Do you hear anything? Did you hear the cracking, the splitting – a sound like ice fracturing? like hearts breaking? It was a soft sound, muffled perhaps by the brick walls of the church building where it happened. It was a tired sound, a sigh of resignation for some, a sigh of relief, for others.  It was the sound of a fresh schism in Indiana Yearly Meeting. 

 “This is an occasion for sadness for nearly everyone concerned, the sadness that if, as we have always believed, God called us to unity, that we have not found the way to maintain that unity.” So reads the opening paragraph of the Task Force report recommending the separation.

 Sadness, yes, but the recommendation quickly says “IYM (the organization) will remain intact and those meetings choosing option B will continue to be part of this body. …  For the majority of Friends in IYM this will represent no organizational change, although the authority of the yearly meeting to hold its member meetings accountable will have been clearly affirmed.”

 For those being set off or released, our Quaker world hardly seems “intact” or “unchanged.” We are now outcasts from Indiana Yearly Meeting. Where do we belong?

 Do we still have friends? Can we still be Friends?

 Other than the those of us cast out for failing to meet some new test of orthodoxy, did anyone notice the separation? Did you hear anything? After this superstorm, has anyone called to offer us a place to stay? dry clothes? a cup of tea? A comforting word? I don’t think we’ve heard anything from you, our friends beyond Indiana. 

 Among the outcasts I hear often the sentiment that we (however we are organized in the future) will want to continue to be part of Friends United Meeting, but have we heard from FUM? I don’t know that anyone has called to offer us hospitality, an assurance that we are still welcome. 

 And are we still welcome? If we are no longer welcome in Indiana Yearly Meeting, where should we outcasts find confidence that we are still valued as members of FUM? Or will we hear the sound of splitting there as well? 

 How about Friends World Committee for Consultation? Have they reached out to gather in the outcasts? In the midst of celebrating the diversity of Friends gathered at the Kenya Triennial, have they no fear of a fresh schism?

Has any other Yearly Meeting discussed the separation? Sent a note of condolence? Offered words of encouragement?

 Did you hear anything?

 I hear Jesus saying this to his followers (John 15:14-17): “14 You are my friends if you do what I command. 15 I no longer call you servants, because a servant does not know his master’s business. Instead, I have called you friends, for everything that I learned from my Father I have made known to you. 16 You did not choose me, but I chose you and appointed you so that you might go and bear fruit—fruit that will last—and so that whatever you ask in my name the Father will give you. 17 This is my command: Love each other.”

 And so we call ourselves Friends. But are we friends with one another?

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Comment by Paula Deming on 11th mo. 29, 2012 at 10:34am

In my internet wanderings this morning, I found this acknowledgment of the IYM fractures in the minutes of OVYM:

60. Presentation of Draft of Letter of Support

Steve Olshewsky, Lisa Cayard, Nikki Coffey Tousley and Richard Mitchell presented the letter drafted to express pastoral care to Friends of Indiana Yearly Meeting.

“To Indiana Yearly Meeting Friends,

Friends of Ohio Valley Yearly Meeting extend our loving care and concern to Friends of Indiana Yearly Meeting as you wrestle with painful conflicts and decisions. Please know that we are holding all of Indiana Yearly Meeting in our loving prayers. We treasure our relationships with you, our friends and neighbors. As fellow Quakers, we honour our shared religious heritage, grounded in the teachings of Jesus. We hold you in love as you seek God’s Will with integrity and faithfulness.

We are mindful of the teachings of Jesus that we “love one another as I have loved you” which is the theme of our yearly meeting sessions this year. Our plenary speaker reminded us on Thursday evening that I Corinthians 13 tells us:

Love is patient, love is kind.

It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud.

It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps

no record of wrongs.”

Most of our monthly meetings have experienced similar struggles and we know the painful challenge of discerning together what God would have us do. Ohio Valley Yearly Meeting Friends want to lift up our experience that the Light of Christ shines in every person, and that our gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgendered members bring many spiritual gifts and blessings to our meetings.

Lovingly thine,”

After discussion, Friends agreed to lay the matter over to Executive Committee for further action.

I don't know what happens after this.


Comment by Bill Samuel on 12th mo. 1, 2012 at 9:01pm

I have not seen any report of what actually happened in the end, only responses to it. I feel certain that there are many Friends who are concerned for the Friends that have been left organizationally adrift and have apparently been removed from their YM.

It occurs to me that it might be helpful to have a gathering involving both those in the former IYM meetings and others wishing to hold them in prayer and love. My inclination is that this gathering should not have the purpose of "fixing" the situation but of worshipping and praying together, letting the love and grace of our Lord, Savior, Teacher and Friend wash over all who gather together. Friends should trust in the power of the Lord to renew and transform them. The need, I think, is not to rush into how to deal with the organizational issues but to rest in the Spirit which can open all doors.

Perhaps it may seem remiss of me, as someone no longer formally a member of Friends, to offer this suggestion. However, I feel led to do so. I do feel pain at what has happened, even though I don't know the specifics. I also feel strongly that there is no more important priority than feeling the power, and love, of the Lord in these difficult times.


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