Tag Archives: Quakers

BREAKING QUAKER NEWS: North Carolina Schism Takes Dramatic Turns

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.

Jacob Wrestling With the Angel,” by Leon Bonnat.


Quakers & the Underground Railroad: Humility Time

Here’s a real Quaker hero of the Underground Railroad. Lucretia Mott was not some postwar poseur.

Quakers & the Underground Railroad: Humility Time

“Myth, Reality & The Underground Railroad” is  a usefully humbling piece in the New York Times for Friends about the Underground Railroad: scholarly work shows that most runaways did it largely on their own, a great many whites exaggerated or invented their URR support after the Civil War, and that actual white URR activists were often valiant, but relatively few in number and were marginalized & vilified by both respectable folk & dangerous mobs.

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A Quaker Story about U.S. Concentration Camps in World War Two


Finding beauty where you are: the sky at Manzanar..

Wikipedia: The Day of Remembrance (DOR) is a day of observance for the internment of Japanese Americans during World War II. Events in numerous U.S. states, especially in the West Coast, are held on or near February 19, the day in 1942 that Executive Order 9066 was signed by President Franklin D. Roosevelt, requiring internment of all Americans of Japanese ancestry.

An excerpt from a recent interview with Star Trek actor George Takei:

[I]n my early teens, my father, who I realize now, what an unusual, rare person he was, he started discussing the internment with me in our after-dinner conversations. My father was unusual in that respect, I discovered later on, because so many other Japanese American parents of my parents’ generation didn’t talk about their experience with their children. Because either they were so ashamed by it or so pained, so hurt by it, that they didn’t want to inflict that on their children. All the children knew was that they were in camp.

You know, my father said resilience is not all just teeth-gritting determination. It’s also the strength to find and see beauty in an ugly situation. To be able to find joy, make our joy, behind barbed wires and all these people wallowing in their misery. Some were angry. Some were completely devastated, and marriages were breaking up — and he said, we’ve got to develop a community. And he was a baseball player in San Francisco as a young man and played with a Japanese American team. And he said, we’ve got to build a baseball diamond. And that brought people together, working as a team. And teenagers had nothing to do and they needed to have fun. So after the mess hall dinner, he negotiated with the camp command to have the guards bring a record player over, and they had dances. I remember, our barrack was right across from the mess hall. And my mother put us to sleep. And I drifted off to sleep hearing the big band sound of Tommy Dorsey and Benny Goodman wafting over the night air from the mess halls. And so, you know, resilience takes many, many different forms. . . .

And so when we developed a musical that played on Broadway, “Allegiance,” so many younger Japanese Americans came backstage to tell us how they were moved by the show and tell me that their parents or their grandparents were in camp. I’d ask them, “Oh, which camp were they in?” Their face was a complete blank. So, to help them out: “Was it in Wyoming? Colorado? Arkansas? Idaho?”

They knew nothing about it. So I do my advocacy not only for my country, but for my community. There are so many Japanese Americans, younger Japanese Americans — and, from my vantage point, anyone under 60 is considered younger — [who] don’t know their own family histories.

And America, to a large extent, doesn’t know its American history. People that I considered well-read, well-informed people, when I told them about my childhood, were aghast that something like that happened. And so that made me think, I’m going to have to do a bit more storytelling.”

His graphic novel, “They Called Us Enemy”:

> My Unexpected Visit to Manzanar, the U. S. Concentration Camp, With a Special Niche for Quakers

An excerpt from a statement by president Biden, February 18, 2022:

“I have always believed that great nations do not ignore their most painful moments — they confront them with honesty and, in doing so, learn from them and grow stronger as a result. The incarceration of Japanese Americans 80 years ago is a reminder to us today of the tragic consequences we invite when we allow racism, fear, and xenophobia to fester.

Today, we reaffirm the Federal Government’s formal apology to Japanese Americans whose lives were irreparably harmed during this dark period of our history, and we solemnly reflect on our collective moral responsibility to ensure that our Nation never again engages in such un-American acts. We acknowledge the intergenerational trauma and loss that the incarceration of Japanese Americans has caused. We also uplift the courage and resilience of brave Japanese Americans who, despite being unjustly incarcerated, formed powerful communities and marshalled incredible dignity and strength.”

> A 3-Day conference on memory and reckoning with the internment is at at the Smithsonian National Museum of American History. More information here.


A Quaker Story of Remembrance –and Maybe Prophecy

Pirates Six, Cubs Three

Pittsburgh, PA, sometime in the 1980s.

Harry Nelson: I wasn’t having a good night. And I hadn’t had a good day. Needleman in the Washington office had called just after lunch. “Nelson,” he barked, “We need you here right away.”

I had to help the boss get ready for a big hearing at the Defense Systems Commission. Tomorrow.

I told him I’d promised to take the kids to a ballgame.


Needleman wasn’t impressed. “They play ballgames in Pittsburgh every night, Nelson,” he said. “We get a chance at a hundred million dollar contract once every ten years, if we’re lucky. This hearing could win it for us. The boss needs your data, and he needs you here to explain it to him. Tonight.”

Continue reading A Quaker Story about U.S. Concentration Camps in World War Two

Booklist — Chuck Fager

(Not Entirely Complete, But Mostly)

Logo-CEF-with nameMy first book was published in 1967,  and I haven’t really stopped since. Most of them have been either self-published or issued by small presses.  That reflects both my stubbornness in the face of publisher bad judgment (i.e., rejection), and a preoccupation with niche subjects (e.g., Quakers) plus hopeless causes (peace, civil rights, ending torture). It hasn’t been all “vanity” — some titles have sold several thousand copies, and overall, I haven’t lost money on the efforts. Nowadays — hallelujah! — self-publishing is a mass phenomenon, and (almost) respectable.

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Progressive Friends Origins – Part 1

Howard and Anna Brinton on Where did Progressive Friends come from? How did they get started?

To get at these questions, we have to start by taking down a myth: the myth of the peaceable Quaker liberals of the nineteenth century. They were the ones called Hicksites, who got that name when most American Quaker groups tore themselves into two competing, mutually hostile streams.

Continue reading Progressive Friends Origins – Part 1