Visiting a new worship community can be an interesting experience. Some people like the experience of learning on-the-go and “exploring by doing.” For them, walking blind into an unfamiliar worship setting is exciting and adventurous. If you are of this ilk, we’d love for you to just show up and experience one of our worship gatherings. However, not everyone is comfortable with this approach and would rather have some idea of what to expect when entering a new scenario. If you’re one of these folks, we hope this page will help put you at ease when you visit Reedwood.
What to Expect in Meeting for Worship
Friends (Quakers) have a unique lexicon surrounding our worship. Meeting for Worship can most closely be translated to “Worship Service” for our protestant friends and “Mass” for our Catholic and Orthodox friends. In fact, our Meeting for Worship runs much like a typical protestant worship service with some key differences.
As a worshipping community of Friends, the basis of our worship is silence, listening, and waiting. The singing, prayers, recitations, and preaching that you will encounter in our meetings rise out of this silence to give us direction and keep us centered on Jesus, our inward teacher. You may notice that there are often prolonged “spaces” between the programmed elements of our meeting. We’re not confused about what comes next, we’re simply allowing space for the elements of the meeting to settle on our hearts. We try not to move too quickly from one component to the next.
We also have time set aside in our service for what is called open worship. At this time, we grow silent to provide space for Christ to speak to us. Some people are confused or struggle with how to enter into this type of worship. On your visit, you will find open worship guides in the pew backs in front of you that you may find helpful. Anyone who feels the Spirit leading is free to share with the gathering. Sometimes people pray aloud. Other times someone may share a brief message that God has placed on her/his heart. There really is no “right way” to respond during open worship.
Our open worship typically concludes with an offertory which focuses more on the music than the passing of the plate (though we do that). At the end of the offertory, the person who has been designated to give announcements will ask the gathering, “are all hearts clear?” meaning, “does anyone have something they feel lead to share before we move forward?” After allowing space for a response, we continue with announcements and transition to a time of conversation and coffee/tea.
The Society of Friends has quite a diversity of practice from meeting to meeting and we are what’s called semi-programmed. This means that, as mentioned above, we have some elements of the meeting which a pre-planned (programmed), but we also devote a significant amount of time to open worship. Some Friends meet in almost entirely programmed meetings, while others have no programmed elements at all and meet only with open worship.
If you have any questions, please don’t hesitate to contact a pastor.