HOW TO BE AN INCLUSIVE QUAKER
Saturday, Jul 18, 2020, 3:30 p.m. & Tuesday, Jul 21, 2020, 11:30 a.m. (via Zoom).
This set of ‘Reading & Discussion’ is based on Elmyra Powell’s Friends Journal essay, “Discovering Fellowship among African American Friends”. Discussion will focus on one the following excerpt. Friends are encouraged to read the entire article in advance.
… “It is my opinion that meetings may so discourage expression of emotion in worship that some participants resist true promptings of the Spirit rather than risk disapprobation, however subtle. In my opinion, such self-restraint is un-Quakerly, and undermines the vitality of unprogrammed worship.
Stanford Searl’s article [“Embodying Spirituality as a Quaker Man” in Friends Bulletin July/August 2002] cites authorities that, in my opinion, speak cogently to this issue: “Ben Pink Dandelion pointed out [that] the culture in British Quakerism [including self-censorship] has become a sort of orthodoxy, [my italics] almost a kind of noncreedal creed, with many strictures and rules” that “undercut a free ministry” and are likely to work against achieving a comfort level in meeting by those not sharing these cultural norms.
Stanford Searl wrote for me when he observed, “Can I rock in Quaker meeting? I can hear the various voices: Well, of course you can . . . after all, nobody’s standing in your way. Unfortunately, my very training and education as a Quaker stand in the way, don’t they?”
When I joined the Religious Society of Friends over ten years ago, I remember silently making a commitment to myself that I would not become “a brown-skinned white person.” I had sensed early on that on some level my African American culture might be put at risk not by any religious tenets of Quakerism, but rather, by certain of its cultural expectations and assumptions. Adhering to the practice of unprogrammed Quakerism too often means adopting cultural norms and values that constrain and censor a truly free and sincerely spiritual witness, thereby directly contradicting the foundational principle of Quaker worship: that we are to be fully centered upon and led by the Spirit. If we were to practice the essence of true Quaker worship, we could not be so confined by culture, cut off by mechanical measures of time, or inhibited by notions of propriety not rooted deeply in Quaker spiritual principles. We would strive, instead, to be free in worship, fully open and responsive to a full range of leadings of the Spirit, from deep silence to joyful singing and even—dare I say it?—to dance. I think that fearlessly following this path consistently over the long term will eventually obviate all issues of multiculturalism, multiracialism, and inclusiveness. And I believe our meetings will experience vibrant renewal and growth in the process.”
Source: Powell, Elmyra (2003, October 1). Discovering Fellowship among African American Friends, Friends Journal. Friends Publishing Corporation: Philadelphia, PA. Retrieved from: https://www.friendsjournal.org/discovering-fellowship-among-african-american
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.