When Quakers founded Buck Hill Falls in 1901, they saw its idyllic natural environment as a perfect setting for their spiritual practices and formation. Over the past hundred years, Friends have shared Sunday morning worship at Buck Hill in the summer when many families are in residence, first in the Inn, and then in various locales around the community. Most recently, Buck Hillers have enjoyed worship in several of the beautiful outdoor settings our community provides.
Compared to those early days, today there are many fewer Quakers among Buck Hill residents. However, these days many people appreciate practices such as meditation and mindfulness, which are closely related to Quaker worship.
Quakers believe that individuals connect directly with Spirit rather than through the intermediary of a religious authority or sacred text. Therefore, (liberal) Quaker worship involves settling into a period of silence, which is “expectant waiting” for a divine message. The state of mind Friends strive for might be compared to some practices of meditation.
When a message comes, sometimes it is meant for the individual alone, and sometimes the individual is led to share the message aloud with the group. Early Friends sometimes “quaked” with emotion as they delivered this “vocal ministry,” leading to the name Quakers. Vocal ministry is usually only a few minutes long. To ensure a grounded and respectful meeting, subsequent messages are not delivered too soon after a prior message and should not respond directly to a previous message. Some meetings for worship may be totally silent, while others are peppered with messages and even singing. Either type can be a “gathered” or “covered” meeting in which the presence of Spirit is strongly felt.
Although Quakers have organizational bodies in the form of yearly and monthly meetings, they believe that no consecrated place or time is necessary for worship. Therefore, the worship of a small group by the side of Paiste Pond is just as sacred as the worship of a hundred Quakers in a meetinghouse in Philadelphia.