Newcomers’ Class On the Quaker Way
Facilitated by the Meeting’s Outreach Committee, this discussion class introduces people — who are new to Quakerism or to this Meeting in the last couple of years — to the Meeting and to the wider Quaker world. The class strives to facilitate personal spiritual growth, provides an opportunity to ask questions about Quakers, and to recognize the commonality among Quakers while cherishing the diversity among those who value the Quaker Way. This class is usually offered in the fall or spring. Contact Sam Merrill.
What are Quaker testimonies?
The emphasis in Quaker spiritual life is on service and concern for others rather than salvation. Instead of a creed, Quakers write queries that help us reflect on our values and actions. Rather than emphasizing beliefs, Friends seek truth through experience throughout their lifetimes. Friends speak of “that of God” in everyone, and strive to reach it. Quaker testimonies of peace, equality, simplicity, integrity flow from our faith. Thus Quakers respect the sanctity of all human beings and the equality of women and men, value diversity in opinions and lifestyles, and oppose all kinds of violence while seeking non-violent solutions to conflict.
Here is how one Quaker meeting describes Meeting for Worship:
We welcome you to Meeting for Worship and trust that you may find here a source of help and strength, just as your presence will strengthen us.
To those not familiar with Quakerism or with our manner of worship, it may at first seem strange that upon gathering at the appointed time we sit in silence, that there is no appointed minister or programmed service, and that we take no offering.
We have no sacraments or rituals because all living is to us a sacrament. We have no paid ministers because each of us should share in the responsibility of ministry. We have no prepared prayers because our unspoken prayers are a direct communion with the infinite. We worship in a living silence where dwells the eternal presence of God.
God is, to us, not a far-off, unapproachable being, but a loving presence. Every human soul is akin to the Divine and therefore every person may in some degree understand Divine Will and respond to it as Jesus, the prophets and devout men and women of all times have done. But to attain this understanding calls for definite action on our part.
Therefore, we gather in silence to seek together a fuller knowledge of that Will and an understanding of its practical outcome for our lives. In silence we wait that God may speak; we endeavor to yield ourselves up to the Divine Will and to come into harmony with the great spiritual force of the Universe. Worship is not dependent on the outward actions on any one person but flows through the meeting from the time the group settles into silence.
A handshake terminates the period of worship.
Effective worship requires an earnest effort from all of us to bring a sense of oneness into the Meeting. We should all explore the “inner chambers” of our own souls. Frequently we become conscious of a Presence pervading the meeting. The silence may become eloquent or the impulse to share a thought may compel one of us to rise and express a message or a vocal prayer.
In a Friends Meeting, anyone who feels called to speak may do so. It is well to remember, however, that the basis of our worship is silence, and that the spoken messages should be brief and of a spiritual nature, not deliberately argumentative or contentious. It is not uncommon for a meeting for worship to be completely silent, and such a meeting may give worshippers a special feeling of participation and spiritual uplift.
In this bustling world of ours, there are far too few chances for calm meditation, for sane thinking or for attaining a spiritual vantage point from which to view life in a better perspective. We are reminded of the words of the Quaker poet, Whittier:
And so, I find it well to come
For deeper rest to this still room,
For here the habit of the soul
Feels less the outer world’s control;
The strength of mutual purpose pleads
More earnestly our common needs
And from the silence multiplied
By these still forms on either side,
The world that time and sense have known
Falls off and leaves us God alone.
–from “Quaker Worship, An Introduction”, State College Friends Meeting, Pennsylvania
More Ways to learn about Quakerism or to become more involved in Olympia Monthly Meeting
- One of the better ways to come to know the Quakers is to join one of the many small discussion groups.
- Monthly Newsletter. Copies are on the table inside the meeting space, as are cards to have the newsletter e-mailed (or mailed) to you or be listed in or make changes in the directory. Contact: Alan Mountjoy-Venning.
- If interested in serving on a committee, contact: Ramona Hinkle.
- For more information about the structure of the Meeting and how it fits into the larger structure of Quakers and the world, see the “State of the Meeting” report’s list of Committees, Officers and Liaisons on the Resources & Documents page.
- Books are available for checkout in the library in the foyer of the Meetinghouse. For more information or to find written material on a specific topic, contact: Kathy Mallalieu.
- To schedule the building for an event – check the website: meetinghouseatpriestpoint.com or email firstname.lastname@example.org or contact Heather Wood. Use of a classroom for a committee meeting does not require scheduling.
- Poem, book review or event for Newsletter – Contact: Marylea Coday.