Growing up in a suburb of Baltimore, Jean Goldfine encountered two very different religious traditions through her parents.

Her grandfather on her father’s side was a Methodist minister, and that was the church she attended most as a child. She remembers loving the music, but after a while, “I had a lot of questions about the doctrinal side of the church. … It just seemed very busy and talky to me,” she said.

Summers, the family would visit her mother’s Maine relatives in Manchester, who were Quakers. Goldfine enjoyed those visits enough that she attended college at Colby and settled in the state after graduating. She now has a practice as a child psychologist in Belfast.

When she was in college and for a few years after, she stopped going to church. But when a Quaker Meeting was started in Swanville in the early 1980s, she decided to try it. “As soon as I walked into the room, it was like, oh, yes, this is right, this is me,” she said, and she has remained a member ever since.

For Goldfine, part of the appeal of being a Quaker is that – unlike most other organized religions – there is no doctrine. There is no list of beliefs Friends (another word for Quakers) are expected to subscribe to, she said; what’s important is the shared experience of the sacred. Although silent meditation is a major part of Quaker worship, it’s completely different when one is in a room with other Quakers than when one is meditating alone, she said. During worship, she said, she experiences “the Presence in the midst.”

While Quakerism is rooted in Christianity, she said, Friends seldom put their experience into words. Traditionally, Quakers believe that “God is immanent in everything.” She said she has grown as she has learned to accept the support of others who are asking the same questions she is, rather than searching for answers by herself. She finds the “presence of the indwelling spirit” sustaining.

What Goldfine misses in Quaker spirituality is the element she loved in her Methodist childhood: music. She told of being in London and happening into a Taize service at the church of St. Martin in the Fields. “I was completely charmed” by the service combining simple, chantlike songs and silence, she said. “They had 20 minutes of silence right there in the middle of London.”

She plays the clarinet, harp and guitar for Taize services at the United Christian Church in Lincolnville, and also attends occasional Taize worship at St. Thomas Episcopal Church in Camden.

The Taize movement began in 1940 when Brother Roger, a Swiss Protestant, founded an ecumenical religious community in the tiny village of Taize, France. According to its Web site,, the community has grown to the point that it now welcomes 100,000 young people from around the world each year who come to share Bible study, prayer and work. Its worship is simple and meditative, with candles, simple songs sung by the whole congregation and periods of shared silence.

In common with the Quakers, Taize lacks dogma, an important aspect for Goldfine. She said the experience of Quaker meditation or prayer is of losing the boundaries between herself and the rest of the world, and Taize chant can also melt those boundaries.