Virginia Beach Friends Meeting is an unprogrammed meeting, meaning that there is no conventional program to our worship. We gather together in sacred, waiting silence to worship as a community of seekers of the Divine Truth and God’s will.

The core belief of the Religious Society of Friends is that there is that of God, the Inner Light, in everyone. Continuing revelation comes from the Inner light or the light within. This light has traditionally been identified as the spirit of Christ or Christ within. It is understood as the presence of God which provides illumination and guidance to the individual and through individuals to the group.

Because Friends believe that revelation is ongoing, we have no set creed or dogmas and we believe that new truth is revealed to us as we continue our spiritual journeys individually and with one another.

The guiding principles of our faith lie in our testimonies, not in a formal creed. These principles include simplicity, peace, integrity, community and equality. These principles guide our faith and social activism.

Coming to Meeting for Worship

Worship begins when the first person enters quietly, sits down and turns his or her mind toward God. Settle comfortably and start to “center” yourself by tuning out the sounds of the world around you and the busy thoughts in your mind. Become still and enter the living silence, often called “waiting worship.”

Soon you might feel a sense of “gatheredness,” an awareness that you’re in the midst of a prayerful community. Quakers have always believed that the key to worship is quiet listening and waiting in deep silence.  We try to quiet the noises within our own minds and make space to hear the still voice of the Spirit, remembering that many messages don’t come to us in words. The deepest meetings might be mostly or entirely silent.

Spoken Ministry

In unprogrammed Quaker worship, individuals in worship sometimes feel moved by Spirit to speak out of the silence with a message that is meant for the community.  The spoken ministry that arises out of the silence can come from anyone. No one can tell in advance whether he or she will be moved to speak, but all should be open to the possibility. We are grateful for these messages and equally grateful for the deep, communal silence. It is in the living silence that we are strengthened and connected by the Divine Spirit.

Should I speak? How will I know?

If you feel the urge to speak, then a process of discernment or “testing” is necessary.

  • Wait for a time in silence to see how the insight changes.
  • Ask whether the insight is for the whole meeting or is meant for you alone.
  • Vocal ministry should be motivated by your own religious experience, rather than by a desire to respond to someone else’s message.
  • Be certain that your ministry is spiritual and intended for worship. Personal or social concerns can be shared in other ways.

If, after waiting, you do feel called to minister aloud, remember these guidelines:

  • Please stand if you’re able and speak in a clear voice that will carry to the person sitting farthest away from you across the room.
  • Speak briefly and only once. A few heartfelt words are better than a long explanation.
  • Wait a respectful amount of time before speaking after someone else’s message. Friends need a chance to absorb the previous message. You might be surprised to find that your message changes during this waiting period – what you eventually say might be quite different from what you expected to say. You might also find that the prompting to speak fades away entirely.

Those who don’t participate in vocal ministry serve the meeting through silent prayer and attentive listening. If your reason rejects the words of someone’s message, let your heart find the spirit behind the words. Keep in mind that the message might speak deeply to someone else in the group even though it doesn’t speak directly to you.