Bill Samuel added this in comments to my last post on education and I felt it important and relevant enough to post on its own (after getting permission from him). In part, I wanted to highlight his post because my next posts will be about my experience of class and culture in Meeting.
You can read more about Bill here and here.
From Bill Samuel:
The class homogeneity seems most acute among liberal unprogrammed Friends. Other varieties of Friends seem more diverse.
I remember one year when I visited the yearly meeting sessions of Evangelical Friends Church-Eastern Region. The Friends Action Board (their social concerns group) reported on a new Federal program to allow churches more involvement in training for those on public assistance. The differences between my home yearly meeting and Eastern Region were very evident when they presented it as a way to help people within their churches. In my or other liberal YMs, it would have been presented as a way to help "them" not us.
I have a theory that the class homogeneity among liberal Friends is related to their lack of a clear spiritual center. It has been my experience among Christ-centered Friends and other Christ-centered churches that class is less of an issue, because the uniting factor is Jesus Christ. Without a clear, explicit uniting factor other than something like class, a group tends to gravitate towards becoming a club more united by socioeconomic and cultural factors.
And in fact many are seeking that their meetings be such a club. When I have engaged in conversations with liberal Friends about the issues of lacking racial, educational and economic diversity, most of the time eventually something along the lines of "if have many of them come into the meeting, it will change the character of the meeting" comes out with the clear assumption that such change would be bad.
I belonged to a meeting that was in an area which had undergone significant demographic change since it started, but the meeting had not. There was a newspaper article which highlighted the issue for me. It focused on a couple of other churches in the same area. They had seen the change, done work to understand the needs of the people coming in, and changed to be a welcoming and helpful place for the new population. Both the other churches and Friends recognized changing the demographics in the congregation would mean deeper changes. The other churches embraced change; Friends rejected it.