For newcomers

Welcome! Quaker meetings can be a bit puzzling to understand. Because there is no order of service and no one explains what comes next, you may wonder what’s going on. Some answers are simple while our understanding of other questions deepens over the years. Please feel free to ask experienced Friends about these or other questions.

When do people speak and why? The question of spoken messages in Meeting is not simple. We do not arrive bearing sermons for one another. We sit in silence and listen for a voice from beyond ourselves. Sometimes we receive messages that are valuable to us personally, but that don’t need to be spoken aloud. If we keep still and the message keeps asking to be spoken, then it may be time to rise and speak. See this eloquent passage from Baltimore Yearly Meeting and also Online Readings about worship.

Why did I find people sitting in the foyer when I arrived a few minutes late? Our custom is to leave the doors open as people gather before 10:00. Then the greeter closes the doors. For ten minutes any latecomers are asked to sit and worship in the foyer until the doors are again opened for a minute. This allows the meeting to gather into deepening worship.

What is the place of children in Mount Toby? We welcome children and families. Some children may be comfortable worshiping with adults in the meeting room. Other children are happier in the nursery or First Day School. Young Friends (middle-school through high school) have their own programs. Some parents like to be with their children in the foyer just outside the Worship Room, where a sound system transmits from the Worship Room. In the last ten minutes of worship, children who have been in the other programs enter the Worship Room and sit with their parents. See Children and Youth.

Do I need to become a Member in order to attend Meeting? No, you do not need to be a Member. Some people attend for decades and do not choose to become Members; they are still fully welcome. You are the one who decides when membership feels right. See Membership for guidance.

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