Friends meeting house
Quakers do not believe that meeting for worship should occur in any special place. They believe that "where two or three meet together in my name, I am there among them" (Revised English Bible, Matthew, Ch 18, v 20). Therefore meeting for worship may take place in any place. Early Quakers often met for worship outdoors or in local public buildings. However, when the Religious Society of Friends began to grow there became a need for buildings to house their meetings.
Quakers have always reserved the word church to mean the body of people who make up the worshipping community: Quakers do not use the word church to refer to the bricks and mortar of a worshipping community. George Fox, an early Quaker, spoke of places of worship that have steeples as steeple houses, and those that do not as meeting houses. This practice is shared by a number of other non-conformist Christian denominations, including Unitarians, Christadelphians, the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and Mennonites.
Some Friends meeting houses were adapted from existing structures, but most were purpose-built. Briggflatts Meeting House is an example of the latter. The hallmark of a meeting house is extreme simplicity and the absence of any liturgical symbols. More specifically, though, the defining characteristics of the Quaker meetinghouse are simplicity, equality, community, and peace. Though never explicitly written or spoken about, these tenets (or “Testimonies”) of Quakerism were the basic, and only, guidelines for building a meetinghouse, as was seen through the continuity of the use of Testimonies within meetinghouse design. While meetinghouse design evolved over time to a standardization of the double-cell structure without explicit guidelines for building, the meetinghouse’s reflective architecture revealed a deeper meaning. The meetinghouse design manifested and enhanced Quaker Testimonies and the cultivation of the Inner Light that was essential to Friends. Quakers easily moved from one place of meeting to another, but when given the opportunity to design and construct their own place of meeting, Friends infused their Testimonies in the planning, design, and construction of the building.
Meeting Houses built in a traditional style usually had two meeting rooms: one for the main meeting for worship, and another where the women's business meeting may be held (often referred to as the women's meeting room). Meeting houses of this style usually have a minister's gallery at one end of the meeting room, where traditionally those traveling in the ministry would have sat, with an elders bench immediately in front of this. Wooden benches facing this occupy the rest of the room, often with a gallery for extra seating. Meeting houses of this style usually have high windows so that worshippers sitting in meeting for worship cannot see outside.
Meeting houses built in a more modern design will usually consist of: a large meeting room, smaller rooms for committees, children's classes, etc., a kitchen and toilets.
The meeting room itself is a place for Friends to withdraw from the world. The windows are set sufficiently high that worshippers will not be distracted by the activities of the world's people outside, or in some cases they provide a view into the meeting house garden. The seating was originally long, hard and wooden. Today it is usually separate chairs but the layout remains the same — a square or rectangle facing inwards to a central table.
- Briggflatts Meeting House, near Sedbergh, Cumbria, England
- Brighton Friends Meeting House, Brighton, East Sussex, England
- Coanwood Friends Meeting House, in an isolated, unpopulated valley south of Hadrian's Wall, about 2 miles (3 km) east of the village of Coanwood, and about 5 miles (8 km) south of the town of Haltwhistle in Northumberland, England
- Come-to-Good Friends Meeting House, Kea, near Truro, Cornwall, UK. It was also known as Kea Meeting House and Feock Meeting House.
- Godalming Friends Meeting House, Godalming, Surrey, England
- Ifield Friends Meeting House, Ifield neighbourhood of Crawley, West Sussex, England
- Jordans Friends Meeting House, Buckinghamshire, England
- Leicester Friends Meeting House
- Littlehampton Friends Meeting House, Littlehampton, part of the Arun district of West Sussex, England
- Osmotherley Friends Meeting House, North Yorkshire, England
- Petts Wood Friends Meeting House, Kent, England
- Abington Friends Meeting House, Montgomery County, Pennsylvania
- Alloways Creek Friends Meetinghouse, Hancock's Bridge, Lower Alloways Creek Township, Salem County, New Jersey
- Amesbury Friends Meeting House
- Appoquinimink Friends Meetinghouse, Odessa, Delaware
- Arch Street Friends Meeting House, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
- Arney's Mount Friends Meetinghouse and Burial Ground, Burlington County, New Jersey
- Beekman Meeting House and Friends' Cemetery, LaGrangeville, New York
- Benjaminville Friends Meeting House, McLean County, Illinois
- Birmingham Orthodox Meeting House, Birmingham Township, Chester County, Pennsylvania
- Bowne House, Flushing, New York, 1661
- Bradford Friends Meetinghouse (Marshallton Meeting House), Marshallton, West Bradford Township, Chester County, Pennsylvania
- Brooklyn Friends Meetinghouse and School, Downtown Brooklyn, New York, New York
- Caln Meeting House, Caln Township, Chester County, Pennsylvania
- Camden Friends Meetinghouse, Camden, Delaware
- Catawissa Friends Meetinghouse, Catawissa, Columbia County, Pennsylvania
- Centre Meeting and Schoolhouse, Centerville, New Castle County, Delaware
- Chappaqua Friends Meeting House, Westchester County, NY buily in 1754
- Chichester Friends Meetinghouse, near Boothwyn, Upper Chichester Township, Delaware County, Pennsylvania
- Clinton Corners Friends Church, Clinton Corners, Dutchess County, New York
- Colora Meetinghouse, Colora, Cecil County, Maryland
- Conanicut Friends Meetinghouse, Conanicut Island, Jamestown, Newport County, Rhode Island
- Concord Friends Meetinghouse, Concordville, Delaware County, Pennsylvania
- Concord Hicksite Friends Meeting House, east of Colerain, Belmont Coungty, Ohio
- Cornwall Friends Meeting House
- Creek Meeting House and Friends' Cemetery, Clinton Corners, Dutchess County, New York
- Crum Elbow Meeting House and Cemetery, East Park, Dutchess County, New York
- Deer Creek Friends Meetinghouse, Darlington, Harford County, Maryland
- Deep River Friends Meeting House and Cemetery, High Point, North Carolina
- Dover, NH Friends Meetinghouse, Dover, Strafford County, New Hampshire
- East Hoosac Quaker Meetinghouse, Adams, Berkshire County, Massachusetts
- East Nottingham Friends Meetinghouse or Brick Meetinghouse, Rising Sun, Cecil County, Maryland
- Easton Friends North Meetinghouse, Middle Falls in Washington County, New York
- Evesham Friends Meeting House, Mount Laurel Township, Burlington County, New Jersey
- Frankford Friends Meeting House, Frankford neighborhood, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
- Frankford Monthly Meeting, Frankford neighborhood, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
- Free Quaker Meetinghouse, Independence National Historical Park, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
- Friends Meetinghouse (Uxbridge, Massachusetts)
- Friends Meetinghouse, Wilmington, Delaware
- Friends Meeting House and Cemetery, Little Compton, Rhode Island
- Great Friends Meeting House
- Green Plain Monthly Meetinghouse, near South Charleston, Clark County, Ohio
- Greenfield Preparative Meeting House (Catskill Meeting House), Grahamsville, Sullivan County, New York
- Hockessin Friends Meetinghouse, Hockessin, New Castle County, Delaware
- Honey Creek Friends' Meetinghouse, New Providence, Iowa
- Hopewell Meeting House, Clear Brook, near Winchester, Virginia
- Jericho Friends Meeting House Complex, Jericho, Nassau County, New York
- Little Egg Harbor Friends Meeting House, Tuckerton, New Jersey
- Little Falls Meetinghouse, Fallston, Harford County, Maryland
- Live Oak Friends Meeting House, Houston, Texas
- Meeting House of the Friends Meeting of Washington, Washington, DC
- Merion Friends Meeting House, Merion Station, Lower Merion Township, Montgomery County, Pennsylvania
- Mill Creek Friends Meetinghouse, Newark, New Castle County, Delaware
- Nine Partners Meeting House and Cemetery, Millbrook, New York
- Oblong Friends Meeting House, in the hamlet of Quaker Hill, in the town of Pawling, Dutchess County, New York
- Old Kennett Meetinghouse, Kennett Township near Chadds Ford, Pennsylvania
- Old Town Friends' Meetinghouse also known as Aisquith Street Meeting, Baltimore Meeting or Patapsco, Baltimore, Maryland
- Pembroke Friends Meetinghouse, Pembroke, Plymouth County, Massachusetts
- Portsmouth Friends Meetinghouse Parsonage and Cemetery
- Poughkeepsie Meeting House (Hooker Avenue), Poughkeepsie, New York
- Poughkeepsie Meeting House (Montgomery Street), Poughkeepsie, New York
- Race Street Friends Meetinghouse, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
- Sandy Spring Friends Meetinghouse, Sandy Spring, Montgomery County, Maryland
- Seaville Friends Meeting House, Seaville community, Upper Township, New Jersey, Cape May County, New Jersey, this 1716-1727 meeting house is the smallest frame Quaker meeting house in the United States.
- Smith Clove Meetinghouse, Highland Mills, NY
- Smithfield Friends Meeting House, Parsonage & Cemetery
- South River Friends Meetinghouse, Lynchburg, Virginia
- South Starksboro Friends Meeting House and Cemetery, Starksboro, Vermont
- Stony Brook Meeting House and Cemetery, Princeton, Mercer County, New Jersey
- Third Haven Meeting House, Easton, Talbot County, Maryland
- Upper Dublin Friends Meeting House
- West Grove Friends Spring Meeting House, Alamance County, NC
- Yardley Friends Meeting House, Yardley, Pennsylvania
- York Meetinghouse, York, York County, Pennsylvania
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- Rose, pp. 390-391.
- Alexander, William. Observations on the Construction and Fitting Up of Meeting Houses &c for Public Worship: Illustrated by Plans, Sections and Description, Including One Lately Erected in the City of York, Embracing in Particular the Method of Warming and Ventilating. York, England: the author, 1820.
- Lippincott, Horace Mather. Abington Friends Meeting and School: 1682-1949. n.p.: n.p., 1949.
- Rose, Harold Wickliffe. The Colonial Houses of Worship in America. New York: Hastings House, Publishers, 1963.
|Wikimedia Commons has media related to Quaker meeting houses.|
- Flickr site for photographs of British Friends Meeting Houses, arranged by County
- Hopewell Centre Monthly Meeting of the Religious Society of Friends "Quakers The Hopewell Meeting House was built in 1759 to 1761 and enlarged during 1788-1791.
- Haverford College triptych tri-college digital library, collection of photographs of meeting houses in the United States
- Randolph Friends Meeting House
- Friends meeting houses UK search