How Quaker meetings work

A Quaker meeting is first and foremost a community of seekers who worship together. Quaker meetings follow the guidance of the Spirit in business and action as well as in worship.

Quaker meetings function through members contributing their spirituality, time, talent and funding to the mission of the meeting. Nearly all work in a typical Quaker meeting is done by volunteers. Most meetings have no paid workers although some meetings may hire part-time childcare, cleaning, grounds keeping or administrative workers. Everyone is welcome and expected to participate in the work of the meeting.

Meeting for Worship

All Quaker faith communities meet for worship and to share the task of discerning God’s way for our lives. Most Quaker meetings hold worship at least once each week generally on Sunday mornings. Many Quaker meetings also gather for worship mid-week and on special occasions including marriages, memorials and traditional holidays. There are also special meetings called quarterly and yearly meetings that engage Quakers from wider geographic areas in larger community for worship, fellowship, business and action in the world.

Meeting for Business

Most Quaker faith communities hold a monthly meeting where we make decisions. We use the collective discernment of members as well as tradition and scripture to help us understand God’s will for us.

Committees

The bulk of the work of Quaker meetings is done by committees according to the meeting’s needs and concerns. Different committees may care for the quality of worship, finances, peace and justice work, hospitality, religious education, nurturing members, and care of the building, if any. Issues of concern to members are first considered by the appropriate committee before being brought to the entire meeting community for consideration and decision-making. Committees perform specific tasks, think through issues and come up with recommendations to present to the full meeting for consideration during a meeting for business. All Quakers are expected to contribute to the work of the meeting by being active participants in one or more committees of the meeting.

The Clerk

The Clerk of the meeting is a unique role, having at once and the same time characteristics of facilitator, servant and leader. Clerks:

  • Serve as the center of communication within the meeting
  • Guide the conduct of business meetings
  • Serve as the contact person with regional Quaker bodies
  • Speak on behalf of the meeting when a spokesperson is required

Finances

Most meetings have a finance committee which draws up an annual budget. Members and other seekers contribute to the meeting by giving money to the treasurer.

Membership

When you have attended meeting for a period of time and regularly participated in worship, business meetings, and the life of the community, you may begin to feel a spiritual tie to the community. You may want to consider becoming a member. We encourage prospective members to learn about Quaker faith and practice and petition (write a simple letter) to the Clerk of the meeting indicating a desire to join the meeting and perhaps providing some information about your leading to become a member.

This information has been adapted from the Friends General Conference Quaker Quest program.