Attached is a one-page statement that Paul Kerr and I developed with consultation from several AFSC volunteers. We wrote the information primarily to provide a concise background for Friends not understanding anything of what drove the writing of the Western Friend open letter, so that they could enter the conversation prepared. Paul Kerr serves as clerk of Exeter Friends Meeting in Philadelphia Yearly Meeting, and as co-clerk of the Northeast Region Executive Committee and was one of the Worship Planners. Paul attends AFSC Board Meetings ex-officio and has faithfully struggled with this situation. Great care was taken by both of us to be even-handed and non-inflammatory. All the same, there are still some hard truths here. We didn't circulate this document before the worship lest it set the stage for debate and contention instead of seeking through worship.
I am a member of Dover Friends Meeting in New England Yearly Meeting and served as Clerk for the Worship Planners for Standing at the Crossroads with AFSC. I'm not an expert in the life of AFSC but felt a sense of call to help the Wider Circle of Friends be present to and engaged with AFSC as it stands at the crossroads.
Despite all of the lack of unity and clarity, one thing does seem clear to me at this point. The restructuring plan needs to be halted with sufficient time allowed for a new unity to take shape based on a fuller listening to staff and committees and a robust commitment to their Co-Design process. The Board may approve the restructuring plan at its January or April meeting. I believe that is the urgency that brought the authors of the Western Friend letter to come forward.
AFSC's work and ministry is deeply needed at this fraught time in our nation and the world.
Let’s hold each other in the light as AFSC and the wider Quaker community struggle to find Spirit's way forward for AFSC and our places in that work.
In faith and friendship,
Beth Collea, Dover Friends Meeting (1/14/2022)