We need someone neutral

In nearly all of my posts on this blog, I have tried to make a case for Indiana Yearly Meeting not to divide – and I haven’t given up yet!

However, the level of anger, dissatisfaction and dissent on both sides keeps rising. The latest plan for division proposed by the Reconciliation Task Force (a name which surely is no longer appropriate!) is so unfair that even some Friends on the “IYM B” side are questioning it.

Indiana Yearly Meeting has, according to most reports, roughly $5 million in assets. Under the proposed plan of division, only about $300,000 (designated by some unexplained formula as “liquid assets”) would be divided between the two new yearly meetings, based on the number of members in each group at the time of division. So, for example, if 20% of the members are in IYM-A and 80% in IYM-B, IYM-A would be given $60,000, and IYM-B would get $240,000 – and all of the rest would remain with IYM-B.

Many of the other assets of Indiana Yearly Meeting are tied up in some way – as endowments for specific purposes, scholarship funds, in real estate, receivable debts, and so on. However, in any kind of a divorce, this division of assets would not be approved by a fair-minded judge.

To prevent the kind of generations-long bitterness that this plan will generate, I recommend that Friends agree to get an outside mediator or arbitrator – an experienced, neutral person who can be impartial in setting up a legally binding agreement.

An arbitrator must be acceptable to both sides, and in my opinion should not be a Midwest Quaker or have any stake in the outcome of this decision. While arbitration fees may seem high, it’s a price well worth paying to avoid the kind of hateful bickering and charges of bias and unfairness which are what we’ve got now.

Some worth checking:

  • American Arbitration Association – best-known group in the field – http://www.adr.org
  • National Academy of Distinguished Neutrals – maintains a directory of qualified mediators -www.nadn.org. One of their members in our area is Michael Bishop – attorney/mediator based in Indianapolis (317) 573-8888
  • Alban Institute – highly respected non-denominational organization -www. alban.org
  • Peacemaker Ministries – http://www.peacemaker.net

Other Friends may suggest other mediators and arbitrators who they are familiar with, but the basic idea is simple: we have demonstrated that we can’t solve this problem on our own, using our own members as resources. We need outside help, either to resolve this dispute and stay together, or to find a fair formula for division.


1 Response to “We need someone neutral”

  1. 1 Keith Esch October 7, 2012 at 10:26 am

    Re: dividing financial assets, I would suggest we who are not B consider not claiming any of them. This would be far better than accepting a settlement we consider unfair. Sometimes I think it is actually useful to ask ourselves, “What would Jesus do?”

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All of the posts on this blog are my own personal opinion. They do not necessarily reflect the opinions of the members and attenders of the meeting where I belong or any organization of Friends. For more information, click on the "About Me" tab above.



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