Northwest Yearly Meeting and “Shattering” Conflict: Chapter One Chuck Fager with Jade Souza With the schism in Indiana Yearly Meeting over one meeting’s open welcome to LGBT persons now complete, one could have thought this journal would have a break from coverage of such events. In July 2013, another American Friends church, this time in an evangelical yearly meeting, was delivered an ultimatum due to its having taken a similar public stand.
The story of that church and yearly meeting has parallels to Indiana, but is also very distinct, and the outcome not yet settled.
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Our effort to tell that story begins with some background. let it not even be named among you.” But then, for American evangelical Quakers at least, came the Big Bang: a conference of All Friends in Wichita, Kansas in July, 1977.
I In the beginning, for many conservative American Christians, homosexuality was one of those evils to which Ephesians 5:3 applied: “but fornication and all uncleanness . Held on a campus affiliated with an evangelical yearly meeting, many evangelicals attended.
The Miami ordinance was repealed in June, 1977, after a campaign spearheaded by conservative Christians; but despite the defeat, gay rights – and evangelical opposition – were on the public agenda to stay.
And when the Wichita Conference of Friends in the Americas convened a few weeks later, the issue burst upon it like a fireball.
Although it had been carefully planned for several years by quiet cross-branch consultations, the plans were upended when a Quaker gay rights committee from Philadelphia surfaced and insisted on the same recognition given dozens of other Quaker groups.
Local and then regional news media picked up the story; the fate of the conference hung in the balance for days.
At the center of the intense controversy and negotiations to save it was an evangelical leader, the Superintendent of Northwest (formerly Oregon) Yearly Meeting, Norval Hadley.
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1977 was also the year when the issue of homosexuality exploded into the public consciousness of Americans.
A struggle in Miami-Dade County, Florida over the passage of a gay rights ordinance attracted national celebrities and massive media coverage.