Put God at 
the center of your life.

 

As 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 community.

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 around us.

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 form.

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 spirit.

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 Friends.

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Some Quaker Misconceptions

Do Quakers look like the man on the Quaker Oats box? We used toearly Quakers "dressed plain." That means no collars or lapels. Those were just to show off and had no useful purpose. Many confuse us with the Amish who, today, still wear the same style of clothing they wore in the 19th century, causing some to say they "wear" their religion. Friends of today, on the other hand, look just like everyone else. If someone didn’t tell you they were a Friend, you won’t know it.

You may occasionally hear someone say "thee" or "thine." Older Quakers talked with plain language, mostly within their own family. Thee and thine are the informal versions of the formal you and yours. In the old days one would say "you" to the king, and "thee" to family and friends. But the Quakers believe everyone is equal, so they would say "thee" to everyone, even the king. That wasn’t received very well at the time. Today, many modern Quakers just say you and yours.

You may also hear about "First Day School." Why not call it Sunday School? Older Friends didn’t like to use the current names for the days of the week or months since they’re named after mythological gods, so they called Sunday First Day since it was the first day of the week.

 

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