Southeast Pittsburgh Worship Group
of the Religious Society of Friends (Quakers)
Where: West Mifflin, PA 15122 (usually)
When: 10:00 a.m. every first Saturday, 10:00 a.m. every third Sunday
About the Southeast Pittsburgh Worship Group:
The Southeast Pittsburgh Worship Group meets at the home of one of the participants. Meeting for worship is unprogrammed, and worship is open to all. We gather at 10 a.m. and worship generally begins at 10:15. On first Saturdays, we worship for an hour, have a brief break, then worship-share on queries about community or have worshipful discussion about issues concerning our worship group. On third Sundays we have an hour and a half of unprogrammed worship.
This worship group began meeting in February 2004, and is an unofficial outgrowth of the Pittsburgh Monthly Meeting. Worship is usually attended by about a half-dozen people. At this time we have no childcare but are confident that God will lead us to understand how we will incorporate family life into our worship.
To reach the Southeast Pittsburgh Worship Group by email:
To reach the Southeast Pittsburgh Worship Group by phone, please call Pat at:
Statement of Purpose:
"We seek, individually and as a covenant community, to be led by God each moment of every day so that we may be instruments of Divine love. Enriched by the Christian roots and traditions of the Religious Society of Friends, we welcome the many understandings of the movement of the Spirit in the world."
Attending for the first time:
Again, all are welcome. If you've never attended a Quaker meeting for worship and have been hesitant to take that first step, here are some "nuts and bolts" tips about what you might expect at the Southeast Pittsburgh Worship Group. The home we generally meet in has limited access for those who are physically handicapped. The general area has limited public transportation - please contact us to make arrangements to get from the local bus stops to the Worship Group. If you are driving, safe parking is available on nearby streets. Please contact us for directions.
Generally chairs are arranged in a circle, with no special seats designated for anyone. You are welcome to sit where you like and make yourself comfortable.
Here is where the logistics leave off and the real experience of Quaker worship begins. To explain a bit about our beliefs: Everyone is a seeker, seeking spiritual growth and enlightenment on his or her own path. To quote from the Pittsburgh Monthly Meeting's Faith and Practice:
At the core of the religious beliefs of Friends is faith in the Inner Light, known over the years by many different names, all suggesting that there is "that of God" in every person. George Fox found in the Inner Light the guidance he needed without aid from any religious institution or individual. He declared that the Spirit was at work not only in Christians but also in American Indians, Muslims, and others.
Like Fox, the large majority of Friends today consider themselves Christians. Most hold that the Inner Light was supremely manifested in the life and teachings of Jesus. Universalist Friends, who often call themselves Christians, hold that while the Inner Light was revealed in Jesus, it is also revealed in spiritual leaders of non-Christian religions.
In Friends' experience the Inner Light is the primary source of religious and moral truth. The God-given Light is to be distinguished from secondary sources of truth such as the Bible, conscience, and reason. One can best read and understand the Bible by being open to the Light which was experience by its most sensitive writers. Conscience, which is socially formed, is illuminated and transformed by the Inner Light. Reason has to be consistent with the Inner Light. These secondary sources grow out of and can be corrected by the experience of the Inner Light.
Everyone's experience of meeting for worship is different, and each week meeting is different, so it's difficult to tell a newcomer what to expect. Some meetings for worship remain completely silent; more often a member or members of the Meeting will feel called by the Spirit to speak. Those who minister in this fashion should speak directly and simply, taking care to leave intervening spaces of silence between messages so that fellow worshippers have an opportunity to take in what has been said. Listening and remaining open to the presence of God can be a challenge, particularly so for newcomers. Here is how Caroline E. Stephen, a Friend in England in the late 1800's, described one meeting for worship in her book, Quaker Strongholds:
On one never-to-be-forgotten Sunday morning, I found myself one of a small company of silent worshippers, who were content to sit down together without words, that each one might feel after and draw near to the Divine Presence, unhindered at least, if not helped, by any human utterance. Utterance I knew was free, should the words be given; and before the meeting was over, a sentence or two were uttered in great simplicity by an old and apparently untaught man, rising in his place amongst the rest of us. I did not pay much attention to the words he spoke, and I have no recollection of their import. My whole soul was filled with the unutterable peace of the undisturbed opportunity for communion with God, with the sense that at last I had found a place where I might, without the faintest suspicion of insincerity, join with others in simply seeking His presence. To sit down in silence could at least pledge me to nothing; it might open to me (as it did that morning) the very gate of heaven.
When it is time to draw the Meeting for Worship to a close, an appointed person will hold hands with the people next to him or her, and this handhold will spread around the circle signifying the "rise" of meeting. At this time, the designated person will ask if anyone has any "after-thoughts," ideas or concerns that came during worship that may not have risen to the level of spoken ministry. Since we are a small group, we will easily identify and welcome our guests at this time. After this sharing, everyone have some light refreshments, and either share time together or shortly begin discussion or worship-sharing.
For lots more information about Quakerism, the Society of Friends, Quaker schools and other Quaker organizations, see the helpful Religious Society of Friends page. We hope to see you at meeting for worship!
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