Report on Racism within Quaker Spring June 1, 2017

Background: Those gathered at Quaker Spring in 2016 agreed to ask our planning committee to take up a painful rift in our community arising from a racial incident at our 2014 gathering and propose a plan to move forward toward reconciliation and healing. In December the planning committee asked Angela Hopkins, Angela York Crane and Annie Patterson to develop such a plan. They submitted this report. We are deeply grateful for their faithfulness. We unite fully with this report’s conclusions and have agreed to use it as the basis for moving forward in healing the rift among us.

For the Quaker Spring Planning Committee:

Ann Armstrong, Doug Armstrong, Peter Blood-Patterson, Deborah Haines, Angela Hopkins, Mary Lord, Randy Oftedahl
June 13, 2017

QQuaker Spring has a rich history. This history includes times of faithfulness and blessings. It also includes a time of hurt. Deep pain was and continues to be experienced and felt by many members of our community from racist incidents that occurred 3 years ago. This pain is evident within the body of our Quaker Spring community even though some may not be completely aware of it. One way that this hurt is evident is that there has been and continues to be an intentional lack of presence due to an act of conscience by Friends of Color and white allies. This act of conscience has been an act of love.

Whether you were aware of these past hurts in our community or not, we invite everyone involved in Quaker Spring to join in beginning the process of working on healing from racism in our community. We long to heal and become whole.

If we are being afflicted, it is for your consolation and salvation; if we are being consoled it is for your consolation, which you experience when you patiently endure the same sufferings that we are also suffering. Our hope for you is unshaken; for we know that as you share in our sufferings, so also you share in our consolation. (2 Corinthians 1:6)

As a result of this longing, this working group was charged to suggest specific work for us to do as a community moving forward. In writing this it is not our intention to lay blame on any one member, or on the community but instead we are led to call us to witness as a community the hurt within the body, being faithful to God in our journey towards wholeness.

Indeed, the body does not consist of one member but of many. If the foot would say, ‘Because I am not a hand, I do not belong to the body,’ that would not make it any less a part of the body. (1 Corinthians 12:14-16)

After much prayer, faithful discussion and leadings we feel the rightness in the spirit of where we are standing now to suggest several actions moving forward:

Name the Racism
We are called to name the racist incidents that happened in our community.

Friends are called to apologize as a community for our non-actions and any actions that may have been hurtful or demeaning to Friends of Color.

We are called to issue an invitation to the Quaker Spring community to come together as one body for a workshop/retreat time one year from now to specifically work on racism within our community and the past hurts that have caused pain to the body of Quaker Spring. This would be a specific time to do the work on racial justice that we are being called to do (potential leaders: Dr Charley Flint & Jeff Hitchcock).

We feel it’s important to take a year to prepare for this retreat. This will provide time for all Friends to season and prepare in both body and heart.

Faithfulness – Witness to the Call
Friends around the country and world are being called to do this work. New England Yearly Meeting issued a minute (Minute 2016-38) last year calling us to speak “Truth to power”. In the introduction to the minute we are told:

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…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…

It moves us deeply to see the ways in which Friends are listening to the call to move forward in interrupting white supremacy within the Society of Friends. We at Quaker Spring are not alone in longing to become a whole body and we feel the same confidence that was expressed by the clerk of New England Yearly Meeting to “go forward in love” and that “God is with us” in this work.

In looking back on some of the early letters, epistles and reports of Quaker Spring we found important queries and reminders of our early intentions and leadings. We feel these early writings can guide us today. Here are excerpts from some of those writings (along with a few notes for clarification):

Ten years ago, in 2007, Micah Bales wrote the following in his blog post entitled “Revival in Barnesville”:

I also praise God for the opportunity that I was given this weekend to experience more deeply the reality that I am not a lone individual, nor even a member solely of my own generation. I am an extension of my parents and they are an extension of me; my generation is an extension of past generations and they are extensions of us. When one of us lives in that Life and Power, it affects us all. When one generation sings, it affects all generations. We are not individuals. I am thee, Friend, and thee is me. Our faithfulness or lack thereof resonates between us, yes, throughout the entire Church. We are not individuals, not even family. No, we are something different, something more. We are the Body of Christ. We are the Children of the Light.

In a 2008 report summary, clerked by Susan Smith, we read this query:

What do we feel God encouraging us to do, or to do better, in our meetings at home to encourage and deepen ministry in our meetings for worship?

Here are excerpts of our response from this report summary:

We need what God is offering us through the gift of ministry.
…Corporate naming of a gift encourages its continuing development within the person to whom it has been given.
…Naming the gift also encourages the group’s ability to support it.

…What can we do to support ministry in our meetings?

  • Consider and do something to meet the spiritual and the outward needs of people whose vocal ministry speaks to your condition.
  • Encourage discernment…about the spiritual gifts and the readiness of Friends who are appointed to represent our meetings to other groups…
  • Encourage accountability in both directions between ministers and their meetings.
  • Fears about spiritual authority and accountability quickly becoming oppressive need to be recognized and addressed.

In the 2009 Minute of Exercise on Brokenness, recorded by Susan Smith, we considered the following query:

How does brokenness affect my experience of the Light of Christ?…spiritual affliction can be the trigger that brings us to the feet of Christ. Brokenness shakes me out of complacency and comfort.

We are all broken vessels of God.

The 2009 Minute of Exercise on Community, recorded by Ann Armstrong, gives us these powerful words about community:

You sustained me through all…Give me the courage to keep listening. Show us how reaching out across boundaries, between people, meetings, denominations so we can serve you better…We want to be branches on the vine. Hold us, prune us so we are more fruitful.

When we are broken, God’s light shines through the cracks and we can be filled with God’s Light. Our brokenness is within us. We need to name it and own it. This includes White Supremacy, fear and compliance.

From the 2011 Minute of Exercise on Healing Rifts within the Meeting Community, recorded by Peter Blood-Patterson, we read:

Sandra Cronk taught us that the strength of community is in the power of powerlessness.

Friends attending Quaker Spring in 2011 felt open to:

…I don’t want you to act in my name to set yourself against others in my body.’…Our wars are often a result of how caught up we are in the world which will not be healed just by listening to each other…It takes a willingness to be taught about that which we do not understand.

…we need to make sure the meeting is a safe place to express our different understandings of truth freely…to start healing we must stand fearlessly in the truth of what we are, even if that is very hard and painful.

Can we stand in our truth and stand with each other in love with God’s help?

The closing minute in 2011 states:

…we experienced the intimate presence of the Inward Teacher leading us, challenging us, opening us to share deeply with one another, and guiding us into new ways of living in Love, especially in and with our beloved meetings.
…a deeper understanding of Christ’s teaching that those who are ‘poor in spirit’ – who know their need of God – are truly blessed. We learned in new ways how acknowledging our loneliness, brokenness and need of God’s ever-present Love opens the door into wholeness, community and authentic faithful living. Choosing to be vulnerable about our experiences, our wounds, and our need to mourn is a choice that leads to Life.

The above minute on Healing Rifts within the Meeting Community also reads:

Recognizing our brokenness. Christ’s commandment to love others as ourselves is rooted in our ability to love ourselves and to recognize God’s true voice within us. It requires embracing the lost and rejected parts of ourselves – asking for God’s grace to love all aspects of ourselves…It is in our nature as humans to need to be forgiven. We experience God’s forgiveness as we practice yielded-ness…What underlines peace in the meeting community is trust in God.

Jesus humbled himself.

…His ability to live with that sense of betrayal can inspire us to ask for the same grace. Can we bear the unbearable together?

Yours faithfully,

Angela Hopkins, Angela York Crane & Annie Patterson
June 1, 2017