Group prioritizes autonomy in split from yearly meeting
The North Carolina Fellowship of Friends is one of two new associations emerging from the split in North Carolina Yearly Meeting. The clerk of Vision Committee, Sara Beth Terrell, said that the speed of the restructure had forced “some hurried organizing” that has made it difficult for the group to determine its purpose.
The fellowship will operate using the 2012 version of North Carolina Yearly Meeting Faith and Practice, as printed, for reference and counsel.
Many “would be happy with a new Faith and Practice, for example,” Terrell wrote in an email, but “we have been told that for legal reasons we need to claim the old one as bylaws.”
The fellowship also determined at a meeting in April that it will focus on common ministries rather than theological nuances.
“We aren’t going to focus on what divides us but on what we can come together around,” Terrell wrote. “And one reason to state that up front is to make space for meetings that may not be theologically on the same page, but also don’t want other meetings to have the right to interfere in their life as a meeting.”
“Getting through the divorce as well as possible,” is what Terrell identified as the group’s primary concern. The pressure to act and act quickly is partly financial: “The division of trust funds and assuring that Quaker Lake Camp will survive are key motivators for many.”
Terrell said that the Vision Committee she clerks “is starting from a different place. We agreed that the starting place is that there is one Christ Jesus who can speak to our condition, and he has come to teach his people himself. This is the basic organizing principle for Quaker faith and practice over the years as well as our congregation-based polity.”
Terrell suggested some questions or queries for all Friends everywhere who are concerned with the future health of our movement:
- Do we have the right to call ourselves Friends?
- Can we use this seeming tragedy to call us back to the essentials?
- Will we allow the Spirit to re-shape this Body of Christ?
Terrell also offered her “blessings on your journey as a body of faith!”
The next NCFF meeting is scheduled for May 20.
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