In July, Quakers from East Africa, Cuba, Jamaica and across North America will arrive in Wichita for the Friends United Meeting Triennial. The triennial is a gathering every three years of the world’s largest group of Quakers. It has never been held in Wichita.
“We live in a very disconnected and polarized world,” said Colin Saxton, general secretary of Friends United Meeting. “I think one of the most vital witnesses of the church is when we can actually be in loving fellowship with one another. There’s something important about a global community that cares for and is connected to one another.”
Friends United Meeting is a collection of 34 regional gatherings of Friends, also called Quakers. There are roughly 250,000 Friends United Meeting Quakers around the world.
At the meeting, which will be held July 12-16 at Friends University, participants will attend workshops and hear from speakers on the theme of “The Eternal Promise.” About 300 to 350 people are expected to attend.
They will also do work projects at a school and in a community garden.
“It’s an opportunity for us to come in and see what’s going on in a local setting,” Saxton said.
Two Wichita-area churches are members of Friends United Meeting, University Friends Church and Heartland Friends Meeting.
The Rev. Cliff Loesch at University Friends Church said he hopes other Friends churches in the area will also be glad to have the triennial in Wichita.
“It really is exciting to get Quakers from all these different parts of the world together every three years,” Loesch said.
A new missionary about to be sent from Kenya to Belize will be introduced at the meeting. The missionary is believed to be the first Friend from Kenya to travel overseas as a missionary, Loesch said. The meeting will also have time for fundraising for his trip.
“We’re trying to focus on this notion of being (a) light in the world and think about it from a very holistic sense, that God has called us to be agents of change wherever we are,” Saxton said.