Life of the Meeting

A Guide for Visitors, Attenders, and Members

How Our Meeting Organizes Itself

Monthly Meeting of Friends of Philadelphia (also known as Arch Street Friends) is constituted of many components, and this page is intended to help offer more information about our structure and how we sustain a communal and collaborative religious experience. The information below is intended to give an overview of our meeting, but more specificity about how a Quaker Meeting organizes itself can be found in the publication Faith and Practice.

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Our Community of Worshippers

During a Meeting for Worship, the people present usually include a mix of visitors, attenders, and members. All are welcome to join our unprogrammed (no minister or order of service) worship.

  • Visitors frequently come to our Meetings for Worship without much knowledge of Friends' practice. Our historic district location draws visitors from all over the world.  Our greeter will say hello at the lobby area, and answer any questions that a first-time visitor may have.
  • Attenders come regularly, perhaps for years, but have either not applied for or been accepted for membership. While long-term attendance is usually a prelude to joining the Meeting, some people remain attenders indefinitely.
  • Members are individuals who join a Monthly Meeting of The Religious Society of Friends. Membership can happen at birth, as a child, or as an adult, and can take any one of several forms. Some members elect to register their sons or daughters as Friends at birth. Convinced Friends are those who request membership in the Religious Society of Friends as adults. Sojourning Friends are members of one Meeting whose work, school or other circumstance has taken them away from home and who 'join' a second Meeting temporarily. 

FAQ: How Do I Apply for Membership?

Have you been regularly attending our meeting and are considering membership? We recommend speaking with one of our members or the Clerks of Care or Outreach Committees to discuss the application process at Arch Street, which is initiated by submitting a letter for membership to the Clerk of our meeting.

More information about the process can also be found in Faith and Practice, our resource and guidebook. A bound printing is available at the meeting house, please ask a member for a copy.

Committees & Clerks

Instead of a minister, who ensures that the business of the organization is accomplished, Friends have a volunteer Clerk of the Meeting. We also have Clerks who lead various committees to ensure that the Meeting's bills are paid, business is conducted, and the needs of the members are met. Learn about the Committees that make up our Meeting's life.

Meeting for Business

Arch Street Friends hold Monthly Meetings for Business on the third Sunday of the month, September through June. We observe a summer break in July and August. Visitors and attenders are welcome to observe Meetings for Business. Learn more about the focus and procedures of Meeting for Business.

Social Life of Our Meeting

Our Meeting offers numerous opportunities for communities beyond Meeting for Worship, committee meetings, or Meeting for business. A snapshot of some of our Meeting's regular programming is listed below. Additional events are held throughout the year by the Meeting and its committees. Visit our Calendar to learn about upcoming events hosted by our Meeting.

  • Adult Education is a series of monthly talks held on Zoom on the fourth Sunday of each month unless otherwise noted. Visit our Calendar learn of upcoming lectures.
  • Friendly Eights are a Quaker tradition where hosts sponsor a meal at their home, people sign up, and provide a dish. Show up for conversation, food, and get to know others at the set time and date.
  • Blue Moon Sunday occur on the 5th Sunday of the month, and our Meeting hosts a potluck and/or pizza, discussion and conversation, following Meeting for Worship.
  • Yearly Retreat occurs annually as a day-long convening for deeper reflections into our faith and community. Led by the Worship & Ministry Committee, the retreat often takes place either at the Arch Street Meeting House or another nearby Quaker-associated location within close proximity to the Philadelphia area.
  • Historic Fairhill Burial Ground is a Quaker burial ground located in the Fairhill neighborhood of North Philadelphia. Our Meeting often attends the festival and participates in the burial ground clean up that occurs several times per year.
  • Annual Philadelphia Interfaith Walk for Peace and Reconciliation is an event that our Meeting has helped plan and participate in for many years, joining other faith communities in an outward expression of the belief that there is that of God in all of us. The walk begins at one house of worship, visits others along the way, and ends with a shared meal. Attendance is about 500 each time!
  • Annual Spring Meeting for Worship and Picnic at Friends Southwestern Burial Ground (FSWBG) occurs each spring as an annual joint Meeting for Worship at potluck picnic shared between our Monthly Meeting of Friends of Philadelphia (Arch Street Friends) and the Central Philadelphia Monthly Meeting on Race Street.

Structure of the Quaker Community in Philadelphia

In addition to individual Meetings, called Monthly Meetings because the business meetings are held once a month, there are Quarterly Meetings and Yearly Meetings.

Our meeting is one of eight area Monthly Meetings which make up the Philadelphia Quarter. Meetings are held four times a year to address items of local concern, and are a good way to be in community with area Quakers. Meetings in our Quarter include Central Philadelphia, Chestnut Hill, Frankford, Green Street, Germantown, Unity and West Philadelphia.

Philadelphia Yearly Meeting is a larger body that draws on the resources of dozens of Meetings throughout eastern Pennsylvania, New Jersey, Delaware and Maryland. A week-long residential meeting is held annually in the summer, with the addition of a fall or spring Interim Meeting to address concerns and discern long-range plans. Most of the activities of Yearly Meeting are implemented by appointed persons, committees supported by Yearly Meeting staff in offices at 1515 Cherry Street in Philadelphia, and working and service groups. Committee topics include prison reform and eradication of the death penalty, spiritual growth, social concerns, religious education and various administrative issues.

Looking for Our Meeting's Intranet?

Members and Attenders can access Arch Street Friends's private intranet by logging in at Quaker.AppThis part of our website is built to support and encourage the community we're building in-person or on Zoom through worship, fellowship, and social witness. We are excited to welcome you into that community, but we have found that those relationships start best in person or over sustained periods of online worship.

So, if you are already a member or attender but don't have access yet, complete the form on our Contact Us page, select the Request the Quaker.App Invitation Link option and let the administrator know your connection to the meeting in the body of your message. If you haven't had the chance to attend in-person or on Zoom, stop by and introduce yourself. We look forward to getting to know you!