It takes some courage to visit a new church for the first time. Many questions might go through your mind like, “Can anyone visit a Quaker Meeting? (“meeting” is simply a Quaker word for church) What should I wear? What about my kids? Is there an offering? Will I have to introduce myself as a first time visitor? Where do I park? Can I find my way around? What about communion? What’s the difference between Friends and Quakers?”
To make things a bit easier for you, we offer this brief response to Frequently Asked Questions. If you have additional questions during the service (we call our services Meetings for Worship), feel free to ask someone nearby or one of the ushers at the back of the meetingroom. We are grateful when newcomers visit – and sincerely hope to see you soon.
Can anyone visit a Quaker Meeting?
Absolutely. More than 60 percent of the First Friends community arrived at a Quaker meeting first as a visitor. In other words, most of us were not raised in the Friends’ tradition but found our way to Quakerism as adults. You will be warmly welcomed!
What should I wear?
As with most things at First Friends, we’re diverse. You will see some folk in shorts and flip flops and some in ties or dresses, so come as you feel most comfortable.
What about my kids?
Your children are welcome to stay with you throughout the worship time. We love having young ones with us during meeting. If your child is under the age of 5, there is a nursery available staffed by two experienced workers. Feel free to ask an usher or someone sitting close to you how to find the nursery. Our meetinghouse is a bit of a maze.
Is there an offering?
Yes. About 20 minutes into the hour, an offering is collected. We do not expect visitors to contribute although gifts are always welcome. If the plate comes to you – feel free to just pass it on.
Will I have to introduce myself?
No, you will not be singled out. You will simply be part of our community as we worship God. You will be invited to fill out one of our “little yellow cards” from the pew pocket in front of you and place it in the offering plate. This gives us an opportunity to learn your name and how it is that you happened our way. You can also request getting on our e-newsletter list or ask for a call from one of our pastors or elders.
Where do I park? Can I find my way around?
Handicap parking is available in the circle drive off of Whittier Street. To enter the worship room from Whittier Street, go to the door furthest to the right. The other parking lot is on the lower level on the east side of the meetinghouse. If you are attending the 9 am unprogrammed service, please enter the door closest to Friendly on the lower level. Then make a left into the first door on your left. For the 11 am Meeting for Worship, take the sidewalk up the incline and enter from the Friendly Avenue main entrance. There will be greeters to welcome you and offer you a Sunday bulletin.
What about communion?
Quaker faith and practice are built upon our personal experiences and shared convictions, rather than doctrinal creeds. We understand baptism and communion to be primarily inward, spiritual realities, rather than outward rites. Our time of silence and open worship (typically 15-20 minutes) is often identified as “communion in the manner of Friends”.
Are you Quakers or are you Friends?
We are both and those names can be used interchangeably. Our official denominational name is “The Religious Society of Friends” but early on we were nicknamed Quakers… but that’s another story which we’d love to share in person.
It may help you to know that we are currently in an “interim” phase.
In May of 2017 First Friends said goodbye to Deborah Suess, a much beloved and long tenured pastor, upon the occasion of her retirement. The Meeting is engaging in a reflective period of discernment, an intentional interim, before calling a next pastor.
Please come visit – we welcome your presence. If you have additional questions, feel free to call the office at 336.299.8869. Office hours are Tuesday – Friday, 8:30 – 12:30.