The Intimacy of Quaker Worship Spaces

Sitting in silence with a group of people every week can be an intimate experience. How do Quaker worship spaces encourage that?

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Friends Homes is a a Quaker-affiliated retirement community in Greensboro, NC. Learn more.

Jon Watts

Jon Watts launched and directed the QuakerSpeak project for its first 6 seasons. Keep up to date with Jon’s work at his website.

10 thoughts on “The Intimacy of Quaker Worship Spaces

  1. I belong to Flushing Friends Meeting….built in 1694 and has been in continuous use. Its history is part of freedom of religion in America….granted in 1664 by Holland after Flushing’s 1657 Remonstrance. considered to have direct connection to our nation’s Constitution. The Meetinghouse is in no way comparable to Notre Dame….it is a warm and welcoming structure
    like many Meetinghouses. The above is just for information .

    A problem of members giving messages many times it is difficult to hear because the speaker does not talk loud enough. About 10 years ago…we placed a microphone for a speaker to go to
    in the middle of worship room. Obviously that was soon abandoned as a deterrent to the very
    thing we wanted. Is there anyone reading this has a solution for many Meetings where this is a problem g

  2. Thanks Joan..working with the hard of hearing for so many years and now finding it difficult to hear myself….Perhaps a little different seating arangement would prove useful.
    Folks suffering from poor hearing should be alowed to sit closer to the speaker….that might help.
    Also whenever anyone addresses the group and proves to be speaking too softly…merely ask them to speak up in a kind and loving way. They will, in most cases.

  3. I love our meeting room at Purchase in NY; its big window overlooks our historic cemetery and brings nature into the room. We bought a wireless microphone system, and ask the greeter to be a microphone “runner” if someone stands to speak.

  4. Our Meeting (Twin Cities Friends Meeting, St Paul MN) has a microphone setup, and the meeting’s closer for that day announces at the beginning of the meeting that it is available. Anyone wishing to speak is asked to stand, and wait until the closer or some other designated person turns on the microphone and brings it to them. This has worked well for us. Being the designated person to watch for people standing brings a different quality of worship, but valuable in a different way than the usual silent waiting for a message from Spirit.

  5. While I cherish the quietude of Quaker Meeting for Worship, the scale of meeting for worship space varies from little historic meeting houses in PA to 15th St. Meeting house in New York. The sense of waiting worship as discipline resonates with me.

  6. Didn’t a native American say when observing a Quaker worship service, “I love to hear from where the words come”. The story was he could not understand the English spoken but felt the the place from which they came. If someone made me speak into I microphone I would clam up, certainly would loose the presence that made me rise to speak.

  7. I recall a Friend ministering in a quiet voice and another, across the circle saying “Our Friend is not heard”! The minister raised her voice. It also resulted in those present remembering to speak clearly. That one intervention lasted for some ten or so years as newcomers were aware of this custom of considering whether they are heard.

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