Quaker A-Z: W is for Worship

Foundation not garnish...

Quakers hold and make decisions at their Business Meetings – more formally called ‘Meetings for Worship for Business’, sometimes called ‘Meetings for Worship with a concern for Business’.

But whatever you call it is the foundation not a garnish or decoration like the flowers on the clerks’ table above.

a vase of flowers on a table with folders

Every business meeting begins with a time of worship. At times the worship is perfunctory, but at its best, the opening worship is long enough to remind those present that we are listening deeply and seeking to hear the Spirit in the agenda items addressed.

While it may seem sensible to hurry through the worship bit to get to the ‘real agenda’, I’ve found that a mistake.

A longer period of silence and stillness, even in a secular meeting can help everyone settle, allow egos to be released at least a bit and for people to separate themselves from the stresses of the day, of getting to the meeting place, or whatever else may have happened in their lives.

It helps them to refocus on the community, on the people around them as individuals, and to refocus on that spark of G-D, Light, Spirit, or Whatever-you-want-to-call-it. All of which will help deepen the worship and create the grounded and centred stillness out of which the Spirit moves.

Time for worship...

I remind those I’m training or mentoring as clerks that there is always enough time to do what is needed. Even if that time isn’t today!

Another meeting can be called if people are passionate about an item or subject – and that is not a clerking failure. That doesn’t mean that reminding people they should only speak once, to be brief, not repeat previous statements etc. don’t have a place, and of course to remind them that what they say in a business meeting should be considered – just as they would consider their ministry in any Meeting for Worship.

In our meetings for worship we seek through the stillness to know God’s will for ourselves and for the gathered group. Our meetings for church affairs, in which we conduct our business, are also meetings for worship based on silence, and they carry the same expectation that God’s guidance can be discerned if we are truly listening together and to each other, and are not blinkered by preconceived opinions. It is this belief that God’s will can be recognised through the discipline of silent waiting which distinguishes our decision-making process from the secular idea of consensus. We have a common purpose in seeking God’s will through waiting and listening, believing that every activity of life should be subject to divine guidance. This does not mean that laughter and a sense of humour should be absent from our meetings for church affairs. It does mean that at all times there should be an inward recollection: out of this will spring a right dignity, flexible and free from pomp and formality. We meet together for common worship, for the pastoral care of our membership, for needful administration, for unhurried deliberation on matters of common concern, for testing personal concerns that are brought before us, and to get to know one another better in things that are eternal as in things that are temporal.

I never want to repeat myself too much on this blog – so did a quick search for ‘worship’ before starting this post. Out of the 202 current posts, 67 include the word ‘Worship’ so I’ve linked some below if you’re interested in reading previous thoughts.

The Quaker Speak video is one I use while mentoring – as it covers that perennial question:

               ‘Why would G-D care about the colour of the carpet?’

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