Early Friends, as we know, knew the Bible by heart and could draw upon any Scripture passage they needed in worship. Since most modern Friends aren't that familiar with the Bible, other accommodations have been found in some places.

In Meetings in Norway, there is a small table at the center of the circle of chairs, on which we keep a couple of Bibles, Faith & Practice, and perhaps a few other books that are commonly used for worship.

In the Meetings I attend here in the Seattle area there are no such resources during worship. For a while I tried to make do without any books. Eventually I grew brave enough to bring my own Bible to Meeting, or sometimes Advices and Queries, but I was always concerned that the sounds of turning the pages might be a disturbance to others. So now I use my smart phone. It's noiseless, and even better - I can access any Bible version, Faith & Practice, or other text that God brings to my attention during worship. I only use my smart phone as a worship resource, of course. However, I do worry that Friends might be disturbed by my use of technology, especially if they think I'm texting or on Facebook. And of course I would be deeply distrubed if anyone used a cell phone for social media purposes during worship.

What are your thoughts? Does anyone know of Meetings that have addressed this issue? What is their advice?

Susanne Kromberg


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Dear Susanne,

In my 2 favourite Meetings for Worship in England (Uxbridge and Leicester), Bibles and Quaker Faith & Practice are distributed on the chairs. In Uxbridge, there is a lovely old Bible that sits faithfully opened at a page on the centre table. I have never seen anyone actually read from the table, but at my last worship in Uxbridge, the page had been opened at Isaiah 58, which has become an important voice.

In Hamburg, German YM, we are a much smaller meeting and we have both Quaker Faith & Practice in English and German, advices and queries in German and the Martin Luther Bible in German on the table, occasionally I bring in my English Good News Bible with me.

I do not worry about the turning of pages because when I am moved to pick up either of the books, about 50% of time I am also moved to give ministry, I know that if I took my mobile phone into meeting it would distract me and others.


P.s. are you related to Marit, if yes then please say hello.

I, too, have a KSV Bible on my iPod touch and have often used it in meeting, mostlhy to check my memory of texts that I feel called to share. As often as not, I discover that my memory of the text is faulty, or out of context, and having the resource has kept me from delivering misleading ministry. Other times it helps me confirm that my memory is correct and that the text is relevant to the ministry I feel called to offer. I've shocked some Friends (not in my meeting) when I've disclosed that I do this -- I usually sit in a place where few can see me consult my electronic Bible -- but I've never been approached about it being disturbing or out of place. (A few Friends are never comfortable with ministry rooted in a Biblical narrative, but I doubt they care whether the Bible being used is electronic or parchment.)

The liberal Quaker and Conservative Quaker unprogrammed meetings I've attended in North America have not had that centrally located table with inspirational scriptures on them.  I have noted that this is seemingly quite the norm in Europe.  I'm not sure if some unprogrammed meetings in North America do this as well.  I suspect there are some, but I also suspect they are in the minority.

I suspect my liberal Quaker meeting would never have such a table, because the meeting would not want to encourage a programming of the worship by supplying a text. For the same reasons the worship room is always bare (no slogans on the walls, no pictures or paintings, not even curtains).  And no hymnals are located in the worship room for the same reason.

In North American meetings, instead, I've noticed that some people do bring their own inspirational books like the Bible to occasionally glance at during unprogrammed worship.  So, I surmise that should a person choose to bring their own source of potential programming for themselves, that's a personal decision that's viewed as OK.  In keeping with that, I'm pretty sure my meeting would not object to anyone bringing such inspirational material for themselves on an electronic device.  So, I would say that if you have seen others glancing at books/Bibles they've brought to worship, it is reasonable to assume that no one would have a problem with you using your electronic device for the same purpose.


What a helpful question!  Thanks for bringing it here.  I carry a miniature New Testament to worship, and typically read it for a few minutes as meeting settles.  Sometimes later, if I need help centering or am led to consult it.  I'm not the only Bible reader in our local meeting, but I might be the only Bible toter.  Carrying a full size volume has seemed more ostentatious than I want to be--and it doesn't fit easily into the little handle bar bag on my bike. 

A few weeks ago I overheard a visiting man ask our meeting's designated host if we had a Bible he might borrow during worship.  The host knew that it was kept on the table at one side of our meeting room, where it has sat for quite some years.  I've never known how it was decided to keep one there, but I've been thankful for it--because it fits with the custom of Britain YM and because the book might be needed. 

I've never noticed hand held digital devices being used in my meeting for anything besides vibrating in the pockets of some of the vets or doctors who attend.  When I see you using yours at yearly meeting or somewhere, I'll know. 

Would it be in good order to text one's ministry?  ;)  :wink:

I'd encourage just bringing a Bible, no matter how uncommon that has become in your meeting.  Some of us make more noise breathing than we do turning pages.

Thank you, Friends. Your comments have been very helpful my discernment. Your humor has helped me, too. I will probably carry my Bible and Britain YM Advices & Queries with me to Meeting a while longer, and not worry about the sound of turning pages. And I will feel free to use my smartphone if led to pursue something else during worship. Susanne
Just returned from a regional quarterly meeting in Germany and I wish I had remembered to take my bible with me. Right at the end of morning worship I felt I was being moved to minister, I didn't because Worship was punctually closed and later someone else quoted the section during the discussion ( what a wonderful movement of the spirit!!!).

I had my smartphone with me with a bible app. But I had switched it off for worship.

The verse was Phillipians 4:4 & 6, the afternoon session was on, "do we pray, if yes how do we pray and why!


Many thanks for that citation.  It helps me right now in some sticky spots at work. 

"Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice! Let your gentleness be evident to all. The Lord is near. Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus."


In Andover meeting in the UK we have a centre table with a King James bible, advice and queries and faith and practice.

My son doesn't like the King James so takes his own bible. I often take my kindle as I have a bible and a number of notes and quotes that I sometimes use to centre down. A couple of other people regularly take books and tracts. 

My understanding from the books on Quakerism that I have read is that it is OK to bring books to meeting if it helps us to stop thinking about shopping lists and what we are going to make for tea!

As you have already made your choice, this comes "a day late and a dollar short," but I would be more comfortable with bringing the books. Page turning would have to be pretty daggone conspicuous before it made any difference. LOL. I have been taking Thomas Kelly's "Testament of Devotion" to Meeting lately. I read a couple of paragraphs from it aloud this morning, and it was a useful prod to both self-reflection and to vocal ministry.

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