Notes on Unprogrammed Worship

Unprogrammed Friends meetings follow the tradition of gathering in silent worship, without the services of a designated pastor or minister. Anyone who feels moved to speak may offer vocal ministry.

The practice of sitting together in silence is often called "expectant waiting." It is a time when Friends become inwardly still and clear aside the activities of mind and body that usually fill our attention in order to create an opportunity for spiritual receptivity. Each person finds his or her own ways of "centering down," or entering deep stillness during meeting.

From time to time, an individual may be moved to offer a "message" (or "spoken ministry") to the group. Spoken messages may occur many times during a meeting, or there may be none at all. Such a message is delivered by an individual, but is understood to be coming through that person from God.

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Our Testimonies

Quaker experience of the Divine affects what we do in our personal lives, what we believe and how we work for changes in the wider world.  “Testimonies” are what Quakers call the ways we have found to live and act based on our beliefs.


Friends oppose and refuse to engage in war and violence. In pursuit of lasting, sustainable peace, they seek to eliminate causes of violent conflict, such as poverty, exploitation, and intolerance. In renouncing war and violence, Friends embrace the transforming power of love and the power of nonviolence, striving for peace in daily interactions with family, neighbors, fellow community members, and those from every corner of the world.

Friends endeavor to see “that of God” in every person, regardless of nationality, race, gender, sexual orientation, age, ability, or social status.


Friends hold that all people are equal in the eyes of God and have equal access to the “Inner Light.” This profound sense of equality leads Friends to treat each person with respect, looking for “that of God” in everyone.


The need to deal honestly with all others and with oneself has long been a foundational belief among Friends, summarized by the old injunction: “Let your yea be yea and your nay be nay.” For Friends, having integrity means being authentic and having consistency between one’s values and one’s actions. Lack of integrity separates us from our own soul, from the Light within, and from our community.


While the Quaker faith is founded on the principle that every person can have a direct relationship with God, an equally central tenet lies in the power of the “gathered community.” When Friends gather in silence to worship, they are collectively seeking the will of God, rather than meditating individually. Shared worship signifies unity and trust. The Friends community also provides a place for individual members to look for wisdom and support. For example, early Friends relied on their community to provide for the families whose breadwinners were imprisoned for their beliefs—and at Quaker weddings today, the union is not formalized by a clergy member, but is witnessed and endorsed by every member attending.


Friends believe in simple living. This has historically meant simple dress, plain speech, and unadorned meeting houses for worship. Through the simplicity testimony, Friends encourage one another to look beyond the outward and to the inward. In contemporary terms, Friends try to live lives in which activities and possessions do not get in the way of open and unencumbered communication with others and with one’s own spirituality. Clearing away the clutter makes it easier to hear the “still small voice” within.


Friends strive to use God’s gifts wisely, with gifts conceived in the broadest of terms. These gifts include our talents and our possessions, as well as our natural environment. Friends believe that such gifts are not ours alone.

To Friends, good stewardship means taking care of what has been given, not just for ourselves, but for the people around us and for future generations as well. Friends strive to use their gifts in accordance with their beliefs.


Educational Links


Photo by Terry Foss, AFSC

Photo by Terry Foss, AFSC

About the Faith

This page includes a concise explanation of Quaker faith from the website of Ohio Valley Yearly Meeting.

Types of Quakers

This page on sheds some light on the different stripes of Quakerism in the world.

Quaker History

This page summarizes the highlights of 400+ years of Quaker history.