The movement that became the Religious Society of Friends (Quakers) arose in 17th Century England. Quakers sought direct experience of the divine to rediscover the intensity, life and power of early Christians. Founded by George Fox begining in the 1640s, the Religious Society of Friends has expanded to most countries of the world and has many branches.
What unites Quakers is the emphasis on peace as a basic value. The guiding principles of Quaker life are the Testimonies: Integrity, Community, Peace, Simplicity, Equality, and Stewardship
To discover more about Quaker history and its current status, the following publications might prove helpful:
Faith and Practice, North Pacific Yearly Meeting, 2018. (You may contact the clerk of meeting to obtain a copy).
Friends for 350 Years, Howard Brinton
Quakerism, The Basics, Margery and Carl Abbot
The Religious Society of Friends is one of the historic peace churches, with a rich history of working for nonviolence, social justice, and such causes as the abolition of slavery and the protection of equal civil rights for all people.
The lack of a creed has sometimes led to the misconception that Friends do not have beliefs or that one can believe anything and be a Friend. However, most Quakers take the absence of a creed as an invitation and encouragement to exercise an extra measure of personal responsibility for the articulation of faith. Rather than rely on priests or professional theologians, each believer is encouraged to take seriously the personal disciplines associated with spiritual growth. Out of lives of reflection, prayer, faithfulness, and service flow the statements of belief, both in word and in deed, which belong to Friends.
–North Pacific Yearly Meeting, Faith & Practice
In Meeting for Worship we come together in expectant waiting, seeking and experiencing a communion with God. South Seattle Meeting practices unprogrammed silent worship: with no pastor or leader, those present sit silently together in spiritual communion and reflection, listening and searching, waiting on the experience of the divine. It’s an attentive, shared silence.
Sometimes the hour passes entirely in silent worship. Other times, anyone present may feel strongly and spontaneously moved to speak, sensing and giving voice to a spiritually-derived message. This is vocal (or spoken) ministry. Others present typically don’t respond outwardly to the message, but aim to be inwardly receptive, accepting it as divinely inspired. Afterwards, the group returns to silent worship, in which we may absorb and reflect upon what was said.
You will say, ‘Christ saith this, and the apostles say this;’ but what canst thou say? Art thou a child of the Light, and hast thou walked in the Light, and what thou speakest, is it inwardly from God?
–George Fox (reported by Margaret Fell, 1694)
At South Seattle Meeting we worship for an hour. At the end of the hour, a designated volunteer brings worship to a close, leads introductions and allows time for announcements.
In the gathered meeting the sense is present that a new Life and Power has entered our midst.We are in communication with one another because we are being communicated to, and through, by the Divine presence."
–Thomas Kelly, 1940