A Lighthearted Look at Quaker Committees: Vignettes

By Catharine Krieps

So, something (or someone) in your life has brought you to a Quaker Meeting. On your first visit, it probably seemed inscrutable. Who could endure an hour of complete silence? And beyond that, why should they? What obscure beliefs and practices have kept this religion alive for hundreds of years? What do the Quakers believe in, besides sitting together silently on Sunday mornings? Alright, the person who greeted you at the door seemed friendly enough, even willing to talk, and so did the others you’ve met. One of them invited you to attend the next Newcomers’ meeting, during which some of the Quakers’ secrets are likely to be revealed. You just might go.


You’ve come to realize that Quakers are quite a sociable group, most of whom seem to know each other very well. Some even spend time chatting both before and after Meeting for Worship. Luckily, you recognize a few people from their name tags and the group’s introductions. Like yourself, some are planning to attend the Newcomers’ meeting. Topics there may vary, but each meeting usually includes at least one experienced, “seasoned” or “weighty” Friend to help answer your questions and explain some of the mysteries of Quaker worship. You may just want to take a deeper look into this unique form of religion.

(Some weeks later)

Over time, you have learned about the Quaker “spices” and a very important book known as Faith and Practice. The Seasoned Friend invites you to begin putting your own developing faith into practice. One of the committees suggested is the Hospitality Committee—those wonderful people who serve much-appreciated coffee, cookies and snacks after the rise of Meeting for Worship, and stick around to make sure everything is cleaned up afterwards. This may involve a bit of work, but it’s oh-so-worth-it to have those Girl Scout Thin Mint-flavored almonds, and a nice hot cup of herbal tea, or the morning’s coffee or decaf. Later, you may also participate in setting up a simple lunch before Meeting for Business, or an actual Quaker potluck, one of the very best features of our group events.

(Sometime later)

As you’ve listened to more of the Quakers, especially during the spoken Announcements, you’ve begun to appreciate the many ways there are to practice the Quakers’ faith. To access this variety of interests, you need look no further than the beginning pages of the annual directory, the printed weekly announcements, or the monthly Friends’ Journal, to name a few. Perhaps some of the selections are tempting:

Accessibility!  Libraries!  Contributions!  Friends Committee on National Legislation!  

Koenen Land Preserve!  Loaves and Fishes!  Peace and Justice!  Peacemakers Camp!

Prison Ministry!  Religious Education!  Teen Friends! And… The International Gift Shop!

By now, you may be feeling torn between the many choices for committee membership, and uncertain how best to direct your skills and (limited) time. You are not alone! Many seasoned Friends have had to make similar choices. It is always a good idea to approach others on the committee before making your decision. You may also find yourself reflecting on this during that seemingly ‘empty’ hour of silence at Meeting for Worship. No matter how you arrive at your choice, your help on a committee will always be appreciated, and you will have embarked on the lifelong journey of living your Quaker faith.


Dear Friends (old and new), We need people just like you to help keep our Friends Meeting alive and well. Please join us in supporting our Meeting. Sign up for one or more committees that interest you, get to know new friends, and help us all put our faith into practice.

Sincerely yours, this writer and the members and attenders of the Milwaukee Friends Meeting