loss of being together in person, and move with hearts open to a new way forward.

We are clear in this decision, even as we reflect on the thousands of hours of planning so many Friends have invested, the loss of sharing in-person fellowship, and the financial strains cancellation of the in-person Gathering will cause for FGC. Why make the decision now, when so much is unknown? Both because so much is unknown, and because it’s already clear that even if the threat subsides by June, many Friends will be unable to participate in an in-person Gathering this summer due to Covid-19 related financial, family, work, and school challenges. Acknowledging this reality and making this decision now will give FGC more capacity and time to plan alternative ways to speak to the needs of Friends now and in the months to come.

A virtual Gathering working group is forming to explore how to provide, in a new way, spiritual sustenance to all Gathering attendees, including youth, high schoolers, young adults, the FLGBTQC community, and Friends of Color. We will work to share online offerings during the week that would have been the in-person Gathering. Staff & volunteers will also look for ways to include those with limited or no internet access. If you feel called to contribute to this new approach, please be in touch with Lori Sinitzky, rising Conference Coordinator at [email protected].

We are also responding to the understanding that Spirit has opened a way for us to explore what it means to stay connected with each other beyond the week of the Gathering.

It is our current expectation to hold the 2021 Gathering as a traditional in-person event. The FGC Long Range Conference Planning committee will be meeting to set plans in motion for the 2021 and 2022 Gatherings. We are exploring how we can bring some of the content lovingly developed and discerned by the 2020 Gathering Committee to the 2021 in-person Gathering. We also want to remain open that the world is changing, and we are committed to understanding and meeting the emerging needs of the Friends, Seekers, and Meetings we serve.

As events unfold and clarity increases, we’ll be sharing more updates, both on here and the Gathering update email list

Faithfully yours,

Frank Barch, Presiding Clerk

David Haines, Long Range Conference Planning Committee Clerk

Michelle Bellows, Long Range Conference Planning Committee Assistant Clerk

Patsy Arnold Martin, 2020 Gathering Co-Clerk

Tony Martin, 2020 Gathering Co-Clerk

Barry Crossno, General Secretary

Ruth Reber, Conference Coordinator

Lori Sinitzky, Rising Conference Coordinator