The last gasps of our former faith
I would post these words to the 15th Street Meeting’s Google group, however, they now employ Richard A. Evans, as a censor and as a child of the McCarthite America, and proud son of a father who resisted the banal evils of that day, I refuse to write in censored forums.
Leadership always seeks the last word, if not a monologue when power is threatened. Quakerism rose out of a need to break the patterned thinking of power’s culture through the empowerment of the individual voice in a disciplined community, disciplined by eldership, not leadership seeking power over the souls of the membership.
This is no longer true of Quakerism in the New York Quarterly Meeting. Today, leadership seeks to entrench its power by the same old banal evil which a small band of courageous souls risked death to oppose in our early days. Today, these leaders do not have the tools of the pillory, the scourge or the hangman’s noose, but they have the law and they have the closed committee doors.
We are plagued today by closed committee meetings which spread untruths about members, and destroy the comfort and involvement of the best of us. Why is this happening? Because great amounts of money are at stake as the emergent leadership in our Meetings squander the accomplishments of generations of Friends by giving over more and more of what Friends built in the past to non-Quaker businesses. Our schools are now bastions of elitism and classism, and the few voices in our Meetings which cry out for transparency in the dealings in these matters are branded as trouble makers and opposed by a controlling few in all nominations to positions of eldership in the Meetings.
We once sought to empower diverse voices, in a sort of spontaneous act of genius, early Friends realized that God’s plan centered around diversity, and in order to be truly a diverse community of freed minds, we must empower each voice to bring light to the whole. We also realized that the law of states must not constrain that diversity of conscience. As a result we placed our faith over laws which bound others to slavery, which sent us to war… However, today, there is a committee in the Quarter which seeks to overturn the expressed unity of the Quarter on the role of Trustees. Two years ago, during the Seventh Month business meeting, we were in unity on following the British Yearly Meeting lead, that Trustees had no power, other than to rubberstamp for the State the decisions of the gathered meeting in unity.
Now, however, Trustees claim power given them by the State is in conflict with that minute and have put together a committee of Friends and Lawyers to define their powers. This is one more nail in the coffin of Quakerism in this quarter.