Notes on Quaker-style service
Today’s service is in the spirit of Quaker services, but is not intended to be an exact replica. Elements of Quaker services were adapted for our use. This service is part of our continuing exploration of spiritual practices. When the sounding bowl is rung, it is a call that our service has begun.
Our service today is based on the idea of ‘Unprogrammed worship’. We will sit in silence, looking inward, seeking the experience of the Spirit within ourselves. As a community, we will create a communal silent space to receive messages from the Spirit. If you experience a thought or idea that seems to come from a deeper place, you are invited to stand and speak aloud this message. There may be many such shared messages, there may be few, or there may be none. Following the sharing of a message, it is customary to maintain a period of silence to allow the shared message to enter our inner selves. You may feel moved to share your message in song, or you may feel moved to join in a song started by another. It is all unplanned, spontaneous, and genuine. At the end of the hour, the sounding bowl will be rung, announcements will be read, and we will end the service by rising and shaking hands. The coffee hour and conversation will follow.
We will not have a plate collection during this morning’s meeting. Please place your offering in one of the wooden bowls near the entrance to the Parish Hall.
A few Comments from Carole McNamee:
Worship begins upon entering the room and sitting down. There is no formal announcement. Upon taking a seat, we begin to settle our minds and bodies and look inward, seeking “that of God” in ourselves and those gathered with us.
If you are new to the silence, it may seem uncomfortable and you may find yourself distracted by your own thoughts, the noises from outside, others entering the room. This is all normal, acknowledge the distractions, and return to your inward space seeking the still center of your being.
The communal silence is believed to provide space for us to receive messages from spirit. If among the many thoughts that appear in your mind, there is one that seems to come from a deeper place, you are encouraged to stand and share this message aloud. Sometimes, in the course of a Meeting for Worship, there will be many shared messages, typically referred to as vocal ministry. Following a message, it is customary to maintain silence to allow the message to enter our inner space and explore whether or not the message holds any particular meaning for us. It may or may not. Sometimes messages may take unusual forms, e.g. a song or a dance. In this case it may be that others will join in the song or dance. In all cases, the ministry comes from a deeper place within us. It is unplanned.
Sometimes, there will be no messages and we enjoy the silence.
Worship continues in silence until a designated meeting closer shakes a hand. Others then follow, greeting and shaking hands with neighbors.
If you resonated with a particular message, it is fine to tell the deliverer that you appreciated the message, but do not expect to have an in-depth discussion. The speaker of the message may still be deep in thought about the message and may wish more time to consider its content before engaging in a dialogue about it.
A Quaker Meeting for Worship
(Wikipedia May 14, 2017, edited by Carole McNamee)
“Unprogrammed worship (also known as waiting worship, ‘silent worship,’ or holy communion in the manner of Friends) is based on the practices of George Fox and the Early Friends, who based their religious beliefs and practices on their interpretation of how the early Christians worshipped God, their Heavenly Father. Friends gather together in ‘expectant waiting upon God’ to experience his still small voice leading them from within. There is no plan on how the meeting will proceed, and actual practice varies widely between Meetings and individual worship services. Friends believe that God plans what will happen, with his spirit leading people to speak. When a participant feels led to speak, he or she will stand and share a spoken message of (‘vocal ministry’) in front of others. When this happens, Quakers believe that the spirit of God is speaking through the speaker. After someone has spoken, it is generally considered good etiquette to allow a few minutes to pass in silence before further vocal ministry is given. Sometimes a meeting is entirely silent, sometimes many speak. These meetings lasted for several hours in George Fox’s day. Modern meetings are often limited to an hour, ending when two people (usually elders) signal the ‘rise’ (close) by handshake. This handshake is then shared by the others. This style of worship is the norm in Great Britain, Ireland, the continent of Europe, Australia, New Zealand, Southern Africa, Canada, and parts of the United States (particularly yearly meetings associated with Friends General Conference and Beanite Quakerism). Those who worship in this style hold each person to be equal before God and capable of knowing the light of God directly. Anyone present may speak if they feel led to do so.
A Quaker-style Meeting at FPS May 27
By Fran Sharp
Published May 27, 2018.
Posted to General News, Worship Services.