Friends General Conference

Together we nurture the spiritual vitality of Friends

Report on Grinnell the "Jewel of the Prairie" - site of the 2019 Gathering

FGC News
By Marvin Barnes | 1/14/19

In the middle of the vast cornfields of Iowa, the 2019 FGC Gathering will be taking place on the campus of Grinnell College, located within the “Jewel of the Prairie” Grinnell, Iowa, approximately 50 miles east of Des Moines. Grinnell College has several monikers attached to it, including being known as the “Harvard of the Midwest”. 

The campus is a compact, very flat and very shaded oasis within prime farm country. Grinnell’s history stretches back to 1846 with reminders of this history located throughout the campus. The school, its graduates and current students have contributed to society in a number of meaningful and exciting ways. If you take a short walk along North Campus, formerly the “men’s” campus, you will find the dorm where a famous Grinnell alumnus did his undergraduate work that eventually lead to the founding of a “little” company known as Intel.

For the Gathering, Friends will find the student center, known as the Rosenfield Center (or JRC), to be the center of activity. Located between North, South and East campuses, the JRC provides a central place for meals and meetings. From the JRC, classrooms are a very short walk away, sports facilities are easy to locate, and twice a day you can relax and watch the train make its way through campus.

Weather for the Gathering should be pleasant with daily high temps in the 80’s and lows in the upper sixties to low 70’s. The shade from trees and dorm loggias provide an atmosphere for easy walks around campus and easy camping. 

Going from campus into the surrounding town of Grinnell is just an easy walk. Downtown Grinnell is located just south of campus and contains many stores, restaurants, entertainment venues and other businesses that support the town and college. Large box stores are also located in town but may require a vehicle if you need such a store. The Grinnell regional hospital is only a few minutes away from campus. Grinnell College and the surrounding community have been part of an interesting marriage in which the college is not separate from, but an integral part of the community.

The town of Grinnell is a safe and pleasant community with welcoming people. Friends will find whether walking, jogging, biking or just relaxing the community is openhearted. Friends have been a part of the Central Iowa culture since the 1830s. Of interest, Gathering attenders will also find a relatively new Friends Church located on Highway 146. 

Read more about things to do in Grinnell on the Field Trips page!

Grinnell is located near the center of Iowa Yearly Meeting (Conservative), with William Penn College, Scattergood Friends School and the Herbert Hoover library only a short drive way. Following the 2011 Gathering, Friends expressed a desire to return to Grinnell; evaluations stated that the Gathering was enhanced by the close and easy atmosphere found at Grinnell College.



Marvin Barnes is a member of Birmingham Friends Meeting in Lake Erie Yearly Meeting, is Assistant Clerk of FGC, and serves on the Site Selection subcommittee for the Gathering

Learn more about the 2019 Gathering

Learn more about Grinnell College & the surrounding area