Friends General Conference

Nurturing faith and Quaker practice

Worship

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And so, I find it well to come
For deeper rest to this still room,
For here the habit of the soul
Feels less the outer world's control.
The strength of mutual purpose pleads
More earnestly our common needs.
And from the silence multiplied
By these still forms on either side,
The world that time and sense have known
Falls off and leaves us God alone.

- John Greenleaf Whittier

Meeting for Worship is central to the life of our spiritual community. The unprogrammed Quaker form of worship is based on the idea that there is "that of God in everyone." At its best, it can bring direct communion with the source of our spiritual power and knowledge. We often find that this individual experience of worship is deepened when it is shared with others.

As Quakers have done for 350 years, we meet together in expectant silence to experience the Divine Presence, the loving Spirit. Some of us conceive of this as God’s Presence; others among us conceive of it differently. We do not create the encounter, but rather open ourselves to it.

We begin by becoming inwardly still, allowing thoughts that usually fill our attention to recede. As the group settles into stillness, we may increase our awareness to include the whole group. Sometimes, we feel as one in the Spirit, with a sense of timelessness and peace. Sometimes, we gain insight into an issue or problem. Or we may become clearer about a decision we face. We might revisit an experience we had from a different perspective. The experience is different for each of us each week.

Messages may rise up from a deep place out of the stillness. If they seem meant for others, individuals may be moved at intervals to rise and, in a loud, clear voice, share their spiritual insights. We welcome this kind of vocal ministry from anyone present, young or older, long-time members or first-time attender. Messages may take the form of a reflection on some experience, a scripture reading, a recitation of poetry, a song, a prayer, a saying. Brief messages can carry deep meaning, reaching many others. It is our custom that a person speaks no more than once during a meeting for worship. A period of silence follows each message so that listeners can absorb it.

We strive to receive these messages with openness. It may strike a chord within us, though not all messages will speak to everyone. We do not respond to an earlier message in affirmation, conversation, or rebuttal, though messages are often connected and a theme sometimes emerges. From this worship time we may return to our daily lives reaffirmed in our sense of direction and strengthened by the love and power of the Spirit.

Worship concludes when the person assigned with the care of the meeting turns to their neighbor and shakes hands. Following announcements, we gather in the Forum Room for friendly socializing.

We encourage you to join us.

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