This was a sort of a breakthrough year for me at New England Yearly Meeting of Friends (Quakers).
I want to write about that, but I feel that, this year, I need to allow NEYM to scoop me. Because it was a breakthrough year for Friends in New England, too; we minuted our clear sense of the right order of same-sex marriages performed among us.
It is probably worth mentioning that same-sex marriages have been performed by monthly meetings for a number of years now, and that many of our quarterly meetings have affirmed this practice. We have, however, been laboring with this issue, and with our relationship with Friends United Meeting (which continues to be a tender spot) for a long time now.
I mention the issue of Friends United Meeting, which has a personnel policy many of our members find discriminatory and painful, because it was grappling with our discomfort over FUM that kept pushing the matter of same-sex marriage, and of glbtq rights in general, into the limelight for us. Try as we would to separate them, the two issues persisted in rising together.
Ultimately, while recognizing the sincere and possibly prophetic witness of our members who feel that they cannot make financial contributions to FUM, we came to strong and clear unity on two things:
- We are clear that we wish to remain in loving relationship with Friends United Meeting.
- We are clear that we have been blessed and honored by the ministry of many glbtq Friends in our meeting, and that every marriage taken under the care of our meetings, without regard to the sexual identities or orientations of the couple, is a blessing and a joy to our meetings.
We love our glbtq Friends, and recognize the love of Spirit working through them in their relationships with one another and with us.
The minute does not mention Friends United Meeting at all. Though our concerns with the wider body remain, and some Friends are in a place of deep pain and have great demands of conscience weighing on them over how to carry our concerns within other branches of that body, this minute addresses our own meetings, urging each to examine what they can say on the subject of holding up the equality of glbtq members. Each meeting is asked to "discern how they can best offer to all couples the same care and affirmations of their leadings to walk together in love."
Though directed at our own meetings, it is probably relevant that NEYM is a founding member of FUM, and quite active in that body. I believe this represents either the first or second such minute from a yearly meeting within the larger, and worldwide, body of Friends United Meeting.
Spirit labored a long time with us to bring us to this point, and my heart is grateful for the grace we found to arrive at this point today.