Your First Time at a Quaker Meeting

If you have never been to a Quaker Meeting before, this page may be helpful.

What do Quakers believe?

Quakers have no dogmas or creeds and no paid ministers.  Each participant seeks to experience and learn about the religious life for her or himself.  We have the conviction that each person can have direct experience of the Spirit of God and that there is something of God in everyone.  [more...]

What happens in Meeting for Worship?

On entering the Meeting Room, feel free to sit anywhere.  It is helpful to leave seats near the doors for latecomers.

A Quaker Meeting is a way of worship based on silence, a silence of expectancy in which 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.  There is no fixed structure to the Meeting.  There are no creeds, hymns or set prayers.  There is no minister in charge and no formal service.

If someone feels compelled by the Spirit to speak, pray or read, the silence will be broken.  Such ministry, which normally 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 before.

No two Quaker Meetings are the same.  A Meeting 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.

Occasionally a Meeting will pass with no words spoken.

After about an hour, two of the members will shake hands, signalling the end of worship; others present may also shake hands.

What do children do in Meeting?

Meetings which often have children are likely to have a Children's Meeting, which may be every Sunday or on particular Sundays.  The children may start off with the adults, leaving after a while for their own Meeting, or they may join the adults towards the end of the adult Meeting.  Meetings which don't normally have children may be able to make arrangements if they knowing a child is expected.  Meetings which make arrangements for children, either regularly or occasionally, will follow our Safeguarding Policy in our Safeguarding Handbook [pdf].   If you want to take a child to a Meeting, we suggest you check with the Meeting about arrangements for children.

What happens at the end of Meeting?

After Meeting ends visitors are welcomed and visitors from other Meetings may bring greetings.  Then the notices will be read and often there is tea or coffee.  You are very welcome to join in but this is entirely up to you.

How can I find out more about Quakers?

If you would like more information about Quakers or their worship, any Friend will be happy to try to help you. Our Meetings have a selection of pamphlets to give out, or you can contact us either from the Area Meeting contacts page or at our Local Meetings, or contact Friends House, the headquarters of the umbrella organisation of Quakers in Britain.


Hertford and Hitchin Quakers 27 Aug 2012, updated 26 May 2018
based on a page on "Quaker Scotland"