If we go deep within we can find a direct connection to the Divine, however we may conceive of it. For some the Divine is a personal God, for others a pervasive spirit or feeling of unity with the universe. Quakers meet in silent worship to strengthen this connection and bear witness to its power in our lives.
1. Quakerism arose in mid-seventeenth century Britain as a movement to return to apostolic, primitive Christianity with no expectation of becoming a separate church, let alone one of the now historic peace churches.
Like many other denominations, Quakers are individually diverse in their beliefs about many things but share one central belief that there is a spark of the Divine in every human being, and therefore every person is in a direct relation to the Divine.
2. From this central belief flows the conviction that all persons have inherent worth, regardless of their gender, race, nationality, religion or sexual orientation. That is why Quakers have always been opposed to sexism, racism, intolerance of all kinds, the death penalty and war.
3. There is a strong mystical component to Quaker belief. Because the individual’s relation to the Divine is primary, Friends believe that dogmas, ceremonies or rituals are not essential. Quakers therefore have no priesthood, no hierarchy and no mandatory beliefs other than the fundamental belief that there is a spark of the Divine in every person.
4. Quakers use the Bible and other sacred texts and believe that each has many layers of meaning. They rely upon the Inner Light and do not consider any formal interpretation as the final word on matters of faith and practice. They believe in the continuing revelation of the Divine through the operation of the Spirit in all fields of life.
1. Their beliefs have led Quakers to avoid bestowing special authority on any individual or group within the Society of Friends. Each Meeting is autonomous, governing itself by means of a spiritually based consensus model. The clerk of the Meeting is responsible for expediting business but decisions about matters of business are made by the Meeting. It is the role of the Clerk to discern the sense of the Meeting based on the discussion of the members present.
2. In any matter of business being considered, the decisions are not made by a vote which sets up a win-or- lose situation. This would be contrary to the Quaker belief that there is that of the Divine in every person. Therefore all opinions and insights need to be considered. The outcome is not the lowest common denominator of what people will accept but a prayerful consideration of our spiritual direction. This is often a slow process but leads to the members moving forward together.
3. Men and women in the Religious Society of Friends have always had equal standing in every aspect of the Society’s ministry and governance.
4. Simplicity, truthfulness, pacifism, and the reality of inner revelation are long-standing Quaker beliefs, as are the equal status of men and women, the abolition of slavery, the relief of human suffering, and the fostering of justice and human creativity.