Carolina Bombshell: Three NC Meetings Expelled! Will It Stand? (Developing)
On Thursday August 20, 2015, the Executive Committee of North Carolina Yearly Meeting (FUM) met and resolved to “release” (i.e., expel) three monthly meetings, effective immediately: New Garden Meeting in Greensboro; Holly Spring Meeting, in Ramseur; and Poplar Ridge Meeting, in Trinity.
I’m still seeking the minutes from this session to confirm the exact wording; but the substance of the actions is clear.
Already questions are being raised as to whether the Executive Committee was authorized to take such actions. There is nothing in the list of duties for the Committee in the YM Faith & Practice (p. 97-99) giving it such jurisdiction or authority.
“This is a terrible precedent,” one well-informed member said to me. “If it stands it will leave us all at the mercy of whoever is on the Executive Committee at any particular time. They expelled those three meeting this time. It could be mine or yours next.”
New Garden and Poplar Ridge are the two largest meetings in NCYM. Holly Spring is also a sizable group.
Holly Spring and Poplar Ridge have been leaders in the efforts to divide or purge NCYM in the past year. As reported here in March, Poplar Ridge has prepared and circulated an outline & creed for a breakaway yearly meeting, with a strict evangelical character and an enforced creed.
More recently, Holly Spring circulated a letter proposing to break up NCYM and divide its assets and properties. Reports are circulating that the Executive Committee was reliably advised that both Poplar Ridge & Holly Spring had allocated funds to support a minister in an effort to organize the rival YM and recruit meetings to join it.
The case of New Garden Meeting is drastically different. By far the largest of the “liberal” meetings targeted by the purge effort, New Garden had raised the ire of many by two actions: one, it withheld part of its dues (called “Askings”) to NCYM in protest of mistreatment of some of its members based on their openness to LGBT persons.
And second, also as reported here, last March they joined Piedmont Yearly Meeting, a newly formed liberal body.
New Garden did not thereby leave North Carolina YM, and has stated that it does not want to. As evidence, it has paid up the withheld “Askings” and then some.
Moreover, there was not (and still is not) any provision in the NCYM Faith & Practice forbidding such a dual affiliation. (However, the Representative body has since adopted a minute opposing such dual affiliation; but the minute’s status is uncertain, as is whether it can be applied retroactively; and no such change in Faith & Practice has yet been presented.)
Reportedly, however, it was this “dual affiliation” that was the basis for including New Garden in the Executive Committee’s purge.
News of this action is still spreading across NCYM’s membership. Many Friends are away, as the vacation months reach their climax.
But the NCYM annual sessions are set for Labor Day weekend, September 4-7, less than two weeks away. There a crucial procedural question will set the stage:
Will the Executive Committee’s expulsions be presented to the YM as a fait accompli, a decision already taken, which could be overturned only by reaching a clear consensus of “unity”?
Or will it be proposed to the body, and require a consensus/unity to approve and make definite?
Looks like it will be, um, a lively annual session.
We’ll be following this developing story. Watch for updates. And note that comments are welcome here, as are news tips at this email: chuckfager (at) aol (dot)com .