HOW TO BE AN INCLUSIVE QUAKER
Saturday, Jul 4, 2020, 3:30 p.m. & Tuesday, Jul 7, 2020, 11:30 a.m. (via Zoom).
This set of ‘Reading & Discussion’ is based on Valerie Brown’s Friends Journal essay, “How to Be an Inclusive Quaker”. Discussion will focus on one the excerpt “Trust and Learn from the Silence”. Friends are encouraged to read the entire article in advance.
Valerie Brown writes:
“When I first joined a Quaker meeting and was curious and open (I still am), I was taken aside by Friends seeking to “help” me understand the climate and culture of the meeting. They were the elders within the community: respected members with decades of experience in Quaker faith and practice. Some were lifelong Friends. Nearly all of them sat silently each Sunday on the last bench of the meetingroom during meeting for worship. I surmised that this position gave them a perch from which to take in the fullness of the meeting. Early on, a stalwart of the meeting, a gray-haired matron in denim and woolens, approached me and cautioned: “Don’t speak unless you can improve upon the silence.”
My body froze, and I felt deflated. I became angry and then curious.
Little did I know that this was a “quiet” meeting whose unwritten creed was to privilege silence. It set a very high bar on the use of vocal ministry, so any speech must rise to the level of the grace and elegance of silence.
I adore silence. However, as a Black woman, I am aware that for Black, Indigenous, and communities of color (and among other marginalized groups), silence has been a form of oppression that cuts us off from sharing our voice and agency and more. A reframe for those quiet meetings would require us to explore questions about speech and silence. How do we teach about vocal ministry? What messages about silence and speech do we send to seasoned Friends and newcomers? How might silence inadvertently encourage greater distance among Friends? What is the right balance?”
Source: Brown, Valerie (2020, March 1). How to Be an Inclusive Quaker, Friends Journal. Friends Publishing Corporation: Philadelphia, PA. Retrieved from: https://www.friendsjournal.org/how-to-be-an-inclusive-quaker
Zoom connection information for this event is as follows: Zoom Link: https://zoom.us/j/92398341668 (Meeting ID: 994 4553 2926).
Please see the Meeting’s Reading and Discussion page for more information about the context, practice, and goals of ‘Reading and Discussion’.
Please see the Meeting’s Changes page for a comprehensive list of changes to worship, events, and Zoom connection information.