First Time at a Quaker Meeting
A Quaker meeting is based on silence, but it is a silence of waiting in
expectancy. For many minutes, perhaps for half an hour, there may be
silence. But that does not mean that nothing is happening. All of us are
trying to come nearer to each other and to God as we are caught up in the
still spirit of the meeting.
We come to meeting because we want to and because we find it worthwhile.
We do not recite creeds, sing hymns, or repeat set prayers. We want to
worship simply. There is no ceremony, no priest, no prearranged service at
Go in as soon as you are ready. It is a good thing if a meeting can settle
down a few minutes before the appointed time. Sit anywhere you like, but
it is helpful to leave seats near the back and at the end of rows for
You may find it easy to relax in the silence and thus to enter into the
life of the meeting, or you may be disturbed by the strangeness of the
silence, by distractions outside, or by your own roving thoughts. Don't
worry about this, but return again and again to the still centre of your
being where you can know the presence of God. Try, if only for an instant,
to be quiet in body, mind and spirit
Nearly everyone at some time in their lives seems to want to find God for
themselves, even those who find it difficult or impossible to believe that
God exists. This may be because of some moving experience or because of
some particular problem. No matter what is on your mind at the moment,
bring it with you into the silent room.
Nothing in all creation is so like God as stillness.
|The silence may be broken if someone present
feels called to say something which will deepen and enrich the worship.
Anyone is free to speak, pray or read, provided that it is done in
response to a prompting of the Spirit that comes in the course of the
meeting. The silence is broken for the moment, but it is not interrupted.
Receive whatever is said in an accepting, charitable spirit. Each
contribution rightly given may helps somebody; but our needs are
different and can be met only in differing ways. If something is said
that does not speak to your condition, try nevertheless to reach the
spirit behind the words. The speaker wants to help the meeting: take
care not to reject the offering through negative criticism
One of the unique features of a Quaker meeting is the variety of
experience it can embrace. Some people will have a profound sense of
awe and wonder because they know that God is present. Others will be
far less certain and may only be able to hold onto a dim awareness
that the values they experience in life point beyond themselves to a
Some will thankfully accept God's inexhaustible love shown in Jesus,
the promise of forgiveness, and the wiping out of past failure. Others
will know that seeking to be open to people in a spirit of love and trust
is the direction in which they want to move. In the quietness of a
Quaker meeting, those present can become aware of a deep and powerful
spirit of love and truth that transcends their ordinary experience.
United in love and strengthened by truth, the worshippers enter upon
a new level of living, despite the different ways they may
account for this life-expanding experience.
The meeting will close after the elders have shaken hands. Afterwards,
feel free to speak to anyone. If you wish to know more about Quakers,
please introduce yourself to any member. You may borrow books from the
library, and other literature is available.
© Quaker Home Service 1987
Reprinted October 1994