Our Quaker Meeting House may be small, but its heart is big. Since its founding in 1994, Reno Monthly Meeting has welcomed the LGBT community. We celebrate the recent federal appeals court ruling that paved the way for same-sex marriages in Nevada, and we cheer when national figures like Apple’s chief executive Tim Cook feel free to profess that they are gay. I was particularly moved by the words Cook chose as he made his announcement late last month: “I consider being gay among the greatest gifts God has given me.”
Our wide tent and acceptance of all people are founded in the Friends’ Equality Testimony, which starts with a quote from the New Testament: “There is neither Jew nor Greek, slave nor free, male nor female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus” (Galatians 3:28, the New Jerusalem Bible). These words of the apostle Paul in the first century A.D. provide one of the most profound teachings of Christianity.
The Friends’ embrace of equality is rooted in the expectation that there is that of God in everyone, including adversaries and people from widely different stations, life experiences, and religious persuasions. All must therefore be treated with integrity and respect. Each person is equally a child of God. The testimony of equality does not imply that all individuals in a particular role are the same; instead, it recognizes that the same measure of God’s grace is available to everyone.
The Pacific Yearly Meeting, our regional Friends’ organization, proclaimed its position on equality for the lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender community in 1972, saying: “Now, more aware of the socially inflicted suffering of people who love others of the same sex, we affirm the power and joy of non-exploitive, loving relationships. As a Society and as individuals, we oppose arbitrary social, economic, or legal abridgment of the right to share this love.”
Reno Friends celebrate any union that is dedicated to mutual love and respect, regardless of the make-up of the family. We strive to create homes where the Spirit of the Divine resides at the center and where the individual genius of each member is respected and nurtured. Both in the public realm – where Friends may “speak truth to power” – and in intimate familial contexts, Friends’ principles require witness against injustice and inequality wherever they exist.
In the Light,
Wendy Swallow, Clerk of Reno Friends Meeting
email: wswallow54 (at) gmail.com
The opinions expressed above are not necessarily those of Reno Friends Meeting.