Quakers – the Religious Society of Friends
The formal title of the movement is the Society of Friends or the Religious Society of Friends.
There are about 210,000 Quakers across the world.
In Britain there are 17,000 Quakers, and 400 Quaker meetings for worship each week. 9,000 people in Britain regularly take part in Quaker worship without being members of the Religious Society of Friends.
The essence of the Quakers
Quakers believe that there is something of God in everybody and that each human being is of unique worth. This is why Quakers value all people equally, and oppose anything that may harm or threaten them.
Quakers seek religious truth in inner experience, and place great reliance on conscience as the basis of morality.
They emphasise direct experience of God rather than ritual and ceremony. They believe that priests and rituals are an unnecessary obstruction between the believer and God.
Quakers integrate religion and everyday life. They believe God can be found in the middle of everyday life and human relationships, as much as during a meeting for worship.
What Quakers believe
Among key Quaker beliefs are:
God is love
the light of God is in every single person
a person who lets their life be guided by that light will achieve a full relationship with God
everyone can have a direct, personal relationship with God without involving a priest or minister
redemption and the Kingdom of Heaven are to be experienced now, in this world
Quakers want to make this a better world
Quakers work actively to make this a better world. They are particularly concerned with:
human rights, based on their belief in equality of all human beings
freedom of conscience
environmental issues – Quakers seek to live simply so as to reduce the burden on the world
Quakers do not regard any book as being the actual ‘word of God’.
Most Quakers regard the Bible as a very great inspirational book but they don’t see it as the only one, and so they read other books that can guide their lives.
Quakers do not celebrate Christian festivals such as Easter and Christmas.
Quaker communal worship consists of silent waiting, with participants contributing as the spirit moves them.
Are Quakers Christian?
Although outsiders usually regard the movement as a Christian denomination, not all Quakers see themselves as Christians; some regard themselves as members of a universal religion that (for historical reasons) has many Christian elements.
Tolerance is part of the Quaker approach to life, so Quakers are willing to learn from all other faiths and churches.
Where the names come from
One story says that the founder, George Fox, once told a magistrate to tremble (quake) at the name of God and the name ‘Quakers’ stuck.
Other people suggest that the name derives from the physical shaking that sometimes went with Quaker religious experiences.
The name ‘Friends’ comes from Jesus’ remark “You are my friends if you do what I command you” (John 15:14).
Quaker ideas and beliefs
Beliefs are not just safe ledges in an uncertain reality, but rather handholds from which further heights can be reached.
Eleven Quaker Scientists, 1989
Religion is living with God. There is no other kind of religion. Living with a Book, living with or by a Rule, being awfully high-principled are not in themselves religion, although many people think they are and that that is all there is to it.
Bernard Canter 1962
There is no creed or formal set of beliefs that you have to hold to be a Quaker. This is because:
Quakers think that adopting a creed is taking on belief at second hand – they think that faith should be more personal than that and based on a person’s inner conviction and on taking part in a shared search for the truth with other Quakers.
Quakers believe that faith is something that is always developing and not something frozen at a particular moment in history that can be captured in a fixed code of belief.
Taken from the BBC website – with thanks.