Your First Time at Meeting
If you have never been to a Quaker Meeting before, this page may be helpful.
What do Quakers believe?
Quakers have no dogmas or creeds and no paid ministers. Each participant seeks to experience and learn about the religious life for her or himself. We have the conviction that each person can have direct experience of the Spirit of God and that there is something of God in everyone.
What happens in Meeting for Worship?
You will be met at the door to the Meeting Room by a Friend, who will ask you to sign our Visitors' book and show you into the Meeting Room, where you are free to sit anywhere.
A Quaker Meeting is a way of worship based on silence, a silence of expectancy in which we seek to come nearer to God and each other as we share the stillness of the Meeting. Participants are not expected to say or do anything other than join in this seeking. Do not be concerned if the silence seems strange at first. We rarely experience silence in everyday life so it is not unusual to be distracted by outside noise or roving thoughts. There is no fixed structure to the Meeting. There are no creeds, hymns or set prayers. There is no minister in charge and no formal service.
If someone feels compelled by the Spirit to speak, pray or read, the silence will be broken. Such ministry, which normally has not been planned before worship begins, seeks to enrich the gathered worship. If something is said that does not seem to make sense, try to reach behind the words to the Spirit which inspired them or allow them to be absorbed into the silence.
Meeting for Worship is not a debate so it is inappropriate to respond directly to spoken ministry, but it is not unusual for other ministry to build on what has been said before; however, it is custom for Friends to spend some time reflecting on what has been ministered, rather than speaking immediately. It is also customary to speak only once during Meeting for Worship.
No two Quaker Meetings are the same. A Meeting can embrace a wide range of experience. Some people may experience a profound sense of awe or an awareness of the presence of God. Others may have a less certain sense of an indefinable spiritual dimension.
Occasionally a Meeting will pass with no words spoken.
Here in Swansea, after an hour, an Elder at the Meeting will stand, signalling the end of worship and others will stand and join hands in the circle; the Elder will welcome everyone and ask for the silence to be held for a few more minutes in case anyone has an afterthought to offer.
What happens at the end of Meeting?
After Meeting ends, the Clerk will welcome Friends and visitors and give any notices. A Friend will then speak to the current Appeal and this is followed by refreshments. You are very welcome to join in, but this is entirely up to you.