DISCOVER: THE RELIGIOUS SOCIETY OF FRIENDS

A Short History of our Faith

The Religious Society of Friends arose during the mid-1600’s in England in a time of turbulence and change in religious observance where great emphasis was placed upon outward ceremony, authority of the Bible, or the acceptance of a formal creed. Many individuals broke away from churches and turned inward in search of a religion of personal experience and direct communion with God. George Fox and Margaret Fell, among others, were the first “Seekers of Truth,” attempting to recover the spirit of early Christianity . They founded the Religious Society of Friends or Quakers that has been in continuous existence in North America since the early 1700’s. It has spread around the world by offering a quieter, simpler faith that has abandoned religious hierarchy, creeds, and other outward forms and symbols.

Early Quakers believed that there is “that of God” in every person. This is sometimes spoken of as the “Inner Light,” a guiding spirit that emanates from the Divine in each person and provides direct access to God without intermediaries or literal readings of Scripture.

Waiting in expectant silence, early Friends were inspired by that still, small voice of God to minister to each other and to work for justice, equality and peace in ways that manifest our spiritual beliefs and common values. The meeting for worship is as nearly without forms as possible in order that whatever occurs may be a true and spontaneous expression of the life within. A Quaker meeting is many things. It is a faith community first and foremost, a community that gathers for worship, to conduct business, share fellowship and to manifest Quaker leadings in the world.

The movement spread to many other countries, including the United States, where Quaker William Penn founded the Pennsylvania colony. Today, Quaker influence is felt every day in all walks of life both in the United States and worldwide.

This gentle approach to faith and worship may be new for some but, if you are seeking a faith community that speaks to the Spirit of God within you and within others, you may find comfort and renewed faith among Friends.

Please feel welcome to join us for worship.

The Ways Quakers Live By

Quaker experience of the Divine affects what we do in our personal lives, what we believe and how we work for changes in the wider world. “Testimonies” are what Quakers call the ways we have found to live and act based on our beliefs. As a group, we find that listening to and following God leads to values that Quakers often refer to by the acronym SPICES:

Simplicity
Focusing on what is truly important and letting other things fall away.

Peace
Seeking justice and healing for all people; taking away the causes for war in the way we live.

Integrity
Acting on what we believe, speaking truthfully and having our actions match our words.

Community
Supporting one another in our faith journeys and in times of joy and sorrow; sharing with and caring for each other.

Equality
Treating everyone, everywhere as equally precious, recognizing that everyone has gifts to share.

Sustainability
Care for the earth: valuing and respecting all of creation.
Using only our fair share of earth’s resources, working to protect the planet.

Quaker Peace Testimony

Declaration of Friends to Charles II, 1660

We utterly deny all outward wars and strife and fightings with outward weapons, for any end, or under any pretence whatsoever; and this is our testimony to the whole world. The spirit of Christ, by which we are guided, is not changeable, so as once to command us rom a thing as evil and again to move unto it; and we do certainly know, and so testify to the world, that the spirit of Christ, which leads us into all Truth, will never move us to fight and war against any man with outward weapons, neither for the kingdom of Christ, nor for the kingdoms of this world.

Our historic peace testimony is a living testimony, as we work to give concrete expression to our ideals, often in opposition to prevailing opinion. We recognize that the peace testimony requires us to honor that of God in every person, and therefore to avoid not only physical violence but also more subtle forms, whether psychological, economic, or systemic.

As part of a class on Quakerism, middle school students at the Oakwood Friends School in Poughkeepsie, NY were asked to put the declaration in their own words. Sixth graders Elliot Grant and Catie Colvson-Bucher wrote these:

We totally disagree to all national wars, or battles, and fighting with all weapons. We will not go to war for any reason at all. This is the spirit of the Light which can’t be changed, which will not lead us to evil but will lead us to goodness. And we totally understand and say to the world that since the Light will lead us to do good things, we will never fight against another man.