Quaker Ministry

Ministry and spirituality

Ministry—by which we mean service on behalf of the Holy Spirit—is at the heart of Quaker spirituality. 

Listening spirituality

Our spiritual practice is one of listening to our Inner Guide, heeding the promptings of the Light within us. Sometimes, we are led into some kind of service to God's wish for us, for the meeting, or for the world.


In our experience, God may call any one of us, uniquely and directly, into service at any time; and the Spirit will call on each of us at some time. We become "ministers" when we answer these divine calls.

The priesthood of all believers

Thus Quakers have put aside, not the clergy, but the laity, seeking to realize the priesthood of all believers. We have expanded the meaning of “minister” that prevails in other religious communities.

For Friends, a minister is not the religious professional who leads the worship service, provides pastoral care, and carries other leadership roles in the congregation. Rather, a minister is anyone who has answered God's call, whatever that service might be.

The call

It might be a calling to vocal ministry, (speaking in meeting for worship) or some other service to the congregation and its members. But it also could be nonviolent protest against some wrong, or travel in the gospel ministry, or visits to people in hospice—whatever God wants us to do.

The role of the community


Sometimes a Friend experiences a leading—a divine prompting to do something with one’s life in the world. We experience the source of the leading as the Light within us and the path we are led onto takes us out into the world in some form of service or witness; by witness, we mean an active response to the wrongs of the world.

Discernment and support

When a Friend feels led in this way, the meeting sets up a "clearness committee" that meets with the Friend and helps that Friend determine whether the leading really is from the Spirit. If all agree that it is, then the meeting sets up some form of support, often in the form of a small group that meets regularly with her or him. Often in these cases, the meeting provides a "minute" that introduces the ministry and the minister to whomever she or he is led to serve. 

Ministries in Central Philadelphia Meeting

The meeting holds under its care a number of Friends with leadings into ministry. We have a Gifts and Leadings Committee dedicated to supporting these Friends. Click this link to learn more about our Gifts and Leadings Committee and the ministries under the meeting's care.

Learn more

These links to sections of our book of Faith and Practice expand on our understanding and practice of Quaker ministry:

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