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.
Queries for Reflection:
- In the QuakerSpeak video Quakers, Racism, and the Blessed Community, Vanessa Julye says that “White supremacy is restricting our way of creating a blessed community because it is making it difficult for people of color to be a part of the community.” How can you imagine that the Religious Society of Friends could change to be more accessible for people of color?
- Part of white supremacy culture, Vanessa says, is “its invisibility to European-Americans in this country, because if you don’t see a structure and feel that that is normal, then there’s no need to change it.” What would it take for European-Americans to peel back the veil and what changes would happen if they could see what Vanessa is talking about?
(Queries from QuakerSpeak)
These resources, an extension of the Ministry on Racism Program at Friends General Conference, can help your community develop racial and ethnic awareness, increase diversity, and dismantle systemic racism among Friends.
► Transforming Quaker Welcoming Poster for Meetings
This downloadable and printable 11×17 inch poster suggests questions and conversation starters that can build relationships across differences and contribute to a more welcoming atmosphere for all. Consider printing several copies for your meeting to hang in the meetinghouse, share in the newsletter, and launch a conversation about welcoming.
Friends General Conference offers assistance and support to meetings and yearly meetings that want to develop their racial and ethnic awareness, increase their diversity, and strive to address the impact of the institution of racism on our Society.
The annual White Privilege Conference serves as an opportunity to examine and explore difficult issues related to white privilege, white supremacy and oppression. WPC provides a forum for critical discussions about diversity, multicultural education and leadership, social justice, race/racism, sexual orientation, gender relations, religion and other systems of privilege/oppression. Friends General Conference sponsors a group discount at the conference each year and supports Friends in worship and travel logistics.
► Welcoming Children and Families
To provide spiritual hospitality for families and children, meetings must offer opportunities for both adults and kids to build connections, find meaning, and learn about the Quaker faith.
► Diversity and Unity in the Religious Society of Friends, Friends Journal 2009 Among modern day unprogrammed Friends, we find those who identify as Christ-centered Christians, as God-centered Christians, as God-centered non-Christians, as Universalist or humanist Friends, or as Buddhists, Jews, and pagans, all of whom find the local Friends meeting to be their spiritual home. Most Friends meetings welcome and include all who come to worship there—cheerfully and peacefully, but not without tension and conflict.