Pendle Hill Pamphlet 182, 1972
On Speaking Out Of The Silence BookedPDF
Douglas V. Steere

Douglas Steere joined the Religious Society of Friends by convincement in 1932. Coming to the Quakers after a period of religious quest, he has from the beginning been deeply appreciative of the mutation of the silent meeting for worship and its corporate waiting upon God. His little pamphlet, A Quaker Meeting for Worship, has gone through many editions and been widely used, enabling others to share in his experience of what takes place in worship of this type.

While acknowledging the great variety of leadings and ministry of Quakers, in this pamphlet Steere wants "to explore afresh the very unusual way that the vocal ministry springs up in an unprogrammed Quaker meeting which settles itself in silent expectant waiting, and to look into ways that it can be sustained in a condition of health in such a meeting.…Why then do we come here to sit together for our period of waiting expectant worship? We come because we, too, sense that something is going on all the time, something that we have only partially grasped the meaning of, and we long to be brought more deeply into touch with it. We come because in our kaleidoscopic lives with so many priorities all simultaneously demanding the first place in us, we dimly sense that there is, communicating with us in broken ways throughout the week, something, Someone, that could make us one again."

Steere touches on how Friends have been led to speak in meeting, what preparation some Friends have used, whether contemporary issues are appropriate for Meeting for Worship, the sense of a gathered meeting, and the encouragement of vocal ministry. Throughout the discussion lies his conviction of the importance of open and worshipful ministry, and that "meetings that have turned completely silent almost inevitably wither away. Something is missing in the corporate relationship."