I sent the letter below to as many AFSC Board members as I could find email addresses for in the Corporation listing.
I wanted to share the letter with you as Friends I have walked with while holding the AFSC community at this time of tender discernment.
I'm adding my prayers to yours for the AFSC Board and the community of staff and volunteers as the board prepares to meet this weekend.
In faith and friendship,
Dover Friends Meeting (1/21/2022)
Dear AFSC Board of Directors:
The world needs AFSC to be its strongest and clearest at this fraught time in the life of the US and the world. Those who seek division and hate are fanning the flames of racism and fear. The onus of responsibility is on all of us to do our part to calm, quell, and counter this kindling of fear and hate. AFSC is a master in this work and witness. Your prophetic voice and skillfully planned direct action are needed now as much as ever.
I learned of the disunity and tension within AFSC in mid-December and was heartsick and dismayed. Quaker theologian, Beckey Phipps, says “our unity is a sign that God is working among us.” Our disunity is at least a sign we are not in a clear place yet, or worse that we are heading farther off track.
I am writing to urge you to immediately halt the proposed AFSC restructuring process. There is clearly great disunity around the proposal among Board and Corporation members, among the staff, and now in the wider circle of Friends. I’ve yet to read or hear what problem the proposed restructuring is designed to solve. The pressure to push this proposal through is doing active harm to the vital community of staff and volunteers as they speak and are not heard; as they engage and are not truly in the discernment.
As we stand with AFSC at the crossroads, two things are beginning to be clear. One, we must be careful to build the Beloved Community using the tools of the Beloved Community and not slip into using the tools of empire. Two, centralization is, at best, a very mixed blessing for Friends. It necessarily leads to a siloing and narrowing of the discernment base. To those in the silo, all they see can seem like all there is to be seen. As centralization reinforces itself over time, the discrepancy between the view inside the silo and full reality expands and expands.
AFSC’s prophetic witness will be sharpest and strongest when it takes root close to local communities where the marginalization, injustice, and suffering occur. To align ourselves with that of God in local community members calls into play a source of strength beyond ourselves.
In this fraught time of uncertainty, pain, and disunity within AFSC, I feel Spirit rising!
My hope and my prayer is that you will wait at the crossroads long enough until it is clear what Spirit is asking of AFSC. Faithfulness is the ultimate strategic plan.
In faith and friendship,