Thursday, August 16, 2007

FUM +/- NEYM, Some Queries

I've been seeing a lot of discussion in the blog-o-sphere regarding FUM policies, and in particular, since New England Yearly Meeting annual sessions the other week, discussion regarding NEYM's relationship to FUM. I am not technically a member of NEYM, but sojourn unofficially in an NEYM meeting and am connected to a number of NEYM Friends, and find this issue close to my heart.

After reading a post by Peter over on Quaker Pagan Reflections and many comments to it, I felt the need to lift up a few queries, but realized that they would do better in their own post rather than merely a comment to a post

At the moment, I am not interested in stating my own position on whether or not NEYM should remain affiliated with FUM (though it may come up later or elsewhere). What I do feel led to do is lift up a few queries to facilitate further dialog on this issue, whether here on blogs, or in person elsewhere. First I'd like to very, very briefly name the main concerns that I continue to hear.

+There are Friends who feel that remaining affiliated with and continuing to contribute financially to FUM condones the current FUM personnel policy that discriminates against those who are LGBTQ[etc.]. (For those who are not aware: The FUM personnel policy, as I understand it, states that all FUM personnel are to refrain from all sexual activity outside of marriage between a man and a woman.) These Friends tend to feel that NEYM should stop supporting FUM and should dis-affiliate as a witness against such a policy and to show support of LGBTQ[etc.] Friends.

+There are also Friends who feel that leaving FUM is not the solution, that NEYM should find other ways to stand witness against the discrimination of this policy as a contributing affiliate of FUM, such as intervisitation among other FUM yearly meetings to share where NEYM stands.

I realize that these summaries are a bit over-simplified, and that there are much more in-depth arguments in support of and against each of these positions. I did not want to include absolutely everything I've read or heard, but rather wanted give the most basic of summaries to give more context to the queries. Friends are invited to correct me or make clarifications if I am in error or have left out something important.

Here are the queries I feel the need to lift up for consideration:

+What does it mean to be affiliated with FUM? Does it require unity with every policy? Does it involve unity with a more general intention (and if so, what is that intention)? What are NEYM's responsibilities as an affiliate?

+If NEYM remains affiliated with FUM, what does that mean for NEYM? Is integrity compromised? What are NEYM's responsibilities as an affiliate in disagreement with at least one main policy?

+If NEYM dis-affiliates with FUM, what would that mean for NEYM? What are NEYM's responsibilities in continuing to stand witness to equality? Also, what would that mean for FUM? Would this mean that NEYM has no more responsibility for standing witness against FUM's personnel policy?

+What are NEYM's priorities as a spiritual institution? Are there are other witnesses that are also important - patience, love, accountability? Are there other large issues contributing to this consideration (such as the Richmond Declaration), and what are NEYM's responsibilities to those issues?

I hope that these queries are helpful and not too redundant.

much love to all,

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