Vital Friends: How to Respond Effectively to Conflict in your Quaker Community

Conflict is part of the human existence, but ignoring or actively avoiding it causes harm that can have long-term consequences for everyone impacted by it. Below are resources online and in print that can help your Quaker community effectively respond to internal and external conflicts as they arise.

“Religious Wounding: What Can Our Meetings’ Elders Do?” 

This Friends Journal article by Mariellen Gilpin describes an ongoing instance of spiritual harm that impacted her and her Quaker meeting long after the Friend who caused the wounding left, and what we can learn from it. Read Mariellen’s article.

Beyond Politeness

This Friends Journal article by Johanna Jackson identifies practical ways to confront and transform pain in our meetings. It describes the prevalence of conflict avoidance in Quaker circles in the United States, reminding Friends: “Politeness is not peace. Suppression of our feelings is not peace. Silence, in the form of enforced and unemotional quiet, is not peace.” Read Johanna’s article.

Understanding How your Quaker Community Responds to Conflict 

In her article “Quakers and Conflict” from the January 2020 issue of Western Friend, author Sara Keeney describes a seminar she participated in at Intermountain Yearly Meeting‘s annual sessions last year. During the seminar, attendees discussed a conflict management tool that Sara continues to find useful in understanding behavioral styles when it comes to responding to conflict when it arises. Read Sara’s article here.

Selling Out to Niceness

This Friends Journal article by Ann Jerome that has been described as a “warning on the perils of Quaker niceness.” Ann Jerome distinguishes between niceness and kindness. “When we open to the Light, what it illuminates may not be nice. It may be challenging, inconvenient, discomfiting, humbling, even disruptive.” Read Ann’s article here.

Addressing Harassment During Virtual Meeting for Worship

Friends at Philadelphia Yearly Meeting (PYM) have produced a guide for how to plan and facilitate virtual worship on Zoom in a way that reduces the occurrence and impact of Zoombombers (participants who intentionally cause disruptions through sharing harmful images, words, and behaviors). View Navigating Zoom Safely.

Preventing (and Responding to) Online Harassment

In our social media community posting guidelines, FGC outlines our expectations around community engagement and what followers can expect from us, so that we can collectively create a community that is welcoming and safe for all participants. Our guidelines also detail what harassment is, and what steps we take to remove harmful commentary. View our Social Media Community Posting Guidelines.

Meetings and (Ex)Offenders: Guidance on Accepting into our Meetings People who may Pose a Risk

This pamphlet from Britain Yearly Meeting offers advice to answer the question: how can we balance the desire to make our meetings welcoming to all with the need to create and nurture a safe space? Read the pamphlet.

These titles, available at, offer reflections on and strategies for addressing conflicts and concerns as a faith community:

Coming soon – a resource on responding to incidents of racial wounding

FGC’s Ministry on Racism Program and the Communications team are working on a document that examines what racial wounding is, how to address it in the moment, and how to begin the process of healing as a community. We look forward to sharing it with you in a future issue of Vital Friends.

In the meantime, this open letter from a Friend of Color to well-intentioned Friends of European Descent engaging in racist, harmful behavior is worth reading as you wait for our upcoming resource.

This article is featured in the May 2020 issue of FGC’s Vital Friends eNewsletter. Read the full issue on Friday, May 1st, 2020.

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