Committees and Officers

There are no paid clergy in unprogrammed Quaker meetings.  The clerk(s) of the Meeting are resources for general information and ensure that Meeting business is conducted.  Most of the work of the Meeting is done by meeting members and attenders who volunteer through a committee structure.

All committees, with a few exceptions, welcome members and attenders to attend who might be interested in the work of the committee.  Committees with closed attendance may deal with sensitive information and are closed to ensure the respect and privacy of matters discussed.  These committees are designated below with an astersisk.  If you feel led to participate in those committee meetings, please contact the clerk of that committee to secure an invitation.

“Volunteerism has marked the Society from its beginnings.  Volunteers as they work together for the Meeting, often find their religious lives mutually strengthened, their sense of community deepened, and their commitment as members affirmed.” Source:  Faith & Practice (Philadelphia Yearly Meeting, 1997) p. 188

 

Officers of the Meeting

Clerk: David Bowen
Assistant Clerk: Geoff Brieger
Recording Clerk: Harriet Greenwood
Treasurer: Inge Brieger

 

Committees:

Ministry and Nurture*: Responsible for the pastoral care of members and attenders.
     Members:  Marvin Barnes (Clerk), Ellerie Brownfain, Pam Melick, Wink Covintree, David Bowen (ex-officio)
     Committee’s pages: Accessible to committee members only

*Closed attendance.

Communications: Responsible for the online communications of the meeting.
     Members:  Bill Warters (Clerk), Saad Shah, Jj Kidder

Worship

Worship

Birmingham Friends Meeting welcomes all to our weekly meeting for worship. Most of our current members came first to our meeting as visitors; we have always found that the presence of visitors enriches our meeting. We hope that this information helps you understand more about us.

Meeting for Worship

Meeting for worship takes place from 10:30-11:30 am every First Day (Sunday) morning.  Ours is a “silent,” unprogrammed meeting, meaning that worship centers within an expectant silence.  Quakers believe that there is “that of God” in every person, and that this “Inner Light” can speak directly to each person, without the intervention of an intermediary. The goal of our corporate worship is to hear the voice of this Inner Teacher as we enter into the presence of the Divine. When a worshipper hears a message given them by the Inner Voice and also feels called to share it, they may rise and speak. Listeners will then allow a time of silence to reflect on what has been said. However, a meeting for worship may also pass entirely in silence, as the messages that are given to us may be intended solely for our own hearing.

As worship draws to a close, those present are invited to share joys and sorrows by the clerk of the meeting. The meeting is closed by the clerk shaking hands of the person next to them, and the handshake continues around the circle, thus closing worship. It is our custom for the clerk then to ask visitors to introduce themselves. After announcements, Friends gather for fellowship, conversation, and light refreshments before leaving.

Meeting for Worship is not the only time Friends look for “that of God” in everyone: we strive to keep that expectation foremost in all our dealings with others. Attending Meeting for Worship nurtures us spiritually as we seek to follow God’s leading throughout the week. It is also the ground from which we conduct our meeting for business on the second Sunday of each month.

 

Meeting for Worship for Business

On the third First Day (Sunday) of each month we meet to conduct the business of the meeting. The search to know the will of God also guides our business meetings. At business meetings members and attenders make decisions by seeking the sense of the meeting on agenda items including, among other things, finances, membership requests, committee activities, and our participation in the wider Quaker community and our neighborhood. Visitors are always welcome. Attending business meeting is a good way to learn more about issues of concern, and what happens to keep our meeting going.

 

“Come with Hearts and Minds Prepared.”

Faith and Practice reminds us to come to meeting with hearts and minds prepared for worship. Friends are encouraged to enter the Meeting room on First Day in a worshipful manner, minimizing extraneous talking and socializing before meeting.

Worship begins when the first person has sat down in the meeting room. Talking and noise can disturb those in the meeting room who are already worshipping. There is plenty of time for greeting one another and socializing after meeting.

Consider preparing for worship even before meeting for worship, as you walk into the meetinghouse or in the car ride to meeting.   Preparing beforehand can help you center more easily once in meeting for worship. This deepens the overall quality of our meeting for worship for not only yourself, but for everyone present. As Quakers, we are all ministers and, therefore, all responsible for meeting for worship. If you have any questions about guidelines for meeting for worship, please contact a member of the Ministry and Nurture Committee.

 

If you arrive late …

We’ve all been late for Meeting. We all know the desperate feeling of rushing to minimize our lateness. Sometimes it can’t be helped. If you do arrive after 10:30…

Listen as you enter to make certain that no one is speaking. If a message is being given, wait by the door until it is over. Walk quietly to an available empty seat. Even if you observe all these rules, being late can be disruptive to some degree.

Quaker Alphabet Soup

Need help with the mysterious Quaker acronyms?

We understand.  There are a lot of them.  We were once confused too!
Here are a few, decoded:

BFM Birmingham Friends Meeting this Quaker meeting
FCE Friends Council on Education liaison among Quaker schools nationwide
FCNL Friends Committee on National Legislation Quaker lobbying office in Washington, DC
FGC Friends General Conference umbrella organization of mostly unprogrammed Quaker meetings throughout the United States
FUM Friends United Meeting umbrella organization of programmed Quaker meetings and churches
FWCC Friends World Committee on Consultation umbrella organization that loosely ties all programmed and unprogrammed Quaker meetings and churches together, and sponsors world gatherings of Friends
GPQM Green Pastures Quarterly Meeting umbrella organization of unprogrammed Quaker monthly meetings and worship groups in the lower peninsula of Michigan; it meets four times a year
LEYM Lake Erie Yearly Meeting umbrella organization of unprogrammed Quaker monthly meetings and worship groups in Ohio, Michigan and Pittsburgh, PA
MM Monthly Meeting a local Quaker meeting (most of which meet weekly for worship; business meetings are held monthly)
QUNO Quaker United Nations Office Quaker lobbying office at the U.N.

FAQQs

FAQs

What happens in Quaker worship … is it really silent?

Quaker worship is based on silent waiting, where we expect to come into the presence of God. In this living silence, we listen for the still, small voice that comes from God through the Inward Light. Worshiping together in silence is a way for a community to be brought together in love and faithfulness.

During silent worship, anyone – adult or child – may feel inspired to give vocal ministry (speak out of the silence). After the person speaks the message, the silence resumes. Such messages may be offered several times during a meeting for worship, or the whole period of worship may be silent. The clerk signals the close of worship by shaking hands with another person, then everyone shakes hands with those seated nearby.

What are Quaker testimonies?

Quakers find that attending to the Light Within influences the ways we act in our personal lives, as well as the changes we work for in the wider world. We have noticed that certain values seem to arise more or less consistently when we try to stay close to the guidance of the Inward Teacher, and we call these principles our “testimonies.”  They are not so much rules that we try to obey as the outcomes of our efforts to live in harmony with the Holy Spirit.  Some commonly recognized testimonies include peace, integrity, equality, simplicity, community, and care for the earth.

How do I find out more about this community?

Attend meeting and talk to people afterward. Ask what you can read. Stay for potluck.

What should I wear to meeting for worship? Dressy or dress-down?

There is no dress code; attire typically ranges from casual (shorts, sandals, t-shirts) to what is sometimes called “business casual.”

How early should I arrive for a 10:30 meeting for worship?

It’s nice to arrive early enough to find a seat. If it’s your first time, you might want to take some literature to read with you; ask about pamphlets and flyers available for first-time visitors.

What should I do as a new person once I arrive at meeting for worship?

Take a leaflet for first-time visitors if you like, and then go in and find a seat. You may sit anywhere; it’s fine to walk across the room and sit on the far side from the doors.  Be sure to sign the guest book before you leave.   We’d love to add you to our mailing list, if you’re interested.

What if I arrive after meeting for worship has started?

Listen as you enter to make certain that no one is speaking. If a message is being given, wait by the door until it is over. Walk quietly to an available seat.

What is involved in becoming a member? How is that different from being an “attender”?

Please click to see this FAQ on membership.

Children

Children

This page comprises a set of Frequently Asked Questions about our children’s program. If you have questions that aren’t addressed here, please ask any member of the meeting.

What is the purpose of Birmingham Friends Meeting’s program for children?

Our purpose is to give our children a joyful involvement in Quaker community, a spiritual foundation and mindful experience of the Inner Light and participation in activities centered on the testimonies of Friends.  We want parents to be free to go to meeting for worship, knowing their children are well cared for, safe, happy and learning.

Who are the Teachers?

Our teachers are volunteers from the meeting.  Two adults are always present with the children in First Day School.

I understand that children are invited to sit in meeting for worship for the first 15 minutes. But what if my child can’t sit still for 15 minutes?

We ask parents to bring their children to Meeting for the first 15 minutes. Silence and stillness can be difficult for children and we are sympathetic to age-appropriate restlessness. Children may bring a book or a favorite toy from home that is quiet and peaceful.

What do the children do in their classrooms? 

The children leave meeting for worship with their teachers at 10:45. The curriculum is taught to engage the children at their developmental level with spiritual activities and lessons.
Bringing your children with some consistency helps build a classroom community.

What happens after meeting and First Day School ends?

At then end of First Day School, teachers return the children to the Meeting Room and their parents who are then responsible for them.  The children are encouraged to share what they learned with the entire meeting. Families are welcome to stay for fellowship in the Social Room.