George-Washington & His Slaves: Some Mercy For them? Any Mercy for Him?

George-Washington & His Slaves: Some Mercy For them? Any Mercy for Him?

Along with William Penn, the name of George Washington was mentioned in the discussion of my post yesterday about renaming Pennsylvania due to William Penn’s shameless slaveholding.

Washington also owned numerous slaves, for many decades, and his wife inherited many more. My recollection is that there were more than 300 slaves laboring to maintain Washington’s 8000 acre estate at Mt. Vernon, on the green banks of the Potomac River south of the city that now bears his name. Further, he owned the surviving slaves, about 123, until his dying day, December 14, 1799.

Mt-Vernon-around 1840
Mt Vernon, around 1840.

Continue reading George-Washington & His Slaves: Some Mercy For them? Any Mercy for Him?

A Call to Quakers: Change That Name– Now!

A Call to Quakers: Change That Name– Now!

Nicholas Kristof writes in today’s Times about the impact of “hostile environments”:
 “Consider an office where bosses shrug as some men hang nude centerfolds and leeringly speculate about the sexual proclivities of female colleagues. Free speech issue? No! That’s a hostile work environment. And imagine if you’re an 18-year-old for whom this is your 24/7 home — named, say, for a 19th-century pro-slavery white supremacist.” 

John C. Calhoun, Southern statesman, Yale man, staunch defender of slavery.
Calhoun College, Yale.

The “white supremacist” Kristof is referring to is John C. Calhoun, the South Carolina politician and chief intellectual defender of American slavery. No resume-padding here– he served as a U. S. Congressman, Senator, Secretary of both War and State & Vice President, and left his mark on all of them. He would have been a southern Civil War hero too, except he died in 1850, a decade before it started; but he got the ball rolling. Continue reading A Call to Quakers: Change That Name– Now!

Ambushed & Sandbagged At North Carolina Yearly Meeting

Ambushed & Sandbagged at North Carolina Yearly Meeting

Have you seen moments like this in detective films, or in stories? When Sherlock, or whoever the sleuth is, hunches forward and shouts: “Good God, Watson! How could I be such a FOOL??” (Usually it means things are about to get very interesting.)

I had that kind of a moment Saturday morning, November 7.



Continue reading Ambushed & Sandbagged At North Carolina Yearly Meeting

Say Hello to the “Atlantic Friends Mission”– Baptism, Anyone?

Say Hello to the “Atlantic Friends Mission”– Baptism, Anyone?

Late last week, the other shoe dropped in the exodus from North Carolina Yearly Meeting-FUM. 

Three of the meetings that most loudly demanded a purge of all NCYM meetings they did not approve of, and which then left NCYM when that purge did not happen, have formed the Atlantic Friends Mission.

The meetings are Poplar Ridge, Holly Spring, and South Fork. And one its founding church’s first acts was to offer water baptism to members. (See below.)

As has been chronicled in this blog over the past year, Holly Spring’s pastor, Todd Brown, was the one who insistently demanded at the 2014 NCYM annual session that all Friends and meetings associated with Piedmont Friends Fellowship, a group he disapproved of,  should resign from NCYM immediately.

Todd Brown, pastor at Holly Spring.

And when “immediately” didn’t happen, he and his cohorts pressed for forced resignations (i.e., expulsions) by one means after another. As a backup, beginning in March 2015, the meetings began frequent informal sessions to lay plans for an exodus of their own, and the formation of a rival “association.”

This process came to a climax of sorts, when two of the three purge-seeking meetings were abruptly “released” (i.e., expelled) by the NCYM Executive Committee in August, for what the committee described as an intolerable conflict of interest between their sitting in decision making sessions for NCYM while deeply engaged in setting up a rival body.

Although the Executive Committee’s expulsions were overturned by the annual session in early September; Poplar Ridge and Holly Spring decided they would not resume their NCYM membership, but go their own way. South Fork Meeting soon followed.

NCYM sources confirmed to me that as of the first week of November, six more monthly meetings have formally notified NCYM that they are leaving NCYM, for a total of nine. Here they are, for the record:

Poplar Ridge; Holly Spring; South Fork; Bethesda; Pine Hill; Plainfield; Prosperity; Trinity; Upriver. 

These nine meetings account for 1442 members, or 19 per cent of NCYM’s stated total of 7565 members.

Together their yearly meeting payments, or “Askings,” total $113406, a loss of 19 per cent of the YM’s overall total Askings of $703545. (Membership and “Askings” fgures from NCYM Treasurer’s Reports)

The organizational formalities of the Atlantic Friends Mission (AFM) are still obscure; a query for these details got a No-Comment  response. But on October 29, a Facebook page for a joint youth event was renamed the “Atlantic Friends Mission” page.

And in 2015, how many things are more definite indicators of actual “existence” than a Facebook page? (Well, staff, funding and buildings/property, to name three; but the group had pieces of the first two last summer, and no doubt the rest will come.)

The group was spoken of as an association by early October, in weekly bulletins for Holly Spring. And other things were spoken of too:

Baptism, for one. Traditionally, Quakers have not practiced water baptism or communion, seeing these as outward rituals that had been replaced by inward religious experiences. (It is, indeed, prohibited by the Richmond Declaration of Faith, to which the “immediate resignation” advocates claimed to want to impose full adherence on the rest of NCYM.) However, the more strongly evangelical branches have long been attracted to these “ordinances,” and beginning to practice them has usually been a marker for when an group leaves the tradition definitely behind. 

And now it has happened. The “We” in the notice below is Holly Spring Friends, from its October 11 weekly Bulletin:Holly-Spring-Baptism-Service


“Todd” is Holly Spring pastor Todd Brown. 

(Optional water baptism was included in the proposed new Faith & Practice drawn up at Poplar Ridge and circulated last spring.)

The AFM is also taking at least two additional steps that are recorded in their own sources: On November 12-14, the three member churches will hold a youth gathering at Poplar Ridge.

The full poster for the Atlantic Friends Mission’s youth event on November 13-14, 2015.

The event’s official poster is quite, um, modest in identifying the new sponsor. But with aid, this can be discerned.

The group will be addressed (preached to) by a District Superintendent from the Nazarene Church, a strongly evangelical, holiness-oriented, and pentecostal-influenced denomination.

Sponsorship information for the AFM’S youth event. From the poster’s right-hand corner.

And on November 16, the three will hold a “Joint Ministry & Counsel” session at Holly Spring. As Ministry and Counsel sessions are typically a kind of executive committee, this suggests that the project is going forward steadily.

One other point that caught my eye. There was much discussion before the summer-fall exodus about the fate of NCYM’s Quaker Lake Camp if, as Poplar Ridge and the others insisted, NCYM was to be broken up. That hasn’t happened; the nine departures were all individual Meeting decisions, maxing it a kind of exodus by attrition. And Quaker Lake has stayed put, under the aegis of NCYM.

But Poplar Ridge, the largest of the three departed groups, has not let this outcome slow down its frequent rustic gatherings. Since summer it has held a “Family Day” gathering, a senior high weekend, and plans a week-long year-end youth assembly — all at Camp Caraway, a Baptist-owned property near Asheboro.

So Long, Quaker Lake. Hello, Camp Caraway.

So the Atlantic friends Mission is underway. And on November 7, NCYM will hold its autumn Representative session, the first since the upheavals of the past year seem to have crested.

Among the nine departures are most of the more militant voices which demanded the purge and breakup of NCYM in the name of some kind of doctrinal purity.  Could it be that with them, some or (hopefully) most of the urge to purge has gone also? Can NCYM, reduced by 19 percent — a substantial loss, but hardly fatal — begin to move past this turmoil, leave the Atlantic Friends Mission group to follow their leadings, and turn to rebuilding their own community?

Good question.



Breaking: Shattered! Big Idaho Friends Church Quits Northwest YM

Breaking: Shattered! Big Idaho Friends Church Quits Northwest YM

Anthem Friends Church, in Hayden Lake, Idaho, has just notified pastors  in Northwest Yearly Meeting that it’s leaving the yearly meeting. The church has 13 staff and 800-plus members.

Here’s the email that was just passed on to us. Anthem staff confirmed the email’s authenticity.


Continue reading Breaking: Shattered! Big Idaho Friends Church Quits Northwest YM

“Shattering” Quakerism In the Northwest – Continued

“Shattering” Quakerism In the Northwest – Continued
Interview with Steve Angell  – PART TWO
[Part One of this conversation is here.]

Stephen Angell, Associate Editor of Quaker Theology, and  Professor of Quaker Studies at Earlham School of Religion, continues a conversation on his extensive report about the ongoing controversies over LGBT issues at George Fox University and in Northwest Yearly Meeting. [Hereafter GFU & NWYM] This struggle has resulted in the abrupt expulsion of one Meeting, loud protests from several others, and by many individual Friends there.  In Part One, Steve discussed issues at George Fox University. [CEF are the initials of Editor/blogger Chuck Fager.]

CEF: Now let’s turn to Northwest Yearly Meeting and the events that led to the expulsion of an LGBT welcoming meeting there.

Steve Angell with his newest book.

Continue reading “Shattering” Quakerism In the Northwest – Continued

Quakers & The Klan: The Real Thing, Not The Rumor

Quakers & The Klan: The Real Thing, Not The Rumor

There’s a report out there today from hackers claiming to be part of the “Anonymous” network, naming a batch of current American politicians as secret Ku Klux Klan members.

The list’s credibility is unclear, and without solid confirmation we won’t repost any of the names from it here. But whether or not anyone on the list in fact has ties to the KKK, what is beyond doubt is that the spirit of the Klan is still very much alive and active in American society. It rarely shows up in the old robes nowadays; it has found more sophisticated (and effective) means of manifestation, especially via politics.

And while the Klan is back in the news, it’s worth mentioning that there’s a  major chapter in Ku Klux Klan history that involves many Quakers. This one is real, solid, and verified — yet Quaker historians have been almost totally silent about it:

Say Hello to Friend Daisy Douglass Barr, Quaker pastor, and “Queen” of the Indiana Women’s Ku Klux Klan in the early 1920s.


Continue reading Quakers & The Klan: The Real Thing, Not The Rumor

LGBTs & Western Evangelical Quakers: A Reflection

LGBTs & Western Evangelical Quakers: A Reflection

Stephen Angell is Associate Editor of the journal Quaker Theology, and in  his day job Professor of Quaker Studies at Earlham School of Religion. He wrote an extensive report for the journal’s current issue on the ongoing controversies over LGBT issues at George Fox University and in Northwest Yearly Meeting. This struggle has resulted in the expulsion of one Meeting and loud protests from several others, and many individual Friends there. 

Based in Indiana, Steve reported extensively on the recent schism in Indiana Yearly Meeting. But a major project centered in Oregon, Washington & Idaho was not on his agenda when last summer opened. In the first part of this conversation, we look at how he came to report on how an evangelical Quaker college dealt with a transgender student.

Steve-Angell Continue reading LGBTs & Western Evangelical Quakers: A Reflection