Be careful what you say
I think that this will be the last of my ruminations on New England Yearly Meeting Sessions. When I started this blog I said that I wanted it to be a place where people from all parts of the Society of Friends could come and explore the historical roots and beliefs of our society. I have held a concern for a while now that our claim to have a peace testimony to the world rings rather hollow if we have not found ways to resolve the conflicts between the various branches of Friends. I believe that early Friends had a powerful message and they witnessed to it with their lives. With the schisms among Friends, not only has our fellowship been broken but the message has been broken as well. Each branch has held onto some piece of the original message. We need to come together, not just because the Love of Christ requires it of us, but because we have a message that the world needs to hear today just as much as it did 350 years ago. Until we can speak again in unity or voice will be easily drowned out by the clamor of the world. I helped to lead a workshop on applying the Friends peace testimony to NEYMs relationship with FUM.
By now I should know to be careful about what I say and the concerns I raise because God will take me up on it. It happened again. I was asked to serve as one of the NEYM representatives to the FUM General Board. As I sat with this at sessions I found myself coming increasingly under the weight of this request. FUM is going through a difficult time right now. Much of the senior staff has resigned in the past year. There are serious financial difficulties. A number of the Yearly Meetings that are affiliated with both FUM and FGC have raised concerns about sexual ethics portion of the FUM personnel policy. Any one of these issues presents serious difficulties. All of them together makes for an incredibly delicate situation. I hope that I may be of some service but I have also been known to come into situations with all of the delicacy of a bull in a china shop. This will be certainly an opportunity for me to grow.
New England Yearly Meeting is one of the founding members of FUM. We have been actively involved in it and its work from the beginning. Eli and Sybil Jones who founded the Ramallah Friends School were from New England. Over the past 15 years or so, New England has developed a close relationship with Cuba Yearly Meeting as a result of an ongoing program of intervisitation. James and Eden Grace from New England are currently serving as FUM staff in Kenya. At the same time many Friends in New England are concerned about FUM policies that are seen to be discriminatory against gays and lesbians. As a yearly meeting that has been amply blessed by the gifts and work of our gay, lesbian, bisexual, transsexual and queer Friends this causes us much pain. As a representative I will have to carry this pain and these concerns with me when I go to board meetings. At the same time I will have to represent FUM to NEYM. And as a board member I will also have to act in the best interests of FUM.
LizOpp in The Good Raised Up had some good things to say about the importance of Love. So Friends, pray for me that I may be faithful, for FUM that it may be healed and for all of us that we might grow in Love.