About a year ago I applied for membership in my local Quaker Meeting. Joining a Quaker Meeting is not like joining a religion like Mormonism–there’s not a proscribed set of rituals involved in the process and it’s largely a local matter.
My reasons for joining were numerous, but they boiled down to something very simple…it just felt right. Every time I considered the choice, I felt full of joy and light. I tried to talk myself out of it several times. There was no compelling reason for me to join–there was no barrier to my participating fully in the community as an ‘attender’ rather than as a member. But I also wanted to be true to the leading that I’d felt to join, especially when doing so produced such a strong feeling of satisfaction.
To join I wrote a simple letter to the clerk of our Meeting, explaining to her why I felt compelled to seek membership. Some important points in that letter included my desire to take on the identity of a Quaker, my family’s support in my doing so, and my acknowledgement that this choice might not sit well with my Mormon leaders. I expressed a desire to maintain a dual religious identity, knowing that both traditions are deeply important to me. Then the clerk, along with the Ministry & Oversight Committee, put together a group of women to serve on my membership committee. I met with them and discussed my feelings about seeking membership. It was a delightful experience and I felt such deep peace with this decision.
As a public acknowledgment of my decision, the Orange County Friends held a ‘Welcoming Meeting’ for me yesterday, which was an outdoor inter-generational potluck of Friends & friends. The Meeting presented me with a copy of Mothers of Feminism: The Story of Quaker Women in America, which I can’t wait to read (and what a great match for my interest in American feminism!)! Frankly, I was rather embarrassed to be the center of attention at this event, but also felt such happiness at celebrating this occasion with so many people that cared for me and my spiritual journey.
Officially becoming a Quaker changes very little about who I am, but it is one more important stepping stone on the path of my pilgrim-life. More than I can express with words, I appreciate all of you who are supporting me–either virtually or in “real-life”–as I make my way on this journey.
John took some great pics of my party.