Friends,

I have watched some folks I have come to appreciate as companions for my journey, leave QuakerQuaker. I have thought myself about whether to continue to be involved. The reasons why some have left have to do with a sense that QQ is unwelcoming to non-Christian Quakers. I feel that they are partly right, however, I intend to stay and to try and remain respectful of the site's intent.

Most of you know that I am an ex-Christian nontheist Quaker. I came to Quakerism because I felt that as I left my Pentecostal and Mennonite communities behind, Quakerism's universalist tendencies would allow me to remain in community with the Peace Churches, as well as a broader Christian context. I did expect Quakerism to be more universalist overall and have been somewhat dismayed at the intolerance that has been coming in under the guise of Christian renewal within liberal Quakerism.

That said, Quakerism is ultimately deeply connected to Christianity. That fact troubles some of my pagan and nontheist companions in the SoF. I understand the concern and have faced the negative impact of that myself. I was once opposed in my own meeting when nominated to serve on a "Worship and Spiritual Life" committee. After months of discussion, the friend left the meeting (for other reasons, she said). I felt that most of my meeting was supportive, but it changed my previous confidence in Quaker inclusivity.

I now see that inclusive character as fragile, and hope that Christian renewalists can learn from those Pagan and Nontheist Friends who don't try and make their perspective into "The" Quaker perspective. Christians rightly feel ownership of Quakerism all the way back to Fox. However, the reality is that a large bloc of liberal Quakerism is post-Christian. The rise of non-Christian voices in the SoF did at times cause pain and anguish for Christian Friends, I have heard many stories of this.

The challenge as I see it, is to try and do two things that are somewhat in tension. 1) Continue to work at inclusive meetings and ministry, and 2) Continue to be appreciative and supportive of Christian Quakers. To be faithfully inclusive.

Peace! Charley

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