Religious Society of Friends: Friends United Meeting
*75 percent of the Monthly meetings in Kenya.
Quakerism arose out of the religious ferment of the mid-17th century in England. Its founder emphasized the immediacy of Christ's teaching and held that for this, consecrated buildings and ordained ministers were irrelevant. By 1655 Quakers had spread throughout Great Britain and Ireland and to the continent of Europe, and in 1682 Pennsylvania was founded on a Quaker basis. From the paramount importance given to the Inward Christ of the new covenant derives the rejection of the outward sacraments, ordained ministry and all set forms of worship. The Society does, however, firmly believe in a spiritual baptism and a spiritual communion, and recognizes the gifts in ministry of all believers.
The Friends United Meeting (FUM) was established in 1902 as a gathering of American yearly meetings. Each yearly meeting remains autonomous in its governance, but joins together through Friends United Meeting for common witness and service. FUM has grown to include 29 yearly meetings around the world, with concentrations of membership in the United States and East Africa. Three quarters of its members are Kenyan. FUM's purpose statement commits it to "energize and equip Friends, through the power of the Holy Spirit, to gather people into fellowships where Jesus Christ is known, loved and obeyed as teacher and Lord." FUM currently has four strategic priorities: evangelism, leadership training, global partnerships and communications.
In the 19th century, Quakers were leaders in the movement to abolish slavery in the United States, and supported it by becoming a part of the underground railroad network. Continuing through the 20th century to live in the deep-rooted belief that all people are the children of God, Quakers have been active in relief work throughout Europe, Asia, Africa and South America in times of war and anguish, working through such agencies as the American Friends Service Committee. FUM is one of the founding organizations of Christian Peacemaker Teams, seeking to follow the way of Jesus by offering non-violent resistance to violent conflict. FUM Friends have also developed programmes of alternatives to violence, which have been implemented in diverse situations of conflict around the world. FUM is active in mission and evangelism. Its historic missions include schools, theological colleges, hospitals and orphanages in Kenya, Palestine, Jamaica, and Belize. Outreach in new areas includes Russia and the pastoralist people of northern Kenya. In North America FUM holds conferences for pastors and for emerging leaders.
FUM holds a world-wide triennial conference every three years, and is governed by a general board appointed by all its member yearly meetings. It has offices in Richmond, Indiana, USA and Kisumu, Kenya.