Growing the Community of Friends – Embracing Diversity in Quakerism

“George Fox, the Valiant Sixty… Whoever your favorite Quaker hero is, [they] did not do this work so it could die along bloodlines,” Rashid Darden told us recently. “It’s supposed to continue. The revelation is supposed to continue through bodies, through living people who can then tell others.”

“The surprising thing about my journey in the Quaker faith,” Rashid adds, “is that despite it being a predominantly White faith community, I’m still able to show up as my entire self and not be penalized for it or punished for it—and, in fact, to be celebrated.”

As the associate secretary for communications and outreach at Friends General Conference (FGC), Rashid has a lot to say about how Quakers can offer similarly liberating spaces in their communities.

Portions of this interview were also featured in an episode of the Quakers Today podcast.

6 thoughts on “Growing the Community of Friends – Embracing Diversity in Quakerism

  1. Thanks Rashid, your message is inspiring. I agree that outreach needs to be in a language people understand. Music reaches people when words sometimes do not.
    Public TV has recently featured the role of music in Black churches. Do you think we might attract more people, including African Americans, if somehow music were integrated into our monthly meetings?

  2. Friend speaks my mind!

    My wife and I often muse as to “Why isn’t everyone a Quaker?”

    In Australia we have a well respected social researcher Hugh Mackay He has written for many years about the growing demographic of SBNR (Spiritual But Not Religious)

    It’s understandable how and why traditional “religions” have fallen from grace. Even my father (born 1924) used to respond to someone saying “Praise the lord” with “… and pass the ammunition”.

    It’s time to deconstruct and reconstruct this concept of “religion” — it’s a Latin word that simply means “bonding”. What is it that bonds us to others, in community?

    Traditional religions too often painted the world as “us and them” in order to bond “us” together. The Religious Society of Friends (Quakers) shows us there’s a different way to be.

    We can agree to disagree, agreeably, and still be friends.

  3. Amen! to this. Even in my own meeting in a large city, which always attracts some visitors or newcomers each Sunday, there are those who are cautious about being too forward. Emily Provance works hard to convince Friends to say yes rather than “we don’t do it that way.” We grow when we are open to new light. We wither when we hide our light under a bushel, where no light comes in. We have something to offer to the world. Let those several billion folks decide if it is right for each of them.

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