Friends General Conference

Together we nurture the spiritual vitality of Friends

Weaving a Wider Welcome

Photo by Belinda Fewings on Unsplash
Workshop Number: 
Holly Baldwin, Michelle Brimage
Who may register?: 
Open to All
Experiential Activities: 
half gathering attenders welcome
First half (Monday-Wednesday)

Why don’t more people who visit our meetings really join us? The Welcoming Friend Project has been exploring how meetings can better meet the needs of new attenders, especially People of Color, LGBTQ folks, and families. We will teach participants how their meetings can cultivate a culture of welcoming.

Workshop Description

Do our meetings truly reflect all the faces of God among our members and attenders? FGC has heard from many of you that the answer to that question is often no. We have heard that many meetings wonder why their newcomers stop coming after a few visits-- especially LGBTQ folks, families with young children and People of Color. To that end, The Welcoming Friend Project launched in late 2018 and is working with meetings across North America to explore how meetings can better meet the needs of new attenders. We’re offering this workshop to share what this project will learn in the winter 2018/2019.

Through worship sharing, discussion and participatory activities, we will explore how newcomers experience welcome, mistakes meetings make with newcomers, and what approaches to welcoming have worked in FGC meetings.

In this workshop you will learn:

  • Why people don’t come back and why people choose to engage.

  • Ways meetings can shift their culture to become more newcomer-friendly

  • Effective ways to better reach newcomers, with a special focus on seekers of Color, LGBTQ folks, and families with young children. Spoiler alert: what is enriching for newcomers also benefits longtimers!

In this workshop we will:

  • Learn how to lead programs for newcomers that can enrich your meeting as a whole

  • Read/hear/watch stories of people’s experiences of non-welcome and welcome in Quaker meetings

  • Teach activities that will help us shift the culture, activities participants can take back to their own meetings

  • Reflect on own experience of welcome, inclusion and exclusion in groups and Quaker Meeting.

  • Train in effective strategies for shifting culture in our meetings to become more welcoming

Pre-Gathering Assignments will include:

Leader Experience

Holly Baldwin and Michelle Brimage are members of the Welcoming Friend Project working group and have been working with meetings across the U.S. and Canada to learn more about welcoming experiences in our meetings.

Holly is FGC staff for Welcoming Friend, and has led workshops on Quaker practice for Friends and others from Santa Fe to Philadelphia, and Maine to Wyoming. She engaged seekers for many years as the Director of Beacon Hill Friends House, a Quaker community and center in Boston. A member of Fresh Pond Monthly Meeting, New England Yearly Meeting, Holly currently attends Albuquerque Monthly Meeting, Intermountain Yearly Meeting. 

Michelle is Friend of African Descent who has worshipped with Friends in New England for 25 years. She has long led groups and facilitated conversations on race and class awareness, particularly at Beacon Hill Friends Meeting and for Young Friends. She has served as an Intern for Beyond Diversity 101 since 2010. Michelle currently is under a leading to worship and work with Friends at Ithaca Monthly Meeting in New York.