A Quaker meeting for worship begins as soon as one person enters the meeting room and sits in silence. Although Meeting for Worship usually begins at 10.30 on a Sunday morning, it is fine to go in earlier if you wish. Go in as soon as you are ready and sit anywhere you like. Gradually others will join you, which might include children and young people.
- If you arrive late to meeting, please wait until the doorkeeper invites you in, which may be after about 10 or 15 minutes, when the children and young people leave to go to the children’s meeting.
- The meeting may be entirely silent, allowing plenty of time to ‘centre down’, to leave behind the busy surface consciousness and find a deeper place in yourself. This is more likely to happen in a small meeting with just a few Friends; in a larger meeting, a silent meeting for worship is especially precious. Whether we uphold the silence or are moved to speak, we contribute to the meeting for worship through what we call ministry, which can be silent or vocal.
- Whether the meeting is large or small, someone may feel moved to speak. This is often described as a feeling of being forced to one’s feet; generally the Friend will rise to his or her feet and we hope they will speak clearly and loud enough to be heard by all.
- We do not come to meeting with prepared ministry; it is something given to us in the stillness. Meeting for worship can be a time of insight, revelation, healing or calm. We may feel prompted to speak from our personal experience, to pray or to read aloud from Quaker faith and practice, or from the Bible, or from some other source of inspiration.
- It is important to leave several minutes of silence between one speaker and the next, so that everyone can reflect on what was said. Sometimes ministry connects with what has been said before. It is never an argument, nor a debate, but a deepening of the insight.
- It is customary to speak only once in one Meeting, and it is not likely that the same person would always be truly inspired to speak at every Meeting. Wait to speak until the call is clear. It is usually best not to speak too near the end of the Meeting, when there may not be time to take in what is said.
- Be gentle with other people’s ministry, even in your head. It may speak to someone.
For more information about Quakers, see our Resources and Links Pages.