HOW TO FIND US: From Winslow: turn South from Alt Route 137 (China Road) onto Route 32 and proceed about 6.5 miles to The General Store in East Vassalboro. Turn left on South Stanley Hill Road for .2 mile. From Augusta: turn north from Routes 3-202-9 onto Routh 32 and proceed about 4.8 miles to The General Store in East Vassalboro. Turn right on South Stanley Hill Road for .2 mile.Welcome to our Service
Please walk right in and sit where ever you like. If you arrive at 9:40 you can join in our hymn-singing. All ages request favorites from our several hymnals.
About ten o'clock we begin worship. A designated Friend may open with an inspirational reading, or we may settle directly into silence. We try to lead our thoughts away fom the bustle of everyday life. Some may begin with inner prayer, others wait for direction from the Spirit.
Our time together may be totally silent. Or someone may feel led to rise and share a message. We are careful to listen deeply to each message and leave room for it to be fully received by ourselves and others, taking particular care to do so if we ourselves feel moved to speak. The silence is an important as the spoken message.
We value the sense of community with fellow seekers. We hope for spiritual refreshment and rededication to going forth in the world to try to do and be our best.
After about an hour, the designated Friend will close the Meeting by shaking hands with his or her neighbor, and we all do the same. The children, who had been led out earlier, will return and report on what happened in First Day (Sunday) School. Then we welcome visitors, give news and announcements, and circulate to greet one another. We do not have a minister, and all share in the responsibilities for worship, pastoral care and the life of the community.
Welcome to our Community
Drawn together as we are by our spiritual quest, we have an active life as a community. Quakers are traditionally led to programs of social justice and peace making. The Peace and Social Concerns Committee seeks opportunities for service in these areas. Our activities include demonstrating against war and other forms of violence, fund raising to support of an AIDS orphanage in Kenya and a Quaker school in strife-torn Ramallah, West Bank, Isreal, and helping build a house with Habitat for Humanity in Waterville. Variouis members are involved in programs providing an alternative to militarism in the schools, making recommendations to the legislature based on Quaker principles, assisting Native American youth in Maine and community mediation.
The Committee on Ministry and Counsel has oversight of the spiritual life of the Meeting and the welfare of individual members. It plans discussion groups on subjects such as the history and teachings of Quakerism, the Old and New Testaments, and other religions, most recently, Islam.
The Religious Education Committee plans the lessons for the children, which emphasize Quaker values through the use of stories, crafts and drama. They currently range in age from pre-school through 13. There are occasional regional Quaker gatherings for teenagers.
The Library Committee has oversight of our many books and other recourses for all ages. Our Newsletter keeps us abreast of Meeting people and events. We celebrate holidays and other special events as planned by the Festivities and Hospitality Committees.
The Property and Finance Committees address the care and improvement of the Meeting House and the financing of activities. Contributioins are made Sundays at a collection plate by the door, or by mail to the treasurer. A monthly Meeting for Business is open to all attenders and coordinates existing programs and explores new concerns.
Our Quaker Roots
"I have called you friends" John 15:15
In the mid 1600's in England, a lay minister named George Fox became dissatisfied with the established church, feeling that too much emphasis was placed on outward ceremony and too little on inward experience and righteous living. He began to preach about the "Christ within," or the "Inner Light," speaking of the direct and powerful communication between the individual and God. His followers came together to form what became known as the Religious Society of Friends. They met together in worship, without clergy or ritual, sitting in silence until one amoung them might feel "moved to speak," rising and delivering a message from God. This was (and is) such a profound experience that it was often accompanied by the speaker's trembling - hence the name "Quakers."
Since independent religious gatherings were illegal at that time, and they refused to join the military or even to swear oaths in court, they were often harassed and imprisoned. Nevertheless, the faith attracted increasing numbers in England and Europe. Many immigrated to America, particularly to the colony granted to William Penn. In certain areas, such as Massachusetts, they were persecuted and some even martyred. Their principal that "there is that of God in every person" led them not only in opposition to war, but also to work for the abolition of slavery, prison reform, Justice for Native Americans, and voting rights for women and minorities.
Quakers began settling in the Kennebec Valley in the 1770's. They moved here from Nantucket, Cape Cod and southern Massachusetts following the collapse of the whaling industry and to avoid taking sides in the Revolutionary War. The first Meeting for Worship in Vassalboro took place in 1780, and a wooden Meeting House was build on this site in 1798. It was replaced in 1833 by a brick building. Adults and children now meet together in a simple, common room with benches arranged in a hollow square. The remaining space is adapted for First Day School, library, meal peparation and social events. There is a ramp to the door and we are working on plans to make the interior accessible to wheelchairs.
Vassalboro Friends Meeting is a member of the Religious Society of Friends and is one of 13 Meetings and one small Worship Group in central and downeast Maine. The Meetings get together for a day three times a year in various locations and annually for a weekend at Friends Camp on China Lake. One gathering a year includes Friends from southern Maine. All belong to the New England Yearly Meeting of Friends, which meets, well, yearly!
More about Quakers and Quakerism
BOOKS available from our Meeting library or from Friends Ceneral Conference Book Store:
Howard Brinton, Friends for 350 Years
Wilmer Cooper, A Living Faith
John Punshon, Encounter withi Silence
Thomas Kelly, A Testament of Devotion
Rufus Jones, Essential Writings
Michael J. Sheeran, Beyond Majority Rule
General Quaker Information
New England Yearly Meeting
Friends General Conference
Friends United Meeting
American Friends Service Committee
Friends Committee on National Legislation
Friends World Committee on Consultation