Meeting For Worship
The meeting for worship is the heart of the Friends Meeting. Our manner of worship is based on the experience that everyone can enter into direct communion with God without an intermediary or ritual. Our "unprogrammed" Friends meetings follow the tradition of gathering in silence, without the services of a designated pastor or minister.
Quakers do not have a paid clergy. We practice an unprogrammed form of worship. Friends gather in silent prayer and meditation where anyone in that gathering who feels they are led by the spirit to share a message can speak that message. Speakers are encouraged to speak just once and to allow time between speakers. Seekers from any faith tradition, as well as those seeking a faith community for the first time, are welcome to come and worship any time.
We invite you to join us in our meeting for worship, which is based on silence -- while we gather in an expectant, waiting worship. Individually and as a community we are attentively listening for the 'still, small voice of God'. Our worship has no set program or leader, yet we are gathered in a shared spiritual discipline, dependent on God's active, loving presence in our midst.
When Quakers settle into worship the silence is often filled with depth and meaning. Some in the meeting may come to feel God (Spirit) is giving them a message (vocal ministry) for the other worshippers. When Friends speak, the movement arises as a deep religious experience and is accompanied by the conviction that the experience must be shared. The message comes from a place of humility. It is neither casual nor polished, and should never be argumentative. If you are so led, please stand and speak clearly so that all may hear the message given to you.
After a Friend has spoken, the real ministry begins as the message settles into the hearts of the worshipers. Quaker practice, then, suggests a period of silence following each speaker. This lets the members of the Meeting receive the ministry, as it speaks to their spiritual condition.
It is also not uncommon for a meeting for worship to be completely silent -- yet we can feel God is moving in the meeting. When Friends are patient and attentive they may experience a sense of silent communion.
Meeting for worship ends when the Friend with care of meeting shakes hands with Friends next to him/her. Then all shake hands and there will be a time for announcements, reports, and introductions.
We suggest that you allow yourself to experience Quaker worship on several occasions before deciding its suitability for you (and your family). Remember that for all of us the experience of worship deepens with patience and practice.
It is the Quaker experience that every person is capable of a direct relationship with God. All people are children of God and have the seed of that relationship within them, ready to be nurtured in a compassionate, embracing love. Quakers listen for the Inward Teacher (Inner Light, Christ Within) when seeking guidance for daily living, spiritual refreshment, and service to humanity. The Quaker testimonies (peace, integrity, simplicity, and harmony) are the witness to our transforming relationship with God.
More information about Friends is available from members of the meeting. You may also visit www.quaker.org. Faith and Practice of Philadelphia Yearly Meeting is a guide to Quakerism and is available through our meeting.
"The meeting house is not a consecrated edifice, and if there is anything holy about it, it must be the lives of the people who meet there. The Friends feel that there must be a vital and sustained connection between worship and daily life. When their ideal is attained, their meeting is merely the community search for that guidance which they covet for every important act of their lives."
- William Wistar Comfort