Growing Together in the Light

A place for Friends and others to explore Quakerism. A place where, in the Light that comes from God, we may all grow and where we may hope to find a unity that underlies our diversity of language.

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Location: Arlington, Massachusetts, United States

Raised a Friend, I am currently a member of Fresh Pond Meeting in Cambridge, Mass. I am also active in Salem Quarterly Meeting and in New England Yearly Meeting.

Thursday, August 14, 2008

A change of pace and convergence - NEYM Part 4

On Tuesday morning, during the worship after the Bible Half Hour, Peter Blood-Patterson suggested that Friends who didn't want their NEYM contributions going to FUM should instead send some multiple amount of that amount to some other organization doing some similar work such as the African Great Lakes Initiative. While he was speaking I made the mental calculation of the membership of NEYM and the amount that we send to FUM and realized for the current year that meant $5 per person and in the proposed 2009 budget it would be $2.50 per person. I was reminded me of the New England town meetings I have attended where budget items worth tens of millions of dollars would be approved with no discussion and a $1000 appropriation for something like parades would take most of an evening.

In the morning business session the representatives to the FUM Triennial made our report. We read the epistle from the Triennial. A Friend from Maine spoke to how Ramallah Friends School had been founded by Friends from Maine and it had been operated by New England Yearly Meeting until it was transferred to the Board of Missions which later brought it under the care of FUM. Eden Grace, who is FUM Field Staff in Kenya and a member of Beacon Hill Friends Meeting, then gave a five minute report on all of the work being done in Kenya.

Tuesday night we did not have a business meeting. Instead we had a concert by Anais Mitchell who had grown up as a Young Friend in New England. I enjoyed the music and it felt restorative to not be discussing difficult issues – either inside or outside of worship. I had advertised an interest group on Convergent Friends for that evening after the concert. Lynn said that she knew what we needed and went to the store and got chocolate chip cookies and strawberries and lemonade. About 15 people showed up. We talked about what Convergent Friends were and the place of the Bible in our spiritual lives. The question I had that we didn't get to discuss much was what does it mean to be a Convergent Friend in New England. Is it just a discussion that happens on-line and at interest groups at other conferences or is there something more that we are called to do. Whoever we is.

One of the things I realize is that New England YM probably has as broad a range of theological diversity of any Yearly Meeting, at least in North America. We have pagans and vocal non-theists. We a plain Friend who taught for years in Kenya. We have pastoral meetings that identify strongly with FUM. We have liberal unprogrammed college meetings. We have committed social activists. We have recorded ministers. We have meetings on record that they do not record ministers. And somehow we manage to hold together and work together and worship together and be strengthened and nourished and nurtured by each other. Sometimes this is in spite of our differences and sometimes it is because of them.


Will T


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