If you have never been to a Quaker Meeting before, this page may be helpful.
What are “Quakers”?
Quakers are members of the Religious Society of Friends, a faith that emerged as a new Christian denomination in England during a period of religious turmoil in the mid-1600’s and is practiced today in a variety of forms around the world. To members of this religion, the words “Quaker” and “Friend” mean the same thing.
Quakers are an active, involved faith-based community living in the modern world. We continue our traditional testimonies of non-violence, social equality, and simplicity, which we interpret and express in a variety of ways. Today, many Friends include stewardship of our planet as one of our testimonies.
Quakers are not Amish, Anabaptists, Shakers or Puritans–we come from a separate tradition than these other groups. We don’t dress like the man on the box of oats anymore, and today we hardly ever call people “thee.”
Quakers have no dogmas or creeds and no paid ministers. Each participant seeks to experience and learn about the religious life for her or himself. We have the conviction that each person has a direct relationship with God and that there is something of God in everyone. All are therefore welcome to attend.
Traditional Quaker Worship
Known as Meeting for Worship, a Quaker meeting begins when the first person enters the room and takes a seat. You will find no fixed structure to the meeting. There are no creeds, hymns or set prayers. There is no minister in charge and no formal service.
A Quaker meeting is a form of worship rooted in silence, but it is a silence of waiting in expectancy in which we seek to come nearer to each other and to God as we share the stillness of the meeting. Participants are not expected to say or do anything other than join in this seeking. Do not be concerned if the silence seems strange at first. We rarely experience silence in everyday life so it is not unusual to be distracted by outside noise or roving thoughts.
Occasionally a meeting will pass with no words spoken. If someone feels compelled by the Spirit to speak, pray or read, the silence will be broken. Such ministry, which has not been planned before worship begins, seeks to enrich the gathered worship. Meeting for Worship is not a debate so it is inappropriate to respond directly to spoken ministry although it is not unusual for other ministry to build on what has been said before.
Each week offers a different set of themed questions known as “Advices and Queries” intended for use in Quaker meetings for private devotion and reflection. They may provide you with a structure for your thoughts and meditation during the meeting.
The worship meeting will close after an hour with a greeting and welcome followed by a time of sharing and announcements before refreshments.