Follow-up to NEYM Minute 2016-64

We want to grow; we want to become whole.  We have received this minute and have been exercised.  We want to invite others into the same experience.  With our hearts broken open we approved the…minute, uniting with it with both joy and pain.  This is the truth God has brought us to at this time.  We feel the Love in these words.

                                          From Sessions Minute 2016-64

Dear Friends,

This is the same letter that was recently sent to you in hard copy via the US Postal Service.  It is an effort to assure that each person receives it in the mode most familiar and accessible.

We are writing to ask your help in learning about the ways monthly meetings throughout New England are engaging with the 2016 Yearly Meeting Minute on White Supremacy [ and attached to this letter].  We ask this as the Permanent Board “Ad hoc Work Group Challenging White Supremacy.”  Part of our task is to gather information on what is currently happening as a way of informing the work ahead.  Addressing the concerns of the Minute on White Supremacy is vital and important work to which we have committed.  This is also work that challenges us deeply and that we can best do in the context of community.  In the words of Rufus Jones, we look “…to quiet processes and small circles, in which vital and transforming events take place.”  As we learn the various ways meetings are entering into this work, we will in turn, share it back to support and further these efforts throughout our Yearly Meeting.  The developing picture of the ways that NEYM Friends are living into the 2016 minute can be viewed at:

Telling us what your meeting is doing with Minute 2016-64 will be a helpful step in the process. 

Some of the questions we ask you to address in your response are: 

How has your meeting engaged with Sessions Minute 2016-64?

Who is guiding the process: an individual, committee, ad hoc group…

How you are doing it: readings, small groups, all meeting gatherings, one-time, several meetings, ongoing…

What resources have you used?  Which have been most useful?  Are there resources you don’t have but feel would be helpful?

Are there understandings or questions that have arisen that you would like to share with others in NEYM?

Other thoughts or comments you would like to share?

Please send descriptions of your activities and materials your meeting has found helpful in the work to CWSworkgroup [at] neym [dot] org

Thank you for your attention to this request.  As we are able to share our work with the wider community, we are all more opened to being transformed.

In the Light,

Susan Davies, Convener         Vassalboro Meeting // 207-660-1323 // spdbh [at] gwi [dot] net

Fran Brokaw                           Hanover Meeting // 603-277-9254 // fran [dot] brokaw [at] gmail [dot] com

Julie de Sherbinin                   Vassalboro Meeting // 207-872-5908 // jwdesher [at] colby [dot] edu

Jeremiah Dickinson                Wellesley Meeting // 781-784-3471 // dacha [at] comcast [dot] net

Lisa Graustein                         Beacon Hill Meeting // 617-726-1061 // lisa [at] neym [dot] org

Mary Zwirner                          Beacon Hill Meeting // 617-429-3867 // mzwirner [at] partners [dot] com


Minute 2016-64

Our hearts were touched earlier this week when we heard the pain and honesty in the reports of the experiences of Friends of color and other attenders at the 2016 FGC Gathering and in the report from several Friends who attended the April 2016 White Privilege Conference in Philadelphia.  We felt the spirit move us to affirmation and action.  The clerk requested that we hold a threshing session to determine our initial step.  (Minute 2016-38)

LVM Shelton and David Haines reported on the discernment of these Friends and proposed a minute for our discernment.

The body engaged in a deep, vulnerable and extended exercise in response to the proposed minute.  We truly labored over the work and traveled over the rocky ground we needed to traverse.

Some were uncomfortable with the words “white supremacy” and “colonized” in the minute.  These are strong words; one Friend described them as “brutal”.  Not everyone present agreed that these words are accurate as a description of our condition.  We do not share a common understanding of these words.  Friends made many suggestions of other words or phrases we might use together to express how we are affected by the pervasive structure of racism and power in our culture—“white privilege,” “complicit in” and “wounded by” were suggested.  Others felt that although these are hard words they are honest.  “Supremacy” refers to a system that empowers white people.  “Colonized” is an accurate word for how we are inhabited by the culture without our consent.  Fear or denial of a hard truth causes us to forget our deep connections with each other.  We need to release our fear to hear each other clearly.

We are each only able to truly speak from and know the world from our own experience.

We heard how the experience of Friends of color and the experience of white Friends differ even within our beloved Quaker communities and gatherings; even this week at Sessions.  Only a few among us know first hand the experience of “driving while black”, or the constant fear of wondering if our children are safe, even when simply leaving the campus of Castleton University to walk to town to get a milkshake.

We long to find the right words, but we do not know the right words.  Yet we are clear we want to do this work.  When we know Truth experientially, but do not know each other’s experience, we only know a portion of the Truth. 

This minute is an important instance of speaking Truth to power.  This minute represents the hard truth of Friends of color.  The largely white Yearly Meeting is the power that needs to receive this Truth.     

We want to grow; we want to become whole.  We have received this minute and have been exercised.  We want to invite others into the same experience.  With our hearts broken open we approved the following minute; uniting with it with both joy and pain.  This is the truth God has brought us to at this time.  We feel the Love in these words.

We are complicit in white supremacy.  We at New England Yearly Meeting have been “colonized” by our white supremacist culture and fall short of our full potential as a gathered body of Quaker Meetings because of this colonization.

We commit to engaging in interrupting white supremacy in ourselves:

  • within individuals,
  • interpersonally,
  • in our meetings
  • and at all system levels of NEYM

To start this, we ask Permanent Board to explore an external cultural competency audit of New England Yearly Meeting.

We support Friends General Conference, an organization of which we are a part, in its efforts to interrupt white supremacy in its organization.

We commit to support fundraising by the New England Yearly Meeting FGC committee to raise $4,000 from our membership and our monthly meetings by the end of 2016.  These funds will be available to FGC towards the cost of an external cultural competency audit if FGC decides to have one conducted.  If more than $4,000 is raised, we direct the Permanent Board of NEYM to find use for the additional funds to support the work of interrupting white supremacy.

The clerk asked us to go forward in love, in confidence, and boldness, knowing that God is with us.