Is being a Quaker worth it? We asked 8 longtime Friends what keeps them coming to Meeting every Sunday.
Laura Goren: For me, one of the most challenging and also valuable parts of Quakerism is that we are asked to seek and follow God’s will for our lives, and to do that in community with other people, and my experience has been when I try to do that, I’m a better and happier person than when I don’t try to do that. Being a Quaker gives me a community of folks to do that with.
Why I Am a Quaker
George Lakey: I’m a Quaker because it supports me by reminding me that I grow when I’m on my edge, and that when I get to my edge, I’m not alone, but there are others also who are out there trying to do the right thing, and I’m also not alone because it’s actually Jesus who is leading me to that edge.
That of God in Everyone
Valerie Brown: When I discovered the Religious Society of Friends and this incredible belief system—not just belief but practice, this way of being—that all people have inherently that of God within them, I said, “Those are my people. This makes sense. This is real.”
Michael Birkel: I’m a Quaker because it offers me spiritual practices that invite me to grow. I am most at home in a community that cares about living nonviolently, about creating a culture of peace, a community that invites me to consider my own life with as much self-honesty as I can gather, and then supports me on a path toward greater honesty and greater intimacy with God.
Amy Ward Brimmer: The Quaker practice of recognizing the divinity of everything just really speaks to me. It also troubles me. It also challenges me, and it provides a community in which to test that belief, that there is that of God in everyone.
A Community of Learners
Stephanie Crumley-Effinger: Being a Quaker feels like both a choice and a “yes” to a calling, and so I guess those are the choices: do you say yes or not?
The phrase that comes most readily to mind today (which might be different another day) is being “humble learners in the school of Christ”, and I love that phrase because it has such a sense of “in it together” and there’s no way that I am expected to or need to know it all or pretend that I do, but that it’s collective and it’s us together and Christ, the Light, the seed as our teacher and friend.
Kevin-Douglas Olive: It means being faithful; it means being in community. This is the community that embraced me when I was on fire for Jesus. This is the community that embraced me when I was going through some really dark times with personal struggles. This is the community that married me and my late partner. This is the community that buried my late partner. This is the community that’s taught me how to be tolerant, taught me how to accept, taught me how to see the other side. That’s why I’m a Quaker. I have not gotten that anywhere else.
Tom Hoopes: I choose to call myself a Quaker because I want to identify with this tribe. I want to identify with this living community that is doing its best to simultaneously honor the past, be fully present now, and radically change the world going forward in the future, and that’s a community that I feel good to be part of, and it’s hard work.
George Lakey: I love the community of people trying sincerely to be our best. I love it that it’s a community that allows me to be a Jesus person and doesn’t exclusively demand that of its members, and so we can have theological diversity, we can have diversity of language, in the way we describe our experience, and we can learn from each other in that way as well.
The views expressed in this video are of the speakers and do not necessarily reflect the views of Friends Journal or its collaborators.
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- Why are you a Quaker? (note: not how did you become a Quaker, but rather why do you continue to feel committed to the Quaker path?)
- The two things that most of our interviewees pointed to when we asked them this question were community and theology. How do each of these play a role in your Quakerism? Does one weigh more heavily in your decision to be a Quaker?