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How I Came To Be A Quaker

Updated: Mar 8

I first came to a Quaker Meeting for Worship without any idea what to expect. A friend and I often talked about spiritual matters. He was a lapsed Methodist, I a lapsed Christian Scientist.

One day in 1989, he said to me “I think some Sunday morning I’ll go to the Quaker Meeting in Plainfield (NJ). I went with someone once in 1976.” And I replied that I would be pleased to go with him, since I didn’t do anything particular on Sunday mornings. A few weeks later he told me that he had passed by the Meetinghouse to find out the time for Worship. We arranged to go together the following Sunday.

We arrived a little early and went into the Meetinghouse and sat down quietly. I still did not know exactly what to expect. Other people began to enter and sit quietly. I found myself enveloped in a living silence. This was more than the lack of talking and noise. Indeed, since the Meetinghouse is in the middle of the city there was a fair amount of traffic, radios, passers-by, and commercial sounds. Yet, in the Meetinghouse with the other worshippers we sat in stillness. I felt the Divine Spirit close by, a hushed Presence. I don’t recall if anyone spoke during the Meeting. But, I clearly remember thinking “This is perfect! Why didn’t anyone tell me about this before?”

After worship ended there were after-thoughts, announcements, and everyone was invited for refreshments in the First Day School wing. My friend and I went along to have a cup of coffee and cookies. I was a little anxious about meeting these new people. But figured that if they were part of the amazing experience I had just had with them I wanted to know more about them. We were warmly welcomed. One of the women announced she was having a social gathering at her home that afternoon. She then came over to my friend and me to make a personal invitation. Although I was not comfortable enough to spend the afternoon socializing with people I had just met, I was impressed by the sincere invitation.

The experience of the Divine Presence in worship, the sincerity and warmth of the people, the atmosphere of acceptance and love, all combined to bring me back. I have not yet stopped attending Meeting for Worship. The Spirit has over the intervening years worked on me to soften my heart, make me more open and compassionate, and I hope as welcoming as the Friends were when I first arrived. I have been disabused of the notion that Quakers are always wonderful and perfect. Sometimes we can be very frustrating. When, however, I sit quietly with Friends in worship and open myself to the Light that shines within I am transformed in Love. It is an experience I cannot adequately describe, and one that I cannot do without.

Peace & blessings,

Joel Cook

The Palm Beach Quaker Meeting invites you to share Silent Worship with us in a Spirit-filled space that has welcomed worshippers since 1958, regardless of race, gender identity, or nationality.

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