Quaker meetings offer a place where people can find a real sense of community and are free to challenge, question and explore their own beliefs, values and ideas. Many Quakers describe it as a spiritual home – a place of deep connections; a group of people bound together by an awareness of the sacred in all things and a desire to change the world for the better. 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 rising from God. Our meetings are based on silence: a silence of waiting and listening.
A Meeting for Worship: What to Expect.
If you would like to attend our Meeting for Worship come to our Meeting House in Page Street a few minutes before the starting time which is 10.45 a.m. every Sunday. You can expect a smile of welcome and a “hello”.
The meeting begins when the first person sits down in the meeting room, the rest will soon follow and the silence begins to deepen. The silence is different from the silence of solitary meditation, as the listening and waiting in a Quaker meeting is a shared experience in which worshippers seek to experience God for themselves. The seating is usually arranged in a circle or a square to help people be aware of one another and conscious of the fact that they are worshipping together as equals. There are no priests or ministers. There are no special or reserved seats, just sit where you feel comfortable. Some people like to read a little at first and there are Bibles and Quaker Books on the table and on the seats, just help yourself. After a while someone may read aloud briefly from Advices and Queries or Quaker Faith and Practice. The silence may be broken if someone present feels called to say something which will deepen and enrich the worship. Anyone is free to speak, pray or read aloud if they feel strongly led to do so. This breaks the silence for the moment but does not interrupt it. One or more people may feel moved to speak or “minister” during the meeting. These are not special people, at least no more special than anyone else, and if you feel moved to speak your ministry will be just as welcome as anyone else’s. We only speak once though and just for a short while. Perhaps an explanation of the expression “moved to speak” might be helpful here. “Moved by what?” You may well ask. The answer is moved by the Spirit. The Spirit of God, the divine Spirit, the spirit of love, the Light, words are sometimes not enough but you probably have a good idea of what is meant. It is not that we think we want to say something but we must say it, i.e. “moved” to say it. Sometimes the whole of the Meeting for Worship will be silent all the way through and the silence is in itself a form of ministry by the Spirit in which we are all gathered. In the quietness of the meeting, we can become aware of a deep and powerful spirit of love and truth, transcending our ordinary, day-to-day experiences. This sense of direct contact with the divine is at the heart of the Quaker way of worship and nourishes Quakers in the rest of their daily lives.
The Meeting will end after an hour when we all shake hands. We have a few minutes for people to add any “after thoughts” which didn’t make ministry, followed by any notices that need to be read out. Then there’s tea and coffee with a chance to catch up with each other and welcome any visitors. You do not have to be a Quaker to attend a meeting. All are welcome.
Hope to see you soon.
A hearing loop is available in the meeting room, there is a ramp at rear access to the building, and there is an accessible toilet.