Today, I was accepted as a member of the Paullina Meeting of the Religious Society of Friends, which is part of the Iowa Yearly Meeting (Conservative)*. In this context, conservative refers to worship style more than socio-religio-political leaning — of the three conservative meetings in the U.S., Iowa holds the “California” position.
If you’re wondering about the process for joining a Quaker meeting, I can tell you it’s not like joining any church that I know of –there are no classes or baptism. I attended meetings for a while (spottily for 2+ years) and last month I submitted a letter to the meeting clerks, requesting to join (and promising to attend twice a month — a 45 minute drive — weather permitting) . The meeting appointed a clearness committee, which met with me to chat about my spiritual journey, my knowledge/understanding of Quakerism and of the IYM(C), what I felt I would gain from membership, and what I felt I could bring to the meeting. At today’s monthly meeting for business, the clearness committee’s recommendation to accept me into the meeting was read and entered into the minutes. Then the meeting members sprinkled me with oats** and taught me the secret handshake,*** and that was it. I received welcomes and hugs from the members before or after silent worship.
Being a recorded member of the meeting feels good — it feels like coming home.
*Yup, a long time ago, there was a schism.
**Old fashioned oats — it is a conservative meeting, after all
***It’s entirely likely that I’m making some of this up.