What is a Quaker?
The Religious Society of Friends, most often known as Quakers or Quakerism, is one of the simplest of religions.
Quakers believe everyone has what they call ‘that of God’ within them and that each of us has direct access to God. There is, therefore, no need of clergy, ritual, a distinction between sacred and not sacred places or times, an agreed creed or many of the other things that are present in many religions.
Quakers meet together in silence with no set prayers. In the silence, they say, God’s voice can be heard.
Quakers turn their faith into action. Their ‘testimonies’ encourage a pursuit of social justice and peace.
Most people know about the Quaker involvement in prison reform and the abolition of slavery. In 1947 the Quakers won the Nobel Peace Prize for relief work in post-war shattered Germany. Quaker intiatives also contributed towards the founding of Amnesty International and Oxfam.
Most recently, Quakers have been working in the former Yugoslavia, Northern Ireland, the Middle East and other crisis-hit regions.
FURTHER READING ON THE INTERNET may be found in Hans Weening’s ‘Meeting the Spirit’.
Wikipedea also has an excelent article on Quakers
Click here for the new Quaker Week Microsite.
The nearest thing to a statement of Quaker orthodoxy is contained in ‘Quaker Faith and Practice’ (1994)
A very interesting, and challenging, examination of some of the orthodoxies is contained in Ben Pink Dandelion’s ‘The Silent Revolution – a Sociological Analysis of the Theology of Quakers’ (1996)
Both may be obtained from The Quaker Bookshop at Friends House in London.
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What to do in a Meeting.
A Quaker meeting is based in silence, but it is a silence of waiting in expectancy. For many minutes, perhaps for the whole of the meeting, there may be silence. But that does not mean that nothing is happening. All of us are trying to come to each other and to the Spirit, as we are caught up in the still spirit of the meeting.
All are welcomeGo in as soon as you are ready. It is a good thing if a meeting can settle down a few minutes before the appointed time. Sit anywhere you like.
You may find it easy to relax in the silence and enter into the life of the meeting. Or you may be disturbed by the strangeness of the silence, by distractions outside or by your own roving thoughts. Do not worry about this. Try if you can, if only for an instant, to be quiet in body, mind and spirit.
The silence may be broken if someone present feels called on to say something that will deepen and enrich the worship, in response to the prompting of the Spirit. The silence is broken for the moment, but is not interrupted.
The meeting will close after two pre-appointed participants have shaken hands.
Afterwards feel free to speak to anyone. If you wish to know more about Quakers, please introduce yourself to any member.
To find out more
Contact Quaker Life’s Outreach Page. You can order a free Enquirers’ Pack from them.
You can also find out where your nearest meeting is.
If you are really keen to learn more, then you can contact Woodbrooke, the Quaker Study Centre in Birmingham.