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Santa Fe Friends House

Philip Balcombe
On Teachers (September 2020)

Dear Editor: In response to Tyger Wright’s letter, “Growth Versus Preservation,” July/August 2020, I must express my distress at the impression it leaves that Friends in Santa Fe are insensitive to Quaker values and our inheritance from our beloved Olive Rush. As a visitor to our Meeting, Wright can be forgiven for not understanding the larger context, but our situation is far more complex than the “either/or” choice implied in her letter. The Meeting has struggled with this issue for four decades; the resulting divisions continue to cost us a great deal.

I have long used a wheelchair. In the name of historic preservation and aesthetics, one Friend has opposed providing a handicap parking space outside the Meetinghouse. Another Friend suggested I find somewhere else to worship, so the meeting would not need to provide a space for my wheelchair inside the meetinghouse. It took years to resolve these issues.

Our Meeting has an option before us that would involve new construction at the back of our property. Yes, it means change, but it is change to heal a long suppurating wound in our Meeting. When changing circumstances required it, Olive Rush herself made extensive changes to the property.

I hope that Tyger and her daughter will return to visit us in a couple of years. After the inevitable disruption of construction, I believe she will rediscover the sense of history and of peace she values – and a happier meeting.  ~~~

– Philip Balcombe, Santa Fe Monthly Meeting (IMYM)

Santa Fe Olive Rush historic restoration Quaker history

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