Our own list of FAQQs (Frequently Asked Quaker Questions), these are mostly specific to Chestnut Hill Friends Meeting. See also the links below for FAQs from Friends General Conference, and general information from Philadelphia Yearly Meeting.
What happens in Quaker worship … is it really silent?
Quaker worship is based on silent waiting, where we expect to come into the presence of God. In this living silence, we listen for the still, small voice that comes from God through the Inward Light. Worshiping together in silence is a way for a community to be brought together in love and faithfulness.
During silent worship, anyone – man, woman, or child – may feel inspired to give vocal ministry (speak out of the silence). After the person speaks the message, the silence resumes. Such messages may be offered several times during a meeting for worship, or the whole period of worship may be silent. A designated person signals the close of worship by shaking hands with another person, then everyone shakes hands with those seated nearby.
What are Quaker testimonies?
Quakers find that attending to the Light Within influences the ways we act in our personal lives, as well as the changes we work for in the wider world. We have noticed that certain values seem to arise more or less consistently when we try to stay close to the guidance of the Inward Teacher, and we call these principles our “testimonies.” They are not so much rules that we try to obey as the outcomes of our efforts to live in harmony with the Holy Spirit. Some commonly recognized testimonies include peace, integrity, equality, simplicity, community, and care for the earth.
How do I find out more about this community?
What should I wear to meeting for worship? Dressy or dress-down?
There is no dress code; attire typically ranges from extremely casual (shorts, sandals, t-shirts) to what is sometimes called “business casual.”
How early should I arrive for a 10:30 meeting for worship?
Because we close the doors to the worship room at 10:30, it's nice to arrive early enough to make yourself a name tag (or find yours in the name tag rack if you already have one). If it's your first time, you might want to take some literature to read with you; ask the greeter about pamphlets and flyers available for first-time visitors.
What should I do as a new person once I arrive at meeting for worship?
Make yourself a name tag (ask a greeter to show you the supplies), take a leaflet for first-time visitors if you like, and then go in and find a seat. You may sit anywhere; it's fine to walk across the room and sit on the far side from the doors.
What if I arrive after meeting for worship has started?
We close the worship room doors at 10:30 to minimize commotion during the first 15 minutes. If you find the doors closed, you will probably also find a few people seated in the o room straight ahead from the foyer (the "Gathering Room") sitting in silence. Sit with them until a greeter opens the doors to the worship room (at about 10:45). At that time, any children who went in earlier with their parents leave to go to First Day (Sunday) School. After they leave, those already seated are encouraged to make room for the latecomers who enter.
There seem to be a lot of committees. What are they? What do they do?
As an organization with a very small paid staff, we have to do much of the work of a faith community on our own; the committees are our mechanism for taking care of our affairs: property, finances, religious education, hospitality, outreach, pastoral care, burials, etc.
May non-members attend these committee meetings?
Most committee meetings are open to both members and attenders of the Meeting. Exceptions are Care & Counsel and Finance Committees, whose meetings are limited to committee members and invited guests.
What is involved in becoming a member? How is that different from being an "attender"?
At the bottom of this page is a list of links to FAQs (or similar resources) on the websites of several Quaker entities:
- Philadelphia Yearly Meeting (PYM)
- Friends General Conference (FGC)
- Friends World Committee for Consultation (FWCC)
Do visit those sites for answers to questions that aren't raised on this page. And if you want a direct answer to a specific question and you're not sure whom you should ask, send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Need help with all these Quaker acronyms?
Fair enough; there are a lot of them. Here are a few, decoded:
CHFM = Chestnut Hill Friends Meeting
FCE = Friends Council on Education = liaison among all Quaker schools nationwide
FCNL = Friends Committee on National Legislation = Quaker lobbying office in Washington, DC
FGC = Friends General Conference = umbrella organization of mostly unprogrammed Quaker meetings throughout the United States
*FS = * Friends School
AFS = Abington Friends School
FCS = Friends Central School
FFS = Frankford Friends School
FSS = Friends Select School
GFS = Germantown Friends School
GSFS = Greene Street Friends School
PMFS = Plymouth Meeting Friends School
FUM = Friends United Meeting = umbrella organization of evangelical Friends meetings/churches
FWCC = Friends World Committee on Consultation = umbrella organization that loosely ties all Quaker groups together, and sponsors occasional world gatherings of Friends
MM = Monthly Meeting = a local Quaker meeting (most of which meet weekly for worship; business meetings are held monthly)
PQM = Philadelphia Quarterly Meeting = umbrella organization of 7 monthly meetings within the Philadelphia city limits; it meets as a body about three times a year
PYM = Philadelphia Yearly Meeting = umbrella organization of 100+ monthly meetings in the greater Philadelphia area (including southern New Jersey and parts of Maryland); in addition to Annual Sessions, usually held in the summer, there is an office at Friends Center that provides a number of services to the member monthly and quarterly meetings
QUNO = Quaker United Nations Office = Quaker lobbying office at the U.N.