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.