Think you might be a Quaker? Watch this video!
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- What would you share with someone before their first visit to a Quaker meeting? What seems vital to share with them before they leave that first experience of worship?
- If you are new to Quakers, what drew you to Friends? If you’ve never known anything else, what in your experience or community could you not live without?
Norma Wallman: If you want a direct relationship with God, then you probably have a good chance of being a Quaker. A lot of it is based, I think, on that. Do you want the direct relationship with God?
Are You a Quaker?
Lidney Molnari: I think we’re all born Quakers. We just discover that in us. I think you’ll know you’re a Quaker when you visit a Quaker meeting. You’ll know you’re a Quaker when meeting for worship meets your condition. You’ll know you’re a Quaker when you come and visit and feel the love, feel the community, and feel the Spirit move. And in my experience, the spirit moved within the silence.
How Do I Know I’m a Quaker?
Cheryl Speir-Phillips: Oh my goodness, that’s a good question! How do I know if I might be a Quaker? Well, often Quakers have a sense of longing for peace and justice issues—for a spiritual connection.
Ray Treadway: I think one way of knowing whether you’re a Quaker is whether it feels right for you, and whether it speaks to your condition.
Julie Peyton: You might be a Quaker if you’ve tried a lot of spiritual paths or even one spiritual path and it wasn’t transformative. So you try something else and it’s not transformative. And maybe you get a whisper, “Hey, the Quakers are doing it differently.” And you’re willing to give yet another shot to find something that can be transformative.
Sara Hernandez: Are you the kind of person who enjoys taking a moment of quiet to think through the issues in your life? Are you somebody who is committed to peace and caring for others and trying to make this a better world for all human beings?
Brenda Cox: I think that if you wonder if you’re a Quaker, I think the best way to find that out would be to go to Quaker churches and see if you fit in. There, again, Quakers are so diverse that you could probably fit into a Quaker church somewhere.
How to Find a Quaker Meeting
Lidney Molnari: So if you’re thinking you’re seeking to be a part of a Quaker worship or part of a Quaker church, just Google it! Or go to Friends World Committee on Consultation, which has lists of Friends Meetings and Friends Churches around the country and around the world.
Norma Wallman: When you look on the web and you see that there are different kinds of Quaker worship—we have programmed, unprogrammed—and you are puzzled by that, then we say, “Come and see!”
Ray Treadway: If you came to our meeting, we would want to be sure you understood that while our meeting worships in silence and expectant waiting for those who wanted to share spoken ministry, that you might go down the street to another Friends meeting who might have hymns, someone who would give a pastoral message… so not all Quakers are alike, and you may find that you prefer ours, or you may find that you prefer some other form of worship.
Sara Hernandez: So which one to pursue? I would say it’s a question of where you feel you are at in your own religious search. Perhaps the best thing to do would be to try both of them.
Julie Peyton: The temptation’s to say, “Come and see” but I would say, try it. The fundamental thing of being a Quaker is, “Does it work?” If it doesn’t work, try something else, try it differently, but keep trying.
Your First Experience
Cheryl Speir-Phillips: I would hope you would experience as a newcomer to be able to feel embraced and welcomed and not afraid.
Lidney Molnari: I would hope that your experience at Quaker meeting would be what you need, would be what you’re seeking.
Julie Peyton: If you were to come visit West Hills on any given Sunday, I would hope that you would first feel welcomed, and there would be no pressure put on you, or that you would not feel any pressure to do or to be anything. The expectation—and this is a spoken expectation at the beginning—is that you will know that your presence there has an impact on us, or certainly can have an impact. You can be part of that meeting that day. You may be called upon by God to stand and say something to all of us. But just your presence, listening with us, is an important thing.
Brenda Cox: We do especially try to welcome you when you walk through the door, make sure we introduce ourselves. Then, when the service is over, you’ll often be invited to someone’s house for a meal. If you have any questions, we’re happy to answer them. Nobody’s going to push anything down your throat. If you want to come back, you’re welcome. If you don’t, we’re sad, but that’s ok. It’s your decision.
Sara Hernandez: Because each meeting is different, that one first experience will not give you a clear experience of the Quaker experience… the religious search of the Quakers. It helps to be coming more than one time, really get a feel for the community for the community and the religious experience itself.
What to Know Before Visiting
Ray Treadway: When you first came to our meeting, we’d want to be sure that you realized that we wouldn’t have hymns, we wouldn’t have a pastor, that we’d be sitting in silence. And we know that for someone who, perhaps like yourself, who’ve never experienced this, it might seem a little strange but we have found that many newcomers who come have a sense of belonging, have a sense of being in the presence of God.
Norma Wallman: I think that we want you to come with a curiosity, with a longing to know what the Quaker experience is about. If you come with that earnest desire to find out about Quakerism, to experience, then the knowing part—the knowledge part of it—you can look all that up later.
Lidney Molnari: What I would want you to know about Quakerism is the fundamental belief there is that of God in everyone. That belief is what attracted me to Quakerism at the beginning.
Sara Hernandez: So to me the value of Quaker meeting is precisely that centeredness and trying to find peace within. It’s not easy. It’s a job in a way to find that inner peace. Many times I find myself thinking about all the problems I have. “How am I going to resolve this issue?” So it helps me meditate, but ideally, the best meeting is when I can really find that center and be quiet, internally peaceful.
The views expressed in this video are of the speakers and do not necessarily reflect the views of Friends Journal or its collaborators.