Quakers share a way of life rather than a set of beliefs. We seek to experience God directly, within ourselves and in our relationships with others and the world around us. These direct encounters with the Divine are where Quakers find meaning and purpose.
There are around 475 Quaker meetings in theUK, attended by around 23,000 people. Nearly half a million people worship in Quaker meetings worldwide.
You do not have to become a Quaker to attend Quaker meetings, which are open to all.
Quaker spiritual practice
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. During our meetings for worship some may feel moved to speak: this is something anyone can do, as all are considered equal. Meetings can be held anywhere, at any time, although they are often on Sundays in our Quaker meeting houses.
Quakers meet together for worship and other activities in local meetings. These are inclusive and open to all. In our meetings we hope to find acceptance, support, challenge, practical help and a sense of belonging. Our sense of community does not depend on professing identical beliefs, but from worshipping, sharing and working together.
Quakers do not have priests, or a hierarchy, as we believe all people can have a direct relationship with God. All Quakers are entitled to participate in decision-making processes and to help run the Society. Those with specific roles are asked to serve for limited periods of time, after which others take their turn to serve.
Quakers and Christianity
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 and acknowledge that ours is not the only way.
Sharing our experience
Our focus is on our experience rather than written statements of belief and our collective experience is shared in the book Quaker faith & practice, an anthology of Quaker insights from the founding of the Religious Society of Friends in the seventeenth century to the present day. It is updated every generation, recognising that our understanding of truth moves on.
Working for a better world
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.
Read more at www.quaker.org.uk
The Friend is a weekly paper for those linked to Quakers in the UK (and beyond). Some articles are made freely available each week.
Text drawn from www.quaker.org.uk/quaker-news