All About Quakerism
Quakerism at a Glance
‘Quakers’ is the common name used since the 17th century for what is also more formally called the Religious Society of Friends. We are a faith group committed to living out what we believe in, including creating a fairer, more just society for everyone. Quaker faith is based on openness to spiritual experience rather than based on a pre-ordained set of beliefs to which everyone has to assent. It has its roots in Christianity but Quakerism uses no creed and it has no clergy. It sees itself as one spiritual path and acknowledges meaning and value in the teachings of other faiths and traditions. As Quakers we do not seek to evangelise or convert others to our ways or beliefs.
Our Faith and Worship
We seek to experience God directly, within ourselves, in our gatherings for worship and in our relationships with others and the world around us. However, we do not all agree about what we mean by God, and not all of us are even comfortable using the term. We affirm that truths and experiences which are beyond words are nevertheless within reach of us all. We are called to be open to them and to live out what we have learned from them individually and as a community of faith. The language we use to describe our personal experiences can vary greatly. The language used in our publications often includes more that is traditionally Christian.
Friends (as we also call ourselves) meet together in worship in local meetings which are open to everyone. Those on a Sunday usually last an hour but such worship can also take place at other times. Click Here for Details of the Meetings for Worship held in Bridgend. A Meeting for Worship begins when the first person has taken their place in the room. It ends when two designated Friends signify the end by shaking hands.
Meetings for Worship are held mainly in silence, with individuals speaking briefly or offering a reading if they feel led to share it with the gathered group. When others have felt led to speak to us sincerely from the depth of their experience, whether in Meeting for Worship or elsewhere, we are advised to listen to what truth their words may contain for us. What they say, what Quakers call their ministry, is personal. They will not comment upon any ministry that has gone before.
Whether or not there has been spoken ministry those in a Meeting for Worship will have tried to discover a place of stillness within the silence, in which to listen, reflect and connect with others and with the Other and the Good (or however they term it) as they have grown to understand it. Our unity is not in the detail of beliefs but in this gathered openness which a communal stillness helps to achieve. Our unity also comes of loyalty to values and concerns which Quakers have stressed from their beginnings. These take new forms generation by generation, to meet new circumstances. Such principles which many Quakers hold in common are often called the Quaker Testimonies. They are aspirations for showing our faith in our lives, rather than rules.
Quakers believe there is that of God in everyone, that the experience of a spiritual life is open to all and that the Quaker Way is a path, not a destination.
Quakers declared themselves a peaceable people at the start of the 1660s. They did not believe that bearing arms for religious or other causes furthered a peaceful society. We too affirm that peacemaking and peace-sustaining needs our action, at individual, local, national and international levels. Many Quakers have felt called to work positively and creatively with others to build a more peaceful neighbourhood, country and world. Our commitment to these things arises from the conviction that love is at the heart of existence and that all human beings are unique, equal and have ‘that of God’ within them.
Quakers are committed to equality. In our Meetings, too, we all share responsibility for our work and worship without conventional structures or paid clergy and officers.
Quakers try to live simply so that others may simply live. In using the world’s resources we have a responsibility to those who may be affected by our use of those resources. We do not shun modern lifestyles but we should try to consider the impact our choices might have on ourselves, on others, and on the Earth itself.
Quakers try to live according to the deepest truth we know, and we connect most deeply to this in the stillness of worship. This means speaking the truth at all times, including to people in positions of power. As we are guided by integrity, so we expect to see it in public life.
Quakers’ belief that we are all of equal value leads us to recognize that fairness and justice in all aspects of life, and for all, is of great importance.
Quakers are called to consider the effect of their lives on the world’s limited resources. Nationally as a worshiping community they have committed themselves to work towards building a low-carbon, sustainable society.
Who We Are
Quakers are ordinary people living ordinary lives. We are trying to live our faith, open to being led spiritually seven days a week. In practical terms many Quakers are engaged with groups and projects which match our concerns for integrity, justice and peace at home and abroad. We look to our worship together as the well-spring and energiser for what we are and do.