What happens when you come to Oxford Quaker Meeting?
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 home with you.
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. We then gather for tea, 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?
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.
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 45 minutes-1 hour, two Friends serving as Elders that week will shake hands, thus signalling the end of meeting.
Occasionally, a Meeting passes with no words spoken. However, 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. That being said, further ministry may build on what has been said before.
Traditionally, a person only ministers once during the Meeting for Worship.