I had someone contact me trying to help me with the "semi-programmed" section of the glossary page I have at QuakerJane.com.

She described for me a worship experience she had and suggested it might be semi-programmed.

I asked, "Does thee know if the group calls itself semi-programmed?"

I keep running into Quaker worshipping communities that I would be tempted to call semi-programmed, but who call themselves one or the other, for example considering themselves unprogrammed, with waiting or silent worship followed (or preceded) by singing &etc, or considering themselves programmed with a particularly central and extended period of open worship. These habits of self-identification have, so far, been primarily centered around having a paid minister (and calling themselves programmed) or not having paid ministry (and calling themselves unprogrammed). I would be tempted to call them semi-programmed, but they do not call themselves that.

This Friend went back and asked if the worship was programmed, semi-programmed, or unprogrammed, and the answer she got: "Yes and no."

I am wondering. Have Friends here attended meetings or churches that actually call describe their service semi-programmed? On QuakerFinder, I found three on the North Carolina page (Deep River, New Garden, Spring Friends), and one on the New York page (Tryon Worship Group). I'd love to hear descriptions of what these semi-programmed meetings do, what their worship practice is like.



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Hi Isabel,

I pastored a semi-programmed Meeting in the 80s. (Funny thing, I know, for a conservative Friend to have pastored an FUM Meeting.) It was West Elkton Friends Meeting, West Elkton, OH, of Indiana YM. 

What made it semi-programmed? We had hymns at the beginning and end, a scripture reading, an offering with offertory, and I had a prepared sermon every Sunday. However, the central feature of worship was a 20-25 minute period of waiting worship, in which  (as in unprogrammed Meetings) anyone could speak if so moved, and there were those who did. I rose to give the sermon out of this time of waiting worship and, if I rose in the Spirit, and had been in the Spirit when I researched and thought and prayed and wrote, then there was no awkward juxtaposition.

Elsewhere in Indiana YM, this same pattern was what was also described as semi-programmed. The programmed meetings did not have the time of waiting worship. They went on from one event to the next just as the Methodists or Baptists do.

Dayton (OH) Friends Meeting, an Ohio Valley YM meeting, would often have a time for singing set aside before the waiting worship began. They did not consider this semi-programmed. It was something they did, like First Day School, which took place outside of Meeting for Worship.

And I guess that's about the extent of my experience with it. I hope this helps.

BTW, while I favor unprogrammed worship, semi-programmed worship as practiced at West Elkton Friends was clearly Quaker. I did not feel the least bit deprived during my time there.

Friends Meeting of Washington does this on the third Thursday of the month. Singing starts at 9:30 or 10 (I forget...) and worship starts at 10:30. Baltimore Yearly Meeting started having all-day sings on a Saturday about once a season last year.

Dr. Bruce R. Arnold said:

Dayton (OH) Friends Meeting, an Ohio Valley YM meeting, would often have a time for singing set aside before the waiting worship began. They did not consider this semi-programmed. It was something they did, like First Day School, which took place outside of Meeting for Worship.

Greetings, Friend Isabel,

Like Friend Bruce, our unprogrammed meeting begins with about 10 minutes of singing. I am troubled by this, since I feel it is programming, even though individual Friends suggest songs out of the hymnal. To mitigate any feeling of programming, our meeting instituted a brief "gathering time" after singing, in which Friends who were out of the room could come into the meeting space. Nobody has ever labeled this is programed, but for a long time this was indeed considered part of meeting for worship.

I guess there's a whole range of what could be called semi-programmed...Our worship group (New City Friends, Detroit MI) has occasionally used the term to describe our practice. Our meetings usually consist mainly of waiting (silent) worship, but we begin with singing and/or Bible readings and end with an opportunity to share vocal prayer. We've found it helpful to ease into worship, and to give some sort of theological context to what we're doing in silence.

I am part of a semi-programmed meeting here in England. This is most unusual here, there may be one or two others. We often have a hymn and a reading (scriptural or poetic) or sometimes a sequence of images from a film or  something.  We also choose a theme for each meeting which many say helps them centre down. We are an outreach meeting so feel free to experiment. The major part of the meeting however is silent waiting. Next meeting on All Fools Day, theme: Holy Fools and the Foolishness of God. !

Thanks, Friends, this has been very helpful to me :)


Dear Isabel,

I realise this is an old thread, but just to let you know that I have begun to offer / organise "semi-programmed" worship in the ecumenical chapel based in the harbour area of Hamburg, Northern Germany.

The next one is planned next Tuesday 17.12.2019 (evening).  The ecumenical chapel has become something quite special for me / us in Hamburg.  It was set up by 17 (yes 17) denominations, from Catholic Church, Lutheran, Mennonite, Baptist, Anglicans, Methodist, Russian Orthodox, The Coptic Church, Syrian Orthodox, Greek Orthodox etc. Now supported by 21 churches.  Alas we Friends are to small to actually financially support the ecumenical forum / chapel, but we indirectly support them via renting rooms for our "regional quarterly" meeting and my engagement as part of the chapel team.

Link to the supporting churches is below, although in German, you can still guess the breadth of support we have.

List of members (in German)

I normally start with a welcome, followed by a bible reading, a period of silent reflection / expectant waiting worship, a prayer / another period of worship / intercession (as the chapel is ecumenical) followed by a closing blessing. 

I know that in central England, not far from where George Fox grew up, at the Friends Meeting House (Hartshill) there is an unprogrammed meeting in the morning and a semi-programmed worship later in the evening, that attracts more local villagers.



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