Category Archives: Quaker Theology

Another Day, Another Split Attempt– The New Target: North Carolina YM

I suppose it was just too good to last.

In August, after two years of turmoil, North Carolina Yearly Meeting (FUM, or NCYM) considered and rejected a plan to split the yearly meeting.

Instead, it decided to reorganize, offering two sub-associations for meetings to align with, within a revised and shrunken Yearly Meeting. NCYM would become a kind of umbrella holding company, mainly concerned with managing endowment funds and real estate. The sketch below is an approximation.

This decision was challenged at the November Representative session: the pastor of New Hope Friends called for reviving the split plan. But there was no interest in, or discussion of that idea. (A week later, New Hope chose to leave NCYM.)

That same day, plans for revising and managing the reorganized finances & YM structure were approved, without contention.

So far, so good. The fetid stench of heresy-hunting and attempted purges which had fouled the air in NCYM’s sessions for two long  years seemed to have dissipated.

But . . . .
Continue reading Another Day, Another Split Attempt– The New Target: North Carolina YM

BREAKING: Split Over LGBT Said Imminent for Northwest Yearly Meeting

NOTE UPDATE BELOW: From sources in the Northwest, we have been sent the text of a draft plan to split Northwest Yearly Meeting (NWYM), over the issue of affirmation of LGBT persons.

This issue of affirming meetings has been intensely debated across NWYM since the summer of 2015, when the yearly meeting elders announced a decision to expel West Hills Friends in Portland from NWYM because of its openly affirming stance. But after several meetings & many young Friends appealed, the power players in the yearly meeting were unable to agree to carry out that decision until now.

The document below is a draft plan for the split. It reportedly was considered, tweaked, and agreed to at secret meetings in the past several days. It is expected to be announced to NWYM generally soon, perhaps this coming weekend (Jan. 28-29). Continue reading BREAKING: Split Over LGBT Said Imminent for Northwest Yearly Meeting

Ultimatum in Northwest Yearly Meeting?? (Yawn.)

What a difference an earthquake makes.

Yes, on November 8th many foundations were shaken. Received  knowledge was proved ignorance: conventional wisdom unmasked as folly.

Now a great many of us are warily counting down the days til we  have answers to a set of unavoidable, unnerving questions:

— Which of the several wars called for by the new rulers will we be thrust into first? And then?

— How many millions of people will be seized off our streets and cast into what outer darkness?

— What can we expect from a “Justice” Department run by a relentless foe of every recent advance in civil rights, women’s and gender equality, voting protections and criminal justice reform?

— How much of the remaining health and social safety net for seniors, the poor, sick, and disabled, is to be shredded right before our eyes?  Continue reading Ultimatum in Northwest Yearly Meeting?? (Yawn.)

Is North Carolina Yearly Meeting Giving Peace A Chance?

After two years of turmoil, meeting departures, and apocalyptic rhetoric, North Carolina Yearly Meeting held a representative session in Goldsboro on November 5, 2016 which was remarkably drama free.

This was despite the fact that the session made several major decisions. And among the biggest was a decision they did not make.

is NCYM opening the door to a time of peaceful coexistence?

We’ve spoken here before of the Blockbuster Video effect, the fact that both technological and demographic changes are making the NCYM structure obsolete; not unlike “Blockbuster Video,” which was toppled by failure to adapt to  changes in its industry.

On Saturday, NCYM took two major steps in a similar process: first, it decided to end its pastor’s pension program; and second, they gave its showpiece, Quaker Lake Camp, a green light to become de facto independent.

There’s no question that closing down the pension program marks the end of an era. NCYM figures are that 173 people are vested in it, or already receiving checks. The payments were supposed to last for life; now they will end after June 2017. Each beneficiary will get a final settlement check, adjusted actuarially.

Continue reading Is North Carolina Yearly Meeting Giving Peace A Chance?

Update-Northwest YM Gay Expulsion: The Power In Posing The Question

Update-Northwest YM Gay Expulsion: The Power In Posing The Question

How does a group in power get what it wants from a divided Quaker body, given the practice of seeking “unity” or a near-unanimous “consensus” for action?

It’s not hard, and we’ll get to how it can be done in a moment. First, some background:

As reported in our October 22 post, there’s movement in Northwest Yearly Meeting (NWYM), on the case of the expulsion of West Hills Friends (WHF) in Portland OR, by the NWYM Elders, in July 2015. West Hills is a LGBT-welcoming meeting.


The NWYM Administrative Council recently proposed that a joint statement be issued by both West Hills and NWYM, in which West Hills would agree to accept its expulsion. (Full text of the proposed statement is here.) Continue reading Update-Northwest YM Gay Expulsion: The Power In Posing The Question

The Northwest Gay Expulsion Impasse: Is A Break In Sight?

The Northwest Gay Expulsion Impasse: Is A Break In Sight?

At its September business meeting, West Hills Friends (WHF) in Portland Oregon considered a statement accepting its expulsion from Northwest Yearly Meeting (NWYM) for having become a LGBT-welcoming congregation. If approved, the statement would be issued jointly with NWYM.


The decision to expel West Hills was made public by Northwest YM’s elders on July 24, 2015, at the conclusion of the YM’s annual sessions. (More details here.)

However, like a death sentence, pronouncing the expulsion did not

Continue reading The Northwest Gay Expulsion Impasse: Is A Break In Sight?

The Party That Went On Too Long

The Party That Went On Too Long

  Seat belts were only for airplanes when I was nine, in 1951. So one day I leaned over the back of the front seat, to ask a question of my mother, who was driving. 

The radio was on, and a news report had just finished. The announcer had said something about the Communist Party. 


This party had been mentioned before, in other news reports I had begun, just barely, to notice. We had no TV yet, so it was all scattered words without pictures, which gave rise to my question:

“Mommy,” I said, “how can a party go on so long? Continue reading The Party That Went On Too Long

A Review of “Our Life is Love: The Quaker Spiritual Journey”

A Review of “Our Life is Love: The Quaker Spiritual Journey”

From Quaker Theology #29

Our Life is Love: The Quaker Spiritual Journey. Marcelle Martin. San Francisco: Inner Light Books, 238 pages. Paperback, $17.50.

Reviewed by Chuck Fager

    It’s my fate to spend a fair amount of time on the larger Quaker-oriented Facebook groups. That’s often a challenging, and sometimes dispiriting experience, especially when talk turns to “what Friends believe,” and how that is evidenced in actual Quaker history. 

It’s a chore because the level of ignorance and misinformation about Quakerism seems bottomless. Responding to it often feels like bailing out a canoe with a big hole in the bottom, through which a continuing steam of errors, rumor, legends and downwright fiction steadily gushes.


    For instance, a few days ago, there once again popped up the name of Richard Nixon, the second Quaker U. S. president. But no sooner than he appeared, there followed a number of firm denials that he was, or ever had been, a Friend. Even though Nixon’s lifelong membership in East Whittier, California Friends Church is well-attested in several solid historical sources, both in books and online.

Yet this seemed to make no difference to many: pointing them out evoked such responses as: “He never was”; “Well, perhaps as a child, but not as an adult”; “Maybe as a young man, but when challenged as president over the Vietnam War, he left and never returned”; and other variations. Continue reading A Review of “Our Life is Love: The Quaker Spiritual Journey”

Quakerism As Therapy?? A Good Idea? Good Religion??

Quakerism As Therapy?? A Good Idea? Good Religion??

Is that a good idea? Is it good religion?

The new issue of Quaker Theology (#29) is out, and it contains some challenging, provocative material for Friends and their friends.

butterflies-2a-front-cover-smThe first piece that fits the description is “The Influence of Psychoanalysis and Popular Psychology on Quaker Thought & Practice: An Exploratory Survey,” by Jacob Stone. He is both a longtime Friend and a retired psychologist, who had a long career in human services and human services education in higher education, as well as serving as an ethicist and ethics trainer.

Stone raises the curtain on a well-established phenomenon particularly at the liberal end of this constituency. Yet it’s one that is hardly ever remarked on, except in passing: the pervasive influence of pop psychology and the morphing of “spirituality” (also previously known as “religion”) into a kind of therapy equivalent. 

Continue reading Quakerism As Therapy?? A Good Idea? Good Religion??

Was George Fox A Liar? (Alas, The Answer Is Yes.)

Was George Fox A Liar? (Alas, The Answer Is Yes.)

For enthusiastic new Friends, it’s something of a sobering rite of passage to learn that many of the great names among the founders are not reliable witnesses in their own cause. However, careful historians have long since proven this to be the case.
One of them was H. Larry Ingle.

H. Larry Ingle, who summer & winter was usually first in line at the local store in Chattanooga where the Sunday New York Times was delivered.

    Larry is now retired from a long career teaching history, mainly at the University of Tennessee – Chattanooga. Sometime before 1994, he went to London, and padded down the stone steps of the large Library at Friends House (an imposing structure sometimes dubbed the Quaker Vatican), into the half-lit depths where the earliest Quaker manuscripts and publications were stored. Then he began looking at many of the pamphlets and broadsides from the first generation of Friends. And soon he had made a remarkable discovery. Continue reading Was George Fox A Liar? (Alas, The Answer Is Yes.)