Minute: Scarsdale Meeting on Sexual Orientation and FUM Personnel Policy

Scarsdale Friends Meeting
of the Religious Society of Friends (Quakers)

November 1, 2007

Dear Fellow NYYM Monthly Meetings and Worship Groups,

I am writing to you as clerk of Scarsdale Friends Meeting, Purchase Quarterly Meeting, to share with you a minute concerning NYYM’s affiliation with Friends United Meeting that our Meeting approved at our most recent Meeting for Worship with a Concern for Business as well as some of the considerations that led us to this action.

In requesting that the clerk of NYYM’s Nurture Coordinating Committee to circulate this message widely in the Yearly Meeting, we hope to contribute to and promote a spirit-led discussion and discernment of the way forward.

Following up on a September Worship Sharing Session that Purchase Quarterly Meeting organized on the issue of NYYM's continued affiliation with FUM and a recent communication that we at Scarsdale received, I assume among others, from Montclair Meeting, we had a searching discussion of the issue at our Meeting for Worship with a concern for Business held on October 12.

The minute we approved reads as follows:

The clerk of the meeting referred to a communication from Montclair Monthly Meeting dealing with their concerns about Friends United Meeting (FUM) and asked that the documents be posted to the Scarsdale Meeting website for Scarsdale Friends to consider.

Friends noted that Scarsdale Meeting has been engaged for some time with the questions raised by  FUM’s policies toward gay and lesbian Friends whom we dearly love.  Scarsdale Friends Meeting is in unity in finding these policies abhorrent.  Although the meeting agreed that NYYM should remain affiliated with FUM, it recommended that NYYM communicate to FUM that it considers the personnel policies of FUM related to gays and lesbians contrary to the inclusive ministry of Jesus.  The Meeting approved this minute.  The clerk will send this minute to Purchase Quarterly Meeting and New York Yearly Meeting and request that it be put on the agenda of New York Yearly Meeting fall sessions.  The clerk will also respond to Montclair Monthly Meeting, thanking them for sharing their concerns.

While our minute is expressed in terms of unity, reaching that unity was not an easy process since for several members of Scarsdale Meeting, the FUM policies and views were not just an abstract concern about justice, but touched their lives and the lives of their families and friends on a personal level.  Friends at Montclair and others in NYYM have expressed a similar anguish.

During our discussion at Scarsdale several Friends expressed the view that they were persuaded to agree to continued affiliation, at least for now, because of the support it provided to like-minded Friends within FUM.  Moreover, we were aware that our representatives on the FUM board had made clear NYYM's objections to the homophobia that appear to characterize important elements of FUM views and policies.

Nevertheless, we thought it important for our own spiritual health as a Yearly Meeting, that NYYM as a body not to remain silent but to witness for the truth in this matter, even as we seek to work with FUM both to continue the good work it does and to begin to help move them away from views not in conformity with our Quaker Testimonies.  Hence, our minute and the recommended message to FUM that it contained.

As instructed in the minute, I wrote to the NYYM clerk and she referred me to the clerk of NYYM Nurture Coordinating Committee as the best way to move forward on our concerns about this matter.

Yours in peace,

Bill Seltzer
Clerk, Scarsdale Friends Meeting