Guest post: Convergent symbolism

The following is a guest post by Shawna. She gave me permission to post the following, which was originally an email to the Convergent Friends email list (see more about that at Quaker 2.0).

Mount Pleasant meetinghouse predates and transcends any of the post-schism terms: conservative, wilburite, orthodox, gurneyite, liberal, hicksite....

It was built in 1814 to house the newly formed Ohio Yearly Meeting (a happy spinoff from Baltimore YM because of a growing Ohio population of Quakers). The first schism came to Mt. Pleasant in 1828, when Elias Hicks came to yearly meeting. The orthodox posted guards at the doors to keep all non-members out of the meeting, including the Hicksites (and Hicks himself) who had been disowned by Philadelphia (and maybe New York by this time?).

Anyway, pushing and shoving and pandemonium ensued. The presiding orthodox clerk was pushed out a door; a Hicksite clerk picked up the pieces of the clerk's table and presided for the rest of the day. For years afterwards, both groups held their yearly meetings at Mt. Pleasant, one week after another.

The second schism came in 1854. Less high drama.... but at one point there were two yearly meeting clerks sitting side by side at the clerk's table, ignoring each other, each writing minutes. When one adjourned meeting, and half the meeting left, while the other half stayed behind for the other clerk, the orthodox/wilburite schism became official.

So, from 1854 onwards, for probably 20 years or so, three yearly meetings were held at Mt. Pleasant in August, one after another. And every First Day, the local Gurneyites met for worship at 8:00, the Hicksites (I think) met at 10:00, and the Wilburites (I think) met at 11:00. No one wanted to give up their rights to the building...

Anyway, it's kind of a symbol of schism and division around here. And I have been thinking that it would be cool to do something convergent with it, sometime. I have been told that the historical society that runs it has given permission for special meetings in the past.... so I have reason to hope!

I don't know how practical it would be for a meeting. It may be too far from folks to be convenient. We can throw it in the mix and call it a brainstorm!

Dios te bendiga
Stillwater Monthly Meeting
Ohio Yearly Meeting (conservative)

1 comment:

Peggy Senger Parsons said...

I haven't been to Ohio in many many years. I would enjoy the excuse.