There’s been a bit of a gay shake up in England’s Quaker community. Worcester’s Quakers recently started renting out their “Friends Meeting House” to the Journey Metropolitan Community Church, a queer congregation.
While the gays can worship their lord as they see fit, the Religious Society of Friends have one stipulation: no gay weddings – a stipulation that doesn’t sit well with JMCC’s reverend, Chris Dowd.
Dowd tells Worcester News:
I think some people felt we had only been there three minutes, the Quakers have been there 300 years.There was a lot of publicity following the article in the Worcester News. I think they were slightly concerned that it looked like we were taking over their building which we’re not, just renting it twice a month. They have been very gracious about it and we are grateful to them.
Explaining the working arrangement, Quaker elder Robert Purchase says,
Worcester Quakers wish to make it clear that Mr Dowd is merely renting a room in our meeting-house twice a month to accommodate this gathering. Our policy for letting is that any group is acceptable to use whose aims and principles are not in opposition to our own beliefs.
We have let rooms to Buddhists and Muslims and are very ready to provide space for a group of fellow-citizens of varying sexuality to meet together to worship. This does not imply a wish to promote their views, nor do we condemn them.
Dowd’s prohibition on gay nuptials stems not from anti-gay attitudes, he says, but from the fact that the gays aren’t Quakers.
Another elder, Mary Speechley, wants to set the record straight and let the world know that queer Quakers are accepted just the same as their hetero peers:
We don’t want them to feel we’re casting them off. We do have homosexual Quakers who are not ashamed of being homosexual. We don’t want them to feel rejected by us.
So, gay Quakers are accepted unconditionally, but non-Quakers aren’t? That’s not very friendly.