About Quaker Meetings
Quaker Meeting for Silent Worship is informally preceded by a short period of greetings, where attendees may share news and talk together before the meeting truly begins. Once officially begun, the Meeting is held in an egalitarian manner, with all attendees sitting together in a circle or square, each facing the center of the congregation. Arranged in this manner, those in attendance sit in the serene silence of expectant waiting, a form of group meditation, opening themselves to the potential promptings of the Spirit, which, upon coming to them in the form of a still, small voice from within, may or may not move them to speak before the other members of the meeting. If one is moved by the Spirit to share the message that they have received, then the attendee will speak their piece, and then rejoin the silence once more. Such a period of silence and possibly vocal ministries lasts for approximately one hour, upon the end of which the Silent part of the Meeting concludes, and handshakes are given to nearby attendees. After this, any necessary announcements are made among the congregation, and the Meeting for Worship is adjourned.
After a brief period of time wherein attendees may refresh themselves and converse, a second gathering, this one a Meeting for Business, may be held. During this meeting a topic of interest regarding the members of the Meeting may be discussed among attendees, possibly including theological/philosophical issues, political issues, social issues, funding, projects, or other subjects. After approximately an hour of such discussion, the Meeting for Business concludes.
"As a meeting 'gathers', as each individual 'centres down', there gradually develops a feeling of belonging to a group who are together seeking a sense of the Presence. The 'I' in us begins to feel like 'we'. At some point - it may be early in the meeting or it may be later, or it may never occur at all - we suddenly feel a sense of unity, a sense of togetherness with one another and with that something outside ourselves that we call God."
-Thomas Bodine, Quaker
"I have never lost the enjoyment of sitting in silence at the beginning of meeting, knowing that everything can happen, knowing the joy of utmost surprise; feeling that nothing is pre-ordained, nothing is set, all is open. The light can come from all sides. The joy of experiencing the Light in a completely different way than one has thought it would come is one of the greatest gifts that Friends’ meeting for worship has brought me. I believe that meeting for worship has brought the same awareness to all who have seen and understood the message that everyone is equal in the sight of God, that everybody has the capacity to be the vessel of God’s word. There is nothing that age, experience and status can do to prejudge where and how the Light will appear. This awareness – the religious equality of each and every one – is central to Friends. Early Friends understood this and at the same time they fully accepted the inseparable unity of life, and spoke against the setting apart of the secular and the sacred. It was thus inevitable that religious equality would be translated into the equality of everyday social behaviour. ”
–Ursula Franklin, Quaker