Meeting for Worship

“Be still and know that I am God.” Psalm 46:10.

What to Expect at Meeting for Worship

Meeting for Worship at Friends Meeting at Cambridge is unprogrammed. There is no pastor or leader, save the spirit of God that is in us and among us. Our worship together is primarily silent, but includes brief spoken ministry when a worshipper is so moved. Friends gather to wait together in quiet anticipation of experiencing God’s presence. There is a living silence which has great power. A religious experience and a humble sense that it must be shared may lead to a spoken message offered in the spirit of worship. Meeting for Worship is a time for one’s spiritual life to be deepened. We welcome all who desire to worship with us.

We gather together in silence to listen to the inner Light. Very often messages arise for individuals in meeting: a few are meant to be shared with the meeting as a whole after a time of deep reflection. Messages come not only as words, but as images, feelings, the fire crackling, thunder, sunshine, the words of others. In others’ messages, listen for what may be meant for you: some messages speak to you directly, call up a feeling or an association; others may call up some resistance. If a message does not speak to you, let it go.

Meeting for Worship generally lasts for one hour and ends with a handshake started by the person who has “care of meeting” that day. Following announcements and an invitation for visitors to introduce themselves, all are welcomed for refreshments and snacks across the way in the Friends Room. If you need to make an announcement for the rise of meeting please send it in advance, via email. If you are delayed, write it on a piece of paper to avoid interruption and quietly pass it to the person who has care of worship.


At the rise of meeting for worship on Sunday morning a group gathers in the Friends Center for discussion. Newcomers are especially welcome to bring their reflections on the worship experience and questions about Quaker practice and belief. This is also an opportunity to share messages that arose during worship but were not spoken. Afterthoughts closes no later than 12:15 pm.


An Introduction to the Extended Meeting for Worship

Friends Meetings occasionally hold Meetings for Worship for longer than the usual one hour. This extended meeting allows many to go deeper in their centering and to give messages that enrich the worship. At Friends Meeting at Cambridge, our Extended Meeting for Worship takes place on the first Sunday of the month for two hours, starting at 9:30 am. Many Friends may come for only an hour of worship at the regular time of 10:30 am. When you arrive in the middle of an Extended Meeting, please be mindful of the worship that is already in progress, and refrain from conversation or other noise in the Meetinghouse.

FMC Meetings for Worship

Friends are reminded that FMC offers two weekly opportunities for community worship in addition to Sunday mornings: Wednesdays from 8:30-10:00 am (come for whatever portion you are able), and Sundays at 5:00 pm. Both take place in the parlor, and are generally small (usually under fifteen people). Tea and cookies are provided after the 5:00 pm worship. All are welcome.

Memorial Meetings for Worship

A Quaker memorial meeting follows the same form as a meeting for worship, the core of Quaker practice. Friends believe that there is God in everyone, or The Light Within, and that by sitting in expectant, silent worship, we may be moved by Spirit to share a message that expresses aloud what is already present. Some meetings for worship can be entirely silent; during some meetings, many are moved to offer vocal ministry.

Everyone participates equally and all are welcomed to speak. People may be moved to share prayers, poetry, stories, or a song. Friends are asked to allow a few moments to fully hear and reflect on each message before offering theirs.

A Quaker memorial meeting lasts for about an hour and ends with a handshake.

Worship Sharing

Worship sharing focuses on a particular question and helps us to explore our own experience and share with each other more deeply than we would in normal conversation. It seeks to draw us into sacred space, where we can take down our usual defenses, and encounter each other in “that which is eternal.”

Friends General Conference has some Guidelines for Worship Sharing.