Monday, August 17, 2009

Friends (Quakers) in Texas: A Short History


19th Century Quakerism in Texas: West Texas Quakerism and Friendswood

Few members of the Religious Society of Friends (Quakers) lived in Texas until after the Civil War, as Friends (Quakers) were opposed to slavery. Despite the absence of Quaker communities in Texas during this time, the Quaker opposition to slavery was so well-known in Texas that a proslavery newspaper, the Anti-Quaker was published in Austin, Texas (only one issue seems to have been published).

The history of Quakers in Texas began in west Texas near modern-day Lubbock. In 1879, a group of Friends (Quakers) became the first permanent white settlers of the High Plains of Texas. The settlement of this Quaker community was the work of Paris Cox who was a Friend originally from North Carolina (b. 1846) but who had moved to Indiana during the Civil War and, sometime thereafter, had travelled in west Texas with a group of buffalo hunters. Cox had moved to west Texas in 1878 to near Lubbock, Texas, having a community well dug with which to irrigate the fertile plains to support the Quaker community. Despite some hardships, the Quaker community in west Texas had ten families by 1882.

The Quaker meeting was known as Estacado Monthly Meeting and belonged to Iowa Yearly Meeting of Friends, which was part of the evangelical Gurneyite Quaker tradition. In addition to the Quaker meeting, the Friends community also established a Friends school, which began in a dugout in 1882 under the instruction of Emma Hunt. By 1884 the Friends school had been moved into a permanent Quaker meeting house, and by 1890 the school had evolved into the first college on the Llano Estacado (high plains of Texas).

The Quaker college, known as Central Plains Academy, was co-educational, eventually enrolled over 100 students and was led by Jesse H. Moore (Ph. D., Johns Hopkins University; M.A. Harvard University). His wife, also a graduate of Johns Hopkins University taught music, voice, and violin at the college; other teachers included E.C. and Elva Lewis who had masters degrees from the William Penn College associated with Iowa Yearly Meeting of Friends. (The founder of the Methodist McMurry College in Abilene, Texas, as well as the President of the (now closed) Methodist Stamford College in Stamford, Texas was the Methodist minister James W. Hunt who was one of the only 18 who graduated from Central Plains Academy).

The town founded by the Quakers was known as Estacado, Texas (and was located near the current northern Lubbock County/Crosby county border), and by 1890 had a population of 200. However, several events undermined the town. First, Paris Cox died from throat cancer (aged 42) in 1888, and, then, a grasshopper invasion and drought in 1892-1893.

In 1893, most of the Friends began leaving Estacado (though a few families remained behind, as did the non-Quaker residents of Estacado) for Galveston County, Texas where they intended to farm figs and oranges. There they established Friendswood Monthly Meeting of Iowa Yearly Meeting of Friends, as well as the town of Friendswood, Texas. The Friendswood Quaker community was the first successful Quaker community in Texas. Both the Friendswood meeting and town are still flourishing, though, excepting some historical markers and grave sites, nothing of the earlier Quakers community in west Texas remains.

20th Century Quakerism in Texas: Quaker Diversity and Expansion in Texas

In 1910, the Friendswood Monthly Meeting re-organized itself to become part of the Kansas Yearly Meeting of Friends rather than Iowa Yearly Meeting. The nearby League City Monthly Meeting was already a part of Kansas Yearly Meeting, which, like Iowa Yearly Meeting, belonged to the evangelical Gurneyite tradition of Quakerism. Kansas Yearly Meeting expanded to include meetings in Bayshore, Northshore, and South Houston, as well as two meetings in San Antonio (San Antonio Monthly Meeting and Friends Chapel Monthly Meeting). Kansas Yearly Meeting also sponsored a Friends School in San Antonio as a ministry for emotionally disturbed children rejected by child-care agencies. Friendswood became headquarters for the Central African Broadcasting Company (CORDAC), which operated a missionary radio station in Burundi (broadcasting in five languages to an audience as large as 10,000,000). Although the evangelical San Antonio Quaker meetings and Friends school of Kansas Yearly Meeting no longer exist in San Antonio, the evangelical Quaker community in the greater Houston area is well established. Eventually, Kansas Yearly Meeting was re-named Mid-America Yearly Meeting and, then, renamed again Evangelical Friends Church Mid-America. It is affiliated with Evangelical Friends Church International, which is an umbrella organization of evangelical Quakers.

In the mid-1940s, the American Friends Service Committee (AFSC) opened an office in Austin, Texas. This began the movement into Texas of Friends from outside the evangelical Quaker tradition to which the established Friends in Texas belonged. By the early 1950s, small groups of non-evangelical Friends were meeting in other cities in Texas, and contact between these Friends (and those in cities in Louisiana and Arkansas) was facilitated through the AFSC and the Friends Fellowship Council. This was part of a larger development in the Society of Friends known as the “New Meetings Movement (NMM),” which had begun earlier in the 20th century and was occurring throughout the country. The NMM meetings were established mostly in college and retirement-oriented towns across the country where Quakers were moving to attend or teach college or retire. The Friends moving into these areas came from different regions of the country, different Yearly Meetings of Friends, and, often, different Quaker traditions. Joining together, these Friends de-emphasized theology, the differences among Friends, and potentially divisive traditional Quaker practices (such as recording ministers and elders and maintaining separate business meetings for men and women) and, instead, emphasized freedom of individual religious belief, social liberalism, political activism, and the traditional Quaker practice of unprogrammed (silent) worship. These Friends in Texas meetings began cooperating with one another (and those in Louisiana and Arkansas) in a more formal manner in the mid-1950s, adopting the name “Friends Southwest Conference.” (As part of the New Meetings Movement tradition of Quakerism, rather than evangelical Quakerism, the Friends Southwest Conference operated parallel with and independently of the evangelical Texas Quakers). The Friends Southwest Conference became affiliated with the national Friends General Conference in 1957. In 1961, the Friends Southwest Conference was re-named as South Central Yearly Meeting of Friends, which continues to this day. Texas meetings belonging to South Central Yearly Meeting include: Friends Meeting of Austin, Coastal Bend Friends Meeting, Dallas Monthly Meeting of Friends, Fort Worth Monthly Meeting, Galveston Friends Meeting, Hill Country Friends Meeting, Houston Live Oak Friends Meeting, Lubbock Monthly Meeting, Friends Meeting of San Antonio and other meetings located in smaller towns around the state.

Most Quaker meetings in Texas belong either to South Central Yearly Meeting of Friends or the Evangelical Friends Church Mid-America. However, a few Quaker meetings do not.

El Paso Monthly Meeting belongs to Intermountain Yearly Meeting, which includes meetings in New Mexico, Arizona, Colorado, Utah, and Wyoming. As a meeting established during the New Meetings Movement of the 20th Century, El Paso Monthly Meeting and the meetings in South Central Yearly Meeting would have substantial similarities, though Intermountain Yearly Meeting, unlike South Central Yearly Meeting, does not belong to the Friends General Conference. (It is an “Independent” (also known as “Beanite”) Yearly Meeting, belonging to none of the larger Quaker umbrella organizations: Friends United Meeting, Evangelical Friends Church International, or Friends General Conference).

Three informal Quaker meetings in Texas belong neither to any yearly meeting or larger umbrella organization of Friends. The Amarillo Friends Worship Group has met for unprogrammed worship for over a decade but, in its current format, has no connection with other Friends in Texas. (At an earlier time, Friends in Amarillo were related to South Central Yearly Meeting but not presently). The Austin Christian Friends worship group and the Caprock Friends Christian Fellowship (in Lubbock) also meet for unprogrammed worship and have no formal connection with any of the yearly meetings in Texas, but do have informal relationships between them in terms of personal relationships, a shared history, and each group including members of Ohio Yearly Meeting (Conservative).


Paris Cox:

Estacado, Texas:

Central Plains Academy:

James Hunt and Methodist Colleges in Texas:

Religious Society of Friends in Texas:

Evangelical Friends Church Mid-America:

South Central Yearly Meeting:

Friendswood Friends Church:

Quakers in Amarillo:

Caprock Friends Christian Fellowship:

Intermountain Yearly Meeting:

Evangelical Friends Church International:

Friends General Conference:

Friends United Meeting:

Caprock Friends Christian Fellowship
Conservative Quakers in Lubbock, Texas

Quaker Glossary

Over the past 350 years, Quakers have developed a set of terms that are often confusing to visitors. The following may be helpful.


ADVICES. The collected wisdom and experience of Friends written and used as reminder of the faith and practices held to be essential to the life and witness of Friends.

AFFIRMATION. A legal declaration made by one who refuses to swear an oath.

BIRTHRIGHT MEMBER. One who was born of Quaker parents and recorded at birth on a monthly meeting's membership rolls.

BREAKING MEETING. Term used for the closing of meeting for worship when a designated Friend discerns the conclusion of worship and signals other Friends, usually by shaking hands with the person next to him or her.

CENTERED. Being consciously directed towards the Presence of Christ, often used to describe an experience during meeting for worship.

CLEARNESS. A condition in which there are no perceived obstacles to a proposed course of action by an individual or meeting.

CLEARNESS COMMITTEE. A group of Friends appointed or selected to assist a person or the meeting to clarify a decision or concern.

CLERK. A member who presides at meetings of Friends and records the sense of the meeting with respect to decisions made or actions taken.

CONCERN. A deep and spiritual interest held by either an individual or a meeting.

CONTINUING REVELATION. The belief that Christ continues to speak directly to us, revealing to us His Will in specific matters.

CONVINCED FRIEND. A person who becomes a Friend as a result of being “convicted” by the Light as to his or her spiritual state and unity with Friends’ principles and witness. (“Convinced” is an archaic form of “convicted.”)

CORPORATE. A body of Friends. For example, the corporate witness of a meeting.

CONSERVATIVE FRIENDS. Those Friends who seek to conserve what they believe is essential in Friends’ traditions. At the very least, this is usually considered to be unprogrammed worship and a Christian faith (which may be understood in traditional, liberal, or evangelical terms). In some cases, it may also include certain aspects of traditional Friends’ lifestyles, such as plainness.

COVERED MEETING. A meeting during which Friends share an exceptional sense of the Lord’s Presence, often through a deep and shared stillness.

ELDERING. A respected Friend’s encouraging or admonishing another Friend as to some specific matter of concern to the respected Friend.

ELDERS. Those with a special gift and burden for encouraging and admonishing other Friends, especially as to vocal ministry during worship and spiritual development. Elders may be recognized and recorded by their meeting.

EVANGELICAL FRIENDS. Those Friends whose Christian understanding has been substantially influenced by evangelical faith and practice outside of the Society of Friends. Some evangelical Friends emphasize a single-conversion experience. Some emphasize holiness. Some are more liberal. Some also emphasize Quaker distinctives such as the peace testimony. Evangelical Friends meetings tend to employ professional pastors and use programmed worship.

EXERCISE. The exploration of a deep concern that has been brought to a meeting.

FACING BENCHES. The benches or seats in the front of the meeting room, facing the body of the meeting, on which recorded ministers and recorded elders, or, in their absence, those charged with breaking meeting usually sit.

GATHERED MEETING. A meeting during which Friends share an exceptional sense of the Lord’s activity gathering Friends into a deep sense of unity, often through united themes of vocal ministry.

GOOD ORDER. The procedures traditionally used by Friends to facilitate meetings.

GOSPEL ORDER. The order brought by obedience to Christ.

HOLD IN THE LIGHT. To pray that Christ’s Light be known to certain persons in an exceptional way, especially a comforting way.

INWARD LIGHT. This refers to the power and inspiration of Christ coming inwardly to us to show us our motivations and true selves, correct us, guide us, and lead us, and give us strength to act on this guidance. It thus brings us into unity with the spirit of God. The "Inward Light" is also called the "Light Within," the "Christ Within," the "Light of Christ," the "Holy Spirit," and "The Seed."

LEADING. An inward conviction that Christ is leading one to take a specific action.

LIBERAL FRIENDS. Those Friends who insist on the spiritual freedom of individual Friends and who seek to articulate their religious understandings in a manner consistent with the most contemporary movements in the natural and social sciences, the arts, and other aspects of secular culture. Liberal Friends are historically connected to both the 19th century Hicksites and 20th century “modernist” Gurneyite evangelicals.

MEETING. In contemporary usage, this usually refers to the local congregation that meets weekly for worship and monthly for business. A “quarterly meeting” is comprised of representatives of related monthly meetings meeting quarterly for business, while the “yearly meeting” is the annual meeting of members and representatives from related monthly and quarterly meetings.

MINDING THE LIGHT. An exhortation to be consciously centered on the Light of Christ, especially during a trying time.

MINISTERS. Those with a special gift and burden for vocal ministry during worship. Ministers may be recognized and recorded by their meeting.

MINUTE. A statement of the sense of the meeting with respect to a specific item considered in a meeting for business.

MOVED TO SPEAK. Being moved by the Holy Spirit to speak during a meeting for worship.

OPENING. Moment of enlightenment or inspiration from Christ, often unexpected.

OVERSEERS. Those Friends with a special charge by the meeting to exercise pastoral care in the meeting, especially with respect to practical needs. (Overseers would be called “deacons” in some other denominations.)

PLAIN DRESS. Simple but distinctive dress intended to witness Friends’ convictions to others and to remind the wearer of the same.

PLAIN SPEECH. The "thee," "thy," and "thine" used by Friends, especially up to the early twentieth century. In the 1600s, a wealthy person or member of the nobility was addressed by the plural pronoun "you" while inferiors or children were addressed by the singular pronoun "thou." Friends and many others refused to recognize such distinctions. Because the days and months were named for non-Christian gods, goddesses, and emperors, Friends preferred to use "first-day," "second-day," "First Month," "Second Month," etc. Also refers to forthright and divinely-led speech.

PROGRAMMED MEETING. A meeting for worship with a pre-determined formatting of speaking, silence, singing, or other activities. Programmed meetings with substantial periods of silent waiting are often called “semi-programmed.”

PROCEED AS WAY OPENS. To await further Divine Guidance with respect to a specific issue, especially as the circumstances surrounding the issue continue to develop.

QUERIES. Specific written questions used as an opportunity for individuals and meetings to examine themselves (and be examined) with respect to the faith and practices held to be essential to the life and witness of Friends.

SEASONING. A process to ensure that decisions are truly grounded in God's will.

SENSE OF THE MEETING. A perception of Truth that emerges from the corporate business process as Friends seek Christ's will with respect to a specific decision. If the clerk feels that a decision has been reached, he or she states the sense of the meeting as a minute for the meeting's approval. No vote is taken. The clerk must discern the degree of unity required.

SPEAK TO ONE'S CONDITION. The experience of receiving a message directly from God, or through another person, that touches one at the deepest level or helps one solve a problem or make a right decision.

STANDING ASIDE. The withdrawal of opposition by a member not able to unite with a proposed minute, thus freeing the meeting to proceed.

STANDING IN THE WAY. The declaration of a member unable to unite with a proposed minute.

STOP IN THE MIND. An expression used by Friends to indicate a deeply-felt opposition to a course of action, even though the Friend may not be able to articulate fully what is specifically objectionable about the action.

UNIVERSALIST FRIENDS. Those Friends who consider the essence of Quakerism to transcend Christianity and be consistent with spiritual seekers of any or no religious orientation. Universalist Friends embrace “hyphenated Quakerism,” such as Buddhist-Quakerism, Christocentric Quakerism, Non-Theistic Quakerism, and Jewish Quakerism.

UNITY. A shared perception in a business meeting that a conclusion represents the Friends' best understanding of God's will on a specific issue.

UNPROGRAMMED MEETING. A meeting for worship sometimes erroneously referred to as a "silent meeting.” The essence is that Friends await the immediate guidance of Christ as to when and what ought be spoken. More traditional terms are “waiting worship,” “expectant worship” or “silence before the Lord.”

VISITATION. Intentional visiting among Friends for any specific purposes.

WAIT UPON THE LORD. Actively to seek and attend to God's will in expectant, quiet worship.

WEIGHTY FRIEND. A Friend whom others informally recognize as having special experience and wisdom.

WITNESS. Used as a noun or a verb; one who testifies to or shows evidence of religious beliefs and convictions, or the act of doing so.

WORLDLY. Manifesting the non-Christian spirit and values of the mainstream culture.

Caprock Friends Christian Fellowship
Conservative Quakers in Lubbock, Texas

The Divisions Among Friends

The Religious Society of Friends, also known as the Quakers, emerged during the religious warfare of seventeenth century England and soon thereafter arrived in America. In the ensuring 350 years of history, schisms and divisions have disintegrated the once united Society of Friends. These divisions are disheartening to Friends, as well as confusing to newcomers. The following is intended to orient newcomers to understanding these divisions.

The primary division among Friends in the United States revolved around the rightful place of individualism in Quakerism. Those who sought to increase individualism were known as "Hicksites," while those who sought to defend traditional Quaker understandings were known as "the Orthodox." The Hicksite-Orthodox schism split the Society of Friends with about 60% of Friends being Orthodox and 40% being Hicksite. These splits began in 1827. Over the ensuing decades, the Orthodox Friends themselves split as some Friends advocated the incorporation of mainstream Protestant theology and practices, while other Friends resisted. Those Orthodox Friends who sought to move towards the Protestant mainstream were known as "Gurneyites," while those Orthodox Friends who sought to defend traditional Quaker understandings were known as "the Conservatives." (The earliest Conservatives were known as "Wilburites.") By the beginning of the 20th century, Conservative Orthodox were outnumbered by the Gurneyite Orthodox by about 8:1. Gurneyite Friends eventually incorporated programming in worship and professional pastors, and many incorporated elements of Wesleyan Holiness theology.

As a result of these schisms, there are four primary divisions among contemporary Friends:

LIBERAL FRIENDS. Liberalism among Friends can be traced to the Hicksite defense of spiritual individualism. The spiritual freedom of individual Friends is perhaps the most important principle of liberal Quakerism. Liberalism among Friends, however, has a second source, which is found in Gurneyite Quakerism. One of the groups of Gurneyite Friends who objected to the “holiness” and “revivalist” influences on Gurneyites became a progressive, liberal influence in Quakerism. Their liberalism sought to make Quakerism consistent with the best trends in science, education, arts, and politics. Liberalism among Friends today is found among both unprogrammed meetings and pastoral meetings. It has been substantially influenced by mainstream liberal theology, politics, and culture. Pastoral liberal Friends tend to be affiliated with Friends United Meeting, while unprogrammed liberal Friends tend to be affiliated with Friends General Conference or one of the “independent” western yearly meetings (e.g., Pacific Yearly Meeting).

UNIVERSALIST FRIENDS. Rufus Jones was a liberal Gurneyite Friend who claimed that the early Quakers were mystics who had only nominal convictions about Jesus of Nazareth. Although Jones identified as a Christian, his writings paved the way for the growth of universalism among Friends. Quaker universalism describes Quakerism as a mystical spirituality that transcends Christianity and other religions. For the universalist, Quakerism is a method that can be shared by spiritual seekers of all the world’s religions and those who claim no religion. Among universalist Quakers are those who self-describe as Buddhist-Quaker, Pagan-Quaker, Jewish-Quaker, Wiccan-Quaker, and Non-Theist-Quaker. Those universalist Quakers who identify themselves as Christians usually prefer the term “Christocentric Quaker.” Universalist Quakerism, in this sense, is almost entirely confined to unprogrammed meetings affiliated with Friends General Conference or one of the “independent” western yearly meetings (e.g., Intermountain Yearly Meeting).

EVANGELICAL FRIENDS. While some pastoral meetings are liberal Christian congregations with many similarities to mainline liberal denominations, most pastoral meetings are evangelical. Some of these Friends identify more with the wider evangelical movement than Quakerism, though other evangelical Friends value their Quaker identity at least as much as their evangelical one. Some evangelical Friends also identify with the Wesleyan Holiness movement or the Fundamentalist movement, as well. Most evangelical congregations are affiliated with Evangelical Friends International, while many are affiliated with Friends United Meeting.

CONSERVATIVE FRIENDS. Conservative Friends believe themselves to have preserved the essence of historic Quakerism, understood, at a minimum, to be unprogrammed worship and a Christian identity. However, conservative Friends are, by no means, un-influenced by the larger movements among Friends. Perhaps conservative Friends might be best understood as the group least influenced by the other movements – but influenced nonetheless. Thus, there are conservative versions of liberal, universalist, and evangelical Friends, but they tend to be more moderate than their counterparts in other Quaker branches. The result is considerable diversity among “conservative” Friends. Those who continue to find the witness of early Friends the most consistent with their own experiences are, of course, the most conservative of the conservatives, but, as has been true since the Hicksite separations, the least in number. There are three conservative yearly meetings, none of which are affiliated with a larger body of Friends. However, the term “conservative” is also claimed by individual Friends in other yearly meetings.

To read more about Friends’ history and current diversity and division, see:

T.H.S. Wallace, Misunderstanding Quaker Faith and Practice

T.H.S. Wallace, The Scriptures and Salvation

Lloyd Lee Wilson, Wrestling With Our Faith Tradition

A Short History of Conservative Friends

Lewis Benson, Universal Quakerism (previously published as Catholic Quakerism) (New Foundation Fellowship)

Douglas Gwyn, Apocalypse of the Word (Friends United Meeting)

Thomas Hamm, Quakers in America (Columbia Press)

Thomas Hamm, Transformation of American Quakerism (Indiana University Press)

Caprock Friends Christian Fellowship
Conservative Quakers in Lubbock, Texas

Waiting Worship: Scriptural Images

The Quaker apologist Robert Barclay wrote, “Our worship consists neither in words nor in silence in such, but in a holy dependence of the mind upon God. For such dependence, it is necessary to begin with silence until the words can be brought forth which arise from God’s Spirit.” It is in this context, that the following scriptural descriptions of worship, and specifically of the gift of prophesy during worship, are invoked by Friends.

Be still, and know that I am God. Ps 46:10

But they that wait upon the LORD shall renew their strength. Is 40:31
God has chosen to make known . . . the glorious riches of this mystery, which is Christ in you, the hope of glory.
Col 1:27

Remain in me, and I will remain in you. No branch can bear fruit by itself; it must remain in the vine. Neither can you bear fruit unless you remain in me. Jn 15:4

For where two or three have gathered together in My name, there am I in the midst of them. Mt 18:20

His sheep follow him because they know his voice. Jn 10:3-4

He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and fire. Mt 3:11

In the same way, the Spirit helps us in our weakness. We do not know what we ought to pray for, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us with groans that words cannot express. Ro 8:26
Let us offer to God acceptable worship, with reverence and awe; for our God is a consuming fire.
He 12:28-29

God is spirit, and those who worship Him must worship Him in spirit and truth. Jn 4:24

I will pour out my Holy Spirit upon all mankind, and your sons and your daughters shall prophesy. Ac 2:17

Make love your aim, and earnestly desire the spiritual gifts, especially that you may prophesy. 1 Cor 14:1

What, then, brethren? When you come together, each one has a hymn, a lesson, a revelation, a tongue, or an interpretation . . . Let two or three prophets speak, and let the others weigh what is said. If a revelation is made to another sitting by, let the first be silent. For you can all prophesy one by one, so that all may learn and all be encouraged; and the spirits of prophets are subject to prophets. For God is not a God of confusion but of peace. 1 Cor 14:26, 29-33

Whoever speaks, let him do it as one who utters oracles of God. . . 1 Pe 4:11.

I came to you in weakness and fear, and with much trembling. My message and my preaching were not with wise and persuasive words, but with a demonstration of the Spirit's power, so that your faith might not rest on men's wisdom, but on God's power. 1 Cor 2:3-5

Caprock Friends Christian Fellowship
Conservative Quakers in Lubbock, Texas

Waiting Worship: Descriptions by Friends

The following extracts from Friends' writings may help a newcomer better understand unprogrammed, waiting worship.

Our worship consists neither in words nor in silence as such, but in a holy dependence of the mind upon God. For such dependence, it is necessary to begin with silence until the words can be brought forth that arise from God's Spirit. Robert Barclay (1678)

When assembled, it should be the common task of one and all to wait upon God. It should be a time of turning away from one's own thoughts and for suspending the imagination in order to feel the Presence of the Lord in the midst and to know a true gathering in his name and according to his promise. Then, when everyone is thus gathered, and all meet together inwardly in their spirits, as well as outwardly in their persons, the secret power and virtue of life are known to refresh the soul. It is there that the pure motions and breathings of God's Spirit are felt to arise. Robert Barclay (1678)

As words of declarations, prayers, or praises arise from these promptings of the Spirit, the acceptable worship is known which edifies the church and is pleasing to God. No one limits the Spirit of God in such worship or brings forth his own laboriously assembled ideas. But everyone will state whatever the Lord has placed in his heart. And it will not be uttered from man's own will or wisdom, but in the evidence and demonstration of the Spirit and of power. Robert Barclay (1678)

And when God sees meet to put a Word into the mouth of any one of them, he is to speak what the Lord hath revealed and taught him (I Cor 2:4). So is he to give it forth in demonstration and power, and in the virtue and life of the Spirit, that it may be to edification in the church; for deep calls unto deep, and life reaches unto life, and the congregation go together to the waters to drink freely (Ps 42:7). And if anything be revealed to one that sits by, when the first is silent, that stream of the spiritual gift is turned to the other, because that spiritual liberty is in the true church, for every one to speak as they are moved by the Holy Spirit. Ellis Pugh (circa 1700)

In this humanistic age we suppose man is the initiator and God is the responder. But the living Christ within us is the initiator and we are the responders. God the Lover, the accuser, the revealer of light and darkness presses within us. 'Behold, I stand at the door and knock.' And all our apparent initiative is already a response, a testimonial to His secret presence and working within us. The basic response of the soul to the Light is internal adoration and joy, thanksgiving and worship, self-surrender and listening. Thomas R Kelly (1941)

I know of no other way, in these deeper depths, of trusting in the name of the Lord, and staying upon God, than sinking into silence and nothingness before Him . . . . So long as the enemy can keep us reasoning he can buffet us to and fro; but into the true solemn silence of the soul before God he cannot follow us. John Bellows (1895)

Friends, meet together and know one another in that which is eternal, which was before the world was. George Fox (1657)

Friends have never regarded [worship] as an individual activity. People who regard Friends' meetings as opportunities for meditation have failed to appreciate this corporate aspect. The waiting and listening are activities in which everybody is engaged and produce spoken ministry which helps to articulate the common guidance which the Holy Spirit is believed to give the group as a whole. So the waiting and listening is corporate also. This is why Friends emphasize the 'ministry of silence' and the importance of coming to meeting regularly and with heart and mind prepared. John Punshon (1987)

What is the ground and foundation of the gathered meeting? In the last analysis, it is, I am convinced, the Real Presence of God. Thomas R Kelly (1940)

The first that enters into the place of your meeting . . . turn in thy mind to the light, and wait upon God singly, as if none were present but the Lord; and here thou art strong. Then the next that comes in, let them in simplicity of heart sit down and turn in to the same light, and wait in the spirit; and so all the rest coming in, in the fear of the Lord, sit down in pure stillness and silence of all flesh, and wait in the light . . . . Those who are brought to a pure still waiting upon God in the spirit, are come nearer to the Lord than words are; for God is a spirit, and in the spirit is he worshipped. . . In such a meeting there will be an unwillingness to part asunder, being ready to say in yourselves, it is good to be here: and this is the end of all words and writings to bring people to the eternal living Word. Alexander Parker (1660)

'Where two or three', says our Lord, 'are gathered together in my name, there am I in the midst of them' (Mt 18:20). In these words he . . . invites us not only to meet one with another but, in so doing, with himself also. . . Shall the poor perishing gratifications of sense and self-love, or any inconveniences of a trivial nature, be suffered to prevent our dutiful attendance upon him, in whom alone stands our everlasting interest? Shall a cloudy sky, a little wet, a little cold, a little ease to the flesh, a view to a little earthly gain, or any common incident, furnish an excuse for declining this duty, and thereby depriving ourselves of the blessed advantage, often vouchsafed to the faithful, of enjoying heavenly communion together in spirit with the Lord of life and glory? Yearly Meeting in London (1765)

I went to meetings in an awful frame of mind, and endeavored to be inwardly acquainted with the language of the true Shepherd. And one day, being under a strong exercise of spirit, I stood up, and said some words in a meeting, but not keeping close to the divine opening, I said more than was required of me and being soon sensible to my error, I was afflicted in mind some weeks, without any light or comfort, even to that degree that I could take satisfaction in nothing. I remembered God and was troubled, and in the depth of my distress he had pity upon me, and sent the Comforter. I then felt forgiveness for my offence, and my mind became calm and quiet, being truly thankful to my gracious Redeemer for his mercies. And after this, feeling the spring of divine love opened, and a concern to speak, I said a few words in a meeting in which I found peace. This I believe was about six weeks from the first time, and as I was thus humbled and disciplined under the cross, my understanding became more strengthened to distinguish the language of the pure spirit which inwardly moves upon the heart, and taught me to wait in silence sometimes many weeks together, until I felt that rise which prepares the creature to stand like a trumpet, through which the Lord speaks to his flock. John Woolman (1741)

Ministry should be of necessity, and not of choice, and there is no living by silence, or by preaching merely. John Churchman (1734)

The intent of all speaking is to bring into the life, and to walk in, and to possess the same, and to live in and enjoy it, and to feel God's presence. George Fox (1657)

Caprock Friends Christian Fellowship
Conservative Quakers in Lubbock, Texas

Waiting Worship: What to Do

There is no "method" to follow during unprogrammed, waiting worship, just as there is no method for patience, faith, or obedience. It is not a period of meditation, nor, strictly speaking, is it even a period of contemplative prayer. It is a time of patiently waiting upon the Lord with the faith that whatever it is we are experiencing can be used by our One True Teacher, if we turn our experience over to Him. Sometimes we may experience physical rest or mental rest or spiritual rest. Sometimes we may experience anxieties, wandering thoughts, boredom, or physical discomfort. Sometimes we may experience a clear call to speak, sing, or pray, while sometimes we may struggle to know if we are being called to speak, sing, or pray, and, if so, what it is we are to say, sing, or pray. In some meetings for worship, we may have a time of each of these.

One of the most important "parts" of meeting for worship is the preparation beforehand. In the minutes and hours ahead of the appointed time for worship, we may begin to feel ourselves drawn into prayer, bible reading, introspection, or inward waiting as preparation for worship. Over time, we may find ourselves preparing for the appointed time of worship days ahead of time.

Some Friends use the first few minutes of the appointed time for worship to pray inwardly for others, especially those gathered for worship; to ask inwardly for forgiveness or seek healing for oneself; to inwardly repeat a simple prayer, such as the Lord's Prayer or the name of Jesus; or to silently read passages of scriptures to which the Friend feels inwardly drawn; while others may simply allow their awareness to shift to the presence of those gathered in the Presence of the Lord. We hope that our bodies, minds, and spirits will become still, open, and receptive to the Presence of the Lord and whatever it is we need to see, hear, or say. Yet, again and again, we are more likely to become aware of how distracted we are. With patience and faith and a willingness to obey what is given, the Lord teaches us, usually slowly, how to be with Him and serve Him during worship. There is no method other than to return our attention, again and again, to His Presence.

Caprock Friends Christian Fellowship
Conservative Quakers in Lubbock, Texas

Waiting Worship: An Overview for Visitors

We invite you to join us for worship. We gather for waiting worship in the tradition of Friends (Quakers). We silently wait upon the Lord Jesus Christ to minister to us and through us. This manner of worship is also described as "unprogrammed worship" insofar as there is no prepared "program" to be followed, as well as "silent worship" since we remain in silent prayer until the Lord gives us words to speak, sing, or pray. The following may help orient you to this manner of worship.

We gather in silence, in a practice centuries old, to wait upon our Lord. The meeting has no clergy. Individuals who feel led by the Holy Spirit may rise and speak or sing (or kneel and pray). Such ministry is usually brief, plainly spoken so all may hear, and grounded in the speaker's sense that the Lord provided the message and desired it to be spoken to the meeting. The usual practice is that Friends speak only once during the course of meeting. This helps increase the spiritual depth and clarity of the message, while also providing ample time for others to speak. Ideally, a spoken message is preceded and followed by significant periods of silence. Messages are never given in response to one another. As worship concludes, an appointed Friend reads a traditional Quaker advice for living followed by a short period of silence and then an invitation to share reflections on what was experienced during worship. We conclude the meeting by shaking hands.


Some visitors will be interested in knowing the following.
Friends tend to dress for worship in the same manner in which they dress on
other days of the week.
We encourage children of all ages to be brought into worship. Sometimes
they are even given messages to share. Of course, it is not always
practical for children to remain in the meeting room for the whole period.
Chairs with books suitable for children are located outside of the meeting

Caprock Friends Christian Fellowship
Conservative Quakers in Lubbock, Texas