Northwest Appeal Drama: Why Did Spokane Meeting’s Letter Vanish?

Northwest Appeal Drama: Why Did Spokane Meeting’s Letter Vanish?

Yesterday we reported that there were eight Appeal letters filed challenging Northwest Yearly Meeting’s expulsion of West Hills Friends in Portland, for being LGBT welcoming/affirming.

APPEAL-Spokane

For a brief moment, all eight letters were online at the unofficial site www.nwymunity.com. The last two to be uploaded were from Eugene and Spokane.

For a brief moment hey were all there — and then there were only seven.

Spokane’s appeal letter disappeared. 

This morning, Cherice Bock, who is managing the nwymunity site, replied to an inquiry about this:

<< One more thing to keep up with…not everyone at Spokane was comfortable with having it posted publicly, so we took it down. Sorry! >>

Sorry, indeed. We copied part of the letter and included it in an update. That was because Spokane was unusually plain-spoken and eloquent  in its challenge to the “process” deployed in West Hills’ expulsion by NWYM rulers.

Here’s what Spokane said about that:

<< The Board of Elders requested that they be held in prayer and not lobbied during Yearly Meeting sessions  or in the weeks immediately after while they considered how to move forward in this matter. The request was taken seriously by our representatives, who were troubled to learn that within hours of the close  of annual sessions,  the decision to terminate West Hills’ relationship with the Yearly Meeting was made public. This curiously timed announcement asserted authority of the Yearly Meeting over a local church without the full participation and engagement of the whole Yearly Meeting membership. A small, select and self-sequestered body exercising greater authority than the collective body of the Yearly Meeting is not consistent with our understanding of Gospel Order. We must ask which of these ways of proceeding, (West Hills or the NWYM Elders) is more transparent and openhearted, which more Christ-centered?  We believe that Christ will make his will clear to all of us in time as we carefully listen. The Elders, by sequestering themselves and making adecision in a matter as grave as this, seem to violate this belief. 
We feel strongly that if the Elder’s decision had come as a recommendation to the floor of Yearly Meeting, the lack of consensus surrounding it would have been apparent to all.  >>
 

But we didn’t copy the whole Spokane appeal (our bad: it’s better practice to capture such documents in their entirety, precisely  because they can disappear).

And it’s too bad that a document which challenges so well a process that is shrouded and “self-sequestered,” lacking transparency and “openheartedness,” doesn’t stay open and transparent to those interested, inside and outside the yearly meeting.

Challenging the secretive and arbitrary “leadership culture” in NWYM is a recurrent theme of the appeals. From outside at least, it looks much better when the challengers to that culture walk the talk. 

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