Friends, we recognize "that of God in everyone" or the
"Light Within." We’re members of the Religious
Society of Friends, a community, firmly rooted in the Christian
tradition, which began in England about 350 years
ago. We rely on direct experience of the Light Within, which the Gospel
According to John identifies with the eternal and living Word of God.
Consequently, Friends reject formal creeds and doctrines. Love, not
conformity, holds our Meeting community together. We center our
religious life on seeking and following the divine Light and eagerly
welcome believers of all faiths as fellow members of God's universal
We feel that open, unplanned worship helps us achieve a relationship
with God. We find that this individual experience of worship is deepened
when we share it with others.
Moral truth, and the power to act on that truth, arise from the Light
Within, which itself comes from God. It’s a source of grace and
illumination, leading our many diversities toward harmony, not only
within the worshiping community, but in our relations with everyone
To maintain our openness to the guidance of the Light Within, we
describe our lives through essential testimonies, including simplicity
of life, equality of both sexes and of all persons, personal integrity,
active concern for the liberation of the oppressed, love of our enemies,
the cultivation of non-violence, open worship, and free ministry. In
practice, these testimonies can take either a positive or a negative
Positive forms include the Quaker United Nations Office, which
assists with international conflict resolution, and the American Friends
Service Committee, which provides relief to both sides in armed
conflicts and also works for social and racial justice and harmony.
Negative forms include Friends' refusal to swear to oaths, to gamble, or
to take part in war.
In ours, an unprogrammed meeting, we worship in silence, without
ritual or the leadership of a minister or pastor. In this way, each of
us can open our minds and hearts to the leading of the divine Spirit.
During this silence, which usually lasts for about an hour, anyone may
rise and speak. When the Meeting for Worship eventually gathers into the
Light, we feel ourselves joined together in love and transformed in
We apply this same waiting when making decisions, waiting upon the
Light for guidance. Friends make their decisions in a spirit of worship,
waiting upon the Light for guidance. Everyone has an equal say in the
process, because the Light is accessible to all. No vote is ever taken,
rather we, as a community; come to a consensus, recognizing that a
decision has been reached among us all.
As Friends, we see the Bible as a precious record that has been left
to us by writers inspired by their encounters with God. We believe that
we can be just as inspired today. We also believe that only those who
are themselves inspired by the same Spirit that inspired the Bible can
understand its meaning. So it’s the experience of the Light in our
hearts, and not the Bible, that’s the primary source of truth for