A Welcoming Friend is a Quaker who focuses on newcomer experiences. They get to know new attenders, introduce them to others in the meeting, offer support, guide them to resources, and take an interest in their spiritual development.
Welcoming Friends deepen the spiritual life of Quaker meetings in several ways. They respond to the needs of newcomers with intention and grace. They build meaningful connections between people within the meeting. At the same time, they invite newcomers to learn about Quaker faith, worship, and processes. When all these qualities are found in a community of Friends, they are sometimes called a Welcoming Meeting.
Individual Friends are the bridge between newcomers and the whole meeting community. Friends General Conference offers resources below to support individuals becoming Welcoming Friends. Included in these resources are:
- Information to share with newcomers
- Reflection questions
- Opportunities to go deeper
- Next steps
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.