What happens when you come to Oxford Quaker Meeting?
Everyone is welcome to attend a Quaker meeting for worship. These are the times of our meetings: Sunday from 9.30 to 10.15 followed by tea & coffee Sunday from 11am to 12noon followed by tea & coffee Tuesday 7.30-8.00am followed by a shared breakfast. Wednesday 12.00-12.45pn followed by tea & coffee (bring a packed lunch if you wish) Thursday 7.30-8.00am followed by a shared breakfast.
On the first Sunday of each month we have one combined meeting 10.30-11.30am follwed by tea and coffee then our Meeting for Worship for Business from 12-2pm
On Sundays, from 9am, you will find a welcomer standing by the front door to greet you and show you where to go. Please say if this is your first time at a Quaker meeting, we can offer you several helpful leaflets to read and take away.
Our (mainly) silent worship starts as soon as the first person enters the room. After worship, visitors are invited to introduce themselves, so they can be welcomed by the Meeting as a whole, and then we gather for tea and coffee and a chat. Some meetings are followed by a few minutes of “Afterwords” when we may share, more informally, thoughts and concerns that we’ve been holding during the time of stillness.
How do Quakers Worship?
A Quaker Meeting is a way of worship based on silence, a silence of expectancy in which we seek to come nearer to God and each other as we share the stillness of the Meeting. Participants are not expected to say or do anything other than join in this seeking. Do not be concerned if the silence seems strange at first. We rarely experience silence in everyday life so it is not unusual to be distracted by outside noise or roving thoughts.
There is no fixed structure to the Meeting. There are no creeds, hymns or set prayers. There is no minister in charge and no formal service. At the end of worship, after thirty minutes or an hour, first two Friends will shake hands which signals the end of meeting.
Occasionally a Meeting passes with no words spoken. If someone feels compelled by the Spirit to rise and speak, pray or read, the silence is broken. This ‘spoken ministry’, though not planned before worship begins, seeks to benefit and enrich the gathered worship. If something is said that doesn’t seem to make sense to you, try to reach behind the words to the Spirit which inspired them or simply allow them to be absorbed into the silence. A Meeting is not a debate so direct responses are not appropriate. However, further ministry may build on what has been said before. Traditionally a person only ministers once during the Meeting for Worship.
Once a month, on the first Sunday of the month after one combined Meeting, we hold our Meeting for Worship for Business. This is where we deal with the business of running our worshipping community and their concerns. It is held in the same spirit as our regular worship.
No two Quaker Meetings are the same. A Meeting can embrace a wide range of experience. Some people may experience a profound sense of awe or an awareness of the presence of God. Others may have a less certain sense of an indefinable spiritual dimension. We share and respect each others experience.