Category Archives: Quaker Theology

Breaking– Carolina Bombshell: Three NC Meetings Expelled! Will It Stand?

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.

Continue reading Breaking– Carolina Bombshell: Three NC Meetings Expelled! Will It Stand?

Showdown in Quaker Carolina? (Sort of)

Showdown In Quaker Carolina? (Sort Of)

Breaking: Holly Spring, NC– more than 200 NC Quakers crammed into an overflowing Holly Spring Friends Church here to report their verdicts on a series of  five options for the yearly meeting’s future.

Sixty-three meetings reported, and their representatives were polled by Clerk Michael Fulp, Sr., one by one,  in alphabetical order, by the name of the meeting. Some representatives simply named their preferred option. But more read formal statemenimagets by their meeting, some quite lengthy and a few gripping & eloquent. (When we get some of the texts, watch for samples.

The results were illuminating, but hardly decisive, and there was no decision. The reports will all be turned over to a task force which is just beginning to be formed, for processing into some more concrete proposals, which will be brought back to a future (unspecified) Representative session.

Yet the outcome was not as formless as this description might imply. Some clear preferences emerged:j

For instance, of the original three options, two failed to gain much support: “Option One,” which would have subdivided the YM into two rival “associations,” but retained the YM funds & properties in common, got only five nods ( Quaker custom forbids calling them “votes”); and “Option Three,” calling for a YM-wide inquisition & purge of heretical ideas & groups, drew only eight. By contrast, “Option Two,” which ruled out expulsions, but would permit withdrawals by dissatisfied meetings, garnered 13.

However, two late entries drew even better. A “Total  Separation” idea from Holly Spring Meeting, which would divide the body in two,  money, camp and all,  got 15; and a rather vague “unity option,” formulated by the clerk & the Superintendent, Don Farlow, got Sixteen, the most of any. (Seven more groups picked “None of the Above,” and eight meetings did not report at all.)

The five options are described further here.

The “Total Separation”  group appears to include a number of meetings which have been discussing leaving the YM& forming their own body. Considering that non-split options were favored by more than half of the meetings, these results seem likely to keep that pot bubbling,  but suggest it has limited appeal.

The “liberal” meetings, which had been targeted for a purge, seemed to fare better: the “status quo” Option Two did quite well, and several meetings said explicitly that they would stoutly resist any outcome that authorized expulsions, especially for “heresy.”


What happens next? The NCYM annual sessions are in early September; but the task force will not be ready by then, so it may be an anti-climax.

But there was a moment of drama in the long afternoon: toward the end, Prosperity Meeting, from Robbins, NC, a hamlet not far from Holly Spring, was called on. Its representative stepped to the mike, unfolded a sheet of paper with trembling hands, and read it aloud. The brief note said that the meeting had considered and rejected ALL the options as unsatisfactory, and instead was choosing to leave the YM entirely by October.

After a moment of stunned silence, while the Prosperity representative walked out, the session continued.

As the session was about to close, settled in silence, a man suddenly bounded down from the choir benches and flopped onto a cushioned  mourner’s bench next to the pulpit, prostrated himself, face in hands, and began to weep loudly. Then he broke into a long, loud prayer, punctuated by heavy sobs.

The prayer appealed for divine guidance for the group, full of anguished tones of near despair.

It wasn’t easy to figure out what had provoked the outburst. Why the cries for guidance after all the meetings had presented their reports?  As he seemed familiar with the mourner’so bench, perhaps he was associated with  Holly Spring, which had presented and lobbied hard for the “Total Separation” option.

But that idea, while it showed it had a following, had been far overshadowed by calls to, in one way or another, keep NCYM fumbling toward unity.

That outcome on August 1 hardly solved all NCYM’s problems. But was it really something to cry about?

Not as far as this Friend is concerned.


NCYM’s Future: Conversation With A Younger Friend

NCYM’s Future: Conversation With A Younger Friend

A Young Adult Friend named Cassidy Cloer posted a substantial response to the last blog post on the Young Adult Friends Facebook group.

It’s good to hear from younger Friends, and Cassidy Cloer’s points deserve to be taken seriously. Which is what I’ve tried to do in the following response. Cassidy Cloer’s post is here in full, in the reddish typeface.  My comments are mixed in, in black type.peaceable-kingdom-hicks-C

Continue reading NCYM’s Future: Conversation With A Younger Friend

NC Quakers & “Options”: The Good, The Bad & The Ugly

NC Quakers & “Options”: The Good, The Bad & The Ugly

Is there a future for North Carolina Yearly Meeting (FUM)?

When its Representative Body gathers on Saturday August 1, the formal agenda will focus on deciding among a series of options.

The options list is long, and — who knows — may get longer in the next 24 hours. Further, besides the specific list now on tap, there is another one which isn’t there, but is: namely “None Of The Above.”


Continue reading NC Quakers & “Options”: The Good, The Bad & The Ugly

A Message from John Wesley to Kevin Rollins (& others)

A Message from John Wesley to Kevin Rollins (& others)

Last Saturday I heard a pretty awful sermon. I was at Western Quarterly Meeting of North Carolina YM-FUM.

(c) John Wesleys House & The Museum of Methodism; Supplied by The Public Catalogue Foundation
“I’m John Wesley, and I approve of this message.”

The session began about 9:30 AM, and lasted til shortly after noon. After a break midway, the sermon was more or less sprung on us. It was delivered by Kevin Rollins, pastor at Plainfield Friends, and one of the leading voices for the Purge and Plunder campaign in the yearly meeting. (In fact, Plainfield Meeting declared that it would stop supporting the YM last April 15 unless all its grievances were DEALT with [their caps, bold, italics, oversized type & underlining], i.e., the targeted liberal meetings were expelled. But they weren’t and as noted in our previous post, the doomsday date passed, and Plainfield is still paying.) Continue reading A Message from John Wesley to Kevin Rollins (& others)

North Carolina YM: Goodbye To Doormat Quakerism?

North Carolina YM Update: Goodbye To Doormat Quakerism?

On August 1, another showdown meeting will convene for Carolina Quakers. Will it be the climactic moment of a struggle that has boiled over for nearly a year?

Maybe. But in assessing its prospects, it’s appropriate to take a reading on a factor that’s seldom named, but will be familiar to most experienced Friends. They will know that in internal Quaker conflicts, besides those on one side or the other, there is usually a sizable group which wants at all costs to avoid, cover up, or flee the conflict.

This constituency is often big enough to be decisive; and rather than having a particular theological or even ideological view, it typically has a position, or more precisely, a posture: pretty much flat on the floor.

Yes, to understand recent and current Quaker events, you have to get to know Doormat Quakerism.


Continue reading North Carolina YM: Goodbye To Doormat Quakerism?

After Gay Marriage: No, The END Is NOT Near

After Gay Marriage: No, The END Is NOT Near

Is this a moment of decision for the vocally anti-gay pastors and meetings in North Carolina Yearly Meeting-FUM?

On the one side, they could join the peals of panic and hysteria that are near full-throat since the Supreme Court’s marriage decision on June 26.

Or maybe they could take a deep breath, listen to some other voices, and consider a different option.

Here’s another way to put it: Will their template now be drawn from  Dred Scott (civil war) and Roe v Wade (anti-abortion terrorism)?

Or will it be Loving v. Virginia, and “Don’t Ask Don’t Tell”?

(I’d like to think nobody could say no to “Loving.” But I’ve been wrong before.)

Is It Truly Going To Be This Bad?? (Maybe not.)

Continue reading After Gay Marriage: No, The END Is NOT Near

Richard Nixon’s First Cover-Up: His Quaker Religion

Richard Nixon’s First Cover-Up: His Quaker Religion

A Review of Nixon’s First Cover-Up. By H. Larry Ingle. University of Missouri Press. 220 pages, cloth. $50.00.

A former Nixon speechwriter-turned newspaper columnist compared Nixon’s personality to a many-layered birthday cake: cut into his persona and there was layer after layer, after layer.


It’s a striking image. But historian Larry Ingle’s new book about Nixon’s religion  left me with a very different visual sense: that I had been peering down a deep, dark well, then shining a small but sharp penlight into the depths, hoping to glimpse the reflection of water, but finally seeing only a distant, dry emptiness, with an accumulation of trash, the deposit of endless lies.
Continue reading Richard Nixon’s First Cover-Up: His Quaker Religion

Carolina Quaker Witch Hunt: Here Comes The “Auditing Committee”

Carolina Quaker Witch Hunt: Here Comes The “Auditing Committee”

   A Visit From The Auditing Committee

[NOTE: The dramatization below is fiction. But it is based on an actual plan for a doctrinal “cleansing” of North Carolina Yearly Meeting-FUM that was presented to NCYM’s Representative Body on June 6, 2015. For comparison and authentication, the full text of the proposal is attached following this vignette]:          

Continue reading Carolina Quaker Witch Hunt: Here Comes The “Auditing Committee”