As Quakers, we do not have a set of “required” beliefs. We recognize that each person has a direct experience of an inner life which they may know as an expression of God, and that each person’s search for truth is unique. The inner life is nourished through worship and in the care of one another through the committees we use to support our community. We use many words to describe the Divine, including: God, the Light Within, Christ, Spirit, and Inward Teacher. The origins of Quakerism are deeply rooted in Christianity. While many Quakers consider themselves Christian, others find their spiritual inspiration from such traditions as Buddhism, Judaism, Islam, Hinduism, and the nature religions.
We come together each Sunday morning at 10:15 in expectant silence to experience God/Spirit/Mystery and that of God within ourselves and within our community and world.
You are welcome to join us for worship just as you are. Dress as you feel comfortable.
We begin by becoming inwardly still, allowing thoughts that usually fill our attention to recede. We can help quiet our thoughts by reciting a prayer, reflecting on a sacred text, focusing on breathing, or other means. As the group settles into stillness, we increase our awareness to include the whole group and movement of the Spirit within it. In holy silence, we can go beyond words to experience the Inward Light or Spirit. We seek to be transformed so that we might create lives more faithful to Divine guidance.
Our beliefs vary, and all are welcome. Some Friends in our meeting are more universalist in outlook, some are more Christian, some are non-theist, and some don’t attempt to pin down their approach. We all desire to connect more deeply with the mystery of our human experience and the world around us, and celebrate the transcendent and immanent in our lives.
Our time together looks like
- Sitting quietly together for about an hour with no planned program
- Listening if someone is moved by the Spirit to speak
- Including children for a short time during worship
- Shaking hands when worship ends; and greeting those around us
- Gathering in a circle to introduce ourselves
- Often there is also singing prior to worship, starting at 9:30am
Testimonies are what Quakers call the ways we have found to live and act based on our beliefs. As individuals and as a group, we embrace practices that “testify” to our beliefs
Integrity – living as whole people who act on what we believe, tell the truth, and do what we say we will do; aligning outward behaviors with inward convictions
Simplicity -focusing on what is truly important and letting other things fall away
Equality – treating everyone, everywhere, as equally precious to God; recognizing that each one has gifts to share and can contribute to ministry
Community – supporting one another in our faith journeys and in times of joy and sorrow; sharing with and caring for each other
Peace – seeking justice and healing for all people; taking away the causes of war and violence
Care for the Earth – valuing and respecting the natural world out of which our life springs; using only our fair share of resources; working for policies that protect the environment
We work together on projects that matter to us and help us to embrace in greater measure these aspirations. We each decide how we are to respond to the call we experience. We do not always hear and follow divine guidance, so being in community helps us to be more faithful.
Quakers and Prayer
For many Quakers, prayer is part of daily life as well as part of meeting for worship.
Prayer is simply conversation or contact with God where we open ourselves to the Divine presence. This can take different forms, and each Quaker will find a different way (or no way) to pray. Many Quakers sit silently, maybe formulating words or using an image. Many may sit in silence for a few minutes each day, listening for God as we do in meeting for worship.
During or after worship, a Friend may ask the group to “hold someone in the Light.” The person may be sick, dealing with difficult life circumstances, or struggling spiritually.Friends have different ways of understanding this Light, but you might think of it as imagining the person being held in your love and in God’s loving presence.
A Quaker meeting is a local worshipping community, a congregation which has authority over its own decisions. Quaker meetings follow the guidance of Spirit in business as well as worship.
We do not hire a minister, but rather, we all participate in ministry, including pastoral care for one another. Quaker meetings function through committees and meeting officers and representatives to organizations to which we belong. These volunteers prepare business that comes to the entire group for Spirit-led decision making. In our meeting, our ministry of all types is done by our own community members, though we do hire a cleaning service, people to do heavy work on the land, and someone to coordinate meetinghouse use by outside groups. Everyone is welcome to participate in the work of the meeting. We frequently have work days to enjoy fellowship and the work of up-keep of our meetinghouse and land.
The bulk of the work is done by committees according to the meeting’s needs and concerns. We have numerous committees, all staffed by members who volunteer generously to help create a vibrant community. An overview of each committee can be found here.
The community meets monthly at where we gather in worship to address the business of the meeting. We use the collective discernment of members, with the help of Spirit, to develop the “sense of the meeting” and thereby make decisions. We never vote.
Our Work in the World
We have a robust history of working for Peace and Justice, following the admonition of the Quaker founder, George Fox
“. . . a charge to you all in the presence of the living God, be patterns, be examples in all countries, places, island, nations, wherever you come, that your carriage and life may preach among all sorts of people, and to them. Then you will come to walk cheerfully over the world, answering that of God in every one; whereby in them ye may be a blessing, and make the witness in God in them to bless you.” George Fox, 1656
A Brief History of Milwaukee Meeting
Milwaukee Quakers first started meeting as a worship group in 1941 in the basement of a Baptist church on the Eastside. In 1950 this group became an autonomous Meeting. Between 1950 and 1984 when Milwaukee Meeting moved into its own Meetinghouse, Milwaukee Quakers gathered in seven different sites including YMCAs and churches. This original Meetinghouse was expanded in 2001 to double its size. Milwaukee Meeting has close ties to other meetings in the upper Midwest through the Northern Yearly Meeting. It also contributes to the American Friends Service Committee and to many local social services.
Anita and Jacob Koenen Land Preserve
Milwaukee Friends Meeting worships in a Meetinghouse constructed on the Anita and Jacob Koenen Land Preserve on the west bank of the Milwaukee river, at the northeast corner of Gordon Place and Auer Avenue just two blocks east of Humboldt Avenue and four blocks north of Locust Street. Extra parking is available at the Gaenslen School, just south of the Meetinghouse.
This land belonged to a 165 acre tract of land owned and farmed by the Koenen family. Anita Koenen lived here from the age of five until her death at age 96 in 1979 in her home on this property. As a teacher at Riverside High School, she used to canoe to work. She wanted to preserve this land in its natural state and in 1976 entered into an agreement with the Milwaukee Monthly Meeting of the Religious Society of Friends to establish a nature preserve on this property.
Since 1980 the land has been maintained by the Quakers and concerned citizens in the Riverwest area who value having a natural retreat within an urban setting. Their goal has been to restore the land to its indigenous flora and fauna. A prairie has been established on the site of the old house and a path has been constructed down to the Milwaukee River. The land contains a glen just below the Meetinghouse that is a quiet place for contemplation and a series of garden plots near Gordon Place that are used by members of the local community. The Koenen Land Preserve is a place for rest where you can experience the pristine beauty of the natural world.