What is Friends' worship like?

Worship, according to the ancient practice of the Religious Society of Friends, is entirely without any human direction or supervision. A group of devout persons come together and sit down quietly with no prearrangement, each seeking to have an immediate sense of the divine leading and to know at first hand the presence of the Living Christ. It is not wholly accurate to say that the Meeting is held on the basis of silence: it is more accurate to say that it is held on the basis of Holy Obedience. Those who enter such a meeting can harm it in two specific ways; first, by an advance determination to speak; and second, by an advance determination to keep silent. The only way in which such a worshiper can help such a Meeting is by an advance determination to try to be responsive in listening to the still small voice and doing whatever may be commanded. Such a Meeting is always a high venture of faith and it is to this venture we invite you.

from Faith and Practice, 1955, Philadelphia Yearly Meeting

If this is your first opportunity to worship in silence, you will surely have some questions.

What can I expect?

Worship in silence is based on the expectation that the Divine teaches us inwardly. By listening with an open heart, we invite the Spirit to lead us to the deeper springs of love, energy, Light, and the Christ Within. We are practicing Christ's teaching that wherever two or three are gathered in His name, He will be present in our midst.

 What am I supposed to do?

Our spiritual task during worship is to be responsive in listening to the still small voice within, and in doing whatever it may command of us.

Here are some ways to prepare for that special kind of listening: Settle your body comfortably. Some people consciously relax the various parts of the body, in turn. Then begin to settle your mind. There are many different ways to do this. Some repeat a familiar prayer or Bible verse or a single word. Some pay attention to their breathing or heart beat. You may look at your life and ask what lessons you can draw from various incidents. You may consider your experience of the Divine, how it has touched and led you. You may pray.  

 What's going on here?

The silent periods in the worship allow the power of God's love to draw the soul to the highest level of human experience. If God gives someone a message to be shared, it may be spoken aloud for all to hear. This vocal prayer often deepens the communion and expresses the aspirations and needs of the group.

All of the things which can happen in a structured church service happen here, but inwardly, without the visible rituals. We are called into God's presence to give praise and thanks for all we have been given. We confess our shortcomings and strayings from the path God opens for us. We ask for divine assistance, and we experience the blessings of communion with God together, as a faith community.

 How does it end? 

Meeting for Worship ends with the clerk or some other designated Friend shaking hands with someone. This is the signal for everyone to shake hands and greet the people sitting nearby. Then the person who closes the meeting asks if there are people we need to hold in prayer. Time is allowed for requests.

Visitors are invited to introduce themselves, and also to sign the book on the hall table. Please join us for food and fellowship following Meeting; this is a good time to ask questions and learn more about Friends' faith and practices.