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.
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
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.
Adapted with permission from Indianapolis First Friends Meeting.