Why do Greenwich Friends have two meetinghouses?
Lower Meeting House was built in 1771 to replace a log Meeting House that stood at the site, originally constructed by early Friends in 1691 and situated by the Cohansey River to accommodate Quakers living in what is today Fairfield Township. In 1827, following a schism within Quakerism, Greenwich Friends split into Orthodox and Hicksite groups. Orthodox Friends continued worshipping in Lower Meeting House (then known as Orthodox Friends Meeting House). Hicksite Friends met in the houses of members until 1831, when they bought an unused wood frame Methodist Meeting House and moved it from Ambury Hill to Ye Greate Street in Greenwich. In 1857, Hicksite Friends built the permanent brick meeting house, which today is known as Upper Meeting House.
Following the re-unification of Friends in 1955, both meeting houses came under the care of Greenwich Monthly Meeting. Today Greenwich Friends worship in Lower Meeting House during the warm summer months, and move to Upper Meeting House as colder weather arrives in fall, where we worship for the rest of the year. Both Meeting Houses are under the care of Greenwich Monthly Meeting.
For further information about the movements and schisms within Quakerism see https://journals.psu.edu/pmhb/article/viewFile/42135/41856
Can I visit Greenwich Friends Meeting even though I’m not a Quaker?
Yes! A number of our members were not raised in the Quaker faith but found their way to Quakerism as adults. The Religious Society of Friends (Quakers) is not a closed community but a group of seekers like you. We warmly welcome you to join us.
To attend Greenwich Meeting more than once, do I need to become a member?
It is common for visitors to want to spend some time getting familiar with the Quaker way and with the community before making up their minds to formally join. People typically attend meeting for a period of time that may range from a few months to a few years as an “attender,” worshipping and taking part in other activities before feeling ready to make a commitment to join.
What should I wear on a visit to Greenwich Friends Meeting?
Dress comfortably when you visit Greenwich Friends Meeting. Most Quakers wear every day clothes to meeting.
What should I expect if I attend meeting?
When you arrive at meeting people may already be sitting in silence. Come right in, using the door on the right front of the building and quietly take a seat. Quaker worship is based on silent waiting. Those in attendance sit together and listen for the still, small voice that comes from God through the Inward Light. Worshiping together in silence helps bring our community together in love and faithfulness. During silent worship, anyone – adult or child, long-time member or first-time visitor – may feel inspired to speak out of the silence.
Greenwich Friends typically sit in silence for 45 minutes. There is no offering or passing of a tray during worship. Quakers believe that attending to the Inner Light will direct each individual to appropriately share resources with the Meeting.