E.G. (elainegrey) wrote,

Leading Worship at a Semi Programmed Quaker Meeting

I was asked by [personal profile] warriorsavant what leading worship meant, and i thought it might be of broader interest.

The Quaker meeting i am now attending (and to which i will soon transfer membership) is semiprogrammed. In a very brief history, Quakers came to the US with their practice of waiting worship with no prepared plan of what would happen during the worship time other than waiting in silence for the Spirit to move folks to share messages. (A current visitor to such meetings in the US might develop a suspicion the Spirit was named NPR, but i digress.)

With the Revolutionary and Civil Wars, many Friends moved west, leaving the early Quaker communities smaller. In places like North Carolina "smaller" meant quite small. Also, leading up to the civil war, the second "great awakening" was going on in the US, with protestant revivals attracting much attention. Between the influence of the other churches activities and the limited resources of a small congregation, the inclination to hire a pastor to help fill the needs instead of relying on the whole of the community became attractive. So, circa 1900, a good number of Quaker Meetings in North Carolina left the traditional practices, started hiring ministers, and soon became less distinct from Baptists and Methodists.

The Meeting i'm attending apparently ceased having a minister about 12 or 15 years ago. They've not gone fully to "open worship" but still have a pianist a couple times a month and folks in the meeting take turns leading worship.

So that's me.

Ever since volunteering, i've been making notes to try and figure out the "order of service," a concept that pulls at my childhood memory of t the Presbyterian Church. I remember learning the formality of the Presbyterian service, concepts such as making sure that credo, praise, confession, intercession were all present in the worship. That clearly isn't going on. It's more the structure of opening, announcements and then sharing "joys and concerns", then a bit of structure with children's message, collecting offering (if there are kids to take 'round the wooden plates) with potential singing, then a message.

I've gotten the sense over the year plus that each person brings their own qualities when they lead. Some read from the bible, some from positive thinking email lists, from from Quaker sources. Everyone's different, so if my difference is that there's much more "open worship" --well, then, so be it.

Except i can't help but worry that i'm doing it wrong. Because that's my being new to the whole thing. It's my insecurity, my being in front of people, my sudden blanking out of names....

I plan to check in with someone for a little advice, so there's that.

Tags: quaker notes

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