Welcoming and Inclusion
Our values and our community are born from a desire to be welcoming to all, especially those who may not have felt a sense of belonging in other Quaker communities. We cherish and celebrate our diversity, acknowledge oppression, and commit to do the work to overcome it.
We celebrate the strengths of Quaker process: recognizing that of God in every person, valuing every voice rather than accepting majority rule, listening together for the guidance of Spirit before a decision is made, and doing the difficult but important work of discernment with patience and faith that a path will open. We love that leadership and pastoral care is shared among Friends – that we can all be ministers to each other, that our hands can be the hands of God as we care for each other.
However, Friends must do a better job of balancing patience and careful consideration with the harm that can be done in delaying decisions to support people in marginalized communities. Quaker process works wonderfully for people of relatively equal status and power in the community. It facilitates communication and decision-making among white, straight, well-intentioned people who tend to naturally benefit from the status quo: people who are accustomed to having the last say on the issues before them.
But we have witnessed Quaker process used, however unintentionally, to uphold white supremacy and to firmly place gender, sexual, and relationship minorities as outsiders who must be approved before they are welcomed or allowed to take certain roles within the community. We have noticed caution being valued more than kindness and the truth of lived experiences questioned or ignored. We have noticed comfort and delay being prioritized over justice and relief. We have known people so concerned with being perfect that they are afraid of trying to be welcoming at all, for fear of making a mistake.
Our aim is to create a community of trust, that not only allows all voices to be heard but recognizes and attempts to change behaviors that continue old patterns of exclusion and harm. We want you to bring your full and authentic self to our community, and to feel that you can talk about any part of your life and be heard, believed, and cared about.
We recognize that racism has shaped our culture and has shaped Quaker history and practice. We extend welcome to people of all races, ethnicities, and nationalities. We commit to listen to and amplify the voices of our Black and brown Friends, and to remember their joy, their wisdom, their strength, and their gifts along with remembering their oppression. We commit to educating ourselves and continuously building our advocacy skills as an actively anti-racist community.
We recognize that faith communities do not always consider accessibility needs, and sometimes treat people with disabilities as burdens or sources of life lessons or inspiration rather than as humans with unique gifts, strengths, and contributions of their own. We extend welcome to people of all ability levels, and validate the inherent dignity and worth of every person. We hope to be responsive and respectful as we accommodate any Friends’ needs that must be considered to be able to fully participate in our community, and we are grateful for the unique perspectives that Friends of varying abilities bring. We have met disabled people/people with disabilities who have strong but different preferences about terminology: we hope you will tell us what you prefer!
We recognize that members of the LGBTQIA+ community have sometimes had to guess as to whether they will be welcome in a particular faith community (especially if they exist in the plus sign after LGBTQIA). We extend welcome to Friends of all sexual orientations (including but not limited to lesbian, gay, bisexual, queer, asexual, and straight orientations), gender identities (including but not limited to transgender, nonbinary, and cisgender identities), and relationship structures (including but not limited to polyamorous, polyfidelitous or monogamous structures), and we celebrate the family relationships that are established in our community. We support relationships with enthusiastic consent between adults, and mutual respect, care, and acceptance of responsibility for others’ well-being. We also acknowledge that society tends to privilege romantic relationships over others, and we value and celebrate those who are single/unpartnered or aromantic.
We recognize that American society does not always speak openly or fairly about class, or the unique issues that arise from the experience of navigating life with lower income or fewer educational opportunities. We hope to work together as a community to not only honor these lived experiences, but also to provide resources and support to the people who need it most.
So, with all of these great intentions – what are we actually hoping to *do*?
- Nurture a willingness to be imperfect, recognizing there is no “one right way” to be welcoming or inclusive
- Nurture a willingness to not only listen to people from marginalized groups but to take those experiences and preferences as real and vitally important
- Create ongoing educational opportunities for people to learn about the experiences of the marginalized people and groups they claim to love, without burdening our own community members with constantly having to provide that education themselves
- Interrupt typical power structures, and create leadership opportunities for marginalized people to contribute in meaningful ways that go beyond being a voice in the room
- Encourage Friends’ contributions of money, time, and energy towards causes that support social justice
- Nurture mutual support in a shared Friendship and community life together
We strongly believe in the good intentions of most Quakers – and we also know that impact matters more than intention. It is a sign of strength to accept correction in our imperfections, and move on with clear hearts and a commitment to do better. While we cannot possibly speak to every identity that might be a strong part of what makes each person unique and wonderful, and we cannot possibly address every injustice we find around us – we hope that our community will be one that takes risks, builds bridges, accepts difference and works together to create a better world.