Friends General Conference

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Memphis Friends Meeting - Visitors Are Welcome

Gender and Sexuality Minute - Updated

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At the April business meeting, Friends approved the commitments accompanying the meeting's minute on Gender and Sexuality Equality. Below is the full minute.

From the beginnings of the Religious Society of Friends (Quakers) in the 1600s, Friends have sought a religious experience that is personal - free from doctrinal creeds and institutional hierarchy. Quakers over the centuries have found that spiritual gifts are not distributed with regard to sexual orientation or gender identity. Friends recognize that full participation in Quaker practice includes being encouraged in ministry and positions of leadership, having the ability to be married under the care of the meeting (the Quaker congregation), and having your family embraced and nurtured by the meeting as a whole. 

With this minute (a statement adopted by a Quaker meeting, expressing the unity of the meeting), Memphis Friends Meeting reaffirms this understanding of spiritual equality and also affirms our growing understanding and respect for gender expression, identity, and sexuality. We acknowledge that we are still learning, but we recognize that when we embrace the full spectrum of gender and sexual identities in our Meeting and across our wider community, our worship deepens and our community is enriched. We earnestly seek to extend our loving care to people of all genders and sexual orientations, their families, and their friends. 

Quakers believe that religion is more than believing. In the words of Bayard Rustin, a Quaker who was a member of what we now call the LGBTQ+ (Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Queer, Plus) community, “The proof that one truly believes is in action.” As part of Memphis Friends Meeting’s effort to live more fully our testimony of equality through action, we minute our commitment to becoming an affirming, safe, and nurturing place for everyone to live fully that which the Spirit is leading them to be. 

We commit to:

—Continuing to learn about gender and sexuality concerns, and particularly learning how to support those who have experienced discrimination and other violence based on their gender identities or expressions.

—Honoring statements of personal pronouns among members, attenders, and visitors, and using inclusive language in our written communications. 

—Affirming individuals’ gender and sexuality identities in all aspects of the life of the Meeting, including discerning ways in which each committee in the Meeting can be supportive. 

—Seeking out and collaborating on community activities that are inclusive, welcoming, and supportive. 

—Stating in our building-use contract, on our web presence, and on other platforms that all bathrooms are single-use gender neutral and that we intend to affirm and acknowledge, through our actions and in our building, the wholeness of all people, including their gender identities, gender expressions, and sexual orientations.

Our intent in writing and sharing this minute publicly is to learn and grow together and deepen our respect for one another. We make these commitments as a step closer to the world of safety, compassion, and justice which we strive to realize. 

Approved in Meeting for Worship with Attention to Business, December 2020 and April 2021