Friends believe that marriage is a binding relationship entered into in the presence of God and of witnessing Friends. Before the day of the wedding, the proposed marriage must have received the approval of the monthly meeting.
The wedding itself is a meeting for worship called for the purpose of the wedding. The bridal couple enter the meeting and take their places at the front of the room. In giving themselves to each other, they eliminate the custom of the bride being given away by her father. No third person pronounces them man and wife because Friends believe that God alone can create such a union and give it significance.
In an atmosphere of quiet and reverence during the period of worship, the couple rise. Taking each other by the hand, they make their promises, first the groom and then the bride. When the couple is seated again, the marriage certificate is brought for them to sign. Then someone who has previously been selected to do so reads the certificate aloud. At the close of worship, those present are asked to sign the certificate as witnesses to the marriage. A copy of the certificate is made for the records of the monthly meeting in whose care the marriage has taken place, and the legal requirements are completed by a committee appointed by that Meeting.
For further information: “A Quaker Marriage”
A memorial meeting is a meeting for worship called for the purpose of sharing feelings of loss, and offering a time of gratitude for the life of the departed person. We reflect on the value of that life as it relates to the lives of all of us.
All present share in this. We sit quietly; at times an individual may be moved to speak, to offer a prayer, a message, or a memory. All are welcome to do this, allowing a measure of silence between messages for reflection.
The responsibility for the spiritual depth of the meeting rests with each attender. Those who keep silence as well as those who give a vocal message do their part when they yield their minds and hearts to the guidance of the Spirit. The close of the meeting is signaled by handshakes among those in attendance.
Friends hope that in the meeting for worship a consciousness of the Divine Presence will come to every attender, to be a source of direction, strength and comfort after leaving the meeting.
For further information: “Friends Memorial Meeting”
Salem Friends meet monthly in a meeting for worship called for the purpose of attending to business. In this gathering, we collectively discern God’s will for us. Often this is a lengthy process as our decisions arise from our spiritual leadings in a way that is in harmony with our search for truth. The same responsibility to speak when led by the Spirit exists in a meeting for business as it does during worship.
For further information: “When Friends Attend to Business” Thomas S. Brown
As an attender, you can take part in the life of the Meeting without being a member. Perhaps no one will ask you if you are considering membership. We hope desire for membership will be so clear to you that you will speak of it when you feel ready. We sometimes miss a chance to be encouraging in this choice, so do not hesitate to ask anyone to share thoughts or information with you. Membership is an opportunity to outwardly show your commitment to the life of the Meeting.
For further information: “Becoming a Member” Jennifer Goetz
In most churches it is customary to take a collection of monetary offerings at some point during the service. This is not done in a meeting for worship. Instead members and attenders are asked annually, “Do I contribute generously within my means to the funding of the work of Friends?” With knowledge of budgetary needs, each person must with prayer and reflection arrive at the contribution that is right for them. They may make monetary contributions on whatever schedule meets their needs.