Kokomo Tribune; Kokomo, Indiana


June 30, 2013

THOMAS HAMM: Agreeing to disagree on same-sex relationships


Both yearly meetings have found themselves torn by this issue. At least four times in the past quarter century, Western Yearly Meeting found itself threatened by divisions when congregations conducted same-sex unions. The result of the controversy was the departure of a number of congregations, dissatisfied either by the yearly meeting’s refusal to embrace gay rights or by what they perceived as temporizing with sin.
Indiana Yearly Meeting, of which I am a member, dealt with the controversy differently. In 1982, it committed itself to the position, refined in 1995, that same-sex relationships were contrary to the will of God. Some members strongly disagreed, and the issue bubbled up from time to time. Often the focus of controversy was Earlham College, which until 2010 was affiliated with the yearly meeting and where most students and faculty openly rejected the yearly meeting’s judgment.
In 2008, West Richmond Meeting, after considerable discussion, adopted what has become known as a “welcoming minute.” It said that it would treat same-sex couples in committed relationships just as it would treat married same-sex couples, and would not automatically bar gays and lesbians from leadership positions. Indiana law being what it was, it would not conduct a same-sex wedding. To many, this was a measured statement. But to many others in Indiana Yearly Meeting, it was an embrace of sin. They insisted that the yearly meeting use its authority to force a retraction or expel West Richmond. Otherwise, they would leave the yearly meeting, lest God hold them accountable for compromising with sin. And some Friends, while they disagreed with the West Richmond position, were willing to “live and let live.”
After wrestling with the issue for three years, in 2011 Indiana Yearly Meeting determined that it was a symptom of broader, more fundamental differences about the authority and interpretation of Scripture and where power should reside. Generally, Friends upholding traditional views wanted a yearly meeting with authority to uphold those views. Other Friends, some sympathetic to the West Richmond position, others not, preferred a more congregational system. So, after considerable debate, and with deep reservations on the part of some Friends, the yearly meeting began a reconfiguration. About 70 percent of the membership have chosen to affirm being part of an Indiana Yearly Meeting committed to the 1982 statement and with power to enforce it. The rest have begun to form a New Association of Friends, committed to historic Quakerism, but leaving decisions on how to affirm that commitment to the individual congregations. So same-sex relationships have shown their power to divide even people devoted to conflict resolution.

Thomas D. Hamm is professor of history and director of special collections at Earlham College in Richmond. He was a member of Indiana Yearly Meeting’s Reconfiguration Task Force. Contact him at tomh@earlham.edu.

Text Only | Photo Reprints
  • DAN COATS: New Harmony marks its 200th anniversary Situated between St. Louis and Louisville, New Harmony is a small town in southwest Indiana smaller than 1 square mile in area. Fewer than 1,000 Hoosiers call this serene Posey County community home.Despite its size, the town has monumental significa

    July 31, 2014

  • Rob Burgess House of Burgess: Let's put lethal injection to sleep

    It was only a matter of time before this happened again; and I’m sad to say I’m not surprised at all.
    On July 22, the Supreme Court gave the go-ahead for the killing of Arizona death row inmate James R. Wood III, who had filed suit requesting a delay until the state revealed the details of the drugs that would be used to end his life.

    July 30, 2014 1 Photo

  • ANDREA NEAL: Fleeting canal era had lasting impact on state Editor’s note: This is one in a series of essays leading up to the celebration of the Indiana Bicentennial in December 2016. In 1825, the Erie Canal was completed to great fanfare. Cannon fire, parades, balls and speeches celebrated the speed and ski

    July 30, 2014

  • TOM LoBIANCO: Pence, Bayh crowd field with questions In the 2016 political landscape, a pair of the state's political big dogs -- Republican Gov. Mike Pence and former Democratic U.S. Sen. Evan Bayh -- have potential candidates holding their breath and waiting on them. Until Pence says otherwise, he's

    July 29, 2014

  • JEFFREY McCALL: All things Hillary are not news, just distractions This column has nothing to do with who should or will win the presidential election in 2016. It has nothing to do with partisan politics of any flavor. This column does, however, assess how television is oversaturating the "news" agenda with countles

    July 29, 2014

  • BRIAN HOWEY: World is rising up to meet Putin's thuggery Any illusions I had about the progressive nature of Vladimir Putin’s Russian regime quickly dissipated when I returned to my Moscow Grand Marriott room in August 2007. Upon opening the door, I was greeted with the spectacle of my papers and note pads

    July 28, 2014

  • DICK WOLFSIE: A trip to end all trips My wife is planning a very exciting vacation to celebrate our 35th wedding anniversary. This was a big surprise to me. Not the vacation part, but the 35 years. I thought it was 34. Right now she is on the back porch, the patio table stacked high with

    July 28, 2014

  • ED VASICEK: Happy marriages do not just happen My wife, Marylu, and I met through a mutual friend. My wife had been involved with Campus Crusade at her university, where my friend, Norman, also attended. One Christmas break, Norman invited his friends from church (including me) to a party — along

    July 27, 2014

  • MICHAEL HICKS: Truth about inflation Almost nothing in economics seems to confuse people as much as monetary inflation. That confusion leaves an intellectual void into which some of the least credible ideas of the modern world crawl.Goods and services typically have a price dictated in

    July 27, 2014

  • RAY DAY: Some laws will do us in In my opinion, we have made laws that are contrary to what they were intended. And this writer is going to let you in on his thoughts about them. One of the things that has been processed incorrectly is the child abuse law. When you tell the parent h

    July 26, 2014

Latest news
Featured Ads
Only on our website
AP Video
Netanyahu Vows to Destroy Hamas Tunnels Obama Slams Republicans Over Lawsuit House Leaders Trade Blame for Inaction Malaysian PM: Stop Fighting in Ukraine Cantor Warns of Instability, Terror in Farewell Ravens' Ray Rice: 'I Made a Huge Mistake' Florida Panther Rebound Upsets Ranchers Small Plane Crash in San Diego Parking Lot Busy Franco's Not Afraid of Overexposure Fighting Blocks Access to Ukraine Crash Site Dangerous Bacteria Kills One in Florida Workers Dig for Survivors After India Landslide Texas Scientists Study Ebola Virus Smartphone Powered Paper Plane Debuts at Airshow Southern Accent Reduction Class Cancelled in TN

Click HERE to read all your Parade favorites including Hollywood Wire, Celebrity interviews and photo galleries, Food recipes and cooking tips, Games and lots more.
Kelly Lafferty's video on Tom Miller