Will I be welcome at a Quaker meeting?

Also: Is there a dress code?

It’s hard to imagine Quakers who wouldn’t welcome a visitor to a meeting for worship. Most meetinghouses have an open door policy (though they may have made some pandemic-related adjustments), so if you show up a little bit before the meeting for worship formally begins, somebody will probably introduce themselves to you and tell you a little bit about silent worship.

For many meetings, worship ends with everyone introducing themselves—you might hear some people describe themselves as members of the meeting, while others call themselves attenders. (There is a difference: Attenders come to meeting for worship, and may participate in some other activities at the meetinghouse, but positions of leadership within the community are more likely to be filled by members.) Go ahead and say hello, and don’t be afraid to let people know it’s your first time.

 “It took a while for me to settle down, but then they had hospitality. The people were so friendly and gracious; there’s diversity there, and I just loved it. It was like two worship services in one. [There’s] the silence, and hospitality is worship too.

Once worship has formally ended, more often than not it’s time for coffee and cake, or tea and cookies, or maybe even a potluck lunch! (Again, COVID might put a damper on this somewhat.) Don’t be surprised if members of the meeting come over to say hello and start a conversation. You’ll probably be invited, subtly or not so subtly, to talk about what brought you to the meeting, and how you found the experience; you’ll almost certainly be invited to ask members any questions you might have about Quakerism, and encouraged to come back to as many meetings as you like. (In our general experience, though, Friends don’t engage in hard sell tactics. They won’t tell you that coming to meeting is something you should do—but if you felt led in that direction, it’s something you could do.)

“But do I need to dress up?” you might ask. Nope! Quakers have long believed in the principle of plain dress, which means different things to different Friends—but for our immediate purposes, it basically means you can wear the sort of clothes you’d wear any other time of the week. “Business casual” offers one helpful rule of thumb, but it wouldn’t be surprising to see a Quaker at meeting in jeans and sneakers, either. That doesn’t mean you have to dress down, though—what matters is that you wear what’s comfortable for you.

Next: How can I become a Quaker?

Learn more at Friends Journal

New Seekers and the Welcoming Community,
Suzanne Siverling & Maurine Pyle

Thou Shalt Wear Comfy Shoes,” Suzanne W. Cole Sullivan

“I think what has resonated most with me about Quakerism is that idea that God is still speaking and is present now, and there’s equal access to that. That was not my experience of faith or my understanding of it growing up. God was locked away, and some people knew, and some people didn’t, and there were lots of rules. Quakerism just shakes up rules and I love that so much.”