Transforming Quaker Welcoming
Practice building relationships across differences to contribute to a more welcoming atmosphere for all
Materials and Setup
Materials and Setup
Print out a few copies of the poster on 11×17 paper
The Transforming Quaker Welcoming poster offers examples of conversation starters that can either alienate or welcome newcomers. It can be a fruitful prompt for a discussion in your meeting about assumptions.
Print out a few copies of the poster on 11×17 paper.
Quakers believe that there is That of God in Everyone and that we each have the capacity for connecting with the Divine and growing in the Spirit. Ours is a faith of listening for the voice of the Spirit and responding to it. We sometimes hear that voice in meetings for worship. Often, if we are listening, we hear it in the voices of our fellow seekers. When we rise from meeting, we do not leave the communion of the Spirit, we continue it in our announcements, invitation to fellowship, and conversations with others over coffee or tea.
Here is where the careless word or question, though well intentioned, can sometimes stifle the Spirit and wound those we would welcome into fellowship. Sometimes this occurs because we mistakenly (often, unthinkingly) assume that all those gathered in our meetings are pretty much like us – say, for example, heterosexual, middle-class, or politically progressive. Perhaps we speak in meeting and speak from our own experience as though it were universal. At other times, it occurs when we perceive newcomers as different and approach them on that basis, bringing our assumptions about what people of that perceived difference are like. As we engage with newcomers, let us approach them with an open heart and mind, asking questions that invite them to share their experiences and build relationships.
Allow time for people to read through the examples listed on the poster.
Questions for discussion:
Can anyone here relate to being the newcomer in any of these categories in the handout?
What was it like to be put in a box by the Friend or person meeting you?
What questions did they ask/assumptions did they make?
What questions would have been more inviting/welcoming?
How do you like to be approached in spaces where you are a newcomer?
What is the difference between curiosity and seeking connection?
Point out that well-intentioned questions that make assumptions about a person based on surface level observations can shut down a conversation. Instead, find ways to invite visitors to share in ways that are comfortable to them.
What kinds of conversation starters can we use to build connection without making assumptions?
Break into pairs or small groups and ask each group to brainstorm 3 examples of conversation starters and 3 examples of questions that are more likely to shut conversation down.
If answers are not forthcoming, offer some examples: What brings you here? How was worship for you this morning? I don’t believe we’ve met, my name is …
Credits: Poster and advices prepared by a working group of the Transforming subcommittee, 2015. Updated by Welcoming Friend Working Group, 2019.