Just to clarify, when I referred to "more equal than others" I meant the unwritten hierarchy which forms whenever you get a group of people together, rather than people putting themselves in positions of authority. I think this is natural and just part of being human.
Thank you both, I think I will go along, my local meeting is on Sunday at 10.30. It's good to hear that the equality thing is big, that is one of my main problems at the moment with church. One of the other things I am struggling with is that I don't feel that God, or whatever term people want to use, actually minds how people worship and I'm really finding the "i'm in, your out" attitudes at church very difficult, especially with regards to other faiths. For me, God is bigger than that and can cope with us being different and celebrating differently. I like the idea that there isn't a set of shared beliefs, you are free to form your own opinions.
We've been attending meetings regularly for nearly 2 years now. Like worldgonecrazy says, their meetings are held in silence, with any inidvidual standing up to say something if they feel compelled to do so. you may get 60 minutes of silence of 4 people saying things.
you don't mention taking children but if you are, check what activities they have for children, if any. Our meeting only has "family" worship events about every 6 weeks, so we just take DS in for the last 15 minutes the rest of the time.
I've nevr found people standoffish at quaker meetings, and we've been to three different meeting houses, people tend to be very welcoming. Our meeting has name badges and everyone has one, including our 3 year old who is hugely proud of his.
They do focus on equality - they support gay marriage, have always supported women's opinions as being as valid as men's, we have members who are gay and a transvestite who comes along either dressed as a man or in a frock, but he's still welcomed however he dresses.
About the thing about some being more equal - people are either attenders, who just come along, or members, so they've applied for membership and can vote at business meetings etc. some of the members will also be responsible for opening up the meeting venue, arranging refreshments, holding meetings outside of the weekly meetings for workship, so they will be more involved, but are not actually any more equal than anyone else. I have as much right to speak, and be heard, as the person who runs the social justice group on a Tuesday night, she just does more within the Quaker movement.
Go for it, I went once because we had planned to go away for the weekend but it snowed so we couldn't travel and we've never looked back.
I have been to a Quaker meeting. They were friendly enough, and though there was supposed to be no hierarchy, as with any group of people, I got the impression some were considered "more equal than others".
Their meetings are held in silence, unless someone is moved to speak by the Holy Spirit. At the meeting I attended, everyone sat around in a circle and remained silent. After a few minutes one of the people (whom I'd figured out was one of the "more equal" people) got up and spoke a little about some spiritual thoughts he wanted to share.
Some of them were very friendly towards us, some were a little offish. I guess in any group of people you will get a mix. Although myself and my husband are pagan we had been invited by one of the Quakers, it was certainly interesting.
Quakers are very big on Fair Trade, equality for men and women, and lots of other good stuff. I find them the least hypocritical of the professed "Christian" faiths, and the ones most in tune with the oft-quoted "What would Jesus do?", i.e. most of them do seem to live their lives being kind, considerate, loving and charitable to other people, regardless of the other person's faith/sexuality/lifestyle.
I don't think you have anything to lose by attending a meeting.
Just wondering if anyone here goes to Quaker meetings or knows anything about them? I'm starting to realise that my beliefs don't really fit in at church and even though I would say I am a Christian, some of what I think wouldn't be accepted in church and I'm starting to feel quite out of place there. I've been looking at the Quakers website, and it seems to be very accepting and open. I'm just curious as to whether anyone has any experience of a Quaker meeting?