Quaker Friends Meeting Houses
San Jose & Palo Alto
At Quaker Friends church services that there is no minister speaking. Most of the quiet hour-long meeting involves silent meditation. During this silence anyone may stand however, if so guided by the Spirit, and offer a brief message for the rest to then silently ponder.
A handout explains the process of meditation as follows: “Enter as you are ready and sit anywhere you like. Turn your attention inward and listen in the silence for what the Spirit may reveal. This expectant waiting is the essence of Quaker worship. If you find yourself bothered by distractions or thoughts, do not worry; simply return your attention to the still center.”
We recently attended two Quaker services, one in San Jose (see map) and one in Palo Alto (see map). Both groups were well established and very nice. The average age tended to be older; many members were over sixty years old, a few were under thirty, and the rest somewhere in between. After the silent meditation portion of the service announcements were made and visitors could introduce themselves if they so wished. No collection plates were passed.
The San Jose Friends service involved about 25 people in their historic church building (the oldest Quaker meeting house in California, built 1885 and relocated 1958) just off Highway 17/El Camino. They meet from 10-11 am Sunday mornings. It seemed to be a pleasant group who socialize together before and afterwards in the Quaker-owned house next door. See map.
The Palo Alto Friends meeting had a larger congregation of about 65 people and as a result more messages were given during the service. They meet from 10:30-11:30 am Sunday mornings. Separate meetings were available for children and teen-agers. As expected from the close-to-Stanford location this group seemed quite literate … one even talked about quantum physics during his brief message. See map.
If you like meditation or are looking for a religious group which seems more tolerant, open-minded and individual inner-spirit oriented than most then try out a Quaker Friends Church. At the least it will be an interesting low-key experience.