Philadelphia Yearly Meeting Quakers celebrate unprogrammed worship. Gathering in silence enables us to shed the strains, stresses, and distractions of the secular world and to open ourselves to direct communion and relationship with God and each other.
We may be led to speak during worship when we find ourselves inspired by the divine spirit, but speaking is not a requirement of worship. Some of our most profound spiritual experiences arise from our patient, silent waiting for God to speak to us and through us.
All members are ministers in one way or another. For this reason, we have no paid clergy and no pre-arranged liturgies for worship. Quakers consider outward rites and symbols unnecessary and even a hindrance to direct spiritual experience, and therefore do not celebrate many traditional outward sacraments. Every day, and our relationships with one another and the world are holy and sacramental.
In Philadelphia Yearly Meeting, Friends gather to worship in stillness, waiting upon the Divine Presence. From this have come revelations of the love and guiding will of God, revelations inwardly experienced that may be shared in words with others present and expressed in attitude and action. Participation in this form of worship is intrinsic to membership since ours is above all an experiential religion. Friends do not require acceptance of a creed as a test of membership, believing that no creedal statement can adequately describe spiritual reality.
The Religious Society of Friends is a community of faith based on the experience of a transforming power named many ways: the Inner Light, the Spirit of Christ, the Guide, the Living God, the Divine Presence. Membership includes openness to an ongoing relationship with God and a willingness to live one’s life according to the leading of the Spirit as affirmed by the community of faith. For generations of Friends, membership has been an outward sign of an inward experience of Christ, the “true light which gives light to everyone” (John 1:9).