Conservative Friend

    An Outreach of Stillwater Monthly Meeting of Ohio Yearly Meeting of Friends

How to Start a Quaker Worship Group

For I will powre water vpon him that is thirstie, and floods vpon the dry ground:  I will powre my spirit vpon thy seede, and my blessing vpon thine offspring.  And they shall spring vp as among the grasse, as willowes by the water courses.
--Ifaiah XLIIII: 3-4, 1611 Authorized Version

So you want to start a worship group!

There are lots of reasons that one person or several might want to start a worship group:
  • Attenders of established meetings move away from their old meetings and want to worship with like-minded people in their new home.
  • New seekers discover Quakerism and want to form a meeting where they currently live.
  • Attenders of established pastoral or non-Christian meetings decide to form a Conservative group to meet in addition to their regular meeting.
At Ohio Yearly Meeting, we welcome every new member of the Body of Christ, and look forward to worship groups growing and taking on new members as they mature.  As the worship group grows, it will eventually take on more responsibility, until it becomes a full-fledged Monthly Meeting on its own.  The process is easy.  Here’s how:

1.  Contact us.

Contact the OYM Correspondent (see below) for a copy of our Discipline and our most recent Annual Yearly Meeting Minutes.  Visit our web site:

and read about us.  See if what we are is what you want to be associated with.  There is a list of existing meetings of Ohio Yearly Meeting on our How to Find Us page.  Contact one geographically closest to you, if possible.  Ideally, there will be physical visits, and gasoline isn't cheap.  Our procedure is for new worship groups to affiliate formally with an existing host Monthly Meeting.  You won't owe us anything, but we can visit, offer advice, introduce you to organizations that share your concerns, show you how to solve logistic problems you may not have anticipated, and hopefully provide you with an umbrella organization made up of interested people, including other worship groups. You don't have to figure out all the details alone.

2.  Gather several people together.

A meeting of one person can survive and grow, but it's not as easy or fun.  Find some like-minded people.  If you are thinking about forming a worship group, chances are good that several of you already have the same idea.  Ask around your current church or meeting.  Put up a flyer in the supermarket. Place an ad in the Yellow Pages or the local paper--sometimes they're free.  You don’t have to have many people, but it helps a lot to have fellow travelers on this journey.

3.  Pick a place to meet.

You can meet anywhere you want.  The original Friends began by meeting at people's houses.  A circle of chairs in a living room is a fine place to begin.  It doesn't have to be fancy, it doesn't have to be permanent, and it doesn't need much preparation.  Don't let not having an ideal place to meet for an hour or so prevent you from doing it.  Jesus met with his disciples in borrowed rooms and stranger's houses.

Possible places to meet include public halls you can rent, conference rooms where you work, church meeting rooms, or under a tree in your backyard.  As more people are attracted to your meeting, more possibilities will appear.

4.  Pick a consistent schedule.

This is fairly important.  Decide whether you want to meet weekly, every other week, monthly, or whatever, and pick a starting time.  Some people meet after their regular meeting or church service.  Others pick some other day.  The reason it is important is because to be successful, the meeting must be held consistently.  You can't put up a note advertising a weekly meeting and then not be there when an interested stranger shows up.  And if you want the worship group to grow and mature into an established and independent expression of the Body of Christ, then the sooner everybody fits it into their routine the better.  It's very hard for a worship group with an irregular schedule to take off.

5.  Just do it!

Just meet.  Show up and sit down, and let Jesus do his part.  Concentrate on listening to God.  This is the whole point of the operation, so just do it.  Some worship groups make a shared meal a part of their regular worship.  Perhaps a potluck or a picnic works for you too.

Often worship groups  and meetings meet together for camping trips, religious retreats, or other joint activities.  This is important in Quakerism, which is focused on the meeting community as a body with close physical, religious, and social connections.  The members of your meeting are committing themselves to making their religious journey in your company--take them seriously, and enjoy being with them.

6.  That's it!

Not really.  But almost.  By affiliating with an existing meeting, you can be welcomed into our community without a great deal of difficulty.  Choose someone to act as a correspondent, and buy a cheap briefcase to keep any letters or papers in.  When you decide that the time is right to cease being a worship group, and start calling yourself a Monthly Meeting, you can name someone officially as Clerk.  Until then, don't worry much about business meetings and such.  Just keep whatever records are useful: a contact list with names and telephone numbers, letters you have sent and received, that sort of thing.

It may be several years before you decide that your worship group is stable enough to become an official Meeting, or it may be much quicker.  Your contacts within your host Meeting can help you discern when the time is right.  Don't worry about how many of you there are, if you can manage regular meetings.  Don't worry about permanent places to meet--that can come later.  The important thing is to give Jesus a regular and sincere window into you for the Light to shine through.  Do that, and he can do the rest.

OYM Correspondent 2007:  Dorothy Smith
108 Fowler Ave, Barnesville, Ohio 437134-1176. (740) 425-3168