July MFM News – A Sampling

Rediscovering Friends

by Mary Jane

My first encounter with Quaker meeting was in London. I remember the stillness, the plain wooden
benches and the plain glass windows looking out into Covent Gardens. Having been raised in an Evangelical tradition, I was surprised how well the quiet suited me but when I got home, I resumed worship with my family church. During my first marriage, I raised my children in an Episcopal Church. While I appreciated the community, I questioned the amount of money spent on luxurious spaces when there were so many other pressing needs in the community and in the

During the COVID-19 pandemic, I found myself in a very uncomfortable place. As an Infectious Diseases physician, I knew the dangers of gathering, of singing and in no way felt these scientific facts should be pushed aside even to maintain a religious tradition.

When community levels of infection were low, I attended worship but found I was the
sole person wearing a mask. I began searching for spaces to worship on-line and found Cloud Quakers. The meeting was 30 minutes of silence followed by a listening/sharing time. During the sharing time, people listened to each other with respect and care. One week, I expressed how much I wanted to be part of a Quaker meeting but had none near me. The other members encouraged me to find a meeting that had an on-line presence and assured me that I
would be most welcome.

I reviewed the many Quaker branches and decided unprogrammed meetings were most closely aligned to my spirituality. When I searched for a meeting online. I looked for one that I could someday attend. I was born in Memphis and have a sister who lives nearby. I emailed Memphis Friends Meeting and Blake responded with the zoom link. I have been able to visit the Meeting House and meet many of you and hope to return again. I have found Memphis Friends Meetings to be a space of safety and personal growth.

I was surprised at how comfortable I have felt in Quaker spaces and with the Quaker testimonies of simplicity, peace, integrity, community, equality, stewardship. I recently learned that my grandmother descended from Quakers. This branch of the family was from North Carolina, but settled in East Tennessee and worshipped with Lost Creek Friends. I now understand that I am returning to the faith of my ancestors. This fact has helped me discuss my change in church attendance to my children. I have told them that each person has their own spiritual journey and my spiritual journey has led me to Memphis Friends meeting. I am grateful to be walking this road with this community.

Photos: Westminster Quaker Meeting House (London), Lost Creek Friends Church (New Market, TN)

Note: For more information about Cloud Quakers, see https://cloudquakers.blogspot.com