A Welcoming Friend is someone from a meeting who spends time getting to know newcomers, introducing newcomers to others in the meeting, and offering support, resources, and spiritual nurture as the newcomer explores Quaker worship, faith, and practices.
There are several key components in the process of deepening the spiritual life of our meetings. One is being intentional about responding to the needs of newcomers with grace. Another includes welcoming, guiding and supporting newcomers through the process of learning about Quaker faith and practice. In addition, it is important to offer opportunities for building meaningful connections within the meeting. Welcoming meetings are those that invite newcomers to learn about Quaker faith, processes and worship AND also to build connections and relationships with Friends in the meeting.
Many welcoming practices in meetings rely on individual Friends to serve as this bridge between newcomers and the meeting community. The resources below are offered to support individuals stepping into this role of Welcoming Friend. You’ll find information to share with newcomers, queries for your own reflection, opportunities to go deeper, and next steps to support your meeting in becoming a community welcoming to all.
Help Newcomers Learn about Quaker Practices & Faith
Welcoming Friends help newcomers learn how to encounter and go deeper into Quaker practice and faith and serve as a person of whom a newcomer might ask questions and from whom they might seek spiritual nurture.
Ease the Way for Newcomers into the Meeting Community
Welcoming Friends serve as a gateway for newcomers into a Quaker community, offering spiritual hospitality, helping build relationships, and attending to the varying needs of newcomers. Being drawn into the life of the community promotes spiritual growth and increases the likelihood that newcomers will remain active within the Quaker faith.
Welcome All Who Would Travel the Quaker Path
Welcoming Friends are aware of and sensitive to issues of bias, racism, and other divisions that can be barriers to full participation in our meetings and our society.
We can do better than a handshake and the exchange of names! Studies have shown that newcomers to faith communities are more likely to stay if they have early opportunities to meet multiple people who become entry points to the community. We can also learn to overcome the human tendency to be more welcoming to people who are most like us. Our Quaker faith tells us that there is that of God in each of us, and we need to learn how to best mitigate expressions of explicit and implicit bias as we welcome newcomers and embrace the whole person over the long haul.
When someone new walks in the door, we need to ask gentle, open-ended questions rather than assume someone is or is not already a Quaker or familiar with Quakers.
Encourage the Whole Meeting to Practice Authentic Welcoming
Welcoming Friends support the meeting community in warmly and effectively engaging newcomers. For many newcomers, obtaining a working understanding of Quaker faith and practice requires immersion in a community that is spiritually grounded, open, and inviting.