Poughkeepsie Friends Meeting, 249 Hooker Avenue, Poughkeepsie, NY 12603

An Introduction to Quaker Meeting for Worship in the Unprogrammed Tradition

Meeting for Worship

The Religious Society of Friends (also called Quakers) believes that there is that of the Divine in everyone. It is to that Living Presence that we strive to respond and to speak. Friends also believe that all human beings yearn for communion with their creator. It is our experience that God is present among us to teach us directly.The Quaker way to worship originates in these beliefs.

Meeting for worship is at the center of Quaker life. Because we rely on direct experience of the Divine, our meetings have neither a pastor nor a program. We gather to worship in expectant silence, centering on God – the Divine Presence, the Spirit, the Seed, the Christ Within, the Inward Light – and by this we are nourished and led.

Quaker silence is not an emptiness crying out to be filled, but a contemplative openness to the Spirit of God. In silence Friends seek a stillness within, a quieting of the busy mind and internal monologue. This allows awareness of God to cover us, as individuals and as a group, and there our worship begins.

Even for seasoned Friends silent worship is not always an easy process. It requires practice. Do not be concerned that a sense of God of covering Spirit is not immediate. Be patient with yourself and unconcerned with outside distractions. Those who wait in the Light with open hearts are in the presence of God.

When I came into the silent assemblies of God's people, I felt a secret power among them, which touched my heart; and as I gave way unto it I found the evil weakening in me and the good raised up...

Robert Barclay - Apology (1676)

The Quaker way of worship

When I feel drawn to share something in the quiet meeting for worship, I simply rise and say it as briefly as I know how, seeking ever to keep close to the root, and to avoid all vain and distracting ornamentation.

Douglas Steere, A Quaker Meeting for Worship (1941)

Suggested Readings

Brinton, Howards, Friends for 350 Years, chapters 4 and 5, 2002.

Kenworthy, Leonard S. Quakerism: A Study Guide on the Religious Society of Friends, chapter 5. 1981

Pym, Jim. Listening to the Light, pages 39-63. 1999.

New York Yearly Meeting. Faith and Practice, pages 7-19. 1998

Smith, Robert Lawrence. A Quaker Book of Wisdom, chapters 1 and 2. 1998.

Steere, Douglas. Friends and Worship (pamphlet)

Note: Suggested Readings are available from Quaker Books of FGC (www.quakerbooks.org).