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Quakers, Unitarians and Liberal Jews

(10 Posts)
leicestershiregirl Sat 10-Sep-11 22:48:30

Am bumping my original post with a new name.

Have found the thread by Terraviva on Quakers really interesting. Went to a Quaker meeting to see what it was like back when I was a student and liked the service but was put off by the predominantly elderly congregation. It was too different to the evangelical C of E church I was attending at the time. However I've since gotten thoroughly disillusioned with evangelical Christianity (not that I was ever completely on board with it anyway, it was just was just that a lot of Christian students at my uni went to that church. I went to a more traditional 'high' C of E church as a kid) and have also been doing some 'spiritual shopping'.

My main problem is I no longer believe in the divinity of Jesus. I've checked out the local Liberal Jewish synagogue, but though everybody was pleasant to me (albeit with slightly puzzled expressions on their faces) and there was one chap who'd converted from Christianity (United Reformed Church) I felt very 'other'. Half the service was in Hebrew which didn't help (though I totally understand the need/desire for this). I went three times but my discomfort didn't lessen so I figure I don't have a Jewish soul, though I have a lot of time for Judaism and Jewish culture. So now I think I've got to look at liberal churches within the Christian tradition.

I will be going back to the Quakers and also trying the local Unitarian Chapel. Have heard the Unitarians are "Quakers but with hymns" - anybody have any experience? Are there other religious traditions that might suit me? I believe in God but don't have any fixed ideas about Him and am liberal in my political/social outlook.

mariamagdalena Sun 11-Sep-11 00:57:36

I was trying to find a link about the percentages of CofE clergy who believe in the various doctrines, but have failed. From memory, it was only 80% for the resurrection, so presumably you wouldn't be the only person in church wondering about the divinity of Jesus. You say you 'no longer believe' in the divinity of Jesus... but say that isn't your only reason for discomfort with your old church. I guess I'm wondering whether a bad church experience made your faith wobble, rather than the other way round?

leicestershiregirl Sun 11-Sep-11 19:55:08

Not sure about the rightness of being part of a church and not believing in all of its doctrines. I know there are those 'Sea of Faith' vicars in the C of E who don't even believe in God but I feel theirs must be a very hollow experience of religion. I have had bad church experiences, two of them.

The first was at the church I attended as a kid. The youth group had a talent evening and two girls wrote and performed a poem about the kids in the group. They mentioned by name and said something nice about every single kid in the group except me, I was just omitted even though I'd been going there twice a week for years. Nobody, including the group leaders, seemed to notice. I went and cried in the toilets then went home and told my mum I wouldn't be going to church youth group anymore. I was about 14.

The second was at the evangelical church I went to as a student. There was no one incident as such, though I remember a trainee cell group leader sneering as I tried to explain to my cell group that I didn't think women should submit to their husbands - to be fair, he was shushed by the curate who tried very hard to keep an open mind (to the extent that he accompanied my friend to a gay club even though he believed homosexuality was wrong). It was just a sense of it all being wrong, culminating one evening in me getting up in the middle of the service, walking out and never going back (can't remember what triggered that). I went and sat in a park, prayed and felt closer to God than I ever had in that church.

I went to a C of E church whilst I was pregnant and DS was small that was ok, in that it was high church, undemanding and a relief after the evangelical church. DS was christened there. But like the Quakers it had a predominantly elderly congregation and then we moved house and I found I just didn't have enough enthusiasm to make the very long walk continuing to attend would involve.

DP is a lapsed Catholic and I've made him take me to Mass a few times, which we both find quite relaxing. But again I feel a bit out of place, coz of not being familiar with the services or able to take Communion etc. The Catholic Church's stance on social issues also makes me uncomfortable. I'm a bit strange in that I'm a pro-life liberal, so I have no problem with their anti-abortion position but don't get me started on their views on sex education, contraception, sex before marriage, being gay, women priests, priestly celibacy, the Pope...

And I've been to a study day at the local Buddhist centre, but I found the teaching empty (possibly because it was aimed at Westerners; I remain interested in Buddhist ideas).

So that's where I'm coming from. I believe in God, but have doubts all the time and definitely do not believe Jesus was divine or raised from the dead (because I don't think any plan of God's for humanity's redemption would involve somebody suffering a barbaric death, for one).

NotJustKangaskhan Mon 12-Sep-11 17:16:05

I'm likely biased, but your descriptions sounds very Noahide to me (particularly the last paragraph). Noahide.org.uk is the British site which has a lot of good information, it is run by an Orthodox group (so the wording can be a bit strongly black/white for newcomers, just be aware that taking things one step at a time and one good deed is better than nothing is an important part of being a Noahide). I also feel I should warn to be cautious of doing web searches as Noahides are included in quite a few conspiracy theory websites and there are a few online groups [wikinoah is one] claiming to represent all Noahides but aren't actually sanctioned.

There aren't any local communities in the UK (barring monthly meeting in London and Bristal) if you find that to be important though, it's mostly online here (Virtual Yeshiva is a good place if you are interested in learning more from a teacher or in a group. Lots of fun classes there).

MargotQuaker Tue 13-Sep-11 19:43:00

I do hear what you say about Quakers being elderly. However, there is usually at least one Meeting in a sub-region that has a weekly children's meeting. The one at my own Meeting is so good that non-Qs bring their kids to it-- nothing to do with me, I hasten to say. Do check whether the solid one in your sub region is get-at-able. If you let me know where you are and what your preferred means of transport is, I 'll do some looking up.

leicestershiregirl Tue 13-Sep-11 22:32:00

Thank you Margot. I'm in Leicester, quite near the Quaker Meeting House actually. I don't drive so buses/trains for me.

And thank you NotJustKangaskhan, I had a quick look at the Noahide website and will be going back to read more and maybe order a book.

MargotQuaker Mon 26-Sep-11 16:23:25

Have you already investigated Leicester meeting? I can cheerfully ring them and get a candid comment on the state of their Children's meeting, but no point doing so if you have experience!

SybilBeddows Mon 26-Sep-11 16:30:33

I went to the Leicester meeting for a while 10 years or so back, there was an active children's meeting and the main meeting was big enough for there to be a wide range of ages.
They are lovely, you should give it a go.

I went to an event at a Unitarian chapel recently and tbh they made the Quakers look young, but that may not have been representative of their usual congregation.

MargotQuaker Fri 30-Sep-11 11:03:46

Children's meetings can come and go astonishingly suddenly: one batch of kids grows up and suddenly a children's meeting that was viable with 10 becomes more like unviable with 3. I know two dedicated Qs who abandoned Quakerism for, I think, URC because the provision for kids was so much better locally. One needs a current report-- or else Qs need to combine meetings so that every meeting has a viable children's meeting??

WisteriaWoman Sat 08-Oct-11 20:50:23

Have recently discovered really interesting video clips about the Quakers on YouTube - worth looking at.

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