Religious Society of Friends
"When we are driven into the depths of our own being, or seek them of our own will ... in the depths there is something eternal and infinite in which our existence and indeed all existence is grounded. The experience of the depth of existence fills us with a sense both of reverence and of responsibility, which gives even to our finite lives a meaning and a power which they do not possess in themselves. This I am assured, is our human experience of God."
(John MacMurray, 1967)
"If you live in the Spirit you live from the center within you. In worship we search for the Center in ourselves and in one another 'from whence come our help.'"
(Pacific Yearly Meeting 1954)
Invitation To Worship
We warmly welcome you to Milwaukee Friends Meeting. We hope you will feel at home here. Please feel free, after the worship, to ask any questions you may have.
If you have never before attended an unprogrammed Friends (Quaker) meeting for worship, your first meeting may surprise you.*
While all Quakers meet in worship to hear more clearly God's "still small voice" (1 Kings 10:12), Friends in the unprogrammed Quaker tradition base our worship entirely on expectant waiting. We take the Psalmist's advice literally: "Be still and know that I am God" (Psalm 46:10).*
We meet in plain, unadorned rooms because we have found that, in such places, we are less distracted from hearing that still small voice. There are no pulpits in our meeting rooms because we minister to each other. Our benches or chairs face each other because we are all equal before God. We have no prearranged prayers, readings, sermons, hymns, or musical orchestrations because we wait for God's leadings (guidance and direction) and powers in all our lives.*
Occasionally, during meeting for worship, someone is moved to speak out of the silence. Following a spoken message, we return to the silence to examine ourselves in the Light of that message. Although Friends value spoken messages which come from the heart and are prompted by the Spirit of God, we also value the silence and find that expectant worship may bring profound leadings. Friends have found that some leadings are for sharing immediately, some are for sharing on another occasion, and some are for our personal reflection. Often as we wait together expectantly, we feel a heightened and vital connectedness and unity, and may feel we are "gathered" or are "one in the Spirit". The meeting ends when one Friend, designated in advance, shakes hands with his or her neighbors. Then everyone shakes hands. No two meetings are ever the same.
In Milwaukee Meeting our Sunday schedule begins with a period of singing, after which we settle into a silent Meeting for Worship. Simultaneously, the children have religious education programs (First Day School) during the school year and supervised activities in the summer months. The children join the adult Meeting for Worship for about 15 minutes of the worship period. After the rise of Meeting, the clerk invites those gathered to share requests to "hold in the Light" any for whom special prayers are desired, and to share joys and celebrations. After the clerk makes announcements, all present hold hands in a circle and introduce themselves.
Following this, please join us for refreshments and sociability. Feel free to explore the building, the Koenen Land Preserve (see HERE, lower down on this page), or the library. A welcome packet is available if you desire more information. Friends are happy to answer any questions you may have. Please be sure to sign our guest book.
*Credit to Marsha D. Holliday, Silent Worship and Quaker Values
On what do Friends base their faith and practice?
Both our way of worship and our social witness grow from our conviction that each person, regardless of any and all differences, possesses a positive, creative, unifying quality or potential. We refer to the dignity, worth or preciousness of the individual, or to "that of God" in each person or the "Inner Light". Thus we welcome diversity and our worship allows any one of us to receive and share divine leading. It follows that for 350 years Quakers have witnessed for peace, equality, simplicity and justice.
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 Illinois Yearly Meeting and 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.