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7.29.2006

More on FWCC affiliation

Dan McCracken writes about Quaker process and the decision of NWYM to affiliate.

Carrie Hutchinson, Reedwood Friends Church, NWYM (who first reported this event to SPG) writes that her favorite part was:

"One of the (much) older, "weighty" Friends was led to share his deep concern over affiliation, and being 'unequally yoked'. And yet, after describing his position, he committed wholly to being a mighty prayer warrior, covering those who are our representatives with blessing and protection as they follow God's call. He charged the whole of the yearly meeting, especially those in disagreement, to do the same. We have been blessed. "

Now: This editor's opinion.
The reason for reporting all this to the Quaker world is that those of of who have participated in business meetings of several hundred people, know how difficult it is to work through a divisive issue with people who have entrenched opinions. It is harder to do the heart to soul listening when everyone is facing forward and you are speaking into microphones. It is hard to clerk when you cannot practically see faces and body language. I am no longer in NWYM, but I know most of the participants in this issue. It is harder when people feel like the work of their eight decades is in jeopardy. Some of the people arguing against affiliation are the children of the Friends who took the Ym out of Five Years Meetings in 1925. The Corinthian call to "Be Separate", 'set aside', "Holy' was preached to these Friends along with their mother's milk. It is a core spiritual and theological element of the Holiness theology that they were raised with. Affiliation is not a structural, reversible, held lightly decision for them - it is an assault on their basic beliefs, and therefore their sense of safety. Humans do not usually change these beliefs in their eighth decade. That there were any that were swayed by the sense of the meeting and publicly spoke to their willingness to set aside their concern is fairly miraculous. I was impressed that the people on the study group who passionately believed in affiliation were able to gracefully write a minute that advocated pulling out( this, while I believed that it was a poor choice and bad compromise). Their grace may have in fact paved the way for the grace that happened this week. This morning I sit here with compassion on my heart for those few who could not agree with the sense of the meeting, would not stand aside, and reportedly walked out of the room rather than sign their names to any document coming out of this meeting. I believe that their concerns and fears will prove to be groundless, but today I am sure that they woke up crushed and disappointed. I pray with all sincerity that they will turn for comfort to the Jesus that that have served and loved so well and so long. May His Holy Spirit ease their hearts and minds. I also pray that when those of us who think this should have been easier are in our eighties, and some younger Friends ask us to step outside one of our entrenched beliefs, something dear to our hearts, something we have worked for our whole lives, that we will have the grace to be flexible and trust. We will not be able to claim that we have never had the example set for us. Let us remember those who remained flexible.

Comments:
I hope that FWCC affiliation proves valuable to you and to the FWCC. I know the holiness roots were an important draw to my seeking out Friends. I found liberal Friends with weak connections to that tradition. So I thirst for that connection still.
 
Thanks K for dropping by. Just for the record, Freedom Friends Church is not a part of Northwest Yearly Meeting, although some of us used to be, and we have many good friends there. We like to keep up on their doings, try to make a visit each year, and we care about the ministry of FWCC. We were glad to get these good reports from our NWYM friends.
Pp
 
I am excited that NWYM has chosen to affiliate with FWCC. We need each other! Each branch of the Friends has something that other branches need. As for NWYM, there gift to the wider Quaker community might be to call us back to our Center, Jesus Christ. The "common spiritual language" of Evangelical Friends has somewhat lost in some Quaker circles. It is that "common language" that helps us communicate the deep spiritual Truths that are a part of our journey.

It seems the Spirit is moving Friends in interesting directions these days. With all the talk about convergent Quakerism and the rediscovery of a modified Conservative understanding of God among younger liberal Friends, it will be exciting to see what the Spirit has in store for all of us.

God's peace,
Craig
www.ncymc.org
 
Thank you for this post.

The consensus (unity?) among those who post in this little "ring" of ours on the internet is so far from the concern other Friends have about separateness and "unequal yoking."

We have all been involved on both sides of such situations--although not often one of such magnitude--when someone had to stand aside (or resort to some action "short" of standing aside that amounted to the same thing) certain that a mistake was being made and yet trusting/hoping in the members of the community who saw from a different perspective, trusting/hoping that they were led by Spirit and not flesh.

To respond to an assault on one's sense of safety by trusting in the community of which one is a part, the very community that seems to give aid and comfort to that assault. Prayer, prayer, prayer.

Humans do not change their opinions in the eighth decade, or even the first. But opinions can be changed by Christ at any time. And I am one in unity with the FWCC "thing" so I think that this was the right decision for NWPM--and for all of us in the Quaker Movement--because I would be chagrined if it was not God's intention that, in some way, to some degree, we who call ourselves Friends be connected.

But that is my view and it's not expensive for me (in any way) to hold it. Thank you for making me see that such a hope is an expensive on for some people to buy into.
 
I appreciate all these comments. Another good example of Quaker procees is given by Liz Opp at

http://thegoodraisedup.blogspot.com/
on Iowa YM (C).

The discipline and trust she describes is just amazing to me.
 
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