Douglas Steere (1901-95) was a Professor of Philosophy at Haverford College. He was a visiting Professor of Theology at Union Theological Seminary. He was also a member of the American Philosophical Association and President of the American Theological Society. Steere was active in ecumenical affairs. He co-created the Ecumenical Institute of Spirituality and served on committees for both the National Council of Churches and the World Council of Churches. He set up meetings of Zen Buddhist and Christian scholars in Japan and Hindu and Christian scholars in India. As well, he corresponded with Thomas Merton.
Steere was a member of Radnor (Pa) Meeting. He was Chair of the Friends World Committee for Consultation from 1964 to 1970. He also worked with the American Friends Service Committee, organizing relief work in Finland and overseeing projects worldwide. In 1964 he represented Quakers as an observer at Vatican II. He belonged to the board of managers for Pendle Hill, an organization that he and Dorothy, his wife, helped found. Steere wrote widely on Quakerism. His books and pamphlets included On Beginning from Within, Doors into Life, Time to Spare, On Listening to Another, Work and Contemplation, Prayer and Worship, The Open Life, and Quaker Spirituality (with Elizabeth Grey Vining). He also translated Kierkegaard’s Purity of Heart.
I read Douglas Steere’s pamphlet The Quaker Meeting for Worship when I first began attending Meeting in the early 1970’s. It greatly influenced my experience of Friends Meeting and continues to do so. It is an eloquent description of Quaker worship.
“….there are times when a certain slowing-down takes place, a certain healing seems to go on, a certain tendering, a certain “dependence of the mind upon God.” This, however, may come in at any point in my own directed prayers and take precedence over them. Someone asked another how long he ought to pray, and received the answer, “Long enough to forget time.” One might say of one’s own prayers that they ought to be persisted in only long enough to be superseded by something that takes a person beyond them. It is so much more important that we be prayed than that we pray”.