2010 Yearly Meeting report

2010 reflections — not of universal interest.

2010 sessions were opened with prayer, and people somehow entered discussion with a tender attitude in spite of hurt and suspicion. We prayed for our ministries within the Yearly meeting, and the whole spirit seemed different than last year. Meetings for business were prayerful, and mostly open to discussion.

The Faith and Practice was amended — in one case clarifying that for legal purposes, a ‘recording’ was to be understood as equivalent to ordination — I can understand why someone found this necessary, and I am for any clarification that makes life easier. In the other case, there was a deletion of a section on the differences between the responsibilities of an extension church and a ‘local church’. They did not delete nearly enough as the whole section on extension churches is garbled to the point that it causes more harm than good by being there. Bluntly, none of the section is applicable to a real extension church, thus if it is kept at all, the section should be renamed something like ‘provisional local churches.’

There was great and varied discussion about what policy should be if a church wishes to leave the Yearly meeting. The Board of Elders proposed a set of amendments to say that the policy is that members meetings can never leave the Yearly meeting without surrendering all property. Of course, there was much opposition to this, and it appeared to be a central ruling board against the grass-roots nature of the Society of Friends. Unfortunately, the reaction suggests that the elders board members failed to communicate with the quarterly meetings they represent, showing that the system failed to do what it was supposed to do. The board feels that it is important to establish policy, but the representatives could not act this year. I plan to work on an alternative policy which gives a fair and honorable exit strategy. I feel that if we must be bound together by law, then our spiritual community is already broken, but I also feel that if someone wishes to leave, there should be a process to protect everyone involved.

Overall, Yearly meeting sessions went well, actually far better than I expected. We are humans, we fail, but we are Christians trying to be Christians. We faced difficult challenges, and we accomplished leaving our business sessions as Friends and not as enemies.

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