Thousand Islands Meeting
Your First Time at a Quaker Meeting
Welcome! We are very glad you are here. May we make some suggestions to help your worship with us?
Go into the meeting room as soon as you are ready. It is a good thing if a meeting can settle down a few minutes before the appointed time.
Sit anywhere you like, but it is helpful to leave the seats near the door for late-comers. Even to the shy we say, “Come right in to the meeting; don’t stay on the fringes unless you must.”
A Quaker meeting is based on silence, but it is a silence of waiting, of expectancy. When you lift your heart to God you are contributing to the common worship as well as to your own renewal. There is no “minister,” for all may minister. Nobody specially chosen, no officer, will start the meeting, or conduct it. It is in our hands, corporately. Everyone present shares responsibility for worship and can share in its blessing.
You may be disturbed by the strangeness of the silence, by distractions outside or by your own roving thoughts. Do not worry about this, but return again and again to the still centre of your being where God is. Try, if only for an instant, to be quiet in body, mind and soul.
The silence will be broken when one of the worshippers feels that the moment has come for vocal prayer, praise in song, reading or ministry. Anyone present is free to speak if he or she feels moved to it by the spirit of God.
We are in the presence of the universal spirit, worthy of worship. Consider the wonders of the earth and the glories of the heavens. Reflect on the teachings of peace, justice and mercy coming down to us from Jesus and other exemplars of the distant and recent past. Feel the healing and creative power that is present.
The meeting will end when someone, usually the clerk, rises and others follow to join hands in a circle. (In larger meetings, the clerk or elders may shake hands with their neighbours.) We return to our seats for introductions and any ‘after thoughts.’ There may be refreshments. There is always opportunity to speak with people and ask questions. You may borrow books and take handouts from the library.
While sitting in our meeting for the first time, you may find it helpful to re-read this leaflet; perhaps especially the underlined paragraph.
Margaret Springer recalls her first meeting for worship:
(Adapted from Friends Home Service Committee, Britain Yearly Meeting)