Monthly meetings are the basic unit of worship in the Religious Society of Friends (Quakers), usually equivalent organizationally to a single church congregation in Protestant denominations. Monthly meetings are charged with the bulk of pastoral care of their associated congregants. Quaker organizational structure is complicated and varies from place to place, but in many cases, Monthly meetings are grouped for various purposes into Quarterly meetings, which themselves are grouped into Yearly meetings. In places where Quakers are few, there may be no Quarterly meeting.
The term "monthly" comes from the practice of holding a monthly Meeting for Business, separate from the Meeting for Worship held once a week on Sunday (often called "First Day" for reasons discussed in the Britain and Ireland, there are local (preparative) meetings, which fall under the care of the larger Monthly meetings.
A Monthly meeting is usually associated with a particular place of worship; in many cases, the associated meetinghouse has a distinctive style of architecture, reflecting the Testimony of Equality (benches are arranged in a roughly circular or three-quarter-square configuration, with no "privileged" place) and the Testimony of Simplicity (the interior of the meetinghouse is usually kept simply and unadorned.) Some meetinghouses in the United States are among the earliest remaining religious structures in the country, particularly in the Philadelphia area, but also in the Mid-Atlantic states and the Midwest generally.
Within Britain Yearly Meeting, a monthly meeting is primarily a business meeting for a particular geographic area, and each monthly meeting contains a number of preparative meetings which hold weekly Meetings for Worship, and sometimes recognised meetings, which may be very small or meet less frequently than once a week.
The term "Monthly Meeting" is most often used by Quakers in the "unprogrammed" tradition; Friends who attend programmed services, particularly Evangelical Friends may often refer to their group instead as a church. However, Friends in most traditions commonly use the term Yearly Meeting. When the term "meeting" is used in a Quaker context without otherwise being specified, it almost always refers to a Monthly meeting.
Monthly meetings around the worldEdit
Links to the websites of individual Monthly Meetings around the world. The websites are grouped according to Friends World Committee for Consultation Section, then by Yearly Meeting. See also Quaker.org
Britain Yearly Meeting
- A good place to find local USA/Canada meetings affiliated with Friends General Conference is quakerfinder.org.
New England Yearly Meeting
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