We are a new group worshipping in the manner of Friends (Quakers). All are welcome to join us.
What to expect.
This style of worship may be different from what you’ve experienced before, so here’s what to expect. At the stated time (10:30), or a little before, people will begin to take a seat and start to “center down.” Quaker practice starts with getting the body comfortable and quiet. This helps get the mind quiet, setting aside for the time being the cares, plans, lists, and business of the day. Then an inward stillness comes, cool and relaxed. As each of us approaches that stillness, we are making ourselves available to encounter God.
What is worship?
For us, the core of worship is not in the things we do, but in spending time being aware of God’s presence — listening and learning “in spirit and in truth.” We call ourselves “friends” because of Jesus’ comment to his disciples: “I have called you friends” (John 15:15), and in worship we start in silent opening to the divine Friend, and to each other in that Presence. It is a time of inward activity, and worship can be lively and powerful, transformative even, if during the hour nothing happens that can be seen or heard.
Words do sometimes come.
The silence sometimes includes periods when oneor more of the worshippers feels they have been called upon to say something. Such messages are usually brief. We call them “messages” because we try only to speak when the Leader of our worship requires it, inspiring us to bring forth words of prayer, thanksgiving, encouragement, instruction, or comfort. The messages may be a simple quotation from scripture or some other reading, or may be in the speaker’s own words. The aim is not self-expression: when we are faithful, the words offered are an outgrowth of Christ’s teaching us, gathered with him, though the words may not be in Christian idiom, and may draw inspiration from many traditions.
When a person speaks, and then falls silent, it is best if the silence continues for a while before anyone else speaks. This allows all the worshippers to digest the message, feeling what is of value to her or him, and then to open up to additional teaching that may come silently from the Spirit.
Worship builds community.
We listen in the silence to the Inward Teacher, and we listen together. Gathered in the Spirit, we are drawn towards unity with each other, and learn the lessons that make it possible for us to love our neighbor as our selves.
How does it end?
A meeting goes till it’s done. Typically it lasts about an hour, but may be longer or (rarely) shorter. Someone always has the job of “closing meeting,” so when that person is clear that the meeting is ready to end the worship time, he or she shakes hands with someone near them, and we all share the handshake around the room. Gradually we rise out of the stillness to conversation, greetings, announcements.
We are happy to talk with you about your experience of worship, or about Quakerism — just ask!