I’ve been attending a virtual Quaker Meeting for Worship (what we call our services) for about a year. For those interested in experiencing this unique form of religious gathering, there is no better time, with hundreds of them happening each week.
My home church, the Brooklyn Monthly Meeting of the Religious Society of Friends, holds three Meetings for Worship a week, two on Sunday and one on Wednesday, which you can find here. They all happen over Zoom, so they can be accessed from a computer, tablet or even your phone.
At the top of the hour, a member officially opens the Meeting for Worship with a short statement on the structure of the meeting. Participants are asked to keep themselves on mute unless they feel led to share “vocal ministry.” The chat and “share screen” functions are not to be used during the worship.
You will see 50-100 participants praying or meditating silently. You should expect most of the Meeting to be completely silent. Participants may look at the camera, close their eyes, or stare off into the distance.
If someone feels led to deliver vocal ministry, they unmute themselves and share it. Typically these messages are short, but there is no rule about how short or long they have to be. No response to anyone’s message is expected.
About ten minutes from the end of the hour, the member who opened the Meeting invites anyone to share the name of someone for whom they wish to be “held in the light.” People are encouraged to share just the name of the person, not the situation or challenge the person is facing.
Afterwards, we visibly greet each other, typically with some form of waving or jazz hands. Any newcomers to the meeting are invited to introduce themselves at that point, if they wish.
We close the Meeting with announcements relevant to the life of the Meeting, typically from different Meeting committees, but not necessarily.
Obviously a lot more happens during a Meeting for Worship on a spiritual and emotional level. But this is practically what you can expect if you attend a Quaker Meeting for Worship online.
For more about what happens during Quaker Meeting for Worship, see this helpful pamplet from British Friends. This web page on Quaker worship from Philadelphia Yearly Meeting might also provide insights.