A Direct Relationship with the Divine
Our form of worship is based on the belief that there is "that of God in everyone." Friends have proclaimed from the beginning that every person is endowed with the capacity to enter directly, without mediator or mediation, into an empowering holy communion with God. At its best, it can bring direct communion with the source of our spiritual power and knowledge.
We often find that this individual experience of worship is deepened when it is shared with others. Meeting for Worship is central to the life of our spiritual community. As Quakers have done for 350 years, we meet together in expectant silence to experience the Divine Presence, the loving Spirit. Some of us conceive of this as God’s Presence; others among us conceive of it differently. We do not create the encounter, but rather open ourselves to it.
Stillness, Clarity, Revelation
We begin by becoming inwardly still, allowing thoughts that usually fill our attention to recede. As the group settles into stillness, we may increase our awareness to include the whole group or settle more deeply within ourselves. Sometimes, we feel as one in the Spirit, with a sense of timelessness and peace. Sometimes, we gain insight into an issue or problem or clarity about a decision we face. We might revisit an experience we had from a different perspective. The experience is different for each of us each week. This belief in on-going revelation is central to Quaker belief.
From time to time, a message may rise up from a deep place out of the stillness. Some days, no one feels moved to share. Other days, several people share messages over the course of the hour. Our experience is that this sharing invites deeper insights and communal spiritual growth. It knits us together at a deep level, beyond words.
A message has been described as a pebble tossed into a pond. The resulting ripples are received by others in the meeting and may contribute to their own spiritual journeys. A period of silence follows each message so that listeners can absorb it. It is our custom that a person speaks no more than once during a meeting for worship.
Brief messages can carry deep meaning, reaching many others. We strive to receive these messages with openness. It may strike a chord within us, though not all messages will speak to everyone. We do not respond to an earlier message in affirmation, conversation, or rebuttal, though messages are often connected and a theme sometimes emerges. From this worship time we may return to our daily lives reaffirmed in our sense of direction and strengthened by the love and power of the spirit.
Philadelphia Yearly Meeting's webpage About Quakerism
Videos on Quakerism
"When To Speak In Quaker Worship"
QuakerSpeak asked 9 Quakers how to know when you have a message that needs to be shared in worship.
"What Is A Quaker"
Most people are unfamiliar with the Quaker religion, or they confuse us for the guy on the Quaker Oats box. QuakerSpeak asks 6 Friends what it means to be a practicing Quaker.
Meg Lytton, 8/17/2022