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Facts About Quakers
Concord Monthly Meeting of the Religious Society Friends (Quakers)
‘Facts About Quakers’ of Concord Friends Meeting as a PDF file
Our life is love, and peace, and tenderness; and bearing one with another, and forgiving one another, and not laying accusations one against another; but praying one for another, and helping one another up with a tender hand, if there has been any slip or fall ...
— Isaac Penington: Letters, ed. John Barclay, 1828, p. 139. Letter LII, 1667
|1. How do Quakers worship?||
In what Friends call an unprogrammed Meeting, the worshippers gather together quietly to seek the presence of the Spirit. There is no arranged program, outward sacrament, paid minister, or set prayer. All present share responsibility to be open to divine leadings to minister vocally or to continue to wait in silence.
If you are new to Friends worship, please feel at ease. Bow your head if you wish, look around you if you wish. Try to focus on feeling freed of daily stresses, experiencing the gathering of the Spirit, listening to the silence. Some meetings are completely silent. At other times, there may be a great deal of vocal ministry. Friends strive to leave a period of silence for prayer and reflection between messages.
Meeting for Worship ends with the joining of hands, begun by someone to whom this role has been assigned. All are then invited to introduce themselves and offer brief messages (such as requests for prayer, joys or sorrows or further reflections from the worship). After introductions, there are announcements related to the community life of the Meeting.
|2. Who are the Quakers? Are they the same as Friends?||
Quakers also call themselves the Religious Society of Friends. The Society grew out of movements in England, in the decade after 1650. At that time, Quakers called themselves Children of Light [Ephesians 5:8] or Friends [John 15:12-15] of Truth. They were spiritual seekers, people who had found that their spiritual needs were not met by either the established or reformation churches and that they could experience God directly in their lives without benefit of clergy or liturgy or a ‘steepled’ church. Gathering together in silence often led to powerful ministry arising from ordinary people.
A group of these seekers, who had shared a spiritual awakening in the preaching of George Fox about the light or Spirit of Christ that dwells in all people, eventually formed the Society of Friends. Many called them Quakers because they often shook when moved by the Spirit to give vocal witness and the name stuck.
|3. What do Friends believe? Do they have a creed?||
The experience of the inward transforming Spirit of Love is central to Friends’ beliefs. Quakers are open to using the language of Scripture and Christ as well as images and stories from other faiths and the modern world to free us to experience the Spirit in new ways. Friends’ faith relies on first-hand experience and continuing revelation of God.
Quakers in New England and in most of the world do not have a creed. Guidance in many matters can be found in New England Yearly Meeting’s book of Faith and Practice and in similar publications of Quakers around the world.
|4. What is the structure of our meeting?||
Meeting for Worship takes place each First Day (Sunday). There is also a Meeting for Worship to Conduct Business once a month. This session decides all Meeting matters, so the official name is the Concord Monthly Meeting of the Religious Society of Friends. The Meeting officers are the Clerk, the Recording Clerk and the Treasurer.
The Clerk collects agenda items and presides over this Business Meeting and discerns when the sense of the meeting is in unity with the Spirit.
The Recording Clerk maintains the minutes of the Meetings for Business and assists the Clerk to frame minutes during our meetings. The Recording clerk expresses that unity in a recorded minute that is approved by the members present. In addition to presiding over the Meeting for Business, the Clerk coordinates with individuals, committees and outside entities to represent the Meeting to the public and to assist the Meeting to advance its purposes.
The Treasurer accepts donations, pays bills, and maintains records of the Meetings’ financial activity. There are a variety of Meeting committees that attend to specific needs of the Meeting.
Concord Monthly Meeting is incorporated in the State of New Hampshire as a Not-for-Profit Corporation. We are a constituent member of New England Yearly Meeting (which meets annually) and Dover Quarterly Meeting (which meets four times per year). Attending these meetings helps provide an important support and context to the Meeting, allowing its Members to enter into the wider fellowship of Friends around the world, and encouraging the development of individual and corporate spiritual practices.
Concord Meeting is guided in governance and practice by the New England Yearly Meeting’s Faith and Practice. This is available at NEYM.org. This site also lists other groups that the Meeting is affiliated with.
|5. When is our Business Meeting?||Following the rise of Meeting for Worship every second Sunday of the month, all are welcome to a potluck ‘meeting for eating’ followed by Meeting for Worship to Conduct Business, which generally runs from about 12:30 until 1:30 or until business is complete. The Clerk may call an extra meeting with seven days notice.|
|6. How is childcare and youth religious education provided for?||The program begins at 10am with 15 minutes of singing with those adults who wish to start. Teachers then provide 45 minutes of age-appropriate lessons, activities, and snacks. At about 11am the children join their parents to experience the end of worship. Childcare is provided for children younger than 4 years old.|
|7. Are there programs for adults?||Periodically there are discussion groups on topics of interest or special meetings to hear speakers or people traveling in ministry from other Quaker meetings or organizations. New attenders are especially encouraged to participate in workshops and discussions on topics from the “Quaker Basics” curriculum.|
|8. How do I become a member?||If, after attending Meeting for some time, you feel led to become a member, please apply by writing a letter to the Ministry and Counsel Committee stating your interest. A group of Friends (your Clearness Committee) will be appointed to meet with you and help you discern if this is a true spiritual leading. They will then bring a recommendation to the meeting as a whole to accept your membership.|
|9. Who do I speak to about concerns and pastoral care?||Members of the Ministry and Counsel Committee are available to help with spiritual concerns and pastoral care. The current list of members is available on the ‘Contacts’ page of the website.|