Quaker worship (we call it 'meeting for worship') normally lasts for an hour. We enter and sit in stillness and waiting. This stillness gives us space and time to listen and reflect. We don't have songs, set prayers or talks you might find in other places of worship. We know that some people may find the silence uncomfortable, but it can be an opportunity to come closer to God.
What happens in the stillness?
We try to be quiet in body, mind and spirit. We don't worship on our own. We look for a sense of connection with those around us, with our deepest selves, with God. As we feel this sense of connection grow stronger, we may begin to see the world and our relationships in a new way. Our worship may take us to a deep place, beyond our own thoughts and ideas and help us respond more creatively to our lives and the world around us.
Who runs the meeting for worship?
We believe all people are equal, we can all have a direct relationship with God and anyone can contribute to worship. Quakers do not have priests or anyone leading the worship.
During worship people may feel prompted to speak, pray or read aloud. They may stand to share their insights and inspirations with the meeting. We call this ministry. Ministry can inspire and enrich; we listen in silence and without judgement. It may also prompt others to say something connected to what they have heard.
Where do you sit?
In a Quaker meeting you can sit anywhere you want. We do not reserve or have special seats. Chairs or benches are usually arranged in a circle or a square. This helps us to be aware of each another and reminds us that we are worshipping together as equals. The meeting starts as soon as the first person enters the room.
What books do you use?
The Bible and copies of a book called Quaker faith & practice – a collection of writing and experiences of Quakers from our 350-year history – are to hand. We also use a small booklet called Advices & queries; a collection of prompts, insights and questions that Quakers read regularly.
How does a meeting end?
Meeting for worship finishes when two Quakers shake hands. The rest of the meeting joins in by shaking hands with those around them. Someone may then share news and information. After meeting has finished, please approach someone if you want to ask questions about the meeting or anything else about Quakers.
Who can come to meeting?
Quaker meetings are open to everyone. You do not have to be a Quaker to attend. Most meetings welcome children and some run a group specifically for them. Please be aware your children may need to sit quietly for at least the part of the meeting, when all ages are together.
Meetings can be held anywhere, at any time, although they usually take place on Sundays in a Quaker meeting house.
There are around 500 Quaker meetings in Britain, attended by more than 20,000 people. If you would like to join us, you are very welcome. Use our search to find a local meeting.