Midlothian Friends Meeting
The Friends tradition in Richmond began with the Richmond Friends Meeting, which was established in 1795. It was a growth of Friends who were attending the Richmond Friends Meeting, but wished for a closer location to their homes in the Southside that led to the formation of the Midlothian Friends Meeting in the fall of 1987. Midlothian Friends met once a month in a member’s home while still attending the Richmond Friends services at other times. In the fall of 1988, the Midlothian Friends began meeting at Winfree Baptist Church’s old sanctuary. The Midlothian Friends were granted Preparative Meeting status by its parent meeting, Richmond Friends in 1990. In 1995, the Midlothian Friends received approval to have their own independent meetings. The Midlothian Friends continued to meet and grow in the old Winfree Baptist Church sanctuary for ten years. Between 1997 and 2002, the Midlothian Friends worshiped at the Stony Point School in Bon Air.
In Friends theology the divine is believed to reside within the individual. The Midlothian Friends Meeting understanding is that each person possesses a part of the divine, called the “Inner Light.” This Inner Light doctrine is drawn from the passage John 1:9 which reads in part “…true Light, which lighteth every man that cometh into the world.” It is predominately left up to free will what people do with this part of the divine. Friends recognize that both good and evil in exist in the world, and they believe that people can turn toward their Inner Light to become children of God. Books, standard prayers, and rituals are considered empty forms. While the Friends consider the Christian Bible to be a source of inspiration and a guide, they do not treat the Bible as inerrant or literal truth. The Friends also use a set of “Queries,” which guide them toward a better life through reflection and self-examination. These Queries consist of a set of questions which refer to Meeting for Worship, Meeting for Discernment, The Meeting Community, Personal Way of Life, and Home and Family.
The Midlothian Friends Meeting is a small gathering in a meetinghouse in Powhatan County just outside of Midlothian, VA. It was originally a house that was converted into a proper Quaker meetinghouse, complete with a large front porch for social occasions. During services members sit in a semi-circle and engage primarily in silent, unguided worship unless someone is moved to address the group. There are no leaders or set order for the service. Children are welcome for the first fifteen minutes but are then sent to religious education classes for the rest of the hour. The Midlothian Friends meet the first, third, fourth, and fifth Sundays of each month for Meeting for Worship. This service consists of mainly silent reflection on one’s Inner Light while working on a direct experience with the divine. On the second Sunday of the month a Meeting for Discernment is held to discuss and make decisions over operational, financial, and spiritual matters. The group does not reach a decision about these matters through voting; rather, everyone comes together to decide what proposal is best. The Clerk of Meeting acts as a facilitator to bring all Friends together in their understanding of the truth. In the rare event that individuals cannot agree, they can “stand aside,” meaning that they will allow the decision to be implemented even though they oppose it. Every Sunday of the month before worship there is a “Circle of Friends”, which is adult spiritual sharing. On the fourth Sunday of the month, Meeting for Worship is followed by a potluck luncheon.
Joining the Midlothian Friends as a “recorded” member involves a letter of request and explanation from applicants that is sent to the clerk of the Meeting; although Midlothian Friends Meeting does not require “recorded” membership in order to fully participate in the life of the meeting. Applicants meet with a “Clearness Committee” that is chosen by the applicants to discuss their awareness of the meaning of “recorded” membership. Applicants then bring their request to the next Meeting for Discernment and are recorded as a member.
Midlothian Friends Meeting
900 Preservation Rd
Midlothian VA 23113
Profile prepared by Wallace Wayne Pitts Jr.
Updated, August 2019