Exploring ways to bring new visitors more fully into the life of Friends Meetings
Many sources have reported about people who visit Quaker meetings but do not stay. Although some of these people may find that they are not drawn to the Quaker path, there are many stories of newcomers being ignored, neglected and even offended during their initial visits to a Quaker meeting.
We believe meetings need people who:
- understand the needs of newcomers
- are focused on welcome
- are knowledgeable about Quaker faith and practice and able to share in a way that is accessible to newcomers
- are comfortable with and embracing of diversity in all its forms
- are willing and able to accompany the newcomer, helping them to find connection in the meeting community and
- support the entry of newcomers and help them to understand why and whether or not they should stay.
Experience among Friends and in other faith communities suggests that being drawn into the life of the community promotes spiritual growth and increases the likelihood that newcomers will remain active within their faith.
The Welcoming Friend Project
To help our Meetings draw newcomers more fully into the life of the Meeting, FGC has initiated The Welcoming Friend Project. This Project tests and evaluates tools for welcoming newcomers with the goal of sharing effective practices that will help introduce newcomers to the depth of the Quaker way and inviting them to participation in community life. To achieve this, the Welcoming Friend project will create a living laboratory of meetings practicing and studying welcoming techniques. A working group of Friends committed to the the work of engaging newcomers will create and maintain resources, guides, trainings, both online and in-person, all geared toward helping Friends in monthly and yearly meetings adopt welcoming practices.
One key focus of the Welcoming Friend project is to improve the welcome and engagement of newcomers to Quakerism and particularly of Friends and Seekers of Color. We recognize a need to increase awareness of and sensitivity to how Friends of European descent currently respond to Friends and Seekers of Color. Therefore the project will specifically emphasize awareness of microaggressions and other barriers to entry, the unique needs of newcomers from a variety of backgrounds, and behaviors and practices that invite the full participation and membership of Friends and Seekers of Color.
Sign up for the Welcoming Friend email list to receive project updates and resources.