Hi to all,

  This is my first post. I have been considering attending my first Quaker meeting and have been wondering about upcoming meetings for this summer. I am only interested in attending meetings with plain-dressing conservative members. Any guidance on where they are located and when they are being held would be greatly appreciated.

Thank you,

Scott

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Hello, Scott!

I have been a conservative, plain Friend for most of my adult life, and I have been around for awhile!  I appreciate your interest in finding plain Friends, but feel a bit hesitant about it.

To the best of my knowledge, there is only one meeting, in Maine, that is uniformly plain, and it equivocates about how Quaker it is.  There are important elements of the Quaker tradition that it does not incorporate, but also some undesirable "Quaker stuff" that it rightly avoids!

There are several other meetings with plain members.  Most of them have strengths, but they also have weaknesses!  I would encourage you to seek out a meeting with a strong Christian witness and a lively spiritual life, a discerning commitment to what is valuable in the Quaker faith and the Quaker tradition, and a robust and tender-hearted experience of Christian fellowship.

Don't expect to find a meeting populated exclusively by angels; you'll be disappointed.  Instead, look for a meeting whose members are humble seekers after the way of Christ, and who are honest about their shortcomings.  Put plainness somewhere down your list of priorities, not at the very top.

May the Lord bless and keep you!

 

 

Scott, I'm glad you're interested in Quakers.  I believe that plain-dressing Friends are traditionally associated with Conservative Meetings like my own, but we in North Carolina have very few -- certainly none that I know of where all or even many Friends dress plainly. Perhaps Ohio YM would be a good place to start.

Of course, many individuals have gotten interested in plain dress in recent years.  Probably the best place to find out info on plain-dressing Friends would be QuakerJane's blog and the Plainness and Simplicity page here at QuakerQuaker, http://www.quakerquaker.org/group/plain.  

But if you're new to Friends, you might not want to restrict yourself to just plain-dressing Friends.  If you appreciate Quaker traditions, perhaps you should investigate unprogrammed Meetings, such as those in Ohio Meeting, Iowa-Conservative and North Carolina-Conservative, or those in Friends General Conference.

Good luck finding what you're looking for!

Kent

Hello again, Scott!

After writing to you last night, I realized that there is a plain, Quaker-oriented family in Missouri looking for Christian fellowship.  If you send me a private message, I will tell you who they are.  The wife has been on QQ, but hasn't posted lately (as far as I know).

It would not take more than a few to gather a new fellowship.  Once an identifiable group gets started, others would most likely be drawn to it.

Bill Rushby

 

 

Hello, Scott,

Welcome to QuakerQuaker!

Alas, I feel a deep sadness that you would wish to explore Quakerism from only one specific angle (plain dress). Doing so is grabbing the wrong end of the stick. We are called to obedience to God, and each of us will find God leading us in specific ways. Our actions grow out of our leadings in the Spirit; obedience comes first. Please don't try to put the cart before the horse.

You will find Friends across the spectrum who prefer to limit their experience to worship with a small segment of Friends, because we feel more comfortable among those who share our views. But I strongly feel this is not at all God's way. We are supposed to wrestle with God. We are expected to be challenged and transformed. The Meeting for Worship is where we meet God, and we are not promised a comfortable experience.

Moreover, by limiting yourself to one aspect of our Society, you have made an assumption about what Friends are like. That limits your experience of God, and shuts off experiences with many deeply grounded Friends from across the spectrum.

Plain-dressing Friends are wonderful; non-plain-dressing Friends are wonderful. And you will also find narrow-minded Friends in each group. You'll have to take us as we are!

If you feel yourself being led to plain dress, that is great, but please don't look for exclusivity in your experience of Friends. With Friend William Rushby, I encourage you to find a meeting populated with Friends dwelling deep in the Spirit, " humble seekers after the way of Christ."

Go with God, Friend! ~Paula

Hello, Paula!

I don't think that Scott's desire to link up with Friends of the plainer sort is a bad idea.  Scott needs to find a Quaker fellowship where he can feel comfortable and accepted.  If he finds later that he wants to relate more broadly, having a secure home base will help him to do that.

Linking up with a mixed group is likely to lead quickly to personal disillusionment.  I don't recommend it.  On the other hand, plain Friends are so few in number, and scattered (and not all on the same "wavelength"), that confining one's fellowship exclusively to them is probably not going to work out well.  I see the issue more from a pragmatic standpoint than in terms of lofty principles of ecumenism.

After having been deprived of our membership in a Conservative Friends' meeting many years ago, we have fellowshipped closely with a conservative Mennonite church.  Instead of this incapacitating me (my wife is no longer living) in relating to Friends of very different faith, I feel more comfortable in reaching out to such Friends, knowing that they are not going to be part of my primary church community.

Bill

As one who came to Friends from the other direction--as a frightened agnostic--I can assure you that finding a welcoming spiritual home was a wonderful thing. But I certainly could not expect to come to a Religious Society and expect others to believe as I had been taught to believe. No, it was the spiritual hospitality that enabled me to become comfortable, and learn to trust where God was taking me. I also had to do a lot of homework before I was ready to face all the challenges of living a spiritually grounded life, but I had no choice, and I don't know what kind of advice I might offer to others in this regard.

Friend William, you wrote:

On the other hand, plain Friends are so few in number, and scattered (and not all on the same "wavelength"), that confining one's fellowship exclusively to them is probably not going to work out well.

I could say the same thing about so-called liberal Friends too, but I was blessed to have my first spiritual home among loving and deeply grounded Friends. I didn't know a thing about different branches of Friends, and I was a little frightened when I saw my first plain-dressed Friends. Loving community is what allowed me to find my way. I wish the same fervently for any other seeker, including our newcomer, Friend Scott.

Your Ffriend, Paula

It bothers me, Paula, that thee is so sure that this cannot be God's will for this person. That it is not His will for thee I am in no position to judge, but truly, thee is in no position to judge whether or not this fellow has accurately discerned God's will for him at this time. Limiting the breadth of a person's community is not GOd's way for anyone at any time in their life ever? Thee should have been forced into fellowship with plain Friends immediately and thee should have wrestled with that from the start? I have experienced a GOd who is considerably more gentle than that; He opens what I am ready for when I am ready and leads me to more when I am ready for more. Or perhaps I never am ready for more. Perhaps I am left to my small community and am never moved beyond it. That is sometimes a result of our limited human condition. Thee seems distressed, but I am not sure it is because God is distressed, but because thee is feeling closed off from communion with this person . . .

Isabel

Hello, Scott!

I hope thee will find what thee is seeking for with all sincerity. Being a mere seeker, I do not have very much to offer thee. If Plainness and the simpler life is what thee is comfortable with, continue to seek and thou shalt find.

Let nothing hinder thee. When God speaks to thee clearly, pray, follow onward to obey. Some of the others will have better advice. For this cause, I feel inadequate here...but God knoweth best. Listen to the still small voice, as thee cannot go wrong in doing thus.

I judgeth no one. I seek peace and humbly pursue it. Scott hath made his wishes known. In that respect I understand well what Isabel is saying. I hope the two of ye Friends will settle any differences (if applicable) in the Peace which passeth all understanding.

Blessings to ye all, Friends!

Timothy

Scott - I don't know where you live or whether you are looking for a summer event or a permanent local meeting, but I highly recommend attending Ohio Yearly Meeting in Barnesville, OH the first week of August. There will be a good smattering of plain Friends, and many not plain. Plain dress is not uniform with Friends as it is with Anabaptist groups so you will not likely find a meeting that is only plain, but OYM has many plain attenders and it was very special to me as a new attender there last year that it seemed to make no difference how each person was dressed! Most unusual in our society and not true in other Friends groups necessarily.  No one even seemed to notice the wide variety of dress. My teenage daughters noted this as well and said they felt totally accepted there "just as they are". This was a very powerful Presence both times I have been at OYM events.

I fully understand your wanting to attend only a plain Friends community. I had the same leading and it was not that I was not open to those who were not dressing plain, but that I knew that I had a kinship with those who were and wanted to be with them and fellowship with them. Through the dress God led me to OYM and a community that feels more like home to me than I have ever had in a spiritual group. But the dress started the whole ball rolling.

If you are interested the schedule for the Yearly Meeting is on the OYM website and visitors are very welcome. We were visitors last year and found it a very blessed time.

I pray that you find the community God is leading you to, whatever it is,

Barb

Scott

I am in the same place ypou were in recently. I want to attend my first meeting, but have some reservations. One of them is how to prepare for a meeting so that I come into it with some purpose in mind and that it has meaning. Any thoughts? How was your first meeting?

Ron

Hi Ron,

I can only encourage you to try, even if you might feel hesitant before your first meeting. I am so glad I went.

As to preparation, some of us find it helpful to walk to meetings as it clears their mind, others from my meeting have spiritual literature that they read on their way to it (it's in a city center, so most use public transport to get there). Apart from that, I have had the experience that it works best for me to come with an open mind - the times when I've had a specific purpose in mind, it got entirely lost as the meeting just took another direction. Let the Light surprise you, it seems to be good at that! :-)

I'd also advise you to observe a lot during your first couple of meetings and get a "feel" for this particular group of Friends.

Good luck to you too, Scott!

Susan

Great post, Paula!

I believe it can be a strength of a group of very diverse Quakers - mine is tiny and is comprised of people from various "corners" of Quakerdom, and we just can't afford to exclude any of the "leanings" of Quakers - we have Christ-centered, liberal, conservative, young, and old, and it turns out that if we don't let ourselves be divided by our different beliefs, we can actually help each other to broaden our minds.

Paula Deming said:

As one who came to Friends from the other direction--as a frightened agnostic--I can assure you that finding a welcoming spiritual home was a wonderful thing. But I certainly could not expect to come to a Religious Society and expect others to believe as I had been taught to believe. No, it was the spiritual hospitality that enabled me to become comfortable, and learn to trust where God was taking me. I also had to do a lot of homework before I was ready to face all the challenges of living a spiritually grounded life, but I had no choice, and I don't know what kind of advice I might offer to others in this regard.

Friend William, you wrote:

On the other hand, plain Friends are so few in number, and scattered (and not all on the same "wavelength"), that confining one's fellowship exclusively to them is probably not going to work out well.

I could say the same thing about so-called liberal Friends too, but I was blessed to have my first spiritual home among loving and deeply grounded Friends. I didn't know a thing about different branches of Friends, and I was a little frightened when I saw my first plain-dressed Friends. Loving community is what allowed me to find my way. I wish the same fervently for any other seeker, including our newcomer, Friend Scott.

Your Ffriend, Paula

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