Vocabulary & Terms Peculiar to Friends or "Quakers"
Common Terms Defined

Helpful Definitions/Explanations of Terms You Might Hear During or After a Meeting for Worship.

Terms Related to Faith and Action
An "opening" = what some call a "revelation" or "deeper insight" into a situation or idea/practice.
"A Leading" = a deep and growing feeling that God is motivating one and providing one with the opportunity and responsibility to act in some specific new or fresh way in some area of group or individual life.
"To Season" = To rest and intentionally ponder a course of action, expecting that further Divine guidance will be given about a certain action or leading.

Terms Related to Worship
"Meeting" = a gathering of Friends to group worship, avoiding the confusion of the term "church" (all of us) with any man-made building.
"Centering Down"= an individual's process of quieting his/herself in order to wait in silence for God's Spirit to speak to us...with the understanding that the "Center" is Christ.
"Rise of Meeting" = the official "end" of silent worship, signaled by the shaking of hands which spreads among all attenders.

Meeting for worship
John 4:23 "But the hour cometh, and now is, when the true worshippers shall worship the Father in spirit and in truth: for the Father seeketh such to worship him.

John 4:24 God is a Spirit: and they that worship him must worship him in spirit and in truth."

Matthew 18:20 "For where two or three are gathered together in my name, there am I in the midst of them."

When Friends come together to worship God, they do so in obedience to these passages. To a newcomer, the meeting may seem "silent" but in reality it is an experience of intense listening. We gather, in a meeting house, in a private home, in a park, to strengthen each other and to wait, as did the disciples on the day of Pentecost. The Word of God, Christ, is there among us and speaks to us by his spirit, in our hearts. Sometimes no audible word is said, but we are together refreshed and washed clean by the fountain of living waters. Sometimes one Friend may deliver an inspiring sermon. Sometimes several Friends, as the Spirit leads each one, will give a series of brief messages which joined by God's plan from a complete revelation. Sometimes a Friend will be compelled by the Spirit to speak something that seems to make no sense, only to learn later that it was a divine answer to some one else's need.

Date Names
The common names of days of the week and months of the year,such as "Sunday" and "January", were adopted in honor of pagan deities.  Friends have traditionally rejected such vocabulary and have called the days of the week and the months of the year by their numbers, thus:

First Day (sunday)                                First Month (january)                            Seventh Month (july)
Second Day (monday)                          Second Month (february)                      Eighth Month (august)
Third Day (tuesday)                              Third Month (march)                             Ninth Month (september)
Fourth Day (wednesday)                       Fourth Month (april)                             Tenth Month (october)
Fifth Day (thursday)                               Fifth Month (may)                                Eleventh Month (november)
Sixth Day (friday)                                  Sixth Month (june)                                Twelfth Month (december)
Seventh Day (saturday)

It is interesting that, earlier in this century, Friends began accepting use of the common date names, feeling that any pagan meaning has been forgotten, while as the 20th comes to a close, most of us write (or type) dates using their number designations.   Perhaps the Quaker usage will catch on in common speech as well.

Plain Speach. The use of "Thee & Thy" in conversation is sometimes observed amoung plain Quaker friends, especially when thoses friends are speaking amongst themselves.

"Friends have maintained the use of the second person singular pronouns since the mid-seventeenth century. Their use serves two purposes: 1) It makes a distinction between second person singular and plural. Early Friends maintained that the two ancient languages of the scriptures (Greek and Hebrew) made this same distinction, so the Lord wants us to speak this way. They called this the "language of the scriptures." People who read the Bible are accustomed to this language. 2) It serves as a communication tie between Friends. Calling a Friend "thee" indicates that the speaker acknowledges that the two are in covenant with each other. In some ways, this is similar to two French people agreeing to use "tu and toi" between themselves. I should be clear that Friends use thee and thy for different reasons. Some Friends only use it at home or with certain other Friends. The two reasons that I listed above are the most general reasons that Friends use them."

Close Window