It was curiosity to see if there were still people called Quakers that brought me to my first meeting at Frank and Jeanine Walker’s home on McLeod Avenue. It was radical welcome that kept me coming.
It was 1980. My second child, Bjor, was an infant I brought with me to that first meeting. Infants become toddlers and I still wanted very much to come to meeting but had no child care possible. We met in Joan Christopherson’s home with the multi-patterned red rug on the floor. What I remember was that even though baby Bjor made significant noise in the center of our circle, no one ever suggested that I shouldn’t come with my child.
Clearly the presence of a toddler in the room must have made centering more difficult, yet the priority for which I was so grateful, was welcome. I was only a “beginning Quaker” and was ignorant of what to do during meeting and Bjor was a normal toddler, exploring building blocks. I would not ask that tolerance of a worship group now because I understand how precious the worship process is, but had Missoula Quakers not been so kind, the outcome would have been different.
And now I remember that as Joan Christopherson lost her memory, no matter how many times she repeated the same poem, Missoula Meeting always welcomed her ministry.
Missoula Monthly Meeting is still my monthly meeting by choice, although I cannot often attend, living in Bozeman and also supporting its worship group. I will always appreciate the radical welcome I received in Missoula’s worship group in 1980. Curiosity brought me to Friends, radical welcome gave me a home. ~~~
Linnea Wang is a member of Missoula Friends Meeting, as well as a member of Bozeman Worship Group (NPYM). She travels each winter (as a “snowbird”) to Tucson, Arizona, where she worships with Pima Monthly Meeting (IMYM). She is active with Friends’ work for social justice through both meetings.