Photo: John Hall cc

Quaker worship happens when two or more people feel the need to be still together, expecting to experience the presence of the Spirit. Though this can happen anywhere and at any time, the centre of Quaker life is the Meeting for Worship which takes place regularly, usually on a Sunday but sometimes mid-week, at a Friends Meeting House or other venue. There is no prearranged service or appointed minister, but an attentive waiting together in silence.

The silence can become very deep and powerful and is different from that experienced in traditional, solitary meditation. The listening and waiting in a Friends Meeting is a shared experience in which worshippers seek to be open to God, or the Light. After a time, someone may feel inspired to stand up and speak briefly in their own words, or pray, or read a passage from a book such as Quaker Faith & Practice, before the meeting settles back into silent waiting.

The seating is usually arranged in a circle or a square to help people be aware of one another and conscious of the fact that they are worshipping together. Anyone may feel the call to speak, man, woman or child, Friend or first time visitor, as they are moved to express aloud what is already present in the silence. There is a wide variety of sources of spoken ministry and the acceptance of them is an important part of Quaker worship. Friends try to receive positively what is said and to look for the underlying truth, regardless of the words in which it is expressed.

Stillness allows my spiritual journey to not be about getting somewhere else or aspiring to become something else, but simply to be truthfully where I am and go adventurously from there. And this in turn allows me to encounter others in truth, in family, work and worship. --Jenn Mui of Wandsworth Local Meeting.

Our sense of community does not depend on all professing identical beliefs, for it grows from worshipping together, knowing one another, loving one another, accepting responsibilities, sharing and working together. We will be helped by tried and tested Quaker methods and procedures, but the meeting will only live if we develop a sense of community, which includes children and adults alike. If all those who belong to our meeting are lovingly cared for, the guidance of the spirit will be a reality. The celebration and commemoration of life’s great events draw us together as we share the occasion and rejoice or mourn with one another.

Our shared experience of waiting for God’s guidance in our meetings for worship and for church affairs, together with careful listening and gentleness of heart, forms the basis on which we can live out a life of love with and for each other and for those outside our community. --10.03 Quaker Faith & Practice.