Peterson will give a brief talk and lead a discussion about Quakers, liturgy, and worship in a rural setting. Based on his recently published essay for the journal, Liturgy, Peterson will also weave in the challenges LGBTQ people face in rural spaces.
Sunday January 21, 2018 11:15 am. Millville Friends Meeting, 351 E. Main St. Millville, PA 17846
Excerpt from essay
Quakers can be defined by what we do not do and what we do not have during our times of worship. In the Quaker meetings I have attended, we do not have a written liturgy. We do not recognize sacraments of the Christian church or the church calendar. We do not have clergy in the traditional sense or a laity; each one of us is considered a minister. We do not have a programmed worship at all but opt for an hour of silence, trusting the members of the gathering to vocalize short messages leaving pauses in between messages. Sometimes we have a complete hour of quiet with no words spoken aloud.
The role of Quakers and nature as a whole would seem to be a harmonious one. No doubt many Friends have and do enjoy worship in a natural setting, but by its very nature, Quakerism renounces materialism—constructed or natural. When we gather for worship, the primary goal is to shut out the world in all of its form, to settle into silence and into the self. We look inward, not outward for our inspiration. Even when our messages and personal reflections reference nature and the natural world, these often serve as metaphors for ideas we wish to portray. Our primary goal in worship is to be still and as we look inward. In fact, too much nature in this setting—the scampering of a squirrel outside, the gurgle of a spring, or the sight of a flock of geese—all lovely natural encounters—could distract us from a quiet meditative practice.