Beacon Hill Friends Meeting
Beacon Hill Friends Meeting is an inclusive Quaker religious community in Boston that affirms the value of all people regardless of race, nationality, ethnicity, gender identity, or sexual orientation.
Welcome to Beacon Hill Friends Meeting!
At Beacon Hill Friends Meeting, we practice unprogrammed or waiting Quaker worship, a time of when we sit in openness to God’s presence and leading. It is called unprogrammed because there is neither prepared order of service nor a chosen leader of the service. It is called waiting because our chief purpose is to wait upon the Spirit.
What follows are a few introductory thoughts on waiting worship. (For info and guidelines on Virtual Meeting for Worship, click here.)
Waiting worship is a new experience for many. It is a time when we together seek to move away from minutiae and noise, move towards peace and truth, see the bigger picture, and hear where we are guided.
Please feel free to ask anyone at Meeting for Worship about our experience in worship. Also, if you would like to read more, there are some websites at the end, or you could browse our lending library.
To be fully present in worship, it helps to start by centering down. Some do this by clearing mind and heart from distracting worries or thoughts or anything that would prevent them from hearing God’s voice. Some pray and some meditate. Some seek divine help to focus or for other obstacles in their lives. Some vary their approach each Sunday.
Once centered, try to listen for God’s voice within your heart.
It can help deepen your worship to open yourself to a thought, a prayer, a song, a passage of Scripture, a reading from another source, a specific concern, a sacred word, or whatever else the Spirit directs. It can also help to be aware of others around you and their yearnings and needs
Perhaps you will be led by Spirit to pray, either for the entire worshipping community or for some particular concern.
Listening to Spoken Ministry
When someone breaks the silence with vocal ministry, keep listening. Their voice may first appear to be a jarring interruption to your own experience of worship, but listen intently to what God might want to say to you through that which is spoken. Take time to reflect deeply on what the speaker says, rather than inwardly (or outwardly) responding.
Being Called to Speak
You might be called to speak during worship, even if you’re not Quaker, and even if it’s your first meeting for worship. A message should be from the Spirit—not from your intellect or emotion.
Determining when you ought to speak and when you ought to keep quiet is one of the hardest parts of Quaker worship. Reflect whether your words truly come from God and whether they are for the Friends gathered in worship. Sometimes what we are given is a thought or a memory, not a message; sometimes a message is just from God to you personally, and is not meant to be said aloud.
Please do not remain silent when you sense the Spirit leading you to speak, whether you fully understand the leading or not.
Some Advices for Speaking in Meeting - When Meeting in Person
It is important to allow several minutes of silence after each speaker for the message to be heard and assimilated by the worshipping group.
Try to discern if the message given to you is for all assembled, or if it is for you personally. God ministers to us in both ways during Meeting for Worship, but spoken ministry out of waiting worship should be a response to the call to minister to the gathered body of worshippers.
If you feel led to speak, surrender again your impulse to God. If it is only your will that prompts you, God's grace will enable you to remain seated, which will benefit yourself and others.
However, if after an attitude of surrender, you still feel the prompting of the Spirit and that inner necessity to speak (sometimes with emotional butterflies or physical quaking), then please be obedient. Rise and share the message that you are led to share.
Use the microphone if you are willing. Please stand if you are able or signal the microphone holder, and they will bring it to you. The microphone only directs sound to people wearing headphones, so please speak audibly and distinctly so that everyone can hear.
Let God’s spirit discipline your mind. Let your words be few and full, and speak directly to the point without wandering.
Above all else, seek to be obedient to the Light: do not determine ahead of time whether you will speak or refrain from speaking.
Guidelines for Virtual Worship
Keep in mind that we are trying to maintain the spirit of our physical worship as best as possible. Please act as you would during worship in our meeting room. (Spiritually focused, no recordings or cameras, no other internet use.) Please enter silently, without introducing yourself.
Please mute yourself during worship unless you are saying something so background noise is not transmitted to everyone. If something is happening in view of the camera that may be distracting to others worshipping (including eating, drinking, or movement near or behind you) please turn off or cover your camera. Options to turn on and off your camera and microphone are on the bottom of the screen.
When you enter the virtual worship space, be aware of what you are making visible to others in the room. This may include your name and/or photo.
We welcome families into our virtual space no less than our physical one. Babies and small children are a beloved part of our community. Virtual meetings have the advantage of caregivers being able to attend to restless or vocal little ones with the mute setting on, which we hope allows more parents to remain in worship without having to leave the space.
Tips and Suggestions for Virtual Worship
Find a place where you will be physically comfortable for the next hour and where you are unlikely to be distracted by others). Directly facing a light source helps other Friends see you better. You may want this to intentionally be a different space from your work-from-home seating arrangement.
Set aside some transition time and preparation for worship. You may want to create a “before worship” settling-in practice, such as a guided meditation or spiritual reading—anything that helps keep you from jumping right from busy home life immediately into worship.
Keep in mind that others can see you when your camera is on. If something is happening in view of the camera that may be distracting to others worshipping (including eating, drinking or movement near or behind you), please turn off or cover your camera with a post-it. Options to turn on and off your camera and microphone are on the bottom of the screen. You will still remain in the meeting until you click “leave meeting.”
The same way we’d turn off phones, etc., before worship, please turn off, mute, or move any devices that may be a disturbance during virtual worship.
If you choose “Gallery View” at the top right corner you will be able to see everyone in the meeting at once. Some people have found seeing everyone is helpful for feeling the sense of the community being together. You can alternatively choose “Speaker View” which centers on whoever is speaking.
Here’s a video to show you how Zoom works, with the example of Woodbrooke Worship. Just a few notes of differences for BHFM Virtual Worship.
Please keep yourself muted during worship unless you are speaking.
We have the Chat feature disabled during worship.
For more information, check out our resources page.
Adapted with permission from Indianapolis First Friends Meeting.