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Among Friends: Quakerism
"When will the meeting start?" you might wonder as you sit in silence on one of the many wooden benches facing each other in a Quaker meetinghouse. It already has. Unprogrammed Quaker meetings (the type practiced in Bucks County) are unlike most other church services. There is no minister to deliver a sermon or lead the congregation in prayer. Instead Quakers believe that "there is that of God in everyone" and therefore do not require a go-between. So Quakers, also called the Religious Society of Friends, sit in silent worship and speak when they are moved to speak. The silence speaks volumes.
Prominent area Quakers in history include William Penn, founder of Pennsylvania, and Edward Hicks, famous for painting The Peaceable Kingdom. Though Quakerism has changed since their time, the key "testimonies," or general tenets, remain those of simplicity, integrity, equality, community, stewardship, and peace. It's not surprising then that most Quaker meetinghouses are simple structures with little ornamentation. Local meetings you might consider attending include Buckingham (5684 York Rd., Lahaska), Doylestown (95 E. Oakland Ave.), Falls (Meetinghouse Sq., near New Falls and Tyburn Rds.), Newtown (219 Court St.), Solebury (Sugan Rd., 2 mi north of U.S. 202), Wrightstown (Rte. 413), and Yardley (65 N. Main St.) Worship—at 10 or 11 on Sunday—provides an hour of thoughtful and spiritual quiet before you rush off to resume your hectic day. "So how will I know when the meeting is over?" you might also wonder. It ends with the shaking of hands, appropriate for a gathering of Friends. For more information, go to www.quakersbucks.org.
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