Religious Society of Friends: Friends General Conference
The Friends General Conference is the oldest of the five major groupings of Friends in the United States and Canada. It had its beginnings just before 1900 when four Hicksite groups decided to meet annually at the same time and place. These were First Day School Conference, Friends Union for Philanthropic Labor, Friends Religious Conference, and Friends Education Conference. In 1900, seven yearly meetings which were involved in these groups joined to form Friends General Conference. In the 1950s, when yearly meetings were united, the scope of FGC membership was broadened to include meetings which had been identified as Orthodox, Conservative, and Evangelical, as well as Hicksite. Over the years, Friends have found that they come closer to truth when many Friends, rather than a few, are involved in ministry and in decisions. Monthly meetings have joined to form yearly meetings and yearly meetings have joined to form Friends General Conference, Friends United Meeting, and Friends Evangelical International.
Today, Friends General Conference is an association of 14 yearly meetings and some other groups in the Religious Society of Friends. Representatives of these yearly meetings and other groups meet annually as a central committee and serve on programme and administrative committees designed to strengthen and enrich the spiritual dimension of the Society of Friends.
Friends General Conference (FGC) Friends have historic roots in Christianity. For them, the life and teaching of Jesus are central to their belief and to their day-to-day living. Most are open to the enrichment of theological diversity. FGC Friends believe that everyone has direct access to God through the Inner Light or Inner Christ. Worship is based on expectant waiting upon and communion with God. The FGC has a travelling ministries programme which provides opportunities for Friends to visit each other's communities, to share experiences and grow spiritually. The FCG also participates actively in the Decade to Overcome Violence.