What to expect in at the Evanston Quaker Meeting for Worship
A basic belief of the Religious Society of Friends (Quakers) is that God endows every human being with a measure of the Divine Spirit. This Spirit is also referred to as the “Inner Light” or the “Christ Within.” Friends believe that God speaks directly to us and through us. We have no sacraments, offering, or clergy because we believe worship consists of our personal communion with God. Individual messages are inspired by the presence of the living God and are not planned or written ahead of time. Evanston Meeting was started 1936 when Friends from the North Shore area decided they would like to have a Meeting closer to their homes. In earlier years, Evanston Meeting followed the advices given in Western Yearly Meeting’s Faith and Practice. Evanston has generally used the Philadelphia Faith and Practice as well as Great Britain’s Faith and Practice as a guide. However the meeting does not feel bound by any particular Faith and Practice, as it strives to be led by the Spirit rather than the Letter.
We have been an unprogrammed meeting since 1938, with all being free to participate vocally and otherwise, as led by the Spirit of Christ.We feel that varied backgrounds enrich the Meeting and that this melting pot of beliefs offers a real opportunity to practice love, forbearance, and forgiveness, and to experience the joy of working together. Worship begins while sitting in silence and quietly “centering down.” Our children are with us for the first 20 minutes of worship. While they may remain in worship the whole hour if they wish, most prefer to be with the caregivers until their classes begin. We prefer that this time be uninterrupted by people coming in or leaving the meeting room. Therefore, those persons arriving after 10:05 are asked to wait until the break when children leave.
In a Friends’ Meeting for Worship, it is not uncommon to experience long periods of silence. However, worshippers are aware that the Spirit of God is nonetheless present in that silence.We seek inwardly to feel the presence and guidance of God within us. After a period of uninterrupted silence and meditation (centering down), a person may be led to rise and express a message or thought – a prayer, a poem, a Bible verse, or a spoken message about a concern or a spiritual experience. After a short silence, the next person may speak. Even though one may disagree with what has been said, Meeting for Worship is not a time to argue with other worshippers. When the meeting closes, we shake hands with one another after an appointed person stands and welcomes all visitors and attenders. We then gather around the teacart for an informal social period.
If after attending Meeting for Worship for a time, you feel attracted to the Religious Society of Friends and wish to join Evanston Meeting, we encourage you to inform the clerk of your interest. We are strengthened by your presence and hope that you will always find a warm welcome in our Meetings for worship. Note: We do not interrupt our meeting for worship by taking an offering. However, contributions toward our Meeting’s programs and outreach can be placed in one of two wooden boxes secured on the wall at either side of the entrance to the meeting room.