Worship at Pendle Hill
Our daily Meeting for Worship, a gathering based in silence, is central to life at Pendle Hill and has been held every day since Pendle Hill first opened its doors in 1930. We invite you to join us, whatever your beliefs, convictions, and experiences.
Our form of worship reflects the Quaker belief that direct experience of God is possible for everyone, without any ritual or intermediary. It reflects the trust that all who take part will strive sincerely, both in their silent worship and in their spoken ministry, to seek that inward communion.
Quaker meeting for worship is a corporate practice. We gather in the expectation that as we quiet our minds, and open our hearts to the Divine Presence, we will be gathered together in the Spirit. The worshipful condition of others in the room is an aid to everyone else. In meeting for worship, we seek to allow the busy activity of our minds to become still. By grace, we may open to the spacious reality of the Eternal Being, to the Light of Christ, to the Love of God. Perhaps the Inward Light will illuminate something we need to see more clearly, within ourselves or in the world. We may receive spiritual nourishment or healing. Eternal truths might gain fresh relevance, or we may be led into prayer for ourselves or others. Guidance may come about how God is leading us to act in relation to a particular issue or heart-felt concern.
Discerning About Vocal Ministry
In the silence, each person may be ministered to according to their innermost needs. Often specific guidance or messages are received inwardly. When we feel an urge or prompting to unmute and share a message with the whole meeting, this is an opportunity to practice discernment: to sort out whether the message comes only from our own thoughts and enthusiasms, or whether it is divinely inspired. If we have a clear sense that it is inspired, we ask: is this message meant only for me, or am I being prompted by the Spirit to speak it to others aloud—right now, in this place? If so, we speak in a clear, loud voice, and share faithfully what has been given, without addition or explanation. If we offer vocal ministry, it is our practice to do so only once.
Vocal ministry is not meant to be a conversation with one another, but a form of communion with God through the Spirit-led words of those present. This might include an inspired, heart-felt prayer spoken aloud, or a part of a song that is given as ministry to the gathered group on a particular day. A theme or connection may be apparent between the messages. However, we refrain from our own impulses to respond to a particular message or to add our own thoughts. We leave it to the Spirit to shape whatever larger pattern or meaning may unfold in the ministry. We invite you to refrain from using the chat feature to respond to vocal ministry.
Silence and Vocal Ministry
We do not know in advance whether or not there will be spoken messages during a particular meeting for worship. It is not unusual for there to be no messages on any given day; the silence itself contains the message and the ministry. On other days, there may be one, two or several messages, either related to one another or not. Friends speak briefly and clearly the message given to them by the Spirit. A worshipful silence follows each message, and respect is given, both during and after the meeting, to any ministry given.
Especially where a large number of Friends are gathered online (although you might see only 25 on your screen at one time, we regularly host 130 or more Friends for daily worship), it is important to remember that our ears listen faster than our heart hears. Please allow the full measure of a message to act upon you and retest your leading to speak before offering ministry following a message.
Meeting begins whenever the first person enters the physical or online meeting room and turns to God in worship. This may be long before the appointed time to begin.
We enter the worship space (physical or online) in silence and are very attentive if someone is giving vocal ministry.
As meeting for worship comes to a close (about half an hour after the starting time), a designated member of the Pendle Hill community sitting on the facing bench will ask if there are any prayers, joys, sorrows, or concerns to hold in the Light with the community. Meeting closes when this person greets the community. Afterwards, newcomers are invited to introduce themselves. At the end there is time for brief announcements about Pendle Hill’s events. If you have an announcement for the benefit of other Friends present, please use the Chat feature to convey it.
Here is a short list of Pendle Hill pamphlets focused on the experience of meeting for worship. These (and more) can be obtained through our online store:
#306, Four Doors to Meeting for Worship (William Taber)
#338, Touched by God in Quaker Meeting (Kenneth Carroll)
#366, Invitation to a Deeper Communion (Marcelle Martin)
#388, Expectant Listening: Finding God’s Thread of Guidance (Michael Wajda)
#444, The Gathered Meeting (Steven Davison)
#460, On Vocal Ministry: Nurturing the Community through Listening and Faithfulness (Barry Crossno and J. Brent Bill)