We gratefully acknowledge the generosity of Friends who have permitted
us to use material for this Faith and Practice.
it is especially to be observed, that in the whole New Testament there is no order nor command given in this thing, but to follow the revelation of the Spirit, save only that general one of meeting together; a thing dearly owned and diligently practised by us…
robert barclay, apology, 1676, 11:10
is the response of the human spirit to the call of the Divine.
Friends seek communion with that of God within, which
some Friends call the Living Christ, the Teacher with whom each
one has a relationship. Corporate worship deepens our sense of the
Presence and our connection to it. In worship at its best, we
transcend ourselves: “Every individual man and woman” is
to the Spirit of God…and Truth in their own hearts, [to]
another and love enemies”
(George Fox, The
Power of the Lord Is
Over All, 1668, p. 235)
Meeting for Worship is at the core of Quaker practice. There, Friends
gather together in expectant silence, waiting upon God.
Typically, Meeting for Worship begins when the first worshipers
settle into the silence at the appointed place and time. It ends
the Clerk or another designated individual shakes the hand of
another person seated nearby.At that signal, Friends generally shake
hands and greet each other.
for Worship is different from solitary prayer. The strength and
focus of the community draw one who is distracted
back toward the Center. In the embrace of the Meeting, an
individual may be more willing to be searched by the Light that
exposes weaknesses and shortcomings, and challenges the
worshiper to transformation. Together, we can more clearly see
Truth; we can better receive and understand continuing revelation.
William Penn’s query captures this spirit in the language
you come to your meetings…do you sit down in True Silence, resting from your own Will and Workings, and waiting upon the Lord, with your minds fixed in that Light wherewith Christ has enlightened you, until the Lord breathes life in you, refresheth you, and prepares you, and your spirits and souls, to make you fit for his service, that you may offer unto him a pure and spiritual sacrifice?
william penn, a tender visitation,
works, 1771, p. 441
conducting worship under the leading of Divine Will, Friends assemble
in the silence without prearranged program. Each
tries to still the inward clamor of personal anxieties and ambitions,
listening for the voice of the Inner Guide, endeavoring to be faithful
to its instruction. Such faithfulness may require an outward silence.
It may require one to rise and speak words that do not come easily,
which may not be fully understood, or which may be uncomfortable.
It may require action, or restraint of action, by some individual
or the whole Meeting, outside the Meeting for Worship.
worship, all share responsibility for vocal ministry. God may call
upon any one, regardless of experience or education, age or
gender, to be a messenger. No one is excluded from the possibility
of such service just as no one is appointed in advance to preach
pray at a particular Meeting for Worship.When someone does offer
vocal ministry, Friends seek to be open, notwithstanding any
hesitations or imperfection in the speaker’s words. An unexpected
message may touch hearts, reveal the wisdom from the Source, and
encourage the growth of the Seed within.
Meeting for Worship, Friends seek connection to one another and
to God dwelling among them. In some Meetings, the
vocal ministry will have a common theme, each message deepening
and enriching the other, and connecting to one’s own thoughts.
Some Meetings are entirely silent. At a gathered Meeting, “the
is present that a new Life and Power has entered
our midst” (Thomas Kelly, The
Gathered Meeting). Not every Meeting is a gathered
Meeting, and not everyone has the same perception
The meeting comes to be truly gathered when most, if not all, of those present have themselves been drawn in to the depths of themselves so that even their thoughts have been stilled and their minds, while by no means empty, are in near perfect rest.
the amazing fact of quaker worship,
1986, p. 4
nurturing its worship, a Meeting that is experiencing an extended
period of arid silence might try to encourage those who
are reluctant to speak to be faithful to the call when it comes.
Another Meeting, where many vocal messages have come from
speakers with questionable discernment, may seek to encourage a
greater spiritual depth in both the silence and the words. Seeking
what George Fox referred to as the “universal, true, and
worship,” Friends return in faith to God
All of us, with our unveiled faces like mirrors reflecting the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the image that we reflect in brighter and brighter glory; this is the working of the Lord who is the Spirit.
2 corinthians 3:18 the new jerusalem bible