Religion and Spirituality

Part 1 My Story

I was raised by two loving parents who had very strong beliefs about who, what and where God. I learned from a very young age the “right way” to think about and practice our religion. I saw my dad as an expert in the field of theology as he was highly trained in his profession as a pastor. I was not a questioner then. I didn’t doubt my parents nor the leaders in our community. We were part of a small community called the Religious Society of Friends also known as the Quaker movement. People have asked me if we wore special clothing like the Amish. Quakers did dress in plain clothing until the late 1800s. Our community dressed simply. As you can see in the picture, my mom made sure we were color coordinated. She was an amazing seamstress, sewing dresses for my sister and I.

Quakers are a protestant denomination founded in the 17th century in England. They were persecuted for their beliefs which included the idea that God exists in every person. They rejected the ideas of elaborate religious ceremony and did not have official clergy. They practiced pacifism, and played a key role in both abolitionist and women’s rights movements. Women were thought of as having equal access and ability to speak in public forums. Though the Quaker movement was fairly progressive and egalitarian, in my family, I witnessed gender roles as being concrete and inflexible. Women were cast in a supportive role, men were to lead and provide. Women were not to teach nor hold positions of authority over men. If married, women were to submit to their husbands.  

We lived in a small, three-bedroom parsonage, a house that was owned by the church. In the days of my younger years, there was a lot of structure in our routines. We walked to church every Sunday (we lived on the other side of the church parking lot). My father studied, created his sermon, and met with parishioners throughout the week. My mother cared for us five kids at home full-time. It was a vibrant and busy household. 

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