This page contains guidance for Quaker meetings on Coronavirus, current as of 13 May 2020. Quakers are still worshipping online, and from their own homes. And we welcome new people. All our meeting houses are currently closed for worship in line with Government guidance.

Government advice can be found at:

Find out more

    Our sense of community does not depend on all professing identical beliefs, for it grows from worshipping together, knowing one another, loving one another, accepting responsibilities, sharing and working together. We will be helped by tried and tested Quaker methods and procedures, but the meeting will only live if we develop a sense of community, which includes children and adults alike. If all those who belong to our meeting are lovingly cared for, the guidance of the spirit will be a reality. (Quaker faith & practice 10.03)

    Quaker communities need to consider how to continue through the pandemic and into a future which currently seems uncertain. It is important to keep members and attenders, employees and building users safe and connected. Creative and imaginative solutions will help Quaker communities to continue to worship and witness together, and meeting houses to be community resources. The information below highlights relevant government instructions and guidance for Quaker Communities and meeting houses. It answers questions about the current situation, and the actions which should be taken. Remember that guidance is different in the different countries and jurisdictions of the UK.

    Below are responses to some 'Quaker-specific' queries.

    Should we gather in person for meeting for worship?

    In line with the latest government advice, meetings should not gather in person indoors at this time. This includes public meetings for worship and in private homes.

    One exception is the possibility for small groups to gather in worship outdoors, depending on government guidance about groups outdoors in your part of Britain. Here is some advice about meetings for worship outdoors (PDF).

    What alternatives are there to in-person meeting for worship?

    Quaker worship can happen anywhere at any time. Quakers could arrange to all sit worshipfully, separately in their own homes, at a prearranged time (not necessarily Sunday morning) in order to worship with each other at a distance.

    Many meetings are now holding worship online. BYM and Woodbrooke have developed a guide to joining and holding online worship, on the Woodbrooke 'online worship advice' page. This includes detailed instructions for those less used to using computers; some online meetings have telephone access too. There are guides on the same page about online meetings for worship for business, children's meetings, all-age worship, and youth work.

    Woodbrooke has a variety of opportunities for online worship (offsite link) most days of the week which anyone may join.

    As meetings look forwards, they may wish to offer a combination of forms of worship. Here is some advice about blended physical and online worship [PDF]. See the Woodbrooke 'online worship advice' page for sessions about blended worship.

    Please share your ideas, experience and queries to supportmeetings@quaker.org.uk.

    Are meeting houses closed?

    All Quaker meeting houses are closed in line with current government guidance. There are possible exceptions for funerals (see below) or where a meeting house is hosting essential voluntary or public services, such as food banks or homeless services (when official guidance should be sought).

    Places of worship may be able to open in the coming weeks, depending on the progress of COVID-19 suppression (not before 4 July in England). This will be with careful attention to social distancing, hygiene and other public health measures. Meetings should begin thinking about their plans for resuming in-person worship and how this can be done safely. The advice to area meeting trustees (below) may be useful more widely. We may share more advice on opening once government guidance is published.

    Facilities such as nurseries may begin to open in June. Meeting houses which host nurseries should be working with the provider and local authorities to prepare for this.

    Can funerals take place?

    Government legislation permits the holding of funerals in places of worship, if certain strict measures can be put in place. Pease read our funerals guidance to be clear on what this requires. No other worship or activities may take place in Quaker buildings with the exception of essential voluntary or public service.

    Funerals may also be held at a crematorium, or at a graveside. All Government guidance on attendance and social distancing must be followed. There are different rules on this in England, Scotland and Wales – follow the links at the top of this page.

    We encourage families to keep funeral attendance at a minimum. Consider holding a memorial meeting at a later date when gatherings are permitted.

    More details, information and ideas are on our funerals page.

    What else can our Quaker community do?

    [QUOTE-START]

    Loving care is not something that those sound in mind and body 'do' for others but a process that binds us together (Quaker faith & practice 12.01)

    [QUOTE-END]

    We know that we will be living with restrictions for many months. Some people in our communities are likely to remain in a high degree of isolation for a long period.

    It is especially important for meetings to consider how they will remain a community during this time. The eldership and oversight page on this website contains advice for everyone involved in spiritual and pastoral care. There is also a suggested model for organising pastoral care at this time.

    At BYM we are working really hard to support meetings at the moment; we welcome any ideas on how our Quaker communities can be upheld. Please contact supportmeetings@quaker.org.uk with your suggestions. Please be aware that messages sent to this email address are being shared between and acted upon by both BYM and Woodbrooke.

    What role should area meetings play?

    Area meetings have responsibility for the spiritual and pastoral care of their local meetings (as detailed in Quaker faith & practice 12.06). At this time, they may give support by organising some of the above initiatives for meetings that struggle to do so themselves, or by connecting multiple local meetings for worship.

    Is there any advice for area meeting trustees?

    Guidance is now available for area meeting trustees on issues to consider around coronavirus (Word), guided by current advice and regulations.

    Is there any advice and guidance for Quaker meetings as employers?

    Yes – please download 'coronavirus advice and guidance for Quaker employers' as a PDF.

    What is happening at Friends House and Swarthmoor Hall?

    Both venues are closed until at least the end of July. Plans are being made for how they might later re-open, in ways that are safe for staff and building users.

    What about the work of Britain Yearly Meeting?

    BYM is still functioning with a core team of staff working from home, continuing to support Quakers across Britain in their faith and witness.

    However, with the continued closure of Friends House and Swarthmoor Hall, BYM is unable to generate any trading income. Around two thirds of the organisation's staff are being furloughed under the Government's Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme. We are taking this step to protect jobs and to make sure we are able to serve the needs of the Quaker community, both now and long into the future.

    There is an article about the decision to furlough staff.

    What about national Quaker events?

    Britain Yearly Meeting has postponed the 2020 Yearly Meeting Gathering. The Coronavirus pandemic makes it impossible to bring 2,000 people together for this event. Please see the press release for more information.

    Britain Yearly Meeting is following public health advice. We have cancelled all in-person events for the foreseeable future; some are being run online. We are also running additional events and activities for all ages. Please see our events page to find out more.

    Woodbrooke is also running a range of learning opportunities online.

    Meetings of committees are taking place online, or postponed. Committee secretaries will keep committee members updated.

    Supporting one another

    Quaker communities are open and welcome everyone. Some of our members and visitors are at particular risk, including the elderly and people with underlying health conditions. So that we can care for each other, we all need to take care.

    Some of us will be particularly worried – perhaps due to existing health conditions, issues at work, or close connections to people affected around the world. Some Friends will need to self-isolate, and some may contract the disease. Although it's not sensible to visit those who are unwell or self-isolating, there are other ways to support people – on the phone, by email, with practical help like running errands or bringing food to their door, and through prayer.

    The spiritual welfare of a meeting is greatly helped if… its members take a warm personal interest in one another's welfare. The pastoral work of the Society is specially committed to the overseers, but our members generally should not allow themselves to feel that they are relieved from responsibility. In the greater events of life … it is our duty and privilege to share in one another's joys and sorrows; and sympathy thus shown is a potent means of binding us in closer fellowship. (Quaker faith & practice10.17)

    For more advice and guidance on supporting the spiritual and pastoral life of you Quaker community visit our eldership and oversight pages.

    Where can I go for more health advice?

    Britain Yearly Meeting has no public health expertise. We suggest referring to relevant sources for further information:

    These websites provide advice about actions to take in order to prevent the spread of the disease, and situations in which people should self-isolate. Quakers and Quaker meetings should follow this guidance in relation to most activities.

    Image of meeting house: © 2019 Mike Pinches

    Homepage bird box image: 170305 2475 by steeljam licensed under CC BY-NC-ND 2.0

    Featured blog

    Thoughts on online meeting for worship

    16 March 2020 by Tim Gee

    ​Self-isolating and unable to get to a Quaker meeting in person, Tim Gee shares some thoughts on joining his first online meeting for worship.