OK, I'm not really planning to join the Quakers (yet), although I did attend the United Reformed Church for a while and have been toying for - oh- about the last seven years- with the idea of jumping ships to another denomination. Articles like this one today are exactly what we expected but do make it increasingly difficult, though possibly increasingly important, to stay in the Church of England. The words below are taken from the Quaker website:
" There is a great diversity within the Quakers on conceptions of God, and we use different kinds of language to describe religious experience. Some Quakers have a conception of God which is similar to that of orthodox Christians, and would use similar language. Others are happy to use God-centred language, but would conceive of God in very different terms to the traditional Christian trinity. Some describe themselves as agnostics, or humanists, or non-theists and describe their experiences in ways that avoid the use of the word God entirely. Quaker faith is built on experience and Quakers would generally hold that it is the spiritual experience which is central to Quaker worship, and not the use of a particular form of words (whether that be “God” or anything else)."
My main problem is that I am not an agnostic, humanist or non-theist, but then again I have no problem with the beliefs and journeys of those who are and would be quite happy to be alongside them. All faiths need a central core of beliefs and values, the problem in our post modern world is how rigidly those beliefs and values can be imposed and how much room there is to respect a diversity of belief and practice.
I would like to see a greater freedom and respect for the diversity of beliefs and experiences around the issue of sexuality in our church. I cannot see it coming in a hurry and it is a great shame because it speaks to me of a church whose leadership is out of touch with our society, fearful and cautious, dishonest, unimaginative, stultifying and unwilling to validate and be enriched by so many of its members.