What Boston area Quaker meeting is best for my sister?
December 4, 2013 2:14 AM   Subscribe

My sister is interested in attending an unprogrammed Quaker meeting in the Boston area, and she'd like some suggestions about which ones might be best for her. The friendlier, the better, as she is new to Quakerism and somewhat shy. She is in her mid-thirties, but seems younger. Bonus points for materials that are helpful for introducing newcomers to Quakerism. She lives in Watertown but has a car and could attend anywhere in the Boston.
posted by stinker to Religion & Philosophy (6 answers total) 6 users marked this as a favorite
I used to live at the Beacon Hill Friends House which, in addition to being a residential Quaker community, is also home home to the Beacon Hill Friends Meeting. Granted this was a while ago but it was always a welcoming, warm place. Details of Meeting times are on the website.
posted by shibori at 4:20 AM on December 4, 2013

Here are some links:
Cambridge Friends Meeting

I've visited several meetings over the years and the people have always been friendly and welcoming. I have been a regular attender at a couple of meetings (St. Pete and Savannah) for the last 8 years. Tell your sister to be sure and stay for the social/coffee/cookies time after the end of the formal meeting. Feel free to memail with any questions.
posted by mareli at 5:17 AM on December 4, 2013

I gotta tell you -- it's really something you have to do by feel. Meetings are so individual and so different that there's just ... I mean, sometimes there's an 8:30 meeting and an 11:00 meeting at the same place and they're REALLY different in tone. Fortunately, Friends are so mellow about drop-ins that I would encourage her to just pay some visits. She'll know when she feels at ease, and that's really the most comfortable thing, is to just feel at ease. She doesn't have to talk if she doesn't want to; she can go in, sit down, feel it out, listen to whether it's a largely silent meeting or one where people pop up and talk a lot, see if it seems like her crowd (some meetings are hipster-ier, or older, or more traditionally tour-the-world-in-a-VW-bus-ish than others), and go by that. I mean, I understand you're looking for recs and I hope some people offer some, but I hope your sister will just try some places, because I don't know another way to get a feel for a meeting.
posted by Linda_Holmes at 5:59 AM on December 4, 2013 [1 favorite]

I'm sure any of the meetings in the Salem Quarter would be welcoming. The Cambridge meeting is very large, and attracts a lot of visitors; this can make it hard to get to know people & feel a member of the community. Fresh Pond meeting was established in part from a desire for a smaller, more community-focused meeting. I attended fairly regularly about 20 years ago, at the time the demographic was mostly young families; I don't know if or how much it's changed, but it is worth a look (and is very convenient to Watertown).
posted by mr vino at 6:03 AM on December 4, 2013

I attend Friends Meeting at Cambridge and for the most part agree with Linda_Holmes. That said, I know several people and friends at Beacon Hill who keep telling me it's a great fit for young-ish families with kids, which I am.

So seconding a visit or two to each Meeting to get a sense of it.
posted by cocoagirl at 8:47 AM on December 4, 2013

For the introducing newcomers part of your question, there is the short and simple answer and the longer FAQ both from Friends General Conference (the main grouping of unprogrammed Friends in the US and Canada and the closest thing we have to authoritative, as we don't go in much for that).

I don't know Boston meetings, but pretty much every meeting I've ever been to has had a time at the end of the meeting for newcomers to introduce themselves. Basically one member of meeting will end the silence, make or ask for announcements, and then go around the room asking anyone new to introduce themselves. This makes it easy for other attenders to come over and chat with you during the social time. And if you're feeling like that's just not the right meeting for you, it's the perfect time to ask what the atmosphere of other meetings in town are -- most people have spent at least some time in a number of them, so we can tell you if another meeting has a quiet 9:30 meeting and a "popcorn" 11am one (that's where there doesn't end up being silence because people just can't stop talking, one after another).

I'm happy to answer general Quaker questions -- feel free to memail me. (I've always been an unprogrammed Friend, but I do have family who are programmed, so I know a tiny bit about that side as well.)
posted by Margalo Epps at 7:30 PM on December 4, 2013

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