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Sunday Attendance: about 50
Service Length: 1 hour
Percentage of Service Spent in Silence: approximately 80
Sample Worshipper Dress: tan sweater and blue jeans
Since worship sessions at the Friends Meeting of Washington are conducted as “silent and unprogrammed,” it can be difficult to tell whether or not they’ve actually begun. As Quakers enter into the meeting hall, they take a seat on benches and close their eyes for silent reflection, which can last 20 or 30 minutes. Finally, the main doors are closed, and the congregation remains seated in silent reflection for another 20 minutes.
Food for the Soul
Since Quakers employ no clergy, each member of the congregation is allowed to stand and give ministry per his or her own inspiration. During a recent service, silence was broken by a congregant who addressed gender roles in the fairy tale Beauty and the Beast. “The prince is supposed to have the most physically fit woman,” she said. “Are we just supposed to kiss his boots?”
Food for the Body
Oats jokes aside, the Friends Meeting hosts a pretty decent post-service spread. A recent coffee hour offered bagels, cream cheese, grapes, cranberry-nut bread, lemonade, and popcorn.
Overall Worship Power
Near the close of the service, one final meetinggoer rose to give an appreciation of the turmoil that lies behind moments of inspiration. “When the flower blooms,” he said, “there’s a lot that went on to make that happen.” Using the cultivation of asparagus as a parable, he reflected on the necessity of hard work in the path toward personal achievement: “We have to be receptive to the light; we have to train to get there.” —Aaron Leitko