Un­der­stand­ing the be­liefs of Quak­ers, So­ci­ety of Friends

Kapiti News - - News -

Vi­ola Palmer writes about World Quaker Day which is on Oc­to­ber 7

Quak­ers, the Re­li­gious So­ci­ety of Friends, is based on per­sonal and shared spir­i­tual ex­pe­ri­ence. We do not rely on the words of oth­ers as au­thor­i­ta­tive. We look in­wards for spir­i­tual guid­ance.

The silent Meet­ing for Wor­ship is a time for lis­ten­ing to ‘the still, small voice’ within. Spir­i­tual ex­pe­ri­ence comes in dif­fer­ent ways. It may be grad­ual or through a sud­den awak­en­ing. The per­sonal ex­pe­ri­ence of some­thing greater than our­selves, is avail­able to all peo­ple, and there is ‘that of God’ in ev­ery­one.

There is no hi­er­ar­chy, and the So­ci­ety of Friends is in­clu­sive. Quak­ers share a way of life, not a set of be­liefs.

The Re­li­gious So­ci­ety of Friends de­vel­oped from the spir­i­tual ex­pe­ri­ence of Ge­orge Fox, an English­man of the 17th cen­tury.

His in­sights were based on Chris­tian­ity and he was well versed in the Bible. He broke away from the churches of his day be­cause he saw their cor­rup­tion, their rigid hi­er­ar­chies and their ad­her­ence to in­ap­pro­pri­ate rules and be­liefs.

His fol­low­ers were nick­named ‘Quak­ers’ be­cause they trem­bled when they spoke of their ex­pe­ri­ences. Quak­ers spread world­wide from this time. Women and men were equal from the be­gin­ning.

Over the cen­turies they have been ac­tive in pro­mot­ing peace through me­di­a­tion and re­fus­ing to take sides. Quak­ers won the No­bel Peace Prize in 1947. Al­though many were con­sci­en­tious ob­jec­tors, Quak­ers were ac­tive in both world wars. They un­der­took a huge feed­ing pro­gramme af­ter World War I and in World War II res­cued Jewish chil­dren. They were in the fore­front of the anti-slav­ery move­ment. Due to per­se­cu­tion and im­pris­on­ment of early Quak­ers prison re­form has al­ways been im­por­tant.

The ba­sic spir­i­tual be­liefs of di­rect ac­cess to God, and of some­thing of God in all peo­ple, has led to a set of val­ues to which Quak­ers as­pire. Though we of­ten fall short, we aim to live in a man­ner of peace, sim­plic­ity, in­tegrity and equal­ity. We value com­mu­nity and sus­tain­abil­ity. We re­ject the use of vi­o­lence. ‘We to­tally op­pose all wars, all prepa­ra­tion for war, all use of weapons and co­er­cion by force, and all mil­i­tary al­liances; no end could ever jus­tify such means.’ ( State­ment on Peace 1987).

The Meet­ing for Wor­ship, which may be held when­ever two or three are gath­ered to­gether, is the heart of the Quaker faith. It is based on si­lence, but peo­ple share a mes­sage if they feel called upon to do so. In Kapiti a group of Quak­ers meet each Sun­day at 10.15 at 7 Ngahina St, Para­pa­raumu, for an hour.

World Quaker Day is a day for cel­e­bra­tion of our faith. Ka¯ piti Quak­ers in­vite any­one in­ter­ested to meet and learn more about be­ing a Quaker.

There will be an in­tro­duc­tion, fol­lowed by a short Meet­ing for Wor­ship, and then the op­por­tu­nity for peo­ple to ask ques­tions. We will be­gin at 10.15am and end with morn­ing tea.

“True God­li­ness don’t turn men out of the world but en­ables them to live bet­ter in it and ex­cites their en­deav­ours to mend it.” — Wil­liam Penn, Quaker. 1682.

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