The Society of Friends Quakers




The Society of Friends Quakers


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The Society of Friends Quakers


The Society of Friends (Quakers)





You cannot recognise a Quaker in the street as you often can a minister, priest or bishop of another Christian denomination.  Even their buildings do not often look like churches and are simply called “meeting houses”. 


The Religious Society of Friends or the Quakers (as they are often called) began about 300 years ago in England but its roots go back further.  Every so often in history people have reacted against there being tight control and leadership in religion.  This came about because people believed that real religion is not a matter of ceremonies, officials or organisations laying down the rules for the rest; it is what a person feels and knows of god in their own hearts and minds that counts


One of these people was George Fox.  He was born in 1624 in Leicestershire into the simple family of a weaver.  He set out as a young man convinced that God wanted him to tell as many people as possible that the only way to find God was by letting him speak to them in their own hearts.  This soon brought him up against powerful people in church and state.  He often suffered for his views.  He refused to obey the King instead of the Bible.  He said that no-one was so mighty that he should quake before them – only the word of God deserves that. That was how the name began.  In time Fox met many people who agreed with him and they called themselves “The Society of Friends”.




Many outsiders wonder whether there is any organisation at all because the Quaker way seems so different.  The most noticeable feature at first is the things that are missing.  There is no minister to lead the service or to preach a sermon.  In fact there seems to be service or sermon at all.  What you find at a ‘meeting for worship’ is people coming together, content to sit silently in each other’s company unless or until any one of them feels they have something to say.  In that case the person stands up, says it, and sits down.  It may be a single sentence or go on for several minutes.  Apart from that the meeting goes on in silence, normally for an hour.  Then two people shake hands as a signal that the meeting for worship has ended.  People often stay behind to talk to one another, perhaps over a cup of coffee, before going home.  Children are always a vital and welcome part of any Quaker community and share in its worship. There is a Sunday School for them.




Quakers believe:


  • The light of God is everyone
  • Life has meaning and purpose
  • Love of god and of our neighbour gives meaning and purpose to life
  • Spiritual experience must be expressed in ordinary thought, actions and feelings.


Quakers believe that everyone must live his or her life as they believe it is right.  Quakers say  “What you are, what you think and what you feel are you; you are important on your own terms and that is how God is with you.  No-one knows better than you what you should believe because they are not you, so no-one can impose on you a creed or way of worshipping.  You are right to join in with whatever group or activity you feel is right for you”.


Quakers believe that everyone is equal – men, women and children are encouraged to go to Quaker meetings.


At the local, national and international levels, Quakers are particularly concerned to eradicate the evil of war and work to encourage the right use of natural resources.  They work for racial harmony and oppose any use of torture and violence. 


Quakers do not smoke or drink alcohol because of the damage they believe it can do.


Around the World


Quakerism has spread around the world.  The largest concentration of friends is to be found in the United States where Quakerism has taken a variety of forms. An international meeting is the “Friends World Committee for Consultation” to which representatives of Yearly meetings in different part of the world come together.


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