We welcome visitors to join us for worship, a time when we come together to deepen our spiritual lives, and please stay for the activities that follow, including:
- Light refreshments and fellowship
- Business Meetings, often held the second Sunday of the month
- Potluck meals and fellowship, usually held on the fourth Sunday of the month
Our primary belief is that "there is that of God" in every person (also called the "Inner Light" and the "indwelling Christ spirit"). That belief leads us to work with the homeless and oppressed, on behalf of peace, justice, racial harmony, and to witness to the world about peace, justice, and the integrity of creation.
We meet in unprogrammed worship, without the aid of a pastor. There is no leader, except the spirit of God. The entire time for worship can pass in "expectant waiting" without anyone speaking. Yet, there is a living silence that has great power. We sit quietly, centering our thoughts, praying, meditating, each in our own way active in an inner search for God's guidance.
A religious experience combined with a humble sense that it must be shared, may lead to a spoken message offered in the spirit of worship. Center deeply and gather fully the message before speaking, so that it is not necessary to speak more than once. Allow substantial silence between messages, to permit time for the message to deepen our worship.
The quality of worship is in the hands of all who are present. Each shares in the full responsibility and the blessings of worship. Friends are diverse in age, education, ethnicity and culture, religious backgrounds, and spiritual experience. Some may have a profound sense of awe in Meeting because they know God is present. Others may only know they want to move in a direction of being open to people in a spirit of love and trust. Some may believe in Gods' inexhaustible love and forgiveness in Jesus. Yet others may be uncertain and searching. The messages we share reflect our diversity. Each contribution rightly given will help someone, but our needs are different and are met in differing ways. Receive what is said in an accepting, charitable spirit. If something is said that does not "speak to thy condition", try nevertheless to reach the spirit behind the words.
After about an hour, Meeting for Worship ends when an appointed Friend shakes hands and greets those nearby. This greeting passes among all present. Then it is time for "Afterwords", when people can share thoughts or messages that came during Meeting but may not have been clearly Spirit-led. This is followed by announcements, which exemplify Friend's concerns and activities, and then social fellowship, which usually includes light refreshments.
For those who prefer "unwritten rules" to be bluntly written:
- Please join us in worship, the activities that follow, and return again because each meeting is different and one experience with us may not be typical
- Arrive on time and sit anywhere you please (although the rocking chairs are usually left for those with back problems)
- No pre-planned message, no political complaints or "call to action", no personal "rants" during worship; we want messages that come out of the worship and are gifts of the Spirit
- Speak only once, and then only if compelled by a spiritual force, but do not hold back if the "leading" truly comes
- Leave time after someone speaks; that message should be given time to be absorbed and bring everyone deeper into worship before sharing a message of your own
- Do not speak directly to another's message --- don't "agree" or "disagree" (However, a message may deepen worship and from that deeper spiritual state, a new message may emerge that relates to the previous)
- Listen beyond and behind the words, to the Spirit, the joy, or the pain that gave voice to the words
San Jose Friends worship in the oldest Meetinghouse in California, built in 1885.
This Meeting plays an important part in Quaker history. Joel and Hannah Bean founded the San Jose Meeting, which was recognized by their home Meeting in Iowa in 1889, as the College Park Association of Friends. Historical currents combined with Joel and Hannah Bean's character to make them the founders of the modern liberal branch of the Society of Friends, sometimes called "Beanite Quakerism".
You can read what Quaker historian Chuck Fager has to say about this at http://www.quaker.org/liberal-history/bean.html. Learn directly from Joel Bean "Why I am a Friend" by reading an essay he wrote in 1894: visit http://www.qhpress.org/quakerpages/qwhp/jbwhy.htm.
Edie Uber and Mark Woolbright publish the San Jose Friends Meeting newsletter monthly (a joint issue comes out for July/August). Email firstname.lastname@example.org to be added to our newsletter email list.