Last week's post generated some very interesting responses and reactions, not only online but in person.
One F/friend told me that she liked that fact that, when she comes to Meeting, she knows she is with people who have thought about their faith, and that our beliefs are not 'dumbed down', and I know just what she means. I think part of the reason for the current Quaker demographic is the tendency for people only to find us after some kind of spiritual search, after a lot of thought about what they believe, and how they wish to connect with the Light they seek. People don't attend Quaker Meetings because they are the nearest on a Sunday morning, or out of habit, or because it's 'the done thing', and they don't attend if they have never considered their own spirituality.
As a religious group, we do not tend to proselytise, and many members (including me) found that comforting when we first encountered the Society. I know that many members and attenders (again, including me) come from a negative experience of evangelical Christian experiences. So I am not suggesting we go out and tell every person in the world that Quakerism is the only true way - that would run completely counter to the idea of respecting the Light wherever it comes from, and would be totally inappropriate.
However, I believe strongly that Quakerism is an ideal way to foster ecumenism and interfaith dialogue - no matter what words we all use to speak of God, or whether we are atheists, we can still all listen together and seek the Light.
Another F/friend suggested that perhaps it might not matter if people do not have any kind of view on the existence or non-existence of a spiritual aspect to life, but I cannot bring myself to agree.
I can only say that I believe everyone should know about us, so that they can make an informed choice - and I believe that, if more people knew about us, our numbers would be rising and our Meetings growing.
Patrick Gale, a non-Quaker, summed up what I feel in his excellent novel about a Quaker family, Notes from an Exhibition:
"When they took her to her first Meeting for Worship, and she witnessed the potent combination of quiet contemplation with the lack of Christian paraphernalia she had long dismissed as nonsense, she found herself marvelling that Quakerism had not become the dominant world faith. It seemed so accessible, sane and adaptable."