[FT] Starting New Meetings

John Benson johncbenson at gmail.com
Wed Nov 30 15:48:46 PST 2011

The OYM guide is only a page or two, and is already in an outline
format with six points. The two procedural points that I would
emphasize are having a regular place to meet, and keeping a consistent

John B.

Here is the whole text:

How to Start a Quaker Worship Group

So you want to start a Quaker worship group!

There are lots of reasons that one person or several might want to
start a worship group:

--Attenders of established Quaker meetings move away from their old
meetings and want to worship with like-minded people in their new
--New seekers discover Quakerism and want to form a meeting where they
currently live.
--Attenders of established pastoral or non-Christian Quaker meetings
decide to form a Conservative group to meet in addition to their
regular meeting.

These procedures are the ones that we use at Ohio Yearly Meeting
(Conservative), but you can adapt them to your own needs.  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 group
grows, it will eventually take on more responsibility, until it
becomes a full-fledged Monthly Meeting on its own.  Our own process is
simpler if you decide to affiliate with Ohio Yearly Meeting, but you
don’t have to affiliate with anybody to start worshipping God in
Spirit and in Truth.   Here’s how:

1.  Contact us to explore affiliation.

Return to our home page for links to of our Discipline and our most
recent Annual Yearly Meeting Minutes.  See if what we are is what you
want to be associated with.  There is a list of existing Monthly
Meetings of Ohio Yearly Meeting there, also.  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.

If you decide to form a Quaker worship group independently of us, the
next steps are the same anyway, for anybody.  But we would welcome you
if it works out that your path and ours coincide.

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

6.  That’s it!

Not really.  But almost.  By affiliating with an existing meeting, you
can be welcomed into the larger 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

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 (if any) 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.

On 11/30/11, William F Rushby <wfrushby at yahoo.com> wrote:
> John and Dan have referred us to two different written statements.  I
> believe that discussion would be facilitated if John and Dan would briefly
> summarize the contents of their respective references, emphasizing the
> central insights.
> Bill Rushby

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