Friends have no creed, no sacraments, and no presiding ministers. We minister to each other in love by sharing our silence, our deepest leadings, our prayers, our sorrows, and our hopes.
Our worship is based on silence. For us, silence is not merely a time to relax or gather one’s thoughts. Quaker worship is an alert openness to the still leading of the Inner Light. One consequence of this “waiting upon the Light” is that one or more worshipers may be moved to speak out of the silence. Such speaking is not an intellectual exercise; it is a movement from the depths of one’s being, a conscientious response to a carefully discerned leading of the Spirit.
It takes time for a meeting to “settle.” Generally, no one speaks for the first twenty or more minutes. During that time, we are admonished to “Turn in thy mind to the Light, and wait upon God.”
Some meetings are completely silent. Many Friends relish the peace, depth, and unity of such meetings. Completely silent worship can be a most refreshing and strengthening experience.
When we are led to speak during worship, we observe spaces of silence between messages in order to allow each message to ripen in our hearts. We usually avoid responding to a previous speaker, although sometimes messages do share a common theme. It is most unusual for anyone to speak twice in one meeting.
Meeting draws to a close in silence after about an hour. We close our worship by shaking hands and greeting each other.