April Fools humor aside – NYYM hasn't gone away
New York Yearly Meeting is still that same overweight, non-transparent government, still not in control of living within the means of its constituent members. But hopefully the ideas brought forward in April Fools humor might indeed give rise to viable options and remind Friends everywhere why the vibrancy of Friends begins, and is nourished, most primarily at home.
The realization that New York Yearly Meeting (NYYM) is choking the life out of its own Monthly Meetings by drawing resources up into its hierarchy with lifelong paid positions and unquestioned year-to-year budget line items, while the constituent local membership is declining, brings sadness to many who love others in the geographic realm of NYYM, including myself. But the real Quaker faith, is in the non-personal, in doing the right things to serve God and the Church - not ourselves.
Indeed in my view, there are a handful of those who have been relegated to positions of unchecked power by the apathetic and complacent NYYM constituency, and these Friends may have turned into something they might not have wanted to become.
For example, when I went personally to the Clerk’s home to witness to the unQuakerlyness of her joint letter naming me personally, which included false information, and to possibly discuss my ideas on resignations of key positions and committee clerks, and implementation of conflict of interest checks, she refused to speak with me. I’ve yet to hear of any willingness for discourse on the factual evidence of a decaying Society, I’ve provided.
For a related example, the only response to the evidence supporting the statement about the allocation of resources within NYYM in the second sentence of this essay, has been that the hierarchy of NYYM plans to discuss how to control even further the information others know about its government. Not one single attempt has been made to explain why its operating budget is so disproportional for the little it provides back to its monthly meetings has been given. Not one attempt was made to explain in the most recent Spark issue about conflict, why the NYYM Conflict Resolution committee botched its handling of my former Monthly Meeting’s conflict by refusing to send anyone to get involved, and this inaction subsequently led to the current nominal status of that formerly small meeting. This is how arrogance and inaction is killing Quakerism in the realm of NYYM.
What I proposed in the April Fool’s essay of 10 days ago might be how Monthly Meetings end up aligning themselves to give new life to Quakerism, or create a vibrant connection to a wider body that has something both spiritual and tangible to offer back to its constituents.
NYYM now offers very little of the tangible, compared with Baltimore and New England Yearly Meetings. The spiritual NYYM offers is debatable, and arguments for its value would be based mostly on the weeklong annual sessions, or the ‘vacation’ for most Friends, as I’ve called it. The value might also be centered around NYYM’s retreat center, called Powell House, which has an unquestioned perennial subsidy of 20% of its operating budget each year paid by the Monthly Meetings of NYYM. Powell House serves very few youth as compared with NEYM and Baltimore YM, and the cost to attend it, is out of reach in distance, time and money for many Friends.
Or, Monthly Meetings might stick with NYYM, but might indeed start to consider life on the ground, at home – first, and construct their Monthly Meeting budgets to reflect the integrity of the Life in their local communities. When Christ is said to have come to teach the people directly, the message was never meant to have included a rigid and lifelong paid hierarchy which was to be relied upon by local Friends communities to ‘save them’.
Fox said, “I declared Truth amongst them, and directed them to the light of Christ in them; testifying unto them that God was come to teach His people Himself, whether they would hear or forbear.”
Any geographic realm is certainly just that, like Iraq. NYYM is a collection of sometimes unlike minded and even more like far distant Friends who might be better off divided and able to govern themselves with integrity in smaller regions. Should NYYM live together, even over great distances, or should it split up, to better serve Quakerism, and spread the Spirit out and not up?
Do the right thing for Quakerism and the Eternal Life this weekend. Do not approve another lifelong paid position if the proposal is brought forward. Continue to make your Monthly Meeting responsible to its local life, first and foremost , and begin to make NYYM honest by requiring that NYYM live within the Monthly Meetings' means.
And don't forget to ask why NYYM's contributions to its own affiliated wider bodies are so small. The answer is the tip of the iceberg.