Meeting & Silence

Meeting for Worship

“The purpose of Meeting for Worship can be explained as: gathering in silence to seek a deeper understanding of what lies in our hearts, a greater awareness of the spirituality of life, and a clearer direction for our lives.” (Lee Quimby)

Weekly Meeting for Worship, conducted in the manner of the Religious Society of Friends, is a central experience shared by all. Meeting is a chance to share silence, to center one’s self, to be introspective, to worship, and possibly to share an inspiring thought with the community. Rarely in our busy lives outside of Moses Brown do we have a chance to be quiet together.

Each division gathers weekly for its own Meeting For Worship in the Providence Friends Meetinghouse on the Olney Street side of campus. The Providence Meeting House is home to the Providence Monthly Meeting, one of more than 25 monthly Meetings that belong to New England Yearly Meeting. Members and attenders of Providence Monthly Meeting gather every Sunday.

Three times a year, we gather as a whole school in the Waughtel-Howe Field House for a Meeting for Worship, led by one of the divisions. Faculty members from other divisions, staff, parents, as well as guests, are invited to attend any of these Meetings whenever possible. All members of the community are welcome to attend Meeting.

Each individual is entrusted with equal responsibility for the success of the Meeting. Participation in Meeting for Worship offers attendees the possibility of exploring their own thoughts and concerns through silent reflection. Whether the group gathers in Providence Friends Meeting House, Alumni Hall, the Waughtel-Howe Field House, or on the front lawn, everyone enters quietly and all sit as equals in the gathered silence. Quakers do not instruct participants about their personal use of meeting time. Some may worship or pray, some may ponder a personal problem or joy, some may try to connect with a higher being such as God, others may simply listen and enjoy the power of silence.

After a period of silence, an individual may feel moved to rise and share a message with the assembled group. Spoken messages are based on insight, inspiration, or concern rather than agreement or disagreement with a previous statement. It is not a forum, discussion, or time for announcements. Suitable periods of silence follow each statement so that everyone can take in the substance of what has been said. Often no one speaks; sometimes several do. Meeting ends with the shaking of hands.

Silence at the beginning of events, assemblies, meetings, or classes is another brief opportunity for us to gather ourselves as a community and to center down. Every grade in lower school begins each morning with five minutes of silence, and silence is used regularly in the middle and upper schools as well.

The Friends’ practice of coming together in silence can have profound effects on students as learners. Students learn to listen, both inwardly and more readily to each other. They exhibit actively inquiring and curious attitudes and an eagerness to look more deeply into a subject. They learn that thoughts, feelings, insights, and inspirations can arise from the silence they share with others at their weekly Meeting for Worship.

To learn more about MB's Quaker traditions, contact Galen McNemar, Director of Friends Education,  

"Exploring and Discovering a Friends School Meeting"

Read an article from Friends Journal by Head of School Matt Glendinning, focused on meeting for worship and its impact on students.