The Quaker Way

The Committee of Ministry and Worship had a class called: The Quaker Way – a sort of introduction to Quakerism that will the summer of 2012. .   These were  held during “second hour” as there are no second hours in the summer and no business meeting in August.

Notes on Quaker “Etiquette” from our Quaker Way Second Hour Programs

The following list was compiled by Lynn Fitz-Hugh from a brainstorming session of the Quaker Way class.  The list speaks particularly to expectations related to Meeting for Worship.

  1. Speak as led by God. Messages do not come from our intellect or our ego.
  2. When entering late, check to see if anyone is speaking and wait until a message is finished to enter so you don’t distract other worshipers.
  3. Leave space between messages so everyone can fully digest one message before another comes too quickly.
  4. Don’t speak too early as others are settling in and not yet fully available to fully hear the message.
  5. Don’t argue with or counter previous messages. If the message did not speak to you, it may speak to someone else. Arguing or countering a message disrespects the previous person, and the message.
  6. That said (#5), it is OK to refer to themes or ideas from previous messages in the same way music builds upon previous themes.
  7. Do not pre-prepare a message, bringing written messages of your own or from others. It is our belief that God programs the Meeting. It is fine if an idea that has been with you during the week forms into a message… just don’t come with an assumption that you will or will not speak. Remain open to the guidance of the Spirit.
  8. Do not bring reading material to Meeting, or read other than from the Bible during Meeting. Early Friends had memorized the Bible. Contemporary Friends, if directed to a passage may need to look up the exact words. Some may find such reading before Meeting helpful to “prime the pump”, but during worship we are in expectant waiting for The Presence/Spirit among us.
  9. Speak only once. It is assumed that God gives a complete message. If you find “afterwords” - more parts coming to you – this maybe a sign of not having seasoned the message enough before standing to deliver it. Maybe someone else will stand and finish your message!
  10. Stand while giving a message so others can hear you better. It is also good to speak to the person furthest from you to help everyone hear.
  11. Don’t preach on favorite subjects – this is not a captive audience! This is a group in expectant waiting.
  12. Have a discernment process that enables you to recognize the inward signals that you are supposed to give a message. These vary from person to person… but many inwardly ask if a message is meant for only yourself, for someone in particular (in which case you might speak with that person later), or if the message is meant for the Meeting. The reason we are called Quakers is because of the “quaking” of a person before he or she would rise to speak!  
From August 2012 EFM Newsletter

How is North Pacific Yearly Meeting related to other Yearly Meetings?

A little bit of Quaker history can help us understand… It all began in 1647 with George Fox’s “Great Opening” in England. In 1827 a major split occurred separating the “Orthodox” Quakers (about 60%) from the “Hicksite” Quakers (about 40%). The “Hicksite” branch was generally universalist, unprogrammed Meetings. In 1900, Hicksite Yearly Meetings formed FGC – Friends General Conference, which includes, among others, Philadelphia and Baltimore Yearly Meetings.

The “Orthodox” branch split again in 1844 forming the “Gurneyite” and “Wilberite” branches.

In 1901, the 5 Yearly Meetings from the Gurneyite branch joined together and eventually became Friends United Meetings (FUM). Other splits have occurred in this branch forming Evangelical Friends Church International and the Association of Evangelical Friends. And the process continues, there is another split in this branch this year (2012) over the issue of Gay Rights.

Meanwhile, the Orthodox “Wilberite” branch (Conservative Friends) formed Iowa Yearly Meeting in 1877. In 1882, two members, Joel and Hannah Bean, left Iowa Yearly Meeting to form an Independent Meeting in College Park, California. Quaker historian, Chuck Fager, writes,

College Park Association's purpose statement, was sentences long: "To promote the interest of Christianity and morality and to disseminate religious and moral principles. To hold property; and

To maintain a meeting for worship of the Society of Friends" in their meetinghouse. In a later statement of its "Discipline" the section on "Doctrine" stated, in full: "Friends believe in the continuing reality of the living Christ, available to all seeking souls." Other sections specifically declared its worship to be unprogrammed, non-pastoral and open to all, and named an imperative to social witness.

It is the Bean’s College Park Meeting which gradually grew into our own North Pacific Yearly Meeting.

  • From August 2012 EFM Newsletter