New to Quakerism?
The message at the heart of Quakerism (The Religious Society of Friends) is pretty simple. In these brief videos, find out what it's all about. Turn on your speakers!
There are details of how to ask any questions you have at the bottom of the page.
Friends have developed, over time, some consistent ways of behavior and of interacting with the world that we call our testimonies. There have been many testimonies over the years, but a basic list of our testimonies is often remembered with the acronym SPICES: simplicity, peace, integrity, community, equality, stewardship.
What are SPICES?
Quakers believe in following certain tenants of the faith:
We try to live our lives simply, with integrity, treating everyone equally. We are opposed to war, and encourage peaceful resolution to conflict. We believe that all humans need to be good stewards of the earth, limiting wasteful use of non-renewable resources and encouraging exploration of sustainable innovations in energy, agriculture, and other industries.
S - Simplicity
P - Peace
I - Integrity
C - Community
E - Equality
S - Stewardship
What are the Queries?
Quakers explore many facets of their daily lives to be sure that each is living in harmony with the Quaker community, the wider communities and the planet.
Faith & Practice includes advice on procedures within the faith, membership, current practice for conducting meeting business and numerous quotations from Friends on belief, worship, concerns, leadings, and testimonies.
Quakerbooks.org is currently selling copies of Faith & Practice. You may also access the free online copy by going to https://www.pym.org/faith-and-practice
What is Vocal Ministry?
(From Philadelphia Yearly Meeting Faith and Practice:
Direct communion with God constitutes the essential experience of meeting for worship. Fresh insights may come to anyone out of the living stillness. Some insights are purely personal, providing guidance and inspiration to that individual. Other insights seem meant for the meeting as a whole.
Friends find that vocal ministry:
Can arise in anyone who is present at meeting for worship;
Manifests itself in the individual as a “call”, described as an uncomfortable quickening or a profound silence before speaking and a sense of relief or release afterward;
Arises from the heart rather than the head;
Impels the worshipper to rise and share the message received from Spirit;
Does not break the silence but adds to it;
Takes many different forms, including prayer, song, story, testimonial or dance;
Cannot be readily reconstructed afterward by the one who responds to the call;
Is a conduit for God’s love and work in the world;
Is a call to faithfulness.
Those who are hesitant should feel the meeting community’s loving encouragement to give voice to the message that arises within them. Friends who are frequent speakers in meeting for worship serve the meeting best when they, like all others, wait patiently for the prompting of the Inward Teacher. Friends need time to absorb each message, so it is important to allow space between messages.
Friends are encouraged to welcome the movement of the Spirit in ministry. A given message may resonate differently among worshippers or become clear with time. Individual messages may converge toward a single, vital theme that becomes evident during the meeting; at other times, apparently unrelated messages are later discovered to have an underlying unity.
When and How Did Quakerism Begin?
By Andrew Wright, Durham Friends Meeting
George Fox was born in 1624 and was raised by Puritan parents. He was a young man during the height of the civil war in England, but he played no role in it. At this time he was wandering the countryside in England, reading the Bible inside and out, and pressing anyone who would talk to him for answers to inward questions.
He struggled extensively with despair because he felt he could not live a righteous life. He found the preachers of his day, who encouraged him to accept his sinful and imperfect nature, to be “poor comforters”. He continued to search the Bible and his own inner conscience for an answer to his despair.
As the Puritan revolution progressed and radicalized, many began to distrust any religious authority and any ritual expression of the gospel. It seemed to them that none of the existing alternatives were faithful to the life and teachings of Jesus. It also seemed to them that all religious ritual seemed hollow and empty.
Some of these people (called Ranters) began to give up their search of the Truth and rather spent their energy mocking Truth and drinking, etc. Others called themselves Seekers and simply sat in silence in their meetings, waiting for a deeper Truth to be revealed.
Fox had discovered within himself a Voice or a Light or a Guide that began to teach him and bring him into a new life that brought him out of his despair. He had many names for this direct and unmediated experience of the Divine. He then began to feel led by this Light Within to preach about it.
The message he preached was simple – that Christ had come to teach his people himself. George Fox had nothing to teach others, except to direct them to the Living Christ within themselves.
This message – that Christ had come and that he was available to all in their own inner conscience – had a profound resonance to many of those radical puritans who had begun to distrust any outward religious authority or ritual. Fox’s message helped them to find what they were looking for: an inward spiritual authority that could give their lives meaning and order.
During the late 1640s and 1650s, Fox continued to travel the countryside, going from town to town, but now he carried a message. Within a few years, Fox had begun to draw together a community of people who waited on the guidance of the Christ Within to lead them in all aspects of life – from worship to the conduct of business to outward testimonies to the world.
Four key aspects of George Fox’s thoughts:
The four aspects are:
a) Spiritual experience is at the heart of the Quaker faith and has the greatest authority, not text, tradition or church;
b) For the first Quakers, true religion is inward;
c) Fox is clear that everyone can have the kind of transforming experience he has had;
d) Everyone is spiritually equal.
Please contact us (Abington Quarterly Meeting or AQM) and we will be happy to go through your questions.