What is Meeting for Worship?

If you’re new to FCS and Quakerism, you may wonder what your children are talking about when they reference Meeting for Worship. This QuakerSpeaks video serves as a helpful explanation of what this spiritual practice entails.
The whole school gathers together each Wednesday morning for Meeting for Worship. Pre-COVID, we met in the multipurpose room. This year we must hold our all-school Meeting in separate classrooms to preserve our pods, but we link up on a Google Meet. Each week, one class will “host the meeting” by gathering in the multipurpose room. The rest of the students will see this group in their classroom via Google Meet. This way, our focus can remain on the space where we usually gather, we have a common visual, and we worship together. 

“I find many aspects of Meeting for Worship special,” says Kiersten Whitehead, Middle School performing arts teacher and clerk of the Quaker Life Committee. “But one thing that always stands out, is the sound of 250+ people sitting together in silence. There is nothing like that feeling. Even though we can’t be physically together this year, knowing that everyone is worshiping at the same time gives me a similar feeling.”

In the beginning, Meeting for Worship can feel unusual for those learning to experience the silence together for the first time. Jennie Soon Condon, one of our Kindergarten teachers, helped to introduce her students to the idea of “settling into the silence” this week by creating a feelings jar. Each student placed bits of glitter, sand, and other materials representing the emotions and thoughts that tend to swirl in our minds, into a single jar. The jar was then filled with water and sealed. When the jar was shaken, all the bits inside swirled and made the water cloudy. But when left to rest and be still, all the pieces eventually sunk to the bottom. 

The feelings jar offers a useful “visualization for how it’s hard to sit still and calm ourselves, but when we do we can watch our feelings calm down and settle.” Jennie says. “We use it as a tool, talking about strategies to help us try to stay focused so we can hear any messages that might be coming to us.” 

Typically Meeting for Worship closes with a song, but since we do not sing indoors as an added COVID precaution, the Quaker Life Committee of Faculty and Staff came up with another musical way to close out the experience. At a designated time, someone from the class hosting the week’s Meeting steps into the hallway and rings a bell. A student chosen from each of the other classes in the school steps out to join the ringing. When all the bells have rung, the Meeting is officially over and class begins. Click the image below to watch and listen to the bells being rung on Wednesday.

Located in College Park, MD, Friends Community School is a progressive Quaker K-8 day school, founded on the belief that every child is a valued member of our community. We offer a challenging curriculum imbued with strong values of equality, integrity, community, environmental stewardship, simplicity and peaceful conflict resolution, rooted in our Quaker heritage.
Friends Community School
5901 Westchester Park Drive
College Park, Maryland 20740