What is Meeting for Worship Like?

What is the basis of our worship?

Swarthmore Friends is an unprogrammed meeting, which means that we have no designated clergy and no formal program of events during worship. We believe that each person can experience God directly, and in meeting for worship we gather in silence to search for divine guidance through individual communion with God. 

In the Meeting’s stillness and gathered seeking, the worshiper may receive a gift of spiritual guidance or fresh insight. Often, this leading is meant only for the one who receives it. Other messages may seem intended for the entire Meeting body, and the person who receives such a message rises to share it. 

Click here to read a fuller description of Quaker worship in Faith and Practice of Philadelphia Yearly Meeting.

Click here for more information on Quakerism and Quaker beliefs. 

How does meeting begin and end?

Meeting formally starts at 10 am but some worshipers begin to settle into silence even earlier and this signals the true beginning of Meeting. As others join the Meeting, the silence deepens and continues for about 50 minutes, broken only when someone rises to speak. About 10:50 am, a member of the meeting’s Worship & Ministry Committee rises to ask for requests to hold people or situations in the Light. This is similar to a request for prayers in other faith communities. Meeting concludes about 11 am as all shake hands and greet each other.

Isn’t it difficult to sit still and focus for a whole hour?

Yes! Even long-time Quakers often find it a challenge to tune out both external distractions and the mind’s insistent buzzing. Helpful practices include offering prayers, giving thanks, and brief reading of devotional literature.

Click here to learn more about practices that help worshipers center into silence.

Click here to read more about how individual Quakers experience meeting for worship.

What else is helpful to know?

Attenders are encouraged to use the level entrance from the circle off Whittier Place. Here a member of the Meeting greets all who enter. Here also is the Welcome Table, where visitors can make nametags and pick up literature about Quakerism. All are welcome to join the hymn-singing around the piano in the Meeting room from 9:30 to 10 am.  Dress is comfortable but respectful. Hearing assistance devices and warm shawls are available on the facing benches and may be borrowed during Meeting without special permission.

Fellowship with conversation and refreshments follows Meeting every Sunday. All are invited to attend.

Whether you are new to Quakerism or have worshiped with Quakers before, we invite you to join us on a Sunday morning. 

If you have questions about the way we worship, please contact the Meeting secretary and ask to speak with a member of the Worship & Ministry Committee.