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English dissenter George Fox played an important part in founding the Religious Society of Friends in the 1650s.

The Religious Society of Friends is a Christian religious movement, whose members are known as Friends or Quakers. The roots of this movement lie in 17th century English dissenters, but the movement has since branched out into many independent national and regional organizations, often called Yearly Meetings, which have a variety of names, beliefs and practices. It is therefore difficult to accurately describe the beliefs and practices of the Religious Society of Friends generally. It can be said, however, that most groups of Friends meet for regular worship, the form of which may range from largely silent meetings with no leader and no fixed programme, through to services led by a pastor with readings and hymns (similar to conventional Protestant church services). The theological beliefs of the different Yearly Meetings also vary, from strong Evangelical Christian beliefs through the spectrum to predominantly universalist or Christian universalist beliefs.

Quakers are known for their social activism, having been instrumental, for example, in the campaign against the transatlantic slave trade in the 18th and 19th centuries, as well as campaigning for the rights of women, prisoners and homosexuals.[1][2] A number of leading charities, including Oxfam, Amnesty International[3] and Greenpeace,[4] were founded with participation from Quakers.

Contents

History

Quaker William Penn founded Pennsylvania

Beginnings

The Religious Society of Friends began in England in the late 1640s, in a context of social upheaval which included increasing dissatisfaction with the established church, the execution of the king, and the rise of Nonconformist movements.

The founder of Quakerism is generally accepted to have been George Fox. He became convinced that it was possible to have a direct experience of Jesus Christ without the mediation of clergy. He began to spread this message as an itinerant preacher, and found several pre-existing groups of like-minded people; he felt called to gather them together, eventually becoming accepted as their leader.

In the first few years of the movement, Quakers thought of themselves as part of the restoration of the true Christian church after centuries of apostasy. For this reason, during this period they often referred to themselves as simply the "saints". Other common names in the early days were "Children of the Light" and "Friends of the Truth", reflecting the central importance in early Quaker theology of Christ as an Inner light that shows you your true condition.

As the movement expanded, it faced opposition and persecution. Friends were imprisoned and beaten in Great Britain, Ireland and the British colonies. In the Massachusetts Bay colony, Friends were banished on pain of death — some (most famously Mary Dyer) were hanged on Boston Common for returning to preach their beliefs. In England Friends were effectively banned from sitting in Parliament from 1698 to 1833. The Commonwealth of Pennsylvania was founded by William Penn, as a safe place for Friends to live in and practice their faith.

Despite persecution, the movement grew steadily.

During the 19th century Friends in Ireland and the United States suffered a number of separations.

Hicksite-Orthodox split

In 1827 a division occurred within Philadelphia Yearly Meeting when its members could not agree on who was to be clerk. The issue involved the visits and preaching of Elias Hicks in violation of the will of numerous meetings; they claimed his views were universalist and contradicted the historical tradition of Friends. The same year, a number of Friends in sympathy with him separated to form a parallel system of yearly meetings in America, referred to as Hicksite and those who did not were called Orthodox; ultimately five yearly meetings divided.

The splits in New York and Philadelphia Yearly Meetings were overcome in 1955 when in each yearly meeting the Orthodox and Hicksite meetings merged; Baltimore's division ended a decade later.

Beaconite Controversy

The Beaconite Controversy arose from the book "A Beacon to the Society of Friends," published in 1835 by Isaac Crewdson. He was a minister in the Manchester Meeting. The controversy arose in 1831 when doctrinal differences amongst the Friends culminated in the winter of 1836-1837 with the resignation of Isaac Crewdson and of 48 fellow members of the Manchester Meeting. About 250 others left in various localities in England including prominent members. A number of these joined themselves to the Plymouth Brethren and brought influences of simplicity of worship to that society. Notable among the Plymouthists who were former Quakers included John Eliot Howard of Tottenham and Robert Mackenzie Beverley.

Gurneyite-Wilburite split

The Orthodox Friends in America were exercised by a transatlantic dispute between Joseph John Gurney of England and John Wilbur of Rhode Island. Gurney emphasized scriptural authority and favored working closely with other Christian groups. Wilbur, in response, defended the authority of the Holy Spirit as primary, and worked to prevent what he saw as the dilution of Friends tradition of Spirit-led ministry. Wilbur was expelled from his yearly meeting in a questionable proceeding in 1842. Over the next several decades, a number of Wilburite-Gurneyite separations occurred. The Wilburite tradition is carried on today to varying degrees by the conservative yearly meetings of Ohio, Iowa, and North Carolina; Ohio Yearly Meeting (Conservative) is generally considered the most traditional in this regard, retaining more rural Quakers who use the plain language and continue wearing plain dress more than the other two.[5]

Beanites

Joel Bean was an Orthodox Friend who opposed the extreme evangelicalism that was sweeping into his branch of Quakerism. His opponents within Iowa Yearly Meeting terminated his membership and laid down the San Jose, California, meeting with which he and his wife Hannah were affiliated. Their stance influenced some western Quakers to adopt a more inclusive position that played down doctrine; later in the 20th century others emulated them, and some began referring to themselves as "Beanites."

These independent Quakers, rarely in charge of monthly or yearly meetings, represented more of a "tendency" than anything else and came to resemble an amalgam of Hicksite and Wilburite Quakerism. During the 1980s some of them adopted the label "Christ-Centered Universalism".

Beliefs and testimonies

George Fox and the other early Quakers believed that direct experience of God was available to all people, without mediation (e.g., through hired clergy, or through outward sacraments). Fox described this by writing that "Christ has come to teach His people Himself."[6]

Since Friends believe that each person has the ability to experience and respond to God, much of the Quaker perspective is based on trying to hear God and to allow God's Spirit free action in the heart. Isaac Penington wrote in 1670: "It is not enough to hear of Christ, or read of Christ, but this is the thing — to feel him my root, my life, my foundation..."[7]

Name

The name "Quaker" was first used in 1650, when George Fox was brought before Justice Bennet of Derby on a charge of blasphemy. According to Fox's journal, Bennet "called us Quakers because we bid them tremble at the word of God",[8] a scriptural reference (e.g., Isaiah 66:2, Ezra 9:4). Therefore, what began apparently as a way to make fun of Fox's admonition by those outside the Society of Friends became a nickname that even Friends use for themselves. The name "Religious Society of Friends", dating from the 18th century, remains the most widely-accepted name to this day, although often "Quakers" is added in parentheses for the sake of clarity. However, there are some Friends who prefer other names: some evangelical Friends' organizations use the term "Friends Church", and some Friends (usually in unprogrammed meetings) object to the word "religious" and refer to themselves as part of the "Society of Friends". There are some monthly meetings that for this reason do not include "religious" in their name, while most larger Quaker organizations, such as yearly meetings, use the full name.

Beliefs

The theological beliefs of different Yearly Meetings vary considerably, ranging from evangelical Christianity to universalist and new thought beliefs. Some yearly meetings (especially those in parts of the US and Africa affiliated to Friends United Meeting) regard Christ as their teacher and Lord.[9] Other yearly meetings (especially those in parts of the US, Asia and Central America which are affiliated to Evangelical Friends Church International) regard Christ as their Lord and saviour.[9] Other yearly meetings (especially those in parts of the US which are affiliated to the wider fellowship of conservative Friends) trust in the immediate guidance of the inward Christ.[9] There is often a very wide variety of theological belief in some other yearly meetings (often termed liberal yearly meetings such as those in parts of the US affiliated to Friends General Conference, many yearly meetings in Europe and Australia/New Zealand and the Beanite yearly meetings in western United States), with meetings often having a large proportion of liberal Christians and universalist Christians some of whom trust in the guidance of the inward Christ or inner light, with some non-theists, agnostics, and atheists, as well as some who are also members of other religions, although even amongst liberal yearly meetings this is controversial. Common ideas among members of these liberal yearly meetings include a belief of "that of God in everyone", and shared values, such as to peace, equality and simplicity.[10]

While the predominant theological beliefs of different Yearly Meetings do not tally exactly with the style of service,[10] there is often some co-relation, with many Yearly Meetings that hold programmed worship having more evangelical theological beliefs, and those with unprogrammed worship tending to have more liberal theological beliefs.

Modern Friends, particularly those in the liberal Yearly Meetings, often express their beliefs in many ways, including the attitude of trying to see/appeal to "[the light] of God in everyone"; finding and relating to "the Inner Light", "the Inward Christ", or "the Spirit of Christ within."[11] Early Friends more often used terms such as "Truth", "the Seed", and "the Pure Principle", from the principle that each person would be transformed as Christ formed and grew in them. The intention to "see the Light" or see "that of God in everyone" is an effort in Quakers to cast aside more superficial differences and focus on the good that they believe to be in all people.

Unlike other Christian denominations, some forms of Quakerism completely reject all forms of religious symbolism and outward sacraments, such as baptism or celebrating the Eucharist. Quakers also believe in continuing revelation, with the idea that God speaks directly to any person, without the need for any human intermediary. For this reason, many reject the idea of priests or holy people, but believe in the priesthood of all believers, and reject the doctrine of sola scriptura. The idea of the Inner Light, or Inward Light of Christ is important to many Quakers: the idea that there is that of God within everyone, guiding them through their lives.

Quaker testimonies

Quakers try to bear witness or testify to their beliefs in their every day life - an expression of "spirituality in action".[12] The ways in which they testify are often known as Quaker testimonies or Friends' testimonies: these are not a formal, static set of words, but rather a shared view or attitude of how many Quakers relate to God and the world. This leads to each Quaker having a different understanding of what the testimonies are and, while the ideologies remain quite similar for all Quakers, they go by different names, and different values are included throughout the Religious Society of Friends. The Testimonies are interrelated and can be seen as a coherent philosophical system, even outside Christian theology. The testimonies have not always been consistent, but throughout their history they have challenged Friends and provided them with guidance.

The list of testimonies is, like all aspects of Friends theology, continuously evolving — so as to be relevant to today, but the following are common:[13]

Some Friends also include other testimonies, such as Unity, Community, Compassion, Justice, Truth, Stewardship, Sustainability, and the testimony against times and seasons. In the USA, Children and Friends school students are often taught the acronym SPICES, which stands for Simplicity, Peace, Integrity, Community, Equality and Stewardship. In the UK, the acronym STEP is used, or more affectionately, PEST, which includes the testimonies to Peace, Equality, Simplicity and Truth. Truth tends to be the more common name of the integrity testimony in the UK, although Integrity is also sometimes added as a fifth testimony. Similarly, in recent years the environment has also come to be regarded by some in the UK as an "emerging testimony", one that is respected and valued, but has not traditionally been prioritized.

An interesting example of Quaker attitudes is in the writings of William Penn, Some Fruits of Solitude In Reflections And Maxims, written in his retirement. An excerpt from this work is the following aphorism: "The Wise Man is Cautious, but not cunning; Judicious, but not Crafty; making Virtue the Measure of using his Excellent Understanding in the Conduct of his Life. "

Bible

Early Friends rejected the mainstream Protestant idea of sola scriptura, that the Bible is God's written word and therefore self-authenticating, clear and its own interpreter; instead, they believed that Christ, instead of the Bible, is the Word of God. Robert Barclay wrote in his Apology that the scriptures "are only a declaration of the fountain, and not the fountain itself, therefore they are not to be esteemed the principal ground of all Truth and knowledge, nor yet the adequate primary rule of faith and manners".[14] Similarly, George Fox recounted an incident in his Journal in which when a minister claimed that the Scriptures were authoritative, Fox "...was commanded to tell them God did not dwell in temples made with hands. But I told them what it was, namely, the Holy Spirit, by which the holy men of God gave forth the scriptures, whereby opinions, religions and judgments were to be tried; for it led into all Truth, and so gave the knowledge of all Truth".[15]

Early Friends believed that Christ would never lead them in ways that contradicted the Bible; this belief prevented conflicts between Friends' leadings and their understanding of the Bible.

As time passed, conflicts began to arise between what the Bible appeared to teach and how many Friends believed they were being led by the Spirit. Some Friends decided that the Bible should be authoritative in these cases.

Other Friends, partly under the influence of movements such as liberal Protestantism, decided that it was possible to be truly led in ways contrary to Scripture, and that in such cases scripture should give way. Still other Friends rejected (or neglected) the Bible altogether; hence in many liberal Friends meetings one might encounter non-Christian Friends or those who question some or all of the traditional doctrines of Christianity.[16] In nearly all cases, modern Friends believe in the necessity of being continually guided by God. Divine revelation is therefore not restricted to the Bible, but rather continues even today; this doctrine is known as continuing revelation.

A common set of practices emerged which spoke of key principles and beliefs held by Friends. These are "testimonies", for Friends believe these principles and practices should be expressed (testified as truth) among Friends as well as to others, in both words and deeds. (See Testimonies for a list and description of several testimonies.) Rooted in the immediate experience of the community of Friends, for many Friends these values are verified by the Bible, especially in the life and teachings of Jesus.

Creeds

Generally, Quakerism has had no creed but always had doctrines. George Fox dismissed theologians as "notionists" but accepted the Catechism and Confession of Faith by Robert Barclay. Some Quakers today are little concerned with theology and are more focused on acting in accordance with the leading of the Spirit. Quakers historically have expressed a preference for understanding coming from God's Spirit over the knowledge derived from objective logic or systematic theology.[17] Due in part to this emphasis on reliance on the immediate guidance of the Holy Spirit, diverse statements of "faith and practice" and diverse understandings of the "leading of the spirit" have always existed among Friends. As a non-creedal form of Christianity, Quakerism is especially receptive to a wide range of faith understandings.

Liberal Friends believe a corporate confession of faith would be an obstacle—both to authentic listening and to the recognition of new insight. On the other hand, Orthodox Friends have enumerated and subscribed to a set of doctrines, such as the Richmond Declaration or the "Beliefs of Friends" statement by Evangelical Friends International, both of which are comparable to other Christian confessions of faith.

Robert Griswold's pamphlet on this subject expounds Friends' historic witness against creeds—not just as a principle of individual religious integrity, but as an implied statement that Friends, having encountered and experienced God, found creeds not just pernicious, but irrelevant.[18] Doctrinal statements which seek to objectify deity fail to communicate the essence of the "Holy Spirit", "Inner Light", or "that of God within us" that "speaks to us" and can also compel "witness".

As a public statement of faith, many Yearly Meetings publish their own version of a Book of Discipline - often called Faith and Practice - which expresses their sense of truth and purpose; these documents generally are revised periodically.

Sacraments

Early Friends did not believe in the reliance upon practice of the outward rites and sacraments, believing that holiness can exist in all the activities of one's life—all of life is sacred. They experienced baptism by the Holy Spirit as an inward, transforming experience and knew communion with Christ in the midst of gathered worship in the expectant silence. Thus they did not perform water baptism as a rite of membership. These Friends also believed that any meal with others could be a form of communion.

At various times some individuals or small groups of Friends have published corrective cautions against adopting the prohibition of some rite as itself being creedal. The focus should be upon God as Present Teacher, rather than on some human ritual, or the absence of a ritual. Most Friends therefore do not prohibit rites or ceremonies, but they do counsel against allowing these human inventions to take the place of direct experience and leading by God.

Calendar and church holy days

The "plain calendar," sometimes called the "scriptural calendar," differs from what Friends refer to as the "world's calendar" in that it uses numbers to denominate the names of the months and days of the week. It emerged in the 17th century in England in the general non-conformist movement but became closely identified with Friends by the end of the 1650s and continuously since that time.

The plain calendar does not use names of calendar units derived from the traditional names due to their derivation from pagan deities. Instead, it uses ancient terminology as found in the bible where the days of the week were numbered; for example, Jesus' followers went to the tomb early on the First Day of the week. From this, the plain calendar week begins with First Day (equivalent to the traditional Christian Sunday) and ends on Seventh Day (Saturday). Similarly the calendar's months run concurrently with the traditional months albeit named First Month, Second Month, etc..

Friends have also eschewed the traditional church calendar of holy days, not observing religious festivals such as Christmas, Lent, or Easter at particular times of the year, but instead believing that Christ's birth, crucifixion and resurrection should be commemorated every day of the year. For example, many Quakers feel that fasting at Lent but then eating in excess at other times of the year is hypocrisy, and therefore many Quakers, rather than observing Lent, live a simple lifestyle all the year round (see Testimony of Simplicity). These beliefs tie in with Quakers' beliefs on sacraments and the belief that all of life is sacred.

Similarly, Friends traditionally are non-Sabbatarians, holding that "every day is the Lord's day", and that what should be done on a First Day should be done every day of the week. Meeting for Worship is often held on a First Day, however this is more because of convenience rather than because it is believed that Sunday is Sabbath, and many Friends hold Meeting for Worship on other days of the week.

These beliefs are often referred to as the testimony against time and season.

Mysticism

Quakerism is unusual because of its emphasis on the personal experience of God. However, it differs from other mystical religions in at least two important ways. For one, Quaker mysticism is primarily group-oriented rather than focused on the individual. The Friends' traditional meeting for worship may be considered an expression of that group mysticism, where all the members of the meeting listen together for the Spirit of God, speaking when that Spirit moves them. On the other hand it is also possible to consider the Quakers as a special kind of religious order (like the Franciscans, who also practise group mysticism), living the mystic and monastic tradition in their own way. For example this idea is represented by the Anglican minister and Quaker, Paul Oestreicher. Additionally, Quaker mysticism as it has been expressed after the late 19th century includes a strong emphasis on its outwardly-directed witness. Rather than seeking withdrawal from the world, the Quaker mystic translates his or her mysticism into action. They believe this action leads to greater spiritual understanding — both by individuals and by the Meeting as a whole. This view of mysticism includes social and political activities. For instance the German Quaker Heinz Röhr saw himself as a Friend between Marx and mysticism.[citation needed]

Worship

Friends Meeting House, Manchester.

Most groups of Quakers meet for regular worship. In some traditions, this is called meeting for worship and in others it is a Friends Church service. In yearly meetings in Europe, Asia, southern Africa, Oceania and parts of the US, worship is usually unprogrammed. This, constituting about 11%[citation needed] of Quakers worldwide, is based in silence; it is usually held with others, and those who feel "moved to speak" can minister for as long as they feel is right. There is usually space to reflect between spoken contributions, and the meetings normally last for one hour. There is no leader in such a service, Quakers who worship in this tradition often believing that each person is equal before God and is capable of knowing "the light" directly. In many yearly meetings in Africa, Asia and parts of the US, worship is programmed. This constitutes around 50% of Quakers worldwide. Here there is often a prepared message, which may be delivered by an individual with theological training. There may be hymns, a sermon, Bible readings and prayers, and a period of silent worship. There is often a paid pastor responsible for pastoral care of the members of the local church. In addition to these, around 40% of Quakers worldwide are evangelical, who may have grown apart from unprogrammed worship.[10]

Friends treat all functions of the church as a form of worship, including business, marriage, and memorial services, in addition to regular meeting for worship. The two main forms of Quaker worship are often referred to as "programmed" and "unprogrammed".

While the different styles of worship generally reflect the theological splits, with unprogrammed meetings generally being more theologically liberal and programmed Friends churches more theologically conservative, this is not a strict rule. Many meetings hold both programmed and unprogrammed services or other activities. Some "Conservative" meetings are unprogrammed yet would be generally considered to be theologically closer to most programmed meetings.

Unprogrammed worship

The interior of an old meeting house in the United States

Unprogrammed worship is the more traditional style of worship among Friends and remains the norm in Britain, Ireland, continental Europe, Australia, New Zealand, Canada and parts of the United States (particularly Yearly Meetings associated with Friends General Conference). During an unprogrammed meeting for worship, Friends gather together in "expectant waiting" for divine leadings. Sometimes a meeting is entirely silent, sometimes quite a few people speak. Meeting for Worship generally lasts about an hour.

When they feel they are led by the spirit a participant will rise and share a message (give "vocal ministry") with those gathered. Typically, messages, testimonies, ministry, or other speech are not prepared as a "speech". Speakers are expected to discern the source of their inspiration — whether divine or self. After someone has spoken, it is expected that more than a few moments will pass in silence before further Ministry; there should be no spirit of debate.

Unprogrammed worship is generally deemed to start as soon as the first participant is seated, the others entering the room in silence. The Meeting for Worship ends when one person (usually predetermined) shakes the hand of another person present. All the members of the assembly then shake hands with their neighbours, after which one member usually rises and extends greetings and makes announcements.

Programmed worship

Programmed worship resembles a typical Protestant worship service in the United States. This tradition arose among Friends in the United States in the 19th century in response to large numbers of converts to Quakerism during the national spiritual revivalism of the time. Typically there are readings from scripture, hymns, and a sermon from the pastor. A period of silence (similar in practice to that of unprogrammed meetings, though generally shorter) is included in some Programmed Friends worship services. Most Friends in the southern and central United States worship in this way.

The Friends meetings started in Africa and Latin America were generally started by Friends from programmed elements of the society, therefore most African and Latin American Friends worship in a programmed style.

Some Friends also hold what is termed Semi-Programmed Worship, which brings programmed elements like hymns and readings into an otherwise unprogrammed worship service.

Rites of passage

Birth

Quakers do not practice any form of water baptism, Christening ceremony or other ceremony for the birth of a child. The child is welcomed into the meeting by everyone present at their first attendance. Formerly, it was the practice that children born to Quaker parents automatically became members of the Religious Society of Friends (sometimes called Birthright membership), however this is no longer the case in most areas, and most parents now leave it up to the child to decide whether to become a member when they are an older child or adult.

Marriage

A marriage in a Friends meeting is similar to any other unprogrammed Meeting for Worship, which can be very different from the experience expected by non-Friends.[19] Quakers have their own registrars to sanction the union. The ceremony is conducted exactly as a normal meeting for Worship and the pair marry one another before God and gathered witnesses. After exchanging vows, the meeting returns to open worship and guests are free to speak as they are led. At the rise of meeting all the witnesses, including the youngest children in attendance, are asked to sign the wedding certificate.

In the early days of the United States, there was doubt whether a marriage solemnized in such a manner was entitled to legal recognition, leading at least one jurisdiction, Florida, to enact special legislation on the subject.[20]

In recent years Friends in Australia, Britain and some meetings in North America have celebrated weddings or civil unions between partners of the same sex. At the Yearly Meeting in 2009 in Britain the Quakers decided to perform marriage ceremonies for same-sex couples, making them the first mainstream religious body in the UK to do so. As true same-sex marriage (as distinct from civil partnership) is not legal in the United Kingdom these marriages will not be legally valid. However, they stated that the law does not preclude from "playing a central role in the celebration and recording" of them and asked the government to change the law so that they would be recognised in the same way as opposite-sex marriages in Quaker meetings.[21]

Memorial services

Traditional Quaker memorial services are also held as a form of worship and are known as memorial meetings. Friends gather for worship and offer remembrances about the person who has died. Because Friends believe that the spirit is more important than the body, the coffin or ashes of the deceased are not present, rather burial takes place separately. Memorial meetings can last over an hour, particularly if there are a large number of people in attendance. Memorial services give everyone a chance to remember the lost individual in their own way, thus bringing comfort to those present, and re-affirmation of the larger community of Friends.

Decision making

Quaker Business Meeting in York

Business decisions on a local level are conducted at a monthly "Meeting for Worship with a Concern for Business", or simply "Business Meeting". A business meeting is a form of worship, and all decisions are reached so that they are consistent with the guidance of the Spirit.[22]

Instead of voting, the Meeting attempts to gain a sense of God's will for the community. Each member of the meeting is expected to listen to that of God within themselves and, if led, to contribute it to the group for reflection and consideration. Each member listens to others' contributions carefully, in an attitude of seeking Truth rather than of attempting to prevail or to debate.

A decision is reached when the Meeting, as a whole, feels that the "way forward" has been discerned (also called "coming to unity") or there is a consensus. On some occasions a single Friend will hold up a decision because they feel the meeting is not following God's will; occasionally, some members of the Meeting will "stand aside" on an issue, meaning that these members do not share in the general sense of the meeting but are willing to allow the group to move forward.

Many Quakers describe the search for unity as the gathering of believers who "wait upon the Lord" to discover God's will. When seeking unity, Friends are not attempting to seek a position with which everyone is willing to live (as is often the case in consensual models) but in determining God's will. It is assumed that if everyone is listening to God's Spirit, the way forward will become clear.

The business conducted "in the manner of Friends" can seem time-consuming and impractical. The process can be frustrating and slow, but Friends believe it works well, allowing the group to come to decisions even around the most difficult matters. By the time a decision is recognized, the important issues have been worked out and the group supports the decision; there is no "losing" side.

Many non-Friends express doubts as to whether this process of decision making can work in a large group, although many yearly meetings have successfully employed this practice for generations. Some Quaker-related organizations, such as Haverford College near Philadelphia and Earlham College in Richmond, Indiana, also use traditional Quaker form practices of governance.[23]

National and international divisions and organization

Like many movements, the Religious Society of Friends has evolved, changed, and split into various smaller subgroups.

Since its beginnings in the United Kingdom, Quakerism has spread to other countries, chiefly Australia, Bolivia, Burundi, Costa Rica, Ireland, Japan, Kenya, Philippines, Rwanda, South Africa, South Korea, Taiwan, Uganda, and the United States. Although the total number of Quakers is relatively small, around 360,000 worldwide,[24] there are places, such as Philadelphia, Pennsylvania;Kaimosi, Kenya; Newberg, Oregon; Greenleaf, Idaho; Whittier, California; Richmond, Indiana; Friendswood, Texas; Birmingham, UK; and Greensboro, North Carolina in which Quaker influence is concentrated.

Unlike many other groups that emerged within Christianity, the Religious Society of Friends has tended away from creeds, and away from hierarchical structure.[25]

The various branches have widely divergent beliefs and practices, but the central concept to most Friends is the "Inner Light" or "Light of Christ within". Accordingly, individual Quakers may develop individual religious beliefs arising from their personal conscience and revelation coming from "God within"; Quakers feel compelled to live by such individual religious beliefs and inner revelations. Throughout their history, Quakers have also founded other charities or organizations for many causes they felt are in keeping with their faith. Within the last century there have been some 100 organizations founded by either individual Friends, groups of Friends or Friends working with others - amongst others: Amnesty International, Greenpeace, OXFAM, Peace Action, WILPF. (SEE List of Quaker Businesses)

International organisation

Friends World Committee for Consultation (FWCC) is the international Quaker organization which loosely unifies the diverse groups of Friends; FWCC brings together the largest variety of Friends in the world.

There are various organizations associated with Friends including a U.S. lobbying organization based in Washington, D.C. called the Friends Committee on National Legislation (FCNL); several service organizations like the American Friends Service Committee (AFSC), the Quaker United Nations Offices, Quaker Peace and Social Witness, Friends Committee on Scouting, the Quaker Peace Centre in Cape Town, South Africa and the Alternatives to Violence Project.

Friends World Committee for Consultation is divided into four Sections to represent different regions of the world: Africa, Asia West Pacific, Europe and Middle East, and Americas.

Africa Section

Africa Section represents Friends throughout the continent of Africa. Most African Friends are from the evangelical programmed tradition. However, a significant minority are from the unprogrammed tradition. South Africa Yearly Meeting is principally an unprogrammed Yearly Meeting and there are unprogrammed Meetings elsewhere in Africa, notably in Kenya. Africa Section is numerically the most numerous of the Sections and the administrative headquarters are in Nairobi, Kenya. The 2012 Friends World Conference will be held in Kenya.

Asia West Pacific Section

Asia West Pacific Section (AWPS) is geographically the largest FWCC Section stretching from Japan in the North to New Zealand and Australia in the South and from the Philippines in the East to India in the West. Asia West Pacific Section is growing significantly and recently welcomed into Membership the Philippine Evangelical Friends Church, a Filipino programmed and evangelical Friends Meeting; Marble Rock Friends and Mahoba Yearly Meeting in India. Some AWPS Friends Meetings are numerically small, e.g. those in Korea and Hong Kong but nonetheless give generously to Friends work internationally and contribute a lot to the life of Friends. Other Friends Meetings in the Section are relatively large with several thousand Friends. The geographical area of the AWPS region includes numerically numerous Friends Meetings of the evangelical programmed tradition which have not as yet affiliated with FWCC, although friendly relations are maintained locally. AWPS has led the way among Friends for action on what Friends call "Global Change" which we define as: “The unity, integration and the inter-connection of all change. Seemingly different or unrelated changes are in fact aspects of facets of a single greater change.” (Quoted from Julian Stargardt: "Friends and Global Change", AWPS, 2008.) In 2008 AWPS established a Global Change Committee to network, research and work on the subject, the AWPS Global Change Committee is currently Clerked by Jo Valentine of Australia and Julian Stargardt of Hong Kong. AWPS also asked FWCC to take up this subject on behalf of Friends worldwide which FWCC is doing.

Europe and Middle East Section

Europe and Middle East Section (EMES) is numerically the smallest of the Quaker Sections but historically the oldest and is growing in former East Block countries, though declining in so called Western countries. EMES includes Britain Yearly Meeting, the mother Meeting of Friends, being the heir to the former London Yearly Meeting. Britain Yearly Meeting's "Faith and Practice" or book of discipline is used by many Friends around the world as a guide to Friends' practices and procedures. Britain Yearly Meeting is the largest Meeting in the Section with approximately 16,000 Members, followed by Ireland Yearly Meeting with around 1,000 Members. Other Yearly Meetings in Europe are small, in some cases smaller than Monthly Meetings in Asia but retain the name and form of Yearly Meetings for historical reasons. Friends have a long standing presence in the Middle East and the Holy Land, dating back to Ottoman times. For example, Friends School, Ramalla, is a noted educational centre and Friends are active in attempts to build peace at the grass roots in this troubled area. Britain Yearly Meeting's Quaker Peace and Social Witness (QPSW) is one of the significant international Friends agencies. The FWCC Quaker United Nations Office (QUNO) in Geneva is partly supported by Britain Yearly Meeting. Friends presence at the United Nations has engaged and continues to engage in much quiet diplomacy to reduce violence and build peace around the world. Friends House in Geneva is a quiet haven in a busy international city and hosts Geneva Meeting.

Section of the Americas

Section of the Americas is numerically the second largest section and includes Friends from all Friends traditions in both North and South America as well as in the Caribbean and Central America. Section of the Americas is officially bi-lingual in Spanish and English, though Canada Yearly Meeting also operates in both English and French. FWCC's other QUNO branch is located adjacent to the New York UN Building and is closely connected with the quasi-Quaker organisation American Friends Service Committee (AFSC). AFSC was founded by Friends and still has a substantially Friends Board of Trustees, however, only the Director of AFSC is required to be a Friend and the vast majority of AFSC staff, including senior staff, are not Friends and are not familiar with Friends worship or testimonies leading to some Friends' Meetings distancing themselves from AFSC and its activities. In 1947 the Nobel Peace Prize was awarded to Friends for 300 years of work for peace and received on behalf of Friends by AFSC and its London counterpart, the Friends Service Committee, now known as Quaker Peace and Social Witness. Approximately 160,000 Friends live in the USA and some 300,000 live in Latin America. US Friends are often relatively affluent whereas many Latin American Friends come from relatively impoverished and oppressed indigenous communities. As in Asia and Africa, in Latin America, Friends are a growing church. Section of the Americas Friends have a long history dating back to the mid-17th Century. Friends founded or helped found a number of the US States, notably Pennsylvania, named after distinguished 17th Century English Friend, William Penn; Rhode Island; New Jersey and Delaware all had substantial Friends' contributions in their founding. William Penn's constitutional documents for Pennsylvania formed an important and influential source for the later United States Constitution.[26] In the early colonial period Friends were persecuted in Massachusetts and New York. Friends also had a substantial impact in the early days of colonisation of the Caribbean, for example in the 17th and early 18th centuries 25% of the population of Barbados was Friends. The history of suffering is a uniting factor with Latin American Friends, many of whom live in difficult circumstances and find living the transformative Peace Testimony a daily commitment.

It is difficult to speak about American Friends as a whole because they represent such a broad and diverse range of Friends traditions, however, it is a tribute to their commitment to Friends beliefs that they respect each other and work together.

Africa

The highest concentration of Quakers is in Africa.[27] The Friends of East Africa were at one time part of a single East Africa Yearly Meeting, then the largest Yearly Meeting in the world. Today, this region is served by several distinct Yearly Meetings. Most of these are affiliated with the Friends United Meeting, practice programmed worship, and employ pastors. There are also Friends meetings in Rwanda and Burundi, as well as new work beginning in North Africa. Small unprogrammed meetings exist also in Botswana, Ghana, Lesotho, Namibia, Nigeria, South Africa and Zimbabwe.

Canada

Quakers can be found throughout the provinces of Canada, with some of the largest concentrations of Quakers in Southern Ontario. The village of Argenta, British Columbia is the only community in Canada where Quakers form the majority.[citation needed]

Australia

Considerable distances between the colonies, and a low immigration of Quakers, meant that the organization of Friends in Australia was quite dependent on London until the twentieth century. The Society has remained unprogrammed and is constituted as the Australia Yearly Meeting, with local organization around seven Regional Meetings: Canberra (which extends into southern New South Wales), New South Wales, Queensland, South Australia (which extends into Northern Territory), Tasmania, Victoria and Western Australia [28]. There is an annual meeting each January hosted by a different Regional Meeting over a seven year cycle, with a Standing Committee each July or August. The 2006 Australian Census recorded 1984 Quakers in Australia, which was an increase of 11% since the 2001 Census.[29]

United Kingdom

In the United Kingdom, Quakers follow unprogrammed worship and are part of Britain Yearly Meeting, where there are 25,000 worshippers[30] in around 500 Local Meetings.

These meetings used to be called Preparative Meetings, and the groups they formed were previously known as Monthly Meetings: now they are Area Meetings. This change, made in Britain Yearly Meeting 2007, was intended to simplify Quaker jargon. The structure extends into several Area Meetings becoming a General Meeting — formerly Quarterly Meeting — Some General Meetings now call themselves Regional Gatherings (e.g.-Bristol & Wessex Regional Gathering, was Bristol & Somerset GM) which each continue to meet up to three times per year, but now play no direct role in church government. Instead, Area Meetings are represented directly in Meeting for Sufferings, which meets in between Yearly meetings.[31]

In addition to Britain Yearly Meeting, there is also a very small minority of independent 'Christian Quakers'[32] who follow Ohio Yearly Meeting's conservative discipline.[33]

United States

Friends Church, Pleasant Plain, Iowa.

Friends in the United States have diverse practices, though united by many common bonds. Along with the division of worship style (see "Quaker Worship" above) come several differences of theology, vocabulary and practice.

A local congregation in the unprogrammed tradition is called a meeting, or a monthly meeting (e.g., Smalltown Meeting or Smalltown Monthly Meeting). The reference to "monthly" is because the meeting meets monthly to conduct the business of the meeting. Most "monthly meetings" meet for worship at least once a week; some meetings have several worship meetings during the week. In programmed traditions, the local congregations are often referred to as "Friends Churches".

Several local monthly meetings are often part of a regional group called a quarterly meeting, which is usually part of an even larger group called a yearly meeting. Again, quarterly or yearly refers to the frequency of "meetings for worship with a concern for business."

Some yearly meetings belong to larger organizations to help maintain order and communication within the society, the three chief ones being Friends General Conference (FGC), Friends United Meeting (FUM), Wider Fellowship of Conservative Friends (WFCF), and Evangelical Friends Church International (ECFI) (in all three groups, most member organizations, though not necessarily people are from the United States). FGC is theologically the most Liberal of the four groups, while EFI is the most Evangelical (of course WFCF is the Conservative one). FUM is the largest of the four. Friends United Meeting was originally known as "Five Years Meeting." Some monthly meetings belong to more than one of these larger organizations, while others are independent, not joining any.

Education

Friends have founded many schools and colleges around the world[34]. Several organizations centered on education have continued amongst Friends, including Friends Council on Education (FCE) an organization supporting Friends schools (typically primary through secondary, often boarding) and Friends Association for Higher Education (FAHE) which supports Friends post-secondary institutions and those who resonate with Friends' teaching and traditions who serve in higher education.

Relationship to the wider Christian community

Many Quakers feel their faith does not fit within traditional Christian categories of Catholic, Orthodox, or Protestant, but is another way of experiencing God.[35]

Although all Quakers in previous centuries, and most today, recognize Quakerism as a Christian movement, a few Friends (principally in some Liberal Meetings in the United States and the United Kingdom) now consider themselves universalist, agnostic, atheist, secular humanist, postchristian, or Nontheist Friend, or do not accept any religious label.[16] Calls for Quakerism to include non-Christians go back at least as far as 1870,[36] but this phenomenon has become increasingly evident during the latter half of the 20th century and the opening years of the 21st century, and is still controversial among Friends. An especially notable example of this is that of Friends who actively identify as members of a faith other than Christianity, such as Islam[37] or Buddhism.[38]

Quaker terminology

Birthright Friend
a historical term for those Friends born into families that are members of a Friends Meeting. (This term is not always officially recognized by Friends.)
Clearness
a process undergone to discern the true leading of the Spirit of God, especially in ambiguous or complicated situations. Friends often work with clearness committees when struggling with a difficult issue.
Clerk
the only officer of most meetings (as there are no clergy); the person charged with making and keeping the records of the meeting (including the records of births, marriages, and deaths). The clerk's role is to serve—as an honoured servant of the meeting—and, whilst revered, is not an authoritarian position.
Concern
Friends believe that anyone may feel called by God. Friends consider carrying out a concern to be a form of ministry. Often there may be a meeting for clearness to test the concern after which the meeting may well support the person in their concern. Many well-known organisations, such as the American Friends Service Committee, Don't Make a Wave Committee (the predecessor organisation to Greenpeace), Oxfam and Amnesty International, have been founded by Friends "acting under concern".
Convinced Friend
a historical term for those Friends who were not born into Quaker families, but who came to Friends because of the Truth of Quaker teaching and practice. The process of deciding to become a Friend is known as "convincement."
Gathered Meeting
A meeting for worship, where those present feel that they were particularly in tune with the leadings of the Spirit.
Facing Benches
Older meetinghouses often have benches on a raised platform which face the rest of the congregation where Weighty Friends (see below) who might be expected to speak would sit. Historically (and in some meetings still) these would be the recorded ministers and elders.
Hold in the Light
To recognize concern in one's self for another person or situation. This is often considered to be synonymous with praying for someone.
I hope so
(British term) during a meeting for worship for business, when the clerk asks those present if they agree with a minute, Friends will usually say "I hope so" rather than "yes". It is meant in the sense of “I hope that this is the true guidance of the Holy Spirit”.[39]
Lay down
the action properly taken upon a committee, meeting or ministry that is no longer needed; "to lay down" a meeting is to disband it.
Lay over
to allow time to pass before action on a consideration, in hopes of obtaining clearness; "the transfer of Mary's membership has lain over for one month"
Leading
a course of action, belief or conviction that a Friend feels is divinely inspired.
Ministry
the act of speaking during a meeting for worship. (Many Friends use the term more broadly to mean living their testimonies in everyday life). "Vocal" or "proclamational" refer to ministries that are verbal.
Notion
An unfounded, unspiritual position. (Used by George Fox, often to refer to teachings or doctrines that were expressed but not fully understood or experienced.)
Proceed as Way Opens
to undertake a service or course of action without prior clarity about all the details but with confidence that divine guidance will make these apparent and assure an appropriate outcome.
Recorded Minister
A person whose vocal ministry (spoken contribution in meeting)—or another spiritual gift—is recognised as helpful and probably faithful to Divine leading, by the body of Friends to which they belong and formally recorded by that body. Not all Friends' organisations record ministers. Other Friends have adopted a defined process prerequisite for "recording."
Right ordering
has to do with proper conduct of a meeting for business. The term is often used in the negative, that is, if someone senses that something about the conduct of the meeting is not proper, they may object that "this meeting is not in right ordering."
Speaks to my condition or Friend speaks my mind
Commonly used during meetings for business to express that another Friend has spoken what is in the mind of the speaker; used to help add weight to the ministries of others.
That of God in everyone
the belief in the presence of God within all people. Also referred to as the Inner Light.
Weighty Friend
a Friend, respected for their experience and ability over their history of participation with Friends, whose opinion or ministry is especially valued.

Notes and references

  1. ^ http://www.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree/2009/aug/01/in-praise-of-the-quakers
  2. ^ http://www.quaker.org.uk/subject-guides Library of Society of Friends Subject Guide: Abolition of the Slave Trade
  3. ^ http://www.iisg.nl/archives/en/files/a/10739035full.php Amnesty International Secretariat Archives at the International Institute of Social History
  4. ^ Michael Brown & John May: The Greenpeace Story, ISBN 0-86318-691-2
  5. ^ See A short history of Conservative Friends for further information.
  6. ^ Throughout his journal, Fox made several similar statements. Including in Chapter 5 stating: "God was come to teach His people Himself" and Chapter 6 "Christ was come to teach people Himself". Fox frequently used the words God and Christ interchangeably.
  7. ^ Isaac Penington to Thomas Walmsley (1670)
  8. ^ Quotation from Chapter 4 of George Fox's journal (also see footnote). Here Fox would have meant Christ by "word of God"; see Beliefs and practices of Friends.
  9. ^ a b c Friends General Conference. "Quaker Finder". http://www.quakerfinder.org/. Retrieved 2009-07-26. 
  10. ^ a b c http://www.quaker.org.uk/files/ymg-2009-epistles-and-testimonies.pdf Page 5; Introduction from Quaker World Relations Committee
  11. ^ Quaker Faith & Practice. Yearly Meeting. 1999. pp. 1.02.5. ISBN 085245306X. 
  12. ^ Living What We Believe — Quaker Testimonies: a way of living faithfully - A leaflet "produced by Testimonies Committee of Quaker Peace And Social Witness, 2005"
  13. ^ see Quaker Testimonies leaflet
  14. ^ Quotation from the third Proposition of Barclay's apology.
  15. ^ Quotation from George Fox Journal, entry for 1649.
  16. ^ a b David Rush (2002) They Too Are Quakers: A Survey of 199 Nontheist Friends The Woodbrooke Journal, 11(Winter)
  17. ^ There are several examples of Fox referring to people as notionists in his journal. One is in Chapter 5: "After a while there came a priest to visit him, with whom also I had some discourse concerning the Truth. But his mouth was quickly stopped, for he was nothing but a notionist, and not in possession of what he talked of."
  18. ^ #377, Pendle Hill, 2005
  19. ^ Britain Yearly Meeting (1994). "Quaker faith & practice (Third edition) - Quaker marriage procedure". Britain Yearly Meeting. http://www.quakerweb.org.uk/qfp/qfpchapter16.html. Retrieved 2008-03-26. "The simple Quaker wedding where the couple, together with their friends, gather in worship ... a number of those attending the wedding may be unfamiliar with worship based on silence" 
  20. ^ See Florida Statutes, 741.07 Persons authorized to solemnize matrimony, (2) (specifically validating Quaker marriages) (Revised 10/20/2006).
  21. ^ Gledhill, Ruth (2009-08-01). "Quakers back gay marriage and call for reform". The Times. http://www.timesonline.co.uk/tol/comment/faith/article6734687.ece. Retrieved 2009-08-07. 
  22. ^ http://www.quakerscotland.org/businessmeetings Guide to Quaker Business Meetings. Quakers in Scotland
  23. ^ https://www.haverford.edu/abouthaverford/quaker.php Quaker consensus decision making practices at Haverford College
  24. ^ FWCC's map of quaker meetings and churches
  25. ^ "The Trouble with 'Ministers'" by Chuck Fager gives an overview of the hierarchy Friends had until it began to be abolished in the mid-18th century.
  26. ^ Frame Of Government Of Pennsylvania
  27. ^ 43 percent of Quakers worldwide are found in Africa, versus 30 percent in North America, 17 percent in Latin America and the Caribbean, 6 percent in Europe, and 4 percent in Asia/West Pacific. See Quaker Information Center.
  28. ^ http://www.quakers.org.au/ list of Australian Quaker Regional Meetings
  29. ^ www.immi.gov.au/media/publications/research/_pdf/poa-2008.pdf
  30. ^ http://www.quaker.org.uk/sites/default/files/Quakers-today-large-print.doc
  31. ^ Britain Yearly Meeting (1999). Quaker faith & practice (3rd edition ed.). London: Yearly Meeting of the Religious Society of Friends (Quakers) in Britain. ISBN 085245306X. http://www.quaker.org.uk/qfp. 
  32. ^ See one such meeting's website: Ripley Christian Quakers.
  33. ^ News and Events
  34. ^ See Also Quaker Schools in Britain and Ireland, link title
  35. ^ http://www.bbc.co.uk/religion/religions/christianity/subdivisions/quakers_1.shtml Quakers - The Religious Society of Friends. BBC Religion and Ethics
  36. ^ E.g. The Quakers in New England: An Essay (1870) by Richard Price Hollowell, p. 26.
  37. ^ Brett Miller-White (2004) The Journeyman – The Making of a Muslim Quaker Quaker Theology, 10
  38. ^ Valerie Brown (2006) The Mindful Quaker
  39. ^ http://swquakers.org.uk/?q=node/41/

Further reading

  • Abbott, Margery, Mary Ellen Chijioke, Pink Dandelion, and John William Oliver, editors, Historical Dictionary of The Friends (Quakers) ISBN 0-8108-4483-4
  • Bacon, Margaret Hope. "Quakers and Colonization," Quaker History, 95 (Spring 2006), 26–43.
  • Bacon, Margaret H., The Quiet Rebels: The Story of the Quakers in America ISBN 0-87574-935-6
  • Barbour, Hugh, and J. William Frost. The Quakers. (1988), 412pp; historical survey, including many capsule biographies online edition
  • Barbour, Hugh. The Quakers in Puritan England (1964).
  • Benjamin, Philip. Philadelphia Quakers in an Age of Industrialism, 1870-1920 (1976),
  • Bill, J. Brent, Holy Silence: The Gift of Quaker Spirituality ISBN 1-55725-420-6
  • Boulton, David (ed.) 2006. Godless for God's Sake: Nontheism in Contemporary Quakerism. Dales Historical Monographs. ISBN 0-9511578-6-8
  • Birkel, Michael L., Silence and Witness: The Quaker Tradition ISBN 1-57075-518-3 (in the UK, ISBN 0-232-52448-3)
  • Braithwaite, William C. The Beginnings of Quakerism (1912); revised by Henry J. Cadbury (1955) online edition
  • Braithwaite, William C. Second Period of Quakerism (1919); revised by Henry Cadbury (1961), covers 1660 to 1720s in Britain
  • Brinton, Howard H., Friends for 350 Years ISBN 0-87574-903-8
  • Brock, Peter. Pioneers of the Peaceable Kingdom (1968), on Peace Testimony from the 1650s to 1900.
  • Bronner, Edwin B. William Penn's Holy Experiment (1962)
  • Burnet, G.B., Story of Quakerism in Scotland The Lutterworth Press 2007, Cambridge. ISBN 978-0-7188-9176-3
  • Connerley, Jennifer. "Friendly Americans: Representing Quakers in the United States, 1850-1920." PhD dissertation U. of North Carolina, Chapel Hill 2006. 277 pp. Citation: DAI 2006 67(2): 600-A. DA3207363 online at ProQuest Dissertations & Theses
  • Cooper, Wilmer A., A Living Faith: An Historical and Comparative Study of Quaker Beliefs. 2nd ed. ISBN 0-944350-53-4
  • Dandelion, Pink, The Quakers: A Very Short Introduction ISBN 978-0-19-920679-7
  • Davies, Adrian. The Quakers in English Society, 1655-1725. (2000). 261 pp.
  • Doherty, Robert. The Hicksite Separation (1967), uses the new social history to inquire who joined which side
  • Dunn, Mary Maples. William Penn: Politics and Conscience (1967)
  • Frost, J. William. The Quaker Family in Colonial America: A Portrait of the Society of Friends (1973), emphasis on social structure and family life
  • Frost, J. William. "The Origins of the Quaker Crusade against Slavery: A Review of Recent Literature," Quaker History 67 (1978): 42-58,
  • Gillman, Harvey, A Light that is Shining: Introduction to the Quakers ISBN 0-85245-213-6
  • Guiton, Gerard, The Growth and Development of Quaker Testimony' ISBN 0-7734-6002-0
  • Hamm, Thomas. The Quakers in America. (2003). 293 pp., strong analysis of current situation, with brief history
  • Hamm, Thomas. The Transformation of American Quakerism: Orthodox Friends, 1800-1907 (1988), looks at the impact of the Holiness movement on the Orthodox faction
  • Hamm, Thomas D. Earlham College: A History, 1847-1997. (1997). 448 pp.
  • Hubbard, Geoffrey, Quaker by Convincement ISBN 0-85245-189-X and ISBN 0-14-021663-4
  • Illick, Joseph E. Colonial Pennsylvania: A History. 1976. online edition
  • Ingle, H. Larry, First Among Friends: George Fox and the Creation of Quakerism ISBN 0-19-507803-9 and ISBN 0-19-510117-0
  • Ingle, H. Larry, Quakers in Conflict: The Hicksite Reformation ISBN 0-87574-926-7
  • James, Sydney. A People among Peoples: Quaker Benevolence in Eighteenth-Century America (1963), a broad ranging study that remains the best history in America before 1800
  • Jones, Rufus M., Amelia M. Gummere, and Isaac Sharpless. Quakers in the American Colonies (1911), history to 1775 online edition
  • Jones, Rufus M. Later Periods of Quakerism, 2 vols. (1921), covers England and America until World War I.
  • Jones, Rufus M. The Story of George Fox (1919) 169 pages online edition
  • Jones, Rufus M. A Service of Love in War Time: American Friends Relief Work in Europe, 1917-1919 (1922) online edition
  • Jordan, Ryan. "The Dilemma of Quaker Pacifism in a Slaveholding Republic, 1833-1865," Civil War History, Vol. 53, 2007 online edition
  • Jordan, Ryan. Slavery and the Meetinghouse: The Quakers and the Abolitionist Dilemma, 1820–1865. (2007) 191pp
  • Kennedy, Thomas C. British Quakerism, 1860-1920: The Transformation of a Religious Community. (2001). 477 pp.
  • Larson, Rebecca. Daughters of Light: Quaker Women Preaching and Prophesying in the Colonies and Abroad, 1700-1775. (1999). 399 pp.
  • LeShana, James David. "'Heavenly Plantations': Quakers in Colonial North Carolina." PhD dissertation: U. of California, Riverside 1998. 362 pp. DAI 2000 61(5): 2005-A. DA9974014 Fulltext: ProQuest Dissertations & Theses
  • Minear, Mark., "Richmond, 1887: A Quaker Drama Unfolds" ISBN (0913408980) ISBN (9780913408988)
  • Moore, Rosemary, The Light in Their Consciences: The Early Quakers in Britain 1646-1666 (2000) 314pp ISBN 0-271-01989-1
  • Moretta, John A., William Penn and the Quaker Legacy ISBN 0-321-16392-3
  • Mullet, Michael, editor, New Light on George Fox ISBN 1-85072-142-4
  • Nash, Gary. Quakers and Politics: Pennsylvania, 1680-1726 (1968)
  • Punshon, John, Portrait in Grey : a short history of the Quakers (1994) ISBN 0-85245-180-6
  • Punshon, John. Portrait in Grey: A short history of the Quakers. (Quaker Home Service, 1984).
  • Rasmussen, Ane Marie Bak. A History of the Quaker Movement in Africa. (1994). 168 pp.
  • Russell, Elbert. The History of Quakerism (1942). online edition
  • Smuck, Harold. Friends in East Africa (Richmond, Indiana: 1987)
  • Steere, Douglas. 1967. On Being Present Where You Are. Wallingford, Pa: Pendle Hill Pamphlet No. 151.
  • Tolles, Frederick B. Meeting House and Counting House (1948), on Quaker businessmen in colonial Philadelphia
  • Tolles, Frederick B. Quakers and the Atlantic Culture (1960)
  • Trueblood, D. Elton The People Called Quakers (1966)
  • Vlach, John Michael. "Quaker Tradition and the Paintings of Edward Hicks: A Strategy for the Study of Folk Art," Journal of American Folklore, Vol. 94, 1981 online edition
  • Walvin, James. The Quakers: Money and Morals. (1997). 243 pp.
  • Yarrow, Clarence H. The Quaker Experience in International Conciliation (1979), for post-1945

Primary sources

  • Bill, J. Brent, Imagination and Spirit: A Contemporary Quaker Reader ISBN 0-944350-61-5
  • Gummere, Amelia, ed. The Journal and Essays of John Woolman (1922) online edition
  • Jones, Rufus M., ed. The Journal of George Fox: An Autobiography online edition
  • Mott, Lucretia Coffin. Selected Letters of Lucretia Coffin Mott. edited by Beverly Wilson Palmer, U. of Illinois Press, 2002. 580 pp
  • Smith, Robert Lawrence, A Quaker Book of Wisdom ISBN 0-688-17233-4
  • West, Jessamyn, editor, The Quaker Reader (1962) ISBN 0-87574-916-X collection of essays by Fox, Penn, and other notable Quakers

Children's books

  • De Angeli, Marguerite Thee, Hannah! ISBN 0-8361-9106-4
  • Turkle, Brinton
    • The Adventures of Obadiah ISBN 0-670-10614-3
    • Obadiah the Bold ISBN 1-893103-19-6
    • Rachel and Obadiah ISBN 1-893103-18-8
    • Thy Friend, Obadiah ISBN 0-14-050393-5

External links

Information

Documentary films


Simple English

The Religious Society of Friends is a group of religious people, who have joined together because they have similar beliefs. People in the Society of Friends are called "Friends" or Quakers - both mean the same thing.[1] The Society is very different from other religious groups. The first Quakers were Christians but the religion today includes some other people who are not Christian. They live all over the world, but the largest groups are in Bolivia, Guatemala, India, Kenya, Tanzania, the United Kingdom, and the United States of America.

Contents

History

The Society of Friends began in the 1600's in England. A man named George Fox went around preaching his ideas to people, including a large group on Pendle Hill. He told them they could talk to God themselves - that they did not need a priest or minister to do it for them. Many people liked this idea; they found it helped them feel close to God. Together they started the Society of Friends. The government of England did not like this new religion; at the time it was against the law not to belong to the Church of England. They put a lot of people in jail, or made them pay money as a punishment. At first, the word "Quaker" was a name used to make fun of people who belonged to the Society of Friends, but after a while those people came to like it and use it for themselves.

Because Quakers were being thrown in jail in England, some of them moved away, to places like America. A young Quaker named William Penn started a new colony there -- he got the land because the English king Charles II owed his father a lot of money. This new colony was called Pennsylvania, and it was made to be a place where anyone could be free to belong to any religion. Penn wanted people to be fair to each other, and he called the biggest city in his new colony Philadelphia, which means "The City of Brotherly Love." Soon there were many Quakers in America.

The Quakers were very active in America in the Nineteenth century. Many of the leaders of the abolition and women's right's movement, such as Elizabeth Cady Stanton and Lucretia Mott, were Quakers.

Today there are about 350,000[2] Quakers in the world. This number is very small compared to other religious groups. Even so, a lot of people have heard of the Quakers, because they are good at letting people know what they believe.

Worship

Quakers worship in "meetings for worship", and at other times these meetings also decide what Quakers should do - these meetings can be called "meetings for business", but other people call them "meetings for worship for business", because they include parts of both worship and business.

Anyone can go to a Quaker meeting, because most Quakers think that everyone is equal, and that this is a very important idea. There are two types of Quakers: "members" are definitely part of the Religious Society of Friends, and "attenders" might just be wondering whether Quakerism is right for them. In practice, both tend to be treated the same.

Usually, a meeting for worship lasts about an hour. It starts with everybody sitting quietly, often in a circle. This is because they are trying to listen to God. Sometimes, a Quaker will think that God wants him or her to say something. When this happens, the person stands up to tell everyone. Then they all sit quietly again. At some meetings, a large number of people will speak. At other meetings, nobody speaks. Quakers believe that a meeting for worship helps them to understand what God wants.

At these meetings, each Quaker will have a slightly different idea of what it means to them to "listen to God", and each Quaker will go about doing it in a different way.

Quakers also have meetings for worship for weddings and funerals -- when two people want to get married, or if someone dies. When two people get married, the meeting is about them and the life that they will have together. When someone has died, the meeting is about remembering good things about the person and the life they had.

Some Quakers in North America, South America, and Africa have a different kind of meeting. They often sing songs, or ask a pastor to talk about something interesting. They also have quiet times, but they do not last as long. These Quakers often have strong Christian beliefs.

Beliefs

Almost all Quakers share these beliefs:

  • Everybody has an "inner light" that tells them what they should do. The inner light comes from God.
  • Everybody should try to do what God wants.
  • Quakers should try not to hurt other people.
  • Quakers should listen to what other people say, even if they think something completely different.
  • Quakers should tell the truth, and not lie.
  • Quakers should not spend a lot of money on themselves, or wear clothes that make them look rich.

When Quakers say "inner light", they do not mean that there is really a light bulb inside them. They use the phrase "inner light" to mean something else, which they might find difficult to find words to explain. Other words that Quakers use to mean similar things include "God", "spirit" and "love".

Quakers think that the truth is very important. They believe that it is wrong to make an oath or promise. This is because they think people should tell the truth all the time. Making a promise shows that they are trying to be more truthful than normal. Instead, Quakers believe that they should simply say what they are going to do.

This is another idea that has caused problems. Governments often want people to promise that they will be loyal to the country. In a court, people have to promise that they will tell the truth. Quakers refuse to do these things. Several countries now say that Quakers do not have to make oaths, but in the past Quakers were put in prison for not making oaths.

Today, Quakers can sometimes make an "affirmation" instead. The word "affirm" hints that whatever is being affirmed has already been said, or thought. This means that they have to say out loud what they are going to do. For example, in court they might say "I affirm that I will tell the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth". Other people would have to say "I swear" instead of "I affirm". Many courts ask those testifying if they "swear or affirm to tell the truth," this covers Quakers as well as non-Quakers, because people who are not Quakers also believe some of the same things as Quakers.

Being a member

There are two types of people in the Religious Society of Friends - "members" and "attenders". Quakers believe that neither is better than the other, but there are some differences between the types. Quakers who are attenders are part of the Religious Society of Friends; they worship with Friends, and Quakers like them to be able to do everything that members can do.[3] However, there are some important jobs - such as the people who look after the meeting's money - that Quakers prefer to be done by members.

Members have decided that they definitely want to be Quakers, and have asked their meeting to make them a member, to show that they think that Quakerism is right for them. Some people are made members by their parents, when they are still babies; other people go to Quaker meetings for a while before deciding they want to ask to be a member, and some people wait for up to twenty years (or more) before asking to be a member.

References








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