Blog

World Quaker Day 2020

 

Grand Rapids Friends Meeting celebrated World Quaker Day this year by Zoom, with fellowship and a group photo following our Meeting for Worship on Sunday morning. There were 12 of us in attendance, and 10 stayed for the picture taking. Most of our fellowship centered around sharing about different experiences each of us has had with various Quaker communities around the World and also some stories about growing up in Friends Meeting or how we originally came to Quakerism. Our tradition during “normal times” is to host a homecoming potluck on World Quaker Day, and invite Friends who may not have attended for a while to join us. This year we have been able to expand our community to those who are too far away to attend in person, but can now join us by Zoom. Instead of potluck, each of us enjoyed our own snack or beverage at home while we visited. In doing so, we were all nurtured by sharing a simple meal, and precious time together.

Psalm for 2020

“And the people stayed home. And read books, and listened, and rested, and exercised, and made art, and played games, and learned new ways of being, and were still. And listened more deeply. Some meditated, some prayed, some danced. Some met their shadows. And the people began to think differently.
“And the people healed. And, in the absence of people living in ignorant, dangerous, mindless, and heartless ways, the earth began to heal.
“And when the danger passed, and the people joined together again, they grieved their losses, and made new choices, and dreamed new images, and created new ways to live and heal the earth fully, as they had been healed.”

 

Virtual Meeting for Worship by Zoom

Friends,
In keeping with current public health policy, our first ever virtual Meeting for Worship on Zoom was held on Sunday, March 22nd. We had about 30 people in attendance, from both Grand Rapids Meeting and Holland Meeting, with a few attending from out of state. Thank you to those who attended, for being there and sharing part of your Sunday morning with us in Worship and visiting. It is so important that we help each other stay connected during this challenging time. 
 
We will continue this method of communal worship each Sunday as long as necessary, If you need directions on how to attend, please contact the Clerk by emailing: clerk@grandrapidsfriends.org.

Advices from Lake Erie Yearly Meeting on Virtual Meetings for Worship using Zoom

Many have participated in meetings of various kinds on Zoom; few have participated in a meeting for worship on Zoom. To help establish and sustain the quality of worship, we have prepared some advices below.

Advices for Participating in Online Worship

  • Enter the meeting in silence as you would for an in-person meeting for worship. Do not introduce yourself when you enter.
  • Keep your device on mute unless you are speaking. Everyone will be muted by default upon entering, and the “host” has the ability to mute and unmute any participant. Background noise such as dogs barking or cell phones ringing can be very disruptive to the spirit of worship and make it hard to hear.

If you are led to speak:

  • As always, allow some silence after any preceding message to allow it to settle in our hearts.
  • Unmute your device.
  • Introduce yourself, simply saying “This is <your name.> (Some may participate by phone, so it especially helps them.)
    • Pause briefly in case someone else has also started to speak. If so, wait for the clerk to recognize you. Otherwise, start speaking.
  • Mute your device when you are done. (The host may do so if you forget.)
  • Continuing in worship, the clerk will invite afterthoughts and joys and concerns as usual. Continue to follow the same advices for speaking.
  • If you need to get the attention of the host or clerk for any reason, use the chat feature and choose to whom to address your message or use the raise hand feature. If you are using only a phone to connect, consider texting the host first; unmute and speak to the group, if necessary.

Are Friends Clear?

At the rise (close) of Meeting for Worship, the Clerk or Greeter usually says, “Are friends clear?”

What does that mean?

The short answer – is everyone sure that they have nothing more to say that rises to a need to share during the time of worship?

Going back quite a few years, we at Grand Rapids Friends Meeting added a practice of having the Greeter ask, five minutes before the end of the hour, if there are any further “sharing,” or prayers, concerns, joys to be expressed as the time of worship draws to a close. This is to provide an invitation and ample opportunity to share concerns or joys on people’s minds, that have not risen to the level of an urgent “leading of the Spirit” during the hour of worship.

After this final 5 minutes, at the end of the hour, “Are Friends clear?” is a final punctuation, with a slight pause, in case something is still weighing on a Friend’s mind, but they have been reluctant to speak.

In the broader context of either Friends meetings (worship, business, fellowship) or clearness committees, worship sharing, or other conflict resolution processes, the same principles apply. They all lead us to ask whether we are clear, in our individual lives or in community.

At the end of a clearness committee, we don’t say “are friends clear?”, but we do check-in with the person seeking clearness, to see if they are any clearer on their issue or their path forward.

The same applies to business. The Clerk composes a “minute” based on discussion of an issue, and after reading the minute, pauses for reaction, and then may say something like “are we all clear?” When heads nod yes, we proceed to record the action.

Likewise, in a worship sharing session, where a query is posed, followed by silent reflection, and Spirit-led responses by the participants, the convener will try to discern the sense of the Meeting over the issue at hand. When appropriate, a summary of that perceived sense of the Meeting may be spoken. Then, are Friends clear? If not, perhaps another query is posed, re-framing the issue in a way that may lead to greater clarity.

It may be clear that Friends have expressed themselves and others have listened and have gained better understanding, but there is no need for more than that. In this case, “are Friends clear?” may have more to do with whether they are clear in their own hearts. This may be an acceptance, even embracing, of uncertainty, of a mystery, and yet we are at peace. All is well with our souls.

As in all we do, the goal is not perfect unanimity or agreement, but rather a sense of peace and “unity in the Spirit,” an overwhelming sense that this is where we are, and where we are going, as a community, and that all is good – Friends are clear.