I don't know if anyone will actually read this, but I'm going to write something & see if anyone responds! I'm a seeker, would like to attend meeting, but because of location, it's not going to happen soon; the nearest meeting, a very small one, is in a neighboring town and has no children. I have a 12 year old, and she loves the church youth group at the Methodist church that we've attended her whole life. Weighing everything, staying involved in that church is the best plan...for now.

However, I need jumpstarted spiritually. I'm very liberal theologically, and have lost the ability to feel the Light--sometimes, even believing it's there is tough. I've gotten too good at questioning, and not good at having faith. The last year has been a rough one for me, and I'm still making sense of the world--at almost 50, you'd think I'd have more answers and fewer questions, wouldn't you?! I used to have more answers, but...not so much. The social gospel resonants with me, and I still embrace that easily, but there's a spark missing that I used to have.

I am a teacher in an urban school, yes, even though you might imagine western Ohio as rural or small town, I deal with rampant teen pregnancy, gun violence, the allure of gangs--maybe not on the scale of Cleveland or Columbus, but coupled with our high poverty rate, yep, I teach in an urban school. I believe that loving others is our prime directive as Christians, and in that respect, my school is my mission field. But in the sense of learning to love, not in the preaching at people. I leave that to my fundamentalist coworkers!

I need spiritual friends. I need people to talk with and be supported by as I look for the joy and peace--the faith--that I used to find, and as I ponder Truth. I haven't been sure where to start with that--maybe this is the place!

Views: 48

Comment by Martin Kelley on 1st mo. 28, 2009 at 9:09pm
Hi JJ: welcome to QuakerQuaker and welcome to the wider Quaker family! Ohio's one of the most interesting Quaker states because so many different types of Friends are represented there. You can tour four branches of the Religious Society of Friends and never leave the state!

I can totally understand the desire to keep your daughter in the Methodist church group. Many of us have dual lives, either because of geography or family situations. For example, my wife left Friends and became a Catholic; because we have two squirmy young boys I sometimes end up in Catholic Church more than meeting! There's lots going on online, as you can see. Because it's always good to actually meet and worship with people face-to-face you should check out the activities of the four Ohio-based yearly meetings:

Wilmington Yearly Meeting
Lake Erie Yearly Meeting
Ohio Yearly Meeting Conservative
Evangelical Friends Church Eastern Region

It would take a couple of years to explain why there are four different visions of Friends all occupying one state (Thomas Hamm's readable Quakers in America is a good start) but I can guarantee you they'll all be friendly in their own way and will all be an education no matter what your background. Lake Erie is the most theologically liberal and is probably closest to what you're looking for.

Feel free to email me directly if you have any other questions or are trying to figure out any of our arcane divisions or terminology. And once again, welcome friend!
Comment by JJ on 1st mo. 29, 2009 at 9:47pm
It's so fun to jump online and find such friendly comments! I'm looking forward to "meeting" you all in more depth!
Comment by Ken Stockbridge on 2nd mo. 17, 2009 at 5:24pm
Hi JJ and others in similar situations,
I would also like to welcome you to the wider world of Quakers (though it's not as though I've been very active online in groups like this). I would like to second Martin's suggestion and elaborate a little. For me, one of the great blessings in my Quaker experience has been to participate not just in my local Meeting but also in the web of interconnected circles that Quakers have. In my experience with churches in other denominations, only the really hard-core got involved outside their local church. But with Quakers, there are all sorts of opportunities for everyone, including and especially children, at levels that might be described as "area-wide" (sometimes called Quarterly Meetings), regional (sometimes called Yearly Meetings), national, and international. What these groups offer varies considerably from area to area, but if you check the links Martin provided, you might just find an event you'd like to attend once in a while, even as you stay connected to the local Methodist church. Casting a wider net, geographically, helps connect people that feel isolated, whether they're the only one around or just the only one with a particular characteristic, like having kids or being single or whatever.

In particular, I'd like to suggest that you consider attending the Annual Gathering of Friends General Conference (FGC), which will be held this year in Blacksburg, VA. It happens the week of July 4, and it sounds like you and your daughter would fit right in! It's difficult to summarize briefly what the Gathering is like because it can be so different for different people. It's extremely rich and has something for everyone. If it seems pricey, financial support is available especially for first time attenders, and consider what you might spend on room and board for other vacations you might take. There are many people in your situation, and many of them get their annual Quaker fix at the Gathering. Check it out.

FGC's Advancement and Outreach Committee also started a service a few years ago, which is currently on hold, to connect individuals interested in Quakerism who are too far from the nearest Meeting (or even for whom the nearest Meeting doesn't quite work). I hope this service will get back off the ground before long. It might just help people in your situation find enough people nearby to meet each other's needs. Keep an eye out for it. It's an extension, in a way, of Quakerfinder.org.

Finally, if any small meetings out there are reading this, let JJ's experience help you understand how important it is to have a program for kids. Even if you have no children now, chances are there are prospective attenders who do. Be ready for them. It's simple hospitality. When a group of us in Columbia, MD got together 13 years ago to start a worship group, one of the first things we became clear about was that we needed programs for children if we had any hope of surviving. Sure, it's tricky, but there's help out there for you, perhaps from your Yearly Meeting and certainly from FGC's Religious Education program. I hope this helps.
Comment by Elzie Simons on 3rd mo. 15, 2010 at 2:53pm
wow i'm so glad i read your blog !!! the similarities were scary other than i do not have children i understand the questioning!! i have been a seeker my whole life and never finding until i found a meeting. it all seemed to fit together. i have to always remember when i get questioning to get out of my head i believe the divine and the light is all about the heart and the Spirit not the head or the mind!!!! i too i'm isolated no where near a meeting so i attend church with my family
Keep the faith i finding out the we have friends out here!!
i think it's neat that i was attracted to a primitive simple form of faith but turn to modern technology to stay connect i see humor in it!!

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