Quakers try to lead their lives according to four testimonies, equality, simplicity, truth and peace. Some say that the root of Quaker values is equality. Equality guides us to:
- turn away from conflict towards peace and reconciliation
- act with integrity and honesty
- tread lightly on the earth and have care for its limited resources
- help those who are disadvantaged
- seek to bring justice where there is inequality and unfairness
Who are we?
Quakerism is a way of life rather than a strict set of beliefs.
The roots of Quakerism are in the Christian faith, but we also draw on the wisdom to be gained from other sources, spiritual figures and religions.
Many Quakers, in recent years, are non-theist having no belief in the supernatural.
What are we called?
Our official name is Religious Society of Friends. We refer to individuals as Quakers or Friends.
What do we believe?
One of our fundamental beliefs is that there is something sacred, ‘that of God’, in everyone. Implicit in this belief is the principle of no discrimination; on grounds of gender or sexuality, youth or age, race, ethnicity or nationality, religion, social status, intellect or fame.
Some Quakers refer to ‘the divine’ or ‘the spirit’ or ‘the light’ rather than God.
We believe that as individuals we continue to learn, grow and develop through experience, reflection and the wisdom of others.
Because we don’t have a hierarchy or clergy, we don’t have a doctrine that we are expected to follow. So while many Quakers might consider themselves to be from a Christian tradition, they are open to the teachings of others.
We’re simple, radical and contemporary. Everyone is equal.
We are urged to live life adventurously!
Do we have a Bible?
Our focus is our experience rather than written statements of belief and our collective experience is shared in Quaker Faith and Practice; a book which is an anthology of Quaker experiences and insights from the founding of the Religious Society of Friends in the 17th Century to the present day. It is updated every generation, recognising that our understanding of truth moves on.
What are our Meetings like?
We don’t have services as such, we have what we call ‘meetings for worship’.
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; 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 at Meeting Houses to sit in silence believing that in the stillness inner promptings are revealed that help guide our lives.
There is no need to be in unity with Quakers on every issue in order to be part of our meetings.
What do we actually do?
Lots of things! We’re involved in a variety of projects, charities and campaigns – sometimes individually and sometimes as a group. Quakers were involved in the abolition of slavery, and are still known today for their active commitment to social justice, equality and peace-work worldwide. Nowadays we are probably best known for our work in prisons, our Quaker schools and our participation in peace and environmental projects.
We work towards creating a community that is inclusive and tolerant, and express our values through the work we do.
“Do not be content to accept things as they are, but keep an alert and questioning mind. Seek to discover the causes of social unrest, injustice and fear…Work for an order of society which will allow men and women to develop their capacities” Quaker Faith & Practice, 23.02
In order to care for others, it’s important to care for ourselves too – to support and nurture the ‘life of the Meeting’. We work to nurture the practical and spiritual lives of our Quaker community by providing and facilitating training and resources, support networks and advice, spiritual retreats and pastoral care.
How many of us are there?
About 240,000 worldwide and 18,000 in Britain and Ireland. There are also around 8,000 attenders in the UK and Eire. An attender is someone who goes to meeting and gets involved in Quaker activities but is not officially a member.
Why try Quakers?
Many people are busier than ever with less time for themselves and their families. We might go to the gym to keep physically healthy, but where do we go to look after our inner selves, to keep spiritually healthy?
Quaker Meetings provide a place and community to help people listen to the inner voice that gives direction to their lives. This inner voice goes by many names. Some call it God, others don’t attempt to give it a name at all. But we all understand the value of sitting in silence during a Quaker Meeting for Worship that leads to promptings from within.
“True silence … is to the spirit what sleep is to the body, nourishment and refreshment” William Penn, 1699