North Carolina YM Welcomes the “Autonomites”

Friends, welcome to Carolina Quaker Vocabulary 201.
Today’s new words are: “Autonomy” and “Autonomites.”
First we’ll go over the words themselves, then we’ll have some exercises.

Here are the standard definitions for “autonomy,” from the basic online dictionary:

au·ton·o·my — noun – definitions:

The right or condition of self-government, especially in a
a self-governing country or region.
Freedom from external control or influence; independence.
Synonyms: self-government, self-rule, home rule, self-determination, independence, sovereignty, freedom.

And an “autonomite” is one who conducts their religious life, in their community, on an autonomous basis, associating freely with others,  following leadings of the Spirit rather than directives of human authorities.

Now for the exercises, getting familiar with the words and their meaning:

A North Carolina YM Committee clerk has given the name “Autonomy” to a new grouping of local meetings, as part of a NCYM reorganization plan. Does this name mean anything?

We will soon find out. On Saturday, January 28, at Quaker lake Camp, beginning at 10 AM there will be a gathering of Friends interested in the Autonomy grouping. Welcome the Carolina Autonomites.

Attendance at the session does not require committing to the grouping, though the convenor, Mark Farlow, hopes some meetings which have been uncertain may wish to do that.

No doubt many questions will come up. One near the top of my list is, How truly “autonomous” will these “Autonomites” be? Continue reading North Carolina YM Welcomes the “Autonomites”

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

John Lewis vs. Little Hands: Talk vs. Action

In light of recent events, permit me to share a photograph or two.

Selma, Alabama, March 1965. I stood on the church steps behind John Lewis, Hosea Williams & Andrew Young.

Then John & Hosea marched over the Pettus Bridge & were beaten & teargassed; John got his head busted, was almost killed. I got off easy.

John Lewis got up from his hospital bed and helped win voting rights for millions of Americans. He’s still fighting for those voting rights, which those who scoff & tweet are busy undermining.

John Lewis, foreground, after crossing the bridge, March 7, 1965.

And on that day, when hundreds including John & Hosea walked their talk through Selma, across the Pettus Bridge into the teeth of hate, where was the fool with the little hands who now says John Lewis was “all talk”?

He has said he was avoiding the draft & STDs. Is there any reason to doubt him?

But it all looks different from the bridge.

if you share the view, please share this message.

For MLK Day: Stories from Selma, January 16

Two Nights & a Lifetime with Dr. King

Next Monday will be devoted to the work and legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.

It was my good fortune to work under Dr. King in the great voting rights campaign he led with others in Selma, Alabama in 1965. Besides being historic for America, that experience was formative for me. It led me to jail, to a repudiation of war, and even to Quakers.

Monday evening at Pendle Hill, starting at 7:30 PM, as part of this remembrance, I’ll be talking about that experience, and you’re invited. Details are here, and it’s free.

In December 1964, I joined the staff of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference (SCLC) in Atlanta. Shortly thereafter I was sent by SCLC to Selma, Alabama, where I worked in the Voting Rights Movement organized by Dr. King and SNCC, the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee. Continue reading For MLK Day: Stories from Selma, January 16

Push & Pushback in the Northwest “Showdown”

Northwest Yearly Meeting is notorious for its institutional culture of secrecy; indeed, I think they could teach the CIA some tricks.

So imagine my surprise when a clandestine collective which can be  called “Quaki-Leaks” passed along some emails hacked from the listserve for NWYM pastors. There were other posts,but these offer an illuminating glimpse of what goes on behind one of the numerous veils that shroud much (too much, in my view) of NWYM’s proceedings.  It is a useful followup to yesterday’s post regarding the ‘Way Forward” ultimatum letter.

The posts dealt with the impending midyear sessions that begin this weekend, and the hot issue of what to do about LGBT-friendly meetings. The samples presented here offer three distinct views of the situation, with some qualifying comments by the NWYM Superintendent. We’ll finish with some brief comments of our own. Continue reading Push & Pushback in the Northwest “Showdown”

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.)

Deep State vs. Dupe State: Round One

Thinking over the Friday “revelations” about how the big intel agencies (CIA, FBI, NSA) are agreed that Russia hacked the election to favor the President-elect (Or P-E), I’m recalling that African proverb about how when  elephants fight, it’s the grass & the mice that get trampled.

And I’m taking a mouse-eyed view of what just happened.
Here’s how I think it looks from there: those with eyes to see witnessed an opening round in what could be a death struggle between the Deep State and the Dupe State.


“Deep State” is a term borrowed from Turkish politics. It was applied to the American body politic by Mike Lofgren, a longtime congressional staffer, in his book, The Deep State: The Fall of the Constitution and the Rise of a Shadow Government. (A good summary is here. )

Continue reading Deep State vs. Dupe State: Round One

My Dark Reflection: Guest Post by Judith Dancy

Judith Dancy from Facebook:
It may have happened while Emma was sleeping so soundly last night, for surely she would have sounded the alarm as the Abyss, with its tank loaded with the fuel of Despair crept through the crack under the front door… the one I keep meaning to put another rubber strip on to keep out the cold wind. I’ve been meaning to do that for years, and now I wish it were only cold wind that crept through.

It’s not that it’s a gray and rainy day. It’s not the death of another precious friend. It’s not the pain that seems unwilling to leave. It’s a sensation I don’t remember ever experiencing ,even in the midst of long periods of deep depression.

I want to apologize, I think, for not recognizing the death of hope. Here I’ve been reassuring you that this is just a birthing process and that something beautiful will be born…not soon enough for some of us, but good will come of what seems like no-good. I’m pretty sure that is not true.

Continue reading My Dark Reflection: Guest Post by Judith Dancy

Bernie, Garrison, LittleHands & the Rainbow Toilet: My Top Blog Posts for 2016

It’s Top Ten List season, and how can I refuse?  Yet  out of more than 130 blog posts, how can I choose? 

One way is to do it by the numbers: And the clear #1 on that score went up on February 12. It called out  the slighting comments made by Congressman & civil rights legend John Lewis about Sen. Bernie Sanders, in the thick of a hard-fought primary struggle with Hillary Clinton.


I revere John Lewis; but the post also stood up for Sanders’ activist record as a college student — not as a movement hero or leader, but as one of many who did his bit, took his lumps, and had been a loyal ally for fifty-plus years since.

Continue reading Bernie, Garrison, LittleHands & the Rainbow Toilet: My Top Blog Posts for 2016