Report: Nurture Coordinating Committee, on FUM Personnel Policy, Fall Sessions 2016



Friends may recall that, at Summer Sessions 2015, Nurture Coordinating Committee reported that we had received a minute from Brooklyn Meeting with the following concern, and I will quote the minute:

Brooklyn Monthly Meeting urges that New York Yearly Meeting (“NYYM”) Follow the example of Canadian Yearly Meeting and draft a letter to Friends United Meeting (“FUM”) expressing displeasure at its current discrimination against LGBT Quakers in paid and unpaid positions of service or leadership. The letter to further state that until such time as such policies are laid aside and equally embraced for all Quakers, it will only designate its payments to FUM for specific projects, such projects which in the opinion of New York Yearly Meeting are worthy enough to exceed the damage to Equality and human dignity done by FUM’s discriminatory personnel policies.

At such time that New York Yearly Meeting undertakes such designation of Its payments to FUM, Brooklyn Monthly Meeting will cease its present withholding of a portion of its Covenant Donation to NYYM in protest of FUM’s discriminatory personnel policies.

Following the 2015 Summer Sessions, NCC asked the YM office to send out to all monthly meetings a memo that included the Brooklyn Minute, the NYQM endorsement, the wording of the FUM personnel policy in question, the historical connection between NYYM and FUM and some of the NCC minutes of our discernment. A few responses were received.

NCC considered this again during Coordinating Weekend at the end of January. It became clear that not enough background information had been given with the first letter, so a follow-up letter was sent with more information about FUM’s deliberations, and several documents were added to the FUM area of the YM website. It was sent a month or so before Spring Sessions.

To date, NCC has received responses from 12 monthly meetings. The following meetings forwarded a minute that spoke about both their reactions to the Brooklyn minute and their recommendation for how NYYM could best work toward changing FUM’s personnel policy: Bulls Head Oswego, Ithaca, Flushing, Cornwall, Old Chatham Manasquan, and Collins. Flushing reduced their 2016 covenant donation by the percentage they felt would be sent to FUM. Bulls Head, Ithaca and Manasquan encouraged NYYM representatives to FUM to pursue their efforts of “continued and purposeful dialog” with FUM. Collins believes that “the best method of expressing our concern is in the way of John Woolman, in a spirit of humility, love and prayer for our fellow Friends.” Bulls Head pointed out that NYYM does not have its own sexual ethic. Bulls Head is not clear to withhold funds from FUM, and continues in discernment. Ithaca, Cornwall and Manasquan expressed their appreciation to Brooklyn for highlighting this concern, but did not unite with NYYM’s withholding financial support to FUM. New Brunswick and 15th Street Meetings have spent several months in discernment, but NCC hasn’t yet received a minute from those meetings. Hudson Meeting has found this a divisive issue, and has lost one member because of it. Poughkeepsie sent a report of comments made during a meeting considering the Brooklyn minute. Poplar Ridge sent a minute from 2005, when NYYM did a great deal of discernment around this concern.

Manasquan Meeting is troubled by the personnel policy of FUM.  “Manasquan Meeting is troubled by the personnel policy of FUM.  We find it to be contrary to Friends' testimony as to that of God in every person.  Our commitment to the Quaker values of integrity and equality leads us to encourage continued and prayerful dialogue between New York Yearly Meeting and FUM.  We support New York Yearly Meeting's efforts as you continue to struggle with this issue, and we hold you in the Light.”

From Ithaca Monthly Meeting: “Ithaca Monthly Meeting appreciates Brooklyn Meeting for highlighting this important issue. IMM supports LGBTQ F(f)riends; LGBTQ members are an integral part of our meeting and we marry couples under the meeting’s care. Despite FUM’s having a personnel policy we believe to be hurtful and discriminatory, we also value our relationship with and the work of FUM. Therefore, Friends did not feel called to unite with Brooklyn Monthly Meeting’s Minute.” 

The Old Chatham Meeting “remains deeply troubled by the issues of discrimination represented by the personnel policies of Friends United Meeting…” Old Chatham discontinued financial support of FUM nearly a decade ago. They are deeply troubled “that our financial covenant with NYYM includes allocations for FUM, and feel this underwriting of discrimination must end.” Old Chatham will withhold 1% of its covenant donation, and will redirect that as a contribution to Ramallah Friends School. Some Old Chatham Friends, as a matter of conscience, do not wish to support any FUM programs, so a corresponding amount will be withheld from their contribution to Ramallah Friends School. Old Chatham encourages NYYM Nominating Committee to seek qualified self-identified LGBTQ Friends to serve on the FUM Board. They also request that “NYYM continue to labor with the discriminatory issues which so trouble us, and to consider whether continued financial support of and membership in FUM is in keeping with NYYM testimonies and the Light given us.” Quite recently, Old Chatham send the final payment of their covenant donation for 2016 to the yearly meeting office, with a cover letter explaining that they were withholding 1% of that amount as they had previously stated that they would.

From Cornwall Monthly Meeting: “Cornwall Monthly Meeting is not in unity with respect to the mission and operations of Friends United Meeting.  However, it is profoundly disturbed by the discriminatory hiring practices of FUM.  It encourages New York Yearly Meeting to engage in FUM’s transition to grow into an organization that more closely conducts itself consistently with Quaker testimonies of equality, particularly through our continued representation on FUM’s Board. “ 

From Flushing Monthly Meeting: “Flushing Monthly Meeting is withholding $114 of our covenant donation as a statement of conscience against FUM’s discriminatory hiring practices. We further encourage New York Yearly Meeting to follow Canadian Yearly Meeting’s practice of designating its payments to FUM for specific projects determined worthy enough to exceed the damage of equality and human dignity done by FUM’s discriminatory personnel practices.”

It was reported to NCC at Summer Sessions that Rochester Monthly Meeting has a line in their budget for benevolence in escrow for FUM, an have sent a good portion of that earmarked for Ramallah Friends School.

Currently, NYYM contributes $2,500 to FUM for general support. Another $2,500 is allocated to the World Ministries Committee for support of FUM projects. These amounts are included in the 2017 NYYM proposed budget.

To date, NCC doesn’t feel that we have heard from enough monthly meetings for NYYM  to recommend any change in our policy toward FUM. NCC would like to hear the discernment from other monthly meetings. We appreciate the spirit-led work that our representatives to the FUM General Board do on our behalf, and we recommend that they continue the dialogue.

November 5, 2016


ADDENDUM: New Brunswick Meeting sent their minute on response to the Brooklyn minute. They stand in solidarity with LGBTQ Friends, and support amending or eliminating the current personnel policy. They ask NYYM representatives to the FUM Board to “advance the conversation to amending or deleting that policy.” In addition, they ask that NYYM continue to make its budgeted contributions to FUM.

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