Welcome to Meeting for Worship
at Fifteenth Street Friends’ Meeting

1. What actually happens in meeting for worship?
We sit together in silence, and begin to draw our minds and hearts away from daily preoccupations, to better hear the “still, small voice” of God. Some days, the meeting will remain entirely silent, but usually the spirit will move someone to speak. Friends are encouraged to accept each message in the spirit in which it is given. If it does not speak to you, consider that it may speak to others. After an hour, a designated person will signal the end of meeting by shaking hands with someone near them.

2. What goes on inside you in meeting?
This will certainly vary with the individual, but most Friends describe a process of “centering down,” when we settle our minds, moving from busy-ness to openness. In the process, we may give thanks for our blessings, and ask for help with our troubles. We may do the same for those around us, or others in our hearts. Sometimes we find our way blocked by regrets, guilt or anger. Silence can reveal things that alienate us from God and truth. In silence we may also find a way to heal that rift.

3. Who is responsible for the ministry?
In the absence of professional clergy, we are all potential ministers. Some of the most powerful ministry is silent, but it may also take the form of words. One should not speak in meeting without a strong sense of urgency, and the conviction that the message will serve others. If you have a message for the meeting that comes from the spirit, please stand up and speak loudly and clearly. It is important to leave enough silence between messages for Friends to reflect on each one. Brevity is generally a good thing. Sincerity and faithfulness are paramount.

4. What happens after meeting?
After we have shaken hands with those around us, visitors and newcomers are invited to introduce themselves, announcements are made, and we adjourn for fellowship and refreshments in the common room. Some committees may be meeting that are open to all: Religious Education; Arts; Peace. There may be a discussion group or presentation planned.

5. What exactly do Quakers believer Are they Christians?
We believe that everyone has within them “that of God,” or something of the divine spirit. Quakers began as Christians who rebelled against the Church of England in the 17th century. Today not all Friends consider themselves Christians. Many Friends experience the spirit as the inner light, or the spirit of truth, and may not believe in God. Quakers do not ask members to agree on a creed because essential truth cannot be fixed once and for all with a few words. Rather, we must continue to seek it afresh as it applies to our lives. Fifteenth Street Meeting includes people with a range of beliefs from Christ-centered to universalist. We are united in our experience of the spiritual benefit of our practice. We welcome seekers from all religious backgrounds.

6. Can I bring my children?
Yes! During 11am meeting there is childcare for preschoolers, and First Day School (Sunday school) for ages 5 through teens. Greeters at the front door can direct you there. The older children join the adults for the last 15 minutes of meeting for worship. The children and their teacher(s) usually lead the announcements with a description of their activities. Babies and children are also welcome in Meeting for Worship at the discretion of their parent or guardian.

7. How are Quakers involved in social issues?
Friends’ belief in the inherent divinity within each person has led to a history of working for peace, justice and equality. At l5th St we run a shelter every night for a dozen  homeless men and women. Please ask if you’d like to volunteer. On the first Sunday of each month, we hold a peace vigil at the Washington Square Arch, after 11:00 meeting for worship. All are welcome to join. The larger community of Quakers in the New York area is actively concerned with the death penalty, prison issues, racism, the environment, and supporting peacemaking and education among Friends in East Africa.

8. Where can I learn more about Quakerism and this community?
Pick up our newsletter for a list of upcoming events, and reports from committees. Faith & Practice is a book published by New York Quakers to represent our beliefs, traditions, organizational structure, and a little history. The 15th Street Library has a literature table at social hour. In the monthly Bible study group, participants share equally in interpreting scripture and applying it to our lives. The meeting periodically offers a series of classes called Quakerism 101, or Exploring Quakerism. To see 15th Street Meeting's decision-making process in real time, you may come to the monthly Meetings for Worship with a Concern for Business (“Business Meeting” for short) at 1pm on the second Sunday of each month.

Prepared by
the Ministry and Worship Committee
of Fifteenth Street Meeting, 2012

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