FUM – The Great Quaker Turnover Continues

We mentioned briefly in our first post about this that Friends United Meeting was likely on the list for a change of leadership.
Great Quaker Turnover

The details of that are at the FUM website (scroll down to the link to the Memo from the Executive Committee), and applications are due by September 1.

FUM has been a troubled organization, about which much has been written online. My own analysis, called “Wrestling With A Roomful of Elephants,” was posted in 2007, and still seems largely on target. Perhaps the most extensive comments in recent years have come from Johan Maurer, a former FUM General Secretary, via his blog; here’s an archive.
Fum logo

I have often differed with Johan, but in his latest comment is a response that I can only second. He writes:

When I first saw the [FUM General Secretary job] announcement, I immediately thought of several people who should consider applying. I didn’t think about the details of the announcement; instead, the people who came to my mind were creative, energetic, visionary, expressive. I was still under the impression that being the general secretary of Friends United Meeting is the best job there is among Friends. I still want to believe that FUM is the strategic center of the Quaker world, the best place to catalyze the revival of the Quaker movement, if we can just shed the perennial jockeying over who will be the first to leave if the others don’t straighten out.

The very first person I encouraged to consider applying gave me a healthy reality check. Bottom line from this observer I respect highly: this is not an attractive organization to work for.

(Emphasis added.)

Somebody will fill the post, no doubt; and I hope he/she will do a good job. But if I were to make a list of Friends who seem to me, as Johan says, “creative, energetic, visionary, expressive” (and committed to peace and justice and serious Quakerism), I don’t think I would urge any of them to apply for it.

FUM is a mess. Maybe a terminal mess. I’m not at all sure it is the “strategic center of the Quaker world,” or if it ever was; indeed, I’m not sure there is such a “center” just now. Nor am I sure that’s a bad thing.

Can FUM be fixed? We’ll wait and see; but optimism is not in much supply on that front.

5 thoughts on “FUM – The Great Quaker Turnover Continues”

  1. I pray FUM gets it together. And soon. Do you remember my asking you if FUM could “plant” a meeting here in Atlanta, GA?

    We Friends here in Atlanta desperately need an FUM meeting so that our Christocentric Friends would have a place to “hunker down” and pretend that they are the “real” Quakers and not have to put up with us “Liberal” Friends.

    We still will have Christians members and attenders, of course. My wife and best friend are Christians as is most of our meeting.

    Its just that there are enough Christians who are Quakers who believe it is their role in life to “convert” all us sinners who don’t regard Rabbi Jesus as our “Lord and Saviour. I guess we need to love and accept as the gifts from God that we all are.

    Blessings,

    Free

    “No one is Free until everyone is Free”

    Chuck comments: I gotta say, Christian folks been starting their own congregations for 2000 years or so, and if FUM can’t help them, Atlanta Xtn Quakes should get off the dime and start their own “Christian” meeting. No real instruction manual needed, other than the four gospels.

  2. Friends, the struggle in Friends United Meeting
    is probably terminal. This is a tragedy, because
    several important ministries abroad depend
    on FUM. Nothing in the U.S.A. anymore except
    Quaker Life magazine, an important exception.

    The struggle in FUM began long before anyone
    had conceived of united or dually affiliated
    yearly meetings; they are simply the scapegoat.
    The struggle in FUM was not the Hicksite-Orthodox
    struggle at all. It was a struggle between two
    Orthodox factions, beginning in 1902 when Five
    Years Meeting formed and continuing ever since.
    On one side were liberal Christian or “modernist”
    Friends, led by Baltimore(Orthodox) and New
    York (Orthodox) yearly meetings. These
    Friends believed in studying not worshiping
    the Bible. On the other side were highly
    “evandelical”, even fundamentalist Friends,
    led by Oregon (now Northwest Y.M.), which
    departed from Five Years Meeting in 1926.
    Other similar yearly meeings have departed
    since then; but there are still many funda-
    mentalists in FUM (and, ironically, many
    liberal Christian Friends in the Evangelical
    Friends International yearly meetings).

    Friends outside FUM can only hope and pray’
    that my prediction is wrong, and FUM will
    remain, as it always was, a coalition of all
    sorts of Quaker Christians. Jeremy Mott .

  3. Friends, the struggle in Friends United Meeting
    is probably terminal. This is a tragedy, because
    several important ministries abroad depend
    on FUM. Nothing in the U.S.A. anymore except
    Quaker Life magazine, an important exception.

    The struggle in FUM began long before anyone
    had conceived of united or dually affiliated
    yearly meetings; they are simply the scapegoat.
    The struggle in FUM was not the Hicksite-Orthodox
    struggle at all. It was a struggle between two
    Orthodox factions, beginning in 1902 when Five
    Years Meeting formed and continuing ever since.
    On one side were liberal Christian or “modernist”
    Friends, led by Baltimore(Orthodox) and New
    York (Orthodox) yearly meetings. These
    Friends believed in studying not worshiping
    the Bible. On the other side were highly
    “evandelical”, even fundamentalist Friends,
    led by Oregon (now Northwest Y.M.), which
    departed from Five Years Meeting in 1926.
    Other similar yearly meeings have departed
    since then; but there are still many funda-
    mentalists in FUM (and, ironically, many
    liberal Christian Friends in the Evangelical
    Friends International yearly meetings).

    Friends outside FUM can only hope and pray’
    that my prediction is wrong, and FUM will
    remain, as it always was, a coalition of all
    sorts of Quaker Christians. Jeremy Mott .

  4. Friends, please bear with me a bit longer.
    The struggle in Five Years Meeting/Friends United
    Meeting actually began long before 1902 when
    Five Years Meeting was formed. It began in
    1882 when the Richmond Declaration of
    Faith was written, and even before that.

    Baltimore Yearly Meeting (Orthodox), though
    its representatives helped write this declaration,
    never accepted it, never published it in their
    book of discipline. I believe the same may
    be true for New York Yearly Meeting (Orthodox);
    if they did publish it, they no doubt stated that
    Friends were not required or even expected to
    accept it. Many Friends in many Orthodox
    yearly meetngs, especially Friends who
    taught in the Quaker colleges, felt the same
    way. Ohio Y.M. (Damascus)—now Evangelical
    Friends Church–Eastern Region—was not
    even invited to take part in the Richmond
    conference of 1882—because it was too far
    to the theological right already, and the
    outward sacraments were (and are) in use
    in that yearly meeting.

    Free, you can rest assured that most of
    the liberal or “modernist” Christian Friends
    in FYM/FUM would accept you, in 1902 or
    today; but some of the fundamentalists
    would not. For it takes only a slight amount
    of Bible study to understand the roots of
    the dreadful anti-Semitism to be found
    in all four gospels. Jeremy Mott

  5. There’s still another thing that I think
    all North American Friends need to
    keep in mind all the time:
    In the South, Friends are still growing
    in numbers. But in the rest of North
    America, Friends—-all sorts of Friends
    —-are rapidly shrinking, or at best
    stable. Yet worldwide, the Religious
    Society of Friends is a fast-growing
    church indeed. There is a new yearly
    meeting—usually but by no means
    always evangelical—or an independent
    monthly meeting (no yearly meeting)
    in some corner or other of the world
    every two or three years. There are
    two or three times as many Friends in
    the world as there were in 1970. It’s
    quite obvious that God has a use for
    the RSOF worldwide, even if the RSOF
    in North America is reduced to a
    pitiful remnant.
    If you want evidence of this, study the
    website of the Asia and West Pacific
    Section of FWCC. Their newsletter is
    now published in Hindi as well as
    English. There are new yearly meetings
    of Friends in the Phillippines, Nepal, and
    Indonesia. Or take a look at the list
    of yearly and monthly meetings and
    worship groups around the world provided
    for potential subscribers to The Friend.
    Jeremy Mott

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