In the past week we have emailed to everyone a series of options North Carolina Yearly Meeting is considering regarding it’s future. The emails provide detail descriptions of possible pathways our Yearly Meeting could take in the near future. These options range from creating a series of “associations” within North Carolina Yearly Meeting depending on theological alignment to expelling meetings that don’t align theologically with the Yearly Meeting’s stated positions. Along this continuum, there is an option which allows meetings to simply leave if they so choose with no questions asked and a full release by the Yearly Meeting.
You may be asking, “How did we get to this point?” A little over a year ago, letters began circulating within the Yearly Meeting. These came from various meetings that were unhappy with the lack of accountability regarding meetings that did not pay their “Askings” in full. “Askings” are what each local meeting pays the Yearly Meeting based on membership. These meetings also expressed their unhappiness with what they perceived to be other local meetings that were out of theological alignment with the Yearly Meeting as a whole. There were also other concerns expressed that had to do with representation on Yearly Meeting committees by meetings that did not pay their Askings in full or represent the stated theological positions of the Yearly Meeting. Of course, there has been disagreement about all these concerns.
At the 2014 Yearly Meeting sessions, there was an attempt to address these concerns. Unfortunately, the discussion was very non-productive. We came out of Yearly Meeting with a committee assigned with the task of addressing these issues using queries that were developed at Yearly Meeting. This committee (called the “New Committee”) has brought recommendations to the Representative Body sessions over the past year. Some of their recommendations have been approved, some have not. What has evolved is a clear sense that there is division within the Yearly Meeting along theological lines. To date, there has been no resolve.
At the recent Representative Body Meeting (June 1), the options that have been emailed out were presented to the gathered body. Again, there was no resolve or “sense of meeting”. It was decided that a called Representative Body Meeting would be scheduled for Saturday, August 1, at Holly Springs Friends Meeting beginning at 1PM. Our Clerk, Mike Fulp, Sr., has asked that each meeting bring to that Representative Body a statement indicating which of these options they would favor or support. Of course, a local meeting could say that they don’t favor any of them but the hope is that some direction will be evident after August 1.
To that end, Deep River Friends is going to have an Information Meeting on Sunday, June 28, from 5:00pm-6:30pm in the Fellowship Hall. The purpose of this gathering will be to shed any light, answer any questions, and give an overview of each of these options. We also want to be able to hear the mind of the meeting so that we can be clear about what we want to offer on August 1 at Representative Body. We will also have our regular Monthly Meeting for Business on July 9 and it will be discussed further at that meeting.
As we engage this process as a local meeting, you can play a part in the following ways:
- Read over the options provided and share your thoughts / concerns with either Mary Ann Cherry or myself (Scott)
- Attend either the June 28 meeting or Monthly Meeting (July 9)…or both…and be informed as best as possible.
- Pray for our Yearly Meeting and our Clerk, Mike Fulp, Sr., as he seeks to discern a “sense of the Yearly Meeting”.
- If you don’t understand at all what is going on…ask questions.
The truth of the matter is that our Yearly Meeting will probably look different after August 1 or our Yearly Meeting Sessions (Labor Day Weekend). The unknown is that we don’t have any idea what that entails. What we do know is that the engagement of folks matters and the prayers matter. Ultimately, we are seeking God’s wisdom and will.
If you need to have the information and “options” mailed to you so you can review them, please let me (Scott) know and I will get them to you.