Over on Friends Journal site, some recent stats on Friends mostly in the US and Canada. Written by Margaret Fraser, the head of FWCC, a group that tries to unite the different bodies of Friends, it’s a bit of cold water for most of us. Official numbers are down in most places despite whatever official optimism might exist. Favorite line: “Perhaps those who leave are noticed less.” I’m sure P.R. hacks in various Quaker organizations are burning the midnight oil writing response letters to the editor spinning the numbers to say things are looking up.
She points to a sad decline both in yearly meetings affiliated with Friends United Meeting and in those affiliated with Friends General Conference. A curiosity is that this decline is not seen in three of the four yearly meetings that are dual affiliated. These blended yearly meetings are going through various degrees of identity crisis and hand-wringing over their status and yet their own membership numbers are strong. Could it be that serious theological wrestling and complicated spiritual identities create healthier religious bodies than monocultural groupings?
The big news is in the south: “Hispanic Friends Churches” in Mexico and Central America are booming, with spillover in el Norte as workers move north to get jobs. There’s surprisingly little interaction between these newly-arrived Spanish-speaking Friends and the the old Main Line Quaker establishment (maybe not surprising really, but still sad). I’ll leave you with a challenge Margaret gives readers:
One question that often puzzles me is why so many Hispanic Friends
congregations are meeting in churches belonging to other denominations.
I would love to see established Friends meetings with their own
property sharing space with Hispanic Friends. It would be an
opportunity to share growth and challenges together.