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The Religious Society of Friends

Quakers in Southport

What is different?

There are five distinguishing marks to Quakerism : -

(i) Method of worship

We "wait in the Light" (an old Quaker phrase), in silent worship, stilling the stream of everyday thoughts except for spoken ministry. All may join in. It is not a case of a priest or minister directing the progress; nor is it individual meditation. By being there one contributes to the worship and helps to provide the combination of discipline and spontaneity so clearly present.

(ii) Absence of Liturgies

A theologian once stated that Quakers had abolished the laity. The responsibility is on everyone to contribute to the meeting. Our attitudes to the sacraments are dictated by the "Inward Light" - divine grace is not to be channelled by outward signs devised by man. The whole of life, every deed, is sacramental.

There is no need for outward ritual to bring us to the presence of God. It is for this reason that there is no Creed. All attempts to formulate creeds are by their very nature provisional. Formulas fetter the search for Truth, or, to put it in the old Quaker way, "The letter killeth, but the Spirit giveth Life".

(iii) Attitude to the Scriptures

Most other Protestant sects say that the authority of scripture is absolute. Quakers, however, see the scriptures as a product of the Light rather than the source of the Light.

(iv) The Peace Testimony

This involves the absolute rejection of war and is important to Quakers as a religious principle, based as it is on the concept of "That of God in every man". The Testimony has led to Quakers being in the forefront of anti-war campaigns and of attempts at mitigating the horrific effects of war.

 

 

(v) Corporate Decision Making

We believe that everybody is capable of receiving the same level of divine inspiration. All members can be involved in decision making. Business meetings are held as meetings for worship, and in such meetings, an argumentative, debating style is clearly out of place. The Clerk of the Meeting helps to focus members' thoughts, and when he/she senses that unity is achieved, pens a minute and reads this out. It is then amended or accepted, putting into practice the concept that God can illumine every human heart.


Just who are Quakers?


Free information pack on Quakers today from:
Quaker Life, Outreach,
Friends' House
173 Euston Road, LONDON NW1 2BJ
020 766 31017

Email: carmelk@quaker.org.uk

 

 

 

 

Suggested reading:

"Listening to the Light" by Jim Pym. Paperback £8.99.

"Quaker by Convincement" byGeoffrey Hubbard.

"Quaker Faith and Practice" published by The Yearly Meeting of the Religious Society of Friends. Paper and hardback versions available.

"A Light that is Shining", by Harvey Gillman.

"Coming Home", by Gerald Priestland


All the above are available from the Quaker Book Centre at Friends' House. (020 766 31017). Address in previous column.

 

Other links of interest:

Swarthmoor Hall (Home of Margaret Fell and eventually of George Fox) in Cumbria - courses and general interest

Woodbrooke Quaker Study Centre Birmingham

Northern Friends Peace Board

Other local websites:

World Quaker website: www.quaker.org

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