Friends General Conference

Together we nurture the spiritual vitality of Friends

Welcoming Friends: Ease the Way for Newcomers Into the Meeting Community

photo credit: Mike Goren
Meeting Resource

Welcoming Friends serve as a gateway for newcomers into a Quaker community, offering spiritual hospitality, helping build relationships, and attending to the varying needs of newcomers.  Being drawn into the life of the community promotes spiritual growth and increases the likelihood that newcomers will remain active within the Quaker faith.

Queries for Reflection:

  • Think of a time when you felt welcomed and embraced by an individual or a community.  What did welcoming look like?  What did being welcomed feel like?  How might you offer this authentic welcoming to a newcomer in your meeting?
  • Think about your own experience of being a newcomer to your Quaker meeting.  What did the meeting do to help you move from being a newcomer to seeing the meeting as your spiritual home?  How did you build relationships with other Friends? 
  • In what ways can you support a newcomer in forming relationships with Friends in the meeting?  Who might this newcomer need to meet?
  • Consider a newcomer to a Quaker meeting at different points in time: walking through the door for the first time on a Sunday morning, during coffee hour after that first visit, after 3-4 visits, and after attending for six months. What support and information might the newcomer need at these various points in time?
  • What’s happening in your meeting that newcomers may be invited to join?  (social opportunities, religious education opportunities, shared meals and activities, actions in the community, programs for children)
  • What basic information about the meeting can be shared to help a newcomer feel at ease?  (bathroom locations, borrowing materials from the library, decoding "Quaker jargon" terms like First Day School or Second Hour)

Advices:

  • Welcoming Friends need to listen intently to Newcomers to see what they want, what they think they need, and how they want to be treated.
  • We can assume that we are all on a spiritual journey and Newcomers may have had deep spiritual experiences before walking through our doors.
  • When someone new walks in the door, we need to ask gentle, open-ended questions rather than assume someone is or is not already a Quaker or familiar with Quakers.

Going Deeper:

►  Newcomer Timeline Activity (PDF)

This activity is designed to encourage Friends to think about ways to welcome and meet the varying needs of newcomers at different points in time.

►  Getting Newcomers Connected (PDF)

The connection process begins the moment a newcomer arrives at meeting. There are ways to help a person connect with your meeting. This document offers some ideas you might find helpful in your meeting. 

►  Knitting Newcomers into the Life of the Meeting (PDF)

Studies of congregations show that newcomers who make two or three friends within their first six months in a church (or, in our case, meeting or worship group) are more likely to stay than those who don’t. This resource shares some ideas for integrating newcomers into the life of your meeting or worship group.