Saturday, November 29, 2008

My Meeting's Welcome Leaflet - -

I left a comment on a quakerquaker video yesterday, stating that I think it would be better if we Friends, when doing "outreach" or "advancement", would talk less about ourselves and more about God. The following text is an example of what I think would be an improvement. It happens that I wrote it myself, so bias cannot be excluded. Nevertheless, it has been used at 15th Street Meeting, a famously "liberal" meeting for several years. Currently we make it available both as a handout at Meeting and as a tri-fold leaflet kept on display in a box on the fence around our yard. I'd be curious as to how Friends elsewhere feel about it.


If this is the first time you are joining us – or even if it is not – you may be interested in the following questions about Quaker worship as it is practiced here.

Q: Who or what do Quakers worship?
A: Quakers worship God: the same God who is recognized by Christianity, Judaism, and Islam and worshipped by billions of people throughout the world. Quakers believe that God is a living Spirit who can be known and worshipped by anyone.

Q: What sacraments, forms or rituals do Quakers use in their worship?
A: There are different kinds of worship services at different Quaker Meetings. The kind we practice at Fifteenth Street Meeting is called “unprogrammed worship” or “waiting worship”. Its premise is that God’s own Spirit will guide us in how best to give God the worship God is due. Therefore we do not plan any ceremonies or rituals or prepare any hymns, sermons or prayers of our own devising. We come together in silence and wait for the moving of the Holy Spirit.

Q: What do the worshippers actually do?
A: What we try to do is quiet our minds, open our hearts, and listen to the Spirit. There is no prescribed way to do this. The key is an attitude of expectant waiting and a willingness to obey whatever inner promptings God may inspire. We are also alert to hear the messages that may come to us through our fellow worshippers.

Q: Is there a minister or priest in the Meeting for Worship?
A: Potentially, all are ministers. Vocal ministry occurs during unprogrammed worship when someone present feels deeply moved by God to offer a message to the assembled Friends. The words of the message may be words of praise, thanksgiving, comfort, reassurance, moral challenge, or spiritual insight.

Q: What is the difference between “vocal ministry” and other kinds of speaking?
A: Speaking that does not come from a sense of leading is not ministry. Discussion and debate are not ministry. Friends do not “answer” each other’s messages during a meeting. There is no strict limit on the length of messages, but usually “less is more”. It is easy to “outrun the Guide” when giving lengthy messages.A period of silence between messages offers the needed space for reflecting on what is said. Therefore those who offer messages should be careful not to rise too quickly after someone else has spoken.

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