If you have never been to a Quaker Meeting before, this page may be helpful.
We warmly welcome newcomers and inquirers to our meetings for worship on Sundays at 10.30. Please feel free to also join one of our mailing lists to learn about other events in our community.
Please join us every third Sunday of the month after Meeting for Worship, from about 12:15 to 1:15 p.m., for an informal meeting with other seekers. This is a great opportunity to ask questions about Quakers or the Vancouver Friends Meeting. Sometimes there is a particular theme for discussion. Long-time members and attenders are also encouraged to participate.
Your First Time at a Quaker Meeting
On entering the Meeting Room, feel free to sit anywhere. It is helpful to leave seats near the doors for latecomers.
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?
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. After about an hour, a designated Friend will shake hands with the persons beside them, signalling the end of worship.
Occasionally a Meeting will pass with no words spoken. If someone feels compelled by the Spirit to speak, pray or read, the silence will be broken. Such ministry, which 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 although it is not unusual for other ministry to build on what has been said before.
“In worship we have our neighbours to right and left, before and behind, yet the Eternal Presence is over all and beneath all. Worship does not consist in achieving a mental state of concentrated isolation from one’s fellows. But in the depth of common worship it is as if we found our separate lives were all one life, within whom we live and move and have our being.”
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.
What happens at the end of Meeting?
The Friend broke who broke Meeting then asks everyone to enter into a period of worshipful sharing. This is a time to share reflections that you were not led to give ministry on during the meeting, news of absent Friends, or joys or concerns you would like to share with the meeting. This usually lasts for about 10 minutes and is followed by announcements then introductions.
How can I find out more about Quakers?
If you would like more information about Quakers or their worship, any Friend will be happy to try to help you. We have a package of introductory pamphlets at the meetinghouse for inquirers. For more in depth information, you may want to check out a book to borrow for a few weeks from our library.
Trouble getting to meeting? We now have a ride board in our meeting house where friends can request or offer to share transport to meeting.
Speaking into the Silence, a flowchart describing how Meeting for Worship works