Quaker worship is a shared, mostly silent seeking of the inward Light. Traditionally, we come together in a shared space for Meeting for Worship. The current coronavirus pandemic has forced us to reconsider what it means to come together in community. For the time being, our Third Street Meetinghouse is closed and our weekly Meeting for Worship is happening through remote access.
We invite you to join us online or via phone for our virtual Meeting for Worship. See our IMM COVID-19 Resources page for the details of how to connect, including links to the Zoom meetings and information about technical support.
We are not the first Quaker Meeting to try this remote access. At the bottom of this page, other Friends describe their experiences with remote access meetings.
Being in Remote Meeting for Worship
We state that Meeting for Worship begins at 10:30 on Sunday mornings. Friends are asked to log onto Zoom, or call in, before 10:30 to allow time to get connected. If you are using Zoom on your computer for the first time, you will need to download software. Logging in before the meeting begins allows you to have a leisurely moment to get set up with the software.
Logging in or calling in before 10:30 also allows Friends time to settle. The remote Meeting will not begin until the “host” has logged into the Zoom meeting. You may see or hear a message that the host has not yet arrived.
All participants’ microphones (or phones) will be initially muted during Meeting for Worship. If you feel led to speak, you will need to unmute your microphone (or press *6 on your phone). Please remember to mute your microphone or or press *6 on your phone again after speaking.
Best practices for a remote meeting
- Be in a quiet space, with little or no distractions.
- If someone joins the call or Zoom after we have settled, the Clerk may say “Good morning Friend. We’re in worship.”
- If you’re participating by computer or phone and have a camera, sharing video of yourself can help build community. If you do choose to share your video, think about what others will see in your video (e.g., make sure you’re fully clothed!)
- It’s helpful if you can sit with light on your face, not behind you. Close blinds/curtains and turn on lights for best image quality.
- If you’re eating or doing something else that you wouldn’t want people to watch, consider turning off your video, at least temporarily.
- During Meeting for Worship, the Clerk will not recognize people before they speak out of the silence.
- Everyone in the meeting will be automatically muted. You will need to unmute yourself if you feel led to speak.
- If you’re calling in by phone and you want to unmute yourself, dial 6*
- It is helpful, especially to Friends listening via phone, to say your name before sharing your message.
When someone speaks
When a Friend is “moved to speak” during Meeting for Worship, we consider that they are delivering a message from the Spirit. All participants’ microphones (or phones) will be initially muted during Meeting for Worship. If you feel led to speak, you will need to unmute your microphone (or press *6 on your phone). It is helpful, especially to Friends listening via phone, to say your name before sharing your message.
Friends are invited to listen deeply to the message.
As in our traditional form of in-person worship, it often takes time for the listeners to reflect upon the Truth within a message. Thus, it is common to leave several minutes of silence after someone has spoken. Sometimes, we may find ourselves wanting to respond to a speaker, but Meeting for Worship is not a place for conversation or debate. Similarly, the use of the “chat” function in Zoom is probably not appropriate for delivering messages within the Meeting for Worship period.
The rise of Meeting
To close the hour of Meeting for Worship, the clerk of the Meeting will say hello and invite Friends to greet each other with a wave or a brief hello.
After this moment of greeting, the Clerk (or a designate from Ministry & Worship) invites Friends to share the following:
- Joys and Concerns. Friends are invited to share significant events in their personal lives. Just as other religious groups may ask for your prayers, Friends may ask for a loved one to be “held in the Light.”
- Introductions. Newcomers, visitors and Friends who have been away from sometime are invited to introduce themselves. Many choose to say a little something about what brings them to Meeting that day. Newcomers are invited to introduce themselves several times so that others may get to know them a little better.
- Announcements. Announcements include messages about Meeting affairs and events, but frequently include information about non-Meeting events and concerns that are likely to be of interest to Friends. Friends are asked to keep non-Meeting announcements quite brief—including only the essentials, such as the title and date of an event and where more information can be found. When we meet in person, we try to have these written on a dry-erase board, but we also share them orally. In our remote Meeting for Worship, we may utilize the “chat” feature of Zoom to create a written record of the announcement. (Click on the “chat” balloon icon at the bottom of the screen.) We may also experiment with a few options until we settle on the best method.
During this part of Meeting for Worship, Friends are encouraged to indicate that they have something to share and wait to be acknowledged by the clerk before speaking. In a remote Meeting for Worship, Friends joining with video should wave their hand so the clerk can see them; Friends calling in or without video can say a simple “clerk, please” to get the clerk’s attention.
What about children?
Children are an essential part of the Ithaca Friends Meeting community and are welcome to participate in remote Meeting for Worship.
It is to be expected that babies and young children will make some noises or wiggle around in Meeting for Worship. Many Friends delight in these nonverbal messages from the Spirit. In a remote Meeting for Worship, many Friends also delight when pets join their people for the experience!