Report: Task Group on FUM, 2008

2008-07-39. The Clerk introduced John Menzel (New Brunswick) from the NYYM Friends United Meeting Task Group, who read the report of the task group from June 28, 2008, at Powell House. Friends received the following report:

Report of the NYYM Task Group on FUM
Powell House, June 28, 2008

We have heard many Friends, individually and in their Monthly, Quarterly, and Regional Meetings, holding concerns about whether or not NYYM should cease its association with Friends United Meeting. We witness that many Friends are in deep pain and distress about our continued association. We hear concerns to mostly center on the sexual ethics portion of the personnel policy, the adoption of the Richmond Declaration as the faith basis of the organization, and homophobic remarks made at the General Board meeting in Kakamega, Kenya. last year. We understand the subtext to these concerns to be based on whether one understands homosexual orientation to be a sinful choice, or a matter of one’s God given nature.

We are currently in association with FUM, and we acknowledge that it is our practice as Friends that we should stay in association unless we are clear to do otherwise, and to stay engaged as we do so. We perceive that we as a body are not anywhere near clarity on whether or not to dissociate. We also note that we as a Yearly Meeting do not fully know and embrace our own diversity. Given that, we understand our work to be to help this yearly meeting to explore questions about who we are and what it means to be in relationship with the rest of FUM.

We bring the following framework of understanding to this work:

  • This is a long-term process. We doubt that we will find resolution internally in a short time-frame, and we do not see changes happening within FUM in a short time, either.
  • We can find language to talk to one another and common ground that can be shared, but this will take work.
  • This is a huge opportunity for NYYM to know ourselves better, as individuals and in community. We know of tremendous diversity within this Yearly Meeting, which many Friends are not well aware of. And we see this as an opportunity to learn in firsthand and challenging ways about our own internal responses to perceived differences within community.
  • We will need to listen without focusing on outcomes, but rather to gain clarity on how to live in the Light always, and what this means in our institutional and personal relationships.
  • We will remind ourselves always, that what we are about is love, peace, integrity, and seeing the Divine in others.

Therefore we as a task group will devote ourselves to the following tasks:

  • Develop forms or forums to be in relationship with each other within this Yearly Meeting, whether or not we find unity about our relationship with FUM.
  • Strive to create safe environments for those who have kept silent out of fear or discomfort at being in the minority, that they may share their message and spiritual experience.
  • Disseminate information so that Friends can be well informed in their discernment.
  • Educate ourselves within NYYM to become more conversant with different spiritual languages, the biblical basis for points of disagreements, and different worldviews.
  • Help Friends in this Yearly Meeting to come to a better understanding, and through that, we hope a greater respect, of our different understandings of where authority resides (biblical authority, institutional authority, the Richmond Declaration, individual authority, etc.)

Annie Bancroft, John Menzel, FUM Task Group coclerks

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