Understanding the beliefs of Quakers, Society of Friends
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.