Activity time: 90 minutes
Materials for Activity
- Handout 4, What to Expect in Quaker Meeting
Preparation for Activity
- Locate a Friends meeting in your area. Use Quakerfinder.org, a service of the Friends General Conference or the phone book, if you are having difficultly. Arrange for your group to attend a meeting. Find out if it will be unprogrammed or pastoral.
- Copy Handout 4, What to Expect at Quaker Meeting, for all participants.
Description of Activity
Participants attend a Quaker meeting and process the experience.
Either you or a Quaker host should inform youth of any guidelines as far as behavior or dress is concerned. For example, plain dress (not revealing, no loud patterns, etc.) Inform youth that Friends are warm, welcoming, and accepting. They are typically very calm and quiet. Participants should expect to sit quietly throughout the meeting without making distracting noises, chewing gum, etc.
Distribute Handout 4, What to Expect in Quaker Meeting and answer any questions the youth may have. Share whether the meeting will be pastoral or unprogrammed (descriptions in handout). Acknowledge sitting still for 20 minutes to an hour can be challenging. Provide this tip: the easiest way to be still and silent is to close the eyes and relax the body as completely as possible. Be sure to breathe, keeping it relaxed and slow. Gently, intentionally relax places you stockpile tension, often the hands, legs, shoulders, or lower back. The object is to create a feeling of openness and readiness, so promptings of the Spirit can be heard.
When the engagement is over, ask participants for their immediate reactions. What was the experience like for you? What was the space like? How were you treated? Were there other youth present? If so, did they welcome you? What about the adults? How did their welcome compare with what you have experienced in other congregations? Have any of you experienced a Friends meeting before? Was the silence comfortable? Why or why not? What might be the value of engaging regularly in such a practice? Did the Friends meeting experience feel like "church" to you? Why or why not?
- What did you see? Symbols of faith? Books? Decorations?
- Was there an altar? If so, what was on the altar?
- Who participated in worship and in what way? Were there gender differences in roles or participation?
- Were special garments worn?
- Was there music? What was it like?
- What was the atmosphere like? Was it more or less formal than your congregation?
- Were there children present? If so, were accommodations made for them?
- Was there ethnic diversity in the gathering?
- Were there familiar elements or themes?
- The most important values for Quakers are equality, balance, simplicity, and peace. Were these evident in the meeting? In the surroundings? In the people? What was most surprising about the event? What was most comforting or familiar?
Thank the youth for their respectful participation.