Stephen Angell in the latest Quaker Theology has written a fine article about an unusual document in Wilmington Yearly Meeting.  Anyone want to talk about how we might prevent division in meetings & yearly meetings?  Or is that conversation beside the point these days?

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Sure. I am willing to engage in such a discussion. How would you like to proceed?

A more widespread awareness (aside from whatever value particular people find -- or don't find -- in the Christian scriptures) that "The scriptures were made for the sake of people; people weren't made for the sake of obeying whatever rules they find in their scriptures."

Preventing division in meetings might not, of course, be as important as people think. Whatever God would just as soon fragment, we might as well allow to fragment. What most needs to be addressed is the state of mind that leads to fragmentation: the feeling that others are not the way they should be and that we should therefore have a way to make them so.

In one of my pieces, I described the efforts to pass/obstruct a particular yearly-meeting decision as "Quaker Football."

A more useful way of looking at these maneuvers would be something I just suggested for discussion here: Is Quaker Business Meeting procedure a yoga? -- that is, is it a sacrament or an art form in which participants can find opportunities to better sensitize their Divine/human interface? If so, the actual decisions made, whether they render us healthier or break our joints, are (relatively) less important.

   I would like to start by posting the first few paragraphs from Stephen Angell's article on Wilmington Yearly Meeting and the Fairview Minute.  Let me know if this is a conversation starter or stopper.

Stephen Angell:

This eloquent minute (around which most of the discussion in annual sessions in Wilmington Yearly Meeting was based) was approved on January 15, 2017, in a small rural Friends’ church in New Vienna, Ohio. It was in response to a longstanding disagreement in that yearly meeting over a familiar range of issues including same-gender marriage, Biblical authority, and yearly meeting authority. Details will be found below about those, but, for the moment, let’s focus on the Fairview Minute.

    In the body of the minute, it does not mention the Bible, nor same-gender marriage, at least not explicitly. It was pitched as a statement of how Quaker meetings should confront any controversial issue that arises. In its own way, however, the Fairview Monthly Meeting minute may speak in a more compelling fashion to the controversies that have convulsed many Friends Meetings over the past decade than any other document that has come forth during these tumultuous times.

    Here is the text of the Fairview minute, in its entirety:

Same-Sex Marriage Wilmington Yearly Meeting Position
As adopted by Fairview Friends Monthly Meeting
January 15, 2017

    Fairview is a diverse Monthly Meeting where a conscientious objector shares a pew alongside a veteran Marine, both seeking guidance from and with the same Spirit. We share a long history of Yearly Meeting civil rights advocacy on a trail blazed by the [Isaac and Sarah] Harvey emancipation trek to [meet with President Abraham] Lincoln and our own Louise Griffiths’ tutoring of New Vienna Gist Settlement children. We are many times more different than our rural oneness might suggest.

    We are fascinated and honored by the courage it took George Fox to UN-doff his hat to an oppressive bureaucracy. We may not understand or agree with every position taken by every Monthly Meeting throughout our far-flung Wilmington Yearly Meeting, but we support their freedom to be different. We appreciate their patience with us when our independent streak looks a bit too diverse, or restrictive to their liking. This independence is the bedrock upon which a Friends Monthly Meeting is built. The Spirit is within each of us; we don’t need baptism, communion, or other external symbols. God speaks to each of us – independently – and all we have to do is listen. All of us might not hear the same answer. That is okay, we do not all need to be the same.

    Many Friends Monthly Meetings and the American Friends Service Committee are more pacifist than Fairview. Rather than a difference worth fighting about (note the irony), the chasm presents an opportunity for reflection and growth. Our own Bob McCoy’s service following World War II planted a good seed about the meaning of alternative service.

    Fairview supports the ability of each Monthly Meeting to chart its own course on sensitive and complex issues.

    Fairview Monthly Meeting advises that the Yearly Meeting not discipline any Monthly Meeting for their stand on such issues.

Your Friends at Fairview


    Fairview Friends do not yet have unity on behalf of their own meeting taking same-gender marriages under their care. But when the minority of Friends in this meeting who oppose same sex marriage broached this matter, as a possible reason not to act, during the discussion around the minute, Wayne Page, then clerk of Ministry and Counsel, asked these Friends, “Are you ready to accept that other meetings can tell us what to do?” Every Friend in Fairview Meeting agreed that no other meeting should be able to tell them what they can or cannot do. So they did come to unity on the minute you have just read.

Thank you for sharing this as a start to the conversation.

It is interesting and compelling that the suggestion that other meetings through the Yearly Meeting could tell Fairview Friends what to do opened a way to unity that transcended the specific issue. That is, the experience that “The Spirit is within each of us; we don’t need baptism, communion, or other external symbols. God speaks to each of us – independently – and all we have to do is listen. All of us might not hear the same answer. That is okay, we do not all need to be the same.” opened a way wherein the conscience of those in the Meeting settled down into a focus on the Spirit itself instead to outward political or religious issues. What a powerful testimony to an experienced witness, that even in the midst of disagreement on issues, the Spirit lead the conscience of people out of the rule and guidance of outward notions and into the rule of the Spirit itself which transcends all things and circumstances in matters of human relationships.

Just an initial reaction. Thank you again for sharing this minute.

Donne Hayden said:

   I would like to start by posting the first few paragraphs from Stephen Angell's article on Wilmington Yearly Meeting and the Fairview Minute.  Let me know if this is a conversation starter or stopper.

Stephen Angell:

This eloquent minute (around which most of the discussion in annual sessions in Wilmington Yearly Meeting was based) was approved on January 15, 2017, in a small rural Friends’ church in New Vienna, Ohio. It was in response to a longstanding disagreement in that yearly meeting over a familiar range of issues including same-gender marriage, Biblical authority, and yearly meeting authority. Details will be found below about those, but, for the moment, let’s focus on the Fairview Minute.

    In the body of the minute, it does not mention the Bible, nor same-gender marriage, at least not explicitly. It was pitched as a statement of how Quaker meetings should confront any controversial issue that arises. In its own way, however, the Fairview Monthly Meeting minute may speak in a more compelling fashion to the controversies that have convulsed many Friends Meetings over the past decade than any other document that has come forth during these tumultuous times.

    Here is the text of the Fairview minute, in its entirety:

Same-Sex Marriage Wilmington Yearly Meeting Position
As adopted by Fairview Friends Monthly Meeting
January 15, 2017

    Fairview is a diverse Monthly Meeting where a conscientious objector shares a pew alongside a veteran Marine, both seeking guidance from and with the same Spirit. We share a long history of Yearly Meeting civil rights advocacy on a trail blazed by the [Isaac and Sarah] Harvey emancipation trek to [meet with President Abraham] Lincoln and our own Louise Griffiths’ tutoring of New Vienna Gist Settlement children. We are many times more different than our rural oneness might suggest.

    We are fascinated and honored by the courage it took George Fox to UN-doff his hat to an oppressive bureaucracy. We may not understand or agree with every position taken by every Monthly Meeting throughout our far-flung Wilmington Yearly Meeting, but we support their freedom to be different. We appreciate their patience with us when our independent streak looks a bit too diverse, or restrictive to their liking. This independence is the bedrock upon which a Friends Monthly Meeting is built. The Spirit is within each of us; we don’t need baptism, communion, or other external symbols. God speaks to each of us – independently – and all we have to do is listen. All of us might not hear the same answer. That is okay, we do not all need to be the same.

    Many Friends Monthly Meetings and the American Friends Service Committee are more pacifist than Fairview. Rather than a difference worth fighting about (note the irony), the chasm presents an opportunity for reflection and growth. Our own Bob McCoy’s service following World War II planted a good seed about the meaning of alternative service.

    Fairview supports the ability of each Monthly Meeting to chart its own course on sensitive and complex issues.

    Fairview Monthly Meeting advises that the Yearly Meeting not discipline any Monthly Meeting for their stand on such issues.

Your Friends at Fairview


    Fairview Friends do not yet have unity on behalf of their own meeting taking same-gender marriages under their care. But when the minority of Friends in this meeting who oppose same sex marriage broached this matter, as a possible reason not to act, during the discussion around the minute, Wayne Page, then clerk of Ministry and Counsel, asked these Friends, “Are you ready to accept that other meetings can tell us what to do?” Every Friend in Fairview Meeting agreed that no other meeting should be able to tell them what they can or cannot do. So they did come to unity on the minute you have just read.

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