What Happens During Sunday Services?

Dove window croppedThe Reno Friends Meeting House is a small, brick house that has been converted into an airy, well-lit space for worship. You may enter from the front or by the back door (most of us use the back). Inside you will find two concentric circles of chairs; you may sit anywhere you please.

Our silent worship hour – which Quakers call “meeting for worship” – begins at 10 am Sunday. It lasts about an hour until the Friend serving as “worship clerk” for that day rises and invites everyone present to stand, form a circle and join hands. There is no minister in charge and no formal service, hymns or collective prayers.

After joining us for a few minutes at the start of silent worship, children are invited to spend the rest of the worship hour in our First Day School. With the assistance of adult volunteers, our First Day School teacher Erin Higgs offers an informal lesson inside our First Day School building immediately adjacent to the Meeting House.

Quaker worship is based on a silence of expectancy: we seek to come nearer to God and each other as we share the stillness of the meeting. Participants are not expected to say or do anything other than join in this seeking. Do not be concerned if the silence seems strange at first. We rarely experience silence in everyday life so it is not unusual to be distracted by outside noise or roving thoughts.

If someone feels compelled by the Spirit to speak, pray or read, they will rise to share those words and the silence will be broken. Such ministry, which has not been planned before worship begins, seeks to enrich the gathered worship. If something is said that does not seem to make sense, try to reach behind the words to the Spirit which inspired them or allow them to be absorbed into the silence. Meeting for worship is not a debate, so it is inappropriate to respond directly to spoken ministry – although it is not unusual for other ministry to build on what has been said.

In worship we have our neighbors to right and left, before and behind, yet the Eternal Presence is over all and beneath all. Worship does not consist in achieving a mental state of concentrated isolation from one’s fellows. But in the depth of common worship it is as if we found our separate lives were all one life, within whom we live and move and have our being.

                                                                                             Thomas R. Kelley (1938)

No two Quaker meetings are the same. A worship hour can embrace a wide range of experience. Some people may experience a profound sense of awe or an awareness of the presence of God. Others may have a less certain sense of an indefinable spiritual dimension.

At the close of meeting for worship, the clerk will welcome everyone and ask for “afterthoughts” that anyone would like to share. We then introduce ourselves, share any announcements, and invite everyone to stay for tea or coffee and conversation. Once a month, on the fourth Sunday, we have a potluck lunch and celebrate birthdays.

We do not take up a collection during our worship hour, and we do not try to convert those who attend. You are welcome to attend as often as you like, without any expectation or pressure to join or donate.

Many of us are attenders who have not chosen to become members of the Religious Society of Friends, but all are welcome and all are treated equally.  We would be glad to see you again in our meeting, but this is entirely between you and God.

If you would like more information about Quakers than you find on this website, the clerk or other Friends will be happy to provide it.  We have a small library of books about Quakerism available for borrowing, along with pamphlets to take away.

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