We hope this guide will be helpful to those who are new to the Meeting. It will answer many questions about the Meeting, its organization and its current activities, as well as help in getting additional information.
Contact Committee Clerks for further information. Additionally, you may leave a message on the Meeting's answering machine (908-757-5736) and someone will return your call with the information you are seeking.
The Plainfield Meeting House is a part of the history of the community. It was built in 1788 and much of the interior is the same today as it has been for the past 200 years.
When is Meeting for Worship?Meeting for Worship is held on Sundays at 10:00 AM. It lasts about an hour.
What happens in a Quaker Meeting?There is no single person, such as a priest or minister, who leads the worship. All participants sit quietly, allowing the Stillness to wash over them. It is a time to free ourselves from the world, a time of refreshment, prayer, confession, forgiveness, healing, listening to the voice of God within. When a person feels that there is something that should be shared, he or she will stand and speak (or sing, or play a musical instrument). We call this a message. It is important that some stillness be left between messages, so that all can reflect on what has been shared. A Meeting may have many messages, or be completely silent. In either case, if we have allowed ourselves to be still, we will be drawn together and uplifted in Love.
How do people know when Meeting is over?Meeting for worship ends when a designated person shakes hands with a neighboring person. Everyone then greets their neighbors. At Plainfield Meeting, the end of the worship period is followed by time for after-thoughts, which are thoughts that did not quite come together into a message but which still seem important to share. At this time we also share special joys and sorrows with each other followed by welcoming of guests and announcements. Please introduce yourself. We would like to meet you. After Meeting, we invite you to sign our guest book and join us for coffee and light refreshment in the school wing.
What programs are there for children?Children generally participate in the Meeting from 10:00 to 10:15 AM. They then leave for classes in the adjoining school wing. Nursery care is available year round and classes at all levels are held from September thru June. An informal program is usually maintained during the Summer months. Children are always welcome to stay in Meeting for Worship if they prefer.
How may I learn more about the beliefs and practices of Quakers?Quakers believe that personal experience of the Spirit speaks best. The simplest and most direct way to learn more is to ask questions of other Friends. You might also browse our well-stocked library at the far end of the school wing, or take a few brochures from the literature table at the back of the Meeting House. Three publications which may be of particular interest to new attendees are "Invitation to Worship", "Introducing Quakers", and "For Parents and Friends of Children in our Meeting."
How can I get to know other people who attend the Meeting?After Meeting each Sunday, coffee and light refreshments are served in the school wing. This is a good opportunity to meet a variety of members and attenders of the Meeting. The pot-luck lunches held immediately after Meeting on the first Sunday of each month (October through June) offer an excellent opportunity for longer conversations and getting to know individuals a little better.
How can I find out about Meeting activities?The Meeting publishes a monthly newsletter - The Plainfield Friend. If you would like to be on the mailing list, you can either leave a note to this effect in the Guest Book, or you can leave a message on the Meeting answering machine (908-757-5736). Please include your address and phone number. The Plainfield Friend includes information about a wide variety of religious and social concerns activities.
How can I become involved in Meeting activities?The Meeting asks various committees to attend to activities that are too detailed for the larger Meeting. There is always more worthwhile work to be done than hands to do it. Scan the committee list at the end of the guide for an activity that interests you and contact the Clerk of that committee. If you have difficulty locating the Clerk or are not sure which committee has responsibility for a given activity, you can leave a message on the Meeting's answering machine (908-757-5736) or simply ask someone during coffee hour after Meeting for Worship.
Another way to become involved in Meeting activities is to participate in Monthly Meeting With a Concern for Business, which is described in this Guide under the heading of STRUCTURE.
SOCIAL ACTIONOur Quaker beliefs guide how we live our lives and the work that we do in the world. Consequently, many of us participate in programs that work to increase justice and peace in the world. The Peace and Social Concerns Committee maintains contact with many programs which may be of interest to members and attenders of the Meeting, and it provides information and support to individuals interested in becoming involved in these and other programs. The specific programs vary over time. A sampling of some current programs are:
FISH Homeless Program- Our Meeting is one of a number of area churches that participate in providing temporary shelter for homeless people. Approximately every 9 weeks, for a period of one week, a small group of homeless individuals are our guests in the evenings and overnight. Volunteers are needed for many different activities, including setting up and taking down beds (at the beginning and end of the week), making dinner, helping children with homework, providing transportation to laundromats in the evening, staying overnight, and providing transportation to jobs, schools, and the 'day church' in the morning. Overall coordination of the program is provided by FISH, which assists participants in obtaining available government assistance, finding jobs, and finding affordable housing and day care.
FISH Food Project- This project, based in Dunellen, provides food weekly for about 1500 area families. Volunteers are needed for packing food, delivering food, and staffing the hotline. FISH also runs programs to provide families with blankets, furniture, and children's clothing, and sponsors children for summer camp.
Prison Programs- Quakers have a long history of working to create humane conditions for prisoners and to assist them in their return to the community. Opportunities exist to teach Stress Reduction & Behavior Modification, lead workshops in the Alternatives to Violence Project, and work with the American Friends Service Committee's Criminal Justice Office in Newark. Periodically there is a joint Worship Group with the Avenel Prison inmates.
Legislative Action- The Friends Committee for National Legislation publishes a weekly Legislative Update. This bulletin serves to alert us to situations and activities which may inspire some to contact their legislators with their concerns.
How is the organization structured?Plainfield Meeting is officially "Rahway and Plainfield Monthly Meeting of the Religious Society of Friends". A Monthly Meeting is the primary organization of the Religious Society of Friends. Meeting for Worship is conducted under the care of the Monthly Meeting. The Monthly Meeting organizes activities to foster community, spiritual growth, and spiritually-inspired social action. The Monthly Meeting is also responsible for acceptance of new members and oversight of marriages. Each Monthly Meeting manages its own finances and property.
How is the Monthly Meetings business conducted?Much of the work of the Monthly Meeting is done through standing committees, each with a particular area of responsibility. Most concerns are first brought to the attention of the appropriate committee to handle the matter. If a meeting-wide decision is required, the matter is brought to Monthly Meeting, together with the committee's recommendation. To bring a matter to the attention of a committee, either contact the committee Clerk, or leave a message on the Meetings answering machine (908-757-5736).
You may also be interested in participating in the work of one of the committees, or in learning more about that work. Most committees consist of both members and attenders. Some of the committees that you may be particularly interested in are listed at the end of this guide, together with the name of the committee Clerk.
How are decisions made that affect the whole Meeting?Meeting for Worship with a Concern for Business is held in the Meeting House following the Meeting for Worship on the 3rd Sunday of the month. Non-members are welcome to attend. The meeting is facilitated by the Clerk, who sets the agenda and listens for the "sense of the meeting". The process is based on the belief that God guides us in our business affairs, as in other parts of our lives. Decisions are not made by majority rule, consensus, or by referral to a higher secular authority. A decision is reached when the Clerk gathers a sense of where God is leading us on an issue and the meeting approves. This process requires everyone to remain in worship throughout and to speak on the issue when prompted by the Spirit. If agreement is not reached, the matter is reconsidered at a later date.
How is the work of the Meeting financed?There is no weekly collection. The work of the Meeting is financed by contributions from members and attenders. If you would like to contribute to the Meeting financially, money may be left in the Donations Box on the literature table at the rear the meeting house or checks may be sent to the Treasurer, c/o Plainfield Friends Meeting, 225 Watchung Ave., Plainfield, NJ 07060.
How does Plainfield MeetingNeighboring Monthly Meetings meet semi-annually for business, fellowship, and fun. Rahway & Plainfield unites with Manasquan, New Brunswick, Shrewsbury, and Somerset Hills Monthly Meetings to form Shrewsbury & Plainfield Half Yearly Meeting.
fit into the larger structure of Quaker organizations?
Plainfield Meeting also belongs to New York Yearly Meeting. The Yearly Meeting provides guidance in Quaker faith and practice by working with local meetings to publish and maintain a handbook. It also publishes a periodic newsletter, The Spark, and operates a retreat center near Albany, NY, providing adult and youth programs. The Yearly Meeting maintains contacts with Quaker service organizations such as American Friends Service Committee (national and international service projects) and the Friends Committee on National Legislation (a lobbying effort in Washington, DC), and participates in Friends General Conference, Friends United Meeting, and Friends World Committee on Consultation.
Ministry and CounselResponsible for spiritual life of the Meeting, pastoral care, and membership. In addition to overseeing marriages and memorial services it coordinates the work of a number of special committees addressing worship at prisons, concerns of the disabled and confidential consultation to members and attenders who are experiencing personal, family, work or other problems.
Religious EducationResponsible for child and adult religious education. Provides religious classes for all ages of children during Sunday Meeting for Worship. Sponsors various educational activities for adults.
LibraryManages the Meeting Library, including purchasing, cataloging, repair, and inventory.
Peace and Social ConcernsSee section on Social Action.
PropertyResponsible for the care and upkeep of the Meeting buildings and grounds. Employs a custodian for regular maintenance activities. Sponsors seasonal Work Days where members and attenders take care of periodic jobs such as pruning and window washing.
AdvancementResponsible for advancing fellowship within the Meeting and for making the broader community aware of Quakerism and the Meeting. Sponsors monthly pot-luck lunches. Periodically sponsors speakers and other events of general interest. Publishes a monthly newsletter The Plainfield Friend, listing activities and events of the Meeting.
Other committees include those for Half Yearly Meeting, Funeral, Office, Nominating and Trustees.