What are the real outcomes or impact of a World Conference like this? The shared journey, the shared witness: what does it mean to go forth and be salty light bearers in our broken world?
We’ve heard powerful appeals about global change, justice, and conflict. We’re aware of the personal challenges and the necessary sacrifices. We’re conscious of the already-observed arrival of the future in the present. We’re keenly aware of our opportunity to act as catalysts for change, each according to their own calling and individual specificity. But what corporately do we have to say? Is there not one project that 500,000 Quakers could endorse? Or is our saltiness only a preservation of our historical reputation?
As some of us begin to make our way home to some 112 Yearly Meetings in 51 countries, the approximately 850 delegates and participants to the World Conference are grappling with the unfinished business, our commissioning, and what we will bring back to our meetings, organisations, and churches.
For many, the encounter with ‘the other’ has eroded the differences, and ignited a sense of wholeness. ‘Yes, they really are Quakers,’ we will be able to say. The genuineness of our witness is not our outward appearances, we will have been reminded, but in our inward transformations. Encouraged by the experience, selected Quakers will be able to demonstrate bold, worldly understanding, whilst the lesser-influenced will form the kernel of a more accepting, more-connected community.
We are a prophetic people. Ours is a lived reality, to love one another. Even in the midst of our differences, and the unfinished business, we were able to recognise hopeful truths. Changed and enlightened, let us go forth in joy.