Circulated  -  early July 2, 2015

James 1:16-27

Dear Friends,

          During the past year's conversations in our Yearly Meeting about those issues which unite us and those which divide us, we have been grateful for the civility and spiritual depth with which these discussions, by and large, have taken place.  People of good faith do differ in their understanding of holy scripture and our Quaker Christian tradition, but we are appreciative of the friendships maintained through earnest wrestling with our differences.

          However, we are concerned by those instances of what must honestly be called “bullying.” We have watched with growing concern and pain as people we love have been privately and publicly bullied, harassed, and discouraged for honestly held differences of opinion.  This has occurred in congregations, in our representative gatherings, in committee work, in phone calls and e-mails, and in individual conversations.  It has resulted in distress, retreat from work for the Yearly Meeting, and in extreme cases in hospitalization for stress and anxiety.

          It must stop.  But when even people of significant leadership experience have expressed frustration in knowing how to confront those who are bullying, we acknowledge the challenge in addressing the situation.  Perhaps it begins by acknowledging that we do have this problem and, by our combined voices, empower each other to step up and name it.

          We invite you to join in this effort.  Below are some signs of a “bully” among us (from Let us unite in recognizing when it is happening and support each other in confronting it.  That's a first step.  Are you willing to add your name and share these concerns with your meeting and others?

          Thank you.

          Frank Massey, pastoral minister at Jamestown Friends Meeting
          Max L. Carter, William R. Rogers Director of Friends Center

Warning signs of a “bully”:

1.     They do not recognize themselves as bullies.
2.    They have personal and self-serving agendas
3.    They seek to form power alliances with weak members
4.    They tend to have intense and emotional personalities
5.    They tend to say “people are saying”
6.    They are allowed to bully because people will not stand up to them
7.    They create chaos and wreak havoc
8.    They often move to other churches/meetings after they have done their damage