About Quakers

The Religious Society of Friends (also called Quakers) began in 17th-century England, around the time of the Puritan revolution, when many were reading the Bible for the first time. George Fox, a Christian seeker who was discontented with the hierarchical, remote religious practices of the time, experienced a spiritual opening:

“As I had forsaken all the priests, so I left the separate preachers also, and those called the most-experienced people. For I saw there was none among them all that could speak to my condition. And when all my hopes in them and in all men were gone, so that I had nothing outwardly to help me, nor could tell what to do, then, O then, I heard a voice which said, ‘There is one, even Christ Jesus, that can speak to thy condition,’ and, when I heard it my heart did leap for joy. Then the Lord did let me see why there was none upon the earth that could speak to my condition, namely, that I might give him all the glory.”

The Religious Society of Friends was established in response to Fox’s itinerant ministry, sharing his insight about the universal availability of a personal relationship with God, without intermediary clergy, sacraments, creeds or dogma. Each person’s direct experience of the divine is tempered through corporate reflection, group worship, and shared discernment.

Fox and Quakers after him spoke of the “inward light”—a measure of the divine or “that of God” found in every person. Quakers aspire to respond to the Light in each person and to open themselves to the guidance of the Light within.

Friends Of ColorIn person retreatSat., May 14, 2022

My conviction led me to adhere to the sufficiency of the light within us, resting on truth for authority, not on authority for truth.

–Lucretia Mott, 1827

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

Quaker Worship

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; the children join the group in the last 10 minutes. At the end of the hour, a designated volunteer brings worship to a close by shaking hands with those nearby; at that point everyone is invited to greet each other with a handshake. The volunteer will then stand to lead introductions and announcements, usually followed by refreshments.

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