Biographical / Historical
In the late 19th and early 20th, after years of division within the Society of Friends, concerned Friends began to work towards unity, cooperating in a number of joint conferences both in the United States and Europe. A Friends World Conference sponsored by British Friends was held in London in 1920 and described as an All Friends Conference. In the 1930s, the American Friends Service Committee created a "Fellowship Committee" which sponsored conferences open to representatives from all groups of Friends. This committee became the American Friends Fellowship Committee. In 1932, the Fellowship Committee suggested to the AFSC that a world conference of Friends should be developed. A World Conference Committee was established, first chaired by Passmore Elkinton. In 1934, Anna Griscom Elkinton, his wife, took over the chairmanship. The representatives at the Second World Conference of Friends, which was held at Swarthmore and Haverford Colleges, Pennsylvania, in 1937, approved the establishment of a continuing international organization, a Friends World Committee, to promote international contacts and cooperation among Friends. In 1958, it was formalized as Friend World Committee for Consulation which meets triennially at different locations all over the world. The purpose of the Friends World Committee for Consultation is to encourage fellowship among all the branches of the Religious Society of Friends.
Friends from yearly meetings and groups in 75 nations participate in FWCC. FWCC's World Office is in London. Since 1948, FWCC has had “consultative” status with the United Nations and is responsible for the two Quaker UN Offices, in Geneva and New York City. Around the world there are four cooperating, autonomous FWCC Sections serving Africa, the Americas, Asia and the West Pacific, and Europe and the Middle East.
FWCC's Section of the Americas is based in Philadelphia, Pa. According to its mission statement, "In bringing Friends together face to face and heart-to-heart across traditions and national borders, FWCC Section of the Americas seeks to promote exchanges that advance spiritual renewal and vitality within the Religious Society of Friends." In 1954,the American Friends Fellowship Committee was merged into the Section of the Americas of FWCC.