Who are the Quakers?
Quakerism is a way of life rather than a set of beliefs. Quakers seek to experience God directly, within themselves and in their relationships with others and the world around them. We meet together for worship in local meetings, which are inclusive and open to all. We refer to one another as Friends, a term which is used interchangeably with 'Quakers'.
The Quaker way has its roots in Christianity and finds inspiration in the Bible and the life and teachings of Jesus. Quakers also find meaning and value in the teachings of other faiths; we acknowledge that ours is not the only way.
Our focus is on our experience rather than written statements of belief. Our sense of community does not depend on professing identical beliefs, but from worshipping, sharing and working together.
Did you know?
Well-known Quakers past and present include Judi Dench, Sheila Hancock, Ben Kingsley, A S Byatt, and James Dean. Because Quakers were not allowed to attend University in the 18th and 19th centuries, professions such as medicine and law were not open to them. They used their skills in other areas - the Cadburys, Frys, Rowntrees and Foxes are Quaker families, and the financial institutions Barclays, Lloyds and Friends Life have Quaker roots.
The Religious Society of Friends, whose members are commonly known as Quakers, was founded in England in the 17th century as a Christian religious denomination by people who were dissatisfied with the existing denominations and sects of Christianity. Historians generally credit George Fox with being the principal co-founder or most important early leader. The Society of Friends is counted among the historic peace churches.
Since its beginnings in England, Quakerism has spread to other countries, chiefly Wales, Scotland, Ireland, Australia, Bolivia, Costa Rica, Guatemala, Kenya, Peru, and the United States. Unlike many other groups that emerged within Christianity, the Religious Society of Friends has tended away from creeds, and in modern times away from hierarchical structure.
The various branches have widely divergent beliefs and practices, but the central concept to many Friends is the "Inner Light". Accordingly, individual Quakers may develop individual religious beliefs arising from their personal conscience and revelation coming from "God within"; further, Quakers feel obliged to live by such individual religious beliefs and inner revelations.
The Core Testimonies
Our religious experience leads us to place a special value on truth, equality, simplicity and peace. These testimonies, as they are known, are lived rather than written. They lead Quakers to translate their faith into action by working locally and globally for social justice, to support peacemakers and care for the environment.
The bedrock of the Quaker way is the silent meeting for worship. We seek a communal gathered stillness, where we can be open to inspiration from the Spirit of God and find peace of mind, a renewed sense of purpose for living, and joy to wonder at God's creation.
During our meetings for worship some may feel moved to speak: something anyone can do, as all are considered equal. Quakers do not have priests, or a hierarchy, as we believe all people can have a direct relationship with God.
You don't have to be a Quaker to attend Quaker meetings, which are open to everyone. Meetings can be held anywhere, at any time, although they are often on Sundays in our Quaker meeting houses. If you would like to join us and share in our stillness, you would be most welcome.