This page has been adapted from our standard leaflet for people attending a Quaker meeting for the first time.
For details of the Zoom links to our Meetings for Worship, please visit Meetings for Worship During the Coronavirus Pandemic
You will be muted on entry to the Meeting and the chat facility will have been disabled. You may disable your video link if you wish.
A Quaker meeting creates a space of gathered stillness. We come together where we can listen to the promptings of truth and love in our hearts, which we understand as arising from God. Our meetings are based on silence: a silence of waiting and listening. There may be silence for quite some time, perhaps half an hour or more. But that does not mean nothing is happening.
We are caught up in the still spirit of the meeting, and all of us are trying to come nearer to each other and to God, without reciting creeds, singing hymns or repeating set prayers. We do not worship in isolation: we try to hold ourselves aware of all those gathered with us, uniting in a common purpose, so that the waiting and listening become an act of sharing.
We come to meeting because we feel the need to worship. It is important to us. Meeting for worship starts as soon as the first person settles in the room. It helps if people can settle a few minutes before the appointed time.
You may find it easy to relax in the silence and enter into the spirit of the meeting, or you may be disturbed by the strangeness of the silence, by distractions outside or by your own thoughts. Don’t worry about this. We all find it difficult to settle at times. When we return again and again to the still centre of our being, we can know the presence of the Spirit. Try, if only for brief periods, to be quiet in mind, body and spirit. Bring whatever is pressing on your mind to the meeting. It can be a time of insight, revelation, healing or calm.
Nearly everyone at some time seems to want to find God in themselves; you may prefer to use a different image or concept such as ‘Spirit’ or ‘Light’.
The silence may be broken if someone present feels called to say something which will deepen and enrich the worship. This breaks the silence for the moment but does not interrupt it.
Listen with an open mind to what is said. Each contribution may help somebody but our needs are different and can be met in different ways. If something does not speak to your condition or need, try to reach the spirit behind the words. The speaker wants to help the meeting, so take care not to reject the offering with a negative critical interpretation.
Each of us brings our own life experience to the Meeting. Some people will have a profound sense of awe and wonder because they know God is present. Others will be far less certain.
In the quietness of a Quaker meeting worshippers can become aware of a deep and powerful spirit of love and truth, transcending their ordinary experience. We seek to become united in love and strengthened in truth, so we enter a new level of living, despite the different ways we may account for this life-expanding experience.
After about an hour, an Elder will mark the end of the worship. Someone will welcome everyone and announce forthcoming events. There may be time for informal chat after the Meeting. While sitting in Meeting for the first time you may find it helpful to re-read this text.