The easiest way to become a Quaker is to start coming to meeting for worship, and then keep coming to meeting for worship.
It really is that simple!
Joining Friends in silent worship on an ongoing basis will strengthen your ties to the Quaker community while offering a space where you can develop your relationship with Spirit.
The more time you spend at a Quaker meeting as an attender, getting to know the Friends there, you may find that some of the messages that come up in worship speak to your condition, either on a broadly philosophical level or a deeply personal one. But nobody will quiz you to make sure you believe the right things about God; nobody expects you to have a mystical experience right away. (If you do, great! But it’s also okay if you don’t.)
What’s more likely to happen is that members of that meeting will engage you in conversation from week to week—eager to learn more about the journey that has brought you to their meetinghouse, ready to answer your questions about the spiritual solace they find in Quakerism, perhaps even willing to share some helpful literature from the meetinghouse library. (There are a lot of informative “Quaker 101”-type books available!) Unless you’re deliberately disrespectful or disruptive, you should be able to expect a welcoming attitude at any Friends meeting.
Eventually, you’ll probably start taking part in some of the meeting’s activities beyond meeting for worship. It doesn’t matter whether you’re volunteering to help out in the garden, or joining Friends in a peaceful protest at the state house, or getting together for book club—whatever the activity is, what matters is that you’re getting involved in the community. And there may come a day when you decide that, as comfortable as you may feel embracing Quaker spirituality, you want more—you want to become a fuller member of a particular Quaker community. You may be getting a lot out of the meeting, but you believe you have much to give as well.
So, who do you tell? The meeting doesn’t have a priest, but depending on what kind of Quakers you’ve met, there may be a pastor—and even if they don’t have a formal pastor, by the time you’re ready to join a meeting you’ll know who the clerk is and you can go to them. Or, really, have a conversation with any member of the meeting with whom you feel close, and they’ll help you move on to the next step.
That’s when you’ll talk to a clearness committee, which is basically a small group of Friends from the meeting. Sometimes they’ll be the members of a committee that has a name like “Ministry and Worship,” or “Ministry and Oversight,” but that’s not a strict requirement. Anyway, you’ll meet with the committee, and they’ll do their best to make sure that you’re serious about becoming a member. Every situation is different, of course, so we don’t know exactly what questions you might get asked. But it’s unlikely to be an inquisition—more of a gentle confirmation that you know what you’re getting into, and are following a genuine spiritual leading.
Once that’s done, the only thing left is to make it official at the next monthly meeting for business. You might have to write a short letter expressing your desire to become a member; whether you do or not, the clerk will include your request on the meeting’s agenda, the committee will report that they recommend you be formally welcomed, and then you are!
“There was always this part of me that yearned for something outside of myself, something bigger, something beyond. What I read from Friends, especially Early Friends, was that I didn’t have to go beyond myself, that I could find what I’m looking for within.”