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California meetings reach out to NW Quakers

Convening clerk seeks dialogue about value of wider association

A small group of Friends meetings in California is interested in joining with Quakers in the Northwest. The convening clerk for the Western Association of the Religious Society of Friends (WARSF) sent an email last week that has since been shared among members at Eugene, North Valley and West Hills.

“We would like to open and sustain a dialogue with the meetings that are being separated from Northwest Yearly Meeting,” wrote Brian Young, pastor at Berkeley Friends, “to discern what value there might be in a wider association.”

Young wrote in a follow-up email that the association doesn’t have “a clear sense other than to say, ‘We believe we have a great deal in common and would like to explore whether that is true with you.’” WARSF may send a representative to future meetings of churches leaving NWYM, as “face-to-face interactions would be helpful in deepening the dialogue and building trust.”

The California association includes three monthly meetings – Whittier First Friends, Berkeley Friends and Bakersfield Quaker Meeting.

“We meet annually, alternating between Berkeley and Whittier,” Young wrote. “A significant part of  WARSF’s purpose is to serve as a connecting body between our local meetings and Friends United Meeting, as well as the American Friends Service Committee, Friends Committee on National Legislation, and Friends World Committee for Consultation.”

Young offered a brief history of WARSF: “In 1993 Southwest Yearly Meeting announced its intention to leave Friends United Meeting (FUM) because of disagreements over theology and mission. When that separation was formalized in 1996, Whittier First Friends withdrew from Southwest and formed WARSF in order to retain the connection with FUM. Bakersfield joined WARSF after a year or two. Berkeley remained with Southwest for another five years, but departed in 2001, primarily because of concerns over changes to Faith and Practice.”

Young noted that WARSF was formed by meetings “choosing to leave the yearly meeting rather than by expulsions, and the underlying reasons had to do with, first, a desire to retain connections with FUM and other Friends organizations, and second, differences in how Christian Quaker faith should be expressed, rather than disagreements over whether and how to welcome sexual minorities. Nonetheless, today both Whittier and Berkeley welcome and include GLBT people.”

Young can be reached through the contact form linked here.

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