Our worship is a shared, mostly silent seeking of the inward Light. Sometimes, the whole hour together is spent without spoken ministry. Other times, several Friends will stand and deliver a message from the Spirit. Both kinds of meetings may carry profound spiritual value.
In general, Friends sit still during worship. Being still can help Friends center. Some find it helpful to sit with their eyes closed during worship.
Some Friends may spend some of the time reading the Bible or another inspirational text during Meeting for Worship, but reading is uncommon.
For more on Friends’ experience of worship and Quaker practice, visit quakerspeak.com or check out on the “More on Quakerism” resources link on the right.
We state that Meeting for Worship begins at 10:30 on Sunday mornings. Friends are asked to arrive in the meeting room before 10:30 to begin to settle.
The main door to the worship space may be closed at 10:30. Those who arrive after the main door has closed may quietly enter the meeting room through the library.
Coming and going
Children and others attending First Day School (Sunday School) may leave early or enter late as they transition between classes and worship.
Occasionally, someone will need to exit or enter the room at other times for various reasons. These things happen. We hope that Friends make an effort to come and go quietly when such an occasion should arise.
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.
Friends are invited to listen deeply to the message. We ask that Friends not enter, exit, or move about the room when someone is delivering a message.
Because it takes time for the listeners to reflect upon the Truth within a message, Quakers like to leave several minutes of silence after someone has spoken. Sometimes, we may initially find ourselves in disagreement with a speaker, but spoken ministry during Meeting for Worship is not a place for debate. Quakers strive to recognize that of God in each person; similarly, we search for the Truth in every message understanding that the message may not speak to one Friend and at the same time be profoundly moving to another.
The rise of Meeting
To close the hour of Meeting for Worship, the clerk of the Meeting initiates a handshake that promptly spreads around the room. Some Friends quietly exchange a few words of greeting.
After this moment of rustling, the Clerk (or a designate from Ministry & Worship) invites Friends to share the following:
- Afterthoughts. This is an opportunity to share spoken ministry that was not shared during Meeting for Worship .
- 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 stand up and 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. We try to have these written on a dry-erase board, but we also share them orally. Announcements include messages about Meeting affairs and events, but frequently include information about non-Meeting events and concerns that are likely to be 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 to encourage those interested in further information to see them at the rise of Meeting.
What about children?
Children are an essential part of the Ithaca Friends Meeting community and are welcome to participate in Meeting for Worship.
It is to be expected that babies and young children will make some noises in Meeting for Worship. Many Friends delight in these pre-verbal messages from the Spirit.
While some children stay in Meeting for Worship for the entire hour, most of the children participate in Meeting for Worship for part of the time, and then go upstairs (or sometimes outside) for childcare or First Day School.
The Greeter can help visitors with children determine their options.