Expulsions

From Chuck Fager, more on the three expulsions in NCYM(FUM):

[…] both Sills and Terrell insisted that this action was not expulsion. Rather, they said it constituted an acknowledgment by the committee that all three of the meetings had joined a different yearly meeting, and thus had ceased to be members of NCYM.

“We threw out nobody,” Sills declared.

In the case of Holly Spring and Poplar Ridge Meetings, two strongly evangelical churches, according to Sills and Terrell the other yearly meeting they have joined is one they are organizing, which is as yet unnamed.

and:

There seems little doubt but that a new association (whether or not it is called a “yearly meeting”) is in the offing. Chances seem good that some other meetings may follow Holly Spring and Poplar Ridge. The debate over the Executive Committee’s action may come down to quibbles about timing; whether the committee should have waited til the meetings formally announced their departure, versus the hazard of the many conflicts of interest described by Terrell. We’ll soon see how that unfolds.

New Garden Friends Meeting is a different matter. Whereas Holly Spring and Poplar Ridge have been trying to split or purge NCYM and, not having succeeded at it, are preparing an exodus, New Garden has often and publicly avowed its attachment to NCYM, and its desire to help learn to live with its diversity. So what’s the beef here?

The key for the committee is that last March New Garden added to its NCYM affiliation, membership in the new Piedmont Yearly Meeting.

and:

This “vaguely described” authority is too “vague” and sweeping for me.  And letting the committee take unto itself the prerogative of deciding that this or that meeting has forfeited its membership in the yearly meeting, with no warrant, no notice, no standards and no  procedural guides, is a recipe for big trouble.

For those not interested in Quaker inside baseball, here’s my short version of the story-so-far: evangelical-leaning Friends in North Carolina have found that elusive “third way!” You know, the one by which they can successfully chart their course out of the liberal/conservative divide that troubles so many of our denominational gatherings. Here’s the secret: construct a bureaucratic pretense by which you can kick out all the whiners, both liberal and conservative. Problem solved!

That may not be a fair read of the situation. Perhaps their Executive Committee really does believe that their newly assumed authority to cast out individual churches without consent from the body is legit. Perhaps they have reason to think that this will forestall a more explosive confrontation. It’s not fair for me to draw conclusions secondhand, no matter how obvious or tempting.

This could be happening in my own yearly meeting, though. I do not want my yearly meeting to go down the path of division, and so I’m anxiously attentive when divisiveness might be rippling our way. We’re caught in the same cross currents as North Carolina YM, and Northwest YM, and what’s left of Indiana YM. The careful, fearful logic employed in the documents available from NCYM’s Executive Committee does not seem far removed, in spirit, from the way that we have resolved (evaded) similar concerns.

One of the repeated motifs in our business and worship this year, though, was of perfect love driving out fear. We chose love as our theme: As I have loved you, so you must love one another. Our actions may not have fully reflected that choice, but there were glimmers of grace.

Dear Lord, let fearless love continue to arise among us.

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