TO ALL FRIENDS EVERYWHERE
Greetings from the World Gathering of Young Friends – Africa. It has been nearly two months since the World Gathering of Young Friends held in Lancaster, in the United Kingdom. During this gathering, God led Young Friends around the world to work for a post gathering, to be held in Kenya, Africa for those Young Friends who could not make it to Lancaster, mainly due to visa-related difficulties.
The WGYF-Africa was held in Kanamai, Mombasa in Kenya from 20th – 24th October 2005. 81 Young Friends gathered together, both from around Africa and representatives from the regional groups that participated in the Lancaster gathering. These Friends were from 27 Yearly Meetings and communicated in five different languages though more than twenty languages were represented. The gathering in Kanamai shared the same theme with the gathering in Lancaster – “I am the Vine, you are the branches”…now what fruit shall we bear? (from John 15).
It was a collective idea of the WGYF in Lancaster that the representatives should take with them all the experience they witnessed, and pass it on to Young Friends who participated in the WGYF-Africa. This WGYF-Africa was another great opportunity that brought joy to Young Friends who represented most of the Quaker Community and enabled us to exchange our different traditional backgrounds of faiths and practices, cultures and spiritual journeys. Our presence together helped heal the deep hurt that was felt at the denial of visas for the Lancaster gathering.
During our time in Kenya we were able to visit various local attractions, and we were enriched by our wonderful surroundings. We worshipped and danced together, worked together in much valued workshops and heard three valuable talks by our guest speaker Dr. Esther Mombo. We also enjoyed regional and yearly meeting presentations and an exciting cultural night.
Similarly to those who participated in the WGYF in Lancaster, Young Friends at WGYF-Africa felt that we had an opportunity to explore different interpretations of the theme as mentioned above. We believe this opportunity has revealed to us the diversity that exists among us, and it has challenged us to always recognise this diversity of religion and faith, not only among the Society of Friends, but among all people.
Young Friends at this gathering also felt that the following were the challenges and opportunities that will help us grow in our faiths and practices in various ways:
Experiencing different forms of worshipping among Friends was an opportunity for Young Friends to share, understand, and accept each other no matter how we relate to God. We believe this has led our minds to be more liberal on our faiths and practices, thus challenging us to always promote love and unity among Friends regardless of different traditional and faith backgrounds. Young Friends experienced what we believed to be Quaker Faith in action as we experienced the Love of God working through us in different ways.
We felt, however, that we are faced with some challenges. We had to think of how to question others without seeming challenging. We felt challenged to carry the theme of this gathering, along with our experiences here, to other Young Friends across the world. We find the world’s socio-economic & political barriers increase the weight of this challenge. Young Friends also found the leadership and structural conflicts among Friends in their different Meetings to be a great challenge facing the future of Quakers.
We recognised that we have no right to judge each other, but leave judgement unto God. We call for love and unity among Friends worldwide as we are all branches of the one True Vine.