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The Scarlet & Black

The Scarlet & Black

Quaker Silent Meeting

The small group of Quakers on campus usually meets at 11:30 on Sunday mornings in the Prayer Garage of the CRSSJ. Library Assistant Nancy Cadmus leads the group with the help of her husband. Both have been involved on and off for roughly 30 years.

The group participates in worship using the traditional silent meeting format. Members sit quietly, breaking the silence only when they feel moved by the spirit to do so. A meeting has a clerk, whose job it is to end the meeting by turning to the person next to them and shaking his/her hand.

“What people are doing when they are not feeling moved to speak is something akin to meditation, sort of centering, trying to let go of the little thoughts that flit through all of our minds all the time,” Cadmus said.

The students involved are a mixture of lifelong Quakers and people who are simply interested in a new form of worship.

“There are some students who were born into Quaker families or who went to Quaker schools and there are students who are just curious,” Cadmus said. “For a couple of years we had a Jewish student who attended faithfully.”

The Quakers on campus also hold potlucks, have discussion groups, and occasionally offer educational opportunities for those who are interested in their religious experience.

Although there is a Friends meeting house in town, members of the Quaker group on campus don’t share the same customs. That particular church’s services more closely resemble a typical protestant service than a traditional silent meeting. Instead, the group usually takes an annual trip to a historic Quaker place of worship in West Branch, Iowa.

The 2011 Gathering of Friends will be held at Grinnell College this summer, welcoming close to 2,000 Quakers from meeting houses all over the country.

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