Friends General Conference

Nurturing faith and Quaker practice

About CPMM

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"What kind of church is CPMM?"

  • Central Philadelphia Monthly Meeting is a Quaker congregation.
  • We don't typically refer to ourselves as a church; instead we call our congregation a "Monthly Meeting" or "Meeting" for short.
  • CPMM is a diverse and affirming environment; we welcome people of all ages, races, gender identities, sexual orientations and faith backgrounds.

"What can I expect?"

  • We have compiled a set of brief video about Quaker Worship you can watch for more information.
  • Quakers practice silent prayer as our primary form of worship and way of listening to God.
  • When you arrive in the worship room, take a seat, get comfortable, and settle into prayer, meditation, or quite contemplation.
  • Often times, individuals will feel moved to stand and share an insight they experienced during worship.
  • Worship is over when folks turn to one another and start shaking hands.

"How should I dress?"

  • Dress how you feel most comfortable according to local weather conditions.
  • Please avoid wearing strong perfume or scents so as to not distract others during worship.

"What is unprogrammed worship?"

Watch these brief videos for a better understanding of what to expect from unprogrammed worship. In these videos you will hear from actual Quakers their own thoughts and perspectives on worship.

You will find that the early part of Meeting is often silent, as we put aside our daily concerns, center and open ourselves to the Spirit. We gather together in silent worship to wait on the Spirit to inspire us:

  • Worship begins when the first person enters and centers down in the silence.
  • We meet each other in a friendly atmosphere in which anyone who feels strongly led by the Spirit to speak may do so; unprogrammed Friends meetings do not rely on paid clergy or sacramental rituals:
    • Our worship frequently includes spoken messages, and may also include song or movement.
    • We ask Friends to wait a few minutes after someone has spoken before offering another message.
    • It is our usual custom that an individual will only speak once in meeting for worship.
  • Toward the close of our time together, a member of the meeting who has been appointed to care for that morning's worship will ask those present if they have joys or sorrows to share in a worshipful manner.
    • Afterwards, he or she will shake hands with a person nearby signaling the close of meeting for worship.
    • All present then are welcome to greet one another with a handshake and friendly words.
    • This is generally followed by a short period when newcomers are asked to introduce themselves and announcements are made.

"Where's the minister?"

  • As in many Friends Meetings, we have no paid minister. 
  • We share responsibility for the vocal messages, or "ministry", for the affairs of the Meeting, and for care of each other. 
  • If you have questions about the Meeting for Worship or the vocal ministry, ask the person making the announcements at the close of worship or anyone at the Welcome Table.

"If there is no minister, who is supposed to speak?"

  • All present should be open to the Spirit and may be moved to offer a ministry.
  • There are times when no one is moved to speak, times when many messages are offered, and others when ministry may include song or movement.
  • It should be remembered that all ministries should originate with the Spirit; this is not a time for debate or discussion.
  • If a message is offered that does not speak to your condition, it may be meant for another so let it pass.
  • If you are moved to offer a message, please allow some time to pass after a previous message (we recommend at least 2-3 minutes).
  • In this way, all messages can be given the respect they deserve. 

"Where do I sit?"

  • Sit where you like; it's open seating.
  • You may like to know that many of the most actively involved Members of the meeting typically sit in the facing benches (the section with no balcony overhead).
  • There can be some difficulty hearing spoken ministry during worship because the Meeting Room’s acoustics are poor.
  • It is recommended to:
    • Sit in the center of the room (rather than under the balcoy.)
    • Stand when giving a message and speak loudly and clearly. 

"What if I show up late?"

If you arrive after meeting has started please enter quietly and wait until anyone who is offering a message has finished before taking a seat.

"What if I need special accommodation?"

"Why is it called a Monthly Meeting?"

  • Once a month, usually on the second Sunday of the month, we hold a "meeting for worship with attention to business" to carry out our business affairs. 
  • The Business Meeting also begins in a spirit of expectant waiting on divine guidance. 
  • You are warmly invited to visit Meeting for Business. 
  • Please inform the Clerk of the Meeting that you are planning to attend so that you may be introduced.

"Is there a book that explains Quakerism?"

  • There is no one single book, since Quakers are diverse in both practice and belief.
    • Helpful titles include:  The Quaker Way, Letters to a Fellow Seeker, Silence and Witness
    • More information can be found in Friends General Conference's Essential Reading for Newcomers resource.
  • An essential starting point is Faith and Practice published by the Philadelphia Yearly Meeting.
  • The Library is open nearly every Sunday after Meeting for Worship. 
    • The librarian on duty can help you check out a book. 
    • A wide variety of books is available.
  • If you would like help in selecting useful literature, please ask the Clerk of the Attenders Committee, or any other member of the Meeting.
  • Additional resources are listed here.

 

"What is the difference between an Attender and a Member?"

Attenders...

  • Regularly come to Meeting for Worship and offer spoken messages when they feel inspired.
  • Volunteer with some of the work of the Meeting like helping in the kitchens or working with a committee of interest to them.
  • Occasionally come to the monthly Meeting for Business to listen and ask questions about the business of the Meeting.
  • Seek guidance or mentoring on Quakerism from Members of the Meeting.
  • Occasionally offer a cash gift at the end of Meeting for worship to help cover the Meeting's operating expenses. 

Members...

  • Members have accepted an additional commitment and responsibility to the Meeting community and routinely provide care and support to Attenders and other Members.
  • Consistently attend Meeting for Worship and offer spoken messages when they feel inspired.
  • Actively volunteer with the work of the Meeting and may serve on multiple committees.
  • Volunteer to sit on Clearness Committees to consider important subjects of consideration such as the approval of memberships, taking marriages under the care of the Meeting, and other topics as well.
  • Consistently attend the monthly Meeting for Business and actively contribute to the long-term administration of the Meeting.
  • Provide guidance or mentoring to one another and Attenders of the Meeting.
  • Consistently make financial contributions according to what their financial circumstances allow to cover the costs of the Meeting.
  • For more information about what it means to be a Member, please read our statement on membership.

"Do I have to become a Member?"

  • You are under no obligation to join the Meeting as a Member.
  • Attenders will always be welcome at our Meeting, and we encourage you to become involved with the Meeting to learn more about us.
  • We encourage you to follow your heart in this matter.

"What is a Clearness Committee?"

  • A Clearness Committee is a tool for discernment which comes out of our early Quaker tradition.
  • When a Member or Attender feels a strong leading of the Spirit or call to do work in the world, they have the option of requesting that the Meeting appoint a Clearness Committee.
  • The Clearness Committee is composed of Members who will carefully listen to you and ask questions to help you reflect on your calling.
  • The Committee's job is to help facilitate your own understanding of your calling from a place of worship, openness, and trust.
  • Examples of when a Clearness Committee is requested may include:
    • Contemplating a major life decision such as selecting a college, getting married, switching jobs.
    • A call to ministry such as working for peace and justice, prison ministry, traveling among meetings with a ministry of listening, etc.
    • Reflection on a deeply philosophical or theological idea you have had where deeper understanding would help you grow as a spiritual person.
  • The Meeting may also appoint a Clearness Committee to research an issue for the entire Meeting such as:
    • What stance the Meeting should take on a political issue.
    • A change in policy or procedure.
    • What action should be taken on a larger social issue.
  • You can read an official explanation of what a Clearness Committee is in the Philadelphia Yearly Meeting's Faith and Practice.

"If I feel ready, how do I become a Member?"

  • In order to make an informed decision about this, you should read our statement on membership.
  • The decision to join a Quaker Meeting is a joyous one, but also means a serious commitment.
  • To help you make this decision, you would request the Meeting to appoint a Clearness Committee to help you think through this decision.
  • The Clearness Committee will never pressure you into joining the meeting. They are there to act as a sounding board to help you reflect on your sense of clarity to become a member of the meeting.
  • To learn more we have produced A Guide to Becoming a Member of the Central Philadelphia Monthly Meeting Of Friends.

"How can I get more involved?"

  • Come to an Adult Education program, class or study group. 
  • Attend a Business Meeting.
  • There are also potlucks, our annual Twelfth Month Dinner, a Meeting Picnic, and New Year’s Eve Meeting for Worship. 
  • Participate in Attenders Committee meetings, Peace and Social Concerns Committee, or any other committee is an especially good way to learn about Friends.

"Is there someone I can ask about the Meeting?"

  • Coffee hour is held after Meeting every Sunday in the Cherry Street Room, across the hall from the Meeting room. 
  • It’s a good time to get to know people. 
  • Attenders’ packets and other literature are available at the Welcome Table. 
  • Please make a name tag so that we can know you better.

"Is childcare available?"

  • During the school year we have a Children's Religious Education program (or First Day School/FDS.)
  • Toddlers and infants enjoy a supervised playroom, and there are classes for older children.
  • You are invited to visit a class anytime. 
  • After their classes, the children usually go to Meeting with their parents for the last 15 minutes. 
  • We understand that children will sometimes make noise. We welcome them with loving hearts.
  • CPMM takes the safety of children seriously; download and read a copy of our Child Safety Policy.

"Is there parking?"

  • There is legal parking around the Meetinghouse on Sunday. 
  • Inquire at the Meeting Office or check the rack outside the office for on-street parking placards (reverse shows map parking areas).

"Can I get to the Meeting House on public transportation?"

  • The Race Vine Station on the Broad Street Line and the 15th Street Station on the Market-Frankford Line are the two closest subway stops.
  • There are several bus routes with stops in the few blocks around Friends Center.
  • There are also bike racks available for bike parking.

"How can I make a contribution?"

  • You can give to CPMM online, click here to make a gift today!
  • We don’t have a collection plate but we do appreciate your contributions. 
  • You can pick up a contribution envelope on the facing bench on Sunday, or from the literature rack by the Meeting Office.
  • The envelopes can be put in the Contribution Slot in the hallway next to the Meeting Office, or mailed to the office.

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Information For Newcomers

Start By Watching...

Watch these selected videos from the QuakerSpeak Project for a quick introduction to Quakerism.

Start By Reading...

Essential Reading for New Comers

Philadelphia Yearly Meeting's Faith and Practice

To Learn More...

Check out...

The Quaker Way

FAQs about Quakers

Quaker Views & Attitudes

Quaker Beliefs

Quaker Worship

Philadelphia Yearly Meeting Library

Central Philadelphia Yearly Meeting's Library is a resource freely shared with anyone interested in learning more about Quakerism. The library volunteers can help you locate the right text based on your interests or questions. Located at Friends Center, it is usually open for patrons after worship on Sundays.