BREAKING QUAKER NEWS: North Carolina Schism Takes Dramatic Turns
Poplar Ridge Friends Meeting of Trinity, NC, the instigator of the attempted purge of “liberal” Meetings within North Carolina Yearly Meeting-FUM (NCYM), has drafted a letter addressed to “like-minded Friends,” proposing to abandon that effort, then leave NCYM and form a New Yearly Meeting, this blog has learned.
This letter, dated March 18, 2015, marks a sharp reversal of Poplar Ridge’s previous effort, which was to have several other meetings expelled from NCYM to ensure what it called doctrinal “unity” and “integrity.”
Further, while Poplar Ridge pursues formation of the New YM, the March 18 letter also abandons its earlier threat to withhold its regular dues (or “askings” in NCYM parlance) as of April 1, 2015, if such “unity” and “integrity” had not been achieved on its terms by then. No such enforcement has yet been attempted or attained in the yearly meeting.
Despite the widely-distributed threat, Poplar Ridge “approved to continue to pay askings to the NCYM as long as we are a part of this Body,” the letter stated.
The March 18 letter was issued by Poplar Ridge’s Ministry & Counsel, in response to the outcome of the NCYM Representative Body session on March 7, 2015. (A report on that session by the journal Quaker Theology, is online here, with background and documents related to the controversy, which came into the open in the summer of 2014.)
(As reported in the Quaker Theology online report, the March 7 representative session did adopt various “affirmations,” but did not move to enforce them or expel any meetings which did not adhere to them.)
This outcome was not satisfactory to Poplar Ridge: As its March 18 letter said, “we can approve words all day, but what good is that approval if it is not going to be upheld with honesty and integrity?”
It appears that in this context “honesty” and “integrity are understood to mean doctrinal enforcement satisfactory to Poplar Ridge Ministry & Counsel.
In the “rough draft” outline of a new Faith & Practice for the New YM, attached to the March 18 letter, a provision would allow expulsion of meetings which are judged by an 80 per cent majority to be “against our agreed upon statement of faith.”
The present NCYM Faith & Practice has no provisions for such expulsion of meetings, and does include several declarations that it is not a creedal document.
The Poplar Ridge proposed Statement of Belief specifically approves the use of “sacraments” (i.e., communion and baptism}, in worship. It also defines marriage as between one man and one woman.
The belief statement makes no mention of a peace testimony, names no history or commitment to racial or gender equality,social justice, overcoming poverty, or intention to adhere to Friends business practices. A possible opposition to human trafficking is named.
On a list of “Difficult Details That still Need to Be Figured Out,” the letter speaks of division of NCYM assets, properties and pensions, and expresses a hope to “try and minimize any legal procedures.” It also wants to continue its extensive use of Quaker Lake Camp.
Since the initial Poplar Ridge effort to enforce “unity” at the NCYM sessions in September 2014, several of the meetings targeted by them have issued letters upholding their integrity and rejecting any calls for doctrinal enforcement. Links to those responses can be found here.
One targeted meeting, Fancy Gap Friends, left NCYM last summer.
The March 18 Poplar Ridge letter, YM Reorganization plan, Outline of Faith and Practice, and proposed Statement of Belief are all online here, in full.