Monday, December 3, 2007

Out of the Silence There is a Voice Calling

“We have a long, long way to go. So let us hasten along the road, the roads of human tenderness and generosity. Groping, we may find one another’s hands in the dark.” (Emily Greene Balch, 1955)

I can’t remember the first time I came into contact with the controversy surrounding FUM and the Yearly Meetings who are duel affiliated with FUM and FGC. I do come from one of those Meeting, New York Yearly Meeting, and my monthly meeting, although unprogramed, has close personal ties to Farmington Meeting one of the programmed meeting under NY Yearly Meeting. I also go to Earlham College, in Richmond IN, and although I attend an unprogramed worship group, I am surrounded by FUM affiliated meetings and Friends.
I know I must have thought about it, even written about it, but I did not really sit with it until attending New York Yearly Meeting sessions this summer. There I heard people speak from many different perspectives on the question of our duel affiliation with FUM and FGC. I did not at that time feel called to speak on the subject although I did talk with Friends about it, and prayed intensely on the subject. I have sat with these issues for months now and spoken with even more Friends on the subject. I do believe that we are all one in the body of Christ and the body of the Church under God. I also believe that God is calling us to address these issues raised by our relationship with FUM now. Over and over again I have felt that we are called to address our differences among Friends both within our own monthly meetings and Yearly Meetings and between FGC and FUM. I do believe that instead of drawing away from each other, such as the question of NYYM breaking it’s affiliation with FUM, we are called to move closer, to engage in prayer and dialogue with one another. I also believe we need to move forward in our work within our Yearly Meetings on issues of inter-dialogue and inclusiveness.
During New York Yearly Meeting sessions and the conversations I have had with Friends, I have heard mainly two different opinions on the subject of NY Yearly Meetings and other dual affiliated Yearly Meetings. First I have heard many people speak out against our continued relationship with FUM. This opinion is often based on FUM’s policies and stances on the LGBTQ community, on the literal interpretation of the Bible, and on their over all Christ centered theology and worship. I am myself a Christ centered Friend, however I do not believe in the literal truth of the Bible. I am also a Queer identifying Friend and FUM’s attitude towards the LGBTQ community does concern and sadden me. Yet I feel that often the opinions that have been expressed to me about the need to cut our connection with FUM have come from a place of anger, grief and pain. Although I too feel, understand, and struggle with this anger, grief and pain as well I feel very strongly that we cannot act from such a place. Not only is it not a place of Spirit, but also it is a place that too often blinds us to what is good about our relationships with others not like ourselves, and also blinds us to the areas where we as Yearly Meetings are lacking and need to grow.
Another attitude I have encountered, is that we must not break our duel affiliation with FUM at any cost. I am not sure about the extent to which these Friends mean that we should go to retain our affiliation but I personally am just as uncomfortable with this stance as I am saying we must have nothing to do with FUM. I wish us to think deeply, guided always by the Spirit, about us, in dual affiliated meetings, relationship with FUM. I feel we should delve deeply in to what the Spirit is calling us to do within our own Yearly Meeting as well. I feel that we in NYYM are far from answering the questions surrounding our affiliation with FUM, and in the end I hope the Spirit leads us to see our way to remaining part of this organization. However I want our relationship with FUM to be meaningful and fruitful one, with us all united within the body of Christ. I do not wish us to remain affiliated simply because we have been in the past or simply for the sake of being so, but because the relationship is fruitful and nurturing for all of us. I know we as a Yearly Meeting body are beginning to grapple with these issues in all faithfulness under God and with the leading of the Spirit. This issue I feel is something we all must pray on and grapple within every Monthly Meeting, and Quarterly Meeting for this is an issue which concerns us all. I pray we all act in love and faithfulness.
During meeting for worship I spoke on the topic of the Church as a body and how I felt the body of the Religious Society of Friends was a broken or jumbled body, but that Christ was coming moving among us to heal us. I spoke that soon would come a time when God would tell us “you are healed, stand up and walk” and we as a body will stand whole and healed anew. The time Friends is coming for us to stand and walk.