Waiting Worship at Historic Sugar Grove Friends Meeting

A group of Indiana Friends have reopened the Sugar Grove Meetinghouse in Plainfield, just west of the Indianapolis Airport, for a monthly hour of waiting worship after the manner of Conservative Friends. Among these Friends it is worth mentioning Tom Roberts who is descendant of Friends that were members of Sugar Friends Meeting Conservative. The time to meet was chosen with a view to letting Friends worship at their home meetings in the morning and then travel to Sugar Grove without pressure to hurry. The Meetinghouse, a sturdy brick building erected in 1870, was home to Western (Conservative) Yearly Meeting from the time of the Wilburite-Gurneyite separation of 1877 until the laying down of the Conservative Yearly Meeting in 1962, after which the Wilburites deeded it to Western Yearly Meeting (FUM) with an endowment for its maintenance. The Friends now reopening it express gratitude to the Trustees of Western Yearly Meeting for permitting its use for waiting worship again.

Waiting worship after the manner of Conservative Friends is much the same as the more widely-known “silent worship” of modern Friends. Friends gather for worship with the understanding that the One we seek to be gathered, guided, corrected, strengthened, and enlightened by is Jesus Christ, our Teacher, Ruler, and Savior. Whether we sit out the hour in silence, or preach, pray, prophesy, or sing aloud, or hear others do so, we share the expectation that all are doing their best to be obedient to Him: “When gathered with Christ Jesus who is the Head of the Church, Friends expect that there will be no speaking unless it is oracular. No one is to speak except to speak the words of God and in the power of God.” — Wallace, Smith, Smith, and Berk, Traditional Quaker Christianity, p. 81. Here “oracular” is an allusion to 1 Peter 4:11, which in the New Revised Standard Version reads (in part), “Whoever speaks must do so as one speaking the very words of God,” but which the King James Bible translates “let him speak as the oracles of God.” People sometimes make mistakes in discerning whether their speaking is truly at God’s command. We generally trust God to correct them lovingly when they’ve made an honest mistake. God finds ways to do that.

The Meetinghouse is at 6998 East County Road 600 South. Exit northward from Interstate 70 at Exit 66 (State Highway 267, “Quaker Boulevard,” and turn left (westward) onto Hadley Road at the first stoplight. Travel 1.5 miles on Hadley Road, past a traffic circle at South Center St., over White Lick Creek and past Blue Heron Lake. Immediately after a second traffic circle at Sugar Grove Road, where Hadley Road’s name changes to County Road 600 South, an unmarked right turn takes you into the driveway of the Meetinghouse and its adjacent Sugar Grove Cemetery. Enter the Meetinghouse from the wooden porch on its west side. Please be silent as soon as you step over the threshold.

Waiting Worship is held on the third Sunday of each month at 2:00 pm.