I am a member of a Meeting that is wonderfully dedicated to social and peace activism.  However, a small number of members and attenders are seeking balance between activism and contemplation and I am interested in initiating a Contemplative Quaker group.    My thoughts include meeting one time a month in a participants home, meditating for ~45 minutes, discussion on contemplative book or reading for the evening and including a pot luck.  I am also thinking that meeting for a meditation one first day each month prior to meeting for worship might be included.  I would be so grateful to receive  thoughts and suggestions others may have, including experiences others may have in their own Meetings. 

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As much as I would like to claim credit for the idea, it was Stephanie's suggestion. :)

I believe the idea has come from Spirit, though, as we are all responding with gratitude to the suggestion.

Friend Mary:


I would enjoy having a group at QuakerQuaker dedicated to the contemplative perspective.  I agree that it is not a tradition specific topic, crossing Quaker sectarian lines.  So my hope would be that there could be a separate group for this.


How does one go about setting up such a group?



My sense is that we should contact Martin.

But it might do us well to ponder whether simply posting threads under the general discussion section would be appropriate. Perhaps a special group would not be necessary, given the contemplative nature of so many of us here. The fact that we have come to consider ourselves "Convergent" Friends indicates that we have spent much time contemplating our spiritual conditions.

Friends --oops thank you Stephanie!  I can add that I did a lot of research searching for "Contemplative Quakers/Friends" and finally decided to post my discussion question on-line (because I couldn't find much) to which you all have been so kind and helpful in your response.  Having a "named group" that is in spirit with "Convergent Friends" does speak to me also because it would be more visible.  What I like about it is that is "inclusive" and thus might be easier to find for others seeking Contemplative Friends. 

Dear Friends,

I think I owe an apology because I jumped right into this website not realizing that it was intended for "Convergent Friends."  I was not aware of this until I read Paula's reply.  I had to look up what "Convergent Friends" meant.  I fully respect the Christian origins of Quaker and at the same time some of the Friends in my Meeting who would be interested in Contemplative Quakers would not be compatible- so having a discussion thread on this website for our Meeting for Silence (I so like this Jim!) would not be appropriate to this site because it is possible some of the discussion would include faith and practices other than Quaker.  I am taking a step back here and look forward to seeing what you all decide about where 'contemplative' fits on this site and will participate myself.  I will also move forward with each of your wonderful suggestions for a Meeting for Silence and let you know the progress.  Blessings to all of you.

In the Light - Mary

Dear Mary,

Your apology is both generous and unnecessary. This website is for ALL Friends--its subtitle is "A Friends Meeting Ground." There are interest groups for all branches of our beloved Society, and as you read the profiles of the many Friends who are members, you will see that many of us are signed up as Liberal AND Convergent AND EVEN Conservative (or some other combination across the spectrum).

Friends who come here and post seem to me to be more contemplative by nature. This is why I wrote what I did above about such a category perhaps being unnecessary. But Martin might read this thread and decide a special interest group might be useful. I do not judge--it's his site after all, a gift to Friends in God's Love.

By all means spend some time reading the many wonderful forum posts, interest group discussions, links to blogs, etc. Please don't feel you need to step back. This has been a lovely subject for Friends to contemplate, and I thank you so much for posing the question about the contemplative side of Friends in a socially active meeting. You are in good company with other Friends who are starting new contemplative practices within their meetings.

Blessings, Paula

Thank you so much Paula for your clarification!  Very helpful and  I am most grateful.  Yours in the Light, Mary
Ray, come back here! This is a thread for all Quakers. And your comment was very good. Please stay with us.

Ray Dowling said:

Comment removed as I just realised that this is a thread for Convergent Friends.

Sorry moved my post


Ray,  Please come back and also please re-post your comment.  I experienced the same concern when I started this thread and then discovered, or so I  thought, that  this site was for "convergent friends" which I am not.  If you scroll through the comments you will see my comment to members of the site and my apology for my mistake --to which I promptly received a "no apologies necessary --all are welcome"  message.  So please not only come back, but please re-post your message -- I had some questions for you about your helpful comment.

Paula Deming said:
Ray, come back here! This is a thread for all Quakers. And your comment was very good. Please stay with us.

Ray Dowling said:

Comment removed as I just realised that this is a thread for Convergent Friends.

Loved your  "lol....ok" Ray!  Welcome back!

I agree with everything that you have written.  I think that acting in the world from a place of inner-listening may be constantly or more readily available for some, and therefore they seen to need less sitting in the silence.  For me,  I want more of this silence and I would like to experience this with others, and not just individually  -  I do find this increases my inner peace and mindfulness!


An update for all:  It has taken a while to move forward in starting this gathering and  November 14 we have our first Meeting for Silence.  (We had one Meeting in Oct that was Silence followed by planning).  It is taking the form of an Interfaith Meeting for Silence where those of other faith and practices are invited and the readings for discussion include Quaker writings as well as other writings, including Buddhist writings.  It is a small group of 3 or 4 individuals, and I anticipate that it will grow as we settle into this Meeting Practice.


Ray -- how does your Meeting practice this contemplative silence?  Is it only on First Day in Meeting for Worship?  Are there other opportunities within the Meeting?

Ray Dowling said:

lol ... ok


As I practice it Quakerism is contemplative. Our activity in the world extends out of the contemplation (& listening) of MfW.   Perosnally, I see Contemplation as my 'religion' and Quakerism as my practice of Contemplation which should outwork itself as Mindful Living.

I agree with Ray's statement, I think.  I'm not really sure.


For me the difference between a contemplative Quaker and an activist Quaker has to do with how they think of silent worship.  It's a matter of emphasis.  In a blog post I put it that for the Activist silent worship is a means towards other ends.  These ends might be political or simply to be more calm in everyday interactions.  There is a range of application, though my observation is that most Activist Quakers construe silent worship as a means for more effective political activity.


For the contemplative, silent worship is not a means, it is the purpose, or reason, for gathering.  I think of it this way: the contemplatives arrange the activities of life so that they can have regular periods of silent worship.  The activist looks at silent worship as a means for cultivating effective activity outside of gathered silence.  For the contemplative, silent worship is what makes life meaningful.  For the activist, silent worship makes meaningful activity more accessible.


The above may be an oversimplification.  On the other hand, in this time of Quaker activism, it seems descriptive of a general direction.







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