The Hartford Monthly Meeting holds two meetings for worship per week. The main meeting is held on Sunday morning starting promptly at 10 a.m. There is also a smaller, Thursday night meeting held at 7 p.m.
There are many different types of Quaker meetings. The Hartford Monthly Meeting is what is called an “unprogrammed” meeting. This means we practice silent worship, which lasts about an hour. We begin in silence at the scheduled time, and after about an hour the silence is broken and everyone exchanges greetings with those seated around them. There is no fixed structure to the Meeting. There are no creeds, hymns or set prayers. There is no minister in charge and no formal service. Children who are too young for an hour of silent worship attend the first 15 minutes of worship following which they join our First Day School classes. On the second Sunday of the month, a query about Quaker practice is read at the start of worship.
Our worship is based on silence; a silence of expectancy in which we seek to come nearer to God and each other as we share the stillness of the meeting. Participants are not expected to say or do anything other than join in this seeking. The silence may seem strange at first, since we rarely experience silence in everyday life. Don’t worry if you are distracted by outside noise or roving thoughts. This is typical.
Every once in a while, someone may feel compelled by the Spirit to speak and the silence will be broken. Such ministry, which has not been planned before worship begins, seeks to enrich the gathered worship. If something is said that does not seem to make sense, try to reach behind the words to the Spirit which inspired them or allow them to be absorbed into the silence. Meeting for Worship is not a debate so it is inappropriate to respond directly to spoken ministry although it is not unusual for other ministry to build on what has been said before.
After Meeting ends, a member of the Worship and Ministry Committee welcomes everyone, and various announcements are shared. To encourage fellowship, a social time follows meeting for worship, usually with some snacks and juice. Following worship, on the second Sunday of the month, all are invited to share a potluck lunch and on the third Sunday of the month, we hold our Meeting for Worship for Business. On other Sundays, snacks and juice are usually served following the rise of meeting.