What to Expect

What to Expect

For those people who have never attended a Friends (Quaker) Meeting before, we want you to know that you are very welcome. We have few rules, preferring to be led by the Spirit, and are always happy to see new faces. Hopefully the answers below will provide you with everything you need to feel comfortable when you arrive, but please reach out to clerk@providencefriends.org if you have any additional questions.

(Please note that each of our locations of worship is a bit different. Your experience may vary some, so please ask anyone if you find yourself confused.)

What do I do when I arrive?

After being welcomed by our greeter, you may enter into the meeting room and take any seat that feels comfortable to you. You will find others who have begun to gather and settle into silence.

How will I know when Meeting for Worship starts?

Worship begins when the first person sits down in the meeting room. Others gradually gather to wait expectantly in God’s presence. Since there is no set worship service, we all become aware that a sense of settledness has come over the room.

What if I arrive late?

If you have arrived after the appointed time for worship to start, the greeter will invite you to wait with other latecomers in our library. Approximately 15 minutes after the start of worship the meeting will invite everyone in, as the children take this time to leave for First Day School. We do this because it is our experience that it is easier to settle as a meeting if the number of comings and goings are limited. However, if you should need to leave for any reason during worship please do so and return as you are able.

Are children welcome at Meeting for Worship?

Absolutely! We encourage children who are able to join us for the first 15 minutes of worship. After that time, adult volunteers will proceed out of worship with the children to engage in First Day School activities. These activities vary by age group and day, but are always geared to allow children to grow in the Light and express themselves. While we do strive to educate all about our faith, Quakers do not proselytize and all of our First Day School activities keep this in mind.

For children who are too young or otherwise unable to sit comfortably for 15 minutes we provide care starting at the beginning of worship. We do encourage children to try the 15 minutes of worship if they can and no one will be upset if they cause some disturbance. However, we are well aware that this is not useful for all kids. The greeter will be happy to help you figure out the best course and direct you to the child care, if appropriate.

What actually happens during Meeting for Worship?

Worshippers sit quietly and expectantly, experiencing the often profound communal sense of God’s presence. When someone in Meeting for Worship feels prompted by God’s will to rise and share a message with the group, we try to let what is said be a guide to deepening our own worship. As there is no set program for Meeting for Worship, worshippers are encouraged to come to meeting neither determined to speak nor determined not to speak.

How do I know what to say, and when to say it?

In our unprogrammed Meeting for Worship, vocal ministry takes the form of spoken messages. The spoken word has always had an important place in bearing witness to the faith of Quakers. Vocal messages can be as effective in a few halting but spiritually filled words as in the most learned and articulate message. In vocal prayer even broken and imperfect words springing from a deep place in the heart may wonderfully draw those present into communion with God and with one another. Although we encourage spontaneity, we also ask that Friends be mindful of certain guidelines in regard to messages: (1) Listen for that still, small voice within that can lead us to speak, and act, in ways that benefit our Meeting community. (2) Please stand and speak loudly enough so that all can hear your message. (3) Be sure your message is suitable for the group. (4) Phrase your message clearly and simply. (5) Be brief. (6) Speak only once. (7) Allow a period of time between messages to reflect on what has been said. (8) Messages ought not be seen as an opportunity to announce upcoming events, promote social action agendas, or engage in discussions, debates, arguments, or lectures.

How will I know when Meeting for Worship is over?

Someone is appointed each week to break Meeting for Worship with a handshake about an hour after it begins. The children rejoin us at this time, so we try to be mindful of this in timing our messages. After announcements in the life of the Meeting and quick introductions, please join us for coffee hour.

How can I find out more?

Most Friends will be more than happy to welcome you and answer any questions you may have. Additionally, Friends who have previously volunteered to make themselves available for questions  will be identified at the end of Meeting for Worship. You are also more than welcome to e-mail clerk@providencefriends.org at anytime.